sermon: Where Is the Beast? (Part 10)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 20-Sep-03; Sermon #631; 74 minutes
After providing nine succinct summaries of the nine preceding sermons in this series, John Ritenbaugh cites nine reasons why Israel should be considered the Harlot in Revelation 17-18: (1) Genesis 12 and the entire Bible is devoted to Israel and the church.(2) The nation of Israel exists at the end time beginning in Revelation 7 up to the Great Tribulation. (3) Israel was the only nation who was betrothed to become God's wife. (4) Israel is the only nation with whom God has entered a relationship.(5) Israel is referred invariably as the woman in this relationship. (6) Israel was woefully unfaithful to God. (7) God calls this unfaithfulness harlotry (8) The nation of Israel has the characteristics mentioned in Revelation 17. (9) Israel, the recipient of Abraham's blessings of political power and wealth is the only candidate who can throw her weight around vying with the Beast for control of the Babylonish political religious system.
Revelation 13:1-4 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it were wounded to death: and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?
I feel that since we have concluded the search into the identity of Babylon—the Great Harlot of Revelation 17 and 18—it is time to give a summary of the messages given so that each of us will have a concise overview and a point of reference for this vast subject.
I began this series as a Bible Study on January 18, 2003 in Cape Town, South Africa. I never had any intention that it would develop into a series, but there were some things about the subject which I felt quite interested. My main interest was the location of the Beast. In fact I even titled the study "Where Is The Beast?"
I did have some low-level interest in the identity of Babylon, but my primary interest was in the Beast. This was because virtually all of the news that we were receiving out of Europe gave pictures of decline rather than ascendancy into Europe becoming a great power on the world scene as described in Revelation 13. Since we began this series, nothing has changed in that regard.
Despite the great optimism regarding the formation of a United States of Europe, the outlook there is still very gloomy. The preparations for its formation have been going on for over fifty years. By comparison, the United States of America became a reality in the fifteen years between 1774 and 1789. Now here we are, in the days of awesome technology, including rapid transportation and communication, and those groups in Europe cannot seem to get their act together. It almost seems as though something is holding them back, but they have made some progress.
As negotiations have proceeded year by year, their plans have become evermore grandiose. Now the talk is of a United Europe, stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals, thus including the possibility that even Russia and non-European Muslim countries like Turkey may be fully integrated into it. Even the Jewish nation of Israel has let it be known that it is going to seek application into the European Common Market.
My main thought regarding the Beast in that first message was, "Where is it?" Surely we are in the end-time, and surely, since the Beast is described as being powerful, and a fearful amalgamation of nations, we ought to be able to identify its location somewhere on earth. We have always expected that it would arise in Europe, but Europe, in economic, military, and political power, is a joke. They are involved in a process of endless talking.
Europe is simply not coming together as we anticipated. In fact, journalists and strategists in the State Department and the CIA insist that they see two distinct Europes taking place or developing. One they call "Old Europe," consisting mostly of those nations in the West. The other they have labeled as "New Europe," consisting mostly of the Eastern European nations just beginning to enter into the Union.
Europe is, in reality, flat on its back in those areas necessary to being a power that is fearfully respected. It is showing few signs at present that they are making movements to change what has been happening. It is even declining demographically. In fact, in some areas it is undergoing vast ethnic changes that will surely impact European thinking.
Therefore, in that first sermon, I concluded (1) either we have a great deal more time before Christ's return, or (2) dramatic and miraculous events are going to have to happen both in Israel, and particularly in Europe, for it to arise solely in Europe in my lifetime so as to exercise the powers the Bible shows the Beast to have.
Most of that first sermon was devoted to getting us thinking out of the box, because I felt there is a distinct possibility that some of the views we were taught earlier needed updating in light of end-time realities not known to us when that teaching was given us. One of those is the strong possibility that the Beast does not necessarily need to be confined within the boundary of any particular time period in ancient Roman Empire history. This is because the Roman Empire history clearly shows us that Rome's boundaries changed frequently; therefore the Beast may not be confined to modern Europe.
