Revelation 17:1-2 1 Then one of the seven angels with the seven bowls came and told me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. 2 The kings of the earth were sexually immoral with her, and those who dwell on the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her immorality.”
Let's look at this verse in different translations:
King James Bible - KJV And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
New Living Translation - NLT One of the seven angels who had poured out the seven bowls came over and spoke to me. "Come with me," he said, "and I will show you the judgment that is going to come on the great prostitute, who rules over many waters. The kings of the world have committed adultery with her, and the people who belong to this world have been made drunk by the wine of her immorality."
English Standard Version - ESV Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.”
Contemporary English Version - CEV One of the seven angels who had emptied the bowls came over and said to me, "Come on! I will show you how God will punish that shameless prostitute who sits on many oceans. Every king on earth has slept with her, and her shameless ways are like wine that has made everyone on earth drunk."
Good News Translation - GNT Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came to me and said, "Come, and I will show you how the famous prostitute is to be punished, that great city that is built near many rivers. The kings of the earth practiced sexual immorality with her, and the people of the world became drunk from drinking the wine of her immorality."
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance
punishment = κρίμα (krima) = Noun - Accusative Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 2917: From krino; a decision ('crime').
prostitute = πόρνης (pornēs) = Noun - Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 4204: A prostitute; met: an idolatrous community. Feminine of pornos; a strumpet; figuratively, an idolater.
sits = καθημένης (kathēmenēs) = Verb - Present Participle Middle or Passive - Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 2521: To sit, be seated, enthroned; I dwell, reside. From kata; and hemai; to sit down; figuratively, to remain, reside.
waters = ὑδάτων (hydatōn) = Noun - Genitive Neuter Plural
Strong's Greek 5204: Water. And genitive case, hudatos, etc. From the base of huetos; water literally or figuratively.
kings = βασιλεῖς (basileis) = Noun - Nominative Masculine Plural
Strong's Greek 935: A king, ruler, but in some passages clearly to be translated: emperor. Probably from basis; a sovereign.
were sexually immoral = ἐπόρνευσαν (eporneusan) = Verb - Aorist Indicative Active - 3rd Person Plural
Strong's Greek 4203: To fornicate; met: I practice idolatry. From porne; to act the harlot, i.e. indulge unlawful lust, or practise idolatry.
were intoxicated = ἐμεθύσθησαν (emethysthēsan) = Verb - Aorist Indicative Passive - 3rd Person Plural
Strong's Greek 3182: To make drunk; pass: I become drunk. A prolonged form of methuo; to intoxicate.
immorality = πορνείας (porneias) = Noun - Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 4202: Fornication, whoredom; met: idolatry. From porneuo; harlotry; figuratively, idolatry.
The Whore of Babylon
The city was built on the Euphrates river and divided in equal parts along its left and right banks, with steep embankments to contain the river's seasonal floods.
The town became part of a small independent city-state with the rise of the First Babylonian dynasty in the 19th century BC. After the Amorite king, Hammurabi, created a short-lived empire in the 18th century BC, he built Babylon up into a major city and declared himself its king, and southern Mesopotamia became known as Babylonia and Babylon eclipsed Nippur as its holy city. It has been estimated that Babylon was the largest city in the world c. 1770 – c. 1670 BC, and again c. 612 – c. 320 BC. It was perhaps the first city to reach a population above 200,000.
From 605 BC - 562 BC, Nebuchadnezzar II is king of Babylon. In 597 BC, King Nebuchadnezar II captures Jerusalem and deports the Jews to Babylonia between 597 BC - 587 BC. Nebuchadnezzar appointed Zedekiah to rule Judah. However, Zedekiah, against the prophet Jeremiah’s counsel, joined the Egyptians in a revolt in 589 BC. This resulted in Nebuchadnezzar’s return. The remaining Jews were deported, Jerusalem was burned, and the temple was destroyed in August of 587 or 586 BC (Jeremiah 52:1-30). It was under Nebuchadnezzar II’s reign that the city was renovated so that it covered 2,200 acres and had the most beautiful and impressive structures in all of Mesopotamia including the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Babylon is the setting for the ministry of the prophets Ezekiel and Daniel, who were both deportees from Judah. Daniel became a leader and royal advisor to the Babylonian and Persian Empires.
The Neo-Babylonian Empire continued after the death of Nebuchadnezzar II and Babylon continued to play an important role in the region under the rule of Nabonidus and his successor Belshazzar. In 539 BC the empire fell to the Persians under Cyrus the Great. After two hundred years, the Persian Empire fell to Alexander the Great in 331 BC. He ordered his men not to damage the buildings nor molest the inhabitants. After Alexander’s death at Babylon in 323 BC, his successors fought over his empire, carving it up and the residents of the city fled for their safety. By the time the Parthian Empire ruled the region in 141 BC Babylon was deserted and forgotten. The city steadily fell into ruin.
In the ancient times, Babylon was considered one of the most powerful empires of the world. The story of Babylon is woven throughout the Old Testament. She is in Genesis as “Babel”, the city were human beings decided build a tower to the heavens. In their pride and arrogance, they were mimicking satan and Adam/Eve's sin of pride and wanting to be God. They disobeyed God's command in Genesis 1:28 “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that crawls upon the earth.”
Genesis 11:4 And they say, 'Give help, let us build for ourselves a city and tower, and its head in the heavens, and make for ourselves a name, lest we be scattered over the face of all the earth.'
Psalm 49:11-13 Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.
Jeremiah 51:53 Even if Babylon should ascend to the heavens and fortify her lofty stronghold, the destroyers I send will come against her, declares the LORD.
Later Babylon becomes the empire that destroys Jerusalem, burns the Temple and forces the people of God into exile (called the Diaspora).
Babylon is mentioned from Genesis to Revelation, as it rises from its rebellious beginnings to become a symbol of the Antichrist’s evil world system. When God’s people required discipline, God used the Babylonian Empire to accomplish it, but He limited Judah’s captivity to 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11). Then, God promised to “punish the king of Babylon and his nation” (Jeremiah 25:12) “for all the wrong they have done in Zion” (Jeremiah 51:24). Ultimately, all evil will be judged, as symbolized by Babylon’s demise in Revelation 18:21: “The great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.” - GotQuestions.org
Let's look at one of the often forgotten stories of pride in the Book of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream that disturbs him:
Daniel 4:4-8 4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and flourishing in my palace. 5 I had a dream, and it frightened me; while in my bed, the images and visions in my mind alarmed me. 6 So I issued a decree that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. 7 When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers,a and diviners came in, I told them the dream, and they could not interpret it for me. 8 But at last, Daniel came into my presence (his name is Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.) And I told him the dream...
Daniel interprets the dream for King Nebuchadnezzar:
Daniel 4:19-37 19 For a time, Daniel, who was also known as Belteshazzar, was perplexed, and his thoughts alarmed him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its interpretation alarm you.”
“My lord,” replied Belteshazzar, “may the dream apply to those who hate you, and its interpretation to your enemies!
20 The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, whose top reached the sky and was visible to all the earth, 21 whose foliage was beautiful and its fruit abundant, providing food for all, under which the beasts of the field lived, and in whose branches the birds of the air nested— 22 you, O king, are that tree! For you have become great and strong; your greatness has grown to reach the sky, and your dominion extends to the ends of the earth.
23 And you, O king, saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying:
‘Cut down the tree and destroy it,
but leave the stump with its roots in the ground,
with a band of iron and bronze around it,
in the tender grass of the field.
Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven,
and graze with the beasts of the field
till seven times pass him by.’
24 This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree that the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25 You will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling will be with the beasts of the field. You will feed on grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass you by, until you acknowledge that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of mankind, and He gives it to anyone He wishes.
26 As for the command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots, your kingdom will be restored to you as soon as you acknowledge that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, may my advice be pleasing to you, O king. Break away from your sins by doing what is right, and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed. Perhaps there will be an extension of your prosperity.”
28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 the king exclaimed, “Is this not Babylon the Great, which I myself have built by the might of my power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?”
33 At that moment the sentence against Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from mankind. He ate grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.
34 But at the end of those days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven, and my sanity was restored to me. Then I praised the Most High, and I honored and glorified Him who lives forever:
and His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
are counted as nothing,
and He does as He pleases
with the army of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
There is no one who can restrain His hand
or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”
This story of pride and humility is so good that we should pay more attention to it.
Psalm 107:40 He pours contempt on the nobles and makes them wander a pathless wasteland.
Jeremiah 27:5 By My great power and outstretched arm, I made the earth and the men and beasts on the face of it, and I give it to whom I please.
God uses an ungodly kingdom as a tool, an instrument of punishment. He uses ungodly kings to further His cause and His plans. Despite the fact that these rulers are unbelievers, God can use them for His purposes. They may be totally unaware of God's plans and how God uses them to further His work. They may be atheists, or of some un-Christian religion. We must always remember that God is in control no matter who is at the top of the government. Nothing on this earth is out of God's control no matter what it looks like. God is always working to bring about His plans and purposes and it's always to the betterment of His Children. In this case, God used Babylon much as mothers used to use switches or fathers used their hand to spank their child. A loving parent doesn't beat their child out of rage. When that happens, the parents are out of control and nothing is gained but the pain of their children. That's child abuse and not what I'm talking about. A loving parent disciplines their child with a greater objective in mind. They don't spank for spanking's sake. They spank to control their children and teach them a better way.
Back to the Israelites. If you read the Old Testament in it's entirety, you see the beginning of God's relationship with His chosen people, the Jews (aka Hebrews, Israelites). You see their relationship go through ups and downs and how God is always pursuing them, wooing them, desiring a relationship with them. But you also see them running away from God, rebelling, going into idolatry, repenting, trying again, then back into running away from God, rebelling and idolatry. It's a terrible cycle but one we should understand as all human beings do this on an individual basis. It started with Adam and Eve.
So throughout the Old Testament, we see God having to result to discipline and sometimes He had to use drastic discipline to try and rescue His people from the fate they are running to. God used Babylon as a tool of discipline. Now before you think God is too harsh to use an evil empire against Israel, let's remember that God knows every single individual and He knows the future because He lives outside of time. He, Jesus and the Holy Spirit planned every single human being that has, does, or will exist before the world began. He knows each one of us by name. He knows every cell of our body, every hair on our head, every thought we think and every word we say. He knows every experience we go through. He knows our days and the length of them. He also knows which ones will turn to Him and which ones never will. There is not one single person that is a throw away to God. But there are many who throw themselves away. We have free will and many choose to reject God every time He reaches out to them. They have a set number of days and the Holy Spirit works with each person during their days on this earth and tries to get them to repent and turn to God and accept Jesus Christ. God even put a seed of faith in each human being. If that seed is allowed the touch of the Holy Spirit, it will spring into life and faith will begin to grow. But so many, refuse to allow the Holy Spirit to work in their heart, they reject His touch to that seed of faith that would bring it to life. They run from God all their lives and curse Him with their last breath. God also knows those who will one day let the Holy Spirit in. He knows that person who will respond even if it's on their death bed, a last minute conversion. God will not allow a single one of us, who are God responders, to be lost. So, God allowed Babylon to invade Israel, kill and take into captivity the Jews. It seems harsh, but again, God knows each individual person and God knows when it's time to bring His Children home or when it's time, for those who stubbornly refuse Him, to let them go. If a faithful, God-follower was killed by a Babylonian soldier, God knew it was time for that person to come home where he will be greeted by a loving Father who has provided an eternity of bliss for His children. If a hard hearted, rebellious God-hater was killed by a Babylonia soldier, God knew that person was never going to accept Him as His Father and therefore was let go. It certainly wasn't for want of trying on God's part!
I learned that if someone got into an office that I didn't approve of, God was still in control. If my candidate didn't win President, Mayor, Governor, etc, God was still in control. He would work with the office holder but if the office holder rejected and refused God's moving in his personal life, God could still use him/her to do the things that God purposed in this world whether that person realized it or not. But for those in high office, you might re-read this story of King Nebuchadnezzar who tended to think too highly of himself. He basically said, "Look what I have accomplished!" and while the words were yet in his mouth, he lost his ever-lovin' mind (as we say in the South)! When we humans start looking around at our feathered nest and thinking how smart we are and what all we've done, we should remember that nothing comes to us unless it's through the Father so it is God we should be thanking.
It reminds me of an old 1965 movie with Jimmy Stewart called Shenandoah. Charlie Anderson (James Stewart) and his 6 sons Jacob, John, James, Nathan, Henry, and Boy (who is 16) run the family farm, while his daughter Jennie (Rosemary Forsyth) and daughter-in-law Ann (Katharine Ross) take care of the housework. The family has no slaves. Charlie Anderson attends church weekly and considers himself a "God fearing" man but he doesn't give God credit for anything. In his heart he blames God for taking his wife from him.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Now, to get back to Revelation 17:1-2, who is the great prostitute that is going to be punished? It is Babylon which represents the world empire of evil that will be headed by the anti-Christ who is inspired and influenced by satan.
Revelation 17:1-2 1 Then one of the seven angels with the seven bowls came and told me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. 2 The kings of the earth were sexually immoral with her, and those who dwell on the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her immorality.”
It says here that she "sits on many waters". This may refer to how Babylon actually straddled the Euphrates River. It may refer to a world empire who is strategically placed as a port city from which ships can come and go from and goods are distributed through this great port. If you've read my other studies on Revelation, you know that some believe this "world empire" was Rome. Some believe it refers to the Catholic church. Some believe it is Jerusalem, Israel, the Jews who rejected Christ. And others believe it is a future world empire led by the anti-Christ. This is my belief. I know it could be any, or all, of the above with the final fulfillment as the future one-world government that is coming in the end days. There are perfectly reasonable justifications for each of these views.
Why would this symbol be of a prostitute, a harlot, a whore? In the Old Testament prophetic books, God was married to the nation of Israel. He used marriage as a type of His relationship with His people. But when His people ran after other gods, idolatry, they were being unfaithful to Him and He likened it to a husband and wife and the wife has gone after other men, prostituting herself. God had chosen a people and He had made sure they were provided for and protected. They were treated gently and tenderly and given the best of everything. But instead of loving their God in return, they deserted Him time after time. They forgot God as their intimate first love. God sometimes even directed His prophets to act out, or live out, the relationship that God was experiencing with His chosen people. Let's look at some of the examples of this in the Old Testament.
