The Anti-bride

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Illustration: Bad knock-offs - counterfeit
Imagine for a moment: its time for a new car. You have a look around at what’s out there, at what manufacturers are offering ...and then you spot it!
You fall in love.
You can’t stop thinking about it. It’s exactly want you want: It’s a new Land Rover Ranger Rover Evoque.
It’s got style, and class. Its the right size and colour and everything.
Now that your heart is set on this new car, you set about getting one. It’s going to be expensive. You start saving, you scratch around to pull as much funds together as you can. Its a hard task, lots of sacrifices to make, but you think it will be worth it in the end.
Now, while you’re slogging away working for your goal, your friend comes along and says, “oh, you want a Landrover hey? That’s a lot of work, its too much! Why work so hard for that when you can have this?”
The Land Wind x7.
It’s a Chinese knock-off of the Evoque. It looks almost the same, even side by side. You can even get it in the same colour!
“Why bother waiting and working so hard for the Land Rover when you can have the Land Wind for one third the price?”
“You can have your dream now, all you have to do is give up on engine power, gearbox size, paint quality, and authenticity.”
It’s easier, you can get it quicker. You can experience it now rather than wait. Who cares that it’s not authentic, its all the same in the end right?
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. One is the real deal, but the other is alluring, because it’s so much more accessable and immediate. In the end through while these may look similar in some ways, they’re fundamentally different.
Different origin, different mechanicals, different development process, different quality levels.
One is the real deal, and the other is a counterfeit. A Knock-off. An imitation. A fake. A fraud.
In our Bible passage today we see a counterfeit too. It’s a counterfeit Bride. A Knock-off. An imitation. A fake. A fraud.
This part of Revelation, ch 17-19 exposes the Anti-bride for who she really is. Her beautiful exterior is torn away to reveal the ugliness beneath.
Her failures are named. Her true character is revealed to the world and she is undone. God gets rid of the fake, and her allies that have sponsored her.
Jesus will marry the True Bride, who is pure within and without. Jesus will defeat all the counterfeit authorities that have sold their souls to the Devil and stand against Him.

Quick Recap

All that to come. But before we get there, let’s remind ourselves where we’re up to in Revelation with a quick recap.
As we’ve stepped our way through the book in broad brushes we’ve been getting a big picture view of how God operates in history, how he deals with his enemies and what he has planned for the future. It’s an encouragement to believers.
But, because this is a genre of literature called “apocalyptic” we can’t expect that we can sit down with a history encyclopedia and match up obscure events in world history with specific events that happen in Revelation.
Voddie Baucham has a helpful saying about Revelation: “It’s a Picture book, not a Code book.”
It shows us imagery; varied, vivid, overlapping and multilayered.
We get to see often the same event from different angles, like instant replays on State of Origin we get the overhead, then we see from the sidelines, then a slow-mo close up (Was it really a try?). All from the same game just different perspectives. In Revelation John swings back around for another pass, new angle, which often picks up themes from all over the bible and intertwines them to tell the story.
Questions? Text 0439 180 589
Because it is so rich and multilayered we can’t touch on every aspect of the visions at hand, so you can feel free to text me and I’ll respond during the week to any queries you have.
One of the images that has been used in Revelation is that of an “unholy trinity”. The Dragon Serpent, the chaos Beast and the False Prophet who are opposed to God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
They do stuff that kinda looks like God because it’s miraculous. They have some authority that they exercise, but they are directly opposed to God. Let’s remind ourselves of these characters from Rev 13:
Revelation 13:1–2 ESV
And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.
Revelation 13:7 ESV
Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation,
And another snippet from Rev 16
Revelation 16:13–14 ESV
And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.
So we have this unholy trinity operating in the world, oppressing God’s people, deceiving the rulers and authorities of the world to side with them. They are God’s enemies. And God brings his wrath on them.
And last time we were in Revelation Steve took us through 7 Bowls of God’s Judgment on the world, and on those who refused to turn away from their defiance of God, even in the face of his wrath.
Now today we’re coming back in for another look at an aspect of that Judgment, once again from a different angle, and we’re circling around to focus in some stuff that was mentioned in that last chapter.
SO lets dive in and look at 5 elements of God’s judgment!

