Revelation 19:1-10 - A Tale of Two Women

Suggested Reading:  Revelation 19:1-10

I once heard a story that resonated with me.   A man was sitting in the sanctuary reading his Bible.  The minister walked by and noticed he was reading from The Revelation of Jesus and questioned his logic.  “Don’t you know this book causes confusion and controversy in the church?  Do you not know that men of great learning have made this book their life’s study and cannot comprehend it?  Do you really think you have any understanding in this matter?”

The man considered the questions and respectfully, but confidently replied, “Yes, I do understand.”  The minister said with a measure of derision, “Then you can explain it to me?”  The man turned from the passage to make eye contact with the minister and softly said, “We win!” How profound is that?  I have been to many Revelation studies where it seemed the teacher’s primary intent was to scare the pants off the entire audience and leave us trembling in our boots.  Jesus told us to fear not and chastised us when we had little faith.  It is my great desire this evening to give you confidence in knowing that indeed we win.  No matter what happens between this day and the day of His coming please remember, “We win!”

Our story begins with a tale of two women.  It will be the best of times; it will be the worst of times.  It will be the age of wisdom; it will be the age of foolishness.  One woman has been condemned and the other has been redeemed resulting in a great celebration in Heaven.  One is a prostitute and the other is the bride of Christ.  The bride has spent time preparing for her wedding day as all brides do; therefore, she is ready for the coming of the groom.  She is wearing garments given to her.  It is imperative that we take note regarding the woman’s garments.  Her righteous wedding dress is not one she bought or earned, but is a gift.

These two women represent places of worship or religions.  In consideration of the great number of religions numbering at least in the hundreds, it is surprising that they can be narrowed down to two.  One religion reminds us to do the right thing and the other encourages us to do the self-serving thing.  Mankind is designed to worship and all men and women do.  Many will deny their need to worship, but each worships something or someone even if it is self.  Most seek the truth, but with a predetermined idea regarding the way we think truth ought to look, we often miss it in passing.

All of us are easily deceived and to prove it, God has given us a very good example in John.  When the angelic being comes to John in all the glory of a heavenly creature, John falls down to worship him as if he was God.  Please consider that John is not just any truth seeker.  He was a disciple of Christ and wrote 1st, 2nd, 3rd John, the Gospel of John and Revelation.  When all the other male disciples fled at the crucifixion of Jesus, John and the women were at the foot of the cross.  If John can be deceived, so can any of us.  Therefore, Jesus tells us that when the antichrist comes, we are not to seek after him because it is such a delusion even the very elect might be tempted to bow down.

The Creator has an enemy and because God is benevolent toward us, we also have the same enemy.  The only sure way to recognize the enemy of God is to know God.  God came to Mount Moriah to meet with the Israelite people.  With lightening and a voice like thunder, the people were afraid of their all-powerful God.  God wanted to speak with them, but they said, “Nuh-huh!  Nope, you go talk to Him Moses and come back and tell us everything we are to do and we will do it.”  From their fear and doubt a religion was born.  Israel could have had it all, but repeatedly settled for a portion.  Religion is man’s best attempt to worship a very big God so it is humanity that demands rules and regulations.  The Creator does not esteem our religions nearly as much as we do, but greatly values relationships.  He is looking for a friend, and we need a good one. 

These two women are sources of information regarding this matter.  They each have a philosophy determined by the master they serve.  All men and women have the God-given free will to choose.  However, none is exempt from choosing because no one can serve two masters since he will hate one and love the other.  You can’t worship both and you don’t have the privilege of serving neither.  When the children of the prostitute seek wisdom regarding human behavior, she says, “Does it feel good?”  At our affirmative, she then replies, “Then doooo it!” 

The children of the prostitute feel free and unconfined; therefore, they are eager to worship at her feet.  They love her if it feels good, do it philosophy that compliments their personal heart’s desires.  However, her children grow up to be wayward, wild and wicked.  Have you ever visited a home where the children are undisciplined?  It is neither a pleasant place for you nor a safe place for your children.  Without restraint, children become a threat even to themselves and those they love.  When all the children of the world come of age and fulfill their perverse desires, the world will not be a pleasant or safe place for any of us.  It will then be as it was in the days of Noah.

