What does Revelation 17:1-5 mean to us now?

31 07 2010

 

Got Apostasy in your life and church? Did you know that the term “antichrist” means anyone or anything that hides or hinders Christ, and/or prevents people from knowing and worshiping Him, even by Christians? This can be from a misplaced word that attacks someone so deeply they leave and never return to a church, to full-blown apostasy. Read 1 John! 

Another question we need to ask is what are we loyal too? Fades, trends, ideas, or the precepts of Scripture and the glorification of Christ? Why are Christians so interested in chasing fads? Did you know every theory and prediction of Christ’s return and the patterns of the day leading to His return have all been wrong? Another fad we tend to chase is trends on how to lead and manage His Church. Most of these are like chasing the harlot while ignoring the beckoning of Christ and His Way. We seek to water down His Holy Word to attract people—just as the devil manipulates people to trick them to his ways while we are called to disciple, teach, and worship Christ as Lord…His Way. 

Being a harlot means we are engaged in and promoting apostasy! What about factions, gossip, and pride? These are the things that God hates the most and cause the greatest destruction to any given church, something even Satan himself could never do. Point? WE are the real enemy of enmity, our sin building and conniving and converging upon one another, while we ignore Christ and His supremacy, precepts, and call! 

God is calling you and me—those who lead and pastor churches, who influence people in the church, who sit on committees, teach, or like to flee from manipulating and gossiping behind the scenes—to wake up and SEEK HIM, not ourselves or ideas or plans or trends! 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. How does chasing trends affect how a pastor or church leader may lead and mange “His Church?” How can one discern between good trends and bad?
  1. Have you ever considered that most of them are like chasing the harlot while ignoring the beckoning of Christ and His Way?
  1. Who has command of you and your church? Is it pride, trends, and agendas, or is it God and His preeminence?
  1. What about factions, gossip, and pride? What are you going to do about it? What does Christ want you and your church to do?

 © 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org





The Four Main Views of Revelation 17:1-5

31 07 2010

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as referring to first century Rome; the harlot is Rome, representing its sin, and the consequences of its sin leading to its judgment and downfall. This passage gives greater details that have taken place in chapter 16. They see the scarlet beast as the same beast of the sea in Chapter 13, namely Rome. The scarlet is the blood that was spilt by the devastation upon Jerusalem. A few in this camp see this as Jerusalem, and the giving of the events when Rome destroyed it in 70 A.D. Of all the key words in this passage that allude to Rome, one is also used for Jerusalem, the “great city.” Thus, others in this camp see Rome depicted as destroying and not being the one judged. Also, harlot is sometimes used for apostasy of the priests and kings of Israel (Is. 1:21; 57:8; Jer. 2:20).The usage of terms in this chapter is a good argument for this position in general.

The Futurist view: They see this passage as the Catholic Church or the rise of an “antichrist” figure causing apostasy in the Church. Many see that Babylon will be rebuilt or the Roman Empire rising up again, the sacrificial system restored, and the need for the “red heifer” to atone for peoples sins. All this is happening at the close of the tribulation as the wicked rise up for one last volley against God, setting up the world for Christ’s return. Because Revelation is not necessarily in a chronological order, many in this camp have a hard time with this passage. Most say it is describing events prior to the judgment Bowls, and many see the seventh bowl as Christ’s second coming. There is a lot of discussion of at what point in the tribulation this all takes place. Most see Babylon as The Roman Catholic Church, a new Roman empire rising up, or a new, corrupt, religious system. Some see this as the reprising of the Vatican or it becoming more corrupted then ever before, mostly due to the description of dress of the harlot seen as priestly garments. Some have said the harlot could be apostate Christians who say they are serving Christ but are really serving other gods, or the decay of society as people “pimp” themselves to immorality and false gods. Others say that this harlot is the sum total of the pagan influences upon the world that the “antichrist” uses or develops for his purposes. The beast is seen the same as in chapter thirteen, but now showing her support, or else the political power behind the “antichrist.” Drunk is seen as the cruelty and bloodshed from the “antichrist.” 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as the evils of the world, its corruption, and its consequential influences upon the Church. Babylon is anything that causes people to seek sin, be seduced by evil, or fight against God. Ancient Babylon is seen as the template for evil governments, their wickedness, and their oppression. Adultery is seen as the ruins of Roman providences, seeking the favor of Rome by evil acts. Others see it as the vices of Rome that led to its downfall. Wilderness is seen as the “detachment” of Christianity from civilization such as the monastic movements, or the lack of Christian influence in the governments. The scarlet beast, as the same beast of the sea in Chapter 13, is seen as Satan. The dressed in purple is the prostitution of Rome and how it led the men to further wickedness and apathy. The harlot is Rome and its depravity that led to its self destruction. Others see it as anything that distracts one from God—the lust of the world. Drunk is seen as the indulgences of Rome and/or how they persecuted the Church, and the blood that was on their hands because of it, such as Nero.

