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Fulfilling God's Will, Part 1

Heed God’s warning against spiritual unfaithfulness to God.

 

Revelation 17:1-6 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly.

 

Growing up in Pakistan, I had never heard about the Holocaust by the nature of Islamic hate against the Jews. When I heard about it here in the United States for the first time, I had some questions for God. I struggled to put that under God’s sovereignty. Nevertheless, what Hitler meant for evil ended up creating the modern state of Israel. After 2000 years, finally, Jews were back in their homeland.

 

There might be some heart-wrenching situations in your life or the life of your loved ones that you are struggling to put under God’s sovereignty. Perhaps you are questioning how your situation can possibility fulfill God’s will. 

 

The problem is that people equate God using evil people to fulfill His plan with God’s approval of evil. They need to know that in His sovereignty, God can use anything— even evil men and their sinister intentions to fulfill His will.

 

Revelation 17 was first given to a generation of believers who were hard-pressed from every direction. They needed to hear that God was in control even when it felt like He wasn’t, and that God could use evil men to fulfill His will.

 

The big idea is that God is in control even when it feels like He isn’t and that He can use evil men to fulfill His will. The Bible tells us this. It is full of incidents where God used evil men to fulfill His will. One such incident, in Revelation 17, reveals that God will end Satan’s spiritual empire by using even evil men.

 

It shows how God carries out His plan and purposes to fulfill His perfect and holy will by exposing the source of seduction, by exploiting the source of destruction, and by explaining the source of the abruption. We will cover only the first point this time and finish with the next two points next time.

 

By Exposing the Source of Seduction (Revelation 17:1-6)

 

In the first six verses of Revelation 17, God exposes the source of the seductiveness of the world. The context and purpose of Revelation 17, in verse 1, says is God’s judgment. The immediate context of Revelation 16 was the final judgment of God against the unrepented Christ-less, grace-rejecting world.

 

In the larger context, Revelation 17 was written to the seven churches, most of whom fell to the seductiveness of the world.

 

In Revelation 2, Ephesus had forsaken their first love; Pergamum had fallen to the false teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans who normalized idolatry and sexual immorality; Thyatira had fallen to the sexual seduction of the false religious teaching of Jezebel; and Laodiceans had become lukewarm. God exposes the source of their seduction and just as in Revelation 2, God warned them of the consequences for compromising with the world.

 

Revelation 17 was and is a warning to the church against the global Satanic spiritual system of religion where prostitution represents physical as well as spiritual unfaithfulness to God. It will become clearer verses 1-6 as we look at God’s judgment against spiritual, state, and sacred prostitution.

 

God’s Judgment Against Spiritual Prostitution. Revelation 17:1-2 reads, “1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters. 2 with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.”

 

Drunk people do not think of consequences, do they? I remember the drunk driver who killed my professor could not recall his actions. The awful thing about being drunk is that you think that you are in control, but you are not. 

 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports, “About 32% of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers.” Revelation 17:1-2 says that the great prostitute is being judged because she made nations and peoples and kings drunk to the point, they could not think, but act against God.

 

The sitting on many waters indicates her power and authority. Verse 5 it tells us, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.” Clearly, this is not just about a prostitute and judgment against her sexual immorality, it is about a power and authority that influences nations and rulers.

 

Depending on which commentator or preacher you listen to, the great prostitute is Babylon, Rome, and the Roman Catholic Church. People have gone to great lengths to show the connection between the Roman Papacy throughout the ages when the kings of the world were under the control of the Roman religious political empire. War and carnage were done in the name of God.

 

Like the Babylonian empire that destroyed the first temple and killed God’s people, and the Roman Empire that destroyed the second temple and killed God’s people, in the past, the Roman Catholic Church as a religious and political empire attempted to destroy God’s temple, the believers, and the church where God dwells.

 

The Greek word for prostitute is por’ne from which we get the word pornography which means “to sell.” In the dark ages, the church was selling Jesus and salvation for money, power, and influence.

 

Even then, God used the intention of evil men to fulfill His will by causing godly men within the church to study the Word and protest against the church. Thus, Protestantism was born to secure and restore the gospel of grace of our Lord Jesus to set people free from slavery to indulgences, sin, and its consequences. Unfortunately, a form of such spiritual prostitution existed in the first century and exists even today in the form of work-based salvation. 

 

God’s Judgment Against State Prostitution. Revelation 17:3 reads, “And he [the angel] carried me [John] away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns.”

 

In Revelation 12:6 and 14, the “wilderness” was the place of refuge for the woman, which was Israel, who fled from the dragon, the ancient serpent, Satan.

 

In the Bible, the wilderness is also a place where God meets to reveal His will and purposes. In the wilderness, God met Moses, God met Israel, and God met other prophets including John the Baptist, and even His Son Jesus before He started His earthly public ministry.

