The Great Prostitute and the Beast

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Revelation 17:1-18 | April 7 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
April 7
The Great Prostitute and the Beast | Revelation 17:1-18
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Father in heaven, we have just sung what a friend, a Savior, Your Son is to us, so we pray now in His name that You would help us. I need Your help to speak clearly and boldly and helpfully and we need Your assistance that we might listen and understand in this difficult and in some ways alarming passage that You might speak to us just the word we need to hear, that we would be safe and we would be saved. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Please turn in your Bibles to Revelation chapter 17. If you don’t have a Bible, you’ll want to grab the pew Bible in front of you. Revelation is the very last book in the Bible. There are 22 chapters and we have been going through this book for a year now and we are in Revelation 17. Lord willing, we’ll finish this book in June. We come to, well, I’ve said this many times, but a very confusing chapter in the book. Actually, I think of the chapters left, this one and then parts of chapter 20 about the millennium are really the heavy lifting. Now everything is heavy, but are going to take a lot of work to understand what this is about.

Look at verse 14 before we go any farther. See verse 14. This is the most important point in the whole chapter, Revelation 17:14 – They will make war on the Lamb and the Lamb will conquer them for He is Lord of lords and King of kings and those with Him are called and chosen and faithful.

That’s the most important point. So don’t forget everything else we’re going to look at, but if you do, at least you have verse 14.

There is a lot in this chapter that will be hard to understand, but this verse is easy to understand. The Lamb wins. That’s the headline. And if you want to be on the winning side in this cosmic conflict, you must be one of those followers that are called and chosen and faithful. So that’s the most important point in this passage and we will come back to it at the very end.

But before landing there, we have a lot of ground to cover in these verses. Now I hope that this is not a bad sermon. I can tell you it’s never my goal to give you a bad sermon, don’t tell me whether I’ve met that goal or not, but I should say at the outset of this sermon that this is the sort of sermon I would tell my students at RTS or our pastoral interns not to preach. That is, I insist with them that they should not preach sermons that amount to running commentaries and they should not dump on the congregation here’s a bunch of things to learn from this text. That is really good advice, it’s just not advice I’m going to follow this morning.

This is a confusing passage and I think the most helpful thing I can do is to lead us slowly walking through this rather than read it all and go back explain it all. Work through it verse by verse, paragraph by paragraph, sometimes phrase by phrase. I’ll make some application along the way, and then we’ll land back at verse 14.

So don’t panic. The sermon will be almost done when we get through the whole text. So I understand that.

Just to orient you to what is in this chapter. There are two main characters in this chapter. The ESV helpfully gives the title, “The Great Prostitute and the Beast.” When I was getting ready to print out my notes, I realized I had put the title on my sermon notes, “The Great Prostitute and the Beach,” which would be a very different kind of message. That is not the story here. That’s a Netflix series you shouldn’t watch. This is the great prostitute and the beast.

So we are going to work our way through these verses, try to understand these two main characters, how they relate to each other, how they relate to the Lamb, and to His followers.

So hopefully you have your Bible open now. Let’s look at verse 1.

“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.”

This introductory verse is important because it links this new section to the last section. Last week we finished the seven bowls. Remember Revelation has these series of seven cycles, of trumpets and bowls and seals, and each one is, one commentator says it’s like shaking the kaleidoscope and looking at the same picture again, but each one gets more intense and pushes us forward more closely to the end.

So this angel, one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, that tells deliberately we are connecting with the series of judgments we just had from those seven angels. So what we have here is a new section dealing with God’s judgment on Babylon, which goes chapter 17, 18, and part of 19. These 2-1/2 chapters are an interpretive review of the sixth and seventh bowls.

So look at chapter 16, verse 19. We saw at the end of the seventh bowl, “The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of His wrath.”

So at the end of that bowl sequence of judgments, we saw the overthrow and the destruction of Babylon. So what we have here now is backing up and in a way you could say zooming in on really the sixth and the seventh bowl. We heard it already Babylon has fallen, but now we’re going to have 2-1/2 chapters about Babylon. Chapter 17 describes Babylon, chapter 18 explains how it was destroyed, chapter 19:1-10 gives heavens’ response to the destruction of Babylon.

So we are looking specifically at God’s judgments as they relate to Babylon. Each time Revelation goes to another parallel, things get closer, covering the same events, focusing more and more on the last events of history. There’s a progression in the emphasis. Climaxing, zooming, closer and closer.

