The world came to an end last week with a great earthquake and hailstorm and the utter collapse of Babylon the Great, the capital city of Satan’s bestial empire.
But the end of the world left us with a few unanswered questions.
For instance, during the time just before the end, God removed the protective barrier he had set up between Satan’s demonic empire and the human nations of the earth. Satan immediately released his demonic kings from the East to cross the border and invade the world. At the same time, Satan also sent demonic messengers winging ahead to summon all the human kings of the earth to meet his demonic armies in one symbolic valley.
But when we took a closer look at John’s vision last week, we realized we really did not know why exactly Satan’s demons had gathered all the armies of the world into that place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. Because, in the Old Testament, Armageddon was the northern gateway foreign armies would pass through on their way south to attack the holy city of Jerusalem — but it was also the gateway foreign armies would pass through on their way north to attack the great city of Babylon. And then, when we took an even closer look at the situation, it seemed like John was talking as if the great city and the holy city are the same city, which seems odd.
And then, suddenly, the vision skipped to the end: to the sudden destruction of Babylon. One minute all the armies of the earth were coming together for some kind of battle on the great day of God Almighty! — and then it was all over.
It would be like watching The Lord of the Rings, the part where the countless armies of Sauron march out from the City of the Dead — and then suddenly the movie jumps to where Sauron’s tower falls down, the earth swallows his armies, and…roll credits.
A happy ending, sure. But deeply unfulfilling, right?
And so, as the world suddenly came to an end last week, we were left wondering if the nations had gathered at Armageddon to attack Jerusalem or to attack Babylon. And we were left wondering if Babylon and Jerusalem are somehow supposed to be the same city.
But now, John says, one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters.”
Oh. Okay! Apparently there is a post-credit scene, or a DVD commentary or something here: one of the angels — one of the major actors from the Cycle of the Seven Last Plagues — is offering John a closer look at what just happened.
So  then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness.
And this marks a very significant scene shift.
The first time John was in the Spirit — way back in Chapter 1 — he suddenly heard a voice behind him, turned around and found himself standing with Jesus in the outer room of the inner sanctuary.
The second time was in Chapter 4, where again he heard a voice, which said, “Come up here!” And then he found himself standing right inside the innermost sanctuary of God’s throne room. So:
For the last 13 chapters, John has been watching, from heaven’s perspective, the history of the world play out four times, through four symbolic cycles.
Now, for a third time, a voice speaks to him and says, “Come!” and John has been carried away in the Spirit into a wilderness. Basically, he has now left God’s innermost sanctuary and returned to the earth so he can get a close-up look at Satan’s innermost sanctuary.
And there John sees a drunk woman sitting on a hideous scarlet beast. And, John says, when I saw her, I was greatly astonished!
And so are we. Because: what in the world…?
Let’s go piece by piece:
First, this woman is described as sitting by many waters. This makes sense, because ancient Babylon was a city surrounded by rivers and canals, and she also controlled the Persian Gulf, which was the ocean gateway to India, Arabia, and Africa. It was Babylon’s access to so ”many waters” that made her so powerful.
Second, she is described as deliberately intoxicating the kings of the earth so they would commit adultery with her. Which is what ancient Babylon did: she seduced and manipulated the surrounding nations with her wealth, offering economic concessions to some, denying concessions to others, playing one nation against another until conditions were right for her to sweep in and seize direct control.
Third, even though she is by many waters, she is also in a wilderness. This is significant because the only other place in Revelation that a wilderness is mentioned is back in Chapter 12, where we saw a woman, a queen, a mother who had just given birth to God’s Son, fleeing from the Satanic dragon into the wilderness.
Here we have just been introduced to a second woman in the wilderness. Another queen. Another mother, actually, because — just like ancient Roman prostitutes — she wears a tiara with her name etched on it: Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes, and of the Abominations of the Earth. This is her way of mocking the mark of the Lamb, the golden plate God’s Old Testament high priests used to wear on their foreheads, the one that said, “Holy to the LORD”: her name-plate basically declares, “Unholy to Myself!” So it makes sense that this woman is also drunk with the blood of God’s holy people: unholiness always devours holiness whenever it can.
In short, the first woman in the wilderness symbolized the original spirit of Eve, the original mother of all the living. She symbolized Jesus’ bride, the mistress over Jesus’ household, which is the Church.
This second women in the wilderness symbolizes the original spirit of unfaithfulness, the original mother of all the dying. She is the bride of the beast, she is the mistress over the beast’s household, which is the world-seducing Babylonian empire.