When asked by the Jewish religious leaders to name the greatest commandment, Jesus said the first commandment is to love God with an undivided heart and the second is to love our neighbor as our self.  Knowing this is the premise for lasting happiness the bride of Christ asks her children to give some consideration before taking action.  She says, “How will it affect your relationship with your Creator, and how will it feel to others?”   This woman’s teachings encourage discipline in her children and are based upon Biblical principles, fair practices and good will.

Worship, both proper and improper, is a very personal thing between the individual and his God or gods.  When one of us finds a friend in God or the gods, we then begin to define perceived proper worship for the rest of the world and a religion is born.  It would be so helpful if Heaven would put a picture over the entryway of each house of worship.  Enter in if you see a picture of the bride, but run if you see a picture of the prostitute.  However, God fights for our right of free will, and our personal belief systems are very complicated. 

I have a preferred place of worship and enjoy assembling with people of like faith, but I met a friend in North Carolina.  One evening we were the only ones in the break room, and I asked her if she was religious.  I could sense that she was.  She said, “Yes, I am pagan, and I sense that you are Christian.”  I acknowledged her assessment and she said, “So, can we still be friends?”  I assured her and I assure you, she will be one of my good, life-long friends.  People don’t think about it, but God has befriended many pagans. 

God spoke to the pagan Pharaoh in a dream about the famine coming to Egypt.  The pagan Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar was given dreams from God regarding his kingdom.  This created an opportunity for the king and Daniel to develop a friendship that would last a lifetime.  Both men were greatly beloved by God.  Cyrus was the pagan king of Persia who set the people of God free from Babylonian captivity.  When Daniel was set free from the lion’s den, Darius, a pagan Median king declared the God of Daniel to be the true Creator God of the universe!  God is a friend of pagans and hugs them to Himself without embracing paganism.  Our God is a God of broken people, but never broken promises; therefore, even His Son was most often criticized for being a friend to publicans and sinners.

It is possible that in religions of both proper and improper worship resides a pure heart.  If so, God is with that loved one wherever he/she may go.  God can be found in surprising places.  It is also of a greater possibility that delusion has set up housekeeping in every religion as well.   When the relationship with God fails to transcend to the next generation, religion becomes like water and seeks it lowest point.  All religions can fall under a Satanic influence and potentially become stagnant, stale and specious.  However, genuine relationships stand the test of time.  Man will seek and nurture his belief system; he would be better served to seek God and serve his fellow man.   

With the intent of adding confusion, the prostitute religion also sometimes wears white garments to look like the bride.  Her faux righteousness will often fool even truth seekers.  It is a very effective ploy and encourages even the children of God to become very self-righteous and indignant toward others bringing their hypocrisy right into the house of God.  Self-righteous hypocrisy is only one side of a two-lane highway to hell with nowhere to turn around and is a constant companion to perverse wickedness.  Both are deep ditches acting as toll-roads traveling beside the truth byway.  The enemy of God will entice (and sometimes push) us into a ditch.  He is delighted no matter which ditch you choose.

Not only are we confused by the faux righteous garments the prostitute made for herself, but the bride of Christ was also once a prostitute.  I know you are screaming, “You cannot call the bride of Christ a whore!”  I didn’t say she is a whore, I said she was one.  The bride of Christ represents all of us born into circumstance sometimes made worse by personal choices, but impossible to escape.  Then the Lord finds us and says, “Do you like the life you are living?”  We respond with, “No way!  If I had a way out, I would take it.”  Christ says, “Let me be your way!”  The prostitute represents those of us given the same opportunity and said, “Thanks, but no thanks!  I am the me I want to be!” 

Suggested Reading:  1 Kings 3:6-28

This is another tale of two women that came to the throne for judgment.  Both women live in the same house and both women are prostitutes.  The baby of one woman dies when she roles over on him during the night.  She gets up and switches her dead baby for the other woman’s baby.  This mother does not have natural affection for her child.  The following explains how I know that about her.

