Revelation Chapters 15 through 18
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” Then the twenty-four elders who are seated on their thrones before God threw themselves down with their faces to the ground and worshiped God with these words: “We give you thanks, Lord God, the All-Powerful, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations were enraged, but your wrath has come, and the time has come for the dead to be judged, and the time has come to give to your servants, the prophets, their reward, as well as to the saints and to those who revere your name, both small and great, and the time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth.” Then the temple of God in heaven was opened and the ark of his covenant was visible within his temple. And there were flashes of lightning, roaring, crashes of thunder, an earthquake, and a great hailstorm. (Revelation 11:15-19 NET)
The seventh trumpet judgment in Revelation 11:15-19 proclaims that the kingdoms of this world are judged and replaced with the Kingdom of God, which is coming to the earth. The overall story of the book of Revelation is concluded with the blowing of the seventh trumpet. John is then given “backstory” (23) and “flashback” (22) details, which he records in the remainder of the Book of Revelation. (21)
The Book of Revelation provides progressive revelation similar to the creation of man account in Genesis.
Overview of Male and Female Creation:
God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27 NET)
Detailed “Flashback” after Overview of Male and Female Creation:
The Lord God formed the man from the soil of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7 NET)
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.” (Genesis 2:18 NET)
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was asleep, he took part of the man’s side and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the part he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. (Genesis 2:21–22 NET)
Again, Revelation 11:15-19 tells us that the seventh angel blows the seventh trumpet to announce the last judgment. The angel does not give the details; he only announces the judgment. (21)
The announcement is that:
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15 NET)
This same information will be given as a “Flashback” with more details in Revelation 14:6-20.
This same information will be given again in a “Flashback” with the final details in Revelation 15–18 (chapters).
This means we can overlay Revelation 11:15-19 on Revelation 14:6-20 and Revelation 15–18 as they all tell the same story with differing levels of detail.
These chapters outline God’s plan for the ages and the outcome for three groups of humanity:
- national Israel,
- the church, and
- the unbelieving world.
This process of progressive revelation is called “prophetic telescoping.” For example, looking at a distant mountain range through a telescope or binoculars, the mountains look next to each other. However, when you fly over them or check a map, you discover there are often miles and miles between them. Prophetic telescoping is a key principle to interpreting foretelling-type prophecy (i.e., a prophecy that talks about events yet to happen).
In Revelation, chapters 12 and 13, John will outline the entire spiritual history of the nation of Israel. At the beginning of Revelation chapter 14, he will show the 144,000 who are the firstfruit of national Israel to believe in Jesus Christ as Messiah. Thus, he contrasts those who are sealed with the name of God with those who are sealed in the name of the Antichrist.
When reading these parenthetic verses, it must be understood that they are written in the period after the seventh trumpet of God’s wrath is blown, ending the Seventieth Week in Revelation. Since Israel has concluded the Seventieth Week, John gives a brief spiritual overview of how the salvation of national Israel came to pass earlier. John gives greater details on how these events unfolded from the midpoint of the Seventieth Week to its conclusion when the seventh trumpet was blown. (26)
Overview of Daniel’s Vision
Previously we learned that the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord will last 1260 days, which is 3.5 years.
So the woman gave birth to a son, a male child, who is going to rule over all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was suddenly caught up to God and to his throne, and she fled into the wilderness where a place had been prepared for her by God, so she could be taken care of for 1,260 days. (Revelation 12:5,6 NET)
This is also referred to as a time, times, and half a time which equates to 1,260 days or 3.5 years.