And that is why, fourth, she is described as sitting on a scarlet beast, covered with blasphemous names, with seven heads and ten horns: she is riding the beast from the Abyss that we first saw in Chapter 13. Over the last four chapters, this beast has served the dragon in his war against Jesus’ Church — but now we discover that it is controlled by this woman, and she is riding it like a common beast of burden.
So…that is an interesting development. We will see if that turns out to have consequences later on…
But, fifth — even more interesting — is what she is wearing and what she is holding: she is dressed in purple and scarlet, glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. And she holds a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.
Now, we would expect to see a great queen dressed like this — especially a great queen who relies upon her seductive powers to manipulate her neighbors. But this is also how the Old Testament describes the sacred robes worn by God’s high priests!
Huh. Okay. And as for the cup: again, we would expect a great queen to be feasting with a golden cup in her hand. But all throughout the Old Testament, when prophets talked about ”the cup” they were always talking about God’s blessing upon his people, God’s corrective judgement upon his people, or God’s final judgement upon the nations who had drunk the blood of his people.
So, putting all these pieces together: John is seeing a prostitute dressed in sacred clothing. From the name-plate on her forehead to the colour of her robes, she has decorated herself as a priest, a priestess, claiming the right to lead God’s people into the worship of herself. She has even stolen God’s cup of blessing and judgement and filled it with her own selfish desires, claiming the right to bless God’s people if they worship her — or pass judgement upon them if they refuse.
No wonder John was greatly astonished!
Basically, after all these visions of dragons and beasts and false prophets and empires gathered for battle, John finds out that — ruling over it all! — there is a drunk prostitute, dressed like one of God’s Old Testament priests, pretending to be a queen over God’s people, over all people!
…it is almost as if Babylon the Great, Satan’s capital city, has disguised herself to look like Jerusalem, God’s capital city. That is why the name written on her forehead is a mystery: it is designed to be a mystery, it is designed to deceive.
And this resolves one of our unanswered questions, doesn’t it? We were wondering if John meant to suggest that Babylon and Jerusalem are actually the same city…well, this sort of explains how that could be so: if Babylon pretends to be Jerusalem, then it could be that many less discerning citizens of Jerusalem might be fooled into joining the wrong city. And once enough citizens have made that jump across the aisle, the true Jerusalem would actually shrink away to almost nothing while the false Jerusalem of Babylon would rise up to replace her.
That actually makes sense!
But  then the angel says to John: “Why are you astonished…? Surely you saw this coming! Surely this makes sense! No?…okay, nemind: I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns.
And the angel starts by explaining the beast (he will return to the woman later):
 “The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.
And this does make sense: we have already learned that Satan’s final, bestial empire will be essentially a reincarnation of the ancient Babylonian empire.
The Babylonian empire once was, back during the time of Daniel the prophet. It now is not — during the time of John. And yet will come again just before the end. And when it shows up again, everyone whose names have not been written in the book of life will be astonished just like John was — except that, unlike John, they are not going to have the mystery explained to them. They are going to be fooled by the greatest sign and wonder of all: the reincarnated power of the ancient Babylonian empire.
And in this, the beast is — once again — setting itself up as a counterfeit of Jesus Christ and his kingdom.
Jesus is described as the one who was, and is, and is to come. Well, the beast once was, now is not, and yet will come: a mocking inversion of Jesus’ resurrection.
And just as God the Father brought David’s ancient kingdom back from the dead in the form of Jesus’ Church so that it could redeem God’s people from every nation on earth, so also the dragon will bring Babylon’s ancient kingdom back from the dead in the form of a great religio-political civilization so that it can enslave Satan’s people from every nation on earth.
And this is how many citizens of Jerusalem will be fooled into switching cities: they will not be able to tell the difference between the reincarnated Babylon and the reincarnated kingdom of David. To almost everyone on earth, Satan’s global civilization will look just like Jesus’ global Church — especially when it proves its power through all kinds of spiritual and technological miracles.
And that is why the angel goes on to say:  “This calls for a mind with wisdom.”
And this is where we say: uh oh. Because the last time we were told “this calls for wisdom”, John introduced the number 666 and challenged us to figure out what it symbolized.
So: looks like we are supposed to solve yet another riddle here:
“The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits.”
Okay. The woman is a city. The city sits on seven hills. At the time John was writing this, Rome was famous for being “The City Built On Seven Hills”. Everybody knew that! — just like, if I say, “Name the country with the best food in the world,” we all know the answer without thinking.
