TITLE: Revelation: Scene Six
PREACHER: Marcus Herbert
DATE: 15 SEPTEMBER 2013 – Sunday AM
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As Christians we continue to fight this battle where the systems of this world, and our culture, insist that the goal of our salvation is our own comfort. But God is unseating us. The goal of our salvation is to live an Apostolic Christianity.
In this church – Cornerstone – there are incredible people with incredible gifts. There are leaders in industry here. There are blue-collar workers. There is such a wide range of gifts and God wants all of these to be used primarily for his apostolic purpose. God’s desire is not that the leadership team in this church make and keep you comfortable. Rather, his desire is that we unseat you to live this Apostolic Christianity.
As we cover the sixth scene in Revelation, we’re going to talk about cities. In the book of Genesis we see that everything begins in a garden, but in the end – in this book of Revelation – it ends with a city. If you want to impact a nation these days you must impact its cities. We see this as part of Paul’s strategy where they reached the commercial junctions. There are influencing cities around the world – if you reach New York, you reach North America. If you reach Johannesburg, you reach South Africa. Singapore… we can mention others too.
Business people are able to get into these places through their abilities and be like Priscilla and Aquila from the Bible. We must keep this in mind. All the gifts in the church must be working – not just the gifts of preaching.
So let’s think of Apostolic Christianity as we address this next part of the book of Revelation, Revelation 17:1-19:10 (Scene Six).
The Great Prostitute
This passage continues to show us the things that come against God’s people. In the preceding chapters, we’ve been introduced to Satan, at first, then the beast of pagan government, the beast of false religion, and now we are introduced to the great prostitute, which is a description of the seduction of sin and the systems of sin. Humankind, and even the Church, is seduced into this sin and we’ve got to guard our hearts against it.
“Babylon” is the city mentioned here because, in the Bible, this city represents everything that is related to worldly indulgence. This was a city where wickedness was celebrated as good and wholesome.
The fifth thing that comes against the church are men and women who have the “mark of the beast”. In other words, these are people who hate God. These days, you can’t stand in a city and not feel that, amidst all the hurting and broken people, that there are also people who hate God and resist Him. It’s not just the dragon (Satan) who resists Christ, or governments or religions, but also people who carry a mark of rebellion against God.
As Revelation continues to build towards a climax, the big question is: Who is going to win? The dragon, Satan? Or Jesus? This chapter and the rest of the book answers this question. It’s not that difficult, though. Christ wins and we win.
We need that to settle deep inside of us so that as the book of Revelation shows us a world in turmoil and the anti-Christ ruling and reigning with the beasts and this great prostitute, we won’t be afraid to continue the fight.
1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgement 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.”
This talks of how all people, everywhere, have been seduced into the same things. They are drunk with the wine of the great prostitute’s sin. That sin looks like a golden goblet and is very attractive, but as Christians we must remember that as you drink that cup, you will die. And we must tell people about that! Don’t be deceived by the nature of this golden cup.
3 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. 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.”
This woman is the mother of all the abominations you find in the world. The enemy has studied human nature very carefully and has created systems for our downfall that are well-thought out and massive.
If you were in one of those seven churches in Asia Minor who this letter was originally written to, you would understand that Satan has put this prostitute in place to affect everything. This prostitute even rides on the back of government. From experience today, you will know that everything has been corrupted – all businesses, governments and so forth have corruption. It doesn’t matter where you work or what you’re involved in, you’re pushing against some corruption somewhere.
Please note that this great prostitute is not a person but it is referring to a system! It’s not that one day we are going to see some woman riding around. Some interpretations have tried to uncover who this person is, but it represents a seductive sinful system that we are all in danger of falling into.
6 And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marvelled greatly.
This woman makes people drunk. You drink from her cup, you get drunk. But note that she, too, is drunk. Her whole design is to make you stumble and if you don’t stumble, she (this system) is going to come at you with everything she has, using government or everything she can. She finds pleasure in doing this.