The book of Hosea is one of the twelve minor prophets in the Old Testament. The Talmud claims that he was the greatest prophet of his generation. The period of Hosea's ministry extended some sixty years and he was the only prophet of Israel of his time who left any written prophecy. "Hosea" means "salvation", or "He saves", or "He helps". Hosea had his prophetic ministry in Northern Israel (Samaria) of which he was a native during the 8th century BC. Sometimes he is know as a prophet of doom but he really tells a love story. God sends Hosea to Israel during King Jeroboam II's reign to admonish them of their wrongs in perpetual idol worship and dependence on outside nations. Hosea used his own experience as a symbolic representation of God and Israel. He married a woman named Gomer and had children with her. But she was unfaithful. His children's names represent God’s estrangement from Israel. They are prophetic of the fall of the ruling dynasty and the severed covenant with God. Even though Gomer ran away from Hosea, he loved her anyway and forgave her. Even though the people of Israel worshiped false gods, God continued to love them and did not abandon His covenant with them. He saw their unfaithfulness and it angered Him, but He always went after them to bring them back. He tried loving and wooing them just like a man in love.
Hosea 1:2-11 2 When the LORD first spoke to Hosea, He told him, “Go, take a prostitute as your wife and have children of adultery, because this land is flagrantly prostituting itself by departing from the LORD.” 3 So Hosea went and married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4 Then the LORD said to Hosea, “Name him Jezreel, for soon I will bring the bloodshed of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. 5 And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.” 6 Gomer again conceived and gave birth to a daughter, and the LORD said to Hosea, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I should ever forgive them. 7 Yet I will have compassion on the house of Judah, and I will deliver them—not by bow or sword or war, not by horses and cavalry, but by the LORD their God.” 8 After she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, Gomer conceived and gave birth to a son. 9 And the LORD said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people, and I am not your God. 10 Yet the number of the Israelites will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ 11 Then the people of Judah and of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader, and will go up out of the land. For great will be the day of Jezreel.
Hosea 2:2-5 2 Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is not My wife, and I am not her husband. Let her remove the adultery from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts. 3 Otherwise, I will strip her naked and expose her like the day of her birth. I will make her like a desert and turn her into a parched land, and I will let her die of thirst. 4 I will have no compassion on her children because they are the children of adultery. 5 For their mother has played the harlot and has conceived them in disgrace. For she thought, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me bread and water, wool and linen, oil and drink.’
Hosea 2:14-17 (parenthesis mine) 14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her and lead her to the wilderness, and speak to her tenderly. 15 There I will give back her vineyards and make the Valley of Achord into a gateway of hope. There she will respond as she did in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. 16 In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call Me ‘my husband,’ and no longer call Me ‘my Master.’ 17 For I will remove from her lips the names of the Baals (idols); no longer will their names be invoked.
Isaiah 62:4-5 (parenthesis are definitions from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance) 4 No longer will you be called Forsaken, nor your land named Desolate; but you will be called Hephzibah ('my delight is in her'), and your land Beulah (To be master, to marry); for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be His bride. 5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so your sons will marry you; and as a groom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you.
Psalm 45:10-11 10 Listen, O daughter, observe and incline your ear: Forget your people and your father’s house, 11 and the king will desire your beauty; bow to him, for he is your lord.
Jeremiah 3:14, 19-20 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:... 19 “I myself said,“ ‘How gladly would I treat you like my children and give you a pleasant land,
the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’
I thought you would call me ‘Father’
and not turn away from following me.
20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband,
so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me,”
Ezekiel 16:1-34 1 Then another message came to me from the LORD: 2 “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable sins. 3 Give her this message from the Sovereign LORD: You are nothing but a Canaanite! Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. 4 On the day you were born, no one cared about you. Your umbilical cord was not cut, and you were never washed, rubbed with salt, and wrapped in cloth. 5 No one had the slightest interest in you; no one pitied you or cared for you. On the day you were born, you were unwanted, dumped in a field and left to die.
6 “But I came by and saw you there, helplessly kicking about in your own blood. As you lay there, I said, ‘Live!’ 7 And I helped you to thrive like a plant in the field. You grew up and became a beautiful jewel. Your breasts became full, and your body hair grew, but you were still naked. 8 And when I passed by again, I saw that you were old enough for love. So I wrapped my cloak around you to cover your nakedness and declared my marriage vows. I made a covenant with you, says the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.
9 “Then I bathed you and washed off your blood, and I rubbed fragrant oils into your skin. 10 I gave you expensive clothing of fine linen and silk, beautifully embroidered, and sandals made of fine goatskin leather. 11 I gave you lovely jewelry, bracelets, beautiful necklaces, 12 a ring for your nose, earrings for your ears, and a lovely crown for your head. 13 And so you were adorned with gold and silver. Your clothes were made of fine linen and were beautifully embroidered. You ate the finest foods—choice flour, honey, and olive oil—and became more beautiful than ever. You looked like a queen, and so you were! 14 Your fame soon spread throughout the world because of your beauty. I dressed you in my splendor and perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign LORD.
15 “But you thought your fame and beauty were your own. So you gave yourself as a prostitute to every man who came along. Your beauty was theirs for the asking. 16 You used the lovely things I gave you to make shrines for idols, where you played the prostitute. Unbelievable! How could such a thing ever happen? 17 You took the very jewels and gold and silver ornaments I had given you and made statues of men and worshiped them. This is adultery against me! 18 You used the beautifully embroidered clothes I gave you to dress your idols. Then you used my special oil and my incense to worship them. 19 Imagine it! You set before them as a sacrifice the choice flour, olive oil, and honey I had given you, says the Sovereign LORD.
20 “Then you took your sons and daughters—the children you had borne to me—and sacrificed them to your gods. Was your prostitution not enough? 21 Must you also slaughter my children by sacrificing them to idols? 22 In all your years of adultery and detestable sin, you have not once remembered the days long ago when you lay naked in a field, kicking about in your own blood.
23 “What sorrow awaits you, says the Sovereign LORD. In addition to all your other wickedness, 24 you built a pagan shrine and put altars to idols in every town square. 25 On every street corner you defiled your beauty, offering your body to every passerby in an endless stream of prostitution. 26 Then you added lustful Egypt to your lovers, provoking my anger with your increasing promiscuity. 27 That is why I struck you with my fist and reduced your boundaries. I handed you over to your enemies, the Philistines, and even they were shocked by your lewd conduct. 28 You have prostituted yourself with the Assyrians, too. It seems you can never find enough new lovers! And after your prostitution there, you still were not satisfied. 29 You added to your lovers by embracing Babylonia,a the land of merchants, but you still weren’t satisfied.
30 “What a sick heart you have, says the Sovereign LORD, to do such things as these, acting like a shameless prostitute. 31 You build your pagan shrines on every street corner and your altars to idols in every square. In fact, you have been worse than a prostitute, so eager for sin that you have not even demanded payment. 32 Yes, you are an adulterous wife who takes in strangers instead of her own husband. 33 Prostitutes charge for their services—but not you! You give gifts to your lovers, bribing them to come and have sex with you. 34 So you are the opposite of other prostitutes. You pay your lovers instead of their paying you!
Jeremiah 31:31-32 31 “The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD.
The book called the Song of Solomon or Song of Songs is a love poem supposedly written by King Solomon. It celebrates sexual love and intimacy. The two are in harmony, each desiring the other and rejoicing in intimacy. The literal subject of the Song of Songs is love and sexual longing between a man and a woman. The Song is evidence of God's love for his people. The same love and intimacy is what God wants with His people (in the Old Testament they were the Jews, but with the New Testament believing Gentiles, the true Church, were adopted through Jesus Christ and are also God's people). God is the bridegroom who desires His bride (His people) and she is also in love. They can't get enough of each other and they give each other everything they have in love. They desire each other's company and think about each other all the time just like a man and woman in love. This book not only gives us a godly perspective on love between a man and a woman but a type of the relationship between Christ and the church. Although you hear the bridegroom's words and the words of the audience of the women of Jerusalem, the bride's voice is most prominent. It is the woman's voice that begins and ends the book. Song of Solomon 1:2 begins with her desire for her beloved, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!” The poem ends with her calling out to her beloved, “Make haste, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices” (Song of Solomon 8:14). "Divine wisdom makes it plain that a healthy romantic relationship will be one in which the woman’s voice is cultivated, heard, and fully considered". - James L. Harvey III (DMin, Erskine Seminary)
Ephesians 5:22-32 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her 26 to sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to Himself as a glorious church, without stain or wrinkle or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 Indeed, no one ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. 30 For we are members of His body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, but I am speaking about Christ and the church.
2 Corinthians 11:2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. For I promised you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
Jesus was both the Son of God and the Son of Man, both 100% God and 100% man. This is why He is pure, sinless. We are born in sin and live in sin. He was born pure and lived pure. Therefore He was the only human (because He was also God) who could make the sacrifice for our sins. He could take our place and take our punishment setting us free from sin and death! He was the perfect, blameless, spotless Lamb of God, the sacrificial lamb who blood washed us clean from all sin, past, present and future.
Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
John 1:1,14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
John 10:30 "I and my Father are one."
John 14:9-11 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves."
John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Matthew 9:14-15 14 One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?” 15 Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast."
John 3:27-36 (parenthesis mine) 27 John(John the Baptist) replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. 28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ 29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. 31 He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. 32 He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! 33 Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. 34 For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. 36 And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”
Jesus Christ was God in the flesh and is also a man. These verses we just read tell us and that Jesus is the Lamb of God and the Bridegroom. To be a Bridegroom, you have to have a Bride and with a Bridegroom and Bride there will be a marriage, a wedding. The trinity is the perfect union and unity of the three God-heads, three in one of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. They are God as one God, but they are also a triune. But they work together in such harmony and unity that One is never less than the other Two. Jesus is the Son but He represented the Father and, in all things, He never deviated from the Father. The Holy Spirit that lives in us now is in such harmony with the Father and Son that what the Spirit teaches and tells us about God is from God. He reveals the Father and Son to us. The trinity is a difficult concept for humans and we won't ever really understand it until we see it worked out in front of our eyes in Heaven. There are three distinct persons of the God-head, yet they are in total agreement and unity so that they are also One. God is the Groom, the people He institutes a covenant with are the bride. The Bride is the people of God. Christians see marriage as a sacred sacrament because human marriage represents God's desired relationship with His people. We aren't just promising (before God and men as witnesses) to marry and stay faithful to this spouse, we are acting out, in real life, what God intends in His relationship with His people. When our marriages end in divorce, we are not only breaking our promise to marry and be faithful to our spouse, but we are messing up the message of God's desired relationship with His people. A covenant is a sacred thing and a marriage is making a covenant just as God made a covenant with us. Thank You Lord, that You don't break the covenant even if we do!
So many brides and bridegrooms see their wedding as "their special day" and it's all about them. If you watch some of the wedding reality shows, it's so full of selfishness, pride, ego, immaturity that it's shameful. If you've been a bride-zilla and made everyone miserable, it doesn't matter how expensive your wedding dress was, what kind of limousine you rode up in, what kind of steak you served at the reception, how much you spent on a "perfect" wedding cake or what kind of engagement and wedding pictures you take... You've ruined the day with your own selfishness and pride. You may look glitzy and glamorous but everyone in the wedding party and family will know that behind the facade it's all rotten and stinks with pettiness, selfishness, arrogance and waste. And, can I be frank? Who would want to marry someone so spoiled rotten and selfish? Whether it's the bride or the bridegroom, who would want to shackle themselves for life to someone who is so hateful and inconsiderate of other people? Who wants to wake up next to someone every day for the rest of their lives when they saw such meanness? If I saw my prospective spouse making fun of guests or anyone in the wedding party I would run for the hills rather than shackle myself to them. If I saw them treat contractors and service people with contempt, rudeness and pettiness, I would walk out on them before they dragged me down the aisle. If I saw my prospective spouse go into hock to buy a wedding dress and put their parents in the poor house with their demands for a perfect wedding, there would be no wedding. If I saw my prospective husband be rude and intolerant of my family, I would keep looking. If a woman demands a diamond ring that is beyond your means, walk away. Because, buddy, if they treat their parents, friends, family, and businesses that bad, you can sure expect them to treat you the same way. You will not be exempt. They will try to control you, manipulate you, make unreasonable demands, have unrealistic expectations, and run you into the poor house to fulfill their every desire and whim. You don't really want to marry a spoiled rotten Mama's boy or a spoiled rotten Daddy's girl. And when your marriage inevitably ends, they will try to take you to the cleaners. Mostly what I've been talking about are those who are spoiled and expect an exorbitant amount of money be spent on them for one day. But the other extreme is possible too. If you are obsessed with saving money, being thrifty to the extreme... you can be just as selfish as those who spent $5,000 on a dress they will never wear again. There was a tv reality show called Extreme Cheapskates that showed the extreme measures some people take to save money. In this case, money is just as much their god as the ones I was talking about who spent exorbitant amounts. They showed several people who were too cheap for their wedding. They ruined what could have been a nice day for their spouse, family and friends by overdoing the thrift and frugality. They humiliated their spouse by embarrassing them. They made their family and friends uncomfortable. They bargained down any service people or contractors and put them on the spot, taking advantage of them. Basically making a lifetime event into a cartoon. They just couldn't stop their self absorbed, selfish, greedy behavior. On one show a woman was so thrifty she made everyone pee in a bottle so she didn't "waste" water by flushing a commode and she timed her boyfriend's showers and turned off the hot water whether he was through or not. Control, greed and selfishness is not an attractive characteristic and I wouldn't want to be married to someone like that. The key to balance is in thinking of others as much as you think of yourself. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The Golden Rule makes life bearable for all involved. Life is not the Sharon-show (me). If it's my wedding, I want to enjoy it and treat it as a lifetime event. But not to either extreme (wasteful spending or extreme thrift) and not to the hurt and discomfort of our guests. On the best day of your life, you don't want to reveal yourself at your worst. In our family, we've had the whole spectrum of frugal to, what I would call, extravagant (although not so much as you see on TV) weddings. But I can honestly say I personally have not seen the brides or grooms act unbecomingly in either case. I'm proud to say we've been balanced, kind and courteous no matter where we fell on the financial spectrum. The ones who had more extravagant weddings didn't demand it that way as far as I know. And they certainly didn't act ugly or selfishly. It just happened that either they, or their parents, had the money to do it. Parents offered it out of love and it was received in love. On the other hand, I was one of those who had to be frugal so we didn't put either sets of parents into financial debt. I waited on a diamond ring until 2 years after we were married. I used my mother's wedding dress and she handmade my cap and veil. My uncle took our pictures. We offered our guests sheet cake, punch, mints and nuts rather than a full meal. Flowers were kept to a minimum. I loved my husband (still do) and couldn't wait to marry him and so we worked within our budget to make it happen. We met and were married within 6 months and the only reason I waited that long was because I wanted to be 18. We were married about 3 weeks after I turned 18 yrs old. I was so in love I didn't want to spend another moment without him! We had a full complement of family and friends and we were very grateful that they joined us. Our vows were said solemnly and were meant. So I think, given our financial constraints, we did a nice wedding, a lifetime event, but carefully and courteously to everyone involved. I didn't want to ruin our day with any hurt feelings, conflict or controversy. Plus, I was very grateful to everyone who could share it with us and had even given us wedding gifts (we asked only for practical gifts, we didn't sign up for a registry and stuff) that we needed to start our new life together. One of our nieces had been in the Miss SC pageant. She had gotten to wear evening gowns and go through all the glamour of something like that. It was good lifetime experience and training for her (it was her first and only beauty pageants so she was not what you would think of as a "pageant girl"). I'm glad she got to have that experience. But when it came to her wedding, she was in love and wanted to get married right away (just like me). They lived away from our hometown while she was in college and he was in the Air Force and his family was large and lived about a 14 hour drive away (i.e. it would be very expensive for all of them to travel that far, I know they would have, but it was kind and courteous not to expect his family to do it). She met him there but she brought him home to meet the family and then notified us that they were just going to the courthouse to get married. We were all excited and waiting for her long distance call to say it was a done deal. So even though her wedding was "frugal" financially, she included us all in the plans and we had a celebratory family shower when they were able to come home next and I think his family did too when they got to go visit them. So, as I said, I can be proud of our family in the wedding department no matter on what scale it was. The girls have all been gracious and generous and the guys have all been responsible and courteous. All of them have exhibited a grateful and thankful heart. In fact, I guess that's why the bachelor and bride-zilla shows shock me so. I just can't imagine being so spoiled, selfish, discourteous, demanding and disrespectful of others in something that is supposed to be a lifetime event.