So: the beast has seven heads. Seven heads=seven hills. Seven hills=the City of Rome.
That was easy!
Next part:  “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.”
Okaaay. Let’s see: if seven hills=Rome, then seven kings=seven Roman emperors?
Yeah. Sure. Let’s go with that:
Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come. Domitian was the emperor when John wrote this, so he must the emperor who is in this verse. Which means the one who has not yet come is the Emperor Nerva, who came after Domitian. And sure enough, Nerva did remain emperor for only a little while. So Nerva must be the seventh king the angel is talking about!
Except he wasn’t. Nerva was emperor number 13, not number 7. Domitian was number 12, not number 6.
Okay. Let’s try again…maybe we should figure out who really was the 6th emperor. Let’s count them: Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius…Nero! That makes sense! since Nero was the first great bestial persecutor of the Church. And the 7th emperor, the one who came after Nero, did remain for only a little while: only about seven months, actually. So that matches!
Except that Nero was dead twenty plus years before John wrote Revelation. How can Nero be the king who is?
Well, it is true Nero was dead, he killed himself rather than be arrested and put on trial for crimes against humanity, a lot like Hitler did at the end of WWII. But there was a rumor that Nero had actually faked his death and fled to the far east, and a lot of people during John’s time believed Nero was raising a huge army of horsemen in the lands beyond the Euphrates river, and someday soon he would return to reclaim the empire. So maybe the angel is suggesting that Nero really is still alive during the time of Domitian?
Except that, even if Nero was still alive, he wasn’t a king anymore, he was already fallen. He cannot be the king who is. And this still does not solve the puzzle of the seventh king who remains for only a little while…is it Galba, or Nerva? And why does it matter?
Let’s read on and see if things get any clearer:
 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
What? The beast symbolizes the reincarnated Babylonian empire, which is Rome. The seven heads symbolize seven Roman emperors — but now the beast itself also symbolizes an eighth emperor who used to be, but now is not, and also belongs to the previous seven emperors…?!
Confusing, isn’t it? The mystery is not getting any clearer, it is getting more and more muddled! — which should actually alert us to the fact that we are trying to solve this riddle in the wrong way. We are making the same mistake many people make when they try to solve 666 by playing number games instead of looking back into the Old Testament.
It appears the angel is doing just what Jesus used to do with his parables, and what John has done with many of the symbols in Revelation: purposely laying down a trail of obvious clues that are actually designed to separate out those who love God’s wisdom from those who think human wisdom is enough.
For instance, when John introduced the 666 concept, he knew the unwise would assume they needed mathematics to solve the riddle — but the wise would know they need to seek God’s wisdom in God’s Word.
In the same way, by talking about seven heads=seven hills, the angel knows the unwise will jump to the conclusion that he is talking about Rome, and then start counting emperors. But those who are wise will know the only way to understand the mystery is by going back to the original source of these symbols.
So, let’s go back to the top and try this again! But this time we will rely on God’s Word, not on popular theories.
Okay: The seven heads are seven hills. In Greek, the word for “hill” and “mountain” are the same word. So the seven heads are seven mountains. In the Old Testament, seven symbolizes completeness, mountains symbolize great kingdoms. So the seven mountains symbolize the totality of kingdoms on earth.
So now when the angel says, “They are also seven kings,” this makes perfect sense: because in the Old Testament “kings” and “kingdoms” are virtually interchangeable. The king is the head of the kingdom, the kingdom is the body of the king. So the seven kings symbolize the totality of kingship on earth.
Okay. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. So now the angel is plugging the totality of kings/kingdoms into the flow of history: five “kings/kingdoms” have passed, John is now living through the age of the sixth king/kingdom, and there is a seventh age on its way. So basically the angel is telling John that most of human political history is past already, there is only a little bit left to go before the end and the new creation.
But, just before the end, the beast who once was, and now is not, will appear as an eighth king/kingdom. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction…and now we realize the angel is really describing how the beast from the Abyss has been steadily rising up from the sea throughout history:
First we see the seven monstrous heads coming out of the water, right? And for those of us watching from the wilderness, they look like seven unrelated kingdoms, seven separate beasts. One by one throughout the course of history the heads are struck down, and when finally the seventh head is struck down we think, “Oh, good! The beasts are all dead!The godless kingdoms of the earth have all been judged.“
But then, last of all, just when we think we are safe, the body of the beast comes surging up out of the sea and then we realize all those seven previous kingdoms were not unrelated, they were actually all connected to one body under the water. They were just fore-runners of this beast, the eighth and final kingdom. The heads were previews; the body of the beast is the real deal.
