Summary: Eternal life is for those who live faithfully before God, believing in his promises and living by his standards, even when the pressures to conform to our culture are nearly overwhelming.
Has it ever occurred to you that the Bible probably ought to be rated “R”? It’s definitely not G, and parental guidance is certainly needed. I don’t think it rates an X, even though there’s an awful lot of violence, especially in the OT, and even some sexually explicit material, because the content certainly has more than a little redeeming social importance. But even if the only book you looked at was Revelation, I think an “R” is about right. It’s pretty violent. And today we’re going to be touching on sex. There are some words and images in here which may need some explanation when you get home - that is if your kids are listening to the
sermon at all. But I think it can be done. In fact, I think it needs to be done. Children in grade school learn more about these matters than I knew when I graduated from high school. And the only thing that will protect them against our culture’s corruption is the word of God. And besides, the tough bits of Scripture can’t be skipped over just because they’re hard to explain.
This chapter of Revelation introduces the whore of Babylon, also called the great harlot or the mother of prostitutes. And of course we all know that - at least I think we all know - that John isn’t really talking about women selling their bodies for money. He’s talking about human beings trading eternal life for temporary pleasure. But God uses the metaphor of prostitution, of adultery, because it’s the strongest possible way to explain how ugly, how harmful, how unacceptable - and yet how tempting - it is to make that choice.
Writer John MacArthur says that there is a sense in which Karl Marx’s statement that ’religion is the opium of the masses’ is true. People are religious because God created them to be worshipers. And so if they aren’t worshiping the true God, they will worship someone or something else. And so even though we may look around and think America is getting less religious, we aren’t. Just less Christian.
Our natural longing for God has been sidetracked by the lie that we can have growth without pain. spirituality without sacrifice, and salvation without repentance.
Revelation seems to teach that the end times will be characterized by a single world religion. This may be literally true. On the other hand, this world religion may simply be a way of conveying the fact that all false religions have certain things in common, and so whether or not they are actually called by the same name doesn’t really matter. All false religions are characterized by a desire to make God a servant of our own egos and desires.
The story of Babylon really begins with the tower of Babel. You may remember that after the flood, Noah’s descendants, led by a man named Nimrod, said to themselves, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." [Gen 11:4] And throughout the OT, if you look for it, you will find that “the city” is always the place where people forget God, and start imagining that they can reach heaven - or build it - under their own power. And it certainly seems that most of the Western world - the product of the
so-called enlightenment - is buying into that same self-congratulatory illusion that human beings can build paradise on earth.
Although male gods technically ruled in ancient near Eastern religion, the worship of the mother goddess was central. The mother goddess appeared in three forms: virgin, mother, and crone, and ruled over life and birth and death. In most of those cultures, there was a story of death the goddess’ son, who was then restored to life by the mother goddess. Non-Christian scholars like Joseph Campbell uses these myths to try to discredit Christianity, teaching that Christianity is a derivation of these myths, rather than understanding that each one of these myths is a muddled reflection of our inborn awareness of death, and hunger for redemption and life.
In Phoenicia, the mother was called Ashtoreth, and the son Baal. The Egyptians mother goddess was Isis and her son was Osiris. The Greeks had Aphrodite and Eros. Artemis of the Ephesians - whose followers caused Paul so much trouble in the book of Acts - was another of these mother goddesses. And even Israel fell into the temptation of worshiping the mother goddess, saying to Jeremiah when he rebuked them, “We are not going to listen to you. Instead, we will... make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out libations to her, just as we and our