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The Seduction of the Great Harlot - 44

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
April 17, 2023 2:00 am

The Seduction of the Great Harlot - 44

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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April 17, 2023 2:00 am

Pastor Mike Karns continues his exposition in the book of Revelation.


Well, I hope your mind wasn't in a tailspin just from me reading the 17th chapter, about ten horns and ten kings and a harlot. It's been a few weeks since we've been in our study in the book of Revelation. We've come to a good place. A new section begins here.

Let me just, there's a number of ways I could review to get us up to speed, but I've chosen to do this. As you think through the sequence that we've been through, the seven seal judgments, the trumpet judgments, and then the vial or bowl judgments, we've been through all three of those cycles. And listen to the perspective of heaven, what we hear coming from heaven in association with these judgments. Chapter 8 verse 1, the seventh seal introduces a period of silence in heaven.

Okay? Seven seals, the seventh seal introduces a period of silence in heaven. Chapter 8 verse 1, when he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I believe that the reference to silence there is a reference to God's long suffering, God's forbearance with sinners, that the judgment that is coming is so severe, God is still a God of mercy.

There's a wideness in his mercy. He still will receive sinners. That's chapter 8 and verse 1. When the seventh trumpet was blown, loud voices were heard in heaven. Chapter 11 verse 15, then the seventh angel sounded and there were loud voices in heaven saying, the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ and he shall reign forever and ever.

Those are great loud voices to hear, right? The reign, the supremacy, the honor of our God. And then after the seventh bowl was poured out, and that's more recent in our study, a loud voice from the throne of heaven is heard. And that's chapter 16 and verse 17.

And again, do you notice the timing of this? At the seventh seal, at the seventh trumpet, now at the seventh bowl or vial, whichever your translation calls it, chapter 16 verse 17, then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven from the throne saying, it is done. It is done.

What is done? God's judging of evil, God's wrath being poured out, it has come to an end. Now, we say if that's the case, if chapter 16 and verse 17 is announcing the end, what is this about judging the harlot and judging the beast and judging Satan himself that goes on into chapters 17, 18 and 19? Well, these chapters provide detailed discussion on the sixth and the seventh plagues or the sixth and seventh bowl judgments.

So let me remind you again of the structure of the book. There's these seven seal judgments, and then it's not following continuous history, seven trumpet judgments, and then seven bowl judgments, but here are seven seal judgments. And then John comes back and covers the same period of church history, gives us the trumpet judgments, which is more detail, more elaboration, and then the wrath of God coming in the bowl judgments, the same thing. So we have in these chapters a continuation of God's judgment. Now, Satan is the great dragon, the one who wages war against Christ and his church.

We're only going to concentrate on the first six verses of chapter 17, but I want you to see verse 14 because if there is a verse in the entire book of the Revelation that we would say this is the purpose statement, this encapsulates the purpose for the book of Revelation, it would be this verse, chapter 17 and verse 14. It says this, these will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with him are called chosen and faithful. Despite the intimidating opposition to Christ and his church and to his people, God is going to be the overcomer, he is going to gain the victory, he's going to put all of his enemies under subjection unto his authority, and that's what we're going to witness here. Satan, the great dragon, who makes war against Christ and his church, he has allies, he has those that work in concert with him in his opposition to Christ and his church. The Bible would draw our attention to this unholy alliance. We have this holy trinity, here is an unholy alliance, the beast.

He's an ally of Satan, and he imposes his control over the anti-Christian government. Then there is the false prophet, who sows lies and deception as he controls anti-Christian religion. And the study in the book of Jude is so appropriate for our time, it's not something distant, it's not something removed.

There are apostates in the church, there are dangers within the church. And the one who's behind it is the false prophet, who is making use of these things for his evil purposes. So the beast, the false prophet.

Then there is society and culture that's represented by Babylon, that exercises its influence against Christ and his people. And then finally there is Satan. Satan has allies among the populace that think and act as the beast tells them. They're said to be identified with this unholy alliance, as they are loyal to his cause. They are identified with a mark of the beast, either on their head or on their arm. So there are enemies.

We have enemies within, we have enemies without. I mentioned to you that one rule of hermeneutic that we must keep at the forefront of our minds in the study of the book of Revelation is that Scripture interprets Scripture. When we encounter the great harlot, this woman sitting on a beast, ten horns and seven hills and all of that, we're not left to our own imagination to think, okay, this must be this, oh, it must be that. Now there are times that John has been given revelation through vision without explanation. He just tells us what he was privileged to see. And he was told to record that.

