THE WOMAN ON THE BEAST
Key Verse 17:14
“They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings— and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
The book of revelation is indeed a book like no other in the Bible or in the whole world. A book of truth like no other, it contains words and prophesies about the world and the way the world is destined to end. It tells of Heaven and of Him who sits on the throne in heaven— of his Majesty and power and of his sovereignty plan to accomplish all that he had been planning to accomplish from the beginning of time till the end of time. Revelation tells of things past, present and future in such a way that leaves us without doubt that the Words and their Author are the embodiment and reflection of absolute Truth. It is tragic that the majority of the world’s population— past and present— are caught up by the devil’s delusion that Revelation is a masterpiece of mythology and fiction. But those who know God also know that Revelation is God’s word of truth about the end times, and about God’s final judgment on a world that has spurned God and his word and have gone its own way. But the final judgments as portrayed in Revelation are not very easy to swallow. They are terrible judgments designed to purge this world of the last vestiges of evil and to lead the faithless to eternal condemnation and to guide faithful to the shelter of the Lamb by whose blood they were saved.
Look at verses 1-6. We know that the woman is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth (18). We know that “Babylon” was a code name given by our forefathers in the faith for the city of Rome, with her many gods (5). Rome sat on seven hills (verse 9); She was also described as sitting on many nations (or many waters— verse 15). She was also very wealthy. And she has persecuted the church of our Lord Jesus and killed his saints. This great prostitute represents Rome, but not only Rome. She represents all world systems and world religions that control peoples and nations. She represents all systems and religions that seem to promote justice but in reality promoting injustice and godlessness and ungodliness. It is interesting how so many Bible students in history identify the woman— “great prostitute,” and “Babylon the Great,”— as an “apostate (traitorous— false) religion” and “counterfeit faith”. She has the image of being a religious woman or church or organization, but in truth it is far from having anything to do with what God considers true religion and faith. In truth is a vile thing that has blinded the eyes of people and led them astray from God and all that is good and holy and pure in the sight of God. This woman sitting on the beast may be a religion, religions, system or systems or anything in the last days that will be the last downfall and destruction of the world and its people. Paul describes such a religion or system or church like this: “having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” (2 Tim 3:5)
Let us read verses 1-6 together. These verses tell us of the world and the condition of the world will be in when the time of the end is near. “One 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 on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 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. This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished.”
As we said, this woman on a beast represents false religion and counterfeit or fake faith. And that is the ultimate of deceptions for people who are living in this world. A time is coming when the world will embrace this woman, this false religion and fake faith as truth. It will be a time when the whole world will seem to enjoy one religion and one faith that seems to unite all people together in peace and harmony. It is amazing that a time like this will be coming according to the prophesy. The prophesy tells us that this woman will be sitting on many waters, ruling many nations. She will be a religion that is going to capture the people’s hearts and minds in such a way to make them think that they are friends of God. How can it be that a time will come when the whole world and its people and its nations will be fooled by this one religious system that all people can agree on, and a fake faith that all will seem to exercise for this one religion! It is a mystery that such a thing could actually happen. But it will! This chapter tells us of this ultimate deception when Satan will succeed in uniting the church with the world and the world with the church, so that everyone is satisfied, thinking that they had finally embraced what God is all about. It is truly amazing that in reality this is what people are really looking for in life. they are looking for a God whom they can be happy to worship, a God who is not so demanding, one who is understanding of their needs and wants, a God who is not fanatic nor quick to judge, a God who can accommodate their desires of heart without the feeling of guilt or shame. It is truly amazing that people of every generation have been looking for a God after their own heart, a God whom they can actually comfortably live with. There are people today who are shopping for God, for a Messiah and a church that can meet their own criteria for what God should be and what God should expect and such. And in truth it is hard to find a God who will meet everyone’s desires and needs and definition of what God should really be like. This generation also has many church hoppers, and God shoppers who are always searching for the “right” God the “right” church, the “right” faith. They are looking for a God whose rules and regulations are comfortable to live with — and a Messiah and church, whose expectations are not too high, a place where they can be free to come and go without the added burden of commitment or responsibility. It is amazing that today’s generation does not want to abandon God, nor does it want to take God out of their lives either, that they actually want to have God in their lives, but a God after their own fashion. A God who will do what they want to do, go where they want to go.