A summary of that first sermon—"Where Is The Beast?"—is: Where is it? At this time Europe is descending in influence, rather than ascending, and the Beast may not need to be confined to modern Europe.
The second sermon opened with me strengthening the perception of problems European bureaucrats and political leaders are having overcoming the serious divisions keeping them from becoming a United States of Europe.
Genesis 11:4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
After opening the second sermon with that portion devoted to clarifying and intensifying the problems European leaders are having overcoming the serious division, in the rest of the sermon I turned to Genesis 11. This became the launching pad to lay the foundation for establishing the identity of "Babylon the Great."
It is clear in Genesis 11 that Babylon began as a city, under Nimrod, in the Tigris-Euphrates valley, in what is today Iraq. Nimrod is described as "a mighty hunter before the Lord." I spent some time going into detail, showing that one can stand before somebody as a friend or as an enemy, but the whole context showed that Nimrod was an enemy of God. Babylon was founded in rebellion against God. The original project ended when God scattered the people over all of the earth in confusion, by confounding their one language into many languages so that communication became impossible.
Although people scattered all the way around the earth from that one point, even in modern history books the Tigris-Euphrates valley is looked upon as "the cradle of civilization." This is because cultures everywhere show a common thread of origin from that area, whether they are Chinese, Indian, Japanese, or Inuit up there in Alaska. Not everybody scattered though, and those who remained became the foundation of the nation of Babylon.
The nation Babylon became the "Head of gold" in the prophecy of Daniel 2. This prophecy shows four successive world-ruling empires, with each empire dominating the other nations on earth as time progressed, and is to continue until Christ's return and the setting up of the Kingdom of God on earth.
As in the human body, the influence of the head is the greatest of all of the parts of the body. So in this prophecy's fulfillment, the head—representing Babylon and its way—carries through the other empires right up to Christ's return. Babylon thus becomes the Bible's code word indicating the anti-God system founded in rebellion by Nimrod that motivates every culture on earth.
I showed in that sermon that there is a progression concerning Babylon from (1) a city (2) to a nation, and then (3) to a very influential worldwide anti-God system, what in the New Testament is called "the cosmos" in Greek.
We saw that the Roman Empire—the fourth kingdom of the Daniel 2 prophecy—has culturally dominated the Israelitish people for over two thousand years. You will recall that when Christ was born and walked on the earth, the Romans were already dominating the Israelitish people there in Palestine for around a hundred years, and that carries right on through.
All of the apostles' preaching was done within the confines or the influence of the Roman Empire. As the Israelitish people migrated from the places to where they had originally been taken into captivity, their migrations took them right back into the Roman Empire once again even though they were migrating from areas that were not under the direct influence of the Roman Empire. And so the migration of the Israelitish people ended in the places which God had set aside for them.
A summary of the second sermon in this series is that the entire Bible, including Revelation, deals with the Israelitish people and the Church. At the time of the end, the Bible is dealing with five entities of worldwide importance that need our serious consideration: (1) The Israelitish people, (2) The Babylonish anti-God system infecting all nations, (3) The Beast, (4) The True Church, and (5) The False Church. But never forget the influence that the Roman Empire had on the Israelitish people.
Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
The third sermon began by dealing with the fact that everybody's ideas regarding prophecy are speculative. This is because God's intent for any given prophecy must be revealed, and God reveals truth to His people on these matters on a need-to-know basis.
I read you a quote by Herbert Armstrong that was taken from Tomorrow's World magazine in which he emphatically stated that he was not a prophet, and throughout the entire period of his preaching he was speculating just like all the rest of us regarding the end-time. His speculations were not written in stone, and neither are mine.
Revelation 12:1-4 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
I connected Revelation 12:1 to the symbolism that was used at the time Joseph had his dream, and which was very clearly interpreted by Jacob as being a reference to him, to Joseph's mother, and to Joseph's brothers from whom the children of Israel sprang; therefore Revelation 12:1 is interpreted by the symbolism there—the sun, the moon, and the stars—as being Israel.
