When I (Donna Howell) first started to read the book of Revelation, I found myself slowly drinking it in and understanding it fairly well. But when I came to the part about the Beast devouring the Harlot, all of a sudden I thought, Where did that come from? I thought she, the Harlot, was in control!
Scholars and theologians have long acknowledged that the Harlot of Revelation represents both: a) the city of Babylon (most likely Rome, though a minority believes this to be the historic Babylon rebuilt), which includes the power and authority that this city will have over the earth (Antichrist’s “system” and policies, etc.); and b) false (pagan) religions of the world. The former is taken from Revelation 17:18, where the Harlot is specifically referred to as “that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.” The latter requires an understanding of how, in biblical typography and symbolism, the Church is likened to a woman (1 Corinthians 11:1–2; Ephesians 5:23–32; Galatians 4:21–31; Revelation 19:7–8; 21:2). But, throughout the Bible, when we read that “woman” (God’s people) is unfaithful to God, “she” is a “harlot,” like Gomer, the adulteress God told the prophet Hosea to marry as a symbol of the Israelites’ idolatrous spiritual infidelity (Hosea 1:2ff). Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul clearly demonstrated that God will not “share” His people with the “harlot” called false religion. In a letter to the church at Corinth, in a verse that would have been a shocking string of words for that early culture, Paul challenged: “What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:16–17).
Therefore, the Harlot of the End Times is understandably interpreted to represent “false religion” and the unholy alliance that false religion has with the “kings” of the One-World Government (Revelation 17:1–2). Upon her very forehead is “a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth” (Revelation 17:5).
In the beginning, as the Great Tribulation begins to unfold for the first three and a half years, approximately (according to the “forty-two-month” mathematics behind the “time, times, and half a time” prophecies [Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 12:14]), the Harlot is perched atop the Beast, riding him like a steed.
Many scholars interpret the woman to be in complete control over the Beast, as if to suggest that Antichrist is not yet powerful enough to take over. Others believe that, due to her seemingly instant downfall, Antichrist will have been strong enough to devour her all along but chooses instead to take advantage of her ability to draw people into false religion to further weaken resistance from real Christians. In either case, Antichrist will decide to play nice and share his toys with the Harlot while his rule strengthens in the background. When the Beast is through with the Harlot—when Antichrist has successfully built a “peaceful,” “benevolent” rule with the help of all the “beautiful” religions and philanthropic economics she represents—he will “hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire” (Revelation 17:16) in the second “forty-two-month” (or three-and-a-half year) time slot of his command.
Nobody will have any further use for the archaic religions of their forefathers. Antichrist, in this moment, will “be God,” or so the globe will acknowledge, and it will be as if all the religions of the world from the beginning of time never existed.
The destruction of all religions of the world…
Woe to Western Laodicea!
Why are we railing about Western Christianity, specifically? Why are we picking on our own area of the earth when the West undoubtedly is in the lead as far as what territories produce the most Gospel ministers, scholars, theologians, seminary graduates, and experts on Scripture? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? We are apparently the world’s center for scriptural training and missionary-sending, so why do these authors find the West to be more deserving of scrutiny and blame for humanity’s sabotage under the Apostate Superchurch?
It’s because we are the world’s center for scriptural training that we are held more accountable for honoring the true Gospel message than are the other geographical areas of the world…and the Word agrees with this conclusion: “But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). The more we know about Jesus, the more responsibility we have to spread the Good News about Him and to maintain the integrity of His Name! Yet, despite the ocean of information and biblically sound training materials we have at our fingertips—ministerial training seminars, universities and seminaries of theology, Bible software programs, online and offline archives of nearly every extrabiblical writing of the ancients (including the historians and the apocrypha), Bible bookstores all over the place, and instant access to all of this and more online—our cultural approach to responsibility makes it perpetually “someone else’s job” to know what the Word says. We simply “have things too good” to feel it when moral conviction about the depraved society around us presses in, so our pastors, preachers, teachers, and church staffers choose to do what the Laodiceans did and take another toke off that doobie called “spiritual anesthesia.”
Laodicea was another site of extreme cultural prosperity. Its resident Christians were so spoiled to “the good life” that they overlooked their true responsibilities and were found by their Lord to be spiritually empty (Revelation 3:14–22). To them, following Christ was a popular lifestyle or trend, but where it counted, they didn’t prioritize the Gospel as they had been commissioned. Consider what Christ says to them: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing!’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17; NIV). They were blind to their own spiritual bankruptcy.