We can trace this desire to shop for the right God and the right church and the right messiah to the earliest of times in the Bible history. In all generations people have wanted to worship a God after their own heart. Today it is no different. We see that in the lives of so many people. Each has their own God to follow, and if they have not found one God or one church that can cater to their desires, they keep shopping till they do. But the interesting thing is that in the end times, it seems that the devil will find a way to please all these people who have for long shopped and looked but have failed to find the perfect God and perfect church and Savior they are looking for. In these verses we see a religion and a faith that has captured the hearts of all people of the world. They will marvel at the God whom they had found, the God who meets all their needs, who caters to all their whims, a God who neither demands nor expects anything from them, a God who is happy if they visit him once in a while, and who delivers to them always a message of love and of hope, and gives them a blessing regardless of who they are and what they had done. It is amazing that revelation 17 is the story of a world that has finally found the God of its dreams.
But while the world will somehow be deceived by the devil who will deliver to them a God of their liking, we must be careful to examine what kind of religion and church and false messiah and a fake faith will be like in those days. In other words, what exactly is this religion and faith that will capture the hearts of all people and make them happy to settle for it? We need to identify what kind of religion and faith the world will agree on having as one religion and one faith and one God and one church they would be glad to go to. What then identifies this end times religion and faith?
First, the religion of the end times will be marked with immorality. It will be immoral! Consider the words describing the woman on the beast. She is identified as “great prostitute”. She is adulterous, and she is mother of prostitutes. She is filled with abominable things and filth of adultery is in her blood. What kind of religion is this? We are not sure, but we are sure that whatever will happen, the world and its people will be happy to have a religious system that will not interfere with the immorality that consumes their hearts from day to day. When man lost his heart to sin in the garden, what was left in man is nothing but an endless and unquenchable desire to satisfy his physical nature. And the physical nature, is animalistic and craves to satisfy its lusts. If anything, we know form church history that immorality has not been tolerated in the church, whatever that church may believe, whether true or false, somehow it was a matter of religious duty to stay away from immoral behavior. But the time will come when the battle agaist immorality will be completely over, and immorality will be legalized in the church and institutes that call on God. And that is not so farfetched. The battle to allow all kinds of perversions in the church has already begun, and peoples have split up on moral issues. These days, the battle to allow immoral behavior is well on its way, and we can already foretell that immorality is winning over doctrine and over faith. We are living in times when we are almost close to seeing immorality as not an issue in deciding who is for God and who is against God. The world is calling for a religion that will not judge the man or woman for who they are and what they do in the privacy of their own home. Even divorce which is a hugely immoral act in the Bible is now a non-issue acceptable by the majority of religions. And faith is no longer important, as long as the people of a the church agree on practices that they believe to be moral even when the Bible clearly dictates that they are immoral. We need to know that immorality is of the devil.
Second, the religion and faith in the end times will be also marked by materialism. Look at verse 4. the woman is dressed and decorated with purple and with gold. She is adorned by material goods, she seems lovely to the eyes of the world because of her glittering gold. Immorality is not the only thing that is attractive to the people of the world. The world has always been materialistic. The desire of man is to have and have more and more. People live their lives to accumulate things that make their lives comfortable. The issue of security rules the hearts of most people and gives them an excuse why they must pursue material things, and future security above all else. For this reason God sent his son Jesus to us as a baby in a manger. He did not come in glitter and in gold. He came in poverty because spiritual life and the pursuit of God is a mater of humility and of the poverty of spirit. Satan has deceived people throughout the generations to believe that unless they are secure with material things, they cannot be happy. So people have pursued all that is secure physically and comfortable to the body. But the truth is that material goods and a future security does not make man happy at all. It plunges him to a level below the human level and turns some into greed. The mark of the religion in the last days that will be attractive to all people is surely in material abundance and in in the pursuit of matrial goods and security. Jeus was tempted to put material problem ahead of his spiritual need, and he refuted the devil by telling him that man does not live on bread alone. Alter Jesus taugh his true disciples to seek first his kingdom above all else. He commended mary for pouring out the expensive perfume on him as a part of gospel work. But all these thigns will be forgotten in the end times, when men will not be looking for truth but they will look for a God who will encourage them to go after the goods of the world. A time will come when materialism will be at the heart of the fake religion and the fake faith.
