While St John mentioned the mark of the beast he prefaced it with the line: Here is wisdom. When a Christian is so seized with putting a name to the beast and can come up with preposterous list of names (from late Saddam Hussain to self-styled caliph of daesh) one may be pardoned to believe wisdom that each applied is nothing more than curiosity intruding into things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up in his carnal mind (Col.2:18). Wisdom here we need apply is that which comes from above, of which Apostle James says that God shall give liberally (Jas.1:5). Such wisdom is to spiritually discern the word rightly and not for scoring a point by foisting his political antipathies to truth. The mystery of the Harlot of Babylon however speaks of quite something else..
We are considering apocalyptic visions of John and as with articulated visions these visions do run into one another. For instance when one of the seven angels carries the apostle to the wilderness it refers to the left out church in the wilderness. We shall see in verse 3, “So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast…. (17:3)” Man child is a collective name for the overcoming church. Second coming of Christ in mid air,- the rapture, and the removal of the Messiah and his company of saints to heaven are elided over. By the same token the great tribulation and of the martyrs who were redeemed of the earth do not find special mention here. As with visions what we are to focus is on the Salvation Plan of God and where it is leading to. It is to the Marriage of the Lamb. Marriage, harlot are all terms to be spiritually understood comparing like with like- “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Co.2:13)”.
When God promised to bless Abraham he was also offering it unilaterally all the nations of the earth on the earth. One crucial point is ‘in thee.'(Gen.12:3). These blessings are to overflow from him to the rest. When Israel went whoring after the foreign gods we see the nation turning the will of God upside down. Such practices do not come all of a sudden and we see in the golden calf set up by Aaron a quick fix to becalm a restive mob. “And (Aaron) fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.(Ex.32:4). Just as the nation vowed they shall obey God they switched over to worship the molten calf.” Here we see carnal man with two worlds,- unseen world of the spirit and world of the senses. In order to live in one spirit of faith is what we require. In order to live as worldly as one sees around him, it is gold that makes great impact on those who despise life of faith. So any theology built around it is pointing to the Harlot of Babylon.
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other….(Matt.6:24).” ‘You cannot serve two masters’ Jesus said. If would consider the Mother Church(Bride of Christ and church personified) in place of Abraham how should she conduct? Would she not conduct her life as Abraham did so blessing through her bring the whole families of the earth? When St John qualifies the Church as Babylon it is because she stands a symbol for perversion of a church in whom grace is merely a tool for making money. It is thus the modern churches have displayed manifold grace of God. Prosperity of a leper shall not cover her nakedness though arrayed in purple and scarlet. She is riding the beast. She is the residue of the Church left out.
And there came one of the seven angels, which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters(v.1)”:
As Babylon is a stand in for many cities we shall see its hold across the length and breadth of the globe.
“With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication(vv.2-4).”
Prior to the 2018 Us mid-term elections news media carried reports about the evangelicals,- all affiliates of high sounding names, Moral Majority, Family Research Council and so on, pitching in to further the cause of their candidates. It is not politics finding its way into the churches but these ministers of God riding the coat tails of secular power are like the proverbial woman riding a tiger.’ Getting off it is very tricky. Whether GOP or democrats or any other in the US or elsewhere, these represent politics: ‘scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns’.
(To be continued)