RUN YOUR RACE, THE END IS NEAR

Date: 14-03-2013 1:47 am (8 years ago) | Author: Evans Omos
- at 14-03-2013 01:47 AM (8 years ago)
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RELIGIOUS BABYLON DESTROYED (REVELATION CHAPTER 17)
17:1-2. One of the seven angels (in chap. 16) who had one of the seven bowls invited John to witness the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. This evil woman symbolizes the religious system of Babylon, and the waters symbolize "peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages" ( Rev. 15). The angel informed John that the kings of the earth had committed adultery with the woman; in other words, they had become a part of the religious system which she symbolized (Rev. 14:8.

17:3-5. John was then taken in the Spirit (or better, "in [his] spirit," i.e., in a vision, not bodily; Rev. 1:10; 4:2) to a desert where he saw the woman herself. She was sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names. The beast had 7 heads and 10 horns. The beast is an obvious reference to the world government (13:1). The 10 horns are later defined (17:12) as 10 kings who had "not yet received a kingdom." The 7 heads seem to refer to prominent rulers of the yet-future Roman Empire.

The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones, and pearls. Her adornment is similar to that of religious trappings of ritualistic churches today. While purple, scarlet, gold, precious stones, and pearls can all represent beauty and glory in relation to the true faith, here they reveal a false religion that prostitutes the truth.

In her hand the woman held a golden cup...filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries (Rev. "the wine of her adulteries" in v. 2). This confirms previous indications that her character and life are symbolic of false religion, confirmed by the words written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. The NASB and NIV are probably right in separating the word "mystery" from the title which follows because the word "mystery" is not a part of the title itself; it describes the title.

The Bible is full of information about Babylon as the source of false religion, the record beginning with the building of the tower of Babel (Gen 10-11). The name "Babel" suggests "confusion" (Gen 11:9). Later the name was applied to the city of Babylon which itself has a long history dating back to as early as 3,000 years before Christ. One of its famous rulers was Hammurabi (1728 B.C. - 1686 B.C.). After a period of decline Babylon again rose to great heights under Nebuchadnezzar about 600 years before Christ. Nebuchadnezzar's reign (605 B.C. - 562 B.C.) and the subsequent history of Babylon is the background of the Book of Daniel.

Babylon was important not only politically but also religiously. Nimrod, who founded Babylon (Gen 10:8-12), had a wife known as Semiramis who founded the secret religious rites of the Babylonian mysteries, according to accounts outside the Bible. Semiramis had a son with an alleged miraculous conception who was given the name Tammuz and in effect was a false fulfillment of the promise of the seed of the woman given to Eve (Gen 3:15).

Various religious practices were observed in connection with this false Babylonian religion, including recognition of the mother and child as God and of creating an order of virgins who became religious prostitutes. Tammuz, according to the tradition, was killed by a wild animal and then restored to life, a satanic anticipation and counterfeit of Christ's resurrection. Scripture condemns this false religion repeatedly (Jer 7:18; 44:17-19,25; Ezek 8:14). The worship of Baal is related to the worship of Tammuz.

After the Persians took over Babylon in 539 B.C., they discouraged the continuation of the mystery religions of Babylon. Subsequently the Babylonian cultists moved to Pergamum (or Pergamos) where one of the seven churches of Asia Minor was located (Rev 2:12-17). Crowns in the shape of a fish head were worn by the chief priests of the Babylonian cult to honor the fish god. The crowns bore the words "Keeper of the Bridge," symbolic of the "bridge" between man and Satan. This handle was adopted by the Roman emperors, who used the Latin title Pontifex Maximus, which means "Major Keeper of the Bridge." And the same title was later used by the bishop of Rome. The pope today is often called the pontiff, which comes from pontifex. When the teachers of the Babylonian mystery religions later moved from Pergamum to Rome, they were influential in paganizing Christianity and were the source of many so-called religious rites which have crept into ritualistic churches. Babylon then is the symbol of apostasy and blasphemous substitution of idol-worship for the worship of God in Christ. In this passage Babylon comes to its final judgment.

17:6. The woman symbolizing the apostate religious system, was drunk with the blood of the saints. This makes it clear that the apostate religious system of the first half of the last seven years leading up to Christ's second coming will be completely devoid of any true Christians. As a matter of fact the apostate church will attempt to kill all those who follow the true faith. John expressed his great astonishment at this revelation.

17:7-8. The angel explained the meaning of the woman and of the beast she was riding. The beast...will come up out of the Abyss, the home of Satan (11:7) and the place from which demons come (9:1-2,11). This indicates that the power behind the ruler is satanic (Rev. 13:4) and that Satan and the man he controls are closely identified. Their power is one. The fact that the beast was, now is not, and will come up in the future is another indication of what was introduced in 13:3. The supernatural survival and revival of both the world ruler and his empire will impress the world as being supernatural and will lead to worship of the beast and Satan. (On the book of life see comments on Rev 3:5 Rev 13:8. Also Rev. 20:12,15; 21:27.)