The Historicist view: They see this passage as the fall of the Catholic Church and the corrupt papal system, as the true Church gains victory. They see this chapter as giving extra insights of the events of chapter 16 and of the Turks and Muslim invaders too. Each of these key words is seen as descriptions of the Roman Catholic Church. Wilderness is seen as “Campagna,” the desert area that surrounds the city of Rome where the Vatican is. Ten horn and beast are the persecutions to the faithful by the papacy. Scarlet refers to the priests—their vestments and their pompousness. The Mother Harlot is seen as Pope Benedict the 13th. Others see this as the apostate churches that have spouted since the Reformation, such as liberalism. Cup and forehead refer to the papal indulgences prior to the Reformation, and causing the faithful to worship what is false or hidden from their sight, and languages, as the Mass was behind a veil in being spoken in Latin. Drunk is seen as bloody persecutions of the Medieval Period and the martyrs who tried to reform the Church, such as Wycliffe. (Some accounts have reported the slaughter of millions—up to 50 million faithful Christians by the papacy during the period of the fall of Rome and the Reformation.)





Exegetical look into Revelation 17:3-5

31 07 2010

 

  • Carried me away/in the spirit. Usually means “spiritual ecstasy,” that is, to be caught up in a vision (not necessarily teleportation, although it can be). The term is not referring to the Holy Spirit, but can mean being influenced by Him (Ezek. 8:3; 11:1-24; Rev. 1:10; 4:2; 21:10).
  • Desert/wilderness refers to the Exodus, but this time, a new exodus. This can also mean demonic—what is evil and foreboding or barren and desolate (Rev. 12:14).
  • Scarlet. Perhaps referring to blood that was spilt from the killing—the martyrs of God’s people. This can also be a retort on the seduction of the shrine prostitutes and their wealth and impiety, and also sinful conduct. (This is the passage for the theme of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic work, “The Scarlet Letter” of 1850!) This has nothing to do with a “red heifer” (holy cow) or a ‘scapegoat.” Such a view shows the necessity to read the Bible and not the daily newspaper or depend on our presumptions for our views on eschatology. Because Christ’s sacrifice is complete, we can add nothing to it now or in the future (Num. 19; Lev. 16; Jer. 4:30; Matt. 27:28; Heb. 9:19; Rev.13:1; 18:12).
  • Beast is probably the same beast mentioned in chapter 13, a possible reference to the Roman goddess “Roma” and the legend of the “she-wolf.” Also, it could be an image for Rome and its corruption. Ironically, in Rome’s quest and lust for luxury, they ended up destroying themselves into the dark ages of extreme poverty (Dan. 8).
  • Blasphemous names infers that God’s name is not worthy; whereas, in reality, He is worthy. (See Revelation 13:1-4 study.)
  • Seven heads refers to supernatural manipulation or the appearance of it, as in tricking people (Rev. 13:1).
  • Dressed in purple and scarlet refers to the “royal colors” of priests; here, it is perverted and used for idolatry. This also refers to the excess and “over the top” luxury at the expense of others. Such colors and clothing dyes were very rare and expensive. It may also refer to Jezebel and her wickedness and idolatry as adultery. Martin Luther was convinced this referred to the papacy he called “popery.” Thus, a contrast of goodness and evil (Ex. 20:1-3; Rev. 12:1; 18:7).
  • Glittering with gold… a symbol of contempt, slander, and/or a disrespect for authority, as pious women had head covering and prostitutes adorned their hair (1 Cor. 11:3-16).
  • Cup refers to indulgences and what one dishes out, promotes, and uses.
  • Forehead refers to being unashamed of sin!
  • Mystery means a “secret symbol” used in Gnosticism and the false religions at that time that demanded its people go through ridiculous rituals and initiation rites. This is what is referred to as apostasy (2 Thess. 2:3-7). 
  • Babylon the Great. Here it refers to great confusion when associated with the key words in verse 1, waters and mystery. Babylon was also an early church code word for Rome and also for false worship and oppression which will be addressed in the next two chapters of Revelation (Jer. 51:12-13; Psalm 137:1; Rev. 14:8; 17:15).
  • The mother of prostitutes/the great whore. A Jewish saying meaning “abomination,” ‘terrible,” and “confusion rests on the people.” This is an image of extreme evils, oppression, sexual exploitations, and the seductions of the world, referring to the evils of paganism and immorality and rationalizing it as OK (Lev 18:23; Jer. 3:3; Ezek-. 27; Hos. 2:2; Rev. 2:23; 7:3; 13:6).

