We continue our series of systematic studies through the book of Revelation, arriving at Revelation chapters 17 and 18 and teh subject of the mystery of Babylon the Great, the mother of Harlots. The subject of Babylon is as significant as it is controversial. Babylon in many ways sits uncomfortably in such a sacred part of the closing book of the Bible, in a letter prefaced as being none other than the 'Revelation of Jesus Christ' and yet in this very book 2 out of 22 chapters are dedicated to the subject of mystical Babylon! Babylon is in a sense present here so that it may be removed! The Divine object and that of the 7 seals, 7 trumpets and 7 vials is the complete destruction and removal of this cancerous monstrosity from the Divine Creation! One day Babylon will be no more!
Babylon was conceived as the dimensions of a Satanic Dream in Isaiah chapter 14. It was a means to an end. That end was domination, placing Satan as the object of worship and the power behind the thrones of men. He could not claim the throne of the Most High any longer, but as the god of this world he would do all that he could to bring it down with him!
In Genesis chapter 11 we saw Babylon as a Building
In Daniel chapters 2 and 3 we see Babylon as a Body
In Revelation chapters 17 and 18 we perceive Babylon as corrupted Bride
This is Satan's antichurch, anti kingdom, standing in opposition to Christ.
Revelation chapter 13 is set in a day not too distant!
This second beast arises out of the earth as opposed to the sea (13:1).
The first beast we have categorised / identified as the AntiChrist on the basis of:
Wild beast description (13:1) by way of contrast with the description of the Lord Jesus as the lamb.
His incarnation in arising up out of the depths of the sea (13:1) in contrast to the one who came down from God (John 6:33,38)
7 fold names of blasphemy (13:1) in marked contrast to those names associated with the 7 fold spirit of God, described of the Lord Jesus in Isaiah 11: 2 and ascribed to the Lord Jesus in Revelation 5:6.
His mouth “speaking great things” (13:5) that also quite strikingly contrasts with the “gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth” (Luke 4:22)
The duration of his reign of 3 ½ years which compares to the 3 ½ of public service of the Lord Jesus as a humble servant.
AntiSermon on the mount of 13:6, as the beast opens his mouth in blasphemy against God, His place on earth and His place in heaven. The complete opposite of what we find from the lips of Christ in Matthew 5:2; 6:9.
The first beast then we characterised as the AntiChrist. He had the object of distracting us from Christ, providing us with an alternative, a Satanic alternative opposite to the Christ of God.That of course has always been the object and purpose of Satan, to provide an alternative Christ, an antichrist, anti in:
The second beast is intimately tied into the mission of the Antichrist (13:12). His purpose is not so much to provide the lie; that has already been done, but to get us believing the lie, subscribing to the lie and under the power of the lie.
This second beast is referred to as the false prophet in Revelation 19:20.
He is not only false of course but in verse 11 he is DANGEROUS; dangerously deceptive. The second beast looks superficially, to the passing glance, like a lamb, although intriguingly he looks like a lamb in rather peculiar way. That feature of the beast which connects him to, that echoes of the lamb, is perhaps the least lamb like feature of the lamb, the horns! You won't find any reference to that feature of the lamb in the OT. The closest perhaps, is the reference to God providing Himself a lamb in Genesis 22. When Abraham turns there is the provision for the sacrifice, caught by it’s horns in the thicket, but the language is changed from lamb to ram. The horn is symbolic of strength and power in the Old Testament. The power of this beast however is unassuming, maybe even strangely attractive. His power is disguised lamb like as non-threatening, benign and perhaps even kindly. This is the power behind deception. This beast, whilst we appreciate his power, can be trusted because, well quite clearly he is acting in our best interests! We can trust him! He is the master propagandist. He is powerful and dangerous. His power seems to be benign, beneficent. He has managed to convince a lost world that they can trust him! Trust me, I’m a devil.
You don’t need to look too far to get a flavour of that today, religious leaders who project themselves as warm, friendly, with your best interest at heart and in the process get you to swallow a lie hook line and sinker.
There is currently circulating on Facebook and You Tube a video with 3 million views, fronted by a benign and friendly looking Buddhist monk advising us of 3 things we need to know, one of which was ‘don’t be a prisoner to your past, the past is just a lesson not a life sentence.’