17:9-11. The angel informed John, This calls for a mind with wisdom (Rev. 13:18). The truth that is being presented here symbolically requires spiritual insight to be understood, and the difficulty of correct interpretation is illustrated by the various ways it has been interpreted in the history of the church.
The angel informed John that the beast's heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. Many ancient writers, such as Victorinus, who wrote one of the first commentaries on the Book of Revelation, identified the seven hills as Rome, often described as "the city of seven hills." This identification has led to the conclusion this passage teaches that Rome will be the capital of the coming world empire. Originally Rome included seven small mountains along the Tiber River, and the hills were given the names Palatine, Aventine, Caelian, Equiline, Viminal, Quirimal, and Capitoline. Later, however, the city expanded to include the hill Janiculum and also a hill to the north called Pincian. While Rome is often referred to as having seven hills or mountains, different writers do not necessarily name the same seven mountains.

A close study of the passage does not support the conclusion that this refers to the city of Rome. Seiss, for instance, offers extensive evidence that the reference is to rulers rather than to physical mountains (The Apocalypse, pp. 391-94). This is supported by the text which explains, They are also seven kings (lit., "the seven heads are seven kings"). If the mountains represent kings, then obviously they are not literal mountains and refer not to a literal Rome but to persons.
This view is also supported by verse 10, Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. John was writing from his point of view in which five prominent kings of the Roman Empire had already come and gone, and one was then on the throne (probably Domitian, who caused the persecution which put John on the island of Patmos). The identity of the seventh king, the one to come after John's time, is unknown.

Verse 11 adds that the final world empire will be headed by an eighth king....The beast who once was, and now is not....belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. The eighth king is obviously identical to the final world ruler, the man who heads up the final world empire destroyed by Christ at His second coming.
One possible explanation of the difference between the seventh and eighth beast is that the seventh beast itself is the Roman Empire marvelously revived in the end time, and the eighth beast is its final ruler. These verses show that in the end time, particularly during the first half of the last seven years, there will be an alliance between the Middle East ruler (the Antichrist) and the apostate world church of that time. This will come to a head, however, at the midpoint of the seven years, when that political power becomes worldwide.

17:12-14. Verse 12 explains that the 10 horns...are 10 kings. While many commentators have tried to identify 10 successive kings in the past, the passage itself indicates that they are contemporaneous kings who are heads of the countries which will form the original alliance in the Middle East that will support the future world ruler. They will receive authority for one hour...as kings along with the beast. While the 7 heads may be chronologically successive rulers of the Roman Empire who are singled out as prominent, the 10 horns by contrast are contemporaneous with each other, and as the text indicates they will receive political power for a brief time.

The 10 kings will unite their power to support the beast (v. 13), the Middle East ruler who will emerge in the end time and will make a covenant with Israel seven years before the second coming of Christ. Their antagonism to Christ is indicated throughout the entire seven years. And when Christ returns, these 10 kings will war against Him but will be defeated (v. 14). Interestingly Christ the Lamb is also the Lord of lords and King of kings (1 Tim 6:15; Rev 19:16).
17:15. Verse I stated that the woman "sits on many waters." These waters are now interpreted as peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages. This indicates that there will be one ecumenical world religious system, embracing all nations and languages.

17:16-18. The chapter closes with the dramatic destruction of the woman. The beast (the world ruler, the Antichrist) and the 10 horns (10 kings) will hate the prostitute and will bring her to ruin. While the exact time of this event is not given in this passage, it would seem to occur at the midpoint of the seven years when the beast will assume the role of world dictator by proclamation (Dan 9:27; Matt 24:15).

When the ruler in the Middle East takes on worldwide political power, he will also assume the place of God and demand that everyone worship him or else be killed (Dan 11:36-38; 2 Thess 2:4; Rev 13:8,15). The world church movement, which characterizes the first half of the seven years leading up to the Second Coming, is thus brought to an abrupt end. It will be replaced by the final form of world religion which will be the worship of the world ruler, Satan's substitute for Christ.
This is part of God's sovereign purpose to bring evil leaders into judgment, 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 final description of the woman is given in 17:18: The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth. The reference to the woman as a city is another link with ancient Babylon, this time regarded as a religious center for false religion. The apostate church represented by the woman was a combination of religious and political power. As stated in verse 5, the city and the woman are a "mystery," and are therefore a symbolic presentation. Verse 18, however, introduces the next chapter which seems to refer to Babylon more as a literal city than as a religious entity.

Posted: at 14-03-2013 01:47 AM (8 years ago) | Upcoming