Now is the time to rise up

The Beast and the Harlot: Who Are They?

Most concepts in the book of Revelation have more than one tier of meaning. For example, the woman who appears in Revelation chapter 12 is both a picture of Israel, a picture of Mary and what she endured giving birth to Jesus, and a picture of the church. That’s three meanings. The image of Mary and her journey is a bit more literal — she gave birth to Jesus and was kept safe in the desert (Egypt). The other two meanings are more abstract, and in order to understand them we need to be able to look at history as a whole, understanding a broad series of events through the prophetic imagery that God is giving us.

As I share with you the perspective that God has given me about a few specific items in this book, it’s important to know that what I am explaining is only one tier of meaning. My goal is not to explain everything, but to open your eyes to see the current political and religious climate in the context of scripture. It is important for Christians to be reading this book and asking God to show us how to apply it to the time that we live in.

All quoted verses are from the NASB version of Revelation.

Characteristics of the Whore of Babylon, from Scripture

1. She is NOT a specific nation, rather something that “sits” or dwells in many nations.

“Sits on many waters..” 17:1

The angel explains in 17:15, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.”

2. She is responsible for the murder of the saints, as well as some others.

“Drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.” 17:6

“And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.” 18:24

3. She is in league with the beast, which is Satan.

“Sitting on a scarlet beast…” 17:3

The angel explains in 17:8, “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. Those who dwell on the earth whose name has not been written by the book of life…will wonder when the see the beast.”

4. Rulers that are operating together for a common purpose and who have given authority to the beast will decide to destroy her, but it is actually God’s purpose and judgement that they are carrying out.

“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast.” 17:12-13

“The ten horns which you saw and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked…For God has put it into their hearts to execute his purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving the kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled.” 17:16-17

5. The kings of the earth have fornicated with her.

“All of the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.” 18:3

6. The saints are told to, “come out of her”.

“I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven…’” 18:4-5a

7. We are told to rejoice at her destruction, because we know that even what the beast does is part of God’s purpose.

“Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, because God has pronounced judgment for you against her.” 18:20

Two Women in Revelation: A Bride and a Whore

When we are trying to understand God’s metaphors, an important question to ponder is, “Why this, and not that?”

Why is the Whore of Babylon described as a woman, rather than another beast or creature? To find the answer, look at the other woman who appears in the Book of Revelation, chapter 12.

“A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to his throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” 12:1-6

The woman is Israel, and the twelve stars on her head are the twelve tribes of Israel. She gave birth to a male child, Jesus, whose lineage can be traced back to King David and Abraham. She is also, in a more literal sense, Mary, who physically gave birth to him and actually did hide in the desert (Egypt) to avoid his slaughter at the hand of Herod. This woman is also THE CHURCH, and the stars on her head are also the twelve apostles.

For my purpose, I’m going to focus on her being the church. If we take a step back and look at Revelation as a whole, we recognize that there are two women mentioned. One is the church, and one is a whore. Perhaps in the contrast between these two women, we can begin to understand what God is trying to communicate.

In order to fully understand the Whore of Babylon, we need to look back at history. Since my goal here is to paint a broad picture, I’m simply giving a very quick overview. If you’d like to learn more about any of the events I mentioned, my sources are listed at the end of the post.

It all began with Constantine.

In approximately 293 AD, Constantine came to power. He claimed to win a battle after having a vision of the cross. The interesting thing about this claim is that Constantine was already winning battles before he had this vision. This seems inconsistent with the Old Testament stories where God would cause the Israelites to triumph against enemies that were much larger than they were. Why would God would suddenly be the source of victory for someone who was already winning through natural means?

Constantine converted to Christianity and made it the state religion. In order to get ahead in government, you had to be a Christian. As a result, pagans were converting to Christianity and bringing their idols with them. Many of the statues of Mary and Jesus we see from this time period are actually pagan idols brought from their previous religious practices that were renamed to fit the Christian vernacular.

This was the only the beginning of a new strain of distorted Christianity, which ultimately became Catholicism. The Catholic church made bold steps over time to create rules and an authority structure to control Christianity. Anyone who disagreed with these rules could be deemed a heretic and killed.

