Revelation 056 – The Clash of the Titans (Part 2)Revelation 17:13-18 • Dr. Andy Woods • October 20, 2019 • Revelation
The Clash of the Titans (Part 2)
Revelation 17:13 Lesson 56
Good morning everybody. Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the Book of Revelation, chapter 17, and verse 13, trying to look as time permits at verses 13 through the end of the chapter today; we’ll see if we can do that. The title of our message this morning is The Clash of the Titans (Part 2). As you know we’re moving through the Book of Revelation, having come to the end of chapter 16 which is that final bowl judgment. And as that final bowl judgment is poured out upon the earth we learn of the destruction of the great city, named Babylon. Revelation 16:19 says, “Babylon, the great was remembered before God to give her the cup of His fierce wrath.”
Chapter 16 then logically leads into chapter 17 because in chapter 17 we read these words, verse 1, “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, ‘Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters.’” The very angel that poured out the destruction on Babylon now begins to show John some special information about Babylon, temporarily interrupting the chronology in the Book of Revelation. This sort of non-chronological break has happened four times earlier in the book and now it’s happening again, and that’s why you get this extended treatment about Babylon, some of the most fascinating but probably misunderstood chapters in the whole Bible, here in chapter 17 verse 1, it’s going to go all the way through chapter 18 and actually all the way through chapter 19 and verse 6. And once we finish chapter 19 and verse 6 then the sequence and the chronology will start up again and we’ll have a record of the future, the second advent of Jesus Christ.
So we find ourselves in chapter 17 which has basically two parts to it; a vision concerning Babylon, verses 1-16 and then an interpretation concerning Babylon. Verses 1-6 we covered where we saw this seductive harlot prostitute seemingly riding upon and dominating an entity called the beast. And then what follows, about halfway through verse 6 to the end of the chapter, which is what the Bible typically does, it will interpret the vision for us. We’ve seen an interpretation promised to John, he doesn’t understand it at all, what is this woman, who is this woman riding on the scarlet beast. Who’s the woman? Who’s the beast?
And from there, after he is wondering about this, puzzled about this, then what starts to happen in verses 8-14 is you start to get a description of the beast that the woman is riding on. Last time we began looking at that and we saw the beast; the beast, of course, is the coming antichrist who is sort of propelled into world domination one day, through the performance of a political ruler. He brings back an ancient world empire from the dead. It’s kind of the way Adolf Hitler was worshipped and embraced because of his ability to bring back Germany from the brink of destruction and hyper-inflation and all of those things at the end of the World War I era into World War 2. But the beast also, it’s interesting, doesn’t just have a political miracle, he has a personal miracle, a personal resurrection from the dead. And we saw that last week and we saw how because of these two miracles the world system will wander after this beast.
So the beast is a future ruler that’s coming but as you look at this woman on the beast, we’ll speak of the woman a little later, but the woman on the beast has seven heads and ten horns. The seven heads, if you tracked with us last time, represent various anti-Semitic kingdoms which have come against the nation of Israel. These heads are on this particular beast because the beast that we’re talking about is sort of the absorber, the composite if you will, of all of these anti-Semitic kingdoms that have come before. Five have fallen, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia and Greece. One is, one was in existence when John had this vision in the first century (that was Rome), and one is yet to come.
The entity yet to come is this political miracle that the antichrist pulls off. He brings back from the dead this empire that wants to dominate the face of the earth, Ancient Rome, an empire that many, many people have tried to put back together, Napoleon, Charlemagne, you go back in history all of them have this ambition. But the future antichrist under satanic power actually pulls it off and that would be the entity yet to come. And the best I can tell that’s the meaning of those seven heads on this beast, sort of a composite of everything that’s evil and wrong in all of the previous empires handed down. In other words, the features of those prior empires always coming against the Jews, always coming against Israel, always coming against the things of God, that’s what this future system is essentially going to be like.
And then we moved to the discussion, we looked at verse 12, which I think is as far as we got last time, but we saw that this beast not only has seven heads, she has ten horns. And the ten horns we saw, verse 12, would represent basically the ten contemporaneous kings arising all at the same time with the antichrist. In other words, the antichrist will have working with him a ten king confederacy These are the ten horns of Daniel 7:24, and kings. And we made the point last time that this ten king confederacy is not just something that will arise out of a particular part of the world but ultimately Daniel 7:23 will devour the whole earth. [Daniel 7:23, “Thus he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth and tread it down and crush it.”]
And I find it very interesting that the Club of Rome, a one-world government promoting organization has the world divided into ten kingdoms or ten economic regions. And what they’ve started in Europe they want to replicate in ten parts throughout the face of the earth. And it’s interesting that they’ve selected the number ten, not nine, not eleven, but ten. And I think there may be some twists and turns to go before the final form emerges and I’m not saying it’s going to look identical like this but I just find this a very interesting precursor. In other words the world, being ruled by a ten kings or kingdoms already apparently exists in the minds of fallen humanity. This is how the future or present movers and shakers of the world think.