Now to get back to Christ as the Bridegroom and the church, God's people, as the Bride. God made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15.
Genesis 15 1 Some time later, the LORD spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.”
2 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign LORD, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3 You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.”
4 Then the LORD said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” 5 Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”
6 And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.
7 Then the LORD told him, “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.”
8 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign LORD, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?”
9 The LORD told him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 So Abram presented all these to him and killed them. Then he cut each animal down the middle and laid the halves side by side; he did not, however, cut the birds in half. 11 Some vultures swooped down to eat the carcasses, but Abram chased them away.
12 As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a terrifying darkness came down over him. 13 Then the LORD said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. 14 But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. 15 (As for you, you will die in peace and be buried at a ripe old age.) 16 After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.”
17 After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. 18 So the LORD made a covenant with Abram that day and said, “I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypta to the great Euphrates River— 19 the land now occupied by the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”
Notice I didn't say Abraham made the covenant but God initiated and made the covenant. It was God who initiated, instructed and fulfilled the covenant. In Genesis 15, God instructed Abram (later renamed Abraham) to sacrifice a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. After Abraham killed them, he was to cut them in half. Then it says Abram fell into a deep sleep. God appeared to him and made the covenant. In the covenant God promised Abram that he would have a son and from this son would come as many descendants as stars in the sky. He also promised to give the land to his descendants. There was nothing Abram did other than follow God's instructions. Man cannot approach God, cannot please God, because of our sin and our inability to cleanse ourselves of our sin. So God takes the initiative and does what we cannot do in order to have a relationship with His beloved people. This Old Testament covenant was a marriage between God and His chosen people, the Israelites. And it was a blood covenant. This was a type, and shadow, of the New Testament blood covenant, implemented by Jesus Christ. But in the New Covenant, Jesus is the lamb without spot or blemish. Did God nullify His covenant with the Jewish people in order to create the New Covenant? No. Israel was an unfaithful wife, running after idols again and again. But God was always faithful and always brought her back. There is always a remnant of the Jewish nation that will desire God and love Him. And it is those who repent and seek God whom God loves, forgives and will make sure they are included in the New Covenant. They must accept Jesus as the only Messiah and way to salvation. God knows who will and will not. Jesus came to fulfill the Old Covenant and God's Law and commandments. He was successful in this. He followed God's Law in spirit and truth. The only way He could do this, as a human, was to also be divine, Son of God and Son of Man. So we've completed the circle. The Old Covenant was the first marriage and was to a natural people. The New Covenant was made to a spiritual people. The first to a natural Nation and the last to a spiritual Nation.
Learning about how God uses marriage to portray the type of intimate relationship He wants with His people helps you understand why Christians consider marriage a sacrament. We should not be taking marriage lightly. Marriage was suppose to be a very solemn vow with witnesses. It's not just a piece of paper or a temporary situation, a contract that is easily broken in a divorce court. It's why Catholics don't approve of divorce and why Christians took it so seriously in the old days. Now, I realize not all marriages are healthy or safe. Unfortunately, we humans, and our sinful human natures, can make a marriage a living hell. But making it so easy to separate and divorce is the opposite extreme. We need a more balanced approach.
First, couples should realize how serious marriage is. It isn't just a big romantic wedding and flying off into La-La Land to be happy ever after. Too many young people seem to focus on the wedding and not the life afterwards. Serious counseling before the wedding is a very good idea. Not to ruin the romance but to make sure both are looking at things objectively and with a good understanding of required adjustments. Another thing is to be very careful about who you choose to marry. It shouldn't just be about attraction and romance. That's necessary but it's also about where they come from and what baggage they bring when they move in. By that I mean, how different are you from each other and those differences will have a lot to do with your marriage and family dynamics. I know perfectly well there are those who can overcome cultural differences, racial differences, religious differences, financial differences, philosophical differences. But those are the exceptions to the rule. The closer you are in your raising, the more common ground you will have. For instance, a Catholic marrying a Protestant. You have the same God but there are differences in how you approach religion in your life and it's very significant in how you will raise your children or what church you will attend. And if you marry outside your religion, it's even harder. For instance, if you are Jewish and you marry a Christian or a Hindu or a Muslim or an Atheist. Religion usually goes deeper than you realize and expecting the spouse to change to match your religion may be an unrealistic expectation and vice versa. Do NOT underestimate how religious differences can affect your marriage. Being from different races can affect your marriage. I know many people marry outside their race and it's worked. But many more do and it ended up in divorce court. You usually have a different outlook and mindset based on race that affects how you think and feel. Something that is offensive to one is not to another or vice versa. You may be setting yourself up for a fall. It's not because you don't love each other, it's just because, once the newness wears off and the rubber meets the road, you see things in a totally different way and you can't really understand each other. Same with cultural differences. For instance, I'm Southern American. If I met and fell in love with a Norwegian, although we are both white European extract we still come from totally different cultures. The culture shock for both might be too much to overcome. I don't think I could ever live in such cold and they probably would never be comfortable in a hot, humid environment like I'm used to. It's not just the environmental temperature. But, I never buy a sweater and they never buy a tank top. I never eat herring and they never eat salt and pepper catfish. I would be looking for a house with air conditioning and they would looking at a house with heat. It would be like that for every day decisions. It just might be too much to overcome. Then there are those with very different agendas. One may be very ambitious, on the go, loving adrenaline rushes or risking more than the other is comfortable with. Or maybe one is a workaholic and loves making money while the other is into simplifying and being laid back. How you look at money in your life could be a stumbling block. Does he know how to live within their budget or does he tend to overspend? Does she want to stay home with their children but he can't understand her sacrificing a good paying job to do something as worthless as raise the children? Does he like to save and plan for the future but she likes to spend from paycheck to paycheck? Did he come from a privileged and financially secure family and she comes from a modest background? Does he expect to have two incomes, two checking accounts and everything split down the middle but she looks at it as combined income to be spent in combined ways? Look carefully at how compatible you are in your approach to life. Again, I repeat, there are many examples of marriages that successfully overcome financial, racial, cultural and philosophical differences. I'm very aware of it. But I'm also very aware that there are many more that don't make it because of the overwhelming differences. So choose wisely. My husband and I have a lot in common and a lot of differences. The differences caused friction in our married life. I know everyone is different. You were raised one way and he was raised another, you lived one life and he lived another. But the more you have in common, the better chances you have. That being said, once you are married, learn to adjust and enjoy your own family dynamics. What works for you and your husband may not work for someone else. My parents never slept separately. They were married almost 62 years before Mother died and they slept together. But for us, we enjoy not only having separate beds but separate bedrooms. He snores and likes to watch TV programs that bore the hound out of me. I like my adjustable bed raised when I sleep so I can breath but he says it hurts his neck. I like to watch TV programs and work on my laptop and he doesn't like what I like to watch. He has to get up early to go to work and I'm usually up late tapping on my computer and watching TV. He couldn't get enough rest if he slept in the same room. Then I sleep late because I was up late. So he doesn't want to wake me up as he gets ready for work. I like having the dogs and cats sleeping with me, him not so much. So for many reasons, it works better for us to have separate rooms. That was something we eventually came to an agreement about. So what worked for my parents is one thing and what worked for us is another. Neither couple is right or wrong. It's what works. Some couples the wife has the better paying career and she wants to pursue it whereas the husband really enjoys being a professional parent. If they are happy with that and it works in their family, that's wonderful! For us it was the opposite. Stan had the better paying career and he loved the challenges and has a high work ethic that drives him. Me? All I ever wanted to be was a housewife, a good one. He didn't understand me and I didn't understand him. But we adjusted, compromised and shifted our expectations and now we value each other's contributions to our working marriage. We've finally come to the general agreement where each of us shines in our area of expertise and we appreciate each other.
If I could give any young couple advice, it's to be aware of your differences and be sure you can handle them before you walk down the aisle. If you aren't sure, wait. That doesn't mean you should wait and sleep together, live together as though you were married. God very specifically tells us that sexual intimacy should only be between husband and wife. My Mother used to tell me, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk free?" Young people today are bombarded with sex and are told constantly that sex outside of marriage is fine. But it's really very stupid. If you give it out (and that's BOYS and GIRLS) you have devalued yourself. You are a treasure that should be treated with utmost respect. If the opposite sex is pressuring you, and you capitulate, you have let THEM dictate to you and thus have devalued yourself to yourself and others. You have allowed someone else to tell you what to do with your own body. You have allowed yourself to be used. And young men today seem to see girls as a public toilet to be used and flushed. They expect girls to satisfy them and then drop them and move on. And girls let the boys do it. That's what I don't understand. Girls, be real, you don't have to let men use you. You don't have to cater to a guy's worst perversion. You don't have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. You can walk away. It doesn't matter what others may say as long as you still have your integrity and sense of value. You are a gem, a hidden treasure, a child of God. No one has the right to make you feel any less than that. Treat yourself as the valuable treasure you are. Don't let someone else disrespect you and treat you as a piece of garbage. And today, girls can be just as disrespectful of guys as guys are of girls. They put on the big come-on and then laugh at you when you don't respond to them. Let them laugh. They don't determine who you are or how you feel about yourself. Don't give in to them and don't let them rob you of your value. If you put out easily, then why should they take on any responsibilities? If a fellow can get what he wants from you for nothing, why should he take on the responsibility of a wife? If a girl can get what she wants from a guy, why should she take on the responsibility of a husband? You become just a cheap trinket that lasts only as long as they see glitter and then they toss you aside. God's way is the best way and brings a better chance of they kind of love and relationship that we all long for deep inside.
Sometimes I think if you made a list of all the things that can ruin someone's life, some people go down the list like it's a "bucket list", checking things off. They are making themselves miserable with their own two hands. Life has enough lemons without us growing our own lemon trees. I can't help it if a tornado destroys my house. But I don't have to destroy my house with my own two hands. Let's look at some of the things I'm talking about.
When you do these things you are setting yourself up for life failures not life success. You don't have to do any of these things. God warns us not to. Not because He is a killjoy, but because you are hurting yourself and those who love you and are within your sphere of influence.
So God's idea of marriage is far better for all involved and we should strive to do what He prescribes as best. If you've already messed up, He forgives and you can start over with His help. There is nothing you can do that He can't forgive. Just ask Him and be set free!
So we know God loves His people and wants an intimate, loving relationship with us. He wants to be involved in our lives. We also know that no matter how many times we mess up, He loves us and comes after us to rescue us and draw us back into right relationship with Him. He forgives as soon as we realize and repent. We have only to call.
But the wife who leaves her loving and attentive husband for other men is unfaithful. She is not satisfied with her husband no matter what he does to prove his love for her. He provides for her, protects her, showers her with gifts and good things, he gives her his attention and treats her lovingly and tenderly. But it's never enough. She's leaving their bed to look out the window to see who is outside. She calls to the men in the street, catches their eye, waves at them. She leaves her husband and goes out to meet other men who make her excited for a short while. She likes feeling illicit and enticing. But it never lasts long so she goes looking for someone else. Before long life catches up to her. She has to have money to take care of herself and her needs and she has to prostitute herself. She has to have more money to make herself look good so men will want her. She has to buy high heels, diaphanous gowns or short skirts, heavy makeup, wigs. Before long even that isn't enough. She will be standing almost naked in the streets and men won't hardly glance at her. As she gets older and her lifestyle takes it's toll, she needs to spend more to try and keep her looks. She also finds that more and more she has to resort to perversions to keep men interested and coming back. The first time she pole dances may be exhilarating but the 50th time she's losing her luster and the 500th time she's just a hag humping a pole. She has no future and no money for a future. No man will be interested because she's given herself freely to any man. She's a used-up throwaway and she did it to herself. Please understand that I realize some girls, boys, young women/men are kidnapped, given drugs and used in human trafficking. They didn't have any choices. It was forced upon them. It's a sickening slavery that is evil to the core and it's not the victim's fault. I'm just following the analogy of the whore of Babylon.
So when we follow this thought, we see God's desire for a pure and holy marriage with His Bride. We also see that the "Bride" has often, through her own choices, run around on her Husband. The Husband goes searching for His Bride and tries to bring her back to safety and love. When she continually refuses, He must discipline her or risk her eternal loss. Eventually she repents and goes home. But she does it over and over again. Thank God, He is one who is ever faithful, there is no shadow of turning with Him. He is always there for us to cry out to and run to His arms. He loves us even though we are unfaithful. He forgives us every time we turn back to Him.