 





Exegetical look into Revelation 17:1-2

31 07 2010

 

  • One of the seven angels, meaning a “tour guide.” This is a common image in apocalyptic writing—someone who guides the seer or reader to what these events mean (Rev. 1:4, 10; 14:8; 16:19; see Revelation 1:9-20 Study).
  • Prostitute/harlot/whore is from the Greek word, “porne,” from whence comes the English word “pornography.” It means promoting and/or partaking in the grievous sin of fornication that hurts, steals, and destroys. This is an image used in the Old Testament to mean the abandonment of one’s covenant to God or the unfaithfulness and faithlessness of Israel. Also, this means the seductions of the world and that we have to be on guard as Christians. It is people being allured into sin, yet knowing it is sin and being able to resist—as people seeking to disobey God and/or to serve evil. To choose sin is a deliberate choice, one that God hates passionately. This was also a term used by the early church for Rome (Lev. 17:7; Is. 1:21; 26:16-18;  57:3; Jer. 3:1-14; Ezek. Chaps 16 & 23; Hos. 4:15).
  • Who sits on many waters means confusion; this was also an early church “code word” for Rome, as Rome was a vast, Mediterranean empire mostly on the coast or near many bodies of water (Psalm 65:7; 137:1; Jer. 51:13).
  • Kings of the earth. This was an early church term that referred to the various states of Rome, such as Syria; each one had their own king, like Herod, who was over the Judea-Jerusalem province. This word also refers to “mortal men” and was a derogatory term for fornication and idolatry; it did not refer to angels or demons.
  • Committed adultery/sexual immorality means betraying God by committing acts of immorality. These people had no reservations or protests to following an evil empire and being used by them. Their belief was that one has a license to sin; thus, one does not need to be obedient to God, His precepts, civil law, or any moral standards, nor have a need to bear fruit. God says this is evil as it portrays evil as being good. This can also be a reference to the “Emperor cult” and the governors practicing and promoting it, using it as an excuse for extreme immorality and wickedness (Judges 17:6; Jer. 2:31-37; Rom. 6:1-2; 14-15; 13:8, 10; Gal. 5:14; 6:2; Gal. 5:22-25; James 2: 14-26; Jude 4; Rev. 2:20).   
  • Were intoxicated with the wine/Babylon’s wine refers to the evils of sin and how it corrupts and destroys, even for the people who use them thinking they are tools to get what they want (Jer. 51:7).




Revelation 17:1-5: What are the Contexts?

