Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Great Harlot

Rev.17:3-4 NASB - "And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality.”

            The Book of Revelation has often been viewed as a book of mystery and intrigue. Because it falls in the literary genre of apocalyptic literature, it is rich in signs and symbols. Because of this, it can be difficult to interpret. To add to the difficulty, many in our generation have approached the book from a futuristic hermeneutic of strict literalism leading to interpretations of unrestrained imagination.
            How are we to understand the meaning of this woman in Chapter 17, who is also referred to as “Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots” (V.5)? William Hendriksen has provided great service to the church in his book, “More than Conquerors,” in which he approaches the Book of Revelation using a hermeneutic referred to as Progressive Parallelism (also articulated by Anthony Hoekema). This approach views the Book of Revelation as depicting the church from the time of Christ’s first coming to the time of His second. Like the City of Babylon of old, this woman represents all that allures, tempts, seduces and draws people away from God. Hendriksen writes, “Babylon, therefore, must indicate the world as a centre of industry, commerce, art, culture, etc., which by means of all these things seeks to entice and seduce the believer, that is, to turn him away from God. It symbolizes the concentration of luxury, vice and glamour of this world. It is the world viewed as the embodiment of the ‘lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life’” (page 168).
            It is interesting, she is depicted as a Great Harlot, one who entices foolish men with her allurements. This describes the world around us. Rev. 18:3 describes her enticements: “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.”
            The allurement of this world is the great danger faced by every Christian of every age. We must guard against the riches of this world that can so easily drown men in perdition. The most dangerous aspect of it is how subtle it can be. We can become swallowed up by the lust for pleasure and materialism and not even recognize that we have been seduced. May God protect His people. He warns us: “Come out of her my people, so that you will not participate in her sins” (18:4).

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Spiritual Appetites

Psalm 42:1-2 NASB - "As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?”

            As mortal creatures God has given us certain appetites; desires and cravings that demand being fulfilled. The man who hasn’t had a meal for several days has all of his attention fixed upon finding food. In the wilderness temptation, Satan used the hunger of Jesus in his effort to derail His work as our Redeemer—”If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (Matt.4:3).
            In Psalm 42 the picture is of a deer who has come to a familiar stream to drink only to find that it has dried up. As his thirst continues to increase he frantically searches for water. With his mouth dry and throat parched, the poor animal begins panting, longing to have his thirst satisfied.
            The nature of our earthly appetites is when they are deprived of being satisfied they continue to increase. When you are hungry your appetite continues to increase until you partake of a meal.
            As Christians, we have spiritual appetites; longings for the graces that draw us nearer to our Savior. We savor sweet times of prayer and hunger for the meat of God’s Word. Peter writes: “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:1). We find our soul satisfied when we partake of a soul-nourishing meal.
            Our spiritual appetites are quite opposite from our physical appetites, however. In the physical realm, when we are deprived of food we become more hungry. The longer we go without food the more our hunger increases. When we finally eat our appetite is assuaged. In the spiritual realm, when we deprive ourselves of the Word of God and prayer our desire for them will actually begin to decrease. We become spiritually dull and weakened in our spiritual life. We become easy prey to the attacks of the evil one. On the other hand, when we partake of a consistent diet of spiritual food and maintain a healthy devotional life our hunger for Christ increases.
            Do you find your spiritual appetites continually increasing? Do you savor the time you spend reading, studying, and meditating upon the Word of God? Or has your neglect only caused your appetite to decrease? The good news is our gracious Savior is always ready to draw us back to Him. He is the true Bread of Life through whom our souls are richly satisfied. “He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good” (Psalm 107:9).