Therefore, in the Bible, when we see this whore of Babylon, this prostitute or harlot, we can begin to understand how the symbolism of marriage, and then of harlotry, relates to God and His people. This Babylonian Empire was the largest world empire of the time. It had great riches and power. God used that empire as a tool to drive His people back to Him. But Babylon, as a whole, did not worship and serve the only true God, Jehovah. They had idols and idolatrous practices. Because they were so rich, powerful and impressive, all the world's leaders cozied up to Babylon to receive her favors (just like the prostitute). They became the crowd around the throne, the hangers-on, the posse. They were always trying to get something from the King of Babylon. They were making the power plays and politicking around the throne. Always jockeying for position and favors. Does that sound familiar? It should. Human beings have been doing it around kings, presidents, dictators, heads of state, religious leaders, rock stars, movie stars, tycoons and the rich since Adam and Eve left the garden. In fact, you can go all the way down to the lowest rungs and still find someone jockeying around trying to get noticed and climbing the ladder on the backs of others. So Babylon is symbolized as a prostitute because she is rich, attractive, impressive, powerful, influential. At her height, everyone wanted her and wanted to be like her. But she faded and now is a ruin in the desert. Because she symbolizes the world empire of Babylon, a godless and pagan nation of great wealth and power, she also symbolizes any grand world power that tries to bully their way onstage without God. Especially the last one, the one-world government of the anti-Christ and his idolatrous one-world religion. While he's at his height, everyone left in the world (except for those who are saved during the Great Tribulation) will desire what he offers. They will leave all thoughts of God and Christianity behind and lust after this powerful leader and his false prophet. They will find out too late that the whore of Babylon is really a pit of hell. They have invested everything, even their eternal spirits, into this harlot and been led by the nose into idolatry. As the old saying goes, "They sold their souls to the devil."
Lamentations 1:8-9 8 Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean. All who honored her despise her, for they have all seen her naked; she herself groans and turns away. 9 Her uncleanness stains her skirts; she did not consider her end. Her downfall was astounding; there was no one to comfort her. Look, O LORD, on my affliction, for the enemy has triumphed!
Revelation 17:3-4 3 So the angel took me in the Spirit into the wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that had seven heads and ten horns, and blasphemies against God were written all over it. 4 The woman wore purple and scarlet clothing and beautiful jewelry made of gold and precious gems and pearls. In her hand she held a gold goblet full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality.
In our past study of Revelation chapters we found a beast like this mentioned before. You can go back and look at my studies on these chapters.
Revelation 12:3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: a huge red dragon with seven heads, ten horns, and seven royal crowns on his heads.
Revelation 13:1-2 1 Then I saw a beast with ten horns and seven heads rising out of the sea. There were ten royal crowns on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 The beast I saw was like a leopard, with the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave the beast his power and throne and great authority.
Suffice it to say that the beast probably represents a bunch of nations being subsumed by one more powerful nation and the final fulfillment is the government of the anti-Christ and his false prophet, influenced and led by satan. The woman may represent the one-world religion that the anti-Christ and his false prophet institute. She rides on the back of the Beast, the world empire of the anti-Christ. She may represent a "religion" but is not a religion of the one true God. She has aligned herself with the anti-Christ and gives him and his government a spiritual "thumbs up". She has sold out her soul and merely pretends to be spiritual and religious. She only has the pomp and circumstance of religion but no true relationship with God.
The description of the woman has her:
- Wearing purple and scarlet clothing
- Wearing beautiful jewelry made of gold and precious gems and pearls
- Holding a gold goblet full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality
Revelation 17:4 (New International Version - NIV) The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.
(King James Version - KJV) And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
(English Standard Version - ESV) The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality.
(Berean Literal Bible - BLB) And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stone and pearls, holding a golden cup in her hand, being full of abominations and the impurity of her sexual immorality.
(Christian Standard Bible - CSB) The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, jewels, and pearls. She had a golden cup in her hand filled with everything detestable and with the impurities of her prostitution.
(Contemporary English Version - CEV) The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet robes, and she wore jewelry made of gold, precious stones, and pearls. In her hand she held a gold cup filled with the filthy and nasty things she had done.
(Jubilee Bible 2000 - JB2000) And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and of the filthiness of her fornication;
(Young's Literal Translation - YLT) and the woman was arrayed with purple and scarlet-colour, and gilded with gold, and precious stone, and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and uncleanness of her whoredom,
(New Living Translation - NLB) The woman wore purple and scarlet clothing and beautiful jewelry made of gold and precious gems and pearls. In her hand she held a gold goblet full of obscenities and the impurities of her immorality.
In Strong's Exhaustive Concordance:
adorned = κεχρυσωμένη (kechrysōmenē) = Verb - Perfect Participle Middle or Passive - Nominative Feminine Singular Strong's Greek 5558: To gild, adorn with gold. From chrusos; to gild, i.e. Bespangle with golden ornaments.
In the different translations, it's been translated as "arrayed", "dressed", "decked", "adorned", "wore", "gilded".
with gold = χρυσίῳ (chrysiō) = Noun - Dative Neuter Singular
Strong's Greek 5553: A piece of gold, golden ornament. Diminutive of chrusos; a golden article, i.e. Gold plating, ornament, or coin.
In the different translations, it's been translated as "gold", "jewelry made of gold".
of abominations = βδελυγμάτων (bdelygmatōn) = Noun - Genitive Neuter Plural
Strong's Greek 946: An abominable thing, an accursed thing. From bdelusso; a detestation, i.e. idolatry.
In the different translations, it's been translated as "abominations", "abominable things", "everything detestable", "filthy and nasty things" and "obscenities".
impurities = ἀκάθαρτα (akatharta) = Adjective - Accusative Neuter Plural
Strong's Greek 169: Unclean, impure. Impure (lewd) or specially, (demonic).
In the different translations, it's been translated as "impurities", "filth" and "filthiness", "uncleanness".
sexual immorality = πορνείας (porneias) = Noun - Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 4202: Fornication, whoredom; met: idolatry. From porneuo; harlotry; figuratively, idolatry.
In the different translations, it's been translated as "sexual immorality", "adulteries", "fornication", "prostitution", "whoredom".
Jeremiah 51:6-7 6 Flee from Babylon; escape with your lives! Do not be destroyed in her punishment. For this is the time of the LORD’s vengeance; He will pay her what she deserves. 7 Babylon was a gold cup in the hand of the LORD, making the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore the nations have gone mad.
"Prosperity, pomp, and splendour, feed the pride and lusts of the human heart, but are no security against the Divine vengeance. The golden cup represents the allurements, and delusions, by which this mystical Babylon has obtained and kept her influence, and seduced others to join her abominations. She is named, from her infamous practices, a mother of harlots; training them up to idolatry and all sorts of wickedness. She filled herself with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus. She intoxicated herself with it; and it was so pleasant to her, that she never was satisfied." - Matthew Henry Commentary
Ezra 9:10-12 10 “And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments, 11 which you commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land that you are entering, to take possession of it, is a land impure with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations that have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness. 12 Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’
When God brought the Israelites out of their slavery in Egypt, and after they wandered for 40 years in the wilderness, God leads them to the Promised Land. He tells them to go in and take the land which meant killing and displacing thousands of natives. Does that sound harsh to you? It did to me. It seemed to parallel the European colonists and explorers coming to the Americas and taking the land from the Native Americans. But when you look at Ezra 9, a reason is given: it "is a land impure with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations that have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness."
The Canaanites were descendants of Noah's son Ham through Ham's son Canaan born after the Flood. Canaan was cursed because of his and his father’s sin against Noah (Genesis 9:20–25). In some passages, Canaanites specifically refers to the people of the lowlands and plains of Canaan (Joshua 11:3); in other passages, Canaanites is used more broadly to refer to all the inhabitants of the land, including the Hivites, Girgashites, Jebusites, Amorites, Hittites, and Perizzites. They were a wicked, idolatrous people. When Moses and the Israelites came to the Promised Land, he sent in 12 spies. Let's take a quick look at that story because it is fascinating!
Numbers 13:21-33, 25-32 21 So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo-hamath. 22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, dwelled. It had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.
23 When they came to the Valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes, which they carried on a pole between two men. They also took some pomegranates and figs. 24 Because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut there, that place was called the Valley of Eshcol.
25 After forty days the men returned from spying out the land, 26 and they went back to Moses, Aaron, and the whole congregation of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran at Kadesh. They brought back a report for all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land.
27 And they gave this account to Moses: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and indeed, it is flowing with milk and honey. Here is some of its fruit! 28 Nevertheless, the people living in the land are strong, and the cities are large and fortified. We even saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the land of the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea and along the Jordan.”
30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We must go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly conquer it!”
31 But the men who had gone up with him replied, “We cannot go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are!”
32 So they gave the Israelites a bad report about the land they had spied out: “The land we explored devours its inhabitants, and all the people we saw there are great in stature. 33 We even saw the Nephilim there—the descendants of Anak that come from the Nephilim! We seemed like grasshoppers in our own sight, and we must have seemed the same to them!”
The Canaanites were giants and fierce warriors. The last verse has the spies saying there were "Nephilim", sons of "Anak" there. These were giants in the Bible. For my study of them on my blog go to Giants In The Bible. These were no innocent, peaceful tribes. The Nephilim were the result of human women and demons. The land was inhabited by the “Canaanites,” who were comprised of several different groups, one of which was “the Canaanites,” “Amorites”, “Hittites” and many others also mentioned. In the Bible, “Canaan” was one of the names used for the land; the inhabitants by default, were “Canaanites.”
Genesis 10:15-19 Canaan became the father of Sidon his firstborn, and Heth, and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon, in the direction of Gerar, as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha
Genesis 15:18-21 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates; the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites”
“Canaan” was the term for the land that became “the Land of Israel” while “the Amorites” was a term for the main group that inhabited the land before the conquest. “Amurru” literally means “west”. The peoples of Mesopotamia, called Amorites, are the people west of the Euphrates River all the way to the borders of Egypt. In religion, they worshiped many gods. The principal god was El. The jurisdiction over rainfall and fertility was delegated to Baal, or Hadad. Other important deities included Resheph, lord of plague and the nether world; Kothar, the divine craftsman; Asherah, consort of El; and Astarte, goddess of fertility. They committed human sacrifices, including child sacrifice. Women could serve as priestesses and fertility gods included "worshiping" with Temple prostitutes. The customs of the Canaanites in their idolatry, violence and immorality are why God would command the Israelites to go in and take the land and destroy it's inhabitants. He also commanded them not to intermarry with the land's prior inhabitants because, after marriage, they would then likely follow into their spouse's religion and begin worshiping idols and participating in the despicable practices of those idolatrous religions.
Deuteronomy 7:1-8 1 When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess, and He drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you— 2 and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you to defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction.a Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy.
3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 because they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods. Then the anger of the LORD will burn against you, and He will swiftly destroy you.
5 Instead, this is what you are to do to them: tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, cut down their Asherah poles, and burn their idols in the fire. 6 For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His prized possession, above all peoples on the face of the earth.
7 The LORD did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than the other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But because the LORD loved you and kept the oath He swore to your fathers, He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 20:1-4, 10-18 When you go out to war against your enemies and see horses, chariots, and an army larger than yours, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest is to come forward and address the army, 3 saying to them, “Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle with your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be alarmed or terrified because of them. 4 For the LORD your God is He who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.”...
10 When you approach a city to fight against it, you are to make an offer of peace. 11 If they accept your offer of peace and open their gates, all the people there will become forced laborers to serve you.
12 But if they refuse to make peace with you and wage war against you, lay siege to that city. 13 When the LORD your God has delivered it into your hands, you must strike down every male with the sword. 14 But the women, children, livestock, and whatever else is in the city—all its spoil—you may take as plunder, and you shall use the spoil of your enemies that the LORD your God gives you. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are far away from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.
16 However, in the cities of the nations that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 For you must devote them to complete destructiona —the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites—as the LORD your God has commanded you, 18 so that they cannot teach you to do all the detestable things they do for their gods and cause you to sin against the LORD your God.
The New Living Bible - NLB - paraphrases verses 15-16 15 “But these instructions apply only to distant towns, not to the towns of the nations in the land you will enter. 16 In those towns that the LORD your God is giving you as a special possession, destroy every living thing."
Did Joshua and the Israelites drive out or kill every inhabitant of the land? NO! They disobeyed God's commandment:
Judges 2:1-3 1 The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said to the Israelites, “I brought you out of Egypt into this land that I swore to give your ancestors, and I said I would never break my covenant with you. 2 For your part, you were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead, you were to destroy their altars. But you disobeyed my command. Why did you do this? 3 So now I declare that I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides,a and their gods will be a constant temptation to you.”
Judges 3:1-6,10-18 1 These are the nations the LORD left to test all the Israelites who had not known any of the wars in Canaan, 2 if only to teach warfare to the subsequent generations of Israel, especially to those who had not known it formerly: 3 the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived in the mountains of Lebanon from Mount Baal-hermon to Lebo-hamath. 4 These nations were left to test the Israelites, to find out whether they would keep the commandments of the LORD, which He had given their fathers through Moses. 5 Thus the Israelites continued to live among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 6 And they took the daughters of these people in marriage, gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods.
Let's stop and look at an important issue here. Some people look at God's command to kill every inhabitant of the land of Canaan as mass genocide and because of this they can't trust a God who orders genocide and murder. What kind of God commands the Israelites to kill every man, woman, and child in order to take their land? In today's environment, many are promoting guilt over how the Europeans came and took the land from the Native Americans and killed them for it. My comment on that is sin. The Native Americans were sinners as were the Europeans. We all are and conquest, war, death, destruction are the results of sin. Mankind has made war and conquest since Cain murdered Abel. There are no human beings, clans, tribes, nations, empires that aren't built without war, death and destruction. And someone always loses. When they had the chance, the Native Americans also killed, made war, destroyed, kidnapped, scalped, and some had religions based on mass human sacrifices and genocide. The Native Americans were no more peaceful than any other human group. They are no more innocent than the Europeans. They were human beings with a sin problem just like the Europeans, Asians, Blacks, Indians, etc. We are all sinners. As far as the diseases? Disease is no respecter of persons. The same plagues and diseases that had wiped out millions of people in Europe, came over with the explorers and had it's way. That's all there was to it. There were those who died and those who survived just like in Europe. They didn't know anything about germs, viruses, bacteria, medical and scientific things so it wasn't like they planned on using a plague to kill the Native Americans. They didn't know they carried it with them. And whoever showed up on the far shore, even if they had come to bring peace and light, could have carried the diseases with them.
But let's get back to God ordering the Israelites to commit genocide. If you don't know the entire Bible and you don't know God, then this seems harsh and unforgivable. I know God and I know how loving and merciful He is because He sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to save me even though I was just as much a despicable sinner as everyone else. I was a "deplorable" in the literal sense. I'm no more special than Joe Blow or Jane Doe. Knowing we were sinners and rightly deserved an eternity of Hell, God still loved us and sent His Son to die for us so we could be saved. Every sinner has the chance to accept Jesus Christ and be forgiven and go to Heaven. It's just a matter of accepting Jesus.
So you can't tell me that God is cruel, vicious, or evil when He has done everything to bring us safely to Him in love. Why then did He order the mass murder of the inhabitants of the Promised Land?