In fact, at a prophecy conference or the teaching conference I was just at in Middletown Connecticut, there was a gentleman there by the name of Rob Comden, and he’s written a book on Revived Rome, and Revived Europe. And so he has a lot of contact and some of the contacts in Europe have kind of pulled him aside and said everything in your book is accurate and when you want to update it just let us know because we can give you some inside information. He told me that the world divided into regions has always been in the thinking of these future or these present manipulators of the globe, and this, of course, would coalesce, it would be consistent with what our Bible teaches about the end times.
So the beast arises but the beast has working with him these ten kings or ten kingdoms or ten regions.
And if you take a look at verse 13 we pick it up here and notice what it says in verse 13. “They” that’s the ten kings, “have one purpose and they give their power and the authority to the beast.” In other words, the beast is coming but he has with him, in submission to him, these ten kings.
It’s interesting that the Book of Daniel has a detail that you don’t find in the Book of Revelation. That’s why you have to understand Daniel and Revelation together, Daniel being the basement, the Book of Revelation being the ceiling, that’s why I decided to teach both books together. And Daniel 7:24 says this: “As for the ten horns out of this kingdom ten kings will arise and another will arise after them and will be different from the previous ones,” that’s our beast who rises from the dead, and notice what it says, “he will subdue three kings.” So you’ve got the world divided into ten and three of the kingdoms are noncompliant with the antichrist. Seven are compliant with the antichrist. Seven are compliant, seven submit, three do not, so the antichrist has to in his route to power subdue three of the ten kings.
So people typically don’t just take over things unless there is some opposition and in the antichrist rise to power over the entire globe, getting under his control the ten kingdoms, ten kings, ten regions, three seem to not cooperate with him so they have to be put down. They have to be subdued and in their place will be puppet kings that will this time submit to what the antichrist wants to do.
You know, it’s interesting how good Satan is in putting puppet kings into existence. You’ll find Babylon doing that, related to the final kings of Judah; they were to a large extent puppets of Nebuchadnezzar. That way Nebuchadnezzar could actually rule over Judah while the people thought that they were sort of an independent sovereign nation. And apparently this is what the antichrist must do with three of the seven, the remaining seven, cooperating with him.
Dwight Pentecost in his excellent book, Things to Come, says this concerning the beast. “In gaining his authority three of the ten kings are overthrown.” [Things to Come, Page 321-22] So this is the piece of information that you see in Daniel that you don’t find in Revelation. Both talk about the ten kings but Daniel adds a little ingredient that you don’t find in Revelation. And that’s what’s a lot of fun, if you will, about studying theology and in particular prophecy; you kind of feel like you’re dealing with pieces on a jigsaw puzzle, this piece goes here, that piece goes there, at the end of the day all of the pieces sort of are connected to each other and you can kind of sit back and you can see a mosaic. The mosaic of what the pictures are supposed to look like you usually find on the box top; that’s why you can cheat a little bit by looking at the box top first.
But this is a composite Scripture that the Holy Spirit has given concerning the end times. You’re not going to find everything that there is to be known in the Book of Revelation. An awful lot is to be known there but other things must be supplemented through other parts of the Bible, such as the Book of Daniel. But what is the true character of this coming beast and specifically these ten kings? Take a look, if you will, at verse 14. “These” the ten kings or kingdoms, “will wage war against the Lamb.” [Revelation 17:14]
This is how you can determine the true nature of anything or the true nature of anyone. It’s not so much do they speak a spiritual lingo, it’s what is their position relative to Jesus Christ? You know, it’s kind of interesting, you can do a lot of God talk with people, God this, God that, spiritual this, spiritual that, but you mention the J word, Jesus, and suddenly there’s a dividing line. And consequently you can tell an awful lot about people by how they respond to Jesus. What do they mean by Jesus? What place do they give to Jesus?
And in 1 John 4:3, John’s other book, among others, he wrote Revelation and 1 John, he says this, 1 John 4:3, “And every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist which you have heard that it is coming and now is already in the world.” You want to determine the difference between the spirit of Christ and the spirit of antichrist? You want to determine where people are at spiritually and theologically? Just get into the true subject of Jesus Christ and you’ll see the line of demarcation. You can see the wicked character of these ten kings because you’ll notice verse 14 that they “will wage war against the Lamb.” They’re not just against Jesus but they are the types that will actually wage war against Jesus Christ Himself.
In fact, there is a reference to this a couple of chapters later in Revelation 19:19 and notice what it says there. “Then I saw the beast” that’s the entity we’re talking about, “and the kings” the ten king confederacy, “of the earth and their armies gathered to wage war” the Greek word for war there is polymos, it’s the opposite of irenic, irenah, peaceful, there’s the opposite word, it’s war, it’s where we get the word today polemical, warlike, “Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered to wage war against the rider on the horse and His army.”