As Revelation expert G. K. Beale acknowledges, these words from Christ are “to unbelievers who have prospered materially because of their willing intercourse with the ungodly world system ([Revelation] 6:15; 13:16; 18:3, 15, 19).”[i]
How humbling a rebuke from the Messiah, Himself, to a congregation that sounds much like our own…
Beale points out another interesting connection “which has been observed by many commentators,” going on to quote the similar boast of Ephraim in the Masoretic Text of Hosea 12:8: “Surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they will find in me no iniquity, which would be sin.”[ii] Unlike He did with Laodicea, however, God didn’t keep knocking on Ephraim’s door. Much to the contrary, when the “cult of Ephraim”[iii] could not be trusted to stop religiously syncretizing itself, whoring after idols and merging its own hybrid version of the One-World Religion of its day, God said, “Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone” (Hosea 4:17).
Fast forward to the book of Revelation and the Laodiceans’ Ephraim-esque reliance on the comforts of their own routines, which propagated a festering apathy in the matter of the Gospel, making them into a then-modern Ephraim. This, the Laodicean compromise, “made their witness to Christ impotent in its effect…they were on the verge of being considered an unbelieving community (cf. also [Revelation] 2:5; 3:1–3), no different from the rest of the pagan world.”[iv]
Fast forward again, this time to the contemporary West…
Our own witness of Christ is “impotent,” and we, too, are “on the verge of being considered an unbelieving community…no different from the rest of the pagan world.”
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Oh, how akin we are to Laodicea! Yet, because the Western Church is too busy investing in fog machines and confetti cannons for the stages upon which we put on godless concerts—the one and the same platform where our scripturally deficit “inspirational speeches” are called “sermons”—we don’t have time to look at what Jesus was really saying in His letter to the church of Laodicea. We don’t know that the famous “lukewarm” reference is related to the temperature of the water supply the Laodiceans used, which came from a filthy aqueduct outside the city that collected heavy amounts of bacteria on its journey from Denizli to the south. Neither do we know that, when Christ implores the Laodiceans to buy their “eyesalve” from Him so that they might “see” again, He was rebuking the thriving local cosmetics trade that assisted in blinding them to their own spiritual depravity in the first place, or that, when He told them to clothe themselves in white robes, He was blasting them with an ironic juxtaposition of the Gospel message against their jingling purses, which brimmed with the gold they made on their specially bred, long-haired, black-sheep textile exports.[v]
We, here in the West, despite all the trained ministers we crank out from our region, know very little about the true message of God as contained in His Word! What a grand misuse of our time, money, and talent, when the average church on the corner here is still preaching that “lukewarm” means we’re “not excited enough about God” (a message that has produced emotional phenomena leading to counterfeit revival).
Worst of all, we don’t understand the most obvious part of Christ’s message to that comfortably wealthy city—the description of Him standing outside the door and knocking. It’s not that individualistic altar call summon we talk about in the West today, but the entreaty for the collective Body to open the door and allow their Messiah back into their church!
God, once the head of their people, instructed that Ephraim be left to idols, rendering the entire Northern Kingdom of Israel at the time a pagan cult without Yahweh as leader, because God will not share His people with a harlot. The Laodiceans made a similar decision, placing their congregation and city in a position where Christ has to stand outside and ask permission to be put back in His rightful place as the Head of their church, because He, too, refuses to occupy the harlot’s place amidst His people.
Both Ephraim and Laodicea booted the God of the Bible out of their club and raised up a pagan central focus that misdirected their God-appointed purpose—Ephraim to Jeroboam’s calf-worship and Ahab/Jezebel’s Baal-worship, and Laodicea to Roman emperor-worship. Not surprisingly, both were also destroyed—Ephraim to the hands of Assyria and Laodicea to a terrible earthquake.
We cannot dine at the same table with Christ and with demons (1 Corinthians 10:21).
We, in the West, of all people, know that the genuine Church Jesus came to build was consecrated by the blood of the martyrs who were willingly tortured to death if it meant their lives pointed others to the One True Gospel of Yeshua.
We, in the West, of all people, know that the Church Jesus came to tear down was built on the hypocritical religious, pharisaic spirit that gladly dons holy robes in the square but holds the oral traditions of the day as being more authoritative than the Almighty Word of God.
Therefore, we, in the West, of all people, should recognize when we’ve forsaken the Church Jesus came to build in trade for today’s oral-tradition Church of the Pharisees. If we have the world’s majority of biblical universities, education and training programs, seminaries, and libraries of theological answer books—as well as the general prosperity, wealth, and religious freedom to use these resources—then we hold a majority of the fault when we corporately fail to show ourselves “approved unto God” as people who “needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
If today’s Church is guilty of getting off track (which we have)—and of lackadaisically remaining off track while we drift farther away from the truth (which we are)—then we are choosing to attempt to redress the powerful Name of Christ by adorning it in the clothing of Revelation’s Harlot. When we are apathetic to the lives of martyrs who were slain to keep Jesus’ mission pure, we are removing the white robe of innocence from our culture’s perception of the cross and are choosing to join the Harlot while she gets drunk on the blood of the saints (Revelation 17:6). When we, Christ’s ambassadors, sacrifice sound doctrines to embrace a wicked, liberal interpretation or “translation” of the Word that tickles itching ears and feeds the lust of proof-text, “lifestyle Christians” (2 Timothy 4:3), we’re making the deliberate decision to be seduced by the Harlot’s “purple and scarlet, and…gold and jewels and pearls” (Revelation 17:4). We willingly unite with her, trading our identity as Yeshua’s sweet Bride into a whore worse than Hosea’s Gomer.
