God's Great Purpose
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63. 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 with 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 fulfills his words. The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the earth's kings." (Revelation 17.15-16) ✞

Prostitute's Flesh

The BeastThe Revelation horned beast 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 horned beast coming up fiercely against the prostitute who was its mistress. The "beast" from the Greek "therion" means "wild animal" and refers to one of two such Revelation beasts. In the Old Testament, eating a prostitute's flesh and blood was the most savage action of a powerful and vengeful enemy. Psalm 27.2 comments, "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 Israel's wicked as "you who hate good and love evil," "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 portrays terrible vengeance, cannibalism, and barbarism. The great prostitute, meaning ancient Rome, will, in the end, be destroyed when her lovers, representing her vassal states, turn violently against her.

Punishment with Fire

Burning FireRevelation 17.16b says, "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 addressed in Leviticus 21.9, "If a priest's daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; the fire must burn her." 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. God places his purposes into their hearts that he might accomplish his great goals and implement his words. Evil powers think they are working out their plans, but they fulfill God's great plan for their lives. The Irish Biblical scholar R. H. Charles (1859-1931) writes that even human anger creates praise to God. God never loses control of human affairs. Romans 8.28 says, "In all things, God works for the good of those who love God." The phrase "for the good of those who love God" may equally mean, "with those who love him to bring about what is good."

Ten Kings

Roman GovernmentThe ten earth kings invade and destroy Rome. The rising against the great city foretells her destruction by her subject nations. Rome had fought Germanic "barbaric" tribes from the North for centuries, but after 300 AD, groups like the Goths had encroached beyond the Empire's borders. The Romans weathered a Germanic uprising in the late fourth century. Still, in 410 AD, King Alaric (c370-410 AD), the first King of the Visigoths, who was once a Roman soldier himself, successfully sacked the city of Rome. King Aleric had grown up on the Roman border in an area described as "the most remote in the vast world." The Empire spent several decades under constant threat before "the Eternal City" was raided again in 455 AD by the Vandals. Finally, the Germanic leader staged a revolt and deposed Emperor Romulus Augustulus (c460-c507 AD). His title meant the "Little Augustus," and the name Romulus was also changed to "Momyllus," indicating "little disgrace!" ✞

Accomplish His Purpose

A lovely hymn was written in 1894 by Arthur Campbell Ainger (1841-1919) as a tribute to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He expressed the truth of God's great purpose in life and based his words on Habakkuk 2.14, "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."

"God is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year:
God is working his purpose out, and the time is drawing near;
nearer and nearer draws the time, the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea." ✞

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

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