That seems to be, on the surface quite a warm and helpful statement, encouraging people not to be hindered by burdens in the past they cannot alter. But of course it contains the seed of a most profound lie and it fails to stand up to logical scrutiny.
It’s illogical – if the past is but a lesson for the present, then logically the present is a lesson for the future, which begs the question a lesson for what? For life? When does the living come if this is but a lesson. The reality is that the past and present and future are no mere lessons to be learned and moved on from. By all means we must learn lessons from our mistakes in the past. The subtle twist brings in the most profound lie. We learn lessons from the past and in the past but the past itself is not a lesson. The past is our life. The past has consequences for us, what we sow we reap. Consequences for others in time and for us in eternity, ultimately, we receive the ‘due reward of our deeds.’
We are accountable for our past and our past will be judged by God. It is no simple matter to learn the lesson, dismiss the past as a mere lesson and move on. That denies
accountability for and
judgement of and
salvation from sin.
This second beast is dangerous and deceptive.
What is the nature of this apparent miracle?
On surface he produces an image / a statue like perhaps that of Nebuchadnezzar and then make it live – that would be a miracle. It would indeed be a miracle! Comparable to the miracle of creation. This is very unlikely.
To God uniquely is imputed the power to give life. We have that truth in Creation.
“in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28)
“in Him is life and that life is the light of men”
So much so, come John’s Gospel, it is the fact that Christ is able to make alive that John uses as a proof of the Deity of Christ.
Come the replication of the miracles of Moses, the magicians of Pharaoh seemed to have a real problem in turning dust into lice, in producing life from the dust (Exodus 8:18). How come Satan can do it now but not then?
The word here for life is a bit unusual in verse 15. It is not the word for a living organism, animate with motion and activity ‘zoe’ but rather “pneuma”. This false prophet, manages to take a man made object and impute a spirit to it. By analogy to God’s creation of Adam we recall that God breathed into Adam the breath of lifes and Adam became a living soul then perhaps what we have here is a man made artificial entity empowered by the spirit of the false prophet. As strange as that may sound that is not out with the realms of possibility.
Man cannot create life but he can transfer his life force or spirit to a previously inanimate object.
The story begins back around 1999 with a Prof Miguel Nicolelis creating a Brain Computer Interface. Probes were inserted into the brain, which measured brain action potentials and electrical activity. Some very clever computer analysis was able to anticipate which muscles and movements these electrical activities triggered. He then got a monkey to play a computer game with a joy stick whilst that brain computer interface was reading the monkey's brain. He then disconnected the joystick and the monkey was able to control the screen and computer with mere thought read by the brain computer interface.
Professor Kevin Warwick, professor of Cybernetics at the university of Reading, used an implant into his nervous system in 2002 to control a robotic arm. What was interesting was that he added a further dimension to this by making use of the internet, so that he moved the robotic arm in a different continent. His spirit in a sense animated the inanimate object.
Currently an Elon Musk funded company in California – Neuralink is experimenting with a neural brain implant, about the size of a £1 coin, inserted into a hole hollowed out of the skull, to which is attached 1024 fine electrically conducting channels. The neuralink has inductive, wireless charging and megabyte wireless transfer speeds. These channels pick up the action potentials, the electrical activity of the brain. Complex and clever computer decoding is able to tie those patterns of electrical signals to the physical movements which they cause. Musk’s neuralink group were able to use the brain signals from a monkey to play ping pong!
We are also the first generation to live in the era when we no longer need to doubt the possibility of the fulfilment of verses 16 and 17, nor need we greatly speculate as to how this could be possible.
You can order one over the internet today.
British Polish company Walletmor has now gone into commercial production of these devices just a few months ago. It uses the same technology as is in your contactless NFC payment system in your mobile phone.
“The microchip implants that let you pay with your hand” BBC Website 2022
Cost euros: 249.00
The technology referenced in Revelation chapter 13 is already with us.
How long before the antichrist and false prophet are likewise with us?
