November 10, 2020
Revelation 17:9-11, 14, 18
9 “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.

14 They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”
New International Version (NIV)
               How do we know what God is telling us to do?  In Austin, I knew two friends named Daniel who coincidentally drove Nissan pickups.  A stranger who also knew them came to me to tell me that God had told her to marry one of them.  Out of curiosity, I asked her how God had spoken to her.  She told me that she was driving down the freeway when she saw a car dealership sign which read, “Daniel Nissan.”  In the end she did not marry either of my friends.

                My conversation with her reminds me of the way I have heard some pastors interpret Revelation.   One of my favorite preachers lost me when he was reading in the Old Testament and equated the letter rosh in the Hebrew alphabet with Russia.  I still believe that Revelation cannot mean what it never meant.  In other words, it had to say something significant to the first century readers.  They were familiar with other apocalyptic letters in the same genre of literature.  They understood the code words better than we do. 

                This passage is a good example.  John talks about a woman riding a scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns.  The name of the woman was Babylon the Great and she was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people.  One way to read this passage would be to say, one day in the future a woman will ride a red animal with seven heads and ten horns.  Thankfully John did not leave the original readers hanging.   He explains that the beast is a powerful force of Evil.  The seven heads are seven hills and also seven kings.  Rome is well known historically as a city built on seven hills.  Five of the kings have already ruled and fallen, one is the present king and one more is to come.  The beast is the eighth or final king.  The ten horns are ten more kings.  Then in the last verse of the chapter he says the woman is the great city, in this case Rome in the first century.

                Remember that the first century believers were enduring enormous persecution.  Rome, represented by the woman riding the beast, was no longer willing to coexist with the Christians.  Active persecution had begun.  Christians were losing their lives because of their faith in Christ.  John and his readers could count backward and tell you who those kings were.  They knew who their present king was and they now knew another would come. 

                History certainly repeats itself.  But our interpretation must not be disconnected from the original meaning or it will be like a branch cut off of a tree.  The first century Christians found God’s grace to be sufficient for them even when their government was decimating the church.  We see this in other countries in our world today.  The church is actively persecuted by rulers around the world.  This could happen in any country.  So the followers of Jesus must be vigilant.  Jesus told his disciples to watch for his return. 

                Like the believers in the first century, Christians today do not have ultimate control over the government.  But we rest in the promise that the Lamb will not lose the war because he is Lord of lords and King of kings.  When Jesus ultimately triumphs, his called, chosen and faithful followers will be with him.  Where are we in this story?  We are his called, chosen and faithful followers, right now.  So let us choose to live our lives with him as we wait for his return.  

Pray with me:         
Father, make your book live to us today.  Let us see ourselves in your word.  Let us see our sin in your word.  Please, let us see our Savior, the Lamb who was slain and who will be victorious.  Make the book live to us.  We wait for you.  Come quickly Lord Jesus.  Amen.  
Join us in memorizing the Word.  Scripture for this week:    
Matthew 7:15-16
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Our 2020 Every Day with Jesus readings will follow the Foundations New Testament reading plan.  Copies of the reading plan are available at Tallowood Baptist Church, or download your copy at REPLICATE.ORG 
We would love for you to join us as we read the New Testament through this year, five chapters a week.  In addition I will continue my long-standing practice of reading one Psalm a day through the year.  Use Robby Gallaty’s H. E. A. R. plan to study each chapter (also found at REPLICATE.ORG). Highlight verses which speak to you, explain what they mean in your own words in a journal, apply them to your own life, then respond by doing what God tells you to do.  

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