But the woman was given the two wings of a giant eagle so that she could fly out into the wilderness, to the place God prepared for her, where she is taken care of—away from the presence of the serpent—for a time, times, and half a time [3.5 years]. (Revelation 12:14 NET)
In the twelfth chapter of the book of Daniel, the prophet is shown the beginning of the great tribulation. He then hears one of the angels cry out that it will be for a time, times, and half a time until all concerning Israel’s Seventieth Week will be fulfilled. Meaning the last half of the Seventieth Week will last for a time, times, and half a time or three and a half years
Then I heard the man clothed in linen who was over the waters of the river as he raised both his right and left hands to the sky and made an oath by the one who lives forever: “It is for a time, times, and half a time. Then, when the power of the one who shatters the holy people has been exhausted, all these things will be finished.” (Daniel 12:7 NET)
The final day of the Seventieth Week will have culminated on the Jewish Day of Atonement. Israel mourns at the end of the seventieth week when she realizes that Jesus, the One she long rejected, is her Messiah (her national day of atonement). (18)
Daniel, being a bit perplexed, asks what will be the culmination of everything that is to occur. In context, the preceding two chapters of Daniel focused on the Antichrist and his rise to power. Specifically, Daniel would now like to know when the Antichrist’s reign would finally be ended. In response to his inquiry, the angel states: (26)
I heard, but I did not understand. So I said, “Sir, what will happen after these things?” He said, “Go, Daniel. For these matters are closed and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made clean, and refined, but the wicked will go on being wicked. None of the wicked will understand, though the wise will understand. From the time that the daily sacrifice is removed and the abomination that causes desolation is set in place, there are 1,290 days. (Daniel 12:8–11 NET)
The angel informs Daniel that from the time the abomination of desolation is set up at the midpoint of the Seventieth Week until the defeat and end of the Antichrist, it will be 1290 days. These additional 30 days (1,290 – 1,260) are when the Seven Bowls are poured out. They are days of “Mourning” for the Jews as they recognize that Yeshua is HaMashia (Jesus is the Messiah), and they rejected Him when He first came to Earth. Those thirty days may also serve as a time of cleansing and preparation for the people.
Moses was commanded to provide an alternative time for sacrificing the Passover lamb. This provision was for those defiled under Jewish law or away on a journey.
The Lord spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites, ‘If any of you or of your posterity become ceremonially defiled by touching a dead body, or are on a journey far away, then he may observe the Passover to the Lord. They may observe it on the fourteenth day of the second month at twilight; they are to eat it with bread made without yeast and with bitter herbs. They must not leave any of it until morning, nor break any of its bones; they must observe it in accordance with every statute of the Passover. (Numbers 9:9–12 NET)
The alternative date was thirty days after the normal slaying of the Passover (1) Lamb on the fourteenth of the first month of Nisan. Instead of on the fourteenth day of the first month, it was to be offered on the fourteenth date of the second month of Iyar – exactly thirty days later (Numbers 9:10,11). (18)
Concerning the cleansing, the prophet Zechariah wrote:
“In that day there will be a fountain opened up for the dynasty of David and the people of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and impurity. (Zechariah 13:1 NET)
During this last thirty-day period, God will bring to an end the rule of the Antichrist. Although the salvation of national Israel has taken place and the mystery of God’s redemptive plan is complete, Jesus has not yet taken any direct action against the Antichrist. Upon completing the bowl judgments, Jesus will return to the earth with a heavenly army to end the Antichrist. Daniel is also advised by the angel: (26)
Blessed is the one who waits and attains to the 1,335 days. (Daniel 12:12 NET)
This now adds 45 days to the 1290 days given for the end of the Antichrist (45 + 1290 = 1,335). This period is significant in bringing us to the fulfillment of another of Israel’s holidays: Hanukkah. Although not mentioned in Leviticus, this holiday is considered a very special holiday by the Jews.
Hanukkah, or the Feast of Dedication, was even celebrated by Jesus on His first advent.
Then came the feast of the Dedication [Hanukkah] in Jerusalem. (John 10:22 NET)
Hanukkah, or the Feast of Dedication, continues to be an important holiday for the Jewish people.
It commemorated when the Maccabees overthrew the rule of the Syrian king, Antiochus Epiphanes, and cleansed the temple. Antiochus was a type of Antichrist who desecrated the temple. He sacrificed a pig and erected an image of Zeus with his face on it in the Holy of Holies. In the same way, after Jesus destroys the Antichrist, the temple will again be cleansed in fulfillment of Hanukkah. This last 45-day period attests to the fact that the Seventieth Week will end on the Day of Atonements. This is because Hanukkah is celebrated exactly 75 days from the Day of Atonement on the twenty-fifth of Chislev (1). Adding 75 days to the 1260 days, it comes to the 1335 days spoken of by the angel to Daniel.