When a mother has lost a child, we sometimes ask silly questions.  Do they have other children?  Can they have more children?  Any mother with natural affection toward her child knows that you cannot just replace one child with another and ease the suffering of a mother’s heart.  In this matter, replacement theology has no real place.  Only full redemption in the form of resurrection of the dead child will stop the pain in the heart of a mother with natural affection.

In the night, the other woman wakes up to nurse her child and discovers the dead child.  When daylight comes, she realizes that the dead child is not her own and the mother of the dead child has her son.  Both women explain their dilemma to young King Solomon with language highly charged with emotion.  The king expresses his dismay because how can a young man begin to understand the heart of a mother.  Fortunately for all involved, God asked Solomon to request anything.  Instead of asking for fame and fortune, Solomon asked for wisdom.  God granted him wisdom, fame and fortune.

Using this wisdom, Solomon requests a sword.  The swordsman grabs the living son by the ankle, rears back his sword in preparation to split the child in two.  One woman runs to the swordsman crying, “Please do not harm the child; give him to the other woman!”  The other woman yells, “No, cut him in half and give one part to me and the other part to her!”  Solomon immediately recognizes the rightful mother. 

Both women are prostitutes living in the house of their sins.  However, one woman has a heart after God’s own.  She represents the bride of Christ having natural affection for the children of God.  The other woman is under the influence of her lifestyle prohibiting natural affection toward her own child.  She even wants to kill the other woman’s children representing the prostitute John saw.  For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. Revelation 19:2   The greatest identifier of the children of the prostitute is the shedding of innocent blood.   When you see this woman and her children using the devil’s methods to do what they claim is the work of God, you know they are liars.

The nation of the twelve tribes descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob split after the death of Solomon.  Solomon had an extravagant lifestyle supported by the grace of God until he started serving the foreign gods of his wives.  God cut off the funds; therefore, he had to find an alternative form of revenue and found it in the heavy taxation of his people.  At his death, they asked his son Rehoboam to reduce their taxes.  The older councilmen advised him to do so and the people would love and serve him forever.  The younger councilmen reminded Rehoboam that he was king and the people were servants.  Following their advice he doubled the taxes and the people rebelled.

Under the leadership of Jeroboam, the ten northern tribes united as the kingdom of Israel. The tribe of Benjamin folded into the tribe of Judah and all the people of the southern kingdom were called Jews.  To keep his people from going to Jerusalem to worship, Jeroboam set up false places of worship in Israel.  The Israeli people fell into gross idolatry that worsened over time.  They refused to repent; therefore, God refused to defend them against the Assyrians—a ferociously barbaric tribe north of Israel.

God called the prophet Hosea to help him turn the heart of Israel back to God, but she would not.  He told Hosea to marry an adulteress woman.  Hosea did as the Lord asked, but he eventually got sick of this woman and told the Lord he wanted a divorce.  The Lord told Hosea to take this woman back as long as she would come back.  In addition, if she did not come back Hosea was told to pursue her and persuade her to come back.  If Israel would have turned to God, he would have fought the Assyrians for her just as he had in the past.

This is an illustration of God and us.  We are always going astray and polluting our relationship with God.  He is always willing to take us back when we repent.  The problem for us is that each time we refuse God’s call; our heart becomes hard toward Him.  Eventually, your heart will become so hard you will refuse to return to Him even when he beckons you.  This is what happened to Israel.  God still wanted her, but she only wanted Him under her conditions and went past the point of judgment.

The Israelites taken into captivity were dispersed throughout the Assyrian empire to places of unfamiliar culture and languages and are today known as the lost tribes.  This was a common method used by the Assyrians to prevent uprisings.  They then filled the vacant places in Israel with Assyrian nobles giving them the nicest houses and best vineyards.  Over time the Israelites that were left behind intermingled with the Assyrians and became commonly known as the Samaritans. 