This series of visions about Babylon is both for their time, so first we have to understand how it would have made sense, how they would have understood it in the first century, but it’s also for all time because Babylon is not a literal place but it’s a worldly system, and then it’s also for the end of time. So you have their time, all time, and then it also intensifies to the end of time.

We are told, look ahead, verse 5, we are given the name: “On her forehead was written the name of mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” So this prostitute is another depiction of Babylon and Babylon is another word for this prostitute.

As we’ll see in just a moment, their Babylon was very obviously Rome with the seven hills and the 10 kings, this is very obviously they would have understood their Babylon is Rome. But Babylon is shorthand for the world, especially all that entices us to compromise with evil and degradation in the world. So you think of the system, or the temptation to compromise with the world, in order to get ahead, that is the spirit of Babylon. That’s what we’re going to see.

All right. Back to verse 2.

“I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters,” verse 2, “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.” And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. 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. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly.”

There’s a lot going on here in this paragraph, so this will be our longest section here, moving through this chapter. Let’s try to take these issues one by one.

So we say this prostitute is Babylon. What does that mean? Babylon is a symbol of the world, the system, the way things operate in a fallen humanity, worldliness in a word. Babylon represents in particular the temptation to go along with the world in order to share in the world’s wealth.

Now this chapter doesn’t say that having wealth is necessarily wrong or making money is wrong, but the chapter does warn us strongly against compromising with an economic system that would require us to commit adultery and do what is wrong.

Now I just said adultery because that’s the image here, but although the imagery is sexual, the sin in view here is not mainly sexual sin but rather Babylon is depicted as a prostitute and to give in to Babylon is to commit sexual immorality with a prostitute. That kind of imagery is given because it’s the ideal way to describe in bright colors what we are doing when we compromise with the world.

Remember the letters to the seven churches all ended with “to him to overcomes.” So this book is about how to be an overcomer instead of a succumber. That is, now to conquer, how to overcome the world, its persecution, its temptations, its sufferings, instead of succumbing to the world and saying I will do as the world wants me to do, I will think what the world wants me to think, I will behave as the world wants me to behave because that’s the way to get ahead. That’s to be a succumber, to be a spiritual adultery, when you do what the world wants you to do so long as the world pays you for it. That’s why we have the imagery of prostitution. So I will do whatever you want. Babylon is a kind of prostitute, but you prostitute yourself with the world when you say, “just pay me, just make sure I get rich with this whole system and I will do whatever you want me to do.”

Now we’ll see in just a moment that the woman here is not an oppressed woman. I know in our day when we hear about prostitution you may think, well, maybe it’s somebody who was kidnapped or someone who was trafficked and so prostitution is wrong but we might think, well, maybe this person didn’t have another way out and we know there are other sorts of factors around the world that can go into prostitution. But that’s not what’s going on here, as we’ll see.

Babylon is a woman fully given her own powers who is selling herself to whomever would have her. And lest you think, well, the Bible is sexist, portraying this evil harlot. No, as we’ll see, the antidote to Babylon is the beautiful picture of the bride. And there’s plenty of male figures who are bad in this book. So there’s no sexism going on. This is a way, an Old Testament way, of describing idolatry as akin to sexual immorality.

Six times in this chapter we have a Greek word with the root porn. That’s the transliteration, you all know that word, our English word pornography. That’s where we get it.

Verse 1 – I will show you the great pornes, is the Greek.

Verse 2 – with her the kings of the earth at porneusan.

Verse 4 – she had a golden cup filled with the filth of her porneias.

Verse 5 – Babylon the great, mother of pornon.

Verse 15 – the waters you saw are where the porne sits.

Verse 16 – the beast and the ten horns will hate the pornen.

We know sexual sin is serious, not because chapter 17 is all about sexual sin. We know it’s serious because when the Bible wants to show how bad compromise with the world is, it says, “You want a picture of it? It’s like porn.” So even though this is not really a chapter about porn, it does tell you something that before you send your eyes there or your heart there, that is the very spirit and heart of Babylon, of what’s wrong with the world. When we compromise with the world, we are giving in to, let’s just use the Bible’s imagery, it’s very in our face, we’re giving in to a dirty, seductive whore. That’s the striking imagery of Revelation 17.