I mean, why is it that in the American school system today almost anything can be taught; there’s almost no boundaries anymore, except Jesus Christ. The fact that everything and anything seems to be tolerated, except the Biblical revelation of Jesus Christ, that should be an indicator which side of the ledger the American school system is on. And I can run that litmus test with anything; I can run that litmus test with a church, with a person. The whole issue is what side of this conflict are you on? What saith you about this man, Jesus Christ? And a lot of people will just take the name Jesus and twist it into something that’s not.
Islam, for example, teaches oh, we believe in Jesus. Well what do you mean by that? What they mean by that is Jesus Christ is going to come back sort of as a sidekick and rule alongside under delegated authority some other deity. That’s not what the Bible says. What the Bible says is right here, He’s the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. You see that there in the second part of verse 14 which is a description on why these ten kings are on the losing side of history. “These will wage war against the Lamb,” that’s Jesus, “and the Lamb will overcome them,” why is that? Why is Jesus always going to win in the end? Why is it a foolish thing to oppose Jesus Christ? “… because He is Lord of lords” verse 14, “and King of kings, [and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” Revelation 7:14 NASB]
You find these what we call superlatives; it’s like saying the Holy of Holies. When you use the expression Holy of Hollies or Solomon in his book, The Song of Solomon uses the expression Song of Songs, Solomon wrote many songs and proverbs but he’s saying this is the ultimate song. Holy of Holy is the ultimate holy place on planet earth; it’s not a holy place, it’s the holy place. It’s not a song, we’re dealing with the song. And here you have not just one superlative but two superlatives applied to Jesus Christ explaining exactly who He is. You guys aren’t going to be ruling alongside anybody, HE is going to be the authority. HE is the way of salvation.
There’s not one of many options that we’re dealing with here; HE is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and that’s why these ten kings waging war against Him aren’t going to get very far because you’re dealing with the Creator and the Ruler and THE Redeemer of the universe, Jesus Christ. And fighting against Him is foolishness. And no doubt there are people within the sound of my voice in their lives, maybe to some extent even Christians going back into carnality and they’re actually making decisions against Jesus Christ. They’re fighting Jesus Christ. And what the Book of Revelation is explaining to us is that’s a losing cause. I’m sort of a path of least resistance type myself, why not just surrender now, since He is the ultimate authority that’s coming?
But you see, their true nature explained here and as you look at verse 14 it’s an explanation as to why they will lose this war. The word “war” is used, verse 14, why are they going to lose this war? Because they’re fighting against the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings and the called and chosen faithful. Now there’s an argument here that Jesus, when He returns, is called and chosen but He is also coming back with His called and chosen holy ones or faithful ones. I mean, it would be one thing to fight just against Jesus Christ, you couldn’t win that round at all, could you? But He’s coming back with the armies of heaven.
Jude verse 14 says, “with thousands and thousands of His holy ones.” And who are those holy ones? Well, part of it is there are angels, Matthew 25:31 says, ““But when the Son of Man comes in His glory,” notice it doesn’t say if He comes, “When” He comes, He’s coming back, it’s just a matter of time, “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory and all” not some, “all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.” So He is coming back with His angels and one angel of the Lord killed in the Book of Isaiah, I think it’s in Isaiah 37 if I remember right, 185,000 Assyrians, one angel of the Lord. [Isaiah 37:36-37, “Then the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, all of these were dead.  So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and ]returned home and lived at Nineveh.” 2 Kings 19:35, “Then it happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead.”’]
Think if the return of God Himself is accompanied by myriads of angels, armies of heaven, what chance would a person have in that battle? No chance at all! And by the way, if you are a Christian, if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and you have been made a part of that church you are coming back with Him. We are returning WITH Him to subdue the earth and to rule and reign. Why? Because He needs our help? NO! He gives us the privilege of participating in this final conflict and in this final battle.
I like to call the present age training time for reigning time. Everything that’s happening in your life is preparatory for that future role that you will have ruling and reigning alongside Jesus Christ because He gives us the privilege of that experience under His delegated authority. Revelation 5:10 is very clear concerning us as a kingdom of priests that we will reign with Him upon the earth.
[Revelation 5:10, ““You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”]
There is so much talk within Christianity today about dying and going to heaven and there’s really not enough talk about what is going to happen after we’re with the Father in the Father’s house for seven years. What then? Then we are returning with Him and subduing the earth with Him, and reigning alongside of Him; we are part of that vast army that comes against this ten king confederacy and deposes it. We have to understand who we are in Christ and we have to understand what our identity is. And we have to understand what our destiny is because the more you understand your destiny the more it shapes our behavior in the present.
Paul says to the struggling Corinthians who were suing each other (can you imagine that), don’t you know that the day will come when you will judge angels He says. If that’s true then why can’t you just work out the minor problems of this life given your identity, given your future authority, given who you are.
So we move away from the beast, the woman that’s on the beast; you say well is this chapter about the woman or the beast. And the answer is yes, there’s two entities here; the woman is riding the beast. We’ve had a description of the beast. Who is the beast? The antichrist, the composite of the past anti-Semitic kingdoms of the earth and he has ten allies, a ten king, a ten kingdom, a ten region confederacy and he begins to deal aggressively with this woman that’s seated on top of him. Now the woman is the city of Babylon in this vision.