The Samaritans became despised by the Jews because of their mixed blood and polluted religion.  It was so bad that by the time Jesus came to Judah, a Jew would not even go through Samaria.  Perhaps you are familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan.  Jesus told a story about a man who was robbed and left for dead.  None from Judah, not even a Rabbi, would stop and help this man—only a Samaritan! 

Suggested Reading:  John 4:1-42

When Jesus said He had to go through Samaria, His disciples were perplexed.  Jesus went to Samaria to meet the woman at the well.  He wanted to speak to her alone so He sent the disciples to buy food that He did not even eat once they came back.  The woman at the well is a social outcast.  She comes to the well at noon to draw water in a desert land where the temperature can get up to 130°.  It is a woman’s duty to draw water for her family every day.  However, the other women have come and gone because they came in the early to mid-morning. 

This woman did not want to come to the well when the other women were there.  They do not think well of her--no pun intended!  The Samaritan women would have been rude and disrespectful toward her.  Some of them would have been just plain mean, and might have thrown rocks at her.  Under the law, she was deserving of being stoned to death.  Therefore, she avoids their company by coming at noon.  When Jesus sees her, he asks for a drink.  She is stunned.  First, men do not speak to women in public—not even their wives!  Second, Jesus is a Jew and Jews do not like Samaritans. 

When I was a girl, my grandmothers on both sides drew water from a well and we all drank from the same dipper.  We thought nothing of it, but for a Jewish man to ask to drink from a Samaritan’s dipper is unheard of.  No one, not even another Samaritan would drink from her dipper.  Yet, here is this man asking to drink from her cup! She is skeptical and questions Him.  He tells her that if she knew who He was, she would want to drink from the living water He offered--water that will quench the thirst of anyone.  Again, she questions the fact that he has no way to draw water from the well.

Being in His presence and knowing that He accepts her gives her a little spunk.  She reminds Him that this is Jacob’s well.  Jacob is the father of all twelve tribes.  The Samaritans are descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh, sons of Joseph.  She is subtly reminding Jesus that He may be a Jew from the self-important tribe of Judah, but her forefather is Joseph the favorite of their father Jacob.   This is also a subtle reminder to us that though it is human nature to believe we are God’s favorite, you just never know who the Heavenly Father of us all will bestow His favor upon.

This woman desires the water He offers so she will not have to come to this well and draw water again.  When she asks for it, Jesus tells her to go call her husband.  She replies that she doesn’t have a husband, and He is pleased with her honesty.  He tells her she has had five husbands and that the one she is with is not her husband.  This woman has been rejected in the most hurtful way for a female.  One man’s rejection is enough to damage a woman’s self-worth, but this woman has been rejected five times.  Every ounce of her femininity has been rung from the very core of her being.  The man she is with now will not even honor her by legitimizing their current relationship.

When Jesus reveals her past, she believes He is a prophet.  She reveals that her people, like the Jews, are looking for the Messiah to come and tell them all things.  When Jesus tells her that He is the Messiah, the Christ, she believes Him.  This kind of faith is hard to find in Judah.  Jesus came unto His tribe of Judah, and His own did not receive Him.  However, this woman of Samaria knows Him and senses that He is here to bestow some great honor upon her.  Jesus is here to be her seventh husband! 

I am speaking metaphorically.  I had an experience like that myself.  When my husband died I found myself in a very desperate situation financially, and I was challenged with raising a teenage son on my own.  I was seriously praying to the Lord.  On my knees beside my bed with my hand on the Bible, I was pleading with God to remember me and my children.  I turned randomly in the Bible and my eyes rested on the following passage.  A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  Psalm 68:5  When I got off my knees, I knew I was God’s girl.  Next to my born-again experience, this moment may be the most empowering experience of my life.