If you read the entire Bible you begin to see how loving, merciful and just God is. He didn't have to save anyone; He didn't have to bless anyone; He had no obligation to protect and provide for anyone. But He did. From Adam to the last man on earth, God has done the reaching out. He has been the one initiating a reconciliation in love. He's the one who has warned and wooed to try and draw all to Him. He sent prophets to warn, He's given His Word so that we may know. If people choose not to read His Word, not to listen to those whom He sends, including His Son, then it's their fault and not His.
All mankind descended from Adam and Eve and God had an intimate, loving relationship with them before they sinned. They knew God, communed with Him. They weren't ignorant of what a relationship with God could be like because they had experienced it. After they sinned, God provided a blood sacrifice for them. He killed animals in order to "cover" them with animal skins. So when Cain and Abel worshiped God by bringing gifts, they both knew that a blood sacrifice was the correct way to approach God because of their sin. But Cain disobeyed God and tried to approach God with what he wanted to bring, not what was required. I.e., he was doing just what satan and his parents did. They tried to do things their way instead of God's way, they wanted to be in charge, in control. They wanted to be god. But even though Cain knowingly and willingly made this mistake, God patiently and lovingly corrected him and warned him.
Genesis 4:3-7 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Cain did not accept God's instruction and refused to take the warning. Sound familiar? We all do it. We want to be god and we want to do everything our way and be in control. We want to be not only our own god, but we want to be god over everyone else too. If everyone would only do what we tell them to do, everything would be hunky dory. We want everyone to do what we say. They should have the same hairstyle we have, wear the same clothes we do, vote the way we vote, join the same political party, sing the same songs, etc. If they aren't mini-mes, there is something wrong with them.
God wants us to realize and live in the truth. The truth is we cannot be god. We weren't created to be god and do not have the capacities to do the job of God. For instance, we can't read someone's unspoken thoughts nor do we know the secrets of their hearts. In fact, there is so much information that we don't have, our decisions and choices could be detrimental and deadly. We can't trust ourselves or anyone else because we don't have all the information and, if we did, our brains couldn't process all the information to make the right decision. It's an impossibility. I believe if all God's wisdom, knowledge and information suddenly flooded into my physical brain, it would probably just explode. I cannot physically or emotionally handle it and wouldn't want the responsibility that comes with the job. So why do I still want to be god?
So God is doing me a favor in teaching me this truth. He's not busting my balloon, He's just keeping me real. If I can't do the job, who can? Of course, God can. And He's telling me to trust Him to do it and do it correctly and in the right time. The greatest thing I can learn is to let go and let God. God is uniquely qualified and has the power to do all things. And He does all things in love. He doesn't do something to torture someone or for any evil purpose. He does all things in love. We can trust Him. He's not out to get us. Now, bad things do happen to His people. Does that mean He's deliberately torturing us or trying to rain on our parade? No. Sin is in the world and it is in the world due to choices Adam and Eve made. Because of sin, we all are born in sin and have the desire to sin. So illness and death come from sin. When God created the world and the first man and woman, there was no illness or death. Sinful people do sinful things that affect us. God didn't want anyone to kill, rape, abuse, molest, torture, kidnap... those are choices that sinful people made. But, if we trust God, He can take all things and use them to make us better rather than worse. And the worst case scenario for a Christian is that we die and what does that mean? We go to Heaven to spend eternity in bliss! We will never again experience pain, death, sorrow, separation, etc.
So why did God command the Israelites to kill the Canaanites? Those people did know the real God. They could have chosen God at any point in their personal histories or their national histories. They could have chosen God and His ways but they, as a nation, didn't. Now, let's say one family in Canaan did desire the true God, were drawn to Him and reached out to trust Him. God would not let that family down. He would have sent them on a trip or led them to move from that land so they were protected. Or He would have led them into the camp of the Israelites to ask them for protection and to convert from the religion of their people. And, worst case scenario again, if they were killed, God would take them to Heaven. God never abandons His true People! But, as a nation, these groups of people rejected God and pursued idols that justified their worst inclinations. They committed human sacrifice (murder) even to child sacrifices. Yes, they would sacrifice their innocent children in order to get something from their gods. They believed their life was ruined if they didn't sacrifice their children. Sounds a little selfish doesn't it. Godly parents would sacrifice for their children, not sacrifice their children for themselves. It also reminds me of abortion. Women sacrificing their children to make their own lives easier. They think a child will ruin their lives so they sacrifice that unborn baby in order to save themselves any inconvenience, pain, suffering, etc. Moloch is the biblical name of a Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice. The name of this deity is also sometimes spelled Molech, Milcom, or Malcam. Molech worship was practiced by the Ammonites and Canaanites, who revered Molech as a protecting father figure. Images of Molech were made of bronze, and their outstretched arms were heated red-hot. Living children were then placed into the idol’s hands and died there or were rolled into a fire pit below. Some sources indicate a child might also be “passed through the fire” prior to the actual sacrifice in order to purify or baptize the child.
Leviticus 18:21 “‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.'"
Leviticus 20:1-5 1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Give the people of Israel these instructions, which apply both to native Israelites and to the foreigners living in Israel.
“If any of them offer their children as a sacrifice to Molech, they must be put to death. The people of the community must stone them to death. 3 I myself will turn against them and cut them off from the community, because they have defiled my sanctuary and brought shame on my holy name by offering their children to Molech. 4 And if the people of the community ignore those who offer their children to Molech and refuse to execute them, 5 I myself will turn against them and their families and will cut them off from the community. This will happen to all who commit spiritual prostitution by worshiping Molech."
Unfortunately, because the Israelites did not obey God in completely wiping out these people, they did exactly what God knew they would do. They would fall into the same idolatrous practices. Some of the Kings, later, would sacrifice their own child in the worship of Molech!
King Solomon, the wisest man in the world, was the son of King David who was "a man after God's own heart". He had been raised right. When he became king, he wisely asked God for the wisdom to rule God's People well. God answered this unselfish request by making him the wisest man in the world but he still fell into idolatry in his later years. Due to his marrying multiple wives and having multiple concubines, he also fell into worshiping the old pagan idols.
1 Kings 11:4-11, “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD. . . . On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. . . . The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command.”
Later, the King Manassah offered his own son as a sacrifice (2 Kings 21:6), as did King Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:1-4). The people of Judah participated in this crime against their own sons—a sin so “detestable” that God said it had never even crossed His mind
Jeremiah 32:32-35 32 “The sins of Israel and Judah—the sins of the people of Jerusalem, the kings, the officials, the priests, and the prophets—have stirred up my anger. 33 My people have turned their backs on me and have refused to return. Even though I diligently taught them, they would not receive instruction or obey. 34 They have set up their abominable idols right in my own Temple, defiling it. 35 They have built pagan shrines to Baal in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing. What an incredible evil, causing Judah to sin so greatly!"
God didn't do this to one people and show favoritism to Israel/Judah (Israel eventually divided into 2 countries called Israel and Judah). Yes, He chose Israel to His People. But He also warned them that if they fell into the same practices they would face punishment too. And they did. Babylon was used as a tool of punishment for the Israelites.
These people also saw the god Baal and his sexual partner, Ashtoreth, as key to the fertility of their land. If they wanted their land to produce, then Baal and Ashtoreth had to copulate. In order to stimulate their copulation, men would have sex with temple prostitutes or priestesses.
And that's not all of their sinful practices.
Leviticus 18:24-30 “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people. So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God”
God did command Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on the altar. But God was testing Abraham's faith. God stopped Abraham from actually doing it and provided Abraham with a lamb instead. Just as God provided the Lamb of God, Jesus, to be sacrificed on our behalf.
God had given the people in Canaan centuries to repent! He was patient and merciful to wait and give them opportunities to come back to Him. They did not. We tend to think, "Oh how mean is God to let a disaster hit!?!" when maybe we should be thinking, "How merciful is God that not all humankind was wiped out!" We are all sinners and deserve eternal hell! But God has provided a rescue. We deserve punishment but He took the punishment on Himself so we could be saved! Instead of being shocked by punishment, maybe we should be shocked by His mercy!
Jeremiah 18:7-10 7 If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, 8 but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned. 9 And if I announce that I will plant and build up a certain nation or kingdom, 10 but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey me, I will not bless it as I said I would.
God knows every single individual and knows how to take care of anyone who would turn to Him. Not one single innocent person died as the result of God's command to wipe out these violent and idolatrous nations. God is sovereign and He knows all things. He is also the Creator. Life is in His Hands. He knows the beginning and the end. Life is not ours to give and take away. But it is God's. As Creator, Sustainer and Savior, He is the only one who has the right and sovereignty. And His choices are made using His wisdom and knowledge and always motivated with love and mercy. But when love and mercy aren't working to turn someone away from destruction, He uses a rod.
"I don't want no whoopin' from the Lawd!"
Anyone, even the worst of sinners, can turn to Jesus Christ and be saved! We are offered a way of escape. I deserve punishment, but in His mercy, He did not give me what I deserved. He put that punishment upon His Son. He has been merciful to me, a sinner! He is merciful to anyone who chooses Jesus Christ! Don't be like the Canaanites, stubborn and hard hearted. Choose Jesus!
We have looked carefully at the Canaanites because in Revelation, we are looking at Babylon and it's prostitution to idols. Just like the early Canaanites were punished by Israel, so Babylon would be punished and now the end-time Babylon will be punished. They are not punished by a vicious, capricious God, but by a long suffering, patient and merciful God.
Are we not doing the same things? Are not human beings still the same? Don't we still run after idols and practice idolatry? Don't we, even today, sacrifice human beings, even children, for all kinds of different reasons, all of them selfish?
If someone rapes and molests another person, they are doing so because they want to and they have no empathy or concern for the other person. It's selfishness. They will sacrifice another person's life and well being in order to meet their own selfish needs. If someone steals, they are doing so to feather their own nest. Selfishness. If they mistreat their children, it's because their children get in the way of their own lusts and desires. We worship at the feet of drugs, money, alcohol, sex. We would sell our souls to be famous or to get anything we want. We become so chained to our own lusts that it's all we think of, day and night. We become totally bound to them. I think of those who get so addicted to drugs and sex that everything they do is for that addiction. They can't think of anything else. They can't expend energy on anything else. When they aren't doing it, they are planning on the next time they will do it.
Society, without God, is lost. Our only way out is through Jesus Christ. We are filthy, full of impurities. We follow after sin and we bow to it's idols. And NOTHING can save us but Jesus Christ. Not riches, not gold, not fame, not power! This Whore of Babylon was wearing scarlet and purple. Those are colors of blood and royalty. I.e. she was violent and had little value for human life and she had power in government. She was covered in gold and precious stones and pearls. She was rich! People think being rich and powerful will bring you happiness. But it doesn't.
Revelation 17:5 On her forehead a mysterious name was written:
BABYLON THE GREAT,
THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
In the Old Testament, the city of Babylon gave birth to an empire that ruled the known world and imposed a worldview upon all of the conquered peoples. Babylon was cruel, brutish, violent, and proud. They believed they would rule forever and were secure, stable. In their pride, Babylon assumed a god-like role in the lives of their citizenry and the ruler of Babylon was often worshiped. Their religion was idolatrous. with many gods. Babylons destruction is prophesied in Isaiah 47 in response to her wickedness, pride, self-indulgence, and brutality.
1 “Go down, sit in the dust,
Virgin Daughter Babylon;
sit on the ground without a throne,
queen city of the Babylonians.
No more will you be called
tender or delicate.
2 Take millstones and grind flour;
take off your veil.
Lift up your skirts, bare your legs,
and wade through the streams.
3Y our nakedness will be exposed
and your shame uncovered.
I will take vengeance;
I will spare no one.”
4 Our Redeemer—the Lord Almighty is his name—
is the Holy One of Israel.
5 “Sit in silence, go into darkness,
queen city of the Babylonians;
no more will you be called
queen of kingdoms.
6 I was angry with my people
and desecrated my inheritance;
I gave them into your hand,
and you showed them no mercy.
Even on the aged
you laid a very heavy yoke.
7 You said, ‘I am forever—
the eternal queen!’
But you did not consider these things
or reflect on what might happen.
8 “Now then, listen, you lover of pleasure,
lounging in your security
and saying to yourself,
‘I am, and there is none besides me.
I will never be a widow
or suffer the loss of children.’
9 Both of these will overtake you
in a moment, on a single day:
loss of children and widowhood.
They will come upon you in full measure,
in spite of your many sorceries
and all your potent spells.
10 You have trusted in your wickedness
and have said, ‘No one sees me.’
Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you
when you say to yourself,
‘I am, and there is none besides me.’
11 Disaster will come upon you,
and you will not know how to conjure it away.
A calamity will fall upon you
that you cannot ward off with a ransom;
a catastrophe you cannot foresee
will suddenly come upon you.
12 “Keep on, then, with your magic spells
and with your many sorceries,
which you have labored at since childhood.
Perhaps you will succeed,
perhaps you will cause terror.
13 All the counsel you have received has only worn you out!
Let your astrologers come forward,
those stargazers who make predictions month by month,
let them save you from what is coming upon you.
14 Surely they are like stubble;
the fire will burn them up.
They cannot even save themselves
from the power of the flame.
These are not coals for warmth;
this is not a fire to sit by.
15 That is all they are to you—
these you have dealt with
and labored with since childhood.
All of them go on in their error;
there is not one that can save you.
The Babylonian Empire fell to the Persians under Cyrus The Great in 539 B.C. Later the Babylonians revolted unsuccessfully when Darius was King. They experienced the same brutalities they had inflicted on the Jews. The Babylonians strangled their own wives and children to keep them from starving to death during the siege of the capital city. When the city fell, Herodotus says 3000 of the leaders were impaled on the walls. The Queen of the world was defeated and destroyed. It became a village surrounded by a sea of sand.
How many ruling empires have there been since Babylon and Babylonia? The Medes and Persian, Greek, Roman, Roman Catholicism, Christian Protestantist denominations, Muslim/Islam, England, Spain, America, Russia, China, Japan... All will go through the same cycle of being successful, becoming full of pride, becoming brutal, idolatrous and violent, then falling. When a government, or religious, empire rises up, humans seem to fall into the same traps laid by satan as all those who went before. Pride, desire to control, the desire to be god, greed, arrogance mixed with brutality and force to make people obey and follow the demands of the leaders. Purges, to kill off the undesirables who stand in the way and are considered obstructionists, will follow. The more brutal and cruel the purges are, it is thought, will scare others into following the "party line". Propaganda is seen as the first tool to change the minds from individual thought to group thoughts controlled by whoever is in control, punishment will force compliance and executions will deter others from revolting.
The Whore of Babylon is the spirit of seductive culture that keeps rising from the dead in different forms but with the same agenda and the same characteristics. The whore personifies the city that exerts an oppressive yet seductive power on the earth. The city represents a form of influence that has existed in various times and places.