Blessed is the one who waits and attains to the 1,335 days. (Daniel 12:12 NET)
During the forty-five-day period following the defeat of the Antichrist, Jesus will cleanse the Temple and the Earth in preparation for the dedication of His kingdom. This cleansing period and dedication will ultimately fulfill the Feast of Dedication. Again, it is fulfilled exactly as the other Jewish festivals have been fulfilled.
In summary, the seventy-five days of the Book of Daniel speaks of a period of time between Israel mourning Jesus’ physical return at the end of the seventieth week when she realizes that Jesus, the One she has long rejected, is her Messiah (her national day of atonement) and the cleansing and rededication of the temple, in anticipation of the return of God’s glory. For that reason, those who reach that point are said to be “blessed.” (18)
Revelation Chapters 15 thru 18
The Days of Mourning
The Lord Jesus and His Holy Angels give John additional details providing “backstory” (23) and “flashback” (22) information about people and events, which is recorded in Revelation chapters 15–18. This information does not advance the story in time; it only provides more information and insight into previous events covered in Revelations 4 through 11. (21)
“Backstory” information will be about people, places, and events outside Daniel’s 70th Week.
“Flashback” information will be about people, places, and events that occur within Daniel’s 70th Week.
John describes the contents of the judgments that occur at the pouring out of the bowls beginning in Revelation 15:1 and continuing through Revelation chapter 16. John then tells “backstory” and “flashback” information about people, places, and events.
FLASHBACK: The Seven Angels and their Seven Final Plagues or Bowl Judgments (Circa after the Seventh Trumpet)
Then I saw another great and astounding sign in heaven: seven angels who have seven final plagues (they are final because in them God’s anger is completed). (Revelation 15:1 NET)
The number seven is associated with being finished, done, or complete. In the book of Revelation, the number seven is used there more than fifty times in a variety of contexts:
- there are seven letters to seven churches in Asia,
- seven spirits before God’s throne (Revelation 1:4),
- seven golden lampstands (Revelation 1:12),
- seven stars in Christ’s right hand (Revelation 1:16),
- seven seals of God’s judgment (Revelation 5:1),
- seven angels with seven trumpets (Revelation 8:2), and
- seven angels with seven bowls (Revelation 15:1), etc.
In all likelihood, the number seven again represents completeness or totality: the seven churches represent the completeness of the body of Christ, the seven seals on the scroll represent the fullness of God’s punishment of sinful earth, and so on. And, of course, the book of Revelation itself, with all its 7’s, is the capstone of God’s Word to man. The Word was complete with the book of Revelation. (27)
I testify to the one who hears the words of the prophecy contained in this book: If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. (Revelation 22:18 NET)
The Overcomers Give Glory to God
Then I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and his image and the number of his name. They were standing by the sea of glass, holding harps given to them by God. (Revelation 15:2 NET)
In Revelation 12:1-3, John says his vision of the woman with child and the dragon was a sign. Throughout history, and even in modern times, people consider unusual happenings in the sky to be signals from God that something important is about to happen on the earth. In Revelation 12, the important event was the birth of the Messiah on the earth. The Gospels also mention the sign of the Star of Bethlehem pointing to the Messiah’s birth. The sign in Revelation 12:3 was Satan being cast out of Heaven to the Earth. Now John says he sees another sign in Heaven that will affect the Earth. This sign is preparation for the last seven Bowl judgments on the earth. (21)
When John realizes what he sees, he does not call it a sign of doom and gloom, as we are often told. He calls it a great and marvelous sign. Yes, it is certain doom and gloom for the wicked, but it is great and marvelous for the righteous. And what is this sign? John sees seven angels with the last seven judgments of God. (21)
John explains that when these seven judgments are released on the earth, they will bring to fulfillment or completion the holy wrath of God against evil. Hallelujah! With this proper perspective, we can join John in calling this a great and marvelous sign. (21)
While believers can rejoice, the wicked will weep and mourn. The Bible is clear that throughout history, God has taken the initiative by extending His love and mercy to all. It is not His desire that any should perish but that all would come to Him and receive forgiveness for sin and eternal life with Him. However, we also learn in the Bible that God is just and must judge those who reject His mercy. In our heart of hearts, we know this is true. (21)
God must deal with our sins because He is Holy. However, if He condemned all that sinned, He would be just but not merciful; if He overlooked all sin, He would be merciful but not just.