As the king of counterfeit and the master mimic, Satan parallels and contorts the work and ministry of Jesus Christ, into his own fake imitation; a Satanic image to worship, the ultimate deflection away from genuine devotion and affection. The roots of this supreme distraction spread deep, drawing their caustic sap to the final shoots of one supreme manifestation in the AntiChrist. Amusement has fulfilled it's unthinking purpose for generations, lives have been successfully sapped of all success, years frittered unfruitful, time wasted and human lifespans discarded into the dustbins of purposeless unproductivity. A wasted and worthless life is a worthwhile goal for this antichrist infused world over which Satan as prince presides.
In the end, all of these roots will finally feed one shoot, the AntiChrist, the beast from the sea of Revelation chapter 13, Satan's man of Sin on earth. His worship will be volitional, devotion by deception! In the character catalogue of Revelation chapter 13 he attempts to emulate by inversion the character of Christ. The lamb becomes the beast (Revelation 13:1); his incarnation ascends from the depths in stark contrast to Jesus who descends from above, an anointing with the 7 fold Spirit of God in Isaiah 11:2 is parodied by 7 heads of blasphemy in the beast (13:1). The 3 and a half year ministry of Christ is mocked by a 3 and a half year reign of the beast (13:5) and the Sermon on the Mount is parodied by a mouth opening in blasphemy (13:6) rather than blessing (Matthew 5:2ff).
Here is Satan's Antichrist, here is the destiny to which the compass of this world is pointing, passive distraction and distracted devotion to a delusion, 180 degrees from Jesus Christ, our only source of hope and peace.
A message preached by Dr J Stewart Gillespie as part of a systematic series of bible studies in the book of Revelation, free to listen or view online.
Perhaps like myself you find the book of Revelation somewhat daunting with it's ultiplicity of interpretations which is somewhat off putting! Perhaps you can identify with the sentiment of one writer who quipped that there was only one person who understood Revelation and he is at home in the glory! It is a book of complex symbols and language. The subject matter; doesn’t really make for easy reading and is not overtly comforting, at least on the surface that is! This is perhaps typified by the transmission of the Greek title for Revelation “ἀποκάλυψις” into the English language, and is now used for catastrophe and disaster in epic proportions.
Revelation is indeed a book of catastrophe and disaster for the world:
Revelation is a boook containing the extremes of:
Personalities – Christ and the Devil
Places – Heaven and Hell
Problems – global and eternal destruction
7 seals 7 trumpets 3 woes 7 vials 4th Seal sees ¼ of the world’s population destroyed
6th trumpet witnesses 1/3 of the world’s population destroyed! By the time we reach chapter 12, at least ½ of the world’s population has been wiped out! It’s not a cheery read!
Don’t let that put you off!
Ignore the book of Revelation at your peril!
There is at least one great reason not to ignore this book:
Revelation at least in part deals with the extremes of disaster and catastrophe!
If you believe, as I do that God is:
Sovereign over the problems of life “all things work together for good”
Sufficient in His grace “my grace is sufficient for you”
Supreme in His power “all power is given unto me…”
Solution to all of our problems “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Then in these extreme experiences of:
We see God’s extreme solutions!
If God is able to deal with the extremes, He is surely sufficient for our problems and our needs too!
In Revelation chapter 12 people experience:
Personal Failure – The Flesh
Satanic Fury – The Devil
Persecutory Flood – The World
God has His provision and His solution in the extremes of these conditions and experiences!
Fury of the Devil
Flood from the World
Failure of the Flesh
All 3 are inter-related!
It is the fury of Satan which directly causes the flood of persecution from the world (vs12-15).
It is the failure of the flesh that hinders victory over Satan and gives the accuser fuel for his fire (v10-11).
Power to overcome the accuser (v11) holds the key to their personal victory!
The flood of persecution is the product of Satanic fury!
Israel couldn’t see that of course in Revelation chapter 12, but nonetheless the spiritual battle was happening above them, over them and they were caught in the crossfire between heaven and hell. There will be many spiritual battles of which we are unaware but feel the shockwaves in our lives and souls.
Cosider the fury of Satan revealed here in Revelation chapter 12:
Know your adversary
Don’t imitate his character
Note the description of his character:
Destroyer (v4) cf. John 10
Satan characterised as deceiver.
