Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Revelation 17: Punishment for being Coerced

Listen to today's podcast

The Great Prostitute and the Beast (v. 1-18)

One of the angels took John to see the judgement of the great prostitute. Many kings have committed sexual immorality with her. The woman was named Babylon the great and was hanging out with the beast. When John saw her he marveled, and the angel said he shouldn't marvel. The angel told John that the beast was about to rise from the bottomless pit and go on a destructive rampage.

So the whore of Babylon is hanging out with the beast, and the beast is about to go on a rampage. I wonder who will be at the mercy of this beast.

A quick note, the beast was described several times as being he who was, isn't, and will be, or some variation of that. The point is that he was killed, or mortally wounded but will be back. The was explained by Jamieson, Fausset & Brown.

v. 8 "the dwellers on earth who names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world..."

We've seen this idea before, but does this mean that we have no free will when it comes to getting into heaven? Our names are either in there, or they are not. If the names were chosen since the beginning of time there is nothing we can do to change things either way. Makes eternal torture seem all the more unfair.

The seven heads of the beast are the mountains on which the woman sits, there are seven kings, 5 that have fallen, one current, and one yet to come. The beast is an eighth, but it belongs to the seventh and goes on to destruction. The 10 horns are kings that will receive power for an hour with the beast.

I don't know what this all means, and I don't really care. It probably has to do with local politics at the time or something, I'm sure it just doesn't matter.

They will make war with the lamb and they will lose. The beast and the 10 horns will hate the prostitute, they will make her desolate and naked and then burn her up with fire. v17 "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."

What the fuck! Again, God is making people do bad things so that his plan can go forward and he can punish them. How can it be justice if people are being punished for doing things they were forced in to?

From Guzik:
God will sometimes use a wicked group (here, the ten kings) to be an instrument of His judgment against another wicked group (here, religious Babylon).
Of course, they were already wicked, so they would be punished anyway, so him making them work with the beast doesn't change their fate. I guess having the same punishment for every crime comes in handy sometimes.

What are today's lessons?

--Free Will & Justice--

Revelation 17:8 Whether or not we are saved was determined at the beginning of time

"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"

Revelation 17:17 God forced the kings to help the devil

"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."


  1. As far as the book of life goes, it introduces a huge contradiction. What would be the point of God-as-Jesus urging people to follow him and dying for their sins if he has already preordained some to salvation and others to damnation? It makes for huge theological tangles.

    Also, Revelations uses the great "harlot" Babylon as a symbol of evil, and several passages in the Old Testament use prostituted women as symbols of evil and infidelity to God. And yet, plenty of anti-trafficking efforts have sprung out of the Christian community. I've always found it ironic that many Christians (rightly) oppose prostitution and trafficking, but revere a holy book in which the prostituted woman is a symbol of evil.

    1. "infidelity to God"

      ahh yes, I think this is a good phrase to keep in mind for me. It's been mentioned in the comments before that sexual immorality in the bible is often a metaphor for other things. I think this phrase helps to make it clear why they would use this particular symbol.

  2. Guzik is right about God using the wicked, but it's hardly a good thing, and usually does involve the subsequent punishment of the wicked. But, if I am not mistaken, God's usual reasoning behind the subsequent punishment is not that they were already wicked, but rather because they did what God made them do. It is precisely the theme you are going for with your comic, and it is a rather twisted situation.

    1. The other thing I thought about while recording the podcast, what about the whole idea of redemption? The people in these armies have no chance to be saved and redeemed if they are being forced to fight against God. I suppose Christians would say God knows that if he didn't manipulate them they would still not be saved or something. But no matter how you look at it, doesn't seem fair.


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