1. The Anti-bride

Our story picks up with a familiar character: The Beast, the false messiah.
So the Beast turns up in John’s vision, in Chapter 17, but this time he has a rider, someone mounted on the beast. It is the Anti-bride! The Counterfeit. Let’s see how she is described:
Revelation 17:1–4 ESV
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality.
SO we have a picture of a great prostitute. She is the anti-bride. This woman is someone who is alluring: she’s well dressed, wealthy, prosperous, but she’s not the kind of woman you want anything to do with because she is unfaithful, whoring herself out to anyone and everyone. She’s promiscuous, and brandishes her sinful rebellion by holding a cup of abominations.
But who is she? What is she a picture of? Who does she represent?
The next verse tells us:
Revelation 17:5 ESV
And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.”
And we get a bit more in v 18
Revelation 17:18 ESV
And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.”
So, there we have it, the Anti-bride is an image of Babylon. This woman is representative of the city state that oppresses righteousness and God’s people. That deceives the nations.
She is alluring because of her power and wealth and beauty. But she’s corrupt. From the inside out.
Throughout the bible different countries and cities are described as women. Some are beautiful pure brides, some are defiling prostitutes. Babylon is the embodiment of the Prostitute, the unfaithful one who will give up anything to prosper and get ahead. Babylon is the city and kingdom who gains wealth and power by any means necessary while shaking its fist at God saying “I’ll do it my way!”
Babylon is like Babel where the insolent men decided to build their monument to assault heaven.
Babylon is like Sodom & Gomorrah whose lawlessness and sexual immorality is infamous.
Babylon is like Tyre, the Old Testament city which profited from sea trade becoming a wealthy and luxurious.
Babylon is like ancient Rome who oppressed Christians while taking over the world. They said submit to us and receive great benefits, or resist and get the sword.
Babylon is like the Greek empire, the Mongol empire, the colonial empires.
Babylon is London. Babylon is Hollywood. Babylon is Nashville. New York City.
Today Babylon is manifested in our midst: Melbourne says come and enjoy our culture and art and style, just don’t bring your Christianity.
Queensland is Babylon: We’ll do whatever is politically expedient, Come plunder our natural resources and get rich, buy all the trinkets you like and enslave yourself to us in debt, kill your babies if they’re an inconvenience, promote your sexual immorality openly, and oppress all who oppose this “progress”.
Friends, we live in the midst of Babylon. She is seductive. She is alluring. She promises prosperity and luxury, pleasure and delight.
Don’t be fooled Christian! Babylon drinks the blood of believers!
Revelation 17:6 ESV
And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly.
Revelation 18:24 ESV
And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.”
Babylon will chew you up and spit you out! Babylon is no place for believers. She is opposed to you and your Christ. She is the adulteress of Proverbs:
Proverbs 7:21–27 ESV
With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life. And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.

