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Sunday, April 15th, AM - Mystery (Babylon) Solved (Rev. 17)

Rejoicing Through Revelation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  58:47
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Little Children, Keep Yourselves from Idols

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Introduction:

Revelation 17:14 KJV 1900
These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
Since the beginning of the feeble ascendency of mankind after the fall, he has sought another way to find fulfillment apart from the True God of the Bible.
Main Thought:
Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

I. The Warning of Judgment (Rev. 17:1-3a)

A. The Woman Introduced (Rev. 17:1)

Revelation 17:1 KJV 1900
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:

B. The World-Wide Influence She Wields (Rev. 17:2)

Revelation 17:2 KJV 1900
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.

C. The Wilderness from Where John Watches (Rev. 17:3a)

Revelation 17:3 KJV 1900
So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
The vision that the Apostle John received harked back to the beginning of the Tribulation, and gave the chronology of the rise and fall of Satan’s religious-political-economic system during the Tribulation. This false system based on the Old Serpent’s pantheistic Gnosticism proffered and accepted in the Garden (cf. notes on Rev. 13), will flourish during the first half of the Tribulation as an attempt to re-enact the world-wide religious rebellion with the tower of Babylon (cf. Gen. 11:1-9).2580 Shortly after the Rapture, Satan will usher in his religious ecumenical movement2581 as the peace-making rider on the white horse (cf. Rev. 6:1-2). By the time of the mid-point of the Tribulation, the kings following the Antichrist will dump ecumenical Babylonianism and will worship the Beast directly and promote his economic Babylonianism (Rev. 17:16-18:24).
Isaiah predicted the fall of Babylon centuries before, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground” (Isa. 21:9). Jeremiah further elaborated on the fall of Babylon in his lengthy description (110 verses in Jer. 50-51), saying, “The word that the LORD spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet” (Jer. 50:1). Mixed in the system of Babylonianism is the ecumenical religion which has ensnared the kings of the earth with the promise of economic prosperity. Worldly politicians have used ecumenical religion for financial gain through the centuries, but when Satan will change ecumenical worship to Antichrist worship, the kings will abandon ecumenicalism and worship the Beast’s commercialism, and thus proving the Lord Jesus’ teaching. The Saviour said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt. 6:24).
Babylon is both a system and a city. As a system it is characterized as a harlot (cf. Rev. 17:5), and as a city it has its location “in the land of Shinar” (cf. Zech. 5:11). References to “city” and “Babylon” occur six times in the Scripture, namely, Isa. 14:4; Jer. 51:31; Rev. 14:8; 18:10 [2x]; and 18:21. Since the Scripture iterates the expression “is fallen” twice (cf. Isa. 21:9),2582 this suggests the fall of both the system and the city. The angel revealed to John the vision of Babylon (Rev. 17:1-6) and its interpretation (Rev. 17:7-18). [Thomas M. Strouse, To the Seven Churches: A Commentary on the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ, Selected Works of Dr. Thomas M. Strouse (Bible Baptist Theological Press, 40 Country Squire Rd., Cromwell, CT 06461, 2013), 679–681.]
Transition: We've considered the Warning, now let's journey with John to the desert and see what he saw there:

II. The Woman to Be Judged (Rev. 17:3b-6)

A. Who She Drives (Rev. 17:3b)

She Is Seen Driving the Wild-Beast (Antichrist)
Revelation 17:3 KJV 1900
So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

1. A Beast of Blood (Scarlet)

2. A Beast of Blasphemy

3. A Beast Built for Battle

B. Her Description in Detail (Rev. 17:4-5)

1. She Is Seen Decked Out to the Hilt (v. 4a)

Revelation 17:4 KJV 1900
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:
Her adornment is similar to that of religious trappings of ritualistic churches today. While purple, scarlet, gold, precious stones, and pearls can all represent beauty and glory in relation to the true faith, here they reveal a false religion that prostitutes the truth. [John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 970.]

