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Fulfilling God's Will, Part 2

Trust God and trust His will. Otherwise, wondering and speculating on things that are out of your control will confuse you and lead you to doubt God’s sovereignty.

 

Revelation 17:6-18 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. But the angel said to me, “Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. 11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. 12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

 

15 And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. 16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, 17 for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.”

 

In looking at Revelation 17:1-6, I asked, “Can evil fulfill God’s will?” I think the answer depends on our view of God and whether we believe in the sovereignty of God or not. The problem of evil is an old problem and an attempt to reconcile the existence of evil with the creation of God has baffled humanity. Therefore, people have used the problem of evil to argue against God’s existence.

 

Last time, I said that people need to know that God neither creates evil nor approves of it. However, in His sovereignty, God can use anything, including evil, in the world to fulfill His will.

 

Revelation 17 showed that as the end draws near and evil prevails, believers can take comfort in knowing God is always in control even when it feels like He is not. In Revelation 17:17, God, in His sovereignty, directed evil men and their evil ways to fulfill His will.

 

The big idea that we began to look at time was that God is in control and He can use evil men and their evil ways to fulfill His will because although God neither creates nor approves of evil, He is sovereign over it.

 

This is exactly why in Revelation 17, God carried 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 abruption.

 

In the first five verses of Revelation 17 that we covered last time, God exposed the source of seduction as He revealed to the church how He will punish spiritual, state, and sacred prostitution which represented a global Satanic empire of idolatry and immorality. Now, we pick up with verse 7 to see how God carries out His plan and purposes to fulfill His perfect and holy will.

 

By Exploiting the Source of Destruction (Revelation 17:7-14)

 

Remember the historical context of this letter and the immediate situation that the Church was in. After the first wave of state-sponsored persecution of Christians under Roman Emperor Nero that took out most of the Christian leadership and the early believers who saw Jesus, the second-generation believers and the new converts were hit with the second wave of persecution under Roman Emperor Domitian.

 

Many Christians were the victims of false teachers who justified emperor worship and the worship of the Roman gods to escape persecution. I am sure those who were standing strong in their faith wanted to know how long God would allow evil to prosper and prevail. John was probably wondering, also.

 

Therefore, in verse 6, we read, “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.” Some will say that the great prostitute was so seductive that even John could not help but “marvel greatly” at her beauty.

 

The Greek word used here for marvel can be used in the sense of admiration, but I do not believe that that is the case here. In Greek, we see “marvel” used twice in verse 6. Tahoma and Thaumazo are used to communicate two aspects of John’s shock or amazement.

 

First, it evokes emotional astonishment. That is what Tahoma means and then the person begins to speculate on the matter. That is what Thaumazo means. Knowing what John knew about the source of seduction of the kings, nations, and people in Revelation 17:1-5, it is natural that he was shocked emotionally and began to speculate how in verse 2, the woman made others drunk but in verse 6, she, herself, is drunk.

 

Notice the contrast. While in verse 2, religious Babylon made kings and the common population drunk with the Satanic spiritual system. In verse 6, religious Babylon made herself drunk on the blood of the Saints and the martyrs of Christ for refusing to follow religious Babylon.

 

Perhaps John saw the blood of some of his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and he knew that evil would continue to prevail until the end. At this point in the vision when John was full of awe and perplexity, Revelation 17:7 reads, “But the angel said to me, “Why do you marvel?” ”

 

I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. See how the angel shifts the focus from the woman, the great prostitute, religious Babylon to the beast. Verse 8 continues, “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.”

 

We saw this description for the antichrist in Revelation 13:3, which reads, “One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.” The very existence of the beast is to be the antichrist to deceive people into believing the Messiah has arrived. So, they marveled at what they perceived to be the resurrected antichrist.

 

Verse 8 also says he can deceive only those who were not of Christ to begin with because their names were not in the Book of Life. It is ironic that the life they celebrated came from the bottomless pit and to the pit they will go.

 

Revelation 17:9-13 says, “9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. 11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. 12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13 These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast.”

 

Last time, in Revelation 17:3, we spent a good amount of time looking at this beast of Revelation 13 and Daniel 7. This is the antichrist who will start his reign by bringing all global religions' disputes to an end and, in his effort by the power of Satan and his demons, he will create a Satanic empire.

 

Most commentators agree that this is a reference to the Roman Empire. It was more powerful among the four empires of Daniel 7 (Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman), but now it is no more. It seems that during the tribulation, there will be a Revival of the Empire. It will be stronger than ever before because verse 14 says, “They will make war on the Lamb” because “and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” Christ will come to fight the antichrist and Satan’s final world empire.

