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|Subject: Revelation Chapter 17 (Part 75) (Verses 1 - 2) Sat Sep 07, 2019 9:13 am|| |
Revelation Chapter 17 (Part 75) (Verses 1 - 2)
Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve been posting. I’ve been dealing with a lot of things. However, I have been making a lot of edits to this series. What I would like to do now is to cover Chapter 17 and before we get to Chapter 18, I would like to insert a brief overview of Babylon.
Revelation 17 can be a somewhat daunting task to interpret and understand. There are a lot of symbols that represent things that we have to correctly identify in order to understand what is going on. It is really imperative that we remain very precise in identifying each symbol to facilitate our understanding. Luckily for us, for the most part, the text itself defines the symbols for us. Once we correctly identify the symbols, Chapter 17 is no longer a mystery and becomes easy to understand. Since we are deferring our study of Babylon until after chapter 17, I’m not going to talk much about Babylon itself even though Babylon is referenced in this chapter. Our goal is to fully understand chapter 17 and then discuss Babylon.
Verse 1 begins, “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters.” If we jump to verse 8, we are told who this prostitute is. The verse includes an inscription, which reads, “...Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes, and of the Abominations of the Earth.” We could conclude from this inscription that the “great prostitute” therefore is Babylon, but yet were actually thrown a curveball in verse one. Verse one explicitly tells us that Babylon “sits on many waters.” Geographically speaking, Babylon, which is a city in Iraq does not sit on many waters. We could equally reference the city Hillah, which is in proximity to the ancient ruins of the Biblical city of Babylon, but that is also in Iraq, and just a 20 minute drive from the Babylon Governorate; and an hour and 30 minute drive away from Saddam Hussein’s palace in Baghdad. Babylon is a city in Iraq that is surrounded by other countries on all sides and does not sit on many waters. Today, Babylon is mostly desert. Iraq opens only at one small southern tip which touches the Persian Gulf, a lake-like body of water. Regarding this “many waters,” ironically, we are told the setting in verse 3, which begins, “Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast...” This woman of verse 3 is the same prostitute of verse 1. But verse 1 says that she sits on many waters; verse 3 says that the setting she sits in is a desert—What is going on!?!? Please stick with me...
It is important to understand that the text is referring to the city Babylon as we know it, but also, at the same time, Babylon represents a godless worldly political system. We will look closer into this after we cover chapter 17, but it is important to see this here. “Many waters,” therefore, represent many nations, not bodies of water. In fact, verse 15 tells us, “Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.” So the text is telling us that Babylon (which really is a desert land) sits on many nations, that is: she rules over them with her godless, worldly influence that Babylon embodies. We are given a reference to these many nations in verse 2, which says, “With her [the great prostitute] the kings of the Earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the Earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”
That was just an overview so that we could define some terms. Let’s go back to verse one and cover this slowly. Verse one says that one of the 7 angels who had the seven bowls comes and tells John to come and see the punishment of the great prostitute who sits on many waters. We are at the last bowl of the 7th Trumpet. You recall in our studies that a trumpet throughout the Bible was used to warn of imminent danger (and of war), and God uses it as a symbol for His impending judgment. The 7 Trumpets Judgment came out of the 7th Seal Judgment and 7th Trumpet contained 7 Bowls of Judgment. The typical pattern that we found is that the 7th Judgment is the greatest of them all. We are now at the very last judgment of them all with this 7th Bowl. God is going to take care of all of the wicked unbelievers with this seventh bowl judgment, which actually spans from Revelation 16:17 to the last verse of chapter 19. Note that the point of what John is witnessing is the punishment of this Babylonian system—that is, all of its partakers, which is basically everyone on the Earth at this time.
This Babylonian system is not exclusive to the Tribulation end times period. This ungodly political system exists today, and all nations today are partaking of “her” or it. Revelation 17:2 says, “With her the kings of the Earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the Earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” This system has always existed since Genesis chapter 11. It has affected both the kings, governors, presidents, rulers, and the common folks alike. A gallop poll, I’m sure would reveal that no one would identify him or herself as being intoxicated by this system. But that’s just man’s opinion of himself and not the Truth through God’s eyes. God says that the entire world has been corrupted and intoxicated by the lies that this Babylonian System has poured out. It is therefore imperative to understand this system so that you or I will not be intoxicated by it, but rather have our eyes wide open to it so that we will be able to identify and reject it.
