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THE PUNISHMENT OF THE GREAT PROSTITUE AND THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON

The Punishment of the Great Prostitute and the Battle of Armageddon

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“On of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come, and I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters…. 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’…. The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East…. Then they [the demons] gathered the [ten] kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” (Revelation 17:1, 16, 16: 12,16, insertions mine)

These important Bible verses will be fulfilled during the last thirty days of the Great Tribulation. The great prostitute is a forthcoming one-world-church-state. At a place called “Armageddon,” the kings of Earth will make war against Jesus as He and the Father appear in the clouds of glory. This explanation may seem fictitious because currently, a one-world-church state is impossible because (a) we are a world of diverse governments, and (b) no one on earth has enough power to capture the whole world. Nevertheless, the book of Revelation predicts these events will transpire and we can be sure that everything God has said will occur.

Before we examine the formation of the great prostitute and the battle of Armageddon, we need to understand that some basic behaviors are very important to God even though they do not appear to be very important to a growing number of human beings. For example, God has said that He will judge us with the same attitude and standards that we judge others. If we are critical of others, God will be critical with us. (Matthew 7:2) God requires us to be fair in our business dealings. If we cheat in business deals because we can get away with it, God considers that stealing. (Leviticus 25; Matthew 7:12; Luke 3:14; Proverbs 16:11) If we defraud others, commit violet acts against others or if we live sexually immoral lives, God will not permit us to enter Heaven. (Revelation 21: 8,27) God has also promised to extract restitution from everyone who refuses to make restitution to those they have wronged. (Romans 12:19; Revelation 2: 23; 2 Corinthians 5:10) God also commands us to love our enemies. (Matthew 5: 43-45) This commandment cannot be fulfilled without God’s help. In fact, all of God’s commands require God’s help because our carnal natures are degenerate.

These principles matter to God and they should matter to us because God holds us accountable for our actions. You might ask, “So, what does our treatment of others have to do with the Great tribulation?” The answer is quite simple: The Great tribulation will be a through test of character. God commands us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39) and the Great Tribulation will reveal our love (or lack of love) for others. Distressing situations bring out the best and worst in people. Thus, the Great Tribulation will reveal our true character. During the Great Tribulation, the necessities of life will become scarce, and survival will be questionable. In this context, our love for others, including our enemies, will be tested and everyone, including God, will see the results.

Loving Truth Matters Most

The first and greatest commandment is that we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind and soul. (Matthew 22:37) Is there a difference between loving God and loving religion? Although most of the world does not see any difference between the teachings of their religion and the will of God, there is one critical element that keeps God and the religion separate: truth. Man’s understanding of truth is ever advancing and the issue that matters most to God is our response to advancing truth. God is totally honest and He demands the same from His children. (1 Chronicles 29:17; Matthew 5:8) God looks in our hearts and sees our commitment to honesty. He knows if we are pure in heart. He knows if we are scrupulous about being honest. God hates dishonesty, and He detests hypocrites pretending to be honest but is liars and thieves. (Proverbs 6: 16-19; Matthew 23)

You may be wondering what our conduct toward others and our honesty has to do with the great prostitute and the battle of Armageddon. Actually, a great deal. The great prostitute in revelation 17 represents a great multitude of selfish and dishonest people who will unite with the devil to save their lives. The honest in heart will not compromise and will not go along with the devil’s schemes.  As a result, the honest in heart will be torn between loving their own lives and the love for the truth. (John 12:25) Honesty opens the door to eternal life. When a sinner honestly confesses sin and becomes will to go, and be and do all that God requires, the sinner receives an assurance of salvation because Jesus has paid the price of sin. Salvation begins with honesty. Honesty is an attitude about life, and truth and our honesty determines the nature of our relationship with God.

Honestly Wrong

God knows that we live in a world of “developing truth” because God alone possesses absolute truth. Our limited knowledge of truth is not a problem for God because He is ultimately concerned about our response to what we believe is truth, not our possession or acceptance of absolute truth. In other words, when a person lives up to all that he or she honestly believes to be God’s will – God is pleased with that person’s honesty. God knows that if an honest person discovers more truth, he or she will joyfully conform to it because honest people love truth and honest people want all the truth they can find! The apostle Paul is one of the best examples in the Bible of a misguided person who was honestly wrong. Paul zealously lived up to everything he thought was God’s will (Philippians 3), and in fact, he believed that he was doing God a service by persecuting Christians! After meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul saw his misdirection and he immediately became a follower of Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus confronted Paul on the road because He knew that Paul was unusually honest in heart. Jesus knew that Paul loved God and His truth with all his heart, and Paul’s behavior after meeting Jesus leaves no doubt about his love for truth. Consider this statement carefully: It is no sin to be mistaken, but it is a sin to refuse to accept advancing truth that God has revealed.  (2 Timothy 3:1-7; James 4:17)

Jesus told Nicodemus: “Everyone who does evil hates the light [of truth], and will not come into the light for fear that his [dishonest] deeds will be exposed. But whoever [love and] lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done ahs been [honestly] done through [the power of the indwelling Spirit of] God.” (John 3:20,21, insertions mine) This is a profound declaration! The great difference between those who love truth and those who do not is a commitment to honesty. Honest people seek truth, they love truth, and they are open to the increasing demands of truth as their understanding of truth unfolds. Honesty is so important to God because people cannot live happily throughout the corridors of eternity without being honest with God, self and others.

Honest people are transparent people. They do business in an open and honorable way. Their word is their bond. They do not have anything to hide. They are willing to confess their wrongs ands make amends when necessary. Honest people are concerned about things that matter most in life: walk humbly before God and serving others with integrity, loyalty and faithfulness. If we love truth, we make God happy because He can accomplish great things through every person who is willing to advance with greater truth. Jesus promised His followers: “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth….”  (John 16:13) A simple test to tell if we love truth is our reaction when we are confronted with more truth. If we are convicted by God’s Spirit that it is truth, we will obey it regardless of the consequences that may come.

This brings us to the poignant question that Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) Truth is a verity, or a fact, that is confirmed by the harmony that comes from the sum of the parts. In other words, truth can be as simple as a statement of fact or it can be a complex collection of interrelated facts. The Bible contains simple statements of truth such as, “God is love” (1 John 4:8), as well as complex statements of truth such as the doctrine of parallel temples. (Hebrews 8:1-5) As a matter of non-negotiable faith, I accept as fact that the Bible is the Word of God. I believe the sixty-six books of the Bible are consistent with the will of God. Whenever God’s Spirit affirms the veracity of advancing truth in my heart (that is, the Spirit puts the weight of conviction in my heart that something is truth), that verity becomes testing truth. God watches to see whether I will implement advancing truth and walk in the greater light of God’s Word, or if I will resist truth and remain in darkness to avoid change. God wants to see if I am willing to endure the social, economic and familial consequences, that advancing truth can cause. In a fallen world, the price that truth requires can be serious. Jesus said, “the truth can set you free.” (John 8:32) His words are true. The truth can set you free of your friends, your job, your family and your church, but the truth also gives you a new set of friends, a better job, a larger family and membership in the body of Christ!

Human beings do not have access to absolute truth. This is why there can be different opinions and views about truth. Two honest people can have opposing views! Man’s diversity is not a problem because God alone knows and possesses absolute truth. God wants us to love honesty and truth as He does so that our relationship with Him can grow. We are finite God is infinite. Therefore, the only way we can grow in love and appreciation for God is through adopting more truth because His truths are ever expanding!

Conflicts over Truth

We live in a diverse world. We live on several continents, we speak hundreds of different languages, we worship different gods, we are citizens of various governments, and we come from many races and cultures – yet, we make up one world.  God is not perplexed by our diversity because He is responsible for it. When He scattered the inhabitants of earth at the tower of Babel some 4,500 years ago (Genesis 11), He foreknew the diversity that would occur. As a matter of fact, He intends to use our global diversity at the end of Earth’s drama to demonstrate some amazing facts. Here is one such fact: God intends to show the universe that there are people within every religion, culture, nation and tongue who sincerely loves truth and if necessary, they would sacrifice life itself because of their love for truth.  The interesting thing about these people is that the only thing they have in common is their love for truth because the verities they presently exalt as truth are as diverse and conflicted as mankind! Even though two honest people can believe opposite things about the will of God, this does not present a problem for God because He can see that both people love truth. God knows that if He gave these two diverse people a clear and definitive presentation of His will, both would receive it and joyfully obey it because they love the truth!

Consider how God will separate His sheep from the goats in all religions during the Great Tribulation. God will send a clear and powerful testimony of truth through His servants, the 144,000, during the Great Tribulation, and all who love truth will receive their gospel! The rest of mankind will reject it. Before you say to yourself, “I love truth and I will certainly take my stand on the side of truth when the time comes,” you need to understand that the 144,000 will present a gospel to the human race during the Great tribulation within a context of severe persecution. Accepting God’s truth will come with a price. Even though demonic forces will do their best to thwart the advance of the gospel, everyone on Earth will hear the everlasting gospel, and it will be contrary to everyone’s religion! This is how God will level the playing field for the whole world. God is about to trap everyone between the demands of truth and the demands of false religion to see who loves truth and who is honest in heart. Our diversity is no obstacle for God because He will test our love for truth. The people of Earth will hear three testing truths, three simple truths (Revelation 14:6-13), and those who love truth will receive these truths and obey them. The rest of mankind will rebel. Thus, the sheep will be separated from the goats in all religions.

The Great Tribulation

The Great tribulation will begin with a global earthquake that will dwarf the 9.3 Richter scale earthquake that caused the deadly tsunami in southern Asia in December 2004. (Revelation 8:5) Shortly after the earthquake, a trumpet will sound in Heaven’s temple and the seven trumpet-judgments will begin to fall. It appears that the four judgments will occur during a period of 30-60 days. The first trumpet-judgment will be meteoric showers of burning hail that will burn up a third of Earth. Next, the second and third trumpet-judgments will occur and there will be two civilization-threatening asteroid impacts. The fourth trumpet-judgment will produce a period of extended darkness. Crops around the world will wither without sunlight and global famine will set in. (Revelation 8: 2-13) Twenty-five percent of the world’s population (1.75 billion people?) will perish as a result of the first four trumpets, and every survivor will tremble at such awesome display of God’s wrath. Everyone on Earth will stop, look and listen. Billions of people will wonder, “What does God want?” “What should we do to appease God’s wrath so that His terrible judgments will stop?”

As the dust from the first four trumpet-judgments begins to settle, the clergy of the world will rush to form a crisis organization. On that day, all the religions of the world will unite around the obvious necessity to appease God’s wrath. The clergy of all the religions will agree that God’s wrath can only be appeased through repentance and worship. This “common cause” will enable diverse religions to unite, and in Revelation, this organization is called “Babylon” because the diverse coalition of religious leaders will be very confused. (Incidentally, the word Babylon means confusion.)

In spite of sincere efforts, the religious leaders of the world will not be able to unify the world in matters of repentance and worship, and numerous “sin-less” laws will not make the nations of the world righteous. Instead, man’s religious and political response to God’s wrath will only cause the misery index for humanity to climb higher. This sequence of events will reveal an interesting point: Moral legislation does not produce righteousness. At first, the decadent behavior will cease because of the fear of God, but as time passes, humankind will return to previous behaviors. When religious leaders see people doing evil again, they will ask for even tougher laws that will result in the clergy punishing sinners through the power of the state.

The fifth trumpet-judgment will be the physical appearing of the devil (the Antichrist), and he will appear on or about the 890th day of the Great Tribulation. (The Great Tribulation will last 1,335 days – Daniel 12:12). In other words, God will hold back the appearing of the devil until two-thirds of the time allotted for the Great Tribulation has expired. God delays the appearing of the “Great Deception” so that most of the inhabitants of the world can receive or reject the everlasting gospel on its own merits. This is the key. The devil is not allowed to appear until most of the inhabitants of Earth have had a chance to make an informed and intelligent decision about the truth sent from God.  

After the devil is released from the abyss, the spirit realm where he is presently confined (Revelation 17:8), he will physically appear before billions of people masquerading as Almighty God. The devil will travel throughout the Earth for five months. He will attract huge crowds and gain followers through amazing signs and miraculous wonders. He will also inflict painful intimidation on wicked people who refuse to obey him. (Revelation 9:1-11) At the end of the five months of self-promotion, the devil will declare that Earth is his kingdom. Speaking as God, he will demand that a one-world church-state be established, which he will claim will last for a thousand years.

The apostle Paul says the devil will declare himself to be God and he will have the miracle working powers to prove his deceitful claim. (2 Thessalonians 2) Because honest people love truth, it can be said that dishonest people love lies. Therefore, God sends the wicked “a great lie” so that they might unite with the father of lies (John 8:44) and be destroyed. The devil’s appearing presents an interest fact. God is not passive about our rejection of truth. If we reject the clearest evidences of truth, then God permits the devil to sweep us away with lies. In other words, God permits those who refuse to love the truth to be deceived by their love for lies.

The Bible predicts that a large majority of the world will be deceived by Lucifer’s miracles and misled by his lies. (Revelation 13:8) They will believe that the devil is almighty God! Paul wrote, “The coming of the lawless one [who claims to be God in verse 4) will be in accordance with the work of Satan [for he is Satan] displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because [they heard the truth and] they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but delighted in darkness.” (2 Thessalonians 2: 9-12, italics and insertions mine) Keep this thought in mind: God does not condemn people for honestly believing things that are not true; however, God does condemn those who refuse to embrace the clearest evidences of truth.

After the devil appears on Earth, no one will be able to refuse the Antichrist without suffering a terrible penalty. (Revelation 9:6; 13:15) Standing for truth will be painful, but going along with the devil will also prove to be painful, especially during the seven bowls. This is why the Great Tribulation is called “a time of wrath.” (Daniel 8:19; 11:36) Everyone will suffer. Eventually, the devil will divide the people of Earth into ten sectors and he will set up ten kings to rule over them. Lucifer will also choose a large number of people to serve as officials in his new government.

No Room for Diversity

As King of kings (the chief political leader of the world) and Lord of lords (the chief religious leader of the world), the devil’s demand for a one-world-church-state will seem very reasonable to his followers. Think about this statement very carefully: When “God” lives among men, there can be no room for diversity within religion or government. When the devil lives among men, he will be able to speak for himself that will eliminate any question or ambiguity about “the will of God.” The devil will demand there must be “one Lord, one faith and one baptism.” The devil will quote the Bible and other sacred writings with marvelous ability to support his claims.  The serpent has no equal when it comes to deception. He will be successful for a time. (Daniel 11:36) He will set up a one-world-church-state and rule Earth. His one-world-church-state is called “an image to the beast” in Revelation 13 because his government will be “a likeness” of previous fallen governments that have ruled on Earth. Calling the great government of Lucifer “an image to the beast” is a veiled denunciation of Lucifer’s government because the government of Jesus Christ, which He will set up on Earth after it is purified by fire, will be totally unlike the governments of fallen man. In other words, God’s government will not be an image of man’s fallen ways. God’s government is based on love, righteousness and truth. Lucifer’s government is based on force, evil schemes and lies.

 

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