In this verse, the woman is named:
"BABYLON THE GREAT,
"THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES
"AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
God describes the meaning of a spiritual prostitute in Ezekiel 16 (see above) and again in Ezekiel 23:
2 Ezekiel, son of man, listen to this story about two sisters. 3 While they were young and living in Egypt, they became prostitutes. 4 The older one was named Oholah, which stands for Samaria; the younger one was Oholibah, which stands for Jerusalem. They became my wives and gave birth to my children.
9 So I gave Oholah to the Assyrian lovers she wanted so badly. 10 They ripped off her clothes, then captured her children and killed her. Women everywhere talked about what had happened to Oholah.
1 1Oholibah saw all this, but she was more sinful and wanted sex more than her sister Oholah ever did. 12 Oholibah also chased after good-looking Assyrian officers, uniformed soldiers, and cavalry troops. 13 Just like her sister, she did vulgar things.
14 But Oholibah behaved worse than her sister. Oholibah saw images of Babylonian men carved into walls and painted red. 15 They had belts around their waists and large turbans on their heads, and they reminded her of Babylonian cavalry officers. 16 As soon as she looked at them, she wanted to have sex with them. And so, she sent messengers to bring them to her. 17 Men from Babylonia came and had sex with her so many times that she got disgusted with them. 18 She let everyone see her naked body and didn't care if they knew she was a prostitute. That's why I turned my back on her, just as I had done with her older sister.
19 Oholibah didn't stop there, but became even more immoral and acted as she had back in Egypt. 20 She eagerly wanted to go to bed with Egyptian men, who were famous for their sexual powers. 21 And she longed for the days when she was a young prostitute, when men enjoyed caressing her body.
22 The LORD God said:
Oholibah, though you no longer want to be around your lovers, they will surround you like enemies, when I turn them against you. 23 I will gather all the handsome young officials and the high-ranking cavalry officers from Babylonia and Assyria, as well as from the Chaldean tribes of Pekod, Shoa, and Koa. 24 Their large armies will come from the north with chariots and wagons carrying weapons. They will wear shields and helmets and will surround you, and I will let them judge and sentence you according to their own laws. 25 I am angry with you, so I will let them be very cruel. They will cut off your nose and ears; they will kill your children and burn alive anyone in your family who survives. 26 Your clothes and jewelry will be torn off. 27 I will stop your wickedness and the prostitution you started back in Egypt. You will never want to think about those days again.
28 I, the LORD God, am ready to hand you over to those hateful enemies that you find so disgusting. 29 They will cruelly take away everything you have worked for and strip you naked. Then everyone will see you for the prostitute you really are. Your own vulgar sins 30 have led to this. You were the one determined to have sex with men from other nations and to worship their idols. 31 You have turned out no better than your older sister, and now you must drink from the cup filled with my anger.
32 I, the LORD God, gave your sister a large, deep cup filled with my anger. And when you drink from that cup, you will be mocked and insulted. 33 You will end up drunk and devastated, because that cup is filled with horror and ruin. 34 But you must drink every drop! Then smash the cup and chew on its broken pieces. Use them to cut your breasts in sorrow. I, the LORD God, have spoken.
35 You have completely rejected me, and so I promise that you will be punished for the disgusting things you did as a prostitute.
36 The LORD said:
Ezekiel, son of man, it's time for you to tell Oholah and Oholibah that they are guilty. Remind them of their evil ways! 37 They have been unfaithful by worshiping idols, and they have committed murder by sacrificing my own children as offerings to idols. 38-39 They came into my temple that same day, and that made it unfit as a place to worship me. They have even stopped respecting the Sabbath.
40 They sent messengers to attract men from far away. When those men arrived, the two sisters bathed themselves and put on eye shadow and jewelry. 41 They sat on a fancy couch, and in front of them was a table for the olive oil and incense that had belonged to me. 42 Their room was always filled with a noisy crowd of drunkards brought in from the desert. These men gave the women bracelets and beautiful crowns, 43 and I noticed that the men were eager to have sex with these women, though they were exhausted from being prostitutes. 44 In fact, the men had sex over and over with Oholah and Oholibah, the two sinful sisters. 45 But honest judges will someday accuse those two of murder and of being unfaithful, because they are certainly guilty.
46 So I, the LORD God, now say to these sisters:
I will call together an angry mob that will abuse and rob you. 47 They will stone you to death and cut you to pieces; they will kill your children and burn down your houses. 48 I will get rid of sinful prostitution in this country, so that women everywhere will be warned not to act as you have. 49 You will be punished for becoming prostitutes and for worshiping idols. Then you will know that I am the LORD God.
This text has been misused by non-believers to mock God and His Word. In verse 20, God gets pretty specific on what these prostitutes want. He uses lewd and vulgar language to shock the reader into realizing how very ugly the sin of pride and idolatry are. Considering the age we live in, where almost every movie, TV show, book, etc are full of sexual innuendos, filthy language, explicit and focused sexual acts are either performed or talked about openly... and vulgar things such as peeing, pooping and vomiting. We get to see people's heads blown off, arms amputated, torture performed, sex in every way, shape and perverted form and a constant stream of filthy language. And who decided that every movie and most TV shows have to show men and women peeing and vomiting? It's a natural act but not one we should have to see for entertainment. And why would an actor or actress agree to do that? It certainly doesn't showcase them in an attractive light. And, no one can use the N* word or a vulgar term for a homosexual but they let it flow when it comes to demeaning and insulting women. Half the population is made up of girls and women and so every time they use these vulgar terms for the feminine, it's offensive, degrading, insulting and demeaning to half the world's population. In fact, people couldn't curse if it weren't for using a vulgar term for the feminine. They call anyone who is seen as weak, vulnerable, incapable as p****s, c***s, b****s, whores, etc. And the term M**F** is another way to degrade someone with the feminine. It's bad enough that we've allowed men to use these terms as put downs. But women will use these same terms! Don't you realize what you are doing? Women are just as valuable and worthy of respect as men are. God created us and loves us just as much as He does men. In fact, God says there is no difference between men and women when it comes to His love. If you tend to use those terms to indicate someone who is weak and of no value... STOP IT! If you are concerned about offending someone because of race, then think what you are doing when you offend someone because of gender! Please be just as sensitive! We cannot control our gender, skin color, beauty, size, shape, hair color, etc.
It's hard to believe anyone would be shocked at God being specific in this day and time. But let's get this over with. He does say some blunt things in Ezekiel 23:20. But people, taking it out of context, are using it to mock and make fun of the Bible and Christians. So let's put this on a pedestal, walk around it and study it:
Ezekiel 23:19-21 (Contemporary English Version - CEV) 19 Oholibah didn't stop there, but became even more immoral and acted as she had back in Egypt. 20 She eagerly wanted to go to bed with Egyptian men, who were famous for their sexual powers. 21 And she longed for the days when she was a young prostitute, when men enjoyed caressing her body.
Ezekiel 23:19-21 (King James Version - KJV) 19 Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt. 20 For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses. 21 Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth.
Ezekiel 23:19-21 (New International Version - NIV) 19 Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. 20 There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. 21 So you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled.
Ezekiel 23:19-21 (NET Bible - NET) 19 Yet she increased her prostitution, remembering the days of her youth when she engaged in prostitution in the land of Egypt. 20 She lusted after their genitals – as large as those of donkeys, and their seminal emission was as strong as that of stallions. 21 This is how you assessed the obscene conduct of your youth, when the Egyptians fondled your nipples and squeezed your young breasts.
Ezekiel 23:19-21 (New Living Translation - NLT) 19 Yet she turned to even greater prostitution, remembering her youth when she was a prostitute in Egypt. 20 She lusted after lovers with genitals as large as a donkey’s and emissions like those of a horse. 21 And so, Oholibah, you relived your former days as a young girl in Egypt, when you first allowed your breasts to be fondled.
Ezekiel 23:19-21 (Easy To Read Version - ERV) 19 Yet she turned to even greater prostitution, remembering her youth when she was a prostitute in Egypt. 20 She lusted after lovers with genitals as large as a donkey’s and emissions like those of a horse. 21 And so, Oholibah, you relived your former days as a young girl in Egypt, when you first allowed your breasts to be fondled.
I think I've given you a good roundabout look at these scriptures. It isn't something I would want to explain to a child who hasn't had The Talk yet. But, as adults, we know what is being intimated here. And it's not God being lewd to be lewd. It's God trying to show people what spiritual prostitution, the utter spiritual degradation, is like. God has told us that when a man and woman become husband and wife and have sex, the two become one. Within a godly marriage where the husband and wife have experienced sexual intimacy with each other, and no other, it's a beautiful welding of our relationship and they share a oneness like no other relationship can have. But when one, or the other, goes outside the marriage and has sex with someone else, it's a particularly devastating betrayal. You have literally torn your oneness apart. It's a destruction of a unique relationship of intimacy. Your betrayal is peculiarly cruel to your spouse. It's not like breaking up with a good friend, being hurt by a co-worker, being sabotaged by a someone you thought was a friend, or even losing a familial relationship (although those are extremely painful too). The two of you chose each other, made vows of fidelity to each other, then consummated the marriage and became one. As you build upon that marriage and oneness, each of you depends on the other to be faithful. But infidelity rips the heart right out of the marriage and the distrust and loss are devastating. God was trying to use the example of a marriage to show how beautiful a oneness with Him could be. We can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and have a relationship with Him that makes us one with Him. We commune with Him in love. We share an intimacy and bond that is incredible. But when we walk away from Him to follow after idols, it's like a wife leaving her husband for other men. God is our ever faithful husband who loves us no matter what. But we, as His people and as individuals, often break his heart by going after idols and running away from Him, pushing Him away. In the Old Testament, Israel eventually broke up into two countries, Israel and Judah. Ezekiel refers to Oholah and Oholibah and identifies them as Samaria (the capital of Israel) and Jerusalem (the capital of Judah). Judah and Israel had sought fulfillment and security by aligning themselves with idolatrous Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt. Israel was conquered and her people deported to Assyria in 722 BC (2 Kings 17). Judah eagerly turned to Egypt's hollow promises of aid. Zedekiah's final revolt against Babylon in 588 B.C. came with Egypt's promise of assistance (2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 37:5-8; Ezekiel 29:6-7). But Judah finally fell to Babylon in 586 BC. They reaped what they sowed.
o-hol'-i-ba, o-ho'-li-ba ('oholibhah, "tent in her," or "my tent is in her"):
An opprobrious and symbolical name given by Ezekiel to Jerusalem, representing the kingdom of Judah, because of her intrigues and base alliances with Egypt, Assyria and Babylonia, just as the name OHOLAH (which see) was given to Samaria or the Northern Kingdom, because of her alliances with Egypt and Assyria. There is a play upon the words in the Hebrew which cannot be reproduced in English Both Oholah and Oholibah, or Samaria and Jerusalem, are the daughters of one mother, and wives of Yahweh, and both are guilty of religious and political alliance with heathen nations. Idolatry is constantly compared by the Hebrew prophets to marital unfaithfulness or adultery. - W. W. Davies, "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.
In Ezekiel 23, God is comparing the two countries with the two sister prostitutes, Oholah and Oholibah. First one, and then the other, leave their husband for other men. Why? That's what God is asking Israel and Judah. Why would Israel and Judah leave God for other gods? The sisters had the real thing. They were loved, provided for, protected, blessed... they had it all. But they left the real thing to go after what? They were following illusions, pie-in-the-sky. Israel and Judah also ran after illusions. Satan can make something look good but behind the mask it's a nightmare. They were trading in the real thing for smoke and mirrors! Oholah and Oholibah were just examples of someone who would trade in the real thing for something that just looks good but, in reality, is a horror. Someone may look good, be handsome/beautiful, promise a lot of thrills but reality will hit you smack in the face and you are living a nightmare before you know it. Those beautiful blue eyes can turn ugly with hate. Those muscled biceps used for an embrace can be used to knock your teeth out. That gorgeous smile can change into a leer. Those caressing hands can wrap around your throat and choke you to death. God is trying to warn Israel and Judah (and all of us) that running after satan will lead to our destruction. We have the real thing! Through Jesus Christ, we have God! We are loved, provided for, protected, blessed and we will spend an eternity with Him in Heaven! We can never experience anything more wonderful! It's what we were made for! But satan will waggle fake and false things in our faces and tempt us away from God and we soon find ourselves in misery and bondage. We see it everyday. Even in our own lives, because we all fall to temptation at times. God is warning us not to fall for it.
The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III illustrates Jehu prostrating himself before the Assyrian king (the date would be about 840 BC, at the beginning of Jehu's reign) and offering gifts, possibly with a view to buying support against Hazael of Damascus.
The glamour of Babylon tempted Oholibah to make alliances with Babylon. Their faithlessness cost them the only protection they ever had. Yet instead of repenting they sought additional human help, becoming more and more promiscuous. Their sin of idolatry and foreign alliances would reap a cup of judgement. Their punishment was not only due to their sins, but to turn them away from sin and back to God. Their cycle of sin brought them enslavement. Their punishment ("They will cut off your noses and your ears, and those. . . who are left will fall by the sword") would render them so grotesque that no one would want them and their shame would be noticeable to everyone. God's punishment would cure their lust so that they no longer looked at other countries for help. They made choices and ruined themselves. They bear the consequences of their own sin. They knew what they were doing and did it anyway. They had been warned over and over again about the results and consequences that come with sin. God had tried to cleanse His people from their sins but they resisted every effort. Therefore they would experience the purifying work of God's wrath. God's patience had run out; the time had come for Him to judge. God's mercy prompts Him to withhold judgment as long as possible to enable people to repent (2 Peter 3:8-10), but He does not wait indefinitely. A time comes when God punishes wickedness.
We are back to the Whore of Babylon. Just like Oholah and Oholibah, God has warned. He has been patient. He has mercifully held back righteous judgement and tried the gentle, loving approach. But when all attempts to woo us are for naught, judgement comes. We accumulate a cup of judgment based on our sin, evil, wickedness. Therefore, we have to drink it. With our own hands we sin and add to the cup and we continue sinning, adding to the cup of wrath. We have one difference between us today and the Oholah and Oholibahs of Ezekiel's time. Jesus Christ! He drank the cup of wrath for us so that we don't have to drink it ourselves. If we accept Jesus Christ, we are set free and no longer have to drink from the cup of God's wrath. Thank You Jesus!!!!!
But many will refuse and they will continue their idolatry and sin. They will follow after satan. They will align themselves with satan against God and thus will have to drink the cup of God's Wrath.
Revelation 17:6 I could see that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and of the witnesses for Jesus. And I was utterly amazed at the sight of her.