Error Has No Rights: The Persecution of Heretics

What turned into religious persecution began, in many cases, as an attempt to rid the church of genuinely heretical teachings. But even so, the people who were attempting to rid the church of heresy were putting themselves in the place of God, and often didn’t have a perfectly scriptural theology themselves. What began as excommunication evolved into the destruction of so called “heretics” who didn’t agree with the tenants of Catholicism.

So that you understand who the heretics were, here are just a few of the things that could get you branded a “heretic”:

  • Reading the Bible
  • Knowing Greek
  • Criticizing the clergy
  • Questioning the absolute authority of the pope
  • Lending money
  • Refusing to pay church taxes

St. Augustine is an example of someone who subscribed to the belief that error has no rights. He used the blinding of St. Paul to justify violence against heretics. He believed in coercing people into believing the truth, and that persecuting someone could be an act of love.

“If to inflict persecution were in all cases blameworthy, it would not have been written in the sacred books, “Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I persecute [cut off, E.V.].” In some cases, therefore, both he that suffers persecution is in the wrong, and he that inflicts it is in the right.” – St. Augustine

The Heretics They Murdered

Here are just a few examples of groups that were killed because of this philosophy:

Arnold of Brescia denied papal authority and criticized the wealth of the church. He was hanged and burned as a heretic by Pope Adrian in 1155.

Waldensians led by Peter Waldo of Lyon were individuals who were controversial because they gave to the poor and preached the Christian gospel. They allowed women to preach, and they had read the Bible. They objected to the papacy, Mass, prayers for the dead, indulgences, confession, penance, church music, latin prayer, worship of saints, sacraments, and killing.
In 1184 they were excommunicated. In 1393 over 150 of them were burned in a day. Pope Innocent crusaded against them and they were murdered for centuries.

The Franciscan spirituals claimed the apostles had not owned property, so they lived in poverty and refused to lay up stores of food. They were burned at the stake.

The Apostlicals are a group that tried to live like the apostles. They were burned at the stake or torn to pieces with hooks.

William Tyndale translated the Bible into English. He was executed for heresy in 1536.

In 1676, a Protestant writing master was burned at the stake for decorating a room with the text of the Ten Commandments. (The Catholic church often excluded the part of the 2nd commandment that forbids the worship of graven images).

So, Who Is the Whore?

Historically, the Catholic church has a lot of blood on their hands, both of the saints and others. But as I mentioned before, the concepts in Revelation can have more than one meaning. Another institution that is often responsible for killing Christians is Islam. Interestingly, this second organization is also a religion. There are plenty of specific institutions that can be pointed out as having killed Christians, but in the broadest sense, what this whore truly represents is FALSE RELIGION. For she claims allegiance to God, but she is really riding on the back of the devil, and carrying out his work. She claims marriage to God, but she is whoring herself with his enemy.

“The ten horns which you saw and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked…For God has put it into their hearts to execute his purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving the kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled.” 17:16-17

The move away from religion and nationalism and toward globalist and socialist agendas is a direct result of the “common purpose” of the rulers mentioned in this verse. Satan’s goal is to have every nation under his authority, and he does this by persuading the rulers of these nations to cede their power to him. Ultimately, the goal is to abolish religion. We often view this as a bad thing, but this is actually God’s goal, too. The destruction of the man-made religious establishment is really the destruction of a network of religious pretenders.

I think that God telling us to “rejoice at her destruction” is a pretty good case for having absolutely no fear during this time. But that’s a discussion for another day…

So What Should Christians DO About This?

“I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven…’” 18:4-5a

You may think that the statements I have made are a condemnation toward everyone in organized religion (or toward all Catholics), but they are not. Scripture itself does not say that. What it does say is, “Come out of her, my people.”

Here’s the biggest issue, the one that I would like to focus on: the bride and the whore are mixed together, and they don’t always recognize each other for who they truly are. Jesus spoke of this when he talked about the wheat and the chaff. They are growing together, but when the harvest comes, they will be separated from each other.

We call for unity in the church, but we can’t be perfectly unified when there are unbelievers in our mix. That kind of unity is actually quite dangerous. That kind of unity is no different than the seven years of peace that the anti-Christ will establish at the time of the end. It’s a manufactured manmade unity that comes from a human system that is spiritually no different than the anti-Christ’s system.