Deception often linked with intelligence! It is so here of course.
Intelligence is often required to pass off a good deception!
Spoof emails and phone calls, fake social media accounts, malicious phone calls etc!
Normally intelligence employs deception for the goal of personal gain. They want what you have! For Satan though the scenario is different!
Satan is under no delusion that he could stand ultimately to gain from these deceptions (12:12), he knows that his time is short. Ultimate gain is not on the horizon for him!
What could possibly motivate him?
The very essence of Satanic character: malicious envy!
Satan isn’t deceiving to personally profit from it but rather that you might lose, that you might be destroyed. This is malicious, destructive, satanic, envy!
Cf John 10:10
Sufficient for Satan to drag you down, bring you down, get you down and keep you down! He will strive to ruin you at every turn!
Flood of persecution in the world
Satan having fallen from heaven (12:9), turns upon the people of God.
Satan falls from heaven to earth and to hell.
It is interesting that as Satan falls further and further, the glory of Christ fills the void, as the morning star and as King of Kings and Lord of Lords on the earth.
When the world and the Devil send the flood God always has His refuge for His people
“And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Isaiah 32:2
Jacob and his sons in famine there was provision in Egypt Moses on the run as a fugitive there was refuge in the backside of the desert. Israel caught between the armies of Pharoah and the Red Sea, there was a path through to the promised land Samaria in the famine and siege of 2 Kings chp 7 – respite and refuge comes through the actions of 4 lepers at the gate of the city. David there was the cave of Adullam Jonah there was the provision of the whale Elijah a morsel of meal in the widow of Zarephath’s house Elisha a place in the home of the Shunammite
Israel a way through the red sea and ultimately into the promised land Elijah a way up Jonah a way down and out of the depths Daniel a way out of the lion’s den Thief on the cross a way into heaven Noah a way over the flood
God is always able to provide a refuge in the storm, always able, since His refuge is a person!
“And a man shall be as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Isaiah 32:2
If a man is a hiding place, then that hiding place, isn’t restricted to a place, but is always available as a person!
Sometimes the means of that provision comes from the most unexpected of sources!
The unlikely gentile widow The unexpected provision from Joseph, a son sold as a slave The terrifying whale An unassuming little maid of Naaman An improbable coin in a fishes mouth
Failure of the flesh
The failure of the flesh give substance to the accuser, adds fuel to the fire and keeps the believer down, hinders their recovery.
There is overcoming victory (v11) by
Blood of the lamb
Provision for forgiveness and recovery
Word of Testimony
Power of a changed life
Proof of nothing being more important than the Lord
There are not that many passages of the scriptures that deal with the Satanic personality, although in many places we perceive his influence.
Revelation chapter 12 gives us a glimpse into the:
In chapter 12 we learn to recognise Satan as God reckons with Satan.
We gain a glimpse into the ultimate destiny of Satan elsewhere in the scriptures although we do have to join the dots and put the pieces together.
The man of the Gadarenes – those who follow Satan and who are obedient to him, must yet bow to a supreme authority, that of Christ! That does not bode well for Satan! Their end is in the Abyss The testing of Christ in the wilderness – we often perhaps reflect on the character and nature of that temptation, the opportunism of Satan after 40 days of fasting, Satan’s misuse of the word of God and the means of defeating Satan with the sword of the Spirit and the Word of God! One simple of aspect of the testing of Christ in the wilderness that we ought not to miss of course “Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31) We note the attack on Peter, but perhaps we ought also to note the ultimate victory of the Spirit of God in the life of Peter, as Peter knows recovery and restoration and becomes stronger for the experience!
Satanic activity is sovereignly controlled and attenuated
We need perhaps to put these pieces together to see the whole story.
Here in verse 1 we have a symbol of Satanic destiny
Sometimes looking back we see a significance that perhaps we don’t see at the time.
“moon under her feet”
The glory of Israel is in the sun (v1), the brightest and most glorious natural object which is known to us.
The moon is under her feet; the moon once worshipped by Israel, the moon that rules the night is under her feet! Israel has dominion and victory over the one who rules the night. Victory is guaranteed! The end is declared from the beginning!