And so he does. But we are, at least I personally am very, very thankful that this chapter not only tells us these things, but gives us explanation of what these things are. And that's why I went on to read verses 7 through verse 15. Notice again, we were told about a beast in the first six verses. Verse 8 says, the beast that you saw, he's telling John, the beast that you saw was and is not and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go into perdition. Verse 11, the beast that was and is not is himself also the eighth and is of the seven and is going to perdition.

Verse 16, the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh, burn her with fire. Verse 18, and the woman, and this is germane to our consideration tonight, the woman, the great harlot that we're introduced to in verse one. Who is she? How do we identify her? Are we left to our imagination?

No, here it is. And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth. Now I don't know where your imagination may have taken you, but I doubt if we put everybody in a room and we didn't have the explanation here and we were said, okay, give us a definition who this harlot is.

Who is this woman? I doubt any of us would say, oh, the woman is that great city which is over the kings of the earth, right? We are absolutely totally dependent on the word of God for an accurate understanding of these things.

So, I hope you're encouraged by what we're considering. John had just seen the vision of the seven angels pouring out the seven vials of God's judgment in chapter 16. And now in chapter 17, one of those angels comes to John and invites him to view the judgment that God is going to exercise upon Babylon. Notice verse one, 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. John is going to get a tour from an angel, come up, I'm going to show you a vision.

So John has been privileged to see these things. The great harlot, come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters. That great harlot is also further identified as we move on down through the passage. Notice verse three speaks of a woman sitting on a scarlet beast. Verse four says the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet and adorned with golden precious stones. Verse five, and on her forehead a name was written, mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth. And then verse six, I saw the woman.

So this woman is very much a part of these first six verses. Babylon, Babylon the great. Babylon is called the great that commits fornication with the kings of the earth. And the reason Babylon is called the great harlot is that just like a prostitute, anti-Christian society allures and seduces and draws people away from God.

A harlot, a prostitute, uses seduction, uses allurement to draw away and that's what is going on here. Babylon encompasses the whole of the corrupt culture of the world that appeals to the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. So in a word, Babylon is anti-Christian society in all of its vices, in all of its humanism, and in all of its blasphemies against God. It's not just identified as a person, it's talking about an entity, it's talking about the culture in which we live in its opposition to God Almighty. This great harlot seduces the people of the earth and seduces them to yield themselves to evil and to turn them away from God.

We are not left in doubt as to what the reference is to many waters. Notice he says in verse 2, 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.

Very graphic language. Back to verse 1, the angel says to John, come I will show you the judgment, the judgment of the great harlot. God is going to judge this anti-Christian, sinful, alluring, seductive force that's in our world. I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, who sits on many waters. See, in John's day, Babylon, the harlot, would have been identified, at least in the mind of John and his readers, Rome. Rome is the great harlot. She's the great seducer.

She's the great enemy. And yet that's too restrictive because well, we're told there in verse 8, the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth. Notice, again, we're dependent on the Spirit of God giving us explanation. Verse 15 of chapter 17, here's an explanation where it says I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters in verse 1. Verse 15, then he said to me, the waters which you saw where the harlot sits are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. It's wherever in this world, this anti-Christian, seductive, alluring forces at work, among whichever peoples, whichever multitudes, whichever nations, whichever tongues, that is what's being identified here as the harlot, the woman.

Listen to what Simon Kistemacher says in his commentary. He says, quote, the collective culture of people who live in rebellion against God is what constitutes anti-Christian society. Wherever in the world, unsaved people gather together to form a society, there is where Babylon exists, no matter the nationality, no matter the language, no matter the race. Babylon is the collective cultural consensus of the anti-Christian society made up of all those who bear the mark of the beast wherever they live throughout the world and in whatever age they live. In a word, all wicked societies are Babylon the Great, harlot, wherever they may be distributed throughout the world. And I think that's right on.

That's exactly, I think, how we're to understand this. So this is the character of Babylon. She represents anti-Christian seduction. She seduces the king. She seduces people. She says to both kings and people, come and follow me and indulge in my vices and my sins and you will find happiness and fulfillment.

A lie, a blatant lie, deception. So this angel gives John a verbal description of the harlot, Babylon in verses one and two. And then in verses three through six, John has a visual depiction of the harlot, Babylon. So we move from a verbal description to a visual description.

It's probably good just to stop here and think a bit about what's going on here. We are in this world, but we are not to be of this world. If you've been here on a Wednesday night, the last two or three weeks, Pastor Barkman has been expounding that from John chapter 17. We've been saved out of the world. We are in the world, but we're not of the world, but we've been sent into the world.

And these prepositions in relationship to the world. We have to physically live in the midst of anti-Christian society. We should not mentally live in the center of the city of Babylon. It says of the church in Revelation chapter 12 that she fled into the wilderness. She fled into the wilderness. You remember the account of Abraham and Lot? Who went into the city? Who went into the city? Abraham or Lot?

