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 11:7-14 mean to us now?

5 12 2009

 

The two witnesses model to us what is important in our Christian life—and that is faithfulness. We must exhibit a willingness to withstand and endure persecution and to face our fears while looking to our Lord. If not, we will look to our fears and turn our face from our Lord; that will only bring us haplessness and distress. And, the payback is God is faithful; He gets us through and vindicates us. The witnesses are examples of courage and faithfulness, and that no matter what circumstances we face, Christ is here and our trust is to be in Him. They are protected for a time, and then they are slain; we can see this as a great loss, and that Satan wins, but his victory is a temporary illusion; eventually, it becomes a total defeat. In God’s eyes, this is a victory, for their job was a success. They and we are made for eternity, not for this world (Acts 12:1-10).  

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. What should a Christian do when experiencing extreme exasperation? How does it make a difference to you that God is still in control in times of insurmountable chaos and suffering?
  1. Do you believe that if you do not know the Old Testament you will not know much or get much from the New Testament, especially Revelation? What happens to our theology when we leave the interpretation up to readers who may not know the Bible as well as they think?
  1. Why would people seek what is terrifying, repulsive, and evil to lead the world? Why would Christians seek such an event or person to lead the Church astray? How would they rationalize it?
  1. Why must our allegiance be a pure loyalty to Christ and His Kingdom, and come first in our lives?
  1. What happens when we are in Christ, yet we seek other things to replace Him that we think are greater such as our race, nationality, or political agendas? How do you balance political pursuits with Christ-like character?
  1. How have you shown faithfulness of character by standing in Christ with an authentic, consistent testimony?
  1. How can you see that God is still in control even over the beast, and in times of insurmountable chaos and suffering? What would this mean to your faith?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org





The Four Main Views of Revelation 11:7-14

5 12 2009

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as the introduction of the beast, the enemy of God and man, and how he ascends (Psalm 87:4; 89:10; Is. 51:9; Dan. 7:3-8, 16-25). They place the emphasis on the testimony of the two witnesses (who represent the Old Testament Prophets), which was finished before they were martyred. Their opposition was from the discords of the Roman war against Jerusalem, and the eventual downfall of Jerusalem from God because of civil and religious rebellion that the two witnesses spoke against. The rejoicing of the pagans is reminiscent of how they treated Christ; now, it is the anarchist’s celebration for civil dissension (Matt. 27:27-31, 39-44; Luke 22:63-65; 23:8-12, 35-39). Some in this camp see the two witnesses’ resurrection as a look back to Christ and His resurrection; others see it as an event that already took place and is lost to history or an allegory of the battle of good versus evil. The earthquake is seen as the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D. 

The Futurist view: There are varying views in this camp as to whether the beast in this passage is the same as in chapters 13 and 17. But, it is agreed that the beast is the enemy of the Church and/or false teachers and leaders of the Church. The point is that the beast is powerless to withstand Christ and His people. The wicked people seem to capitalize on their fiendish victory over the two witnesses, but are quickly turned to shame. The resurrection of the two witnesses is about the awe and horror seen by its viewers on T.V. Then, God causes a great earthquake that destroys Jerusalem. The glory of the Lord is seen as fear—not authentic repentance—but it may bring about real converts. 

The Idealist view: They see the beast as representative of antichristian endeavors throughout the world and time, who seek to silence the godly. The completion of the testimony means God allows suffering but also sustains us through it (Matt. 16:18). The great city is representative of rebellion against God and that the triumph of the wicked will be brief. The resurrection of the two witnesses is seen as the honor they are given in heaven and the consternation of the evil people who did evil to them. Resurrection is also seen as the triumphant church as they see in 1 Thess. 4:16-18. 

The Historicist view: They see the completion of the testimony not applicable to a specific age, but about the truth of the Gospel that prevails. The denial of burial is seen as papal decrees and the Lateran Councils (1179-1215) that would not let faithful people who opposed the mismanagement of the Church to be buried. This is how Wycliffe’s and Huss ‘bodies were desecrated. The beast and the great city are seen as Rome and its evil rule. Stood on their feet refers to the Reformation. The resurrection is seen as the triumph of the Reformation. The earthquake is seen as the political upheavals that happened after the Reformation.





