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Revelation 17:17 • To Execute His Purpose

“‘For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled.'”
    —Revelation 17:17 (NASB)

The topic of Babylon teaches us a great deal about the way the Bible uses prophecy, which is not always about fulfilling a single, future date but often repeated events foreshadowing an ultimate fulfillment. There was the literal Babylon which has been extinct for many centuries but in the mean time there have been many repeated types of Babylon. The Early Church understood quite clearly that the mystery religions making up spiritual Babylon had migrated to Rome by their time. :”(1 Peter 5:13)”: But ultimately it has a final fulfillment in the Last Days as both an economic and spiritual surrogate for the Antichrist.

We shouldn’t be surprised that such a satanic-oriented entity will be given power to execute God’s judgment. This is exactly what happened not only to the original Babylon, but as a repeated pattern in the Old Testament. God would use the rise to power of such powers as Babylon or Assyria as a tool of His judgment, allowing them to rise to power because of the uncontrolled rise in spiritual unfaithfulness. Such powers thought they were acting on their own and seeking their own self-interest, but God turned what they intended into a tool of His judgment. And in every case eventually turned to judge those nations themselves for their own lack of repentance and evil deeds.

In the Last Days everything has its final, ultimate conclusion. There’s the final battle to end all battles at Armageddon, final judgments like no one’s ever seen in history for the ultimate rejection of God’s Word and Son, and the ultimate rebellion of a world power that thinks it can do things its own ways for its own desires. But the final viewpoint for believers is the same as during any age reflecting the qualities and works of Babylon, that the “common purpose” offered by God’s enemies are turned around and used by God “until the words of God will be fulfilled“. The greater lesson to learn from the original Babylon and all its subsequent copies is that everything works to the fulfillment of God’s Word and ways.

This is a microcosm of what each of us has to deal with personally. Do we yield to His Word and live according to it, or do we rebel and find ourselves ultimately judged by it? In the end, we’re not getting away from God’s Word at all, but actually confirming the personal choice of obedience versus disobedience, of choosing His will or our own will. Everything will work out according to God’s purpose, but on which side of that equation will we find ourselves? I personally find it comforting that no matter how crazy the world and circumstances get, He who is greater is at work both through them and me.