31 07 2010

 

The prostitute/harlot represents evil and the manipulations of forcing and tricking people to compromise—forsaking faith to embrace the devil. Such groups in the early church and throughout history sought to hide God and prevent people from knowing about true salvation. It is paganism, godlessness, false religions, and manipulating religion for personal gain and false teachings which are all extreme corruption and hiding of the real God in the shadow of man’s pride and corruption. Governments will seek this harlot so they can manipulate and dominate their people, such as totalitarian regimes and corruption. Corruption destroys everything as it prevents goodness, cooperation, and growth. It tears down rather than build up. People try to use it as an easy way to their goals, but it never works; rather, it causes breakdowns of self and society whereas Christ cleanses us with His blood and equips us with His Word to help build up the world. Thus, “building” is a primary theme of Christianity that creates community and cooperation with the goal of faith and the building of the Church. The devil destroys and tricks people to think that self destruction, the poverty of personal faith, and the breakdown of societal development are good things!           

            This passage is also referring to how the Emperor-worship cults were strangling the Church, tricking Christians away from Christ to its evils, saying it was OK and compatible with compromise, and not taking real, effectual faith seriously (1 Cor. 6:12-20; 1 Pet. 2:12; 4:3-4).

 





Revelation 17:1-5

31 07 2010

Introduction 

The Great Prostitute 

Then, one of the seven angels goes to John and shows him some more details of these judgments, particularly the great prostitute whose evils have influenced so many. Many rulers and governments have succumbed to evil manipulations and refused to heed godly ways. They have sought immorality rather than Christ, and have given themselves to the prostitute of evil as one would do to a regular prostitute while being drunk—a total disregard for responsibility or morality. The result is that godly people are being tricked and prevented from knowing the One True God—Christ as Savior and Lord.  

Then, the angel takes John to the wilderness to see all this in action—the ways of evil being seductive, attracting, and ever so alluring to so many people. This great harlot blasphemes God and puts her trust in materialism and immorality and leads others to do so, too. And, in so doing, she is not ashamed, but rather boisterous and proud of sin. 

How do the evils of sin corrupt and destroy? How do they destroy the people who use them, thinking they are a tool to get what one wants?





What does Revelation 16:12-21 mean to us now?

17 07 2010

 

Have you ever considered that God suffers from our sins? And, in the midst of our sin, He is patient? Yet, one day, His patience will come to its fruition; His judgments, which will be honorable and blameless, will come about. Remember that God’s wrath refers to the judgment that is coming; it will be a reality (Is. 65:2; Joel 2:11; Mal. 3:2). This is something we Christians need not fear as Christ covers our sin for us (Zeph. 1:14-18; Nahum. 1:6; Mal. 3:2; Rom. 1:18; 3:9-23; 6:23; 2 Pet. 3:9-15; Rev.19:15). God loves holiness and love, and both produce justice. He hates sin and discord. Without love expressed in holiness, there can be no justice or hope for the righteous and faithful. There is hope and assurance when our trust is in Christ and His righteousness. He is our hope, even when the very foundations of the universe are collapsing around and under us. When our hope is in Christ, nothing can shake us (Luke 12:32-34; 1 Cor. 7:29-31; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Heb. 12:25-29; Rev. 6:16). 

Remember this very important point: sin and wrong desires, factions, and immorality bring us only “darkness.” Darkness refers to having no peace, contentment, or happiness; chasing evils and pleasure, even our wants, only leaves us destitute of what is really important. This can be in a family, in a nation, in the world, and even in the Church. Thus, a defiant heart will only bring pain, chaos, strife, disillusionment, dysfunction, discouragement, distress, and grief. So, who wants that? Remember, He will equip us with what He requires for us to live a triumphant, purpose-filled life (Is. 57:15-21; 59:1-21; 59:15-18; 65:1-15)! 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. What did you think Armageddon or I will come like a thief were about prior to studying Revelation? What do you think now?
  1. These people who refuse to repent or seek Christ are in a battle of command and control! How do you think so?
  1. How do you feel that these images are not meant to terrify us, but show us how God works so we can beware and defend ourselves? So, how can you defend yourself or prepare?