A further proof is in verse 4. This is why I read it. Everybody recognizes that Jesus Christ was born out of Israel. She [Israel] is the woman who is the subject of Revelation 12. I also connected this to prophecy. The promises that were made by God to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 is just one example. There are many promises God gave to Abraham regarding those who would come from him.
Genesis 12:1-3 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father's house, unto a land that I will show you: And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.
This is the foundational promise and prophecy regarding the fortune of those who come from Abraham. From Abraham came Jacob, and from Jacob came the twelve tribes of Israel.
After laying that foundation, I asked this question: Since virtually the entire Bible is about Israel, and God promised to make Abraham's descendents a great and powerful people, where IS Israel in the end-time prophecies of the book of Revelation? We already saw that Israel appears in Revelation 12, but Israel is also mentioned in Revelation 7, in that each of the tribes of Israel, except for the tribe of Dan, is mentioned in Revelation 7.
Now looking more closely at Revelation 17, I made the statement regarding Revelation 17 and 18, that both the Woman and the Beast are part of the same Babylonish system. Each is a differing and competing aspect of it though, and the Woman and the Beast represent those entities, shown in Revelation 17 and 18, struggling for domination of the Babylonish system.
A summary for the third sermon is that everybody's interpretation of end-time prophecy is speculation. But at this time, the Woman has a tenuous hold on control of the worldly anti-God system, as she and the Beast struggle for domination.
For the fourth sermon we are going to go to I Corinthians 13:2.
I Corinthians 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge: and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.
The fourth sermon began by emphasizing one of the principles that can be extracted from this verse. This verse is essentially putting prophecy into a right perspective, which is, there are other things more important to salvation than end-time prophecy. Prophecy is interesting, and it is intriguing, and it can be very helpful, but it is not necessary that we understand prophecy in order to be saved. Those things that pertain directly to salvation are exceedingly more important than prophecy.
Let us go back to Daniel 12:8-9 and I will give you what I think is a pretty clear example of what I have just said. Here Daniel is talking to an angel. Daniel had just been given what amounts to the longest prophecy in the entire Bible.
Daniel 12:8-9 And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go your way, Daniel; for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
I think you would have to admit that Daniel is a pretty important person in the story-thread of the Bible in the history of the children of Israel. He was privileged to be the one used to give some very exciting prophecies, and you would think that if anybody would have understood, it would have been Daniel. No. God did not consider it necessary for Daniel's salvation for him to understand. He gave him the prophecies, and then did not explain them. This does not mean that Daniel was absent of any grasp of what he was used to write down, but Peter tells us the things that were given Daniel were actually given to us, and that we would understand later on.
Understanding prophecy is very helpful to us as a faith-builder, but it is not absolutely necessary for salvation. And many, with Daniel being an example, undoubtedly received salvation through the ages understanding hardly any prophecy at all. So do not get carried away with any one interpretation as being an absolute.
We then looked more closely at Revelation 12. We saw that the church does not come into the picture until the last verse, when reference is made to "the remnant that keeps the commandments of God and has the testimony of Jesus Christ."
The nation of Israel (as every one of us should very clearly understand) did not keep the commandments; yet the reference is made at the end of Revelation 12 that Satan was going to persecute those within Israel who do keep the commandments. That is the church! But a couple of verses before that we saw the woman fleeing. The woman that was fleeing was not the church. It was the nation of Israel. Verse 15 of Revelation 12 makes this exceedingly clear, that verses 15, 16, and 17 pertain to the same woman as do the beginning verses of chapter 12.
The nation Israel is by far the major subject of Revelation 12. This strikingly confirms that in the end-time God is still seeing Israel as a single nation, and as a woman, despite its present end-time scattered condition. It is the nation of Israel that is shown fleeing from the face of the Serpent, and the one the earth helps by swallowing up the flood.
It was in this sermon that we began to look more closely at the characteristics of the Harlot of Revelation 17 and 18, and began to see that she symbolizes far more than merely a church. It was also in this sermon that we first confronted her three major characteristics: pride, satiety [over-indulgence], and avoidance of suffering, and unwillingness to sacrifice, to pay the price that it takes to discipline one's self, but always seeking the easy way out.
