Why Revelation 17 Makes Me Glad, Sad and Mad
by Joseph Franks
In Revelation 16, the bowls of hell are being poured out upon Satan and his kingdom. In chapter 17, Satan’s kingdom is named and described. Babylon is her name; iniquity is her game; and the Lake of Fire is her eternal domain.
Babylon represents this current world order. It is the culture of those who hate Christ and his righteousness. It is the community of those who prefer wickedness, and as such, it is described as the great female prostitute. Humanity should grant her unwavering affection to her Maker alone, but instead she gives her delights and allegiance to Satan.
As a result of her spiritual affair, Babylon receives gifts and benefits from her wicked lover. John sees her as one magnificently adorned. She, who dances with the devil, seems to be living the high life. Consequently, she encourages her children to walk in her godless ways. This is why she is called “the mother of all prostitutes.” Babylon consistently gives birth to another generation of unfaithful spiritual whores.
Babylon is huge. According to John’s vision, everyone seems to be following Lucifer. Commoners and kings alike are intoxicated by him. The only exception seems to be those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life – those called, chosen, and found faithful. They march to a different drum. They hear and heed the voice of another Master. Everyone else seems to follow Satan’s lead.
As a result, global conflict develops. Satan and his Babylonians hate Christ and his church. As a result they declare war on the Lamb and his followers. Initially there is great success for those who sleep with Satan; with unity and glee they make themselves drunk on the blood of Jesus’ friends. However, this is all part of God’s plan; this is all in accord with his sovereign and mysterious purpose (17:17), and this is temporary. For in the end, Satan and his prostitutes are utterly defeated by the Lamb. In the end, Jesus is Lord of lords, King of kings, and the Judge and Executioner of the great unrepentant whore. Satan and his whores are treated as spiritual prostitutes. The unfaithful spouse is treated according to the Hebrew Ceremonial Law. In the end, Satan’s prostitutes are divorced, stripped, ruined, and burned in the fire.
Friends, when I read this, I find myself glad, sad and mad.
I find myself glad because I recognize the voice of Christ. I find great comfort in the fact that I have called upon him to be my Savior and King. No one can call Jesus “Lord” except for those influenced by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, because I have placed my faith in him, and because I find myself repenting of my sin, I am assured that I will avoid the final judgment and damnation. I am unworthy to be his child. I am an unfaithful spouse, but I have received unmerited mercy and grace, and this makes me glad.
At the same time, I find myself sad. Surrounding me are people who have sold their souls to the devil and have hell to pay. All those who are not with Jesus, are against Jesus; there is no neutrality. Therefore, many of my friends and neighbors will be vanquished by the Lamb. I am sure there is a part of me that should rejoice in the great victory of the Lamb to come, but there is also a part of me that weeps for the lost.
Finally, I am also mad. For even though I am a redeemed spouse of Christ, I still find myself flirting with Satan. The kingdom of God is a wonderful and wise place to dwell, but too often I sneak into Babylon. It makes me mad to think that I have pleasured Satan while being unfaithful to Christ. Therefore, I am mad – mad enough to go to Christ, confess my sin, walk in righteousness, and spit in Satan’s face as I live for the glory of God today.
Are you glad, sad and mad?