So what you have in chapter 17 is a description of how Babylon falls. We know that the city of Babylon falls, we saw that in the seventh bowl judgment. What we don’t know is how it falls. John himself didn’t know exactly how Babylon was to fall, and so the angel kind of pulled him aside in these chapters and gives him information about this. And now we’re starting to get details about the future destruction of the city of Babylon. Now we’re not focusing on the beast so much as the woman that is on top of the beast. And so we can look at the woman’s influence, verse 15, her destruction, verses 16-17 and then the verse that almost everybody chops and it’s almost like it doesn’t even appear in their Bibles. Verse 18 tells you exactly who her identity is.
But notice her influence; notice if you will Revelation chapter 17 and verse 15, “And he said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.”
Now when you go back to chapter 17 and verse 1 we already learned of this harlot sitting on many waters. You remember 17 verse 1, “Come here and I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on the many waters.” So you have a reaffirmation here of the fact that Babylon, the city of Babylon represented by this woman is seated on many waters. And when you read the Book of Rev you have to have the Old Testament ringing in your ear, because Babylon in the Old Testament in Jeremiah’s prophecies concerning the destruction of Babylon on the Euphrates, described in all ways as a city dwelling on many waters.
Jeremiah 51:13, see Jeremiah 50 and 51 are about to be fulfilled here. Jeremiah 51:13 says, “O you” speaking of Babylon, “who dwell by many waters….” Psalm 137 which you might recall is the most recent Psalm in the Psalter, if you’re into Bible trivia we’ve got 150 psalms, five books, organized into five books, the oldest Psalm is a psalm written by Moses, Psalm 90. The most recent Psalm is Psalm 137 written by the exiles when they were torn out of their homeland and brought 350 miles to the east, to this place called Babylon, and all they could do was weep. Everything that they had known had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple was destroyed.
And in this description as they’re weeping there by Babylon they give this description of the waters of Babylon. Psalm 137:1 says, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept when we remembered.” When you come to Revelation 17 and you know a little something about Jeremiah’s prophecies and you know a little something about the last Psalm in the Psalter, you can start to connect the dots as to why Babylon is associated with many waters as it is here in Revelation 17:15.
But now we get a description of what these waters represent. “Then he” that’s the angel, “said to me, ‘The waters which you saw where the harlot sits are peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues.” Those are four nouns, each in plural form that we have seen many other times in the Book of Revelation. And whenever these four nouns are used together it is communicating global influence. They’re used, for example, in Revelation 5:9, same four nouns to describe those redeemed from every nation of the earth in the church age worshipping Jesus Christ. [Revelation 5:9, “And they sang a new song, saying, “ Worthy are You to take the [the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”]
They’re used in Revelation 7 and verse 9 to describe the evangelistic efforts of the hundred and forty-four thousand Jewish evangelists who will evangelize the whole world. They’re used to describe the whole world in Revelation 11:9, looking at the dead bodies of the two witnesses. [Revelation 11:9 NASB, “Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.”]
It’s really interesting to watch some of the older commentators try to make sense of that one. How do people writing in 1920 interpret the whole world looking at the dead bodies of the two witnesses? Those from Revelation 11:9, “peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days,” and people try to make some kind of sense of that in the early 1900’s and earlier.
It’s kind of interesting living in a time period where we know exactly what it means. I don’t have to guess as to what that means because of all of this technology I can take you to websites right now as I speak that will show you exactly what is happening in the city of Jerusalem in the temple area as I speak. It is interesting to me how technology has finally caught up to the time period that the Bible predicts, that’s rapidly coming upon the earth.
These four nouns are also used in Rev 13:7 to describe the one-world government of the antichrist. Politicians today can’t even get through speeches without mentioning “global” or “world.” And Revelation 17:15, the verse we’re looking at here is a description, the same four nouns, peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues, of the universal influence of the harlot.
At some point you have to ask yourself a basic question, what city is it that’s influencing the entire world? To my mind the only city that makes sense is the tower of Babel because we know from Genesis 11:1 that this tower was built in Shinar, Mesopotamia, between the rivers, modern day Iraq. It was built during a time period when the world only had a single language. [Genesis 11:1, “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.”]
So the sin that took place here was exported into the entire world, into every culture because this is the origin of the cultures. See that? That’s why the title on the harlot’s forehead is “the mother of harlots.” She spread harlotry everywhere and as we have studied the religious system which existed at the tower of Babel can be traced into the entire world. There have been some bad nations since the tower of Babel but nothing of this magnitude. Most of them, Rome, Jerusalem, whatever name you want to come up with here were absorbers of the mother child system that began at Babel but they were never the mother or the progenitors of it.
And some way, somehow in the providence of God and in the timing of God, and we’ve looked at all of these passages, Old Testament and New Testament which describe this reality. That will be the seat in a literal city between the rivers in the exact same place that the tower of Babel once stood. That will be the seat or the headquarters of the future religious system of the world. It’s like using the name Wall Street; you think of Wall Street you think of a financial system but Wall Street is an actual place from which this system originates. The same with Madison Avenue, Hollywood, system headquartered in the city and that’s what you have in this coming one-world religious system.