We saw in many places in the Bible that the woman symbol represents a nation—the nation of Israel in particular—and not a church. It is not until the New Testament that a woman representing a church even comes into the picture. That is only one place in the book of Galatians that the connection is made. Interestingly enough, the church itself is called a holy nation by Peter, and so the nation identification applies even to the church. I hardly think that the church is the Harlot woman of Revelation 17 and 18. That distinction belongs to the nation Israel.
That woman in Revelation 17 and 18 indeed does have a religious element to it, and that religious element is important. We also saw in that sermon that the Catholic Church always influenced the Roman Empire from within the empire. But in Revelation 17 and 18, the Woman influences the Beast from without. There is a clear distinction between the Woman of Revelation 17 and 18 and the Roman Universal Church that is within the Beast.
A summary for sermon four is that Israel most certainly is a major player in the book of Revelation. Revelation 12, 17, and 18 show this. Israel is the Woman of chapter 12 who flees, and is helped. The end-time story of her position as an earthly power continues in Revelation 17 and 18 as the Harlot woman.
I Corinthians 2:7-10 provides a foundation for a major portion of sermon number five.
I Corinthians 2:7-10 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed them unto us by his spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
It is a good idea to make a connection between I Corinthians 2:10 ("God has revealed them") to Deuteronomy 29:29 ("The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."). The things that God has revealed are for His people for them to use.
In sermon five we began to look much more closely and more specifically at the Woman's characteristics. The term "mystery" is used a number of times in scripture. We just read one there in I Corinthians 2. Included in the usage of the word "mystery" is Revelation 17:5.
Revelation 17:5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
"Mystery" is part of the Harlot's name.
In the biblical sense, a mystery is something that is hidden from those who have not been initiated. That is, their minds have not been opened, but the mystery is crystal-clear to those who have had their minds opened and the revelation given.
The Protestant world around us almost unanimously says in their commentaries that the Woman of Revelation 17 and 18 is the Roman Universal Church. I proposed to you, in that sermon, if this is so, where is the mystery? Did God reveal this to those who are not part of His church? But it is a fact that neither the world nor Israel itself knows where end-time Israel is located, and that does constitute a mystery of major prophetic proportion.
God revealed to His people—to you and to me through Herbert Armstrong—the mystery of where end-time Israel is located. I do not mean it was something that was open solely to him, or came first through him, but he was the one God used to spread it around. He spread around that information which was given to others before, but they made no use of it. God made use of it through Herbert Armstrong so that the church could make use of the knowledge of where Israel is, and understand very clearly that almost all of the end-time church is located right where it began—in Israel.
Israel is revealed in Revelation 12 as being an end-time player of major proportion. In Revelation 17 and 18 she is linked with the Beast, as being the two protagonists struggling for dominance of the Babylonish system. Both are part of the same system, but Israel appears as its epitome, and it will last almost until the time of Christ's return. When I say "almost until," I mean prophetically.
We looked closely at the biblical use of the term "harlot." We found that when it is used in a national sense, as it is for Israel, the term can and is legitimately understood to include both genders—male and female. The same principle is true in reference to sons and daughters. Commentators have made this very clear. So if the Bible says "the sons of Israel," it also means the females. If it says "the daughters of Zion," it also includes males. When it says "harlots of Israel," it means both males and females, but it makes us think of it in feminine terms because that is the gender most commonly associated with harlotry in people's minds. God is showing that the entire nation (male and female) is guilty of spiritual harlotry in its faithlessness to the covenant
A summary of sermon five is that the descriptive term "mystery" applies to Israel, because the world does not know Israel's identification or location, and both males and females have earned the term "harlot" because of their faithlessness to the Old Covenant responsibility.
We are going to go back to the Old Testament once again, to the book of Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy 7:6-11 For you are a holy people unto the LORD your God: the LORD your God has chosen you to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people: for you were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, has the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God, he is God, the faithful God, which keeps covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; And repays them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hates him, he will repay him to his face. You shall therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command you this day, to do them.
