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The Revelation of Jesus Christ - The Book of Revelation
Week 11, 2018
Next we will cover Revelation 17-1-6:
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,
with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication."
So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.
And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement (NKJV).
Throughout church history, many considered this “great harlot” to be the institutional church that arose from the union between the church and the Roman Empire. This church married the powers of this world, taking on earthly ways and forming a great abomination that would persecute the faithful church.
That this counterfeit church would be “arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls” seems a fitting description of the Roman church that quickly became one of the most ostentatiously wealthy institutions in the world. To this day, it is wealthier than all but a few nations.
That she was “drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” seems an apt description of the onslaughts against the faithful, such as The Inquisition that was against any who did not submit to the Roman church and acknowledge the Pope as the head of the church.
As virtually every reformer in history held this view of the Roman church, what should we do with this knowledge? I have already shared my position that this may have been literally fulfilled in the church that joined itself to worldly authority, but it is also much bigger than that. Possibly every Protestant movement went on to do the same thing on some level, or to fall to some of these traps. We may be outraged that an institution such as the papacy would claim to be the head of the church in Christ’s rightful place, but which church has not placed leaders in that position, even if not doctrinally? We may be appalled at the practice of praying to dead saints, but many churches do not even wait for them to die before making them mediators in the place of Christ, the only mediator between God and men (see I Timothy 2:5). Therefore, it is crucial that we not condemn other movements or denominations, but rather that we learn from them and embrace the lessons of history so that we do not continue to fall to them.
We must also keep in mind that some of the greatest movements, evangelists, messengers, and true saints emerged from the Roman Catholic Church and remained true to the Lord. Some of the people that I think may have the closest walks with the Lord are Roman Catholics. There are now over 100 million born again, Spirit baptized Roman Catholics. Throughout history, the Roman church seems to have been open to the Holy Spirit as much or more than any other church or denomination.
My point is that we cannot gloss over or cover up the history of the church, but we must repent of what led to these great tragedies of history. We should also take seriously what led the church to institutionalize and then go down the road to the point where it became “Babylon, the great harlot.” We must learn these lessons so we do not make the same mistakes in our own lives, churches, or movements (see II Corinthians 5:16-17).
next week 12