 

  1. What can you do to better hold to your faith and watch for Christ without being sucked into the latest theories and fads of His return?
  1. How have you or do you seek to battle God, by thought or inaction? What about factions in your church? When we come against one another, are we actually battling God?

 © 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

 





The Four Main Views of Revelation 16:12-21

17 07 2010

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as the preparation of defeat for Jerusalem and/or Rome. Euphrates is a historical reference to being conquered by surprise (the way Cyrus conquered Babylon), and as a metaphor to show how God will bring judgment when we are not expecting it, either to Jerusalem in 70 A.D. or the fall of Rome. They also see this as fulfilling Daniel’s vision and the beginning of the Kingdom of God. The troops that took siege of Jerusalem, according to Josephus, came from the region of the Euphrates. Frogs are seen as unclean and represent unclean Jerusalem or the allies of the Roman armies, why God destroyed it, and who he used. Kings of the earth and Armageddon are seen as symbolic for God being “pregnant” with judgment and ready to give birth to it as Elijah demonstrated near the same location when he defeated the false prophets on Mt. Carmel. Others see it as the destruction of Jerusalem or Rome. Come like a thief is seen as surprise as the Jewish and/or Rome leadership led to their doom (Matt. 16:28). It is done is the anticipation and finality of Jerusalem or Rome. Babylon is often associated as Rome by the Early Church, hence the reason for this position along with Matt 16 and 24. Some in this camp see this as Jerusalem because of the apostasy. Hundred pounds is seen as the siege engines that Rome used. 

The Futurist view: They see this passage as the antichrist causing World War III and the details to this battle of Armageddon which they see as taking place (even though Scripture may tell us otherwise). They see God removing the Euphrates so Russia and China can attack Israel. Kings of the earth/east is seen as the literal attack of the Orient and/or China, or the Middle East collectively, and the rise of a new world order—a singular, oppressive government. Frogs are seen as modern war machines. (What would a tank look like to John?) This is correlated to Daniel 11: 40-45. Come like a thief is seen as a post-tribulation rapture or the coming of Christ. The seventh bowl is seen as the destruction of Satan and his minion. The Earthquakes are seen as nuclear war or a literal earthquake beyond measure. Babylon is seen as having been rebuilt and then destroyed, or the evil, spiritual, religious system under judgment. Hail is seen as literal or military ordnances. 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as the fears of the Seven Churches for the pending Parthian invasion. Others see this as Nero’s suicide and the upheavals that occurred for the early Church that led to the escalation of persecution until Rome was Christianized and finally judged. Others at that time saw this as Nero coming back for vindication to the Church (Nero Redivivus myth). Others see this as the fall of Rome by the invasion of the Barbarians for the western kingdom and the Parthian invasion for the eastern kingdom.  Euphrates symbolizes obstruction and how it will be removed fugitively. Kings of the earth/east is seen as our fight against God, our ways versus His Way. Come like a thief is seen as Christ returning and how unexpected it will be. Armageddon and the rest of the imagery is a representation of slaughter as in the judgments of God upon the wicked who refuse to repent. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as the Turks invading former Rome and the preceding southern European powers. Euphrates was a symbol for Turks and Muslim invaders from the fall of Rome until the 19th century. Others see this as God’s judgment on the corrupt papacy in the 16th through the 18th centuries. The river being dried up is their power coming to an end and the rise of the Reformation. Others see this as the decline of the power of the Turks in the early 19th century. Frogs and demons are seen as the wars and turmoil of the 18th through 19th centuries in Europe. Armageddon is seen as a symbol for conflict such as “The Great War,” WW I and/or our spiritual conflicts. They agree with the futurists that the seventh bowl has not been poured out yet. This is the final, climatic end of humanity and its fight against God. Others see it as a future conflict with Russia and the west, because another name for Russia is “Gog;” or, it could be the conflicts of the papal kingdoms, the Holy Roman Empire of past. Earthquakes and the other imagery are seen as man’s political powers and kingdoms clashing and coming to an end before Christ’s return. Babylon, in this view, is seen as Catholic Rome; splitting into three is seen as the final end of the papacy.