Exegetical look into Revelation 11:11-14

5 12 2009

 

  • Three and a half days refers to the bodies that were decaying and/or the time of their prophesying; it denotes a short time (see last study). Some see this as the last half of the great tribulation, may be possible, however this is not shown in the text or context either.
  • People, tribe, language refers to the people, their political power, and their allegiance to either God or to evil. A warning is given that allegiance must be pure loyalty to Christ and His Kingdom, and must come first in our lives. When we are in Christ, we are part of His greater Kingdom—more than just our race or nationality (Psalm 33:10; Phil 3:20; Rev. 5:9; 8:13; 13:3-14; 17:2-8).
  • Sending each other gifts refers to pagan celebrations; it probably does not refer to The Feast of Purim, the Jews’ celebration of their deliverance from the Persians (Esth. 9:19-22).
  • Those who live/dwell on the earth indicates that there are two types of people—those who belong to God and those who oppose Him. Thus, all of humanity either belongs to God or are rebellious, rejecting His Truth and hostile to Him, choosing to remain in their sin (Rev. 6:10).
  • Breath of life from God entered them. This refers to a spectacular validation of authentic faith. The context emphasizes that these are the good churches that stay faithful, and what can happen for us when we, too, stay faithful. However, there are many theories. If these are literal people—which is possible—they are physically resurrected as Christ was. If they represent the Church, it means vindication and victory (Gen. 2:7; Ezek. 37:5, 10; John 20:22; Rev. 6:9-10; 20:1-6).
  • Went up to heaven in a cloud is referring to how Elijah ascended (2 Kings 2:11; Acts 1:9-11), not necessarily about the “rapture” (1 Thess. 4:15-17).
  • Seven thousand people were killed is sometimes referring to a tenth of the population, or a remnant (1 Kings 19:18).
  • Earthquake. This theme is associated with end times and divine visitations (Ex. 19:18; Is. 2:19; Hag. 2:6; Zech. 14:4-5; Ezek. 38:19-20; Amos 8:8; Rev. 6:12).
  • Gave glory to the God of heaven. This probably not an act of genuine repentance, but they were terrified to realize that Christ is the real Lord rather than the evil people or political shenanigans they had put their trust in.
  • Second woe. This refers to look out, terror is coming, or a stern warning of more trouble to come (Amos. 5:18-6:1; Rev. 6:10; 8:13; 10:1-11:14; Rev. 9:12).




Exegetical look into Revelation 11:7-10

5 12 2009

 

  • The beast in the Original Greek refers to a “bestial” man, one who is brutal, savage, and ferocious. In context, this in its context infers that the sea is a dwelling place for monsters, suggesting terrifying, repulsive, and evil things that seek to lead the world and the Church astray. This passage also depicts how God is still in control even over the beast, and in times of insurmountable chaos and suffering (Job 7:12; 41:1; Psalm 74:13; 89:9-10; Is. 27:1). Here, “the beast” makes his first appearance; this may not be the same person all of the time such as the antichrist, rather a metaphor or a theme of intent rather than a specific personality (The reason why we do not always take these images literally is for the reason that this is “apocalyptic literature” written in symbolism, poetry and imageries conveying ideas and representations. Whereas most of Scripture is narrative and epistles (letters) that we do take as literal). At this place, the beast it denotes someone of power and influence who is doing the persecution, and more on the beast when we get to chapter 13 (Psalm 87:4; 89:10; Is. 51:9; Dan. 7:3-8, 16-25). Some say this indicates that the antichrist will take over the Temple and John is seeking to prevent or at least slow it down; however, this is not shown in the text or context (2 Thess. 2:3-4).
  • Abyss means “very deep” (the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament word for bottomless). Jewish tradition saw this as a literal, subterranean place, used for the imprisonment of evil demons and Satan, which was actually on the earth (for more detail see Rev. 9:1-11 study). John is using this image to show the beasts “demonic character” (Gen. 1:2; 7:11; Prov. 8:28; Luke 8:31; Rev. 9:1; 20:1).
  • Their bodies. The denial of burial was considered one of the most grievous insults and a great cruelty and sin in ancient cultures (Deut. 21:22-23; Isa. 5:25; Acts 14:19).
  • Great city likely refers to Jerusalem, but the context suggests it is symbolic of any city that is in rebellion and opposition to God. Thus, many commentators have suggested it refers to Rome or Babylon. It is more than a specific, worldly Jerusalem, but any city or people group that fights against God deteriorates into apostasy—such as Sodom—and thus becomes primed for judgment (Is 1:10; Gal. 4:25-26; Rev. 11:1; 16:19; 17:18; 18:10, 16, 18-19, 21).
  • Figuratively refers to the contrast between Jewish and Roman authorities, both of whom are performing evil. Revelation often gives clues to those who are not 1st century Jew’s who may not understand the metaphors of this type of literature  that is based on Old Testament imagery and 1st century life and  customs. We can understand just as well when we seek to understand the Old Testament and get a better handle on the original language and culture.
  • Sodom refers to a city that had little to no morality and/or compromised greatly, such as first century Jerusalem that betrayed its covenant with God (Is. 1:9-10, 21; Jer. 23:14).
  • Egypt represents accentuated oppression and slavery; as Egypt oppressed Israel, so Jerusalem oppresses the righteous Jews and Christians (Rev. 2:9; 3:9).
  • Where also their Lord was crucified is perhaps an Early Church metaphor to contrast pagan with righteous. It could be a metaphor for Rome that had the authority to crucify, but also had authority to stop it.





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