This series of verses clearly and succinctly expresses that the basis for God's and Israel's relationship lies in God's love and faithfulness. It is very important to understand this.
The sixth sermon was the first of two inset sermons dedicated to showing why this tremendously beneficial-to-Israel's relationship degenerated. We turned to Psalm 78 which gives an overview of the history of Israel's relationship with God. In it Israel is aptly described as "a deceitful bow." This is a bow as in a hunting bow, or a killing bow, that gives every appearance of being good and true to its purpose until it is put to the test.
We then saw God describe, in place after place, how deceitful and insatiably unfaithful and contrary Israel is. "How weak is your heart!" He moaned and complained regarding Israel, in Ezekiel 16, who was constantly looking for material and emotional pleasure.
One of Satan's most effective deceptions has been to trick the world, including Israel itself, into believing that Israel is a Christian nation, and thus a form a massive hypocrisy has been perpetrated against God, giving the world a bogus witness of Him and His way. Israel's religion is an amalgamation of syncretistic muddle of many false religions with principles of the true Christianity being mixed with it. Israel has spread the wine of her idolatrous religious influence worldwide because she has the economic resources enabling her to do it.
Genesis 49:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.
This applies to Israel right now, and what I am going to read to you applies specifically to Joseph.
Genesis 49:22 Joseph [Ephraim and Manasseh] is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall.
It is indicating there that we spread beyond the bounds of where we were planted, that we are a colonizing people, and everywhere we go we take with us elements of the Israelitish adaptation of the Babylonish system that has dominated from our past history by Rome. What we have succeeded in doing in spreading this worldwide is giving Christianity a bad name, and spreading lies about God and His way. We tell the world that we all worship the same God, thus implying that God is the author of mass confusion. What an abomination!
Israel has consistently shown it thinks that fulfillment lies in variety, whether in God, food, ways of life, spouses, entertainment, clothing fashions, or experiences. But by contrast, God, on the other hand, promotes uniformity and oneness. There is one God, one place to worship Him, one church, one sacrificial system, one mode of dress for the high priest, one mode of dress for the regular priests, one Temple, one place of sacrifice, one incense altar, one set of Sabbaths. His is the way, and He leaves us absolutely no legal room in this matter.
The summary of our relationship with God is shown in His love and faithfulness in Deuteronomy 7:6-11.
Israel is not a Christian nation. Its religion is syncretistic. Israel has consistently shown it believes that fulfillment lies in variety, just showing how contrary Israel is.
Daniel 3:19-20 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
The seventh sermon (the second of the inset sermons) began by establishing a consistent biblical occurrence that God shows He has a pattern of throwing His people "right into the fire," so to speak. He forces us to confront challenges we might otherwise withdraw or even run from.
Attached to this is the principle that is shown in Hebrews 3:12-14.
Hebrews 3:12-14 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today: lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.
This series of verses provides a broad, general explanation as to why Israel's relationship with God degenerates. It also pinpoints the basic reason for Israel's faithlessness. This faithlessness stands in vivid contrast to the faithfulness that is the subject at the beginning of the chapter. Paul points to the faithfulness of Jesus, and the faithfulness of Moses, noted in verses 2 and 5, indicating God does not want us to be like unbelieving Israel in her faithlessness. He wants us to be believing and faithful in the carrying out of our responsibilities to Him in the keeping of the New Covenant.
We can expect that God will continue to follow the pattern He has established in the past, in that He will throw us right into the fire, because He wants to test us to see whether we really do believe Him.
This unbelief, combined with Israel's fervent desire for variety of experience, set her up as almost easy picking for the alluring heart of the Babylonish system—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Babylon, the system, promotes fulfillment in material things, excitement and gratification of the flesh. Babylon's way promotes gambling, not in the sense of a casino, but in life's choices, betting that one will be able to beat the odds that the wages of sin is not death, even as Adam and Eve did.