The tower of Babel is coming back to life is my understanding of this. And this is what God is going to destroy. In fact, her judgment, because of all of the chaos that she has taught, has long been hanging over her head but the influence that she wields is what makes the beast jealous because this woman is riding the beast. You know, I just find it very interesting that the primary value of western civilization used to be a word beginning with the letter T called truth. In other words, the highest virtue is the pursuit of truth; if you were pursuing truth you were looked at as being on the right side of things.
It’s sort of interesting to me that that word truth is no longer in vogue today. It’s been replaced by a different word. The different word also begins with the letter T, it’s called tolerance. You can believe whatever you want but the moment you become absolutist and you become intolerant or closed minded towards other things is the moment you lose you stature very fast in the world system. You see, what all of this is, is it’s preparatory for the one-world religion of tomorrow where everybody is right, as long as they’re sincere. In this type of thinking you can’t say such and such over there is wrong; that’s not acceptable anymore because you’re no longer embracing the highest virtue of western civilization in the world; you’re not longer considered a tolerant person.
Let me tell you something, sincerity, you can be very sincere about something and be completely wrong about it. The example I’ll use is the prophets of Baal, where is that, 1 Kings 18, right in there, where they were summoning their deity to bring down fire to the point where they were out there, what does it say, all afternoon, all day, all night, something to that extent. And they were starting to lance themselves and self-inflict wounds because they were so sincere in their religion. And we know the story, they were humiliated. I mean, you want to talk about some very sincere people, that’s who these people all were. I can’t think of any more sincere people, yet the Elijah story tells us that they were totally wrong, completely wrong and Elijah himself starts to mock the fact that they’re wrong.
Wow! Talk about political incorrectness [laughter]. Some of the Bible translations on this are very easy. Perhaps your god is on a vacation. Some are a little bit more graphic, perhaps he’s seated on the toilet some versions say. Just because someone is sincere doesn’t make them right. This mindset that we’re moving into, a one-world religion that influences all peoples, nations, tongues and multitudes is being prepared as I speak via a second T word, not Truth, Truth is the enemy…Toleration!
So what happens is we begin to see glimpses of the destruction of the city. And see, this is the mystery that John is being given here because as we’ve tried to explain, as you go through the Bible you see these two strands of prophetic truth developing. First of all we know that there’s coming a system of the beast, Daniel 2, Daniel 7 tell us that. Secondly, we know that there’s coming a city of Babylon, Isaiah 13 and 14, Jeremiah 50 and 51, Zechariah 5:5-11. So we’ve got a clash of the titans here; we’ve got two strands of prophetic truth that are on a collision course. And how does this whole thing get resolved? That’s the mystery. This is why John is wondering about this and the angel is giving him an answer.
So as we move into verse 16 we know that Babylon is going to be destroyed, the woman on the beast, we just don’t know how until we get to verse 16 and verse 17. Notice verse 16, “And the ten horns,” now who are they? That’s the allies of the antichrist, the ten region, ten kingdom confederacy. “And the ten horns which you saw and the beast will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire.” Here comes the beast and the ten contemporaneous kings and now what we’re told is they hate the harlot. Why do they hate the harlot? They hate the harlot because she becomes too powerful. They hate the harlot because she becomes too popular. They hate the harlot because of the harlot’s influence over the beast’s system, after all, this woman is riding or to my mind seems to be dominating the beast, a woman rides the beast.
And what do we know about the beast? What do we know about the antichrist? He’s not interested in playing second fiddle to anybody. In fact, Daniel 11:36-37, of the antichrist says, “Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god” [and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done. Talk about an ego problem! Daniel 11:37 says,  “He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all.”
2 Thessalonians 2:4 of this coming antichrist says, who opposes and exalts himself over everything that is called God, or is worshiped so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” There is no interest in rival because he is interested in being the supreme being, the supreme leader. And this is one of the problems I have with the Muslim identification of the anti-Christ. Don’t be me wrong, I think Islam has a tremendous role to play in Bible prophecy, I tried to write a little book on that, called The Middle East Meltdown, I think Islam you can see very clearly in Ezekiel 38 and 39 because the various nine names that are mentioned there with the possible exception of Rosh or Russia are all located today in Islamic countries. The stage is being set for the end time invasion of Israel.
And I think it’s very interesting that we just made a decision nationally to pull out of Syria. I’m not here to comment on that, whether it’s good or bad, you can make your own decision about that. I just find it very interesting that that’s what the Bible says will happen, all of these nations without any resistance at all would invade Israel in the last days. Ezekiel 38 and 39, to me it looks like removal of America from Syria is preparatory for that.
Do I know that for sure? Not necessarily but you see, the Muslim, how could a Muslim be the antichrist? Do you know of any Muslim that would exalt himself over Allah? That has never made a lot of sense to me. Islam clearly has a role to play but I don’t think the Muslim himself will be an antichrist, he’ll be bigger than Islam because I can’t for the life of me think about how a Muslim would exalt himself over Allah because these verses are very clear that he will exalt himself above everything that is called God.
