This week’s imagery will be anything but boring. As we continue to work our way through Revelation, we encounter new imagery once again. This week, John is taken by an angel into the wilderness. The wilderness is a place where God is encountered over and over through the biblical story. It is also a place where evil lives. In John’s vision, he witnesses a prostitute sitting on a scarlet beast. John marvels at this scene. Join us on Sunday as we explore Revelation 17 together. I have included it below in the NTE version. I hope you will read it as you prepare for worship on Sunday.
(Revelation 17 NTE) Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came over and spoke to me. “Come with me,” he said, “and I will show you the judgment of the great whore who sits on many waters. She is the one with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication; she is the one whose fornication has been the wine that has made all the earth-dwellers drunk.” So he took me away, in the spirit, to the desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet monster. It was full of blasphemous names, and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was wearing purple and scarlet, and was decked out with gold, precious stones and pearls. In her hand she was holding a golden goblet, full of abominations and the impurities of her fornications. On her forehead was written a name: “Mystery! Babylon the Great, Mother of Whores and of Earth’s Abominations!” I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I was very greatly astonished. “Why are you so astonished?” asked the angel. “I will explain to you the secret of the woman, and of the monster that is carrying her, the one which has the seven heads and the ten horns. The monster you saw was, and is not, and is due to come up from the Abyss and go to destruction. All the inhabitants of the earth will be amazed – all, that is, whose names are not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world – when they see the monster that was and is not and is to come. “This is a moment for a wise and discerning mind. The seven heads are seven hills, on which the woman sits. And there are seven kings; five have fallen, one is still there, and the other has not yet arrived, and when he does come he is destined to remain for only a short time. And the monster, which was and is not, he is the eighth king. He is also one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received their kingdom, but will receive their authority as kings with the monster for a single hour. All of these are of one mind: they give their power and authority to the monster. They will make war with the lamb, and the lamb will conquer them, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with him are called and chosen and faithful. “As for the waters you saw,” he continued, “where the whore was sitting, these are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. The ten horns you saw, and the monster, will hate the whore and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and then burn her in the fire. God has put it into their hearts to do his will and, with a single purpose, to give their kingdom to the monster, until God’s words are completed. The woman which you saw is the great city that has royal dominion over the kings of the earth.”