Sermon Overview & Prayer: "The Riotous Reality"

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Revelation 17-18  – PRAYER POINTS

'The Riotous Reality" - Steve Whitacre
These written prayers are intended to fuel your meditation on this passage and your enjoyment of God in prayer.

Revelation 17:1 – 19:5

17:1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth have commit-ted sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.”

18:4 Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; 5 for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

19:1 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah!

Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

Do not love Babylon or the things of Babylon, but fear the Lord and follow the Lamb.

PRAYER: Lord God, as we read this powerful revelation, remind us that this is a calling for all of life, not just for the “end times.” We are to love you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and not love the world, or the things in the world. Deepen our passion for godliness and our discernment and resistance to ungodliness.

Romans 13 describes the state as God wills it. Revelation 13 describes the state as the dragon wills it. If the beast is the state in opposition to God, then the prostitute is everything else that surrounds and accompanies the state—what we would call culture. The woman represents the pursuit of power and wealth and pleasure and entertainment apart from what is bestowed as gracious gifts from God. But we are foolish if we think that it is only repulsive. This woman lives up to the reputation of her profession: she is attractive and seductive.

PRAYER: Father, please help us to wisely distinguish between what you have given us to enjoy as from you, and what the enemy would have us enjoy more than, instead of, or in opposition, to you. Convict us of any desire, pursuit, or practice that draws more of our time, attention, resources, or affection than you!

The vision of the woman pushes every one of us to ask: where am I in danger of being seduced by the woman or the beast, the city Babylon? Are we being seduced by lies? And that’s why John says in 17:9, this calls for a mind with wisdom. In other words, John is saying that Revelation is meant to shape Godly behavior in us. Throughout the Bible, wisdom is knowing how to live well in this fallen world through the fear of the Lord.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for this reminder that this is not our home; and that apart from the gospel, every city is filled with idolatrous allurements to oppose you. Knowing this as we now do, please keep us from fear, suspicion, self-righteousness, and isolation as we continue to live as salt and light in the world, but not of the world. May your love and mercy compel us to share that love with a dying world!

Another angel comes down from heaven with a public service announcement. Let there be no mistake. This angel is coming with a sure and certain message: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.” Babylon’s doom is certain but not necessarily immediate. This pronouncement would have resonated with John’s hearers as messages of judgment against the enemies of God. This message is meant to be a message of hope and warning to John’s readers. Every corner of the culture that opposes the Lamb will be overthrown and cast down.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for this assurance that you will right every wrong; justly judge the wicked; destroy the dragon, the beast, and the harlot; and will wipe away every tear from the eyes of your chosen ones. May the promise of a new heaven and a new earth–a new Jerusalem–strengthen our trust, our obedience, our hope, and our joy.

We live in a culture that claims to have a passion for justice, but cares not for truth. Our culture cannot truly pursue justice because it refuses to submit to truth. True justice is joined to truth because it reflects the character of God and his Word.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, as you revive, strengthen, and build your church, empower us to go forth boldly with the gospel–to go forth proclaiming that Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life! Help us to declare with courage and compassion that no system, ideology, program, government, or cultural indoctrination can bring about righteousness, reconciliation, or justice. Spirit of God, fill us as ambassadors to go forth with the one and only message of true hope: the gospel!

The passage ends with a call to praise God, you who fear him, both small and great. How can we resist the seduction of the prostitute and follow the Lamb who was slain? The fear of the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the soul of godliness and the essence of the new life implanted by the Spirit. It is the ultimate affection and the very aroma of heaven. It is the affection that expels our sinful fears and our anxieties. It is the affection that expels spiritual lethargy. To grow in this sweet and quaking wonder at God is to taste heaven now.” (Michael Reeves, Rejoice and Tremble)

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, increasingly open the eyes of our hearts to the wonder and glory of the awesome holiness, perfect justice, dreadful and righteous wrath, and indescribable beauty of our God and Savior. May such a vision, and such a reality, bring us to our knees in all-consuming adoration, fear, and worship. As we behold your glory, bring about transformation that makes us increasingly like the one who saved us, our Lord Jesus Christ!

PRAYER: Lord, as the Book of Revelation teaches us to live well as citizens of the heavenly city even while we are residents of the earthly city, may our true citizenship be evident to all, as we live in the fear of the Lord and follow the Lamb.

 

OVERVIEW OF THE SERMON

In this sermon, Steve brought to light the riotous realism of living in a sinful city. He explained how the beast and the prostitute in these chapters represent the power of the state and culture, respectively, colluding in the destruction of the saints. However, it is announced in John's vision that the fall of such powers before the Lamb is certain. Therefore, despite living in Babylon, the redeemed can rejoice, knowing its time of power is limited and that they are citizens of the heavenly city.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  • In chapter 17, the great prostitute and beast materialize as the power of the state and culture and work together against the church. How have you seen this happen in our own day, at home or abroad?
  • Chapter 18 announces the assured fall and destruction of the city of “Babylon,” a reiteration of the great prostitute and beast. How does this truth give you hope as you live in the city of Babylon?
  • Revelation 18:9 calls Christians to live with wisdom as we live in “Babylon.” How do we do this in our day-to-day to life, keeping our hearts from idolatry?
  • Given that “Babylon” has fallen, how does this spur you on to share the gospel with people who have been enticed by the Prostitute?
  • As you consider the deceptive schemes of the enemy and how he works through means such as social media, how should you leverage the truths of this passage to impart discernment into your child or teen?