So the beast and these ten kings are allies with him and will hate the harlot. Why will they hate the harlot? Because the harlot, the city of Babylon, is influencing them too much and they don’t like it and they will turn on the harlot, make her desolate and naked and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire. Now we’re not getting an answer to the that question but the how question. We know that Babylon will fall in the final bowl judgment but how is Babylon going to fall? Apparently it’s the beast and his system that turns on Babylon in the city. And this is the mystery or the new truth that’s never thus far been divulged. Now it’s interesting that Babylon will be destroyed, it specially says by fire. And if you know Jeremiah’s prophecies, Jeremiah 50 and 51 concerning the destruction of Babylon, all of a sudden you have an aha moment because Jeremiah 51:30 says of the future destruction of Babylon her dwellings are set on fire. [Jeremiah 51:30, “The mighty men of Babylon have ceased fighting, They stay in the strongholds; Their strength is exhausted, They are becoming like women; Their dwelling places are set on fire, The bars of her gates are broken.”]
It’s interesting that the destruction of the city by fire is found here, not just in Revelation 17:16 but it’s described in the next chapter. [Revelation 17:16, “And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire.] Notice, if you will, Revelation 18:8, she will be consumed by fire. [Revelation 18:8, “For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong.”] Notice Revelation 18:18, when they see the smoke of her burning. [Revelation 18:18, “and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What city is like the great city?’”]
I don’t think chapter 17 is talking about one city and chapter 18 is talking about a different city. I think both chapters are talking about the same city, chapter 17 bringing out more of the religious side of the city; chapter 18 bringing out more of the commercial side of the city but it’s the exact same city. As I told you earlier when we began to study these chapters I was going to try to make the point that the forces that draw these chapters together are much greater than those that divide them. That’s what this chart here indicates and you see another commonality, her destruction via fire.
And as we move into verse 17 and you see what I think is one of the most interesting verses, perhaps in the entire Bible. It says in Revelation 17:17, “For God put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose and by giving their kingdom to the beast until the Words of God are fulfilled.” So the ten kings turn on the woman riding the beast, the city of Babylon and then we learn it’s God who actually put His [can’t understand word] for the destruction of Babylon which has long been hanging over her head, in the hearts of these unsaved and unregenerate rulers.
Pastor, are you telling me that God uses unsaved people to accomplish His will? Yes, I’m telling you that! God can take the wickedest of the wicked and as they pursue their wicked agenda they’re actually fulfilling, as it says here in verse 17, the fulfillment of God’s Word. You say well how does that work? I have no idea, I just know God does that! People, when they reject Jesus Christ and move away from Jesus Christ and we know that God desires that all be saved, that’s His desire, but there are some people who will have nothing of it, and they’ll reject God and they’ll go out into life in their ungodliness and as they go out into life in their ungodliness God is actually using them to execute His will. We think if we make a decision against God that somehow oh, we really pulled one over on God. Not at all! God can take the poor choices of people and use them for His own purposes. As these rulers turn on Babylon out of jealousy they’re actually fulfilling everything God intended with the seventh bowl judgment.
Just to show you how God works in this way, Isaiah 45:4, concerning Cyrus; Cyrus is a pretty key guy in Bible history. It’s through Cyrus that the nation of Israel was allowed to go back into their land at the end of the Babylonian captivity. Cyrus, that Persian king. And we say well, Cyrus, he must have been a believer, right? I mean the Christian public probably got out there and voted for him. Right? God specifically says of Cyrus in Isaiah 45:4, and by the way God is calling out these things about Cyrus by name 200 years before the man ever existed. And he says of Cyrus, his servant, he calls him his shepherd, who will lead the nation of Israel out of the seventy year captivity, he says something there that’s very interesting in Isaiah 45:4, concerning Cyrus, “Though you have not known Me.” [Isaiah 45:4, “For the sake of Jacob My servant, and Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor though you have not known Me.”]
This guy, to my understanding was never a believer in Yahweh, to my understanding he lived his entire life as a polytheist who believed in many gods, rejected monotheism, and yet God still used him. Folks, this guy wasn’t even a Republican [Laughter] and God used him. See, we’re so worried about gosh, who’s going to be in control of the country, and believe me, vote and do your Christian patriotic duty and do all that stuff. But here’s the deal, it doesn’t matter who’s in there as far as God is concerned because God has Proverbs 21:1, it talks about how the king’s heart is like water in a water in a water course. [Proverbs 21:1] “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord ; He turns it wherever He wishes.”] And as the water course changes the direction of the water that’s what God does to a king’s heart. If you really want some power the pray for the people in office. Well, I don’t know, I don’t like that person or I didn’t vote for that person; what does that have to do with anything? God is sovereign no matter what. And this what he’s doing with these ten kings or kingdoms.