We do not have the ability to separate the real from the false – only the Holy Spirit does. In the days of the early church, Ananias and Sapphira literally dropped dead when they lied to the Holy Spirit. The apostles didn’t make that happen – God did. We are not walking in the power and authority of God like the early church was, and without these two things in operation, we are stuck the way that we are. We have no ability to separate from the false believers.

Furthermore, there are entire branches of the church who are part of the elect, and yet not only are they not walking in the power of the spirit, they entirely reject the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. The rejection of these gifts takes away God’s ability to rule over his church.

Pastors are great, and they are meant to shepherd us in the right direction, but God doesn’t like it when pastors see themselves as having authority over his church. Lately I’ve heard a lot of talk about “church authority” within branches of the church that claim not to be legalistic. But the truth is, the church in and of itself was never meant to be an authority structure. It was never meant to have human-created tiers of leadership. When we treat our pastors as more spiritual than the rest of us, or even as having authority over us, we are participating in a watered-down version of the Catholic church’s idea of papal authority.

So how can we be a unified church that is controlled by God, and not by man? Ultimately, the answer is this: we all need to be hearing from God.

For those that don’t believe God speaks, we need to debunk the lies that are keeping us from realizing that he does.

For those that feel insecure that they don’t have the ability to hear him as well as others, we need to recognize that we are just as worthy as anyone else.

And for those who are part of the elect, yet they share beliefs in common with the religious mindset, we need to deal with the sin issues that distort our perception of what he is saying to us. These issues include but are not limited to jealousy, competition, pride, fear, lust, and viewing ourselves as leaders rather than agents of God’s leadership.

We all have different roles within the body of Christ, so when I talk about “hearing from God”, I’m not saying that everyone is going to hear the same kinds of information in the same way. But Christ is the head of the body. Every signal that tells the body what to do comes from the brain. It’s not the eye’s job to tell the foot what to do, nor is it the mouth’s job to communicate to the hand what to do. Each body part receives a different kind of message from the brain, and yet when they act on that message, the body moves in unison and accomplishes a common purpose.

Rather than acting as a permanent fixture of communication between the brain and the foot, we should be teaching each other how to find our individual connection to the brain, or Jesus.

Then we need to take a step back and trust that Jesus is better equipped to lead his people than we are.


Sources

Arnold of Brescia
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Arnold-of-Brescia

Augustine on using coercion and force
https://earlychurchtexts.com/public/augustine_letter_93_to_vincentius_cogite_intrare.htm

Christianity and It’s Persecution of Heretics
http://www.heretication.info/_heretics.html

Constantine
https://www.ancient.eu/Constantine_I/

Franciscan Spirituals
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Spirituals

A History of the Waldensians
https://www.museeprotestant.org/en/notice/a-history-of-the-waldensians/

The Horrors of the Church and It’s Holy Inquisition
http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/04/the-horrors-of-the-church-and-its-holy-inquisition/

Isis and the Virgin Mary: A Pagan Conversion
http://www.columbia.edu/~sf2220/Thing/web-content/Pages/meg2.html

Thomas Aquinas on Whether Sinners Should Be Killed or Heretics Tolerated
https://www.stephenhicks.org/2015/11/14/st-thomas-aquinas-on-whether-sinners-should-be-killed-or-heretics-tolerated/

Waldensians
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Waldenses

William Tyndall
https://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/william-tyndale.html

William Tyndale’s Final Words
https://www.ligonier.org/blog/william-tyndales-final-words/

How Kate Middleton Can Help Us Understand the Bride of Christ

There’s something about the Duchess of Cambridge that has enthralled the masses. She’s beautiful, poised, and has an admirable sense of style. She’s great with children and foreign dignitaries. She carries the title she’s been given with grace and dignity.

A big part of our fascination with the woman formerly known as Kate Middleton is her ascent from “commoner” to holding a position in the royal family. Her story is a real life fairy tale, and I believe there’s a much deeper reason why her life speaks so strongly to our hearts.

First (New) Blog Post: A Fresh Start

This past year was the most difficult one of my life.

As holds true in any trial that we face, I have learned so much and seen so much of God’s faithfulness to me, but it has come in the midst of great pain.

I wish I could share what happened to me, but the truth is, I am not ready. But I will say that in the storm, I learned how much God really loves me, and I learned how much human beings – even the ones who follow Jesus – can let us down.