One of Israel's great leaps of faithlessness—one of the greatest of all—was achieved in I Samuel 8, when they rejected God as their ruler in favor of having a king just like the Gentile nations around them—a constant desire for something different. They thought this was the solution to their problems. This was especially significant, because the major issue in life is government. Whom will we permit to be governor over our life? Whose way will we be faithful to? Will it be Satan and this world, or God? Adam and Eve gambled, and chose Satan's way, and they died. We must not repeat their faithlessness.
In Matthew 6:24 Jesus said the following:
Matthew 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other: or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other: You cannot serve God and mammon.
Brethren, we cannot retain sovereignty to ourselves, or give it to Satan and still be in the Kingdom of God. Either we will give it to God, or to our own fickle drive. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot walk down both sides of the street at the same time.
A summary for the seventh sermon is that an evil heart of unbelief, combined with the insatiable drive for variety, was Israel's downfall. Babylon's way promotes gambling on fulfillment through material things, excitement, and gratification of the flesh.
The core issue in life is government. Will we choose God, this world, or our own? The choice is ours.
The eighth sermon returned to searching for evidence of Israel's identity as the Woman of Revelation 17 and 18. At the beginning of that sermon we noted the references to her wealth, adding that no nation on earth even begins to compare to the wealth of the Israelitish people.
We also noted at the beginning of that sermon God describes the Woman as sitting, and showed you that when used as a metaphor, the term "sit" indicates respect, authority, power, and influence, indicating the way other nations look at the Woman. They respect her for her power, for her wealth, and even for her way of life. They may not like everything about it, but they would sure like to have it, and they are thinking of ways to get it. All the time it is working on their minds: "How can we bring her down? We admire her, but we want what she has."
Of course Israel makes them think that somehow or other she earned it, when it reality we know it was given, showing how generous God is in the keeping of His promises to His people.
In Deuteronomy 33 we have another prophecy regarding the people of Israel. This one was made by Moses. We will read verse 13 to introduce the subject.
Deuteronomy 33:13 And of Joseph [meaning Ephraim and Manasseh] he said, Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that couches beneath.
Never have countries been so blessed as Britain and America, with beautiful, wonderful weather patterns, enabling both of these nations to be powerful in terms of agriculture. We have been blessed with all kinds of minerals beneath the soil, giving us the power to produce all kinds of wonderful things that people in the world want to buy, and which will make us wealthy.
Deuteronomy 33:17 His glory [Joseph's glory] is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns [which are symbols of power] are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: [Is that describing a dominant power in the world?] and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.
Israel is consistently shown in Revelation as being one unit, as contrasted to the Beast, which is many and diverse and unrelated property. God is thus portraying Israel, the Woman, as one nation, but undoubtedly led by the Joseph tribes as they were when Israel first fell to Assyria around 200-720 BC.
Revelation 17:18 And the woman which you saw is that great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.
This great bull pushed the people all over the earth. The only nations on earth which can do that are the Israelitish nations. I wanted you to see this verse where Babylon clearly calls the Woman a city, not a church. It then proceeds on into Revelation 18 where she is described as being a huge worldwide merchandising and manufacturing entity that political figures, merchantmen, and transportation industries weep over at its destruction because they can no longer buy or sell its goods. This is not describing a church and its business, wealth, and fall, but a nation's business, wealth, and fall.
I then speculated that New York City might be the model for end-time Babylon. It is even cynically called "Babylon" here in the United States by some. It is the home of the United Nations, and it has twice recently been called "the capital of the world" by Mayor Bloomberg.
A summary of the eighth sermon is Israel's unity, as contrasted to the diverse Beast. Israel's wealth, manufacturing and merchandising power, and its influence among the nations is strong indication that it is indeed fulfilling the role of the Woman of Revelation 17 and 18.
The ninth sermon:
Revelation 17:6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
I want to read a scripture I did not use in the ninth sermon, but it is indicative of the subject material. It appears in all three of the gospels, but I am going to read the one in Luke 20:9-15.
Luke 20:9-15 Then began he to speak to the people this parable: A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them?
