Wickedness Defeated 2
This chapter is a kaleidoscope of imagery. It may help if we refresh the meanings of the different characters in the vision. The woman, the prostitute in scarlet (Revelation 17:3), is a great city or global ruler or globally accepted ideology. 'She' sits on the waters (Revelation 17:1), which are the spiritually confused people of the world. 'Her' dominating philosophy has seduced the world leaders of every ethnic and language group, to accept her anti-Christ mind-set and world-view as right and normal. In John's vision, he saw 'her' riding the beast (Revelation 17:3, 7). That beast is the Antichrist, powered by the dragon, Satan (Revelation 13:2).
So we see that Satan empowers the Antichrist who allows the global anti-Christ ideology to assume that 'she' is in control of the Antichrist (Revelation 17:3). However the Antichrist has no loyalty to evil collaborators. There is an English expression, 'There is no honour among thieves', because evil hates evil. The picture in today's verses is horribly violent in its description of the 'woman's' destruction by the 'beast' and worldly power-mongers. She is brought to shameful ruin, like the prostitute Oholibah in Ezekiel 23:25-30. She will be exposed for what she is (an opportunistic, manipulating, blasphemous fraud), and sacrificed on the altar of even greater evil.
Who is orchestrating these events? At one level, the devil - who does not care who is hurt in his efforts to wreak havoc with God's kingdom. But higher than that, God is in command: setting all the pieces in place to accomplish His purpose (Isaiah 55:11), as He did with Pharaoh (Romans 9:17) … and as He allowed Jesus to be betrayed and crucified (Acts 2:23). The willing relinquishing of power to the Antichrist by the world leaders is also God's plan so that, at the final conflict, Jesus will emerge victorious as King of kings (Revelation 17:14).
Evil, like lies, is always temporary: only truth is permanent. The world will pass away but God's Word will never pass away (Luke 21:33). 1 John 2:17 says, "The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives for ever." It is a great relief, reading John description of his visions, to know that the world is not out of God's control; but He will wait until evil reaches its obvious climax (Genesis 15:16) before destroying all who trade in evil (2 Peter 3:3-7). He also waits for as many as will repent to submit to His authority and be saved (2 Peter 3:9). Do not despair when the Evil One appears to be winning: it can only be temporary. The Lord will certainly take action at the right time. So, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:14).
© Dr Paul Adams