Over the last months I have been slow reading thru the book of Revelation, sort of reading a chapter daily over and over for a week. It’s been tough.
There are quite a few consecutive chapters that are loaded down with judgement and destruction, which is a little different than my usual daily reading routine. I have been soldiering on, however, and asking the Lord to come thru for me on the blessing promised to all who read this book.
“Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”
Revelation 1:3 https://www.bible.com/bible/1/REV.1.3
As I am working my way thru chapters 17 & 18, I believe part of the blessing is starting to appear, in the form of understanding, and I think it has particular relevance to this moment in history. I don’t claim to be someone who sees everything clearly, knows the future, and can explain the past, present and future from the light of eternity. I can’t. But I do see some parallels in the current strife, dis-ease, and turmoil that has caught many and called them to opposing battle lines, with what is stated here in these two chapters.
I recommend to read or refer to Revelation 17 & 18 along with this article as a way to get the most out of it.
Let's settle something, tho the Beast and the Harlot are both enemies of God and His purpose, they hate each other. In this case the logic of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” does not apply. In these verses we see more hate directed from the Beast (think systems, multiple, complex and working together) toward the Harlot, who appears too drunk to pay attention. The Harlot, appearing as a woman covered from head to toe in opulence and luxury, represents something. She (the image used to describe) is not the point, but she points to something in representation. Make sense?
The woman is said to “sit on many waters” and is also declared to represent “a city” or seat of influence. Not just any city, but Babylon itself. Now, as you are thinking of Babylon, try not to think of the ancient city, but a current source of influence in the spiritual realm that was given such a clear representation in the ancient city of Babylon that the name becomes synonymous. She is a seat of spiritual influence (a concentration of influence with a variety of elements; ideas, people, perspectives, history, even culture) that is the mother of harlots and abominations of the Earth.
The waters she sits on represents people groups that cover the earth, just as the waters cover the sea. Maybe that’s why the image “waters” was used, to show her influence has spread far and wide, and saturated her hosts.
The beast on the other hand is described in different ways. Horns and crowns, mountains and such. Let’s think of sources of power and influence here, complete with a changing cast of characters and those rising and falling, as well as a concentration of kings (or people of influence) who arise at one time, in unity, to give their power to this system. Powerful concentration of influence, stuff like that. Frightening stuff… I can only imagine that some of these characters are unwittingly complicit.
NOW, so much of what is available to listen to, or people are teaching, about the “end times” is, from my perspective, overdeveloped doctrine that, in it’s pursuit to be precise, may miss the essence of what is being communicated. I am hoping (and trying) to avoid that pitfall here.
My point in giving this little sketch is to put down a canvas for us to see something that has been going on and will continue until it's final unfolding, but, in our moment, may have a discernible expression that is playing out right before our eyes.
The Beast hates the Woman and will do all manner of harm to her.
The Beast (rising influence, working to the ultimate end of opposing the Lord and His holy ones) is squaring off in a battle line against the Harlot (seat of influence, complete with controlling and manipulating appetites and cravings), who is busy offering her cup of filthiness to the nations!
Could it be that the current essence of the cultural struggle that we see unfolding before us in the United States is being motivated in the unseen world by these two influences? We are witnessing the contempt and evil intent of growing numbers of people, being manipulated by power brokers, but could it all be being moved along by something unseen? I think much of it is.
I never watch the news, so, my comments don’t derive from any of those sources. Sorry if I seem a little naive. Hopefully I have eyes to see.
What am I getting at? I am not trying to accuse or excuse, but to get us to realize something, or at least consider it from a different point of view. These two characters – the Beast and the Harlot – are not the only ones on the stage, and you and I as believers in and followers of Christ, are included in a third element of the cast. That third cast member, The New Jerusalem, doesn't come on stage until a little later. The New Jerusalem, also a city (think seat of concentrated influence) is what we are truly part of. Remember the references in Hebrews?? We are not going to be a part of the heavenly Jerusalem, we are now!!! In this story, at the end of Revelation, she makes her grand entrance!
Why am I encouraging these investigations and considerations?
Because I am seeing many, those claiming to be believers in Christ, followers of Him, joining the wrong battle lines in these times. Saints, beloved ones, we are something other!!
Clearly, any believer wants to avoid the Beast and his mark. You could hardly be alive and not know that…. But are we siding with the Beast unknowingly? Or do we more identify with the Harlot (he asked, sarcastically)? Our true identity needs to be a real focus now. It will get increasingly expensive to entertain confusion when it comes to identity!
I recently read a line in a book that gave particular light to something we are observing. It was a book called Tribes from Sebastian Junger. I really like a lot of what he has written and shared as I have discovered it when studying leadership. He discusses what he observed and learned being embedded with troops in war, and how brotherhood forged in shared conflict and struggle is on the highest order. Here he isn’t talking about brotherhood, but what destroys it.
We are seeing so much contempt – read “moral superiority” – being passed around by opposing people and groups as to nauseate those with the strongest of constitutions! Do you really want to take your stand on your own moral superiority? Let him who stands take heed lest he fall.
Unless we realize that we are something other, we are at a terrible risk of getting sucked into this fray, one one side or the other. If you don’t believe me, consider what Jesus says in chapter 18…
“Then I heard another voice calling from heaven, “Come away from her [the Woman in our story], my people. Do not take part in her sins, or you will be punished with her.”
Revelation 18:4 https://www.bible.com/bible/116/REV.18.4
What I think we are seeing now is an ongoing set of skirmishes in a battle that is being staged, and SO MANY of God’s people are at terrible risk of entering into this battle that is not even theirs! Our battle entrance comes a little bit later, and we are being led by a Guy on a White Horse!
Consider these things, and may God give us wisdom.
One parting thought (or reference ?):
““Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, who keep their clothing ready so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.””
Revelation 16:15 https://www.bible.com/bible/116/REV.16.15
In other words, Pay Attention!, or as the military folks might say, since we are talking battle here, Stay Frosty!