Pornes in all its forms is the driving passion. What motivates Babylon the great, which chapter 18 will be Babylon the fallen? Pornes.

Notice several things about Babylon. I told you this first paragraph would be the longest. Notice Babylon is attractive. She has royal clothes on. Verse 4, she is arrayed in purple. That’s a royal garment. Scarlet. There were different kinds of prostitutes in the Roman Empire. At the very bottom were slaves, and they were really exploited. Then there were poor women and girls who perhaps felt they had no other way out. Then there were the elite, high-priced courtesans. That’s what this woman is. These woman catered to wealthy and influential clients.

The picture here, in other words, is not of a down-on-your-luck woman trafficked or oppressed. No, she glitters with gold. She’s decked out in precious stones and pearls. She’s tempting. She’s alluring. The picture as she’s on a beast is you cannot ride the beast to prosperity unless you hook up with the prostitute. That’s the way the imagery works. She’s attractive.

But notice this beauty is literally only skin deep. Babylon looks attractive but notice in her hand is a golden cup, verse 4, and remember chapter 16, verse 19, she also had a cup and that cup there was the winepress of the fury of God’s wrath. Here she has a golden cup, decked out, looking like a queen, looking like royalty, an attractive woman. And then as she holds this gold cup, the picture as if you could get closer and you looked. Oh, what are you drinking, ma’am? A golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. She’s corrupt on the inside. She actually cares nothing for your soul. She’s a beautiful woman who then smiles to show you, as some horror might, blackened teeth and fangs and fire.

Or imagine in Greek mythology seeing the backside of an attractive woman, and as a man you go up and you tap her on the shoulder to get to know this alluring woman, and she turns around and with her snaky hair, it’s Medusa, and you’re a pillar of stone.

That’s sort of like this Babylon. She looks beautiful, but she has a cup of immoralities. Notice verse 6 – she’s drunk. Not just drunk on anything, but on the blood of the saints. She seems to be for you, but she is against everything that Christ and the Church stand for. She looks attractive.

Notice the influence of Babylon is pervasive. You see up in verse 1 – I will show you the judgment, the prostitute who is seated on many waters.

We see that later. Look at verse 15 – the waters you saw where the prostitute is seated are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.

By now you know in Revelation that four is the biblical number for worldwide scope – tongues, tribes, languages, nations. Well, here’s a variation of that. It’s to show that Babylon sits on water. She exercises dominion that goes across the whole world.

Now Babylon, the place literally in the Middle East, where God’s people were exiled, that’s why we have the name Babylon, because Babylon in the history of God’s people is, “Oh, yeah, we know Babylon. It was that superpower that shipped us off from Judea and held us captive.” That’s what Babylon does.

Babylon, Psalm 137:1, says, “by the waters of Babylon we sat down.” So Babylon literally was a place on many waters. So she’s described as sitting on many waters.

But it’s not a geographic designation. It means that the worldliness of Babylon reigns to some degree or another, it’s not to say some cultures are better than another, they are, but across the globe the worldliness of Babylon reigns in cultures and governments and countries. Her immoral influence is pervasive. The idea here is unless you give yourself to commit sexual immorality with Babylon, you cannot get ahead in the world. Why are people drawn to Babylon? Why is her influence so pervasive? Because people recognize I like the lifestyle that Babylon can give me. I like the luxuries that Babylon provides.

It’s like when the NBA or Hollywood overlooks the persecution of the Uyghurs in order to have access to the Chinese market. Or pretending you don’t know about human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia so you can enjoy their oil money. Or bowing the knee to the sexual revolution in this country because you’re convinced there’s no other way to make a living in American business or higher education or medicine. You just have to do some of the things that Babylon wants you to do. Well, that’s not what God’s Word thinks.

The influence is attractive. The influence is pervasive. And Babylon, notice, is impressive.

Look at verse 6, that new paragraph – “When I saw her,” John says, “I marveled greatly.” You could translate it, “I marveled a marvel.” I don’t think it means he’s attracted to it, but he can’t help but say this, this Babylon sure is impressive.

Don’t we know that to be true? The world can dazzle. Maybe in the first century they thought how can Rome be so bad when Rome looks so good? American culture looks impressive. The Academy, Hollywood, but we must not be intoxicated by them. If we hope to flee the allures of the prostitute Babylon, we must admit that to one degree or another, we all live in Babylon, too.