2. And Drinking of Defilement (v. 4b)

Revelation 17:4 KJV 1900
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:

3. Her Designation Decrypted (v. 5)

Revelation 17:5 KJV 1900
And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
Babylon was important not only politically but also religiously. Nimrod, who founded Babylon (Gen. 10:8–12), had a wife known as Semiramis who founded the secret religious rites of the Babylonian mysteries, according to accounts outside the Bible. Semiramis had a son with an alleged miraculous conception who was given the name Tammuz and in effect was a false fulfillment of the promise of the seed of the woman given to Eve (Gen. 3:15).
Various religious practices were observed in connection with this false Babylonian religion, including recognition of the mother and child as God and of creating an order of virgins who became religious prostitutes. Tammuz, according to the tradition, was killed by a wild animal and then restored to life, a satanic anticipation and counterfeit of Christ’s resurrection. Scripture condemns this false religion repeatedly (Jer. 7:18; 44:17–19, 25; Ezek. 8:14). The worship of Baal is related to the worship of Tammuz.
After the Persians took over Babylon in 539 b.c., they discouraged the continuation of the mystery religions of Babylon. Subsequently the Babylonian cultists moved to Pergamum (or Pergamos) where one of the seven churches of Asia Minor was located (cf. Rev. 2:12–17). Crowns in the shape of a fish head were worn by the chief priests of the Babylonian cult to honor the fish god. The crowns bore the words “Keeper of the Bridge,” symbolic of the “bridge” between man and Satan. This handle was adopted by the Roman emperors, who used the Latin title Pontifex Maximus, which means “Major Keeper of the Bridge.” And the same title was later used by the bishop of Rome. The pope today is often called the pontiff, which comes from pontifex. When the teachers of the Babylonian mystery religions later moved from Pergamum to Rome, they were influential in paganizing Christianity and were the source of many so-called religious rites which have crept into ritualistic churches. Babylon then is the symbol of apostasy and blasphemous substitution of idol-worship for the worship of God in Christ. In this passage Babylon comes to its final judgment. [John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 970–971.]

C. Her Drunkenness (Rev. 17:6)

She Is Drunk on the Blood of God's True Believers
Revelation 17:6 KJV 1900
And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
Transition: We’ve heard the warning; we’ve seen the harlot of idolatry; now consider:

III. The Wonderful Nature of this Judgment (Rev. 17:7-8)

A. John's Wonderment at the Woman Is Deterred (Rev. 17:7)

Revelation 17:7 KJV 1900
And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.

B. The World's Wonderment at the Wild-Beast Is Described (Rev. 17:8)

Revelation 17:8 KJV 1900
The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

1. The Identity and Destiny of the Beast (v. 8a)

2. The Wonder of the Unbelieving Earth-Dwellers (v. 8b).

Transition: The Warning; the Woman, the Wonder of judgment; now let’s put it all together by considering:

IV. The Words of Wisdom about this Judgment (Rev. 17:9-18)

A. The Wild-Beast Decrypted (World-Power) (Rev. 17:9-14)

The Heads and Horns of the Beast Decrypted (World-powers)
Revelation 17:9–14 KJV 1900
And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

B. The Waters Deciphered (World-Peoples) (Rev. 17:15)

Revelation 17:15 KJV 1900
And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

C. The Woman Destroyed (City of Idolatry) (Rev. 17:16-18)

1. The World-Powers Destroy the Harlot (Rev. 17:16)

Revelation 17:16 KJV 1900
And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.

2. The Will and Words of God (Rev. 17:17)

Revelation 17:17 KJV 1900
For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

3. The Woman's True Identity Exposed (Rev. 17:18)

Revelation 17:18 KJV 1900
And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
We believe that all the saved should live in such a manner as not to bring reproach upon their Savior and Lord. God commands His people to separate from all religious apostasy, all worldly and sinful pleasures, practices, and associations, and to refrain from all immodest and immoderate appearances...and...markings. (Rom. 12:1-2; 14:13; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 1 John 2:15-17; 2 John 9-11; Lev. 19:28; 1 Cor. 6:19-20)

Conclusion:

Summary of Rev 17
• 1st half of Tribulation - False religion flourishes in the false system called “Babylon”, possibly centered at Jerusalem, Rome or at traditional Babylon on Euphrates (or both); RELIGIOUS IDENTITY more important than GEOGRAPHICAL PHYSICAL LOCATION
• The system includes other “harlot” groups and exercises great political power/ clout
• at the middle of Tribulation - the Beast (antichrist) will see “her” as a challenge to his power and program
• With a league of 10 nations, Antichrist destroys the “harlot” system and sets himself up as “God” to be worshipped
Little children, keep yourselves from idols (1 Jn. 5:21)
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