2. The Fall of the Anti-bride

So Jesus brings about the fall of this blasphemous city. This enemy of God who deceives the nations must die. She must be judged.
This woman is supported by the Beast, the beast who in turn is sponsored by Satan the dragon serpent.
The passage tells us that the the fall of Babylon will be brought about by God, but he will use her own allies to make it happen.
Like God used the heart of Pharaoh in Exodus to display his power and judgment, he uses the Beast and the ungodly kingdoms of the earth to turn on the Prostitute and tear her down:
Revelation 17:16–17 ESV
And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.
God is at work bringing about his righteous purposes even in in the midst of their open rebellion. Like God used Babylon the historical nation to Judge Judah in the Old Testament, God uses the Beast and the kings of the earth to bring about judgement on the great prostitute. But that doesn’t mean the beast will escape judgement, he will get his just desserts soon enough.
The fall of Prostitute Babylon brings mourning and lament from all of those who loved her. They loved their wealth and prosperity. They loved her promiscuous ways:
Revelation 18:9–10 ESV
And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.”
The anti-bride is judged. She though she would reign as a queen but she has been decimated. She has become desolate. And her benefactors cry over their lost prosperity.
Kings, merchants and sailors mourn their loss. They go on and on about it in Chapter 18, listing everything they have lost. Concerned for own gain, rather than seeing the absolute corruption of the city. This is the deceitfulness of riches, that those in chapter 18 would morn the loss of their income instead of rejoicing in the Justice of God.
Babylon is corruption, the counterfeit of what is good. It takes the good and beauty of sex and takes it out of marriage and peddles an easy-reach counterfeit.
It takes the joy of the hard earned, well spent prosperity to provide counterfeit get rich quick schemes and cash-splash toys.
It takes caring for others and turns it into “self care”
It takes charity and turns it into political point-scoring,
It takes loving fairness and turns it into immoral “equality”
It takes hard work and turns it into a slavish corporate ladder.
Friends, there’s nothing wrong with wealth and prosperity, sex and pleasure and all these things in their proper place, but what we’re talking about here is worldliness, selfishness, greed and godlessness. The corruption of the good into worldly counterfeits.
How would you respond if worldliness came to an end tomorrow? Would you mourn that your shares had lost their value? That the equity in your house is gone? That you can’t buy a new phone? That there’s no more TV and movies to tickle your sensual nature?
Is your value and hope tied up in Jesus? or in the world that is passing away?
Are you invested in progressing in a career? or progressing in righteousness?
Will you join with the great multitude in heaven to rejoice over the fall of worldliness? Will you celebrate the fall of Babylon with them? The fall of Hollywood? The fall of Silicon Valley? The fall of Canberra? The fall of Grand Central?
Revelation 19:1–3 ESV
After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

3. The Call of Christ

Babylon will fall. Her doom is sure. But in the midst of her defeat and destruction there is call that Goes out to God’s people:
Revelation 18:4 ESV
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues;
Christ calls his people out of Babylon. That is not their place.
God’s people have to come out of Babylon for two reasons:
So they don’t defile themselves with the same sins
So they don’t suffer the same judgment.
Christ calls us out. We are the Church, the “ecclesia” the “called out ones.”
We come out from within Babylon. You know what that means? That’s where we start! We are people who naturally want to live it up in Babylon, to give ourselves over to the Beast and the Serpent, but Christ calls us to something better. We were in Babylon, but we are called out and cleansed!
Paul notes that when he writes to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 6:9–11 ESV
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Such were some of you! Such were some of us! But Christ calls us away from those things. He deals with our sin and our shame. He washes us clean!
He calls us out of the worldliness, with all it’s allurements and shiny attractions, all it’s corruption and it’s counterfeits.
Come out and come to Jesus who will wash away your sins. He has died on the cross to cleanse his people from all unrighteousness. Come out and throw yourself on his kindness and mercy so that you might escape the judgment of the world!
He offers you the real deal - true wealth, heavenly wealth. He offers you the good life, the best life. He offers you the companionship of God.
I have recently seen an example of what it looks like to come out of Babylon.
There’s this really famous rapper: Kanye West. Many people think of him as the height of hip hop. You may know him as the husband of Kim Kardashian.
Kanye is the embodiment of Babylon. Wealthy. Popular. Influential. He’s built a career rapping about sex, money, power and all manner of worldly things. His music videos are filled with scantily clad women. He runs a fashion line. He married the most famous reality TV star in the world. He recently said “I worshiped the idea of labels, brand names; I worshiped cars, I worshiped the city I grew up in.”
Yet this man is coming out of Babylon:
Kanye claims that in April he was born again. He says he was radically saved. He started turning up to church. He’s studying the scriptures.
He’s become more humble. He’s become concerned about the nature of family. He’s become concerned about making music for Jesus. He has unabashedley told the world that he’s with Jesus now.
He says “Now that I’m in service to Christ, my job is to spread the Gospel to let people know what Jesus has done for me. .. I’m no longer a slave, I’m a son now, a son of God. I’m free through Christ.”
Yesterday he dropped his new album “Jesus is Lord.” On one track he says: “Follow Jesus, listen and obey. No more living for the culture we nobody’s slave. Stand up for my home. Even if I take this walk alone, I bow down to the king upon the throne. My life is his, I’m no longer my own.”
Here is a man who was sold out to Babylon, a poster-child for the Prostitute. Yet Christ has called him out!
Time will tell if his conversion is genuine, it’s easy to be skeptical. But one thing is clear: the man is showing the world how to disown the worldliness and put on Christ.
He hasn’t stopped earning money, or making music, or making clothes, but his whole world view has changed, he’s exchanging the counterfeits for the real deal. He’s putting his hope in Christ, not in the world.
Friends, when we come out of Babylon, we’ll never be able to fully shake her off until the day when Christ destroys her. She will always be there to allure in this world, to tempt and beguile, but please turn away from her and do not be tricked by her deceit!
1 John 2:15–17 ESV
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

