Sunday, November 27, 2016

Revelation 17:1-3

Revelation 17:1-3
And one out of the seven angels – the ones who have seven bowls – came and called out with me while saying, “Come here!  I will permit you to see the judgment of the great prostitute, the one who sits upon many waters with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication and the ones who inhabit the earth were being intoxicated out of the wine of her fornication.  And he carried me into a wilderness in the spirit.  And I saw a woman who sat upon a crimson beast, while being full of blasphemous names and having seven heads and ten horns.

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

Let’s set the context of this vision, which appears to be connected to the prior visions but separate from them at the same time.  Notice that the angel who comes out to get John carries him into the wilderness.  Remember the Gospel accounts.  Where was John the Baptizer to be found teaching?  In the wilderness!  Where did Jesus teach and pray to God most of the time?  In the wilderness.  The wilderness is often thought of by the world as an undesirable place of nothing.  However, in the Bible the wilderness is a place where human beings often go to find God because it removes them from the distractions of human civilization.  In other words, if we want to find God, it makes sense that we move ourselves to a place where the distractions of the world don’t get in our way.  I believe this same message is true here with John.  As God turns John from seeing visions based upon the past into visions of judgment and even eternal life, God pulls John into the wilderness.

Where do you go to find God?  Do you find that the trappings of life and the presence of other human people provide distractions to you being able to commune with God?  Do human beings ever help you get closer to God?  How do we find balance between these concepts?

Second Thought:

The woman in the vision is not to be confused with the woman that we saw in an earlier vision with the dragon.  In that vision, the woman was pursued by the dragon.  In this vision, the woman sits atop the beast.  We spoke about it earlier and we’ll talk more tomorrow, but this beast likely represents Rome.  When we add to it that this woman sits atop the waters – and later in this chapter we’ll realize that the waters represent a multitude of people in the world – it makes sense to furthermore identify this woman and her beast as belonging to Rome.  When John was writing this, Rome was considered as being the nation that had conquered the known world.  This point will become even more important tomorrow, but for today it is enough to associate this woman with the part of human civilization that it built upon its own strength while denying the power of God.

Why do human beings tend to rely less upon God the more they identify with the human society around them?  What parts of human society are beneficial to living and a part of God’s design?  What parts of human society help to take us away from God and allow us to put our trust in our human wisdom and strength?

Third Thought:

The woman is said to have committed fornication with the kings of the earth around her.  This section also tells us that the kings of the earth were intoxicated with her.  Clearly this is the language of analogy and comparison.  What is John trying to tell us?  This woman represents the parts of human society that intoxicate.  She represents the parts of human society that consume us and cause us to live out of our passion more than our logic and rational thought.  She represents the parts of society that cause us to believe more in ourselves and less in God.  This woman could represent a number of things, probably a different thing for each person.  She could be money, power, material possessions, slothful lifestyle, gluttony, personal achievements, technology, etc.  Each of those things, and many others that I did not list, can draw us away from God and intoxicate us with possession of them.

What are the things in your life that can intoxicate you and cause you to forget about God?  Why might John classify these things as fornication, as he does in verse 2?

Passage for Tomorrow: Revelation 17:4-6

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