And you, and I, might be handed a golden cup. Say, here, if you would but drink this cup, you can get the promotion. If you just drink this cup, you get tenure. You just drink this cup, you’ll be rich beyond your wildest dreams. You just drink this cup. You can live where you want to live, you can vacation where you want to vacation. You just have to drink the cup that Babylon gives you. And you look in it and it’s all manner of impurities, abominations, you know it’s wrong. What do you do with that cup? That’s what this chapter is about.

Then the last thing to notice, before we move on about Babylon, so attractive, alluring, pervasive, impressive. Babylon is the anti-Church. This is a major theme, so underline it in your brains, we’ll come back to it in the weeks ahead, we’re presented in Revelation with two women, and the whole world is divided into these two women.

Remember in chapter 12 we were introduced to the woman, the dragon, and the child. That’s the Church, Christ, and the devil, who we’ll see is the first beast. So you have, or comes from, that first beast comes from that dragon.

So you have that woman and then you have this woman, Babylon. The woman in chapter 17 is the anti-Church. Babylon is even dressed up to look like the Church, gold, precious stones, pearls, fine linen. Just like we will find in the new Jerusalem, the new Jerusalem will have many of the same things.

Both women are mothers. So the one from the Church came Christ, the mother all the faithful. Well, look at this Babylon is a mother, verse 5. She’s the mother of prostitutes and the earth’s abominations. Both are lovers. The Church as the bride for Christ and Babylon here as the whore who gives herself and all the kings and dwellers of the earth come to prostitute themselves with Babylon. One will live and reign forever, the other will be cast down in one hour, as we’ll see in chapter 18.

Notice, if you turn the page, or just listen to chapter 21, the new Jerusalem, look at 21, verse 9 – “Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the last plagues and spoke to me, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.”

It’s almost the exact same language if you go back to chapter 17, verse 1, same thing, one of the seven angels who had the seven comes to John and says, “Come with me, come with me into the wilderness and I will show you,” chapter 17, “I want to show you this woman, Babylon, the harlot.”

Chapter 21 – Come now, I want to show you the antidote to that woman, one that is as pure and spotless and beautiful as this one is compromised and degraded and ugly. Come with me and I will show you a mountain in the wilderness and I will show you the Bride coming down.

Babylon is the anti-Church. It’s one more attempt by God in this book to show the radical distinction between those who overcome the world and those who succumb to the world. The picture, and it’s presented to us with these stark realities for a reason, God is saying you can be a beautiful, radiant, spotless bride or you can be a harlot on a beast, because those are the two women that we have to choose from in Revelation.

All right. Verse 7. I told you that one would take some time. Verse 7. Now we come to the beast.

“But the angel said to me, “Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carry her.”

Mystery does not mean it’s some puzzle to solve. It means God’s plan hidden but now revealed. In Revelation, mystery basically means I’m going to show you or tell you something with symbols. So we have a beast.

The beast is, the first beast we already saw earlier in Revelation. Remember? There were two beasts. The first beast is the perverted state and the second beast is perverted religion. So this is that first beast.

There’s identical language. Let me read chapter 13, verse 1 – and I saw a beast rising out of the sea with ten horns and seven heads and a blasphemous name.

We already saw that in chapter 13. Now here in verse 7 the beast with seven heads and ten horns. Same imagery, same language. In verse 3, you notice, it’s called a scarlet beast, just like the dragon in chapter 12 was red. So scarlet here, red, this is diabolical.

The woman sits on the beast and the imagery, sitting on the beast, so on the one hand, if you’re riding a horse, you’re in a position of some dominance and control. Okay? Giddy up, whoa Nelly, here we’re going. You’re telling the horse where to go, so the woman on the beast is in some position. So the woman represents worldliness, in particular the economic system of the world, and she’s on a beast which we saw earlier is representative of the corrupt persecuting state. So you’ve got sort of economics on the state.

So on the one hand the woman is riding and controlling the beast, but on the other hand she’s dependent on the beast, just as someone riding a horse, you may control the horse in some way, but if the horse just decides to stop, then you have to stop. You are dependent, if you want to be a conquering army, that your horses ride. This is a picture of the way in the first century that John sees the emperor, or the state, controlled by the wealth of Rome, but the wealth of Rome is also dependent on the favorable treatment of the state. It’s not hard to see how this can still be a reality, not unlike how our politicians depend upon wealthy benefactors for their campaigns. I’m not saying it’s always wrong that they raise money for things, not saying it’s by its nature evil, but you can imagine as politicians are dependent upon wealthy benefactors to raise money for their campaigns, those wealthy benefactors often depend upon favorable rules, favorable regulations, or for the state to look the other way or hand out government contracts, or persecute and go after their competition, or use the arm of the government to go after their ideological enemies. It’s not hard to imagine how this thing works, and it’s always worked like this.

