GOD REALLY IS IN CHARGE
Sovereign Lord, I trust You. Open my eyes to Your Word today.
Read Revelation 17:1–18
Babylon, the Prostitute on the Beast
17 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. 2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”
3 Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. 5 The name written on her forehead was a mystery:
babylon the great
the mother of prostitutes
and of the abominations of the earth.
6 I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.
When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. 7 Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. 8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.
9 “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
12 “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
15 Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. 16 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled. 18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectAsk yourself: does evil feel more powerful than God in today’s news stories?
To put chapter 17 in context: Revelation is about the victory of the Lamb, past, present, and future, over all that opposes him and his people, so that they might be encouraged to continue as faithful “lampstands.” The Lamb is victorious over evil, embodied as the dragon (Revelation 12), the beast (Revelation 13, 14) and Babylon (Revelation 14). They are judged in the pivotal central block (Revelation 15, 16) and their final demise follows in reverse order: Babylon (Revelation 17, 18), beast (Revelation 19) and the dragon (Revelation 20). All to make one point: the Lamb wins. Always. Unlikely ever to make it into the Christian cross-stitch catalogues, chapter 17 is nonetheless brilliant. Babylon (and Rome in John’s day, and every organized power that shakes its fist at God) is doomed. The lurid appearance of power is deceptive; don’t be deceived.
The key to all this is in verses 16 and 17. That kingdom divided against itself will fall. God will use one evil system to destroy another. Even evil will end up serving his ends. Like those enemies in the Old Testament that turned on each other, a system built on hating God will destroy itself. We are shocked by fresh wickedness almost every day in the news, but the serpent is writhing and biting and will devour his own body. The Lamb wins. Always.
Are there any ways that you are being deceived by the culture or the enemy to put other things before God? How can you adjust your priorities?
So, Lamb of God, help me to perceive that evil will perish; to possess poise under pressure; and to persevere with patience.