The Woman and the Scarlet Beast
Open Your Bible
Revelation 17:1-18, Psalm 90:1-17, 1 Timothy 6:11-16
BY Erin Davis
John’s prophecy recorded in the book of Revelation is timeless. I am confident he wasn’t zeroed in on our current political climate when he described worldly leaders who were morally bankrupt and drunk on power. And yet, the shoe fits, doesn’t it? Sadly, since the fall of humanity in the garden of Eden, this shoe always seems to fit.
Here in Revelation 17, we see humankind’s perversion of power personified in the prostitute. She is dressed to impress and mired in scandal. She is greedy, flashy, and horrid. I find it hard to look away. This passage has plenty of mysteries, and I won’t claim to understand them all. But life on planet earth has trained me to recognize the distorting effects of power. She is every ruler who has ever reigned and every heart twisted and broken by sin.
She is presidents and prime ministers, congressmen and counselors. She embodies parents and principals, laws and limitations. But one thing she is not—she is not the Lamb of God. Neither is the beast who is with her. Their rule and reign is fleeting. With that in mind, look closely at how the beast is described:
“The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up from the abyss and go to destruction. Those who live on the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast that was, and is not, and is to come” (Revelation 8, emphasis mine).
Stack those words up against these descriptions of Jesus (again, emphasis mine):
“Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who was, and who is to come” (Revelation 1:4).
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).
“Each of the four living creatures had six wings; they were covered with eyes around and inside. Day and night they never stop, saying,
Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God, the Almighty,
who was, who is, and who is to come” (Revelation 4:8).
The beast will reign until he doesn’t. The prostitute may have a moment in the limelight, but she cannot diminish the Light of the World by a single lumen. Every leader who has ever ruled, every king who has ever been crowned, every circumstance that has ever terrorized you—all will come to an end. But Christ will remain. Only His throne is established forever.
Political leaders aren’t the only ones with power over me. If I keep looking inward, at my own power-hungry heart, I see some of me in the prostitute as well. I keep clawing my way back onto the throne that sits in my heart. I keep trying to take control away from the only One who is worthy to rule. Yet, the reign of sin will not last forever inside of me because brokenness won’t always be king of this world.
Because of Jesus, sin’s power is not ultimate. Sin was, but will be no more. Only the spotless Lamb and His Bride will remain. Long live the King of kings!