It’s interesting that the beast is said to have blasphemous names, not the prostitute. It’s as if God wants to say people may give themselves to the beast or to the prostitute because they want to make a buck, but they will positively worship the state.

Verse 8. “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.”

You got that? That’s a little confusing. The beast comes from the abyss, from Satan. He’s a kind of mimic of Christ. In chapter 1 Christ said “I’m the living One, I was dead and behold, I am alive forevermore.” So Christ lived, died, rose, goes up to heaven, He reigns forever.

The beast has a similar fourfold progression. He lived (was), died (is not), will come back to life, but then instead of going up to heaven to reign, the beast goes down to hell for his destruction.

We’ll see this more in chapter 20, but Revelation’s timeline goes like this. For the first part of human history most of the world is in bondage to the devil. The true Gospel and true God are hardly known on the earth. But then in Christ’s death and resurrection He deals a death blow to Satan. Christ triumphs over the devil and his powers and He continues to keep them at bay during this Church age. At the end an intensification of what’s happening now, what you might call a great tribulation, Satan will have a kind of “resurrection,” that is his purposes will be filled with new power and effectiveness. But the time will be short-lived and Christ will return and he will finish off Satan and his followers once and for all.

Much more we’ll say about this when we come to chapter 20, but I think the basic outline of world history now after the coming of Christ is that evil often has sway and will mount its wickedness at the very end while at the same time Christ, having conquered the devil, allows the Gospel to spread across the world so that the Church will not be vanquished and, in fact, will grow.

Look at verse 9. “This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while.”

The seven hills speaks of the beast’s strength and grandeur. Rome was known as the city of seven hills, so there’s obviously an allusion to Rome. I think anyone in the first century would have thought, yeah, this is code for Rome.

But seven, as we know from the rest of the book, is a number of completion and perfection. So it’s not Rome itself but rather Rome in their day was the embodiment of the spirit of Babylon, and it could be New York City or Los Angeles or London or Beijing or any number of cities around the world.

Verse 10 gives us this strange prophecy about seven kings, five have fallen, one is, and then there’s a seventh king and oh, the seventh king is actually an eighth king. You can read for the rest of the week if you wanted to, I don’t suggest you do, theories about the different emperors and which ones have fallen or about the various kingdoms of the earth and that the five are Assyria and Babylon and the Medo-Persians and Greece and Rome, and then, I forget, and the last one is America. That’s convenient, just skip like 2000 years and America. I mean, Britain might want to say, “Hey, we kind of had a nice empire for a while” and some other people in there.

I don’t think that’s how we’re meant to read this, rather we’re thinking of symbolism, of these sevens. Seven kings, not because we’re supposed to figure this out on a chronology, but it’s a way of saying that we’re here in the midst of this sixth and seventh bowl, the sixth and seventh seal. We’re zooming in on six and seven. There’s a sixth king and a seventh yet to come.

Verse 11 tells us: “As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven,” okay, “and it goes to destruction.”

That’s confusing. So an eighth king who’s the seventh king. Why eight? Again, I think probably it’s as an imitation of Christ. Eight being a number of resurrection, eight people in Noah’s ark, sons circumcised on the eighth day, Christ was raised on the eighth day of the week (the week plus one), so eight is again a kind of mimicking of Christ, this king.

Verse 12. We’re almost done.

“The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour,” so a short time, “together with the beast. These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast.”

So these ten horns are a sign of power. One hour means it will be limited but they mount their forces for one final conflict, which we saw two weeks ago in chapter 16. The battle of Armageddon is not a literal battle very likely, not that in the Middle East, but is a spiritual reality in the world. Ten kings could be ten client kings throughout the Roman Empire, or sometimes Rome was said to be divided into ten provinces. But ten also is just another number of completion.

Hal Lindsey in his book The Late Great Planet Earth said these were the ten nations of the European common market. I do not commend that interpretation to you. That would have made no sense to anyone first reading this book and what do you do with the European Union extended well beyond ten nations now.