 

Last Thursday, I was sharing with our small group that all religions truly believe that through their religious rituals, one can overcome the evil one, unaware that the evil one is making them think they control him while he's controlling them. The woman, the great prostitute and religious Babylon, who sits on the beast may think she is influencing the antichrist.

 

Still, it is the antichrist who influences her into thinking that she controls him. Since the religious Babylon is riding on the shoulders of the antichrist, it is up to the antichrist when he throws her down and finishes her. That is exactly how God will exploit the source of destruction.

 

An evil empire built on evil-by-evil people can be destroyed by simply nudging evil people to do what their evil hearts already desire— to do evil. God will exploit the source of destruction to fulfill His will to end the spiritual reign of Satan.

 

In the way of application, notice a spiritual principle in John’s wandering thoughts and the angel’s response in this section. I believe that the message is, stop the wandering thoughts and stop speculating on things only God can reveal because speculating on things out of our control often creates confusion, which leads to doubt. Focus on God and His Word and if you believe in the sovereignty of God then believe also that God is always in control and He can use even evil to fulfill His will.

 

By Explaining the Source of Abruption (Revelation 17:15-18)

 

Revelation 17:15-18 says, “15 And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. 16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, 17 for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.” ” Here God explains that He is the source of the abruption of the unity and destructive work of the unholy trinity. God will put into the hearts of the world power to topple false religious power— the woman.

 

Last week, I read a work of a Christian author who declared that those of us who disassociate evil from God’s creation are false teachers because God created everything and that includes evil.

 

God is good and out of His goodness, He created everything and to the man, He gave free will to choose, but when they chose evil, and evil made them blame God for all the evil people and their evil ways.

 

Revelation 17:6-18 explains that God is not the source of evil but is the source of the abruption of evil within the evil ranks to direct evil to fulfill His will. Satan may think that he is in control but as Martin Luther said, even the Devil is God’s Devil. That means Satan can never operate outside the created order and the Lord’s decree, thus within the sovereign rule and control of God.

 

The application for us is: trust God even when every fiber of our being tells us to trust our works and smarts. The tools of seduction can be anything including rites and rituals, good deeds, and works to keep the masses busy thinking they worship God but in reality, they don’t.

 

I am sure most of you have heard Epicurus' philosophical conundrum about the issue of evil and God’s existence. It says,

 

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?

Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing?

Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing?

Then whence cometh evil?

Is he neither able nor willing?

Then why call him God?”

 

We call Him God because He is sovereign over everything and is always in control even when it feels like He isn’t. God chose to reveal that He can use evil to fulfill His will, therefore He exposed the source of seduction, destruction, and abruption.

 

The action step is, surrender before Jesus all that makes no sense to you. Trust in His sovereignty and that He is always in control, and He will use even what seems to be evil to fulfill His will in your life.

 

My appeal to you is, don’t go off wondering and speculating about things that are out of your control. They will confuse you and make you doubt the sovereignty of God.  God is always in control.

 

I don’t know why the days of the righteous are cut short while evil people prosper. I don’t know why God chooses not to smite evil pedophiles. I do not know why God chooses not to save victims of abortion. I don’t know why God chooses not to heal the little ones struggling with terminal illness. I don’t know why God chooses not to rescue the ones dying for His name’s sake.

 

Do I wonder? Do I speculate? And in my frustration, do I dare to question God’s choices? Ask my wife. She has seen me wrestling with and crying over these matters and fighting with God.

 

The only thing that comforts me is the sovereignty of God, that He controls all outcomes no matter what. Yet, that does not make it easy to say, “not my will but thy will be done.” It was not easy for Jesus, the Son of God, and it cannot be easy for us either.

 

Nevertheless, that’s what we must say. If you are overwhelmed, and things are not making any sense, and you are wondering, trust Him and trust His will. Otherwise, wondering and speculating on things that are out of your control will confuse you and lead you to doubt God’s sovereignty.

 

If you believe in the sovereignty of God, then also believe that He is in control always— even when it feels like He is not and that He can use even evil to fulfill His will for you.

 

Study Questions

 

1.      What do we learn about the sovereignty of God in Revelation 17:17?

 

2.      In Revelation 17:7-18, how does the sovereignty of God apply to the woman, the beast, the seven heads, the ten horns, and the waters?

 

3.      How does the sovereignty of God play out in the relationship between the woman and the beast?

 

Deeper Study Questions

 

1.      What did you learn from the relationship between the beast and the prostitute that it carried? What did it teach you about the eventual outcome of participating in Satan’s work?

 

2.      What do you plan to do to protect yourself against Satan’s subtleties about faith, spirituality, and religion?

 

3.      In what way does God’s sovereignty comfort you and challenge you in your everyday life?

 

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