Third, the mark of the religion that is all people’s religion in the end times will also be blasphemy. This woman has blasphemous names written all over her. It is not blatant blasphemy but it is a sort of blasphemy that is anti-Christ in a very sublte way. The religion and faith in the end times will be a church that is anti gospel and that is hateful of all that is Godly and good. Blaspehemy is not necessarily openly cursing God or using the name of God in vain. But it is surely in the way that people live and act, sometimes actions are more blasphemous than words of mouth. The gospel is a gospel of life. and it demands that whoever wants to have life must come to Jesus by faith and ask for forgiveness, and then after the forgiveness has been given, the gospel of life demands that the man or woman submit themselves to live a life of faith in the lamb of God who shed his blood to set men free from sin. The gospel asks that men follow the teachings of the Lord, living lives of sacrifice and of servantship. The gospel calls for us to live a life that is rooted in the grace of God, remembering his grace and acting upon it for the love of Christ. But there have also been teachings that negate the truth that the gospel of our Lord calls for all that. There are teachings that want to eliminate the sacrifice and the faith from the gospel teaching all togehre. There are teachings that loath the call of a disciple to deny himself take up the cross and to follow Jesus. blasphemy is not necessarily a cursing of God openly. Blasphemy is a life that opposes the teacihg of our lord Jesus and makes the cross and the faith and sacrifice old fashioned and unnecessary. The devil has for a long time tried to eliminate the cross from the faith and make the gospel to serve the selfish needs and wants of people. There are teachings that call for prosperity, and in that way oppose the true gospel of Jesus. the new testament ttells us that many enemies of the gospel of our Lord Jesus will rise in the end times, they will rise to make the gospel faith obsolete. They are enemies of God in every way. The people who are looking for a gospel that suits their own ideas, seem to be enemies of the gospel and of all that the Lord has accomplished on the cross of his suffering. Blasphemy is to take the gospel faith and to change it to suit the sinful and wicked desires of hearts that want religion but do not want the sacrifice that comes with true religion and true faith. So satan will provide the world with a fake Christian religion and faith that can openly blaspheme God yet it would not appear as blasphemy but would rather appear as a reasonable doctrine that all people can freely embrace.
Fourth, the mark of the religion that is everyone’s religion and faith will be in persecuting for the sake of silencing any saints that hld on to the old way and the gospel faith as is passed down to us from the Bible. It is amazing that the persecution of the saints of the lOrd has been every geenration’s work. It will also be the last generations work as well. In the last times people will be looking for a religion and faith that will mock and ostracize those who seem too rooted in the gospel of Jesus death and resurrection. They would justify the emilimination of the faithful by calling to attention that these are bad influence on a church that is fighting for unity of all faiths. Thos who stand firm in the faith in Christ Jesus will be considred bad influence and dissension elements in a church and a faith that is trying to bring peace to the world. These days we also see that true Christians are often embarrassed by the faith they carry in their hearts in Christ. They are discouraged from speaking out for the faith. In an effort not to appear odd or out dated, they also try their best to make themsvles accepted by the world. In the process, many are losing their sense of absolute gospel faith. They think that if they befriend the world, they can bring the world to Christ, but what usually happens, the world brings them to itself. It is a sad thing that in the end times the saints will be hunted and persecuted for their faith and even silenced if they do not agree to water down the faith in the Lord. May God help us when in the last days when the world will have found itself a religion that can absorb aall kinds of fake faiths, because those with true faith are too scared to speak out. May God help us to alwas stand on the faith that is passed down to us form the Lord Jesus and his apostles, that which we study in the Bible and that which we apply form day to day in our lives. Persecution of the saints is a reality in the end times. I wonder what kind of religion it will be in the last days where the churches will have no true believers because in believing what is true will bring on persecution and martyrdom.
There will be a time when Satan will no longer need to hide behind anything in this world. He has hidden for generations. He hid in idols of stone and iron and of wood for generations. He deceived the people for eons of time because there was a period of time when people actually believed in and put their trust in gods, and carved idols to represent them. they bowed to them and worshiped them. But the age of idols of stone and wood passed away when people wised up and no longer believed in such things. Greece was the bedrock of the Olympian gods. Satan hid there too. Later he hid in philosophies and ideologies such as communism. He hides in religion, whether true or false religion. He hides in modern ideas and the many freedom gods that fool the naïve into believing that freedom is doing whatever one sets their heart on doing. of Today he hides in sitcoms cleverly crafted sitcoms designed to slowly and carefully introduce godlessness into the culture until satan’s ideas are championed by those who no longer know the difference between right and wrong, moral and immoral. But a time is comig when saan will no longer need to hide at all, a time when he will rise to rule this world for a short time, until he has stolen the soul of every last man or woman who have chosen to close the door of their heart to God and his Son.