Sin City Redux
Lord, thank You for the richness of Your Word, for its surprises and challenges, as well as comfort and encouragement.
Read REVELATION 17:1-18
 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 on many waters.  With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”  Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.  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.  This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.  I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished.  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.  The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his 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 he once was, now is not, and yet will come.  “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits.  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 a little while.  The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.  “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.  They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast.  They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings-and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”  Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.  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.  For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled.  The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat will be the result of the war against the Lamb?
It’s great to hear from John while we study this final section of Romans, to look up from his pastoral advice and see ahead to the end times. The Roman church at the time of Paul’s letter would not read John’s vision for a generation or more. If they had, they may well have recognized the way he writes about this “sin city” with its pursuit of wealth and pleasure, its casual attitude toward human life, and its exercise of power to benefit powerful elites.
Is this the inescapable destiny of all cities? Is there nothing redeemable about these hotbeds of sin and debauchery? Of course there is. City spaces can be holy places. What’s more, cities tend to be populated with culture-shapers—”as goes the city, so goes the nation.” So we must love our cities well.
But this city, described as a prostitute who has got into bed with the beast, is representative of a society that has turned its back on God, and it will be burned up in God’s wrath in the most horrific way.
Resolve to pray for a city in or near where you live. Pray that God makes it a “holy place.”
Lord, I pray that You’ll give me a real love for cities around me. Help me pray for them, too.
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