When the disciples returned to the well and found Jesus talking to the woman, they were concerned, but dared not say anything.  The woman could tell by the looks on their faces that they did not approve of her, but she did not care at all for their opinion of her.  She left the water she came to draw and went running back to her kinsman shouting, “I have found a man!”  I bet they were thinking, “So, what’s new?”  She says, “No, I have found a man that knows everything I ever did.”  She found a man that knows her past and loves her anyway.  What woman or man wouldn’t want that?  Apparently, the elation in eyes normally cast down must have convinced them to come see because at the woman’s testimony they come to Jesus.

In the meantime, Jesus tells the disciples to look at the fields because they are white with harvest.  What fields is He referring to?  They are in Samaria so it is the people of Samaria that are ready to harvest.  This would be hard for a Jew to accept since they considered Samaritans to be godless.  Yet, when the Samaritan men come to Jesus and receive Him as the promised one, the disciples get the lesson.  This is a lesson for us, also.  We cannot proclaim anyone to be godless and unworthy of good news.  Why, weren’t we all godless until God found us?

Jesus demonstrated to the disciples that without discernment we do not know where to harvest. Neither are we very good at recognizing harvesters.  God used the least of the least of the least to harvest a field they would not work.  He did not use a Jewish man to work this field, nor a Samaritan man, but a Samaritan woman of low reputation to declare His presence.  I can assure you, she will never be the same again.  I am certain she has no hesitation in making eye contact with anyone from this day forward.  Surely, her head is held up and her shoulders are thrown back as she walks into a crowd of others.  This woman is not haughty, but confident enough to tell her current man to put a ring on it.  If he has any sense at all, he will know this woman is a keeper.

All dejected men and women know what a soothing balm it is to be redeemed.  Jesus is the redeemer practicing redemption theology.  He will save us all if we will let Him.  So we will know how much He loves us, men are commanded to love their wives as Christ loves the church. 

I read in Genesis about Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  God came down and said, “Oh, Adam.  What have you done?”  Adam immediately said, “It was the woman you gave me!”  I thought Adam was a punk for a long, long time.  However, some things have to be spiritually discerned.  Another time I read the same thing and heard something else.  As I was reading about Adam, the Spirit of God spoke to me and I heard Percy Sledge sing “When a Man Loves a Woman”—not really, but something like that. 

Immediately, I knew it was not at all what I had originally thought.  Adam was hoping the Father would understand His decision when He realized he chose the woman who was flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.  He was hoping to express how much he loved the special gift of the woman given to man by God.  He hoped the Father would understand when Adam told Him that he would rather die with her than live without her. 

I have heard men say often times, “Why didn’t Adam just let God make him another woman?  He had lots of ribs!”  On the surface, this question appears logical.  However, it is based upon the devil’s replacement theology and promoted by the harlot lacking natural affection for her children.  Just as a child is part of the woman giving birth, Eve was part of Adam.  For Adam, no other woman will ever be Eve.  Replacement theology will not ease the pain in Adam’s heart at her loss.  Only redemption of the woman will work.  When Adam said he would rather die with her than live without her, he became the first intercessor and God said, “Amen!”

A child will sometimes say or do something or hold their head just right and you will see yourself in him/her.  When Adam told God that he would rather die with Eve than to live without her, the entire universe could clearly see God in Adam.  All the heavenly beings declared, “He looks just like his Father!”  The first man loved the first woman supremely—the same way Jesus loves His bride.

Adam’s great love for his wife is the exact expression of God’s love for us.  The better question to ask is why doesn’t God wipe us off the face of the earth and make Him some grateful children?  The answer is because His love for you is just too great to be pacified with the presence of another.  No other you exist anywhere in the entire universe.  You are uniquely one of a kind and if you pass from existence, God’s grief at your loss cannot be appeased by a replacement.  Therefore, He offers you redemption at great cost to Him.

The story of Revelation is about His great love for His bride and is very much like a good western.  I grew up watching westerns and still enjoy a good western from time to time.  Westerns usually have a common theme of good versus evil.  Good conquers evil and involves a woman or two most of the time.  Hope you like my version of a good western.  J

The cowboy has been on the dusty trail ride that ends in the next town.  As soon as he gets there he is going to want a cold beer and a warm body and in that order.  When he walks into the saloon, he sees her there and knows that’s the one he wants to spend his money on.  After sauntering over to her, he begins talking and realizes that she’s not only pretty, but real sweet, too.  The cowboy decides he doesn’t just want a trick or a turn and makes arrangements to purchase her company for the night.

