The Scarlet Woman
A while ago a man boarded a flight in L.A. heading for Oakland, CA. After a couple hours he flagged an attendant and asked why they had not landed. He learned that the plane was heading to Auckland, NZ, instead of Oakland. As soon as he got to Auckland he took the next flight home. Auckland might have been a nice place to go, with better amenities. But it was not where he should have been. He was traveling the wrong direction.
As Christians sometimes our plan is to go to Oakland, but we sometimes end up heading the wrong direction and do not realize it until it is too late. Fortunately, God has given us a guide in the Bible to steer us in the right direction. We can make adjustments as we learn more about the current direction we are heading in, if it is the wrong way. A similar situation happened in the Bible with Elijah and the showdown in Mt. Carmel.
The story is found in 1 Kings 17-19. At this point in Israel’s history God’s people had been worshiping God and Baal. The evil queen Jezebel had steered the people in the wrong direction and they became confused. Elijah confronted King Ahab and told him that there would be a drought for the next few years because he allowed evil worship into the kingdom. After a time, Elijah called all of Israel to the top of Mt Carmel, where a showdown between Baal and God happened. Elijah asked the people, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If Baal is god, follow him, otherwise, follow the Lord.” 850 prophets of Baal were challenged to call on Baal to bring down fire from heaven. Baal did not answer and bring fire down, even though the priests cut themselves and screamed loudly. Elijah then repaired the altar of God after waiting all day and quietly asked God to accept the sacrifice. God sent fire down from heaven, showing everyone that there was only one true God in Israel, and only one God to worship. Elijah called the people to be faithful to God. He called them to worship the one true God.
The Bible says that Elijah would come back not once, but twice. Malachi 4:5 contains the last prophecy in the Old Testament, where God will send Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. The disciples asked Jesus about this prophecy and he told them that Elijah was already here. He was talking about John the Baptist. Yet when the Pharisees asked if John the Baptist was Elijah, he said no. Jesus was referring to Elijah’s message that would come. John the Baptist preached the same message Elijah preached calling for faithfulness to the one true God. He called for a spiritual revival.
The message of Elijah is coming again. There will be a calling back to worship of the true God. Revelation 14:6-12 reveals messages from three angels with warnings. The first angel calls for worship, the third angel mentions that worshiping the beast will lead to drinking from the cup of God’s wrath. The second angel mentions that Babylon is fallen, twice. When John wrote Revelation, he borrowed much imagery from the Old Testament. When he was writing about the fall of Babylon, he had the original fall of Babylon in mind. We looked at the fall of Babylon in Daniel.
Jerusalem was God’s city, where His temple was located. Babylon is described as the opposite – a pagan land with extensive worship of idols. In Daniel 1 we learned that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon took vessels that were used in God’s temple and put them inside the temple of an idol. This was a serious act because those vessels were sacred, and using them in another god’s temple was horrible. The fall of Babylon occurs in Daniel 5, where Belshazzar, now king of Babylon, throws a party and brings out the vessels that were used in God’s house to worship the gods of gold, silver, and other materials. With the outrageous levels of blasphemy in this party, a man’s hand mysteriously appeared and wrote on the wall. Daniel was called in and revealed that Babylon’s time was up, that it was weighed in the balances and found lacking, and that the kingdom would soon go to the Medes and Persians. Belshazzar did not believe it (drunk maybe?) and laughed it off. That night, the Medes/Persians took the kingdom led by General Cyrus and Belshazzar was destroyed. Babylon was destroyed because despite the knowledge they received about God through Daniel’s testimony and Nebuchadnezzar’s experience (see Daniel 4), they reveled in debauchery and worship of false gods. They defiled God right in His face. That is why Babylon fell.
This parallel is found in Revelation 14. A message is sent out to all the world about worshiping the true Creator. When everyone, like Belshazzar, has heard the truth, and many decide to continue to defile God and His laws, then it will be said that Babylon is fallen. It is with this background we turned to the women in Revelation.
Revelation 12:1 talks about a woman clothed with natural beauty. We know she is good because the devil is after her. In Revelation 17 we see another woman, clothed in colors and decked with precious metals. She has a name on her forehead in Revelation 17:5, revealing she is the mother of Babylon. This also reveals that she has daughters as well, all related to Babylon. In the Bible women represent the church. The one in Revelation 12 represents God’s true church, and the one in Revelation 17 is the false church who is the mother of Babylon. Her daughters also carry these traits of the mother church and teach the same falsehoods, and it is all related to Babylon.
Babylon comes from the name Babel. Babel means to confuse (like what happened at the Tower of Babel). Babylon means spiritual confusion. Revelation 17:2 reveals that this harlot causes confusion by making others drunk with her fornication. What are the false teachings that have led to much confusion? We debrief over a couple here:
We discussed what really happens when you die in an earlier post. There is much confusion around this topic because many believe that heaven/hell is the immediate destination after the last breath. However, believing this process contradicts creation, the resurrection, the second coming of Jesus, and the Biblical view of Hell. The Bible does not speak of a purgatory or an afterlife that happens before Jesus comes. This is a teaching you will find popular in Babylon, the mother church. But you’ll also find these false teachings in the daughter churches as well. Churches that claim to be protesting as part of the earlier Reformation teach the same thing as the mother church, even though they claim to be Biblical-based!
The devil is also confusing many of God’s followers with the teaching of the Sabbath. We also looked in depth at this topic (read here) and discovered what the Bible teaches about the Sabbath as God’s memorial to His Creation. Yet the mother church, despite being frank about its hand in changing the Sabbath, continues to teach that Sunday is the day to keep even though it is contradictory to the Bible! And the daughter churches are teaching the same doctrine as well, continuing to add to the confusion of Babylon while claiming to be teaching straight from the Bible.
There are other teachings, but we highlight what has been the most confusing in our experience talking with many different people. God does not want us to be confused. He does not want us to be on the plane to Auckland if our intended destination is Oakland! Remember Elijah told the people to not falter between two opinions, choose God or Baal!
In Revelation 18 we see the call go out by a mighty angel: “Babylon is fallen is fallen.” The message goes one, taking a merciful tone: “Come out of her my people, that you are not partakers of her sins.” God is saying that Babylon is headed for destruction and desolation. But He is calling His people to come out of her. Yes, God has His people in other churches friends. He wants them to follow Him. He wants them to be a part of the 144,000. He wants to save them. God’s people are everywhere, but God is not telling them to stay there and work reform from within. He is calling them out. He is calling on them to read the Word of God. He is calling them to follow the Bible because it offers hope. Yes it may run counter to what you have believed for many years, but God wants to take you on the plane headed the right direction. Today is the day of salvation friends, today is the day to make the stand to say, “Yes, I will follow Jesus. Yes I will go wherever He wants me to be. Yes I will choose to worship Him and follow what the Bible teaches, even if it runs contrary to what I have believed for so long.”
The time to decide is now. As John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress wrote, “Heaven is cheap enough.” Do not be drunk with confusion from other churches, read your Bible and follow Jesus. He died so you can be saved. He has given you ample warning on what is right so you won’t be deceived into following what is wrong.
Will you follow Jesus today?