Friday, March 3, 2017

Revelation 17: The Enemy Of My Enemy

C.S. Lewis once observed: "The Christians are right: it is Pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began. Other vices may sometimes bring people together: you may find good fellowship and jokes and friendliness among drunken people or unchaste people. But Pride always means enmity – it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God." ("The Great Sin" from Mere Christianity.)

In Revelation 17 we have a return of the beast with the 7 heads and 10 horns - and this time he has a rider!  A woman (specifically a harlot, prostitute, adulteress), drunk with the blood of the saints and full of abominations, is sitting atop the beast.  The identity of this anti-Christian woman is mysterious, but she is referred to as "the great city that rules over the kings of the earth." (vs. 18).

Thank heaven for the angel (one of those who poured out a bowl) who comes to interpret this strange vision!  He informs John about some of the specifics behind the imagery, explaining what the symbolism means.  Then he includes this interesting nugget: "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." (vs. 16)

Wait a minute.  I thought the beast and the prostitute would get along great - they're playing for the same team!  But apparently that is not the case.  Though they have both made God their enemy, they remain enemies with each other.  Sometimes you will hear people say (jokingly?) that hell won't be so bad because all the sinners will be friends and party together.  The truth, however, seems to be the opposite.  There is no camaraderie among Satan and his followers.  There is only hatred and torture and bitter enmity.

Yet, according to vs. 17, this all serves God's purpose - that His judgments be carried out by evil upon evil, accomplishing His will through the unwitting service of even a creature like the beast.

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