Lot. Abraham stayed in the wilderness. Abraham, the man of God, stayed in the wilderness and would not go into Sodom and participate in its lifestyle. And sadly, Lot went in it and Lot made his abode there and Lot was ruined as a result of it. And metaphorically speaking, we have to live in the wilderness and not participate in the sins of the city. We have to be separate from it. We have to come out from among those sins and live in a wilderness of isolation from the pleasure mad wickedness of the city of Babylon.

Not an easy thing to do, but a very wise thing to do for the good of our souls and the good of our children's souls because there is allurement, there is seduction and it is all aimed at our peril. Note with me in verse 4, a further visual description that John has given of this woman. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls.

Outwardly adorned, very attractive, very appealing, very alluring. Having in her hand a golden cup, a golden cup, that will grab your attention, the glitter, the gold, the golden cup full of what? The golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. This woman is the great temptress, the great seducer and liar in the service of Satan. And she has been in service not only during the days of John till now, but all the way back to the fall. She has been active in her seduction, in her allurement. And we better not be ignorant of Satan's devices. Doesn't that characterize, doesn't that describe our culture?

I comment to Carly from time to time. You're watching something and hear somebody singing the national anthem and you think, well this ought to be rather safe. And here's a woman that needs to be told to put on a dress or a blouse or at least button it up. You're thinking, why?

What is this? I just want to hear somebody give honor to our country, sing, but oh no. And why does a woman in a short dress have to be used to advertise an automobile? Hello? She doesn't come with a car. You can't stand in the grocery line at the checkout counter without being bombarded. And you think that all those little rows of candy is for the kids?

Well they're not stupid. Mom's there with two of her three kids and they're fussing and they're grabbing this and grabbing that, so mom spends three or four dollars on candy to keep the kids quiet. But what about the adults? Over here is a whole rack of magazines, worldly, ungodly, alluring, seductive. It all has a design, all has a purpose to suck you in, to poison you. This woman, she has a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. Well the cup might be bright and shiny and gold, but it's full of poison. Poison.

Poison to your soul. So it's not hard, it's not a stretch to apply this to our American culture. The church is to live wholly, separation from the sinful corruptions that will dominate in any culture that gives itself over to secular humanism and idolatry. Things are not becoming more and more moral, they're becoming more and more immoral. And the subtlety is gone, it's in your face. The National Hockey League has been promoting Gay Pride Days where teams and players are supposed to wear or encouraged to wear jerseys supporting gay pride. And there have been more than a few men who have stood up to the organization, the team organization that they are employed by and say, I'm not going to do it. It's against my conscience.

I'm a Christian. Oh, you talk about the blowback. I read an article this week that said how gutless it is for these two players to insist that they aren't going to wear a pride jersey.

Gutless? And then I went on to say the decent thing for them to do is to support the decent thing. Get that? The decent thing is for them to support this. And more and more morality has been turned on its head. We're going to see more and more evidence of that. This world that's opposed to you and me, this world that is no friend of grace has two strategies. And they're both set here before us.

Two strategies. Notice verse six, 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. The world's strategy that's opposed to Christ in his church, one of its strategies is persecution. Persecution. One was shown a vision of the persecuted church and the martyrs, the saints who were faithful to Jesus unto death.

I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. How good a strategy has that been for our adversary? Well, he's been successful in shedding the blood of many followers of Jesus, but it's not been a very good strategy. Not to minimize nor diminish the persecuted church, the martyred church. Believers do suffer. But the result in church history has been a pure church, a stronger church, a more committed church, for persecution has a purifying, purging effect.

So despite the rage and the cry for the blood of Christians, it's not been a very effective strategy. Jesus gives instructions to persecuted saints. If we happen to find ourselves in the place of threat to our very life, this is what Jesus would say to us. Verse 10 of chapter 2, as he's writing to the persecuted church, do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days, and here it is, be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. Here's our instructions.

Be faithful unto death, and we are promised the crown of life. What is the second strategy? Well, the second strategy is a lot more effective. It is the corruption, it is the infiltration of immorality into the lives of followers of Christ, into the church. And the church that will not guard the gate against immoral influence and false doctrine will fall and diminish. Unlike persecution that has a strengthening and purifying effect, corruption and false teaching weakens the church and makes it ineffective.

So in terms of those strategies, this is the more effective strategy. There are churches closing every day. We see the decline in our culture. Those who have been Christians for 30 or 40 years, it was just customary for a evangelical church to hold churches on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and churches that didn't were viewed to be non-evangelical. Don't take them serious.

They're not serious about Christ and His church. I had a phone call this morning. A woman called the church about 9 o'clock asking what time the service was this morning, and I said, 930. You don't have an 11 o'clock service?