As we study the Bible and history, it seems that God has determined a certain period of time in which He would allow humankind the opportunity to respond to Him. Based on the Feasts of the Lord and God’s biblical calendar, conservative Bible scholars believe this time is 6,000 years. (21)
The Jewish sages divide time into three 2,000-year redemptive periods. They refer to the first 2,000 years before the giving of the Torah as the Age of Chaos. The second 2,000 years they called the Age of Torah. The last 2,000 years are called the Age of Messiah. The Age of Messiah is also called the latter days. When Jesus came for the first time, it was the beginning of the latter days. His second coming will be the end of the latter days. That time has now come, and God is preparing to release His last judgments against those who have made their final choice to reject Him. (21)
In Revelation 4:6, John saw what looked like a sea of crystal glass before the throne of God. In discussing what John saw, recall he did not see a literal sea. He used figurative language to describe the limitless splendor and riches and pure holiness of God as opposed to the limited and temporal riches of the emperors. (21)
and in front of the throne was something like a sea of glass, like crystal. In the middle of the throne and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. (Revelation 4:6 NET)
Then it was unoccupied; now, it is occupied. Then its surface was crystal clear and plain; now, its surface is of a “fiery” aspect, symbolizing the “fiery trials” of its occupants. The occupants of this “Sea of Glass” come out of the Great Tribulation, for they have gotten victory over the “Beast,” over his “Image,” and over his Mark, and over the “Number of His Name,” and they have harps, and they sing the “Song of Moses” and the “Song of the Lamb.” They are the “Harpers” of Revelation 14:2, whose song only the 144,000 “Sealed Ones” could sing. John only heard them then; now he sees them. That they could sing both the “Song of Moses” and the “Song of the Lamb” implies that they were all, or in part, Israelites. (8)
Once again, John’s attention is focused on this sea. Here he adds an incredible observation: fire is now mingled with the sea of crystal glass. (21)
Amid this sea of glass mixed with fire, the great multitude of the church who have persevered and gained victory over the Antichrist. They have been tried by the Seraphim’s fire and found to be pure and worthy of their calling. Because of this, they can stand before the throne of God Almighty. This great multitude sings the Song of Moses and the Lamb, giving God great glory for His righteous judgments upon the world. (26)
This scene takes us back to when God delivered His people from Pharaoh. When God parted the Red Sea, the Children of Israel could pass through the sea on dry ground with walls of water to their right and left. Put yourself in that setting and imagine being one of those Hebrews. God held back Pharaoh and his army with a pillar of cloud and fire until the Hebrews had passed through. Pharaoh and his army followed them when they were safely on the other side. But God allowed the waters to return, and all the Egyptians drowned, including Pharoah. (21)
to the one who divided the Red Sea in two, for his loyal love endures, and led Israel through its midst, for his loyal love endures, and tossed Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea, for his loyal love endures, (Psalm 136:13–15 NET)
He shouted at the Red Sea and it dried up; he led them through the deep water as if it were a desert. He delivered them from the power of the one who hated them, and rescued them from the power of the enemy. The water covered their enemies; not even one of them survived. (Psalm 106:9–11 NET)
The Children of Israel watched this awesome scene—victorious and in their place of safety—as the blazing glory of God in the pillar of fire mingled with the waters of the Red Sea and brought them crashing down on Pharaoh and his army (Exodus 14). (21)
Just as the Lord helped the Children of Israel have a great victory over Pharaoh, He will help the children of God overcome the evil one. He will bring them to the place of safety and victory over the Beast— Satan, the Antichrist, the false prophet, and the anti-God, one-world system. Regardless of the difficulties the believers experience (even martyrdom), victory is certain. (21)
Paul wrote to the believers at Thessalonica:
For God did not destine us for wrath but for gaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that whether we are alert or asleep we will come to life together with him. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 NET).
As John continues, we see even more clearly the connection of this heavenly scene to the Exodus story. Notice that these overcomers have all learned to play the harp. If you are not musically inclined in this life, you will be when you enter the throne room of God. Everyone will become skilled in King David’s favorite instrument. Can you imagine being with millions of other believers on King David’s harp team? (21)
John hears this great company of God’s people (Jews and Gentiles) singing the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb.
They sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and astounding are your deeds, Lord God, the All-Powerful! Just and true are your ways, King over the nations! Who will not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name, because you alone are holy? All nations will come and worship before you for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:3–4 NET)
This company is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption to make Jews and Gentiles “one new man” in the Messiah. (21)
Out of His sovereign desire to reveal Himself to us, the Creator of the universe needed a people through whom He could make Himself known. He could not reveal Himself to us in the fullness of His glory without destroying us with His manifested presence. He needed a people group. God could have chosen any people group. As we learn in the Bible, He chose Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants as the ethnic people through whom He would reveal His redemptive plans and purposes on the earth. (21)
God did not choose the Jewish people because they were better than any other group. He chose them because He found in Abraham, a man who believed in the One True God and followed Him. Abraham’s descendants, later known as the Jews, were not unique because of some inherent superiority but because of their high calling:
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. He has chosen you to be his people, prized above all others on the face of the earth. It is not because you were more numerous than all the other peoples that the LORD favored and chose you—for in fact you were the least numerous of all peoples. Rather it is because of his love for you and his faithfulness to the promise he solemnly vowed to your ancestors that the LORD brought you out with great power, redeeming you from the place of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So realize that the LORD your God is the true God, the faithful God who keeps covenant faithfully with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, but who pays back those who hate him as they deserve and destroys them. He will not ignore those who hate him but will repay them as they deserve! So keep the commandments, statutes, and ordinances that I today am commanding you to do. (Deuteronomy 7:6–11)
While the Jews were the first of God’s people, the Creator made it clear that He would also call a people to Himself from among the Gentiles. In all three divisions of the Hebrew Bible, the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi’im), and the Psalms (K’tivim), the Lord revealed that He would include Gentiles as part of “My people.”
From the moment God called Abraham, He told Abraham that he would be a blessing to all the families of the earth.
I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name.” (Genesis 12:3 NET)
God’s covenant people would include “whosoever will” as they responded to the revelation He gave through Abraham.
Before God even brought the Hebrews into the Promised Land, He reached out to the Gentiles and said,
Cry out, O nations [Gentiles], with his people, for he will avenge his servants’ blood; he will take vengeance against his enemies, and make atonement for his land and people. (Deuteronomy 32:43 NET)
The psalmist calls the Gentiles to worship the Lord:
Praise the Lord, all you nations! Applaud him, all you foreigners! (Psalm 117:1 NET)
Isaiah spoke of the Messiah who would come from the seed of Jesse, the father of King David. (21)
He prophesied that the Gentiles would seek Him:
At that time a root from Jesse will stand like a signal flag for the nations. Nations will look to him for guidance, and his residence will be majestic. (Isaiah 11:10 NET).
Luke tells the story of Simeon, a devout Jewish man waiting for the Messiah to appear. The Lord told him he would not die until he saw the Messiah.
When Jesus was presented at the Temple, Simeon prophesied:
“Now, according to your word, Sovereign Lord, permit your servant to depart in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples: a light, for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32).
Simeon was referring to Isaiah’s prophecy where the Lord said of the Messiah:
he says, “Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant, to reestablish the tribes of Jacob, and restore the remnant of Israel? I will make you a light to the nations, so you can bring my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6 NET)
It is evident, from the writings of Paul, that God has not called two separate peoples but one people. Paul says that true Israel is made up of those who are the children of faith in Christ, not merely those who are born of Jewish descent:
Now this secret was not disclosed to people in former generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, namely, that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:5–6 NET)
Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh—who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed on the body by human hands—that you were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility, when he nullified in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees. He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11–22 NET)
As Western believers, we must understand that Christians are part of “the Israel of God” and have become “one new man” with them. The Church is not Israel but is joined with Jews as the “one new man,” also known as the new “Israel of God.”
But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation! And all who will behave in accordance with this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:14–16 NET)
Speaking symbolically, Jewish believers are not grafted into the Christians’ wild olive tree, but Christians are grafted into the cultivated Jewish olive tree. Furthermore, the Jewish branches that were broken off will be grafted back into the Jewish olive tree.