We are absolutely, irrefutably guilty of turning the Church Christ built into the Church He came to tear down, and when “Christianity” becomes so mixed in the heretical, profane, blasphemous, idolatrous, and misleading doctrines that Antichrist will prize, we will have assisted in introducing our Harlot religion to the Beast that will turn on her and devour her when her pathetic role in his ascension to world power is over.
The window of time we have to stand up to fight against the Beast and maintain the purity of the message of the cross is closing. The Church of Tickling Ears, that Apostate Superchurch, is already forming. We are deliberately sending out a signal to Antichrist, letting him know we’re ready for him, we’ve already prepared a place for him, and he’s welcome to rule here. A counterfeit Christianity that is beautiful and logical (by human standards) on the outside, but blasphemous and profane (by God’s standards) on the inside, will be absolutely, positively thriving on the earth when Antichrist takes his throne. These authors personally believe that the Western Church is posturing itself to embrace, and then become, false religion—and false religion is unquestionably the doorway through which Antichrist will enter to arise and establish himself as the Messiah.
Our Controversial Prediction
Everything you’ve read so far is evidence that our forthcoming prediction is possible. What you are about to read in the coming pages has not yet been written in any previously published work, for who in their right minds would call the Christian Church a cult? However, it’s a prediction that hit us with a power as unstoppable as a steam engine train ten feet from its unsuspecting victim…and on the very same day. Both of us—Allie Henson and Donna Howell—were involved in our own writing projects when, in a fortuitous conversation over breakfast at a local diner one morning, we revealed to each other details of what we were working on, only to discover we were both being obedient to a calling on the same book: Henson was working to address the failures of Western society through grooming a public to embrace the unthinkable while the Church was sleeping; Howell was working to address how the sleeping Western Church is largely at fault for the demoralization of society. However, Henson didn’t know what to say to the Church; Howell didn’t know what to say to society. When this conversation occurred organically, while our hardworking server kept our coffee mugs filled, there was no stopping the force of the epiphany that drove us to write this book, with the hope that the warning we feel compelled to issue may hit for the Remnant before the atrocity does.
We are aware that much of what is in this book will be considered provocative and inflammatory by readers in both the secular world and the Church. However, we believe without hesitation that this work contains an urgent message that God has spoken to each of us. Unfortunately, we realize that we won’t likely make trainloads of new friends via the warm-and-fuzzy emotional appeal solicited in much religious nonfiction these days. This project is controversial; yet we believe that shying away from its delivery would be disobedient to God. In this way, we can offer only one comment as we proceed:
We’re here to chew bubblegum and deliver the truth. And we’re all out of bubblegum.[vi]
We’re referring to the grand-scale vulnerability of Westerners’ psychological and spiritual wellbeing, both in the present and in the soon-approaching End Times. Not only do we predict that the Church will be persecuted, but we believe (as many Church Fathers and celebrated Church historians did in earlier centuries) that she will actually assist in reinforcing the enemy’s eschatological plan. We’re talking about the “Cult of Western Christianity”…as it has already unfolded on our soil, and as it will increase in the near future to pave the way for Jesus’ prophecy of the greatest earthly deception as foretold in Revelation.
We’re glad you asked. We’ll pick it up there in the next entry!
UP NEXT: THE SCI-FI WE ARE LIVING
[i] Beale, G. K., The Book of Revelation, 304.
[ii] Ibid, 304; emphasis in original.
[iii] References to the syncretism within tribes of Israel frequently use the term “cult” to describe unfaithfulness. In this particular case, Ephraim is referred to as a “cult” in: Hubbard, D. A., Hosea: An Introduction and Commentary: Vol. 24 (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press; 1989), 118.
[iv] Beale, G. K., The Book of Revelation, 305.
[v] Parker, C., “The Social and Geographical World of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14–22),” B. J. Beitzel, J. Parks, & D. Mangum (Eds.), Lexham Geographic Commentary on Acts through Revelation (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press; 2019), 686–690.
[vi] Carpenter, John, director, They Live. (United States: Alive Films, Larry Franco Productions, 1988), DVD, 94 min.
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