Notice the principle of spiritual gravity which we find here in Revelation chapter 12, seen so clearly in the rise and fall of Satan, but which we can also perceive in the rest of the word of God.
You can pretty accurately predict the destiny of a personality from the impact they make on the lives of others. You can predict an individuals destiny from the direction they give to others,
If you want to know where they are going, look at where they are taking others!
Where they are sending others is where they are heading themselves.
Pharaoh – cast the children into the river Nile (Ex 1:22), into a watery grave is where Pharaoh and his armies ended up! (Exodus 14:28) Ahab and Jezebel – lead the nation into Baal worship and the pursuit of the demonic, unfaithful to their God. Ultimately Jezebels subjects proved equally as unfaithful to her and that was her undoing. The authority of God and His commandments which she undermined and destroyed, was the foundation of all human authority and order, as is the case today. Belshazzer led his people into blaspheming the items of the temple; he and many of his subjects died under Divine judgment. Elimelech led his family to Moab and he died there.
Consider also on the positive side:
It was the apostle Paul who lifted so many up, and led so many to Christ. Is it not so appropriate that he himself was taken up into the 3rd heaven! What about the apostle John? It is John who is the disciple of love, life and light. It is John in his gospel who leads us to the Deity and glory of the Lord Jesus. How apt it is that it is John who gives us the book of Revelation, leading us into heaven itself! Here is the principle of spiritual gravity!
We can predict a personal destiny from the direction they point other.
It is difficult to take others or direct others in a direction we are not travelling in ourselves.
We can predict a persons destiny form the direction they give to others. Here we have this principle worked out in the spiritual realm. It is Satan with his malevolent influence who draws down a third of the stars from heaven to earth. You could predict his end I am sure from this! After the angelic host are cast down (12:4) Satan follows the same trajectory, downward to the earth (12:9)!
Notice also in Revelation chapter 12 the principle of spiritual gravity:
It was no coincidence that as Moses descended Mount Sinai with the two tables of law written by the finger of God, that Satan had made a pre-emptive strike and that waiting there for Moses was a pre-constructed golden calf!
It was no coincidence that placed next to the throne of Egypt were two Satanically inspired magicians; Jannes and Jambres, ready to sway the mind of Pharaoh as the voice of God echoed throughout the land in plague and pestilence.
It was no coincidence that Tobiah and Sanballat were on hand to discourage and to attempt to destroy the walls of Jerusalem as Nehemiah fulfilled his commission to rebuild for God!
Here too in Revelation chapter 12 we perceive exactly the same process at work. As the time approaches for Israel to bring forth Messiah; "when the fullness of the time was come..." in Revelation 12:2; God was ready. At that moment so too was Satan ready; ready with an attempt at annihilation, with the slaughter of the innocents, ready with persecution, temptation in the wilderness, rejection from the synagogue, isolation from society, false accusations, and ultimate execution at Calvary!
If we share the life of that same Saviour we too can anticipate to share the unwanted attention of Satan! Be ready! Be prepared, but not only for attack, but ultimately for victory through Christ!
From our systematic bible study series in the book of Revelation
God is in the business of rendering men and women unrecognisable. He is the God who transformed Jacob from a thief and a conman to the judge of the 12 tribes of Israel. He is the God who made a sovereign out of a shepherd, a priest out of a murderer, a law giver out of a law breaker, a philanthropist out of a fraudster! It is little surprise that the recurrently dysfunctional Israel appears here in Revelation chapter 12, clothed with the most glorious of all natural objects (1 Co 15:41; Rev 21:23), the sun.
The woman of Revelation chapter 12 may appear unrecognisable, but Israel she is. She is the nation who gave rise to Messiah, whose remnant perceivers through the days of tribulation and who ultimately will rise to the place of pre-eminence amongst the nations of the earth, for which God had always fitted her. Her secret of triumph and victory is the same as ours. The battle she faces is part and parcel of the same cosmic struggle as ours too. We may at times be oblivious to the spiritual battle unfolding behind the scenes but we ignore it at our peril. On rare occasions we gain an insight and get a glimpse into what is actually taking place in the spiritual realm.