Exegetical look into Revelation 16:15-21

17 07 2010

 

  • Come like a thief. A popular image of the last days, this refers to being prepared because one does not know when such things will come about. What are we to prepare with? Philippians 1 tells us, by faith and maturity! It is not by infighting and speculation!
  • Stays awake means that the guards, at their post, protected people, but could not if they fell asleep.
  • Keeps his clothes with him means vigilance and preparedness, and a representation of shame. Most people in that culture slept in the nude when it was warm, but would be horrified to be seen that way in public; to run out of your house naked would be great shame, even if chasing a thief (Gen 3:7; Is. 47:3; Ezek. 16:37; Hab. 2:16; Eph. 6; Rev. 3:3, 18).
  • They gathered. This theme is deeply rooted in Old Testament prophecy; God will gather them to judgment for their own self destruction. This is also a reinforcement that God is the head of the armies (1 Sam. 17:45; Is. 13:4; Jer. 50:29; Joel 3:2-11; Zeph. 3:8; Zech. 12:3; 14:2).
  • Into the air. In context, this perhaps means a “theophany,” an explicit manifestation of God, or, at the very least, a reference to God’s Glory (Ex. 19:16; Rev. 4:5).
  • It is done. References John 19:30.
  • Earthquake…. every island fled away. An image of the end of the age. But, those in Christ the ROCK will not be shaken (Matt. 7:24-25; Heb. 12:26-28; Rev. 6:12-14; 11:13; 20:11).
  • God remembered Babylon. This is not of favor, rather of vindication and wrath. This is God’s response to the cries of the oppressed. This image is the key metaphor associated with Christ’s Second Coming (Psalm 137:7; Is. 51:22-23; Rev. 14:9-10; 19:11-21).
  • Mountains could not be found. This means the incredible, vast devastation and the end of the world as we know it. These people deserved their just reward—extreme punishment (Ex. 7:22; Rev. 16:9).
  • Huge hailstones. Such a catastrophe causes total devastation like ordnance shells. This delays the plans of man and the battle of Armageddon has to wait for another time (Ex. 9:24-27; Is. 28:17; Ezek. 38:17-23; Rev. 6:12-17; 7:1-3; 19:11-21).
  • Hundred pounds/talent refers to being very heavy, causing great upheaval and disaster.




What does “Armageddon” really mean?

17 07 2010

Armageddon!? 

This passage, Revelation 16:16, is the only place in Scripture that this term occurs. Today, this is a popular image of a great climatic battle—WW III and the end of all things. But is this what it really means? Most people do and if you do, you are wrong! 

This is actually an image or metaphor of command and control! It means extreme conflict and judgment, a representation of the overthrow of Satan and evil by God; thus, it is not necessarily a geographic reference. 

In the first century, it was a Hebrew transliteration (Har-Magedon) meaning “the gathering place of the crowd” for the “mount of Megiddo,” which was actually a plane near Jerusalem’s southern border, with a small up-rise that was a lookout and later became a fort. This was significant in ancient times as it was the key intersection for a small corridor that was the main road near the coast as an alternative to a more difficult road through the mountains and desert. It was also the “Road to Damascus.” This was the key junction of trade among Egypt, Europe, Mesopotamia, and the rest of the East and Africa, all coming through this narrow passageway. This mount overlooks the valley of Jezreel, called the “Plane of Esdraelon” in John’s time, where massive armies would converge and battle it out, as they did when the Barbarians and others engaged Rome’s interests in Israel. Thus, this image was well known and experienced. This is a key military outpost; whomever controlled this mount controlled the valley and thus controlled trade and wealth of the then known world! 

So the real issue of this term in this context is this: Who has command of you and your church? Is it pride, trends, and agendas, or is it God and His preeminence? This was the prime message to the Seven Churches (Judges 5:19; 6:33; 1 Sam. 31; 2 Kings 9:27; 2 Chron. 35:20 -25; Is. 24; Joel 3:2; Zech. 12:8-14; Rev. 13:1; 17:1-9; 16:16; 19:11-21)!






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