Thursday, 3 June 2021
For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. Revelation 17:17
The Greek has different words in it that are not noticed in this translation. For example, it says “fulfilled” twice, but two different Greek words are used. The first signifies “to accomplish,” as if working towards a goal. The second means to “fulfill,” as if in having met an end purpose.
Further, the words translated as “purpose” and “mind” are the same. The LSV translates it as “for God gave into their hearts to do His purpose, and to make one purpose, and to give their kingdom to the beast until the sayings of God may be fulfilled,”
Having noted this, the verse begins with, “For God has put it into their hearts.” This is a similar thought to that of the strong delusion of 2 Thessalonians 2 –
“And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12
In such cases, the action is passive. Things are arranged in such a way that the intents and purposes of God are met as people pursue the logical path of that arranged course. One can think of coming to a new land and finding it immensely suitable for farming. We might say, “God put it into their hearts to farm.” In this, He didn’t actively do it, but things were set in such a way so that they followed the logical path that led to their farming the land.
With this understood, the verse next says, “to fulfill His purpose.” God arranges things so that an exacting outcome will result. There is nothing deceptive or wrong about this. He controls the flow of lava from volcanoes, and He directs the winds in their courses. Meteors come from the sky according to His will. Everything is set in order to bring about an end purpose, thus meeting His will.
On the way, things will be set in place, and the people will have it in their hearts to fulfill His purpose. Even though this sounds directive in nature, the same truth applies to each and every person. Paul writes of being predestined in the book of Romans. God has predestined all things. And yet, he has done it in such a way that we still must exercise our free will in the process.
In the case of these ten kings, it is God’s purpose for them “to be of one mind.” Their one mind (17:13), a united effort of these kings (and thus their individual kingdoms drawn together as one), will make war on the Lamb (17:14). They will also “hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire.”
These things were God’s intent in order to arrange the world for Christ’s second coming and for the ensuing millennial reign of Christ. Therefore, all is in a specified order so that they will “give their kingdom to the beast.” Joining in this way, God’s plan will, in fact, come to pass. The all-knowing and infinitely wise Creator is bringing everything to a point that has been predestined by Him, even from the very beginning. And these things will continue on “until the words of God are fulfilled.”
His word is written, and it will come to pass. And yet, during the entire process, the free will of those involved is highlighted. God simply knows the choices that will be made as time and history unfold.
Life application: This verse shows us the omniscience of God in all things, including the wicked choices and actions of man. This in no way implies God actively causes these things. He has given man freewill, and we exercise it to our own benefit or loss. Though He knows our choices before they occur, this in no way negates freewill. We can choose to do evil, we can choose to do right, and we can choose to accept or reject Jesus.
Freewill in man is a principal tenet in the Bible. In the case of this verse, the words indicate that their actions have come about by their willful rejection of Him, not His will being forced upon them. Their hearts suppress the knowledge of God, and – by default – they move in an expected way because of this rejection. It is a way that came about by free will and yet it was a part of how God has designed them and their circumstances.
Paul gives a general description of this type of action in Romans 1:18-27. In their rejection of God and their consolidation of world power, they have united in their aims and conferred their power upon the beast which is led by the antichrist. And the path they are headed down will lead them to the final point that God knew before He created anything. There is only one possible avenue and one possible termination point, which is the fulfillment of God’s word.
It is an amazing thing to ponder, but the important thing to understand is that when these things have come to pass, those who have rejected Him will have no one to blame but themselves. The destruction of the beast is assured; the book is written; and yet it still needs to happen.
Passages such as the one today show us the immense wisdom and foreknowledge of God. And the highest expression of that is in the giving of His Son. Even from the very foundation of the earth, He promised to correct the wrongs that came about through the fall. It is the plan of redemption, and it is this plan that shines forth in the coming of JESUS.
Great are Your workings, O God! How amazing it is to ponder that You know all things before they occur, and yet they still have to come about by our free will choices. It is hard for us to understand, and yet it is an indication of Your great love for us – allowing us to choose Jesus, but knowing the choice we will make. What a great and awesome God You are. Amen.