The deliverance from Egypt was effected by Moses but in the midst of Satanic opposition (Ex 7:11, 22).
The trials of Job were only the tangible expression of a conversation between Satan and God.
The prayers of Daniel were hindered by the same cosmic conflict
The person of God's Son knew the trial in the wilderness and the attack on the cross
The denial of Peter proceeded from the attack of the wicked one
In all of these cases, God's people triumphed and did so glorious, having discovered the secret of being on the winning side. It was their connection with Christ that brought certainty and victory (Revelation 12:2,5). The victory which is His becomes ours.
From a series of bible teaching messages preached from the book of Revelation at the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock by Dr J Stewart Gillespie.
Whilst undoubtedly one of the more complex chapters in Revelation, chapter 9 also contains some very practical lessons for the Christian by providing insight into the character and conduct of the enemy. The chapter begins with a Satanic smoke screen, emanating from the fumes billowing out their choking acrid debris into the air of earth. As always Satan obscures his purpose and as has been the case for generations his promises invariable conclude in the pit. This is the pit of broken promises, the pit into which the angels who followed him fell and an echo of the same trap set for Adam, David, Solomon, Ahithophel and Judas.
The second half of chapter 9 continues to provide forensic insight into the character of malevolence. The numbers perpetrating evil decrease from the swarms of locusts down to the 4 angels but their impact is amplified. These are the angels referenced in Daniel chapter 9, Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28; angels moving behind the scenes, motivating and manipulating the decisions and agenda of kings and politicians. These are the 4 angels of the Euphrates basin, hitherto placed on hold as the spiritual power house behind the dominance of Iraq, Turkey and Syria, once chained they now rise again, heralding the political ascendency of Turkey, Iraq and Syria. These lands become the setting for the fulfilment for some of the most unlikely of biblical prophecies. An army of 200 million are seen in this vision of John amassing for war with a third of the worlds population destroyed. At the time John wrote the world's population amounted to less than this total number observed as involved in the battle! Today however military, paramilitary and reserve forces already amount to 65 million (International Institute of Strategic Studies), with over 1 billion people potentially able to be called upon in the event of war. Today finally the numbers add up and the picture painted by John is no longer outlandish nor off the scale. Here is a battle and a slaughter ordered and ordained from the horns of the golden altar, all in God's plan and purpose, ultimately for His Glory.
A study in our series of expository messages on the book of Revelation.
Chimeric demons, poisoned locusts, tortured humanity and the living dead of earth lurk behind the malevolent purposes of the morning star; Lucifer (Isaiah 14) whose fall from the heavens is recorded in Revelation chapter 9. Satan, ever true to his purposes fails to declare his hand. Like his smoke screen, Satanic purpose lacks transparency. He has and ever will fail to declare his malevolent intent. The light, obscured, the breath of life sustaining air repressive and suffocating with the infernal fumes of hell as the diabolical locusts arise from the abyss, the bottomless depths of a hell of disembodied demons. Eden saw Satan act by deception. He failed to promise Adam death, disaster, destruction and murder at his own door, he offered promotion to the deity of the Creator for the creature. Judas' deal with the Devil, did not have as part of it's terms and conditions, death by hanging and eternal perdition. Satan had promised a tidy profit of treasure for just a little treachery.
From the abyss the locusts arise, demonic in origin and destructive in nature. These beings appear as the antithesis of the living creatures; the cherubim of Ezekiel chapter 1. These servants of Satan are but perverted and corrupted forms of the pure and holy, the cherubic servants of God. Portrayed is a scene terrifying and catastrophic, but the same Lord who had stood witness to the fall of Satan from heaven in Luke 10:18 is the same Lord who promises power over the scorpion and protection from that same fallen angel. In this chapter it is significant that it is only those with the seal of God who are preserved from judgment and loss. The protecting and preserving grace of Christ extends to and beyond the very gates of hell itself for His people. Greater indeed is He that is in you than is in the world, even in the world of Revelation chapter 9.
A message preached at the Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock by Dr J Stewart Gillespie as part of our systematic teaching series in the book of Revelation, audio and video recordings at graceinchrist.org.