Now if some of the [Jewish] branches were broken off, and you, a [Gentile] wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them and participated in the richness of the [Jewish] olive root, do not boast over the [Jewish] branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the [Jewish] root, but the [Jewish] root supports you. Then you will say, “The [Jewish] branches were broken off so that I [a Gentile] could be grafted in.” Granted! They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but fear! For if God did not spare the natural [Jewish] branches, perhaps he will not spare you [a Gentile branch]. Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God—harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And even they [Jewish branches]—if they do not continue in their unbelief—will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a [Gentile] wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated [Jewish] olive tree, how much more will these natural [Jewish] branches be grafted back into their own [cultivated Jewish] olive tree? (Romans 11:17-24 NET)
While Abraham is the natural father of the Jewish people, he is the spiritual father of all true believers.
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26–29 NET)
He is “Our Father Abraham.”
For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace, with the result that the promise may be certain to all the descendants—not only to those who are under the law, but also to those who have the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (Romans 4:16 NET)
It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all those who are descended from Israel are truly Israel, nor are all the children Abraham’s true descendants; rather “through Isaac will your descendants be counted.” This means it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God; rather, the children of promise are counted as descendants. (Romans 9:6–8 NET)
But you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac. (Galatians 4:28 NET)
But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation! And all who will behave in accordance with this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:14–16 NET)
All Christians are Jews:
For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something that is outward in the flesh, but someone is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit and not by the written code. This person’s praise is not from people but from God. (Romans 2:28–29 NET)
Zechariah saw this “One New Man” company of people when he wrote:
The Lord who rules over all says, ‘In those days ten people [a representative number] from all languages and nations will grasp hold of—indeed, grab—the robe [tzitzit] of one Jew and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” ’ ”
Through Messiah, God has made way for all people to be His people, regardless of ethnic or national background, skin color, gender, economic status, social position, education, life achievements, age, language, customs, or traditions. No human barriers keep us from being in God’s Kingdom family. All of His people will be forever in His glorious presence.
Only those who have faith in Christ are considered God’s people. According to Paul, if one is born Jewish and rejects Christ, he is not considered part of God’s people. This is the same for a Gentile who also rejects Christ.
God has only provided one way of salvation: through the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. (1)
There are two Songs of Moses in the Hebrew Bible. The first one is recorded in Exodus 15:1-18. This is a great song of praise to God for delivering the people from Pharaoh. The second is recorded in Deuteronomy 32:1-43 when Moses was preparing to give his final blessing to the Children of Israel before he died. (21)
The second Song of Moses ends with the following remarkable exhortation:
Cry out, O nations, with his people, for he will avenge his servants’ blood; he will take vengeance against his enemies, and make atonement for his land and people. (Deuteronomy 32:43 NET)
The scene that John sees in Revelation 15 is clearly the ultimate fulfillment of the closing words of this song as both Jews and Gentiles give glory to God, singing of His judgments on their adversaries and the atonement provided by the Lamb—just as they had sung earlier in Revelation 5:8-14. Our God is awesome! (21)
Each line they sing comes from a corresponding passage in the Hebrew Bible. A few are listed below. There are many similar verses. As we read these, let us praise our God for His greatness, goodness, and mighty acts of wonder, awe, and redemption on Earth. (21)
Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you?—majestic in holiness, fearful in praises, working wonders? (Exodus 15:11 NET).
For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; you must acknowledge the greatness of our God. As for the Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are just. He is a reliable God who is never unjust, he is fair and upright. (Deuteronomy 32:3- 4 NET).
Sing to the Lord, you faithful followers of his; give thanks to his holy name. (Psalms 30:4 NET).
Let the whole earth fear the Lord! Let all who live in the world stand in awe of him! (Psalms 33:8 NET).
None can compare to you among the gods, O Lord! Your exploits are incomparable! All the nations, whom you created, will come and worship you, O Lord. They will honor your name. For you are great and do amazing things. You alone are God. (Psalms 86:8-10 NET).
Sing to the Lord a new song, for he performs amazing deeds! His right hand and his mighty arm accomplish deliverance. Shout out praises to the Lord, all the earth! ...Break out in a joyful shout and sing! Sing to the Lord accompanied by a harp, accompanied by a harp and the sound of music! (Psalms 98:1;98:4-5 NET).
Praise the Lord our God! Worship before his footstool! He is holy! (Psalms 99:5 NET).
I will focus on your honor and majestic splendor, and your amazing deeds! They will proclaim the power of your awesome acts! I will declare your great deeds! They will talk