4. The True Bride

Having spent two chapters dealing with the Anti-bride, her fall and judgement, the vision now turns to the true Bride in Ch 19! The pure and lovely one who is faithful. She is the one who we should belong to! She is the one who is no fake, or counterfeit. She’s the real deal!
Like the Anti-bride, the True Bride is also representative of a City; the New Jerusalem, but more about that in later weeks.
This true Bride is the one who is joined, not to all the kings of the earth, but to one King: Jesus. We don’t get to see her yet, but the multitude of people prepare us for her arrival by rejoicing to God:
Revelation 19:6–9 ESV
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”
This singing multitude is anticipating the arrival of the beautiful bride, clothed in white, glorious raiment.
She is pure and prepared. Full of splendor! She’s like the woman on here wedding day, when everything is just right: the dress is spot on, her hair is just how she envisioned it. The shoes aren’t hurting her feet. The weather is perfect and her handsome groom is ready to receive her.
This Bride is the Church. The People of God. She is the one that Christ sought out and saved from the depths of her sin. She is the one he died for.
Yet what do you see about her clothing? What is the symbol, the imagery that her beautiful white clothing represents? She is clothed in the deeds of the saints What makes the pure clothes for God’s church? The good works of God people!
Your righteous deeds, your good works, your service to Jesus in Loving your neighbor clothes the Church and prepare her to meet Jesus! Never think that you’re just biding time and just trying not to mess up too much before Jesus comes back or you kick the bucket. You brothers and sisters are here as members of Christ, clothing his bride in her beautiful, bright and pure clothes!
What is an example of Righteous deeds?
Bearing up under suffering
Conquering sin
Rejecting Satan and his cronies
Seeking first the kingdom of God
Laying down your life for Christ
Friends, don’t just “play” church - “be” the church. Embody he righteousness. The righteous deeds clothe the Bride!!

5. The Fall of the Beast & False Prophet

With the coming True Bride announced, Jesus has some final work to do to get things ready. Like the groom who ducks out on his wedding day to pick up his tux, Jesus just has to pop over to the battle of Armageddon and take out the Beast, false profit and the earthly armies.
We seem to have come back around to the same event mentioned in Chapter 16, where the enemies of God gather to oppose him in a final showdown. But they’re in for a hard time.
Nothing can stand against Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will triumph over them all.
I’ve preached on this part of the passage before, so I recomend looking that up on our website if you would like a more detailed treatment of these verses, but for now lets just read what happens when Jesus rides out to face the enemies of God & his people:
Revelation 19:11–16 ESV
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
Revelation 19:17–21 ESV
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
Jesus wins. None can oppose him. He rides out with his saint by his side to judge and make war! This is our Jesus! Our heavenly king!


What have we covered this morning?
The Anti-Bride
The Fall of the Anti-bride
The Call of Christ
The True Bride
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