THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS, DRUNK WITH BLOOD
Suggested Reading: Revelation 17
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Key Verse: Revelation 17:17
For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.
Jim and Kathy Cantelon write today’s 100 Words segment (originally published in Crossroads’ Day Unto Day devotional series)…
I think it should be pretty clear to you by now that apocalyptic literature with its “picture language” is not too concerned about logic, consistency, and precision. This shouldn’t trouble us – rather, it should challenge us. Literally thousands of authors have taken up the challenge, and no two agree totally on every point of interpretation.
This chapter, however, begins a section dealing with the fall of “Babylon the Great” (concluding in 19:10). There are seven visions, and each refers to the fall of the cult of Roma, the deified personification of Rome (verse 18). “Babylon” is the proto-type for Rome, an empire that, in John’s day, had extended to Asia and the East. The “worship” of Roma was introduced to these areas so that the Empire became, in fact, a state cult. The Roman ruler Octavian, for example, built temples to “Dea Roma” and “Dious Julius” at Ephesus and Nicea, and to Roma and himself in Pergamum and Nicomedia. The belief in “Roma aeterna” (eternal Rome) was cultivated so that “Roma” became a living, breathing deity in the eyes of the world at that time.
John’s vision reaches far beyond the historical realities of his day, however, and chapter 17 is the first chapter where we see a clear attempt on the part of the angelic guide to “explain” what is going on (verse 7). Even though a lot of room is still left for interpretation, we at least see beyond the physical incongruities of multi-headed beasts, horns, bowls, and cups.
John sees a “great prostitute” sitting “on many waters” (verse 1), “on seven hills” (verse 9), and on a “scarlet beast” (verse 3). So, she “sits” on three things at the same time, is dressed elegantly (verse 4a), but is full of “abominable things” and “adulteries” (verse 4c). She is guilty of martyring “the saints” (verse 6).
The beast on which she sits “once was, and now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss” (verse 8), and has seven heads, one of which is himself (verse 11). These heads are all “kings” (who are at the same time “hills” – verse 9). Five of them have already “fallen” (verse 10a), one is “presently” alive (in John’s time), and the remaining king is to come at some future day but will reign only “for a little while” (verse 10c).
The beast also has ten horns, and these are future kings “who have not yet received a kingdom” (verse 12a) but eventually will reign “for an hour” (verse 12b). They work in conjunction with the beast and will do so at the very end of history, when they will “make war against the Lamb” (verse 14a). After losing to the Lamb, their final act will be to “ruin” the prostitute and “leave her naked” (verse 16).
There are two encouraging things to notice: 1. Those whose names are “written in the book of life” (verse 8 ) will not be “astonished” nor will they be conquered by the beast (verse 14c); and 2. Even while these last-day, evil forces do their foul deeds, they will be accomplishing God’s purposes (verse 17a). God is Sovereign. Everything is under His control.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord God, I pray for those today who are suffering torture and death at the hands of people who are possessed by the spirit of anti-christ. Please give your people great grace. Fill them with love for their tormenters, the same love demonstrated by Jesus for those who nailed Him to the cross. Bring deliverance as You did for Peter in prison in Jerusalem, and for Paul and Silas in prison in Philippi. I pray for grace to stand firm in the face of any threats I may face in my lifetime. In Jesus’ Name! Amen!!!
100 PERSONAL WORDS:
Several years ago I travelled to Kosovo to spend time with Canadian troops who were there on a peace-keeping mission. I was so very proud of our men and women. After their regular shift of doing such tasks as clearing explosives from the roads, they would go out into the community to volunteer in rebuilding homes, schools, etc., which had been destroyed in war. On Sunday I travelled with a van load of soldiers to church in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital city. We did not film the following in case we would further complicate this tragic yet wonderful happening. I saw tears in soldiers’ eyes as a girl of about 19 gave her testimony. Her face was black and blue and had obviously bled from facial wounds. But her face was also shining with joy as she told the story of her Muslim father beating her because she had insisted that she believed in Jesus as her Saviour and God. He said that if she went back to that church he would beat her again. Here she was, boldly confessing Jesus! (click here for a video from the Kosovo trip). It’s long so please watch even a part of it. You may want to fast forward from time to time. This was sent to the troops in Kosovo and to every military base in Canada. Pray also for Allan Stevenson, who was the videographer with me in Kosovo. He has just been released from hospital after undergoing a liver transplant.
The Apostle Peter, who was put to death by crucifixion in Rome, wrote some words about persecution. Read 1 Peter 4:12-19.
Yours for experiencing the courage and strength found in daily reading of the Bible,