For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled. Revelation 17:17

God agrees to give the beast power to rule. It’s like God agreeing to Satan’s request to stop protecting Job (Job 1:12, 2:6) or agreeing to Satan’s request to sift Peter like wheat (Luke 22:31). We are left wondering why God would agree to such a thing.

Yet, we are told God put it into their hearts in order to accomplish his purposes. God is behind the scenes orchestrating events to bring about his outcomes. Clearly, God is in control. Furthermore, it appears in this instance that the beast who is evil destroys the prostitute, who is also evil. It reminds me of some of the Old Testament battles where God confuses Israel’s enemies so that their enemies end up fighting and destroying each other. For example, “They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords” (1 Samuel 14:15-20, see also 2 Chronicles 20:22-24).

The most encouraging word in this verse is, “until”. God has put a time limit on evil. Again this tells us God is in control. Evil doesn’t have free reign but only operates until God’s purposes are accomplished. It’s remarkable to us that God can use evil to bring about something good. Yet this is also Paul’s message, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him”  (Romans 8:28). “All things” includes those things that God agrees to even if the source is evil. We can rest in the assurance that God would never agree to it unless he saw the outcome was for our good.