Then you’re probably asking well if God put it in their hearts to destroy the city named Babylon do these ten kings really have a free will? It’s interesting to me that when God hardens people’s hearts He gives them over to what they already wanted to do. Do you believe in election Pastor, or do you believe in free will. My answer is yes! The most famous example of God hardening someone’s heart, a wicked ruler that we have in the Bible is Pharaoh in Egypt, in the Book of Exodus, where it says in Exodus 9:12, “The LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” [Exodus 9:12, “And the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses.”]
And most people will camp there on Exodus 9:12 and they won’t talk about the six times Pharaoh hardened his own heart against God. Did you know God doesn’t harden Pharaoh’s heart, I think it’s till the sixty plague, and there are six occurrences in the Book of Exodus where Pharaoh hardened his own heart against God. Exodus 7:13, of Pharaoh He said, “and he did not listen.” [Exodus 7:13, “Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.”] Exodus 7:22, “he did not listen.” [Exodus 7:22, “But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts; and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.”] Exodus 8:15, “Pharaoh hardened his heart and did not listen. [Exodus 8:15, “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.”] God’s not doing this, Pharaoh is doing it to himself. Exodus 8:32, Pharaoh hardened his heart. [Exodus 8:32, “But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.”] Exodus 9:35, he did not the people go. [Exodus 9:35, “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not let the sons of Israel go, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses.”]
And then finally in Exodus 9:12 you read these words, “And the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” Wow! Talk about how free will and divine sovereignty interplay! I wish I could explain it, it’s a bit above my [can’t understand word] to explain something like that. I just know it’s taught in the Bible. People, through their own volition reject the things of God and yet somehow when they reject the things of God they’re fulfilling the will of God and accomplishing the will of God. You know, one stand of theological thought puts all the emphasis on free will; another stand of theological thought puts all of the emphasis on divine sovereignty. And these people have been fighting about this within Christianity for centuries. I just think there’s what D. A. Carson called “the fallacy of the excluded middle.” People are falling for the either/or fallacy when the reality of the situation is the Bible teaches both and.
So this is how Babylon falls, God has put it in the heart of the ten kings as part of the beast’s system to burn Babylon with fire. Now who is Babylon? We know who the beast is, and we know who his allies are, but who is this woman that was on the beast called Babylon, and if you look at verse 18 you see there’s no ambiguity here. By the way, that bottom part of the screen is correct I think, on the harlot’s forehead is a title that reads Babylon the Great. Who is the woman? She is Babylon the Great, and people get very imaginative here and they say it’s just a religious system. But look at verse 18, there’s nothing really to debate. It says, “The woman whom you saw is the great city.” You all see city in your Bible? Everybody look at their Bible and see if they see the word “city.” It’s in my Bible, it’s the Greek word polus, the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth. The first thing you have to understand when you interpret this particular chapter is you have to understand this woman having the title “Babylon the Great” as a city.
Bullinger says, “It is indeed surprising how any mistake could have been made in the identification of this woman. For the Holy Spirit first shows us her very name upon her forehead.” We just saw that, right? Babylon the Great. Then, in verse 18, He tells us as plainly as words can tell anything, “that ‘the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth,’” [chap. xvi. 19, as well as xvii. 5] “and identifies this city with Babylon. God says it is a ‘city.’ He doesn’t say a system or a religion, but a ‘CITY.’” [Bullinger, The Apocalypse or “The Day of the Lord”, 509] He doesn’t says a system or a religion and I think it’s the headquarters of perhaps that, but “a city.”
Charles Dyer, in his excellent book, The Rise of Babylon, says, “Whatever else is said about the harlot, she is first a city, not an ecclesiastical system.” Of course we’re getting lost when we don’t follow the directions. You can’t ignore the interpretation and interpret this correctly. We’re told very clearly who this woman on the beast is, she’s an actual city.
I get lost a lot, just ask my wife about that, and it always brings my sanctification to the breaking point when I finally have to stop and ask directions, because I don’t know where I am. And so a lot of times I’m driving around and I’m too proud (you know) to ask directions. Now we have Google maps and that kind of messes me up sometimes too, so I still have to ask directions. That’s how bad it is with me; even with Google maps I still have to ask directions.
But if you won’t ask directions or won’t pay attention to the directions then don’t plan on arriving when you’re supposed to arrive at your destination. That’s how almost everybody interprets this chapter, they just read right through it and talk about verse 18. And they come up with all these creative answers as to who Babylon is, all of this longwinded talk about a religious system and this and that, ignoring the interpreter’s clue. The popular view out there is this is just a religious system that’s destroyed midway through the tribulation period. That’s NOT what the passage says! The passage says it’s a city, a religious system perhaps headquartered in the city but first and foremost you have to acknowledge the fact that it’s a city. What people do is they just chop off verse 18. The best of the best do this.
John Walvoord, probably one of the best commentators on Revelation ever written but what does he say in his commentary? “Babylon ecclesiastically symbolized” the religion in other words, “in Revelation 17 proposes a common worship and a common religion through uniting in a world church.” It’s a church, it’s ecclesiastical. “This is destroyed by the beast in Revelation 17:16 who thus fulfills the will of God (Rev. 17:17).” [John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ: A Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1966), 267.] And what did he fail to comment on there? Verse 18, he just dropped it off the map.