"Prosperity, pomp, and splendour, feed the pride and lusts of the human heart, but are no security against the Divine vengeance. The golden cup represents the allurements, and delusions, by which this mystical Babylon has obtained and kept her influence, and seduced others to join her abominations. She is named, from her infamous practices, a mother of harlots; training them up to idolatry and all sorts of wickedness. She filled herself with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus. She intoxicated herself with it; and it was so pleasant to her, that she never was satisfied". - Matthew Henry Commentary
Two groups of people will be on earth in the tribulation: those who worship the beast and those who worship the Lord (Revelation 13:16–18; Revelation 20:4). Those who worship the Lord are described as "saints." False religion, through the ages, has been guilty of the sin of persecuting and killing God's people. Jesus was crucified because religious leaders begged for His crucifixion. The same kind of religious hatred will lead to martyring Christians during the Tribulation. The false religion that becomes the one world religion under the anti-Christ will martyr true believers. This false religion may even call themselves Christians. We don't know what form it will take. Whatever satan, the anti-Christ and the False Prophet conjure up as a new worldwide religion will be open to "all peoples of faith". But it will probably take the structure, organization and network of a religion and then use it as it's own. For instance, they could take Catholicism and use the organization, the buildings throughout the world, the finances and administration as a venue for their new world religion. Same could be said of the Jewish religion, any of the protestant denominations, Orthodox, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. Whatever has the best chance of them establishing a one-world religion using a setup that is already in place. They will basically walk in and take over the organization and use it's assets to their advantage. Remember, the first half of the Great Tribulation sees people flocking to this new religion because of it's inclusivity of all religions and promises of peace, prosperity and stability in a world out of control. But halfway through, after re-building the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, the anti-Christ will walk into that Temple and demand to be worshiped as god. It's the abomination of desolation. After that, many eyes will be opened and they will see what they've done and be horrified. But fear will keep many in bondage to the anti-Christ. Afraid of being martyred if they don't do what he says. But those who refuse to worship the anti-Christ for Jesus' sake, will be killed.
Matthew 23:27-28 27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to be righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Have there been religious groups in the past that persecuted and put to death those who professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? Yes. Over the centuries Christians have been persecuted by governments who see them as obstructionists. They've also been persecuted by other religions like Islam and Hindu. But Christians of one "denomination" have been persecuted by Christians of other "denominations" such as the Catholic/Protestant controversy in Ireland.
"The schisms of the Middle Ages and especially the Protestant Reformation, sometimes provoked severe conflicts between Christian denominations to the point of persecuting each other." - Wikipedia
Catholics versus Orthodox, Catholics versus Anglican/Church of England, Catholics versus Huguenots, Catholic versus Reformists and Protestants, Baptist versus Anabaptists, Methodists versus Baptist and Presbyterians, etc. In the Middle Ages, the beginnings of the different break offs from Catholicism were often violent. The inquisition was established by Pope Gregory IX c. 1232 for the suppression of heresy. It was active chiefly in northern Italy and southern France, becoming notorious for the use of torture. In 1542 the papal Inquisition was re-established to combat Protestantism, eventually becoming an organ of papal government.
Even in today's world, Christians are being martyred for their faith.
According to OpenDoorsUSA.org
Every month, on average:
345 Christians are killed for faith-related reasons
105 Churches and Christian buildings are burned or attacked
219 Christians are detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned
Of the top 50 countries where Christians are the most persecuted, “Islamic extremism remains the global, dominant driver of persecution, responsible for initiating oppression and conflict in 35 of the 50 countries on the list,” Open Doors stated, The Islamist movement is “the part of Islam which embraces a clear political agenda for bringing nations under Muslim domination and shari‘ah law,”
Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, according to a Christian think-tank. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) says 900,000 Christians have been 'martyred' in the last decade, equating to 90,000 a year and one every six minutes. Let's say you don't believe it's that high. Is 9,000 acceptable? 90,000? How many are acceptable as Christian martyrs? One person put to death for their belief in Jesus Christ is unacceptable to God and should be to us. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. The first Christians were persecuted and martyred by the Jews and Romans. In the 20th century AD there were more Christians killed because of their faith in the Jewish Messiah than in all the centuries of Christian persecution combined.
But we have seen nothing yet. It will increase and during the Great Tribulation it will be beyond compare.
Matthew 5:10-11 (Jesus speaking) "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me"
Matthew 10:16-33 16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. b 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
John 15:18-25 (Jesus speaking) "18 If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first. 19 If you were of the world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.
20 Remember the word that I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; if they kept My word, they will keep yours as well. 21 But they will treat you like this on account of My name, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.
23 Whoever hates Me hates My Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have seen and hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated Me without reason.’"
Luke 21:8-19 8 Jesus replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.
John 16:1-4 (Jesus speaking) "1 I have told you these things so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. 3 They will do these things because they have not known the Father or Me. 4 But I have told you these things so that when their hour comes, you will remember that I told you about them. I did not tell you these things from the beginning, because I was with you."
"The normal condition for Christians is that we should suffer persecution. Are you willing to face persecution and death for Christ’s sake?" - Billy Graham
2 Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
1 Peter 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
1 Peter 4:12-14 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
We are told that we will be persecuted just because of our faith and our love for our Savior, Jesus Christ. If we are true converts, true disciples, true followers, we will be targets because those of the world, whether they call themselves christians or something else, hate us because they hate our Savior. How does Jesus tell us to react to this hatred? Are we suppose to hate them? Give an eye for an eye? Despise them? Take them to court? Demand justice? Fight back with any weapon at hand? Crucify them on a door or in the press? First, we are to trust God. Nothing can tear us away from Him and His love. He is in all things and to us, His children, He can use all things to our best interest and to His purpose. Submit your rights to Him and trust Him for the outcome. We can trust His love. We can lean on Him and let Him do the work. Let Him take up our cause. Trust and obey. Second, we are to love and pray for our enemies. Yes, those who would excoriate you, kill you, torture you, imprison you, ruin you... we are to trust ourselves and our cause to Christ and then love and pray for our enemies. This sets us apart and proves we are true converts, true Christians, children of the only God.
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Matthew 5:44 (Jesus speaking) "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Daniel 3:16-18 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
Revelation 17:7-8 7 “Why are you so amazed?” said the angel. “I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and ten horns.
8 The beast that you saw—it was, and now is no more, but is about to come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. And those who dwell on the earth whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet will be.
Revelation 17:8 (New Living Translation - NLT) The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon come up out of the bottomless pit and go to eternal destruction. And the people who belong to this world, whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made, will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died.
Abyss- ἀβύσσου (abyssou) - Noun - Genitive Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 12: The abyss, unfathomable depth, an especially Jewish conception, the home of the dead and of evil spirits. Depthless, i.e. 'abyss'.
destruction - ἀπώλειαν (apōleian) - Noun - Accusative Feminine Singular
Strong's Greek 684: Destruction, ruin, loss, perishing; eternal ruin. From a presumed derivative of apollumi; ruin or loss.
"In verse 1 the harlot is said to sit on the waters; here the beast carries her. The two statements are really identical; both the beast and the waters represent the worldly power found among "peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues" (ver. 14)." - Pulpit Commentary
"The first period describes the condition of things before the sacrifice of Christ. Then it was that Satan ruled supreme in the world; that the power of the world - the beast - was. But Christ overcame the world (John 16:33); henceforth to all true believers there is "peace," although they may 'have tribulation' in the world (John 16:33); for the faithful Christian the power of the world - the beast - is not. Yet, though for the true servant of God there is a sense in which it may be said that this power has no existence, it nevertheless exists in the abyss, that is, in its natural abiding place in the world, among the worldly minded, and thus may cause 'tribulation' to the faithful. A further downfall is, therefore, prepared for it - that which will take place at the last day, when it 'will ascend from the abyss to go into perdition.'" - Pulpit Commentary
The Beast's power seems to come from the Abyss itself but was not permanent and will end up in completely destroyed in perdition. The beast, or anti-Christian world power, returns worse than ever, with satanic powers from hell.
The anti-Christ and his false prophet will have the backing of satan and they will dazzle the world. The world will marvel and admire, astonished. But it's only a facade. That reminds me of the military parades that Germany and the Soviet Union used to do. They trotted out all their best equipment and their masses of soldiers in their best uniforms and for hours they would stamp and march around to the cries and adulation of the civilian audience.
Yesterday I was watching a documentary about Hitler and how he got to power and they actually showed his speech videos while experts would explain what he was doing to garner the admiration of the crowds, even the experts on body language and speeches. And, after all these years, they marveled and admired his ability to capture the masses. They weren't admiring him and his evil but at his abilities and skills that made him rise to power. Of course, every human who has that power (which ultimately comes from the Abyss, satan) begins to lose it in the end. It's temporary, destructive and leads to perdition, eternal damnation. Those we saw rise to the peak, will always descend.
And before we leave this subject, Hitler is by no means the only one to build himself up. Every politician now hires a consultant on how to look the part and how to play to the crowds. They have professional speech writers and PR consultants. Same with actors and music stars. They generally do well for awhile but they can't keep up the pace. Eventually they disintegrate and some into madness like Hitler.
Revelation 17:9-10 This calls for a mind that has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. 10 There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while.
"The woman rides on the seven-headed beast; even so Rome dwells on her seven hills, and so also the world-city, seen in vision, sits among the various empires which have risen, like great mountains, in the history of the world." - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Seven hills of Rome:
- Aventine Hill
- Caelian Hill
- Capitoline Hill
- Esquiline Hill
- Palatine Hill
- Quirinal Hill
- Viminal Hill
"Tradition holds that Romulus and Remus founded the original city on the Palatine Hill on April 21st, 753 BC, and that the seven hills were first occupied by small settlements that were not grouped nor recognized as a city called Rome. The seven hills' denizens began to interact, which began to bond the groups. The city of Rome, thus, came into being as these separate settlements acted as a group, draining the marshy valleys between them and turning them into markets. Later, in the early 4th century BC, the Servian Walls were constructed to protect the seven hills." - Wikipedia
"A mountain is a symbol of power (see on Revelation 8:8); seven is the number significant of universality. The plain meaning of the passage, therefore, is that the woman relies upon a visibly universal power." - Pulpit Commentary
So this harlot rides upon the beast of government, the empire. Rome is known as the seven hilled city and was the empire of John's time. But it also symbolizes the world empire at the end that rises up and is powered by satan. The religion established as the state religion by the anti-Christ is the harlot that rides on the coat tails of the anti-Christ.
Revelation 17:10-13 10 There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. 11 The beast that was, and now is not, is an eighth king, who belongs to the other seven and is going into destruction. 12 The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but will receive one hour of authority as kings, along with the beast. 13 These kings have one purpose: to yield their power and authority to the beast.
- In verse 10, who are the 7 kings?
- Five have fallen
- One is
- The other has not yet come, but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while.
- In verse 11, "The beast that was, and now is not" is the 8th king "who belongs to the other seven and is going into destruction".
- In verse 12, 10 kings "who have not yet received a kingdom, but will receive one hour of authority as kings, along with the beast".
- All of the kings have one purpose: "to yield their power and authority to the beast".
"The second beast comes "out of the earth" and directs all peoples of the earth to worship the first beast. The second beast is described in Revelation 13:11-18 and is also referred to as the false prophet.
"The two beasts are aligned with the dragon in opposition to God. They persecute the "saints" and those who do "not worship the image of the beast [of the sea]" and influence the kings of the earth to gather for the battle of Armageddon. The two beasts are defeated by Christ and are thrown into the lake of fire mentioned in Revelation 19:18-20." - Wikipedia
Let's remember who is talking to who. One of the angels of the seven bowls (Revelation 17:1) is talking to the youngest of Jesus' disciples, John. After Jesus' death and resurrection the "disciples" became "apostles" and were leaders in the new church. What is the difference between a disciple and an apostle?
Disciple - a follower or student of a teacher, leader; someone who adheres to the teachings of another; a follower and learner; someone who believes and tries to adhere to teachings from someone they see as a leader.
Apostle - from Greek ἀπόστολος (apóstolos), literally "one who is sent off"; one sent on a mission; a commissioned representative; the purpose of such sending off is usually to convey a message thus a messenger, ambassador or envoy.
John the Apostle, the Evangelist, the Divine, the Presbyter, the Revelator, the Elder, the Beloved Disciple was the youngest of Jesus' disciples. He was not Jesus' cousin, John the Baptist. That is a different John.
John was the son of Zebedee, a Galilean fisherman, and Salome. He was born c. 6 AD Bethsaida, Galilee, Roman Empire. Jesus was probably born between 6 BC and 1 AD (scholars differ again) which would make John maybe a teenager when he was called? According to Luke 3:23, Jesus began His ministry at about 30 yrs old. John and his brother St. James were among the first disciples called by Jesus. Since they were referred to as "James and John", John was probably the younger brother. Jesus called them the "Sons of Thunder" probably due to their zeal which got a little out of hand once when they wanted to call down fire from heaven to punish a Samaritan town. Peter, James and John formed the inner circle of the Twelve Disciples. James was the first Apostle to be martyred and John was the last one to die. John describes himself in the Gospel in the third person as "the one whom Jesus loved". Imagine having the confidence to say that! Of course, we all can say that as Jesus loved us enough to die for us to save us. But we also have a hard time, as humans, believing God really loves us despite all our sins. We must remember that God hates sin but He loves the sinner. In fact, He loves us more than we can fathom! So I can say, "Sharon, the one whom Jesus loves"! And you can too if you are saved!
While Jesus was on the cross, John was at the foot with Jesus' Mother Mary. Jesus gave the guardianship of His Mother to John! John was one of the "pillars" of the Jerusalem church after Jesus' death. He taught and mentored men who would become bishops over regions of the early church. It is believed by most scholars that he was the only one of the original Apostles to die of old age (although there are some who think he was killed by the Jews). He was an eyewitness of Jesus teachings, ministry and His death and resurrection. He wrote the Gospel of John, giving a broad range due to different opinions, between 55-. He wrote the gospel and the letters in Ephesus and wrote Revelation while exiled on the Isle of Patmos. Some scholars think that John who wrote the Gospel of John is not the same as John the Revelator who wrote Revelation but most think they are the same man. He also wrote the letters 1 John, 2 John, 3 John. He was exiled to the Isle of Patmos probably during the reign of Domitian who reigned as Emperor from 81-96 AD. Domitian firmly believed in the traditional Roman religion. 4th century writings by Eusebius say Jews and Christians were heavily persecuted toward the end of his reign. According to Tertullian John was banished when he wasn't unhurt by being plunged into boiling oil in Rome. The audience of Colosseum were converted to Christianity when they witnessed this miracle. The island of Patmos is small Greek island in the Aegean Sea, a place of pagan worship to Greeks and Romans. It was converted by the Romans into a prison island. I always had an idea that the Isle of Patmos was a tiny, uninhabited island where John laid on the sand and had his vision.