I said, no. I said, but we do have a 6 o'clock service. You have a 6 o'clock service? I said, yes, we've had a 6 o'clock service the entire history of this church.

She seemed shocked, surprised. The church that gathers on Sunday night? Yeah. Folks, we are all shaped by the influence of our associations. What you listen to matters. What you allow your eyes to see matters. What you open your heart to reveals your heart and the desires that you have. And if you give yourself to these allurements and these seductions, they'll begin to manifest themselves in your actions, and those actions will mold habits and form character.

People don't fall away overnight. So let me ask you tonight, how well are you doing in pushing back against the allurements and the seductions of this sinful world? Are you mindful of these tactics, these strategies? Or are you just going through life blind? Let's not play the devil's game.

Let's push back. You say, well, I have no ability to. If you're a Christian, you have a lot of ability to. You've got the indwelling spirit of God.

You've got the word of God. You have the access to the throne of grace, where grace is promised to you in time of need. We're in a church. We've got brothers and sisters in Christ. We're to admonish one another. We're to encourage one another. We're to pray for one another. We're not left to ourselves.

Let's not fall victim to the evil one and his devices. So here's what it boils down to. What are you going to be influenced by?

Because there's no neutrality here. It's not, well, I'm not going to be influenced by anything. You're in the world, aren't you? Well, if you're in the world, you are going to be influenced by something. So here's the question tonight.

Are you going to be influenced by the world or are you going to be influenced by the word of God? That is how we push back. That's how we fortify. That's how we strengthen ourselves, our resolve to stand against evil in all of its allurements. Psalm 1 describes two men. One is blessed, the other is not.

One is described as godly, the other is described as ungodly. Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly nor stands in the path of sinners nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord. And in his law, he meditates day and night. What will this man be like? A man committed to that, a man described like that, what will his life be like?

We're not left to wonder. He shall be like, verse three, a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper. If you're a Christian, I would hope you would say that is what I want to be influenced by.

I want to be influenced by the word of God. Well, it's not going to happen automatically. It's not going to happen by sliding your Bible under your pillow and sleeping on it.

Nothing's going to come to you through osmosis. I was talking to a brother recently after Sunday school and he was talking to me about a man who was phenomenal in terms of his discipline to memorize scripture and he was talking to a man and the man said, man, that's a wonderful gift you've got to be able to memorize that kind of scripture. And the man said, well, if you mean getting up at four thirty in the morning, three mornings a week and committing yourself to Bible memory, if you call that a gift, I guess I've got that. We're to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness.

You'll not memorize scripture simply by hoping to, you'll have to commit yourself to it, discipline yourself to it. But we're not left just with this description of the godly man. Verse four, the ungodly are not so.

This is a description of those who are influenced by the world. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore, the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish, shall perish. Our study of the book of Revelation is going to come to consummation. It is going to come to an end and we are going to rejoice in the destruction of all of Christ's enemies, of him setting all things right, no opposition to his rule as king of kings and Lord of lords. We're going to rejoice in that. And we know that that's what's coming. We've got the word of God.

We know enough about the book to know that that's what's coming. So, we have no reason to be discouraged. And I know people say, well, I'm fearful for my children. I'm fearful for my grandchildren. Well, what are you doing about it?

What are you doing about it? If you're fearful for your children, are you safeguarding their lives? Are you protecting what they listen to? Are you protecting what they see?

Or do they just have free access to do whatever, whenever, with whomever? That's not a wise parent. That's some parent who is unwittingly putting their children at risk to the alarmist and the seduction of the world that has at their aim destruction. The world does not want to do them good. So, this is a message that just calls us back to being alert, being active, being engaged, pursuing godliness and righteousness. We are at war. We are at war with the world, the flesh and the devil. And there is no truce.

There's no time off. The battle is raging all around us 24-7. But I'm thankful tonight that we are more than conquerors through him who loved us and gave himself for us. And if we've been redeemed, we are in the Lord's army.

He's made us soldiers. Let's be good soldiers. Let's be good soldiers of our Lord.

Let us pray. Father, we thank you for your word. We thank you for its warnings. We thank you for its exhortations. We thank you for its instruction. We've been challenged this evening.

We've been brought face to face with a world that is seductive and alluring and has at its goal and end destruction and harm to us and to those we love and care about. Father, I pray that you will strengthen us, that you will fortify us, that you will cause us to have fresh resolve to fight on against the struggles and the battles with sin, with this world and with our adversary. Thank you for your promise of grace. Thank you for the fact that you are at work in us, both to willing to do according to your good pleasure. Cause your word to bear fruit in our lives. For our good, we pray, and for your honor and glory, we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-18 15:08:40 / 2023-04-18 15:20:46 / 12

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