A lot of my very good friends have in the back of their books they have all this long outline about prophetic events. And this is how weird I am, this is the first thing I look at when I look at one of those outlines. And they all have religious Babylon being destroyed in the middle of the tribulation period, commercial Babylon being destroyed at the end of the tribulation period and when they quote their verses putting their chronologies together they do exactly what Walvoord does there; they just chop off verse 18 because it doesn’t fit the system. Do you see that?
Walvoord, who I love, I mean, this guy has forgotten more about prophecy than I’ll ever know. He says, “The city here according to verse 5 is a mystery, not a literal city.” Then he goes on and he says, “The ultimate decision depends upon the judgment of the expositor, but in many respects” this is chapter 18, “it is simpler to postulate a rebuilt Babylon as fulfilling literally the Old Testament prophecies as well as that embodied in this chapter.” [John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ: A Commentary (Chicago: Moody, 1966), 257, 263.] The first part of the quote is from page 257; the second part of the quote is from page 263.
So the word “city” is not literal in chapter 17 but now it becomes literal in chapter 18. That’s not how you interpret the Bible; that’s not a consistent method of interpretation because she’s called a city which is the same Greek word, polus, city, as a metropolis, used in chapter 18 verse 10. [Revelation 18:10, “[standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment,[ saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon….” She’s called a city in both chapters. Whatever you do with that word “city” in chapter 17 you can’t switch horses in midstream and make it something totally different in chapter 18.
This is all a description of the destruction of Babylon that you find in the final bowl judgment. It’s the same event but God, in chapter 17 is bringing out one facet of it, how Babylon is going to be destroyed, as He puts His purpose in the hearts of the ten kings and burns her flesh with fire. By the way, can you burn a religious system with fire? Ever tried that? I don’t think that would work very well. But you can sure burn a city with fire, can’t you?
And then chapter 18 moves on and says let me tell you another aspect of this city, the commercial side of it. So you’re saying to yourself well, Pastor, you know, this is very interesting to me, Babylon a literal city, headquarters of a religious system, I’d like to learn about the commercial side of the city, in which case I say I’m so glad you asked because next Lord’s day we’ll talk about chapter 18, which is the same city, same destruction, but it’s bringing out information that you don’t find in chapter 17.
Why would we study chapter 18 to repeat what’s in chapter 17, because then we wouldn’t need a chapter 18, right? And so that’s the blessing of moving through a book verse by verse is you can start to see things in their context rather than grabbing a verse here, grabbing a verse there, throwing it into a blender, because you’ve already got a preordained conclusion on your prophecy chart and you don’t want to rewrite it because then your readers won’t think you know what you’re doing, and pride kicks in. See that? And so we’ll take a look at chapter 18 next Lord’s day, having covered today the interpretation of the vision concerning Babylon, an interpretation of promise, we have a description of the beast and his system and then we have a description of how that system turns on the city of Babylon, jealous over her influence. And that’s a description of her destruction by fire and now we don’t just know that Babylon will fall, we learn how Babylon will fall, as God even uses the free moral will of His enemies to work His purposes and fulfill His truth. Wow!
Well, I’m tired of preaching and you guys are tired of listening but the reality of the situation is as we’ve explained before is this whole world system is going down. Do we understand that? The city of man is going to be destroyed and how important it is to trust in Christ and Christ alone and be a citizen of the eternal city which cannot be shaken, cannot be destroyed by fire. And how do you become a citizen of that coming city, a city whose foundation is God Himself. How do you become a member of that coming city? Well, it’s very simple, God has made it simple; it’s called the gospel, meaning good news. We call it good news because Jesus stepped into the line of fire and absorbed the wrath of a holy God in our place and He really offers us a very simple promise—if you will believe, which is more than just intellectual ascent, it has to do with trust. If you will trust in what I have done for you, not what you do for yourself, but what I have done for you and you trust exclusively in that then your passport is updated and you’re a citizen of that coming city.
John 3:36 says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Either I’m going to experience wrath or life! Either I am caught in the failing systems of man, Babylon, which are destined for deterioration and destruction of I’m a member of that coming city. And how do I move my citizenship or identity from one to the other? You fulfill a simple condition which is to believe or trust in what Jesus has done. It’s something you can do right now, you don’t have to walk an aisle to do it, join a church to do it, give money to do it, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where the Spirit convicts you of your need to do this. And we know the Spirit does this because Jesus says, “The Spirit is sent into the world to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.” And you respond in your heart of hearts and you trust in what Jesus did and you’re saved just like that. It’s that simple. So if it’s something you need more explanation this week I will be here at the end of the service to talk. Shall we pray.
Father, we’re grateful for these chapters that don’t get a lot of attraction today but they’re part of Your Word; help us to interpret them correctly. And thank You today for the reminder that You are in control of history. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen.