Revelation 17 is an explanation of what John has seen since the opening of the seventh seal on the seven-sealed scroll that appears to represent the seven days of creation and, indeed, all the days of space and time as we experience them.
In Revelation chapter 4 Jesus said, “Come up here,” and suddenly John finds himself before the throne of God. He’s got the whole world (cosmos) in His hand, as twenty-four elders—one, of whom, must be John—ceaselessly worship around the throne.
There must be at least two Johns: the John that is entirely awake to the sovereignty of God and the John that is asleep in the dream of his own sovereignty; there must be a perfected John, who ceaselessly worships in eternity and John, the grumpy fisherman in the scroll in 30 AD. And now, John observes them both.
In chapter 17 an angel speaks to this John, the observer.
The angel reveals the identity of the Great Harlot.
She is Babylon, Rome, Jerusalem and the mother of earth’s abominations.
She is an economy of “porneia.”
She is the spirit that tells us that we must pay for Love.
She rides the beast.
The beast is the empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.
The beast has seven heads that are seven kings and seven mountains.
The beast also appears to be the antichrist—the imitation Christ.
The beast is the spirit that tempts us to take life, to make ourselves live.
Everyone dwelling on earth follows the beast, appears to be marked by the number of the beast, and constructs and worships an image of the beast.
I often seem to make myself in the image of a beast, even though I desperately want to make myself in the image of God . . . just as the Pharisees wanted to make themselves in the image of God.
Solomon wrote, “God is testing the children of Adam that they may see that they themselves are but beasts.”
If the beast is the imitation christ, the harlot is the imitation bride of christ.
It’s easy to get stressed about the beast and, battling the beast, make oneself rather beastly . . . and whorish.
And yet, three times in chapter 17, the angel says, “The beast is not…”
The beast exists in your past, which is your interpretation of events you have experienced. And the beast exists in your future, which is a fiction you have created based on your interpretation of the past.
The past is gone. The future is a fiction. But NOW is the day of Salvation. “NOW is the Judgment of this world. NOW is the ruler of this world cast out,” said Jesus in John 12. NOW is where, and when, I can know and be known by another. Now is that point where, and when, time touches eternity.
“The beast was, is not, and is about to come and go to destruction,” says the angel.
Three times John has already heard that the Lord is the One who “was, is, and is to come.” God is “I AM.”
There is a fundamental dualism in Scripture between Good and evil, Life and death, Truth and lies, Light and dark, Logos and chaos, “I AM” and “i am not.” It’s a fundamental dualism that isn’t really a dualism, for one side IS and one side is not.
There is also a fundamental dualism in us in Scripture, between the New/Eternal Man and the old man, the True Self and the false self, the Vessel of Mercy and the vessel of wrath, the Wheat and the tare, the Grain and the chaff, between the Child of God and the spawn of the devil.
The devil is not the father of people, but the father of lies. When we, the Bride of Christ, believe the devil’s lies we receive his “seed” and produce an “abomination.”
In Luke 16, Jesus says to the Pharisees, “That which is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Your ego is an abomination, and when it sits on the throne in the temple of your soul it becomes the abomination of desolation, for you think you are a beast or harlot and not a man or woman created in the image of God. You think that you are “not,” and must make yourself “I AM.”
You cannot make your nothing into something with fear that you’re nothing, or by striving to be something, which is only choosing more nothing.
You cannot save yourself, you can only wake from the nightmare that “you are salvation,” to the reality of “God is Salvation,” “Yeshua,” Jesus.
You cannot create yourself; you can only wake to the reality that you have been created.
By Grace you can accept yourself—your true self—by looking into the eyes of your Father and believing His Judgment: “The beast is not, and you are ‘called and chosen and faithful.’” That is who I am.
*Sermon discussion questions are available here: “The Beast Is Not So What Am I?”