 

John is brought to the wilderness to receive God’s revelation about the great prostitute who is now seen seated on the beast. We saw this beast in Revelation 13:1-8. There we see that the beast, in Greek therion, was not just any animal but a monster whose description matched the description of the beast in Daniel 7.

 

The beast in Revelation 13 was the combination of the four beasts of Daniel 7 representing four powerful empires: Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman. There, we concluded the beast of Revelation 13 and Daniel 7 were the same people— the antichrist who will set up the abomination of desolation in the temple that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24. For more, see the blog on Worshiping the Unholy Trinity.

 

Revelation 17 shows the great prostitute sitting on this powerful beast, which is the antichrist, identifying her as the empire that is greater than even the beast because the antichrist will rule with the support of the global spiritual religious alliance. God will judge this global state religion that opposes Jesus and the gospel.

 

Imagine God’s judgment against a state so powerful that it promotes local, national, and global immorality. A state with laws and lobbies to influence nations and leaders of nations to adopt sexual immorality. A state that makes laws against morality, Biblical marriage, and how you should raise your family.

 

God’s Judgment Against Sacred Prostitution. Revelation 17:4-5 continues, “4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. 5 And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations.”

 

Babylon is a mystery because of its history. Many Bible scholars including John Calvin, the Protestant Reformer, argued that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers mentioned in Genesis 2:10-14 are the same ones in the region today. That means Eden was located around the region of Iraq which is the geographical location of ancient Babylon and therefore, is Ground Zero for sin and rebellion on earth. Also, it is the land where the dominion of earth was lost to Satan and has been the battlefield for wars between the forces of darkness and light.

 

In Revelation, demonic armies and Satanic-influenced kings will come from the Euphrates for the battle of Armageddon.

 

This mystery, Babylon, in verse 5 says it is the mother of prostitutes and an abomination because that is where all of that started and will end. It should not surprise us that the first records of prostitution as an occupation were found dating back to 2400 BC in Babylon, in present-day south-central Iraq. The records show temple brothels were operated by priests to offer sacred prostitution to the goddess, Ishtar.

 

My guess is that from there, sacred prostitution spread around the world. It remained part of many cultures and religions in the East and West until Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and destroyed the goddess temples thus ending sacred prostitution. It makes sense that as the end draws near, this practice will be re-instituted. 

 

I was listening to a pastor who used to be a porn star. One day, someone shared Jesus with him and it changed his life. Now he shares Jesus with others stuck in the porn industry. The statement that caught my attention was when he said that with every act you lose a piece of yourself.

 

When people are involved in prostitution and sexual immorality, the damage that they suffer is deeper than just the physical. In Revelation 17:1-6, prostitution represents spiritual unfaithfulness to God.

 

The application for is for us to heed God’s warning against spiritual corruption that usually manifests in sexual immorality. Just as drunk people cannot think of the consequences in the act, those drunk on sexual immorality do not see the consequences. Not only does sexual sin destroy marriages, families and lives, it destroys the spirit and soul in a way that leads to physical and spiritual death. 

 

Next time, Lord willing, we will pick up at Revelation 17:6-18 to see how God will use evil men to bring an end to Satan’s spiritual empire which stands on sexual immorality and idolatry. For now, let me close by sharing my conversation with someone who walked away from Jesus. This person said, “I walked away from Jesus because I could not bear the guilt of having sex outside of marriage.” That is not guilt— that is conviction. 

 

The action step you can take to fulfill God’s will is to watch out for the seductiveness of the culture. God exposed the source of seduction so that even if the culture normalizes sin, including sexual sin, in society, that doesn’t mean you should bring it into your life and home. 

 

My appeal to you is to not walk away because the conviction of the Holy Spirit should not be mistaken for guilt. No matter the nature of your sin, Jesus paid it all. God’s will for you is to pursue holiness and for this, He has given us the Holy Spirit. Don’t hide, do walk away from sin to seek godly counsel. Let’s talk because you are not the first nor the last Christian who has been seduced by evil, sin, and the desires of the flesh.

 

Study Questions

 

1.      What does sexual immorality represent in Revelation 17:1-6? How has the great prostitute intoxicated the kings of nations in Revelation 17:2?

 

2.      In Revelation 17:3, why was the prostitute in the wilderness? Why is she seen sitting on the beast? 

 

3.      Where have we seen this beast before? [ Please refer to the blog on Revelation 13:1-18 at Worshiping the Unholy Trinity ]

 

4.      Discuss the name on the forehead of the woman in Revelation 17:5.

 

Deeper Study Questions

 

1.      Irrespective of how we read the passage, one thing is clear; God cares about sexual purity. What is sexual immorality and how do you see sexuality and immorality?

 

2.      Irrespective of your marital status, what measures have you taken to protect yourself against sexual immorality?

 

3.      What measures have you taken to protect yourself against 'spiritual prostitution' (referred to in Sunday's sermon)?

 

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