He does the same the next night, and the next.  He spends every evening he’s in town in her company.  Finally, the cows are all sold and the men all paid.  It is time to hit the trail back home, and the cowboy realizes he will miss this woman.  As he thinks about it, he realizes he is going to miss this woman a lot more than he planned.  Suddenly, he decides he will just take her home with him.

That evening he walks into the saloon and asks the woman if she likes this lifestyle.  She says, “Of course not.  I’m here by circumstance and choices I no longer have control of with no way out.  I would get out if I could.”  He invites her home with him telling her they can share a life and a family.  The woman is so happy because she just never expected this to happen to her.  Just as she is about to agree, she remembers and says, “I can’t go with you.” 

The woman’s eyes fill with regret as she tells her story.  She came west with her parents in a covered wagon.  They became ill and she nursed them till they died.  With nowhere to go, the barkeep gave the woman a place to stay and a job.  He charges her room and board.   Life is hard and liquor helps to ease the pain so she also has a bar tab.  She works as hard as she can, but she can’t seem to pay off the debt.  It is growing larger no matter what she does.  There is no way she will ever pay off this debt.

The cowboy says, “I’ll pay the debt.”  The woman is hopeful, but too afraid to believe until the cowboy says, “I’ll be your way.  Come home with me.”  The cowboy walks up to the barkeep and says, “How much for the woman?”  The cowboy pays the agreed upon price and follows the woman up the stairs to get her meager belongings.  The barkeep begins to realize that cowboy really likes that girl and would have paid more money.  He just sold her too cheap and becomes convinced he’s been cheated.

When the cowboy and the woman come down the stairs, the barkeep is at the bottom with a shotgun.  The men of the town think she’s real sweet and pretty too.  She’s their favorite and they don’t want the cowboy to take her with him so they backup the barkeep. 

The cowboy says, “I paid the price for the woman and she’s going with me.”  The barkeep and his backup don’t realize it, but this is no ordinary cowboy.  He has weapons and he knows how to use them.  As he steps off the last step, he shoots the barkeep.  He shoots up the place and everybody in it.  As the cowboy and the woman ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after, they never look back, but we see the whole place go up in smoke.

The book of Revelation is like a good western because it is all about Jesus coming to get the woman.  He has paid the bride price.  The woman has been redeemed at the agreed upon price.  He paid for her with the most precious commodity known—the blood of the only begotten Son of God.  Satan will not readily let her go and Jesus knows it.  He has already told Satan, “You are the destroyer, but I will destroy you.”  He warns the prostitute, “Bring your children to me and I will love them like a firstborn.  However, when they harm the bride and her children, I will wipe them off the face of the earth leaving you a barren widow.”

We know Satan, the prostitute and their children will not just let the woman go.  We have an example in the Bible.  God told Moses to tell Pharaoh to let His people go and Pharaoh resisted.  By the tenth plague with the death of Egypt’s first born, Pharaoh was sick of the Israelites and their God and told Moses to take them, but to bless Pharaoh before he left.  If Pharaoh had left it at that, Egypt would have continued being one of the most powerful nations in the world.  However, Pharaoh considered the effects of the missing Israelites upon the Egyptian economy and decided to pursue God’s own.

Pharaoh caught up with the Israelites when they faced the sea and had a rock wall to their back.  He thought he had them trapped, but God opened the sea by parting the waves.  When the people went over on dry ground, Pharaoh followed them.  You know the story.  The walls of the water came crashing in on the mightiest army of the then known world and destroyed them and their famous chariots.  God will deliver His people again, and the book of Revelation tells the story.  Next week we will study the other half of chapter nineteen describing the coming of Jesus.  In staying with our western theme, I want to point out that He comes riding a white horse!