Monday, November 28, 2016

Revelation 17:4-6

Revelation 17:4-6
And the woman was having been clothed in purple and scarlet, having been gilded in gold, precious stones, and pearls, and while having a golden cup in her hand which was full of abominable things and the unclean things of her fornication.  And upon her forehead was a name having been written.  Mystery: “Babylon the Great, the mother of all the prostitutes and the abominable things of the earth.”  And I saw the woman while getting intoxicated out of the blood of the holy ones and out of the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.  And after seeing her I wondered with great marvel.

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

Let’s look even more closely at the woman.  Today we see that she is clothed in purple and scarlet.  Purple is the color of royalty.  Scarlet is the color of blood, which evokes images of sacrifice.  She also is wearing all kinds of precious materials.  The gemstones are a representation of wealth.  The woman is dressed in such a way as to demonstrate her full representation of sin, that which pulls us away from God.  This is the idea that I was dancing around yesterday, saving it for today.  The woman truly is a symbolic representation of sin.  She is our rebellion against God.  She is the power, authority, and seductiveness we seek.  She is the goal of our human appetite, ambition, and approval.  In her hand is a cup full of sinful rebellion, of which we love nothing more than to drink.  When we are not careful, we are seduced away from God by her offerings of power, wealth, status, and the things that go with them.

What trappings are you seduced by the most often?  Are you surprised to see that God causes John to symbolize human sinfulness by a female prostitute?  Why or why not?

Second Thought:

There was a name written upon her forehead.  In Roman culture, having a name written upon one’s forehead was a symbol of ownership or possession.  Specifically, with women, having a name written upon the forehead was usually a symbol of prostitution.  John is doing two things here.  First, and most obviously, John is making sure that we know that this woman is undesirable to us in spite of the fact that she looks to be a person with much to offer.  She is shrouded in wealth and power and prestige, many things that we desire.  John wants to make sure we are not fooled.  However, I think there is a secondary, and probably more important, distinction being made here.  God’s people have His name written upon their foreheads.  This woman has another name written upon her forehead.  John wants to draw a sharp and undeniable distinction between this woman, with those who follower her, and God’s people.

What name is upon your forehead?  How do you know?  How can you be confident that you are truly one of God’s people and not pursuing the trappings of the world?

Third Thought:

Finally, notice upon what the woman is in the act of getting drunk.  She is being intoxicated upon the blood of the holy people who follow Christ.  It is one thing to try and pull people away from God’s ways.  Human rebellion is what it is; we’ll never get rid of it until God gives us new life after death.  However, what we learn here is that sin spreads itself at the sacrifice of the righteous.  If you think about it, this makes sense.  If you are doing something that someone around you condemns, don’t you desire to get rid of such people?  This is the true nature of sin.  This is why human beings often have to go out to sow their wild oats.  When we are intoxicated in sin, we don’t want righteous people around making us feel guilty!  When society takes the pursuit of human sinfulness too seriously, the followers of God do find themselves persecuted.

What kinds of persecutions do you face as the people around you pursue their sinful desires?  What kind of persecution have you not had to face? 

Passage for Tomorrow: Revelation 17:7-18
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