Now, that explanation makes a little more sense, doesn’t it? It is far less confusing than trying to guess which emperors fit where — which is an approach that just leads to endless fighting and division among Christians!
And this explanation also matches what we have already learned about the beast from the Abyss over the last several chapters of Revelation. Even more, it matches all the deep symbolism from God’s Word in the Old Testament. So we can be very certain that this is the proper way to interpret the angel’s symbolic language: he is talking about the history of human kingdoms and how they are all actually connected to Satan’s ultimate kingdom.
And now, I think, we are ready to proceed:
 “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.  They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast.”
In the Old Testament, the number 10 also symbolizes totality. So ten horns=ten kings, which=the totality of kings/kingdoms that will rule for one symbolic hour after the body of the reincarnated Babylonian empire has risen from the sea just before the end.
So the seven heads symbolized all the great nations of the earth rising and falling throughout history. These ten horns now symbolize all the great nations that will exist on the earth at the end of history, when Satan’s empire reveals itself.
And now we can actually put all this together with what we learned last week: at the end of our age the beast, with his bride at the controls, will rise up out of the eastern sea, surge across the Euphrates river, and march south to the valley of Armageddon. Meanwhile, demonic messengers will summon the kings of the whole world — the ”ten” kings — to meet the beast at Armageddon and hand over their power and authority.
And this resolves another one of our unanswered questions, doesn’t it? We were wondering if the nations were gathered at Armageddon to attack Jerusalem or Babylon. Well, now we know: they are gathered to submit to the kings from the East, Satan’s demonic armies.
And since they are not attacking Babylon, that means:
 “They will wage war against the Lamb.”
So now we know: the symbolic valley of Armageddon is the staging point for Satan’s demonic and human armies, all the great nations of the earth and the Abyss gathered for one killing blow directed at Jerusalem, which is Jesus’ Church, the reincarnated kingdom of David.
And we already know the outcome of that battle: the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack Jesus’ witnesses on earth, and overpower and kill them.
“But,” the angel says, “the Lamb will then triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
And this part we also knew: how, after three and a half days, the seventh trumpet will sound, Jesus’ Church will be resurrected, and we will all be caught up in the clouds to meet our Lord as he descends — with all the angelic armies of heaven — to complete the last great trampling harvest of the earth.
There. The angel has finished explaining the mystery of the beast, a riddle that requires God’s Wisdom, God’s Word to solve properly.
So now he goes back to explain the mystery of the woman:  “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.”
Oh. That is actually very instructive.
Because several times in Revelation we have seen seas and rivers and streams turned to blood, and the Old Testament has led us to believe that this is all symbolic language for God’s social and economic and spiritual judgements on mankind.
Well, here the angel confirms that “waters” is definitely symbolic language. Ancient Babylon controlled many seas, rivers and streams, and by controlling those waters she was able to seize economic, political, and spiritual control over many nations. In the same way, the reincarnated Babylon at the end of time will control many waters, which will give her control over many nations — all the kings of the whole world, really. The waters are the people, the people are the waters, and Babylon the Great is the tyrannical queen mother over them all.
But now the angel’s explanation takes a strange turn:  “The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.”
…but the more we pause and think about this, the more it actually makes sense.
First, on a very basic human level, most grown children do not appreciate a tyrannous mother. Mom is bossy when we are small — of course! She has to be. But if, by the time we are thirty years old, mom is ruling over us like we are still three…even the very best of children begin to resent that, right?
But let’s face it: tyrannous mothers who do not know how to dial back their dictatorship as their children grow up generally do not produce the very best of children, they tend to produce tyrannous children. And guess what tyrannous children tend to do when they are all grown up and their mom continues to ride them and steer them like a beast of burden? They rebel. They fight back. And if the mom still does not get the message, then the children will eventually destroy that relationship to win freedom for themselves.
In the same way, the gathered kings and nations of the world that make up the body of Satan’s empire are going to rebel against being ridden as a beast of burden. Eventually they will realize that the benefits they receive by worshiping the dragon’s bride will not compensate enough for the slavery they have to endure.