Verse 14 then.

“They,” that is these kings, the beast, every power arrayed against God had His people, “will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings.”

Many of the Roman rulers had that as their own self-designation. They gave to themselves the title King of kings, but here John says, no, we know the real King of kings and the real Lord of lords, “and those who are with Him are called and chosen and faithful.””

So they mount one final attack against God and His people, but they’re vanquished.

Then notice this, last paragraph. If this were a movie, this is a surprising plot twist. Okay, we’ve got a harlot riding a beast, working together, ten kings. It’s a whole picture of the spiritual forces arrayed against the Lamb, but the Lamb is going to be victorious. Well, there’s one more plot twist. It’s like Mission: Impossible, you had a mask on? What?

So listen to what happens. Verse 15: “And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast,” here’s the plot twist, “will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out His purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.””

Did you see what happened there? You know what’s part of the final downfall of evil? God turns evil against evil. They hated, the ten horns and the beast who have been in cooperation this whole time with the prostitute, now they hate the prostitute. Why? Envy, perhaps. Good old-fashioned greed. State saying, “Well, why do we have to do these things for Babylon, for Babylon to get rich. Babylon has more. The business has more power than the state.” And the kings and the beast turn on the prostitute and they kill her and they strip her.

Evil is not as united as it seems. That’s one of the good news. You look out and you think, look at all of the forces as if it’s always just some omni-competent villains out there who have everything and everyone’s in order and giving. That’s now how evil works. God says, “I’m going to frustrate the plans of evil and they will turn against themselves.” A house divided against itself cannot stand.

It’s like in the Old Testament when Gideon’s 300 men sounded their trumpets and the Lord caused the Midianites to turn on each other with their swords.

In 2021 the Boston Pride organization dissolved after years of disagreements. Gays and lesbians thought Boston Pride was one thing and minorities thought it was another thing and the new trans group thought it was another thing, and they couldn’t get along and the whole thing collapsed.

God is in control more than any of us realize. Count on it. He will turn the, just like the Lord of the Rings, the Orcs and the Uruk-hai will turn, “meat’s back on the menu, boys.” That’s what, God knows what He’s doing. The outcome is absolutely secure.

So we land, as I promised we would, and we’ll be done, with the good news of verse 14 – the Lamb wins. And how? Well, that’s what the whole book is about. By standing fast, by not giving into temptation, but in particular I think we can say here that God’s people conquer with the Lamb because they follow Him and they are forgiven by Him. Those two things.

If you want to be on the winning side, what separates the beast and the prostitute and the kings and all of the evil forces? We’re going to say, “Well, whew, we’re nice people.” No, the difference is who we follow and that we’re forgiven.

If we’ve drunk of the cup of the abominations of the world, there can be forgiveness in Christ. If you’re saying, “I have ridden the beast to a very lucrative career and livelihood,” there’s forgiveness in Christ.

Evil will in the end turn on evil. It’s a warning to us as God’s people, listen, people, do not build our alliances on greed and do not build them on a common envy or a common enemy. It’s always true and it especially needs to be said in an election year. Do not build Christ’s kingdom or Church on just common, no, don’t say just, we do not build it on common grievances, common envy. Yes, there may be in these culture wars some co-belligerence. As I said, Christian on this committee with a Muslim can both stand against elements of the sexual revolution, but do not fall for this, do not fall for this trap of the evil one. It is much easier to motivate people toward a fast friends by having a common hatred.

Well, the hatred turns on each other. It’s those who follow the Lamb, who are forgiven by the Lamb, who know the purity and the worship of the Lamb, who will in the end with the Lamb be victorious.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, as we turn now from the Word proclaimed to the Word beheld, we would be remiss if we did not come before you with our own sins. We acknowledge that it isn’t simply a beast out there or a harlot out there, but in here. We are people conceived and born in iniquity. We mourn our wickedness. We have often grievously sinned against You by thought, word, and deed, against Your divine majesty we have provoked Your wrath. We deserve Your indignation. So hear us now that we earnestly repent. We are heartily sorry for our misdoings, to even remember them as grievous unto us. The burden of them is intolerable and so we cry out, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father, for Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us all that is passed, and grant that we may hereafter serve and please You in newness of life, to the honor and glory of Your name through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.