The ninth sermon opened by reminding us of Israel's sordid past history of murdering those God sent to witness for Him and against them. Israel has gone so far as to kill God's Son; however, Israel's sorry record did not end anciently in Judea, in Jerusalem. Rather, one can search books like Fox's Book of Martyrs, and Martyrs Mirror, and with a little thought one can determine that many of the martyrdoms that took place, and those written about. took place within the very areas where the Israelites were dwelling, all the way up to the 17 Century, where both of those books finally end.
Jeremiah 31, combined with Revelation13 and Revelation 6, implies very strongly that martyrdom of God's people will once again occur in Israelitish lands. Israel will not be spared. The saints' blood will once again be spilled, adding afresh to Israel's despicable, hypocritical, and anti-God record.
I stopped with that right there and spent the rest of that ninth sermon on the subject of how the Bible treats and describes the subject of prostitution. This is important because of something that God relates to us in the book of Hosea. I want you to turn to Hosea 4:11-12. Think of this in terms of Israel, not just anciently, but right on up to today, because we are carrying forward the same kind of faithlessness ancient Israel did.
Hosea 4:11-12 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart. My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declares unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms has caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.
Hosea 5:4 They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD [despite the fact that we call ourselves a Christian nation. Instead we are guilty of spiritual harlotry.]
That sermon turned to how the Bible described prostitution. This is important, because God charges that Israel has this heart within her. Harlotry is commonly thought as being only something women selling sex on the street are guilty of; however, the spirit of this sin reaches out to include all—men and women—who abuse and debase their gifts. Unbelief and self-indulgence, stirred by greed, is what the Bible shows is at prostitution's base.
Temptation triggers the desire for one to do this, and the desire stirs the yearning for gratification. And then the failure to wisely consider the end motivates the gamble, and triggers the actual act, and the act brings forth death. Prostitution, repeatedly frequently—physical or spiritual—becomes habitual and addictive.
In terms of the nation, God directly named occultism, the commercial merchandising system, military power, political alliances, and above all idolatry, as prostitution. In each case, Israel has departed from God's directive as to what she is to do. It is right here that prostitution becomes a grave concern for us. This is because we too can sell ourselves out, and debase and abuse our gift—the gift of His calling, and of His spirit, departing from His directive He has given us to follow.
A summary of the ninth sermon is that spiritual prostitution can be a reality for us personally if we sell ourselves out, rather than discipline ourselves to confront the enemy and fight the battle. We must not allow ourselves to be "bought off" by avoiding the sacrifices of the way God may require of us. If we allow ourselves to be bought off, we will surely become squeezed into the mold of this world, so that at the end we will look like it, rather than like the Son of God.
I am going to give you nine reasons why I believe Israel is the Woman in Revelation.
1. Beginning in Genesis 12, the entire Bible is devoted to Israel and the church, and so it is the subject of the Bible.
2. In Revelation 7 Israel is clearly mentioned as existing at the end-time. In Revelation 12 Israel is clearly the subject, and the time element brings Israel's existence right up to the Tribulation; thus God shows that Israel is still a nation at the end-time. The Woman of Revelation 17 and 18 is the same Woman as that shown in Revelation 12.
3. In Exodus 20 through Exodus 24, God enters into the Old Covenant with Israel. The Old Covenant is a marriage. God clearly says "Israel became Mine," meaning My wife.
4. Israel is the only nation God has entered into a relationship with at such an intimate level.
5. Israel is clearly referred to by God as "the Woman" within this relationship.
6. Israel was grossly unfaithful to God in this relationship by not fulfilling her part in the covenant.
7. God calls this unfaithfulness harlotry.
8. The Woman of Revelation 17 is clearly called "the harlot." The whole Bible shows us Israel earned the title, as despicable as it is.
The Harlot is clearly wealthy, powerful, and influential in the world. Israel is the only nation on earth at the end-time that has the combination of the fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham. Israel's wealth—her power, influence, history and religion—fits the word-picture of the Woman given by God. This also includes Israel being a giant manufacturing and merchandising entity, and being a killer of the people of God, and having a very uneasy relationship with the Beast.