But this also makes sense on a basic spiritual level: after all, we are talking about a Satanic coalition of human nations and demonic nations, and Satan is the Accuser, the Deceiver, the Lord of Hatred and Division. So of course the human and demonic slaves in his bestial empire are going to turn against their Queen! For that matter, when we look back through Revelation — and through the rest of the bible — we see that Satan is very happy to torment his followers when it is convenient for him. So why wouldn’t his followers be just as willing to turn against him and against one another?
Basically, children reflect their parents’ values. Satan is the Father of Lies and Rebellion, so quite naturally his children grow up lying to each other, rebelling against one another. Babylon the Great is the Mother of Prostitutes, and of the Abominations of the Earth, so quite naturally her children grow up seducing and manipulating one another for their own selfish gains.
Satan’s family is a seriously dysfunctional family! So we should not be surprised when, in the process of uniting to devour Jesus’ Church, it also ends up devouring itself. The angel did say the ten kings would receive authority for only one hour along with the beast, and sure enough: their alliance did not last very long at all.
But of course this did not happen by accident:  “For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled.”
The reincarnated Babylonian empire, with the capital city of Babylon on its back, shows up at the valley of Armageddon. They tell the nations that Babylon is the true Jerusalem, the true source of justice and mercy, life and death, salvation and judgement, and that Jesus’ Church is a counterfeit. Then they promise that if the nations hand over their royal authority and join in the attack on Jesus’ Church, they will get to keep whatever plunder they capture. This is a lie, of course. And the nations know it is a lie, because they have been lying to each other in the same way for thousands of years. But they agree to be absorbed into the body of the beast because they are greedy — and because they think that, later on, after they have helped to crush Jerusalem, they will be able to use their new-found power to quickly shake Queen Babylon off their backs, crush her and break free again.
And God basically allows them to act according to their nature. He no longer makes any attempt to restrain them, because he knows they will accomplish his purpose by pouring his judgement out upon themselves. He has promised to destroy Babylon the Great, and what could be more appropriate than allowing her to be eaten alive by those she has eaten alive?
And this actually re-resolves the unanswered question we thought was already answered. We were wondering if the nations were gathered at Armageddon to attack Jerusalem or Babylon. The answer is, apparently: both.
And then the angel closes by saying:  “The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”
…”is the great city,” the angel tells John, as if the great city already exists. And, for John, that would have to be the city of Rome.
Which is confusing for us. Back in Chapter 11 John told us that Satan’s “great city” is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt and Jerusalem. Then, in Chapter 14, we learned that it is also called Babylon — and now Rome has just been added to the list! But how can Babylon can be Jerusalem and Sodom and Egypt and Rome all at the same time?
But today the angel actually gave us the key to finally understand how this can be: every kingdom in history, every nation that has enslaved and persecuted God’s people, is actually connected beneath the surface of history. They are all just the heads of the same body, joined together by the same unholy spirit. Cain’s civilization, the Tower of Babel, Sodom, Egypt, the Canaanites, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome — all of these were just fore-runners of the symbolic ”eighth” empire, which will combine all of their bestial characteristics into one, including the way ancient Jerusalem pretended to be God’s capital city even while she sold God’s Son to Rome in exchange for political stability and economic prosperity.
John’s vision is going to dive even more deeply into these things next week, so make sure to come back for that.
For now we are going to close with a review of what we have learned — and then ask how we are supposed to respond.
Okay. Over the last few chapters we have been learning about the counterfeit trinity: the dragon, the beast from the Abyss, and the beast from the earth; the false father who sends his false son to conquer the world, and the unholy spirit that torments people into worshiping the false son and his father.
Today a new character has been introduced: the woman in the wilderness. She is the bride of the beast from the Abyss, and the mother of the beast’s children. She is the counterfeit church: Babylon the Great, the gathered people of Satan. She is not meant to be understood as a physical city somewhere in the Middle East, she is meant to be a mockery of the other woman in the wilderness, the one who is Jesus’ bride and the mother of Jesus’ children: the gathered people of God, who have no city except the heavenly Jerusalem to come.
We have also learned that Babylon’s character is the exact opposite of Jerusalem’s. The Bride of Christ loves her husband, and is loved by her husband; she rules alongside her husband and serves his kingdom, his household. But the beast’s bride tries to rule over her husband: she rides the beast, she uses his kingdom to serve her own ambitions. She actually hates the children she has produced, and when she finally gathers them all together for the great reunion dinner at the end of time, and demands that they please her by killing Jesus’ Church, they will do it! — but only because it also serves their selfish ambitions. And then they will kill her also, even if it means they are ultimately destroying themselves along with their mother.
