Prostitute No More

“Then the angel said to me, “The waters where the prostitute is ruling represent masses of people of every nation and language. The scarlet beast and his ten horns all hate the prostitute. They will strip her naked, eat her flesh, and burn her remains with fire. For God has put a plan into their minds, a plan that will carry out his purposes. They will agree to give their authority to the scarlet beast, and so the words of God will be fulfilled. And this woman you saw in your vision represents the great city that rules over the kings of the world.””
Revelation‬ ‭17:15-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Oh dear! It seems as though something has gone wrong with the world religious cult, referred to as the “great prostitute”. All of a sudden, it seems, the “scarlet beast and his ten horns” have fallen out with this religion followed by the “masses of people of every nation and language” and have decided to destroy it. The angel’s description is graphic, and what it means symbolically amounts to a brutal put down of all who diligently follow then “great prostitute“. Perhaps, the devil finally realised that the cult’s worship had replaced what he really desired, which was worship of himself. But God had a plan, and you can just imaging Him whispering in the devil’s ear, “Look out – you’re being side-lined here, they don’t want to worship you anymore”. But God’s plan was profound. He was setting up the beast for annihilation, which we will read about in the next chapter in Revelation.

We read in Psalm 119:89, “Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven.” Isaiah 40:7-8 says, “…. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” The problem with anything built on a God-less foundation is that it will eventually collapse and disappear. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus taught that anything built on other than His teaching will eventually collapse. We read, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” (Matthew‬ ‭7:24‬). I’m writing this just after watching the late Queen Elizabeth’s funeral service, held on 19th September 2022 in Westminster Abbey, London. Here was a monarch whose passing, after over seventy years, has left people feeling bereft and a bit insecure. But she was human – still a remarkable and dedicated servant of course – but someone who cannot provide the security we have in our Heavenly Father. He is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

On what foundation are we pilgrims building? We are servants of the Most High, dedicated to His service in an increasingly secular world. And our foundation is God Himself. Psalm 18:31 reads, “For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock?”. Hebrews 12:28 says, “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.”

There is an old hymn entitled, “My hope is built on nothing less” and the chorus goes;
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.

There is no other foundation that will endure like God’s.

Dear Father. We praise and worship the solid Rock. You watch over us and the affairs of men and we can rest secure in Your protection and love. Amen.

The Queen’s Gospel

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” 
John 14:6

We pause again in our journey through Revelation to consider the profound events of this week.

Monday 19th September 2022 was the day Queen Elizabeth II was remembered at a number of events connected to her death. A day of funeral services, of pomp and splendour, of crowds of people, but also a day of grief and mourning. A day of sadness watched by many people throughout the world – some have estimated as many as four billion people in a global audience surpassing national and international boundaries. In the traditional Anglican service, the Archbishop of Canterbury gave a sermon, the content of which reverberated all the way to God’s throne. All the forces of darkness, the devil and his minions in the heavenly realms, joined by atheists and unbelievers on earth, would have squirmed uncomfortably as the words of Justin Welby’s sermon rang out, their impact enhanced by 21st Century media technology to instantly reach all those who were tuned into the funeral service. Yes, there would have been language barriers. Yes, many of those watching would have mentally switched off as the unfamiliar format of an Anglican funeral service passed before them. Yes, without a doubt many will have dismissed the message as being irrelevant and not for them. But on Monday the Word of God, the Gospel, reached perhaps the biggest audience this world has ever seen live on one single occasion. 

From the transcript of Welby’s sermon, here are some highlights:

“Jesus – who in our reading does not tell his disciples how to follow, but who to follow – said: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’ Her late Majesty’s example was not set through her position or her ambition, but through whom she followed”.

“In 1953 the Queen began her coronation with silent prayer, just there at the High Altar. Her allegiance to God was given before any person gave allegiance to her. Her service to so many people in this nation, the Commonwealth, and the world, had its foundation in her following Christ – God himself – who said that he “came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many””.

“Christian hope means certain expectation of something not yet seen. Christ rose from the dead and offers life to all, abundant life now and life with God in eternity”.

“We will all face the merciful judgment of God: we can all share the Queen’s hope which in life and death inspired her servant leadership. Service in life, hope in death. All who follow the Queen’s example, and inspiration of trust and faith in God, can with her say: ‘We will meet again.’” 

In the moment of her death, the Queen’s life rose high before people everywhere, as a celebration of the Gospel message. A beacon of the Good News of Hope, penetrating deep into the physical, mental and spiritual lives of 21st Century mankind. With the benefit of readings from the Book of Revelation, I believe the events of Monday 19th September 2022 will be seen as a significant event in the End Times scenario. Matthew 24:14 reads, “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come”. 

We don’t know when the world will end. But end it will one day, because Jesus said so. Whether or not the End Times will come soon, we pilgrims must be prepared and ready. And if there is anyone reading this today who has not yet embraced Jesus’s message of love and grace, a profound message saving them from a place where they will not want to go, don’t wait. The time for decisions may be shorter than we think.

Dear God. We thank You for the life of Your servant, Elizabeth. May Your Message of Hope touch people’s lives everywhere. And please help us pilgrims to grasp every opportunity to share it with those around us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Queen Elizabeth II

So David reigned over all Israel and did what was just and right for all his people.
2 Samuel‬ ‭8:15‬ ‭NLT

We must interrupt our journey through Revelation to pause and reflect upon the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She served this country, the UK, the British Isles, and the countries that form the Commonwealth, for most of her adult life, and was even performing an official duty two days before she died. The right of a monarch to govern in the UK was removed long ago – it was replaced with a democratic parliamentary system that is very much to the fore in our Western society. But even the most fanatical of wannabe republicans in our lands have to agree that Elizabeth was a remarkable woman.

Although the monarch in the UK does not have a direct say in the day to day running and administration of the country, our Queen performed a much more subtle task – she led this country by example. She had a stable marriage, lasting 73 years before Philip died. Although her four children had some very public problems, and still do, her motherhood and leadership were there to the fore. She set very high standards and lived up to them herself.

But for me, two of Elizabeth’s most remarkable achievements are worthy of note. In matters politic, she managed to remain neutral, and politicians of all colours held a very great respect for her. They even consulted her on occasion, soliciting her opinion on matters of state and valuing her common sense and wisdom. Secondly, her faith in God was strong and immovable. It was a quiet but steady personal relationship with God that sustained her through many a difficult time. Our verse today refers to Israel’s greatest king, David. He did what was “just and right for all his people”. And Elizabeth did the same for hers.

What legacy has Elizabeth left us? We each will have our own thoughts I’m sure. For me it is the inspiration of her strong faith and how it shaped and sustained her life. And how that example shaped the lives of people, young and old, in this country.

We must ask too, what legacy we will leave our own circle of friends and family, not only when we have moved on to a new life, but in the here and now. Throughout her life, Elizabeth shaped and inspired, encouraged and advised, all those she had contact with. A combination of her own inner resources and the spiritual support from her faith in God became a beacon of strength and an example for others to follow. So in our day to day lives are we too being people others look up to? And when we pass from this life, will the epitaph on our tombstones include the words “just and right”? Hmmm…