7 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. 8 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.
Here we see the nature of the beast of pagan government – it was, is not, and rises. This shows us how pagan governments rise and fall and throughout history we’ve seen this. All kinds of evil governments have risen and fallen – Babylon, Assyria, Persia, Rome; and in our modern times, even communism. These things will continue to come and go but there will come a time when they will rise from the pit (they come from hell) and they will attempt one more time to affect everything. Then, after, they will be judged once-for-all.
9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated;
Remember, John is writing to people in the first century and the pagan government of their day – Rome – was built on seven hills. So he is talking about them to show us what’s taking place behind the scenes.
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.
The best employs kings and the horns here represent power. This is saying that there were kings and they fell, but others will come, and one day an anti-christ will come and rule over these. More on this below.
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.
There is going to be a time when everything will climax but look here – the influence of these wicked things is only ‘one hour’. It’s not long, it’s short. This is all running according to God’s programme and he allows these things to rise for the purposes of salvation – so that people will come to him and receive the Gospel and be saved.
In his sovereignty, God does everything to ensure in this Gospel age that the Gospel goes out. He doesn’t do this to cause confusion. Through persecution the Jerusalem church went out and the church of Antioch was planted. (Acts 11.) God works through everything for the purpose of bringing salvation to all.
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.”
We’ve got to make sure we don’t get caught up in the wrong things here. There are many interpretations available which try and guess who this prostitute is and who these horns are etc. But the focus is the Lamb! The Lamb who will overcome!
We must come to the scriptures to understand the times – not the media, because even the media is influenced by all these systems. We are those who understand the times and give people hope. That hope is that there is only one king of Kings, which is Jesus! And those with him are chosen, called and faithful. That’s us!
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.
The enemy wants to get to every people group. This prostitute is influencing everyone. But there’s only one king and one Lord.
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 we see that, even though the kings worked together and with the beasts and prostitute, now they all turn against each other. Evil eventually just fights with itself. There’s no success story from anyone who has drunk from that great prostitute’s cup.
But aren’t you glad that the end of verse 17 is there? “…until the words of God are fulfilled.” Even wickedness fighting with itself like this is according to the pattern. Remember, the Lamb opened the scroll of history (Revelation) and it’s God has it all under control. In the meantime, our gob is to overcome by the power of the Blood.
On the day that Jesus died, God called every single person to salvation. But if you die without him, that call is over.
The first challenge is that if you don’t know God, sonship and daughtership is waiting for you. Accept Jesus today and you will escape the judgement to come.
The second challenge is to Christians. Note that verse 14 calls us ‘chosen’. We are all chosen – not just the bright sparks. We’re all chosen to do good works. We’re chosen to bear fruit. Chosen in our vocations to bear fruit. This is how we overcome – not by building shelters and stocking up fresh water, but by taking advantage of salvation and bearing fruit.
The Bible talks about being faithful or faith-filled (Luke 18:8). What are you leaving behind you? A trail of faithfulness to God? He is looking for that in our hearts – not accomplishment or building empires or nest eggs or inheritances. He is looking for us to be men and women of faith. Are we a people who are full of faith in this King?
It’s good to keep in mind the contrasting natures of the dragon, Satan and our Lord, Jesus. The thief, Satan comes to kill and destroy, but Jesus has come to give life for evermore (John 10).
As we look at evil, don’t forget about God. (John 4:8.) God is love. Our motivation is always love; the enemy’s is deception, fear and seduction. We’re motivated by love and go to the nations for love. We don’t scare people into heaven. We’re not motivated by fear either, we fear God.
Only God’s Kingdom is eternal. Daniel 2: 31 – 45 talks of empires that are crushed into pieces by a rock which grows into a mountain and shall “stand forever”. That rock is Christ Jesus and His Kingdom. It will always stand.
If you look across the world you see materialism, or islam, or humanism, or all these systems. But that rock of Jesus smashes those and in the end that rock fills the whole earth.
It’s important to apply this all very personally.