Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Revelation 17:7-18

Revelation 17:7-18
And the angel said to me, “For what reason did you wonder?  I will speak to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast – the one that carries her, the one that has seven heads and ten horns.  The beast that you saw was, is not, and will be about to go up out of the Abyss and depart into destruction.  And the ones who inhabit the earth – of whom the name has not been written upon the book of life from the foundation of the world – will wonder while seeing the beast that was, and is not, and will become.  Here is the understanding that as wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains, where the woman sits upon them.  And they are seven kings.  The five fell, the one is, the other did not yet come.  And whenever he should come it is necessary for him to remain for a little while.  And the beast that was and is not, he is also an eighth king and he is out of the seven.  And he departs into destruction.  And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings, who did not yet receive a kingdom.  But they receive authority as a king for one hour with the beast.  These have one mind, and they give their power and authority to the beast.  These will battle with the lamb and the lamb will conquer them since he is Lord of lords and King of kings.  And the one with him are called, chosen, and faithful.”  And he says to me, “The waters that you saw where the prostitute sits are people, crowds, nations, and tongues.  And the ten horns and the beast that you saw, these will hate the prostitute.  And having been lain to waste, they will make her naked, they will eat her flesh, and they will burn her up in fire.  For God gave into their hearts to do the mind of Him and to do in one mind and to give their kingdom to the beast until the Word of God will be completed.  And the woman whom you saw is the great city – the one that has a kingdom upon the kings of the earth.

Thoughts for Today

Admittedly, we have a very large reading for today.  The good news, though, this that most of it is information that we already covered yesterday as we talked about this passage.  I’ll try not to repeat myself.

First Thought:

The main focus of this passage is the beast.  From an historical perspective, the beast sure sounds like Rome.  All throughout this blog I’ve commented about John’s desire to paint Rome in a negative spiritual light.  As we listen to this description, we hear more of this rhetoric.  One of Rome’s historical claim to fame was that it was built on seven mountains.  We’ve already talked about the number of kings and the matching of the heads to the emperors.  What’s new for today?  Notice that the beast was, is not, and will be.  That kind of sounds like the description of Jesus as He lived, died, and was raised into new life!  No, I’m not trying to equate the beast to Jesus.  What I am trying to do is point out that the powers of evil mimic the powers of good, the powers of God.  Evil is a force of deception.  Evil tricks you, making you think that you are doing the right thing without seeing that you are wrong.  Evil deceives, causing you to not realize the wrong that you are doing.  Evil also mystifies.  Do you see how the angel is specific in saying that the world – those who do not have the name of God written upon their forehead – will be amazed by the beast?  Evil often lures us in, tempting us to choose our passion over our logic.

How does evil influence you in your life?  Where does evil try to deceive you?

Second Thought:

I also find it interesting that the beasts will devour the woman and utterly destroy her.  Many people explain this away as a prediction that Rome will be devoured internally, as most major civilizations are when their internal politics, nepotism, and greed cause collapse.  While there is no denying this, I think that there is a bit of a deeper message.  Considering that the woman represents our sinful lust for the passions of our heart, I think John is trying to remind us that it is sin that is our undoing.  Our sinful desires are not something to be loved, coddled, hidden, or protected.  Our sin will cause our life to be devoured.  Our sin will cause our life to be destroyed.  Our sinfulness should be resisted at every turn because of what it can and will do to our life.

Where are you resisting sin within you?  When in your life has your sinfulness devoured you?

Third Thought:

Finally, we hear that the beast and those who worship him will wage war against the lamb.  What is really telling to me, though, is how little space John devotes to this idea.  He simply says that the lamb will win because He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings.  There isn’t a great big explanation.  There isn’t a need to go into detail about how the lamb will win.  He will win.  That’s all we need to know.  We can be sure of that more than anything else in this chapter.

Do you live remembering that the lamb will be victorious?  How is this evident in your life?

Passage for Tomorrow: Revelation 18:1-3

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