Chapter 18 describes this system in detail. I’ll just quote Revelation 18:3. It says, “For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the Earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the Earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.” I would be quite accurate if I’d simply liken this Babylonian system to the American Dream. To really understand this system we would have to also study Genesis 11, which I’m deferring that until later. But we see from Revelation 18:3 that this system has to do with materialism and idolatry. When the Bible speaks of people committing adultery against God, it’s referring to people committing idolatry. Idolatry is committed when one places anything in the place of God. Idolatry is putting something else first instead of God. I call it the “American Dream,” but this mindset is worldwide in all nations. Too many people put their jobs before God. The proof of this is that they never mention God to their coworkers or friends and their job comes first. Many put family, and especially self before God. Many put money, luxury and comfort above all things—the proof of this is that many don’t pick up their cross for a righteous cause which would sacrifice their “comfort.”
The American Dream is actually an excellent analogy. Let’s take a closer look at Revelation 17:2, which I know I quoted twice already. Again, it says, “With her [the Babylonian System] the kings of the Earth committed adultery [idolatry] and the inhabitants of the Earth were intoxicated with the wine [that is, wealth] of her [Babylon’s] adulteries [with the kings of the Earth].” Please note that it specifically says that it is the kings who committed adultery, but it’s the inhabitants, or peasants, or common citizens who are infatuated or fascinated with the king’s wine, or riches, because they don’t have it themselves. The king has and hoards the riches, and the citizens can only aspire to do likewise, as if that is the end goal of what we are to achieve. When we dissect this verse, we see that it is telling us that the citizens see the rich as their role models and idols just for being rich. Does that not accurately reflect the American Dream? If a person is rich, most attribute greatness to them even if that rich person serves only him or herself and snubs everyone else. The rich can treat everyone bad and still be looked at in awe. We actually hand out rewards to rich people and call them “successful.” What really is “success”? Is to be rich really the standard for success? Jesus said that the first will be last and the last will be first. Jesus said that to be great in His kingdom, we must become servants—not taskmasters of underlings. God does not look at one’s bank account. God defines the successful as those who sacrifice themselves for the enhancement of His Kingdom, which means being a servant to others and helping the poor, the widows, the helpless, etc. We can help the poor without being rich ourselves. We can afford to periodically buy the homeless lunch or just get to know them and befriend them—respect them as a person; not shun them for lack of wealth. We can help many who are poor in spirit and need to find Jesus. God sees evangelizers as great and successful.
It is important to understand that the doctrine of prosperity is a demonic concept. The Babylonian ideology is demonic. Revelation 18:2 says, “[Babylon is] a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit...” Jesus commanded us, “Do not store up treasures for yourselves treasures on Earth...[but rather] store up treasures in Heaven...(Matthew 6:19-20).” Although there is nothing wrong or sinful with being rich, the Bible teaches and warns that it is a difficult thing for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 19:23-24). (Please refer to the “Works versus Faith” series to understand the Kingdom of Heaven.) Satan’s best weapon against the Christian is deception. His modus operandi is to use money and wealth to lure people away from God to idolatry. We must be warily perceptive of this stratagem so that our hearts will not be led astray. Consider the temporariness of the best of what money can offer—compared that with the eternal reward that you can potentially lose as a consequence, a reward which would have lasted forever.
If it is not obvious already, this should also reveal that politics is generally ungodly and evil. It says that all of the kings of the Earth have been duped by the deceptive cup of Babylon’s wine. “Kings of the Earth” includes all of the presidents we’ve ever had in American history—both Democrat and Republican. They all have Babylon’s agenda at hand, not God’s. Politicians concern themselves with profit, not with people, and certainly not with Righteousness and Truth as defined by God. I’m not trying to bash politicians here, but understand that the entire system is influenced by Babylon, which is governed by demons. Romans 13:4 says, “For he (that is, the king or ruler) is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrong-doer.” Please note that this verse assumes that the ruling authority is making the “righteous” judgment and decision—he is not doing evil. Romans 13 teaches us to submit to our governing authorities. So often, however, I hear this passage misapplied to “all” governing authorities notwithstanding the temperament of the governor, and they get this from a misinterpretation of Romans 13:1-2. Hitler, for example, was a governing ruler. Does the Bible teach that we should submit to Hitler if he were our ruler? Not at all! Romans 13:4 clarifies Romans 13:1-2. Romans 13:4 tells us that the ruler that we are to submit to, must also be in submission to God so that he or she will be able to accurately “punish the wrong-doer” as God’s servant and not be the wrong-doer. Even Romans 13:3b says, “Then do what is right and [the king] will commend you.” As long as the law that the ruler has established coincides with the Righteousness of God’s Word and His commands, then we are obligated to obey the ruler in charge. But if he goes rogue, then we are to obey God first. It is supposed to be God first in everything. Paul said, “Let God be true and every man (including ruler) a liar” (Romans 3:2). We are to obey Truth, but defy evil. We are not to obey a leader who tells us to do evil. Moses, Daniel, the 3 Hebrew boys, Esther, Elijah, and many others in the Bible have defied what the evil ruler commanded them whenever the command went against the Word of God.
We will pick up at Revelation 17:3 next time.