Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A WOMAN RIDES THE BEAST (Revelation Chapter 17)

Revelation 17:3, “…And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names.”
Revelation 17:5-6, “And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: ‘Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations’.  And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.”

The chapter and the next have to do with the subject of Babylon.  As John Walvoord has noted, there is much speculation and debate concerning the details of these two chapters, “Any interpretation of Revelation 17 and 18 is difficult because expositors have not agreed as to the detail of their interpretations. In general, however, it is helpful to consider chapter 17 as dealing with Babylon as an ecclesiastical or spiritual entity and chapter 18 as dealing with Babylon as a political entity.”

Babylon is mentioned six times by name in the book of Revelation (Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21) and 260 times in the Bible.  There are five main views regarding the identification of Babylon in Revelation chapters 17-18: 1) the world; 2) Jerusalem; 3) Rome; 4) An end time religious system; and 5) a future, literal, rebuilt Babylon.  Still others suppose her to be the Roman Catholic Church or some syncretic amalgamation of two or more of the aforementioned views.

John MacArthur, “Babylon has from its inception symbolized evil and rebellion against God.  It was founded by Nimrod (Genesis 10:9-10), a proud, powerful, God-rejecting ruler.  Babel (Babylon) was the site of the first organized system of idolatrous false religion (Genesis 11:1-4).  The Tower of Babel, the expression of that false religion, was a ziggurat; an edifice designed to facilitate idolatrous worship.  God judged the people’s idolatry and rebellion by confusing their language and scattering them over the globe (Genesis 11:5-9).  Thus the seeds of idolatry and false religion spread around the world from Babylon, to take root wherever these proud rebels and their descendants settled.”  

According to Rabbinic sources, “Nimrod was the primary force behind this rebellion.  The Midrashim explain his sinister motive.  He planned to build a tower ascending to Heaven, and, from it, wage war against God”

The Babylon of Revelation chapters 17 and 18 is the fruit of the seed of the idolatrous rebellion in Genesis chapter 11.  They share similar characteristics.  A powerful ruler leads both.  It should be noted that Nimrod was the first earthly “king.”  The Antichrist will be the last one.  They both work to build something.  Nimrod, an “invincible” tower; Antichrist, an “invincible” kingdom.  They both enlist and unite others in their ungodly enterprise.  Through the building of the Tower of Babel false religions spread.  The Antichrist will gladly tolerate false beliefs (anything is permissible as long as it does not stand in the way of his agenda), but not the truth (Cf. Revelation 17:6).  Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was “Tower of Babel” like.  The Roman Empire was too and though there existed a plethora of pagan gods and goddesses it was the emperor alone who demanded absolute allegiance.  The godless humanism of our day functions according to similar principles.

John MacArthur, “What is found in these verses if the final form of religious apostasy, ending in a one-world super-church…During the Tribulation, all the world’s diverse false religions will be reunited into one great religion.  That ultimate expression of false religion will be an essential element of Antichrist’s finale world empire, in holding together his military, economic, and political structure.  Only religion can unite the world in the most compelling way.”

The coming one-world religion will tolerate all kind of beliefs and practices, but will not tolerate the truth.  As the Apostle John warned, that form of “religion” is even now in the world, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.  This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already” (1 John 4:1-3).

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