God's Great Purpose
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66. God's Great Purpose
Revelation 17.15-18

"Then the angel said to me, 'The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages. The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.' For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority until God's words are fulfilled. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth." (Revelation 17.15-16)✞

Prostitute's Flesh

The BeastThe horned beast of Revelation rises violently from the sea and receives authority and power against the prostitute to devour her flesh and burn her with fire. This passage gives us a terrible picture of the Revelation horned beast rising violently against the prostitute who had been its mistress. The "beast" from the Greek "therion" means "wild animal" or "beast" and may refer to one of two such beasts found in Revelation. The creature would devour the prostitute's flesh. In the Old Testament, eating a prostitute's flesh is the action of a most savage and powerful enemy. It is the complaint of Psalm 27.2 "When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall." Micah 3.2-3 describes the wicked in Israel as, "you who hate good and love evil; who tear the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones; who eat my people's flesh, strip off their skin and break their bones in pieces; who chop them up like meat for the pan, like flesh for the pot?" This picture is of terrible vengeance, cannibalism, and barbarism.

Terrible Punishment

Burning FireRevelation 17.16b continues, "they will burn her with fire." In Leviticus 20.14, we also find, "If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire so that no wickedness will be among you." The punishment is for the most heinous sin. It was also the punishment in Leviticus 21.9 "If a priest's daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire." The Law reserved this punishment for the daughter of a priest guilty of sexual immorality by becoming a prostitute. We note that the harlot's previous lovers turned against her. Evil has, in its vengefulness, the most destructive power!

Human Anger

Rome BurningThe ten kings ally themselves to the beast. We read that God places his purposes into their hearts that God might accomplish his great goals and fulfill his words. Evil powers think they are working out their plans, but they are working out God's great plan for their lives. The Irish Biblical scholar R. H. Charles (1859-1931) writes, "Even human anger is made to praise God." God never loses control of human affairs. In the last analysis, God is always working things together for good. Romans 8.28 says, "And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." The phrase, "all things work together for good to those who love God" may equally mean, "in all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good."

Ten Kings

Roman GovernmentThe ten kings of the earth invade and destroy Rome. The rising against the great city foretells her destruction by her subject nations. The great prostitute, meaning ancient Rome, will, in the end, be destroyed when her lovers, representing her vassal states, turn against her.

"God's Great Purpose"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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