So, how ought we to respond to this mess?
Well, it is clear by this point in the book that Jesus urgently wants us to learn how to discern between the true Jerusalem and the false Jerusalem. And the reason Jesus is so urgent about this is because the beast and his bride work very hard to look like Jesus and his Church. Jesus was resurrected, so the beast is also resurrected. Jesus is married, so the beast is also married. Jesus has preachers, prophets, miracles, so the beast has preachers, prophets, and miracles. Jesus is gathering his people on Mount Zion, so the beast is gathering his people on Mount Megiddo.
But here is the hole in the beast’s image: he is able to look like Jesus and his bride, but he cannot act like, he cannot be. Jesus loves his Bride, and she loves him. But the beast hates his bride, she hates him back, and no matter how hard they try to pretend they have a happy marriage — for the sake of the children, you know! — the truth keeps on leaking out in their behaviour, and in the behaviour of their children.
Last week we talked a lot about false prophets and signs and wonders and how a steady diet of God’s Word vaccinates us against getting infected. Well, here is a really practical extension of last week’s application: the way God’s Word vaccinates us is by giving us a taste for Jesus’ character. See, people who are obsessed with miracles or amazing displays of power and wealth are in extreme danger of being led into false worship. But Christians who are obsessed with seeking Jesus’ character will never be fooled by false miracles or false prophets — because false prophets always have an anti-Christ character. Some are very good at hiding it, but the evidence is always available to the discerning eye: a spirit of division, manipulation, selfish ambition, the inability to practice mutual submission.
This is certainly true on a national level. This is how we can tell that every single nation on earth today is driven by the beast’s unholy spirit: when did you ever hear about a tribe or a government that freely gave up its rights to benefit its neighbor? Never! Political diplomacy is always all about how much how much one nation can get in exchange for what it gives, even among very close allies.
This is also true among churches. A “Babylonian“ church rules its members like a tyrannous mother, and when she cannot get what she wants by force, she uses guilt and manipulation to turn her members against one another, or to unite them in hatred against some outside group. At the same time, a Babylonian church will refuse to submit to any other churches.
And this is definitely true on a personal level. A “Babylonian” false prophet, a “Babylonian” leader may be very gifted in vision and leadership, and may even be able to perform some amazing miracles — spiritual or sociological! — but we can always discern a leader’s true character by looking at their family. Does he really love his wife? Does she really love her husband? Do they work together to raise children who are prepared to take up the Cross of Christ, and sacrifice their own rights and desires for the sake of others? Or have they left a long trail of broken relationships behind them?
Brothers and sisters, if we are worried about being fooled by false teachers, this is the easiest way for us to test them: let’s look at their character, especially as it relates to their own family. If you are following some Christian leader from Africa or America or somewhere else, and you are not able to verify the quality of their personal lives, then…maybe it would be better to stay local. Stick to churches where you can see with your own eyes how the members live, how they love one another and how they love their enemies. Words are cheap. These days even miracles are cheap! But a truly holy life — a truly holy family — cannot be faked.
We live in an increasingly divisive age. By now, everyone has noticed that people and groups that used to be allies are now devouring one another, on social media and in real life. Is this new behaviour for our species? Of course not. But now that we are a global civilization, united by the technological wonder called the internet, we are finding that this miracle does not bring peace, it merely facilitates war, it has turned everyone on earth into a potential soldier. At the same time there is a consensus forming among the kings and citizens of the world: whatever else they may hate about each other, they all agree that Christianity is evil.
Friends, the nations of the earth really are being gathered together in the valley of Armageddon.
So: am I saying that our must be the final generation? No. I cannot say that. Satan’s armies have been trickling little by little into that deadly valley for thousands of years. We may be seeing the final, global summons. The technology certainly supports it. But we don’t know for certain.
All we can do — all we are called to do — is make sure we do not join them there. And, today, that means making sure we are not like them in this particular way: making sure that our church does not reflect that divisive, neighbor-devouring, self-devouring spirit of the beast. God is our Father. We are members of the Bride of Christ. We enjoy a Holy Spirit of unity here that other nations can only dream of!
So let’s act like it. Let’s be the family that we really are. Let’s remember that the forces arrayed against Jesus’ Church look united, but they are not. Really, truly, we do not need to fight for the rights of Jesus’ Church! All we have to do is stand still upon the Mountain of the Lord, and watch the sea of nations shatter themselves like waves upon the Rock of our Salvation. It will happen just as the angel promised: 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.