But Patmos is situated off the west coast of Turkey and the continent of Asia. I had it all wrong.
He was released in 96 AD when Nerva succeeded the assassinated Domitian. He went to Ephesus in Turkey and pastored a church until his death. John died 98-100 AD and traditionally it is assumed he died in Ephesus of old age. Imagine what John lived through in his long life!?! He personally knew Jesus and the other 11 disciples/apostles, saw and participated in the growth of the first church, saw miracles, read the writings of other apostles, wrote his own writings, saw the persecution of the early church, exiled and experienced the revelatory visions while on the Isle of Patmos! He saw tremendous religious and historical moments!
So the angel is talking to John at this point, revealing understanding concerning a vision John has been having while on the Isle of Patmos.
Tenses can be confusing. Are these past, present or future events? Some fulfillment may have been in the past for John. For us, nearly 2,000 years later, a lot has happened in the past, but for John, at the time, it was future. For me, I think there have been past fulfillments. But I also believe those things that happened in the past are only shadows of a future fulfillment in the end times. Double fulfillment. As we cycle through history, we've seen things that could have been fulfillments. But they are shadows of the end time fulfillment. I mean, the world didn't end and judgment didn't come when the Roman empire ended or the Roman Catholic church reached it's height of power or Hitler and Stalin killed tens of millions of people. So I have to think those were only warnings and examples of how bad it can be in the end. Rumbles, tremors, if you will, of the future and final fulfillment. I think I've made my position clear throughout my study of Revelation. I'm no degreed scholar so I can be wrong. That's why I like to present a good rounding of other positions. Each position has perfectly good arguments. God wanted us to study Revelation. In fact, He says those who read it, hear it and "take to heart what is written" are BLESSED! He also warns us not to add to, or take away, any word from this Revelation. The warning is specific: "God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City".
Revelation 1:1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
Revelation 22:18-19 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.
God is saying that balance is very important. Be careful to study it, but not to embellish or add to it or diminish and subtract from it. I want to read and study it but not to obsess on it or add to it. Some people seem to obsess on it and begin to embellish it with their imagination, making things fit, or coming up with new theories. On the opposite extreme are those who are too "scared" to read and study Revelation. They think it's too confusing and they avoid it. And then there are those who mock or ridicule it, diminishing it.
Let's look at it again in context:
Revelation 17:7-10 7 “Why are you so amazed?” the angel asked. “I will tell you the mystery of this woman and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns on which she sits. 8 The beast you saw was once alive but isn’t now. And yet he will soon come up out of the bottomless pit and go to eternal destruction. And the people who belong to this world, whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made, will be amazed at the reappearance of this beast who had died. 9 This calls for a mind with understanding: The seven heads of the beast represent the seven hills where the woman rules. They also represent seven kings. 10 Five kings have already fallen, the sixth now reigns, and the seventh is yet to come, but his reign will be brief".
So who are the seven kings?
Now let's dissect it according to tenses:
So the angel is telling John about the Harlot of Babylon sitting on the beast with 7 heads, 10 horns and it "once was alive" (past tense) and yet it "will soon come up out of the bottomless pit" to eternal destruction (future tense). The people will be amazed "at the reappearance" (indicating a past AND future tense) of the beast "who had died" (past tense). Then the seven heads of the beast are described by the angel as, "seven hills where the woman rules" (indicating present tense). The seven kings are "five have fallen, one is and one is yet to come". This seems to indicate that, right then in John's time, 5 of the kings spoken of have already fallen (past tense), one is current (present tense) and one is yet to come (future tense).
As you can see the tenses are all over the place and is another reason why I believe in past fulfillments but also a future, final fulfillment.
The reference to Rome as the city built on seven hills was widely used during the first century. It would have been familiar to John’s audience. So could indicate that they would have understood the reference immediately. (But what about us 2,000 years later?) If the city of the seven hills is Rome (and it could certainly by any other city, empire or nation that is known for seven hills or mountains) then who would have been the past 5 kings in John's time? This would depend on when the book of Revelation was written and is why I included the Apostle John's history above!
Scholars can't seem to agree on the seven Roman Emperors that the angel meant (if they were actually Roman Emperors). The Emperors that would be during the lifetime of John are narrowed down to when the book of Revelation was written but then up or down the list, the rest of the descriptions don't seem to match. The timeline adjusts up or down with the Roman Emperors according to scholars who think the book of Revelation was written at other times.
So maybe it's not actual Roman Emperors but kingdoms. The five that have fallen by John's time are Egypt, Assyria, Neo-Babylonia, Persia, and Greece. The one that is, the sixth kingdom, is Rome, the seventh kingdom may be seen as a revived Roman empire and the eighth kingdom as the kingdom of the Antichrist. We need the next part of the chapter to continue.
Revelation 17:11-14 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. 12 “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
Counting back five empires that had fallen by John's time they would have been Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Medo-Persia, and Greece. The sixth kingdom would be Rome and the seventh kingdom may be seen as a revived Roman empire with the eighth kingdom as the kingdom of the Antichrist. Could it be the five fallen kingdoms as stretching back beyond Egypt to the time of the construction of the first major city recorded in Scripture: Babel (Genesis 10:8-12 and Genesis 11:1-9). If so, the second empire would have been Egypt, or Assyria and then Egypt. The argument for Babel being the first was the spirit of the anti-Christ was evident when the people of Babel tried to build the Tower of Babel into the heavens, trying to rival God. In the Prophet Daniel's dream about the statue and his vision about the beasts we see these empires:
Prophet Daniel's dream about the statue in Daniel 7 and the vision in Daniel 2 when we studied Revelation 13.
Daniel 7:37-45 37 Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold.
39 “After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. 40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.
Rome fell to ruin in 486 AD. Is the Roman Catholic church the revived Roman Empire as some think? The very capital of the Roman Empire became the capital of the Christian empire. In other words, Pagan Rome (The Dragon) gave it’s power to Papal Rome (The Beast). The Papacy ended in 1798, 1260 years after the Justinian decree in 538 AD. Pope Pius VI was taken captive by France. The destruction of the Papacy was thought to be sure because more than 1000 priests were murdered on that day.
Is America in there as some think? America became a nation in 1781. Was it the next empire? Or was the next one Islamic? Many see the spirit of the anti-Christ in the Islam religion with it's determination to force a one-world religion of Islam. The Muslim history of violence and hate, especially of Christians, goes along with this theory.
So, who are these kings? There seem to be many ideas. And all seem to have valid support.
I refuse to get bogged down and confused. I'm suppose to study this book and it's a blessing to study this book. It's His promise. But I'm also not suppose to get confused as He is not the author of confusion. So I take it as an interesting study but it's evidently not necessary for me to understand all details in order to continue loving Him and trusting that HE knows all things. Jesus Himself said that no one knows but the Father, when the end comes. If we were able to untangle all the prophetic tangles, would we be in danger of trying to determine the date and time of the end? He reveals enough for us to know it's coming and it will be bad and He provided the way of escape. I will continue to read and study this important book of the Bible. I'm not daunted. Rather, I love the One who cares for me and is my Ark of Salvation, Jesus!
Revelation 17:15-18 15 Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. 16 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled. 18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”
The final fulfillment will be the empire of the anti-Christ and his one world religion headed by his False Prophet. They are guided, influenced and empowered by satan. The waters that the Beast and Harlot rises from are empires, nations, governments, kingdoms, peoples, multitudes of human beings. The angel explains is right there. The waters are humanity, the rolling waves of humanity that are tossed to and fro by every direction of wind. With modern technology we have the ability to catch photos to seem to show seas of people! Whether it's for a political cause, religious cause, music concert, festival and no matter where in the world it is - people can come together into such a huge crowd it looks like a sea of people! These photos are almost unbelievable showing huge crowds.
But stop and think for a moment... God planned and created every human being in these photos. You and I cannot even fathom it! He loves each person and desires each person to be reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ. There is not one human being who ever was, is or will be born that are throwaways. You may throw yourself away. Others may think you are disposable. But God planned you, created you, is intimately aware of everything in your life, your mind and your body. He loves you so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to save you! He wanted a relationship with every single human being. It is us who refuse such love. It is us that rejects Him and despises what He has done for us. But, at any point, as long as we are still breathing, we have the option of changing our mind and reaching out to God. We can repent and turn to Jesus and ask forgiveness. It is that easy and once you do change your thinking about God and reach out to Him, all is forgiven and you are saved and reconciled to Him. It is His desire and when it becomes your desire, then Jesus is there to forgive and cleanse you. Oh, I humble myself before You Father God and thank You! I thank You Jesus for saving me!
Now we are told that the Beast turns on the harlot. She came in riding on the Beast as though she were in control but now the Beast turns on her. If the Harlot is the one world religion, a false religious system, a false church, it is probably at the time that the anti-Christ, who started a one-world religion with the promise of religious peace, equality, prosperity, turns and demands to be worshiped. Leader worship has been trotted out by egomaniacs for centuries. They begin to think they are god and demand their followers to worship them as divinity. The Harlot helped the Beast to power and thought they were partners in ruling the world. She is enjoying the ride, rich, drunk with power, thinking she has control. Whoever it is, the Beast will toss her off.
The Prostitute of Babylon is betrayed by the Beast. Betrayal is an act of betraying someone; violation of a person's trust or confidence; the breaking or violation of a presumptive contract, trust, or confidence that produces moral and psychological conflict within a relationship amongst individuals, between organizations or between individuals and organizations; "Institutional Betrayal" refers to wrongdoings perpetrated by an institution upon individual's dependent on that institution.
Betrayal blindness is the unawareness, not-knowing, and forgetting exhibited by people towards betrayal.
But how can we be betrayed by a viper? We know a viper is vicious, quick, completely amoral and has no guilt. So how can we handle one without realizing we have no control over it? Knowing it's a viper, when I reach out to it, pick it up and hold it close to my face, I have no one to blame when it bites my nose and I die of venom poisoning! What kind of idiot allows their children to play with snakes?
There is nothing in a snake that stops it from biting, killing, on will and whim. It has no ability to love or think or be logical. You can't predict it's behavior and it feels no guilt.
Satan, the snake and dragon, also is evil to the core. There is no guilt or shame for him. The only predictable thing about him is that he is evil and wants to destroy you. Why would anyone put their trust in satan or those he inspires, influences and controls? People tend to think that they can manipulate and control something to get some benefit for themselves... power, riches, fame, love, acceptance, etc. Satan loves to toy with people too. He draws them into his web and then turns on them, betrays them. So if you think you are getting something from him and he lets you feel in control for a short time, don't be fooled. He will turn on you and destroy you. Once you get out on that limb, he'll cut you off.
Have you ever felt like God betrayed you? Maybe you think that's a rhetorical question on my part and you are suppose to say, "Of course not!" but deep inside you have felt betrayed by God.
Why did God let something like that happen to me, mine, them? There are so many ways to answer this question and it certainly depends upon the person and the situation. And then there is the hardest answer of all, "I can't give you an answer right now." God says that sometimes. There is an answer and we will know it one day, even if it's when we get to Heaven. But sometimes we aren't at a point where we can hear, understand or accept His answer.
But let me tell you, I only have 2 choices: trust God or trust satan. And there is no trusting satan. the outcome of trusting him is a known quantity - death, destruction, misery, betrayal and eternal damnation!
I have decided to trust and follow God. He promises me, that no matter what is happening to me or around me, He is there and will never leave me or forsake me. He promises that He loves me and will bring me to be with Him forever in Heaven. I have chosen to believe and trust in His promises.
I have been in times when I didn't understand and I cried and demanded some kind of answer. I guess, like Job, I thought I deserved to know as though it were all about me. In God's eyes, it is all about me and all about John and all about Sally and an all about Suzie... There is no limit to His personal love and devotion to each one of us. He lives outside of time and has power we can't imagine. When we are having tea with a friend, we can't be with our spouse, our children, our parents. We are limited to only being able to be one place at a time. There is no limit like that on God. So when He's with me, it doesn't diminish His ability to be with John, Sally, Suzie! His attention and focus doesn't waver. I lose sight of Him but He never loses sight of me. And He allows some hard things to happen to me in this life but there are evidently benefits that will bless me, and others, in the long run and it will be worth it. When I get to Heaven and He begins to show me the full story, I'll have tears running down my eyes and fall at His feet and say, "You were right! It was worth it!"
If you are in the middle of a traumatic situation, you might not can hear, "It will be worth it". You may not be able to understand that the death of a loved one was worth it in the end. You may not understand how trauma that makes you feel destroyed, can be worth it. I have said to God, "You are destroying me. I'm weaker, not stronger. How can this benefit me or others? I can't take any more!" But one thing here is the secret, I talked it out WITH Him. I poured out my frustrations, anger, fears, arguments to Him. I didn't run from Him (although, I don't take credit for it, all of us can run from Him at times) but to Him. He is certainly big enough to handle my questions, ragings, fears and doubts. Sort of like Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump. He holds all this bitterness and unforgiveness for years until he finally has it out with God in the crows nest in the middle of a storm. And, somehow, it soothed him and released him. But, if he had continued running from God, he would have continued to disintegrate. I can have a temper tantrum or a meltdown or a nervous breakdown as long as I'm in His Presence. He will then use it to bring healing and release. It may happen a lot for awhile and then less often. But we are maturing in Christ as we work it out with Him! Job went through this too. He was a righteous man and yet he lost everything. How could God do this to him?
Job 42:2-6 (New International Version - NIV)
2 “I know that You can do all things
and that no plan of Yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this
who conceals My counsel without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
4 You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak.
I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’
5 My ears had heard of You,
but now my eyes have seen You,
6 Therefore I retract my words,
and I repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42:2-6 (New Living Translation - NLT)
2 “I know that you can do anything,
and no one can stop you.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’
It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about,
things far too wonderful for me.
4 You said, ‘Listen and I will speak!
I have some questions for you,
and you must answer them.’
5 I had only heard about you before,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
6 I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”
Satan will betray anyone who trusts in him. God will never betray anyone who trusts in Him.
As we read and study Revelation, let us see that God is warning us about what is coming if we trust in satan. Why give us the book of Revelation? It's not so we can obsess and live in fear! It's so that we can recognize and be warned! God isn't pulling the rug out from under our feet all of a sudden with no warning! He has warned us in every way possible and been patient for thousands of years now. We are given enough information that we can make an intelligent choice and we have no excuses. Please, take the warnings and turn your heart to God. Call out to Jesus! He loves you!
Job 10:10-12 10 You guided my conception
and formed me in the womb.
11 You clothed me with skin and flesh,
and you knit my bones and sinews together.
12 You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love.
My life was preserved by your care.