Reading: Revelation 17
1One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. 2With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries."
3Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 4The 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. 5The name written on her forehead was a mystery: BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
6I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God's holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. 7Then the angel said to me: "Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. 8The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.
9This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. (Rev. 17:1-9)
Thinking and Reflecting
Chapters 17-18 reveal more details about God's judgment on Rome, identified by the seven hills in verse 9. Are the seven plagues only against Rome? Perhaps so, but in principle the truths about God's judgment apply to all his enemies. Note the connection of Rome with the beasts, and the repeated call for wisdom. Again, some details of this figurative section are difficult, but it seems safe to say that they communicate various historical details that could be understood by the first-century readers. Sometimes, even the forces of evil work inadvertently to accomplish God's purpose (17:17), and the certainty of God's purpose is secure.
In your opinion, what or who are some of God's enemies today, those that he will judge? How are those enemies working on Satan's side? Do we ever misidentify the enemies? When and how do we fail to see that God is working through what we consider negative events?
Father God, again we ask for wisdom so that we might stand for good and oppose all that is evil. Help us as we seek to live within your purpose. Guide us, in Jesus' name and by his power we ask it. Amen.