Monday, November 14, 2011

The great harlot of Revelation.

One of the main reasons why the book of Revelation has been so confusing to many is because we have “all” been taught to try to understand the book “out of its original historical setting in which it was originally written.” John’s original audience knows these symbols were drawing no spiritual truths and historical realities of the nation of Israel.
All we need to understand these symbols is a burning desire to study the Old Testament to see what it has to reveal along with “recorded history.” To the ungodly these symbols were flags of warning being raised. To believers, these symbols were signs of victory. I cannot say this enough. God never intended for the book of Revelation to be a great mystery to Christians. Lest continues where John writes; 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, with whom the kings of the earth “committed fornication”, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication." (emphasis added) (Revelation 17:1-2)

Many have made the assumptions that the“Great Harlot” mentioned in Revelation can apply only to Rome, Islam, and even the US.

The truth is John used language in the book of Revelation that is closely associated with the language used in the Old Testament. This type of language was not new to John’s original audience. John did not randomly pull this kind out of language out of the sky as if it was never used before in scripture. This language had a specific purpose to remind Israel of her long history.

All we have to do is let scripture interpreted scripture to find out the identity of the “great harlot. In Hosea 9:1 we read, Do not rejoice, O Israel, with joy like other peoples, For you have played the harlot against your God. You have made love for hire on every threshing floor.

Over and over God calls the fleshly nation of Israel “a harlot” in scripture. Jeremiah 2:20 "For of old I have broken your yoke and burst your bonds; And you said, 'I will not transgress,' When on every high hill and under every green tree You lay down, playing the harlot. (Jer 3:1.6; Eze 16:15-17, 16:28)

The women here are also pictured and introduced as a prostitute women. Spiritual fornication or harlotry in scripture indicates the breaking of God’s covenant, or a departure from God. The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: "Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. (Jeremiah 3:6) The nation of Israel had been in covenant relationship with God for 15.000 years, and had been referred to as a woman married to the Lord, had sworn faith and love in all things to her rightful husband; but as so often the case in the day of her redemption and visitation, she has shamefully forsaken and rejected God in whoring after strangers. Jeremiah 3:20 concerning Jerusalem, Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, So have you dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel.’ says the Lord. Rome is never called a harlot in scripture, Rome was never associated with God in a covenant relationship as a wife.

Lest return to Revelation 17:1-2 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, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication."

What does the term mean she sits on many waters or lives by many waters’? This terminology is used in (Jeremiah 51:13) concerning the ancient city of Babylon where it was first applied. There it denoted the vast expanse of influence she had in both civil and political realms. “Waters" in Revelation often signifies "people" or nations instead of "H2O." (Dwelling upon many waters) denoted the broad expanse of the Babylon kingdom in the exercise of its political and civil power. Babylon was the civil king of that day. Jerusalem was to the world religiously what Babylon was politically.

John makes another observation. And I saw a “woman sitting on a scarlet beast” which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. (Revelation 17:3) Here the harlot women is riding or sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

An interpretive angel appears for the express purpose of explaining the vision: “But the angel said to me, "Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.” (Revelation 17:7) Then in verses 9 and 10 this angel explains the vision: “Here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitting. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.”

Most scholars recognize that the seven mountains represent the famed seven hills of Rome. John’s original audience who lived under the rule of Rome, which was universally distinguished by its seven hills would have immediately recognizable this symbol. How could the recipients, living in the historical churches of Asia Minor and under Roman imperial rule, understand anything else but this geographical picture of John?

But there is an additional information involved. The seven heads have a twofold referent. We learn also that the seven heads represent a political situation in which five kings have fallen, the sixth is, and the seventh is yet to come and will remain but a short while. It is surely no accident that Nero was the sixth emperor of Rome, who reigned after the deaths of his five predecessors and before the brief rule of the seventh emperor.

Flavius Josephus, the Jewish contemporary of John, clearly points out that Julius Caesar was the first emperor of Rome and that he was followed in succession by Augustus, Tiberius, Caius, Claudius, and Nero (Antiquities 18; 19). We discover this enumeration also in other near contemporaries of John: 4 Ezra 11 and 12; Sibylline Oracles, books 5 and 8; Barnabas, Epistle 4; Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars; and Dio Cassius’ Roman History 5.

The text of Revelation says of the seven kings “five have fallen.” The first five emperors are dead, when John writes. But the verse goes on to say “one is.” That is, the sixth one then reigning even as John wrote. That would be Nero Caesar, who assumed imperial power upon the death of Claudius in October, A.D. 54, and remained emperor until June, A.D. 68.
John continues: “The other is not yet come; and when he comes, he must continue a short space.” When the Roman Civil Wars broke out in rebellion against him, Nero committed suicide on June 8, A.D. 68. The seventh king was “not yet come.” That would be Galba, who assumed power in June, A.D. 68. But he was only to continue a “short space.” His reign lasted, but six months, until January 15, A.D. 69. Thus, we see that while John wrote, Nero was still alive and Galba was looming in the near future. Revelation could not have been written after around Domitian (81-96), according to the internal political evidence. In this vision we discover strong evidence that Revelation was written before the death of Nero, which occurred on June 8, A.D. 68.

The woman/whore represents apostate Israel and sitting on the beast means she is using the political power of the beast. A beast is a symbol used to depict a political state, such as the lion, bear, and leopard of Daniel 7, representing the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persian and Greece respectively.

The ten horns of the beast (17:12-17) are defined as ten kings or provincial governors who aided in the war against the Lamb Christ. Verse 14. Farrar lists ten major provinces that constituted the Roman Empire in the days of Nero–namely: Italy, Achaia, Asia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, Spain, Gaul, Britain and Germany.

The book of Revelation can be understood all we need is a burning desire to grasp the Old Testament and the desire to first century study history.