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Mystery – No More

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When John first saw “…the great prostitute, who sits on many waters,” [Revelation 17.1] as the angel showed him, John testified, saying, When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. [Revelation 17.6]

What was it about the prostitute that astonished John?  After all, John was the one who wrote in his letters warning us about the antichrists who have come… men who went out from us, [1 John 2.19] as John wrote.  As such, why should John be astonished in seeing her, the great prostitute?

Now ask yourself… what makes you astonished when you see a person for the first time?  If you have never seen the person before, you would not be astonished.  However, if you have seen the person before in another role and then you see the person in a different role, one that you did not expect of the person, you would be astonished.

John was being introduced to a prostitute, as the angel said… so what makes a man astonished when he sees her?  The answer is:  When he sees a woman whom he has known.  A husband seeing that his wife is a prostitute would be astonished.  A son seeing his mother as a prostitute would be astonished, and so on.  A man seeing a woman whom he has never known as a prostitute would show no astonishment.  In other words, elect… John knew this woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names. [Revelation 17.3] That was why he was astonished.

So who is this woman whom John knew?  Remember we are not speaking of a human woman here, but of a spiritual system, a religious system, that John knew.  Was it the pagan worshippers of Babylon of old?  No, that would not have astonished John.  Was it the pagan system of the Roman empire?  No, that would not have astonished John.  Was it the Judaism that John left to follow Christ?  No, that would not have astonished John.  What astonished John was that the great prostitute is a religious system that he did not expect to be the great prostitute.

And what is a prostitute?  She is a woman who sells her favours.  But in John’s days before these days of contraception that works, any prostitute also had a multitude of children.  Children who were conceived from the ejaculate of her many clients so that it was impossible for her to know who the father of her child was.  As such, a prostitute is not only one who sells her favours to all who offers to buy, but she is also a mother of children who do not know whom their father is.

What astonished John was that the woman he saw was none other than the very church of Jesus Christ he had helped to raise.  Shocked?  So was he… and what is worse, he knew he had a part to play in raising her when that morning he did not believe the message the angels gave the women, but ran after Peter to the tomb and then finding the tomb empty, went home instead of going to Galilee.  Even when Mary and the women came back with the message from the Lord, he still did not believe and did not go to Galilee.  If only he had stayed back with Mary outside the tomb instead of going off with Peter.  If only he had believed the women… for was he not on the Mount of Transfiguration when the Father testified, “This is My Son…  Listen to Him”? [Matthew 17.5; Mark 9.7; Luke 9.35] So, decades later as a prisoner of Patmos, he was shown the truth by the angel of the Lord.

Yes, he was greatly astonished, for he knew this woman… this great prostitute.  He knew her as the church he raised for Jesus.  And that is the truth… she is the church he raised for Jesus rather than the church that Jesus wanted to raise… the church that Jesus would have launched, could have launched, even if they did not go to Galilee that morning but had waited in the city as He commanded on resurrection evening… waited in the city for the Holy Spirit to come… but no, once more he and the others listened to Peter and went to Galilee to fish, and so missed the opportunity when the Holy Spirit could have come upon them when Jesus was still physically present.

The story is that they did not go to Galilee when they should have gone, and missed what the Father had prepared for them in Jesus’ presence.  And when they did go to Galilee when they should not have gone, [John 21] they missed what the Holy Spirit had prepared for them in Jesus’ presence.

This unpalatable truth – unpalatable to those who still seek to build their church for Jesus their way – is why the church that was birthed in Acts 2 gave rise to Mystery. [Revelation 17.5] The church as the world sees it now is a mystery.  It appears to be something of God, yet it is nothing like what God would be.  It speaks of power, but its leaders hide behind bulletproof glass.  It speaks of mercy, but its soldiers have slaughtered more than the barbarians.  It speaks of healing, but its missionaries have killed more with small pox than she has ever healed.  It speaks of Heavenly riches and yet lusts after the riches of mammon.

It is a mystery… but no more.  It is only a mystery because the Holy Spirit kept the truth hidden until the time was right.  It is only a mystery because the millions of pairs of eyes that have read the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John never saw the truth that the eleven did not believe, did not obey, and delayed what God wanted to do in the presence of Jesus until too late… the 40 days were over.

If Jesus had said 1,900 years ago, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” [Revelation 2.7, 11, 17, 29; 3.6, 13, 22] before the four gospels were available, then truly it can be said now… he who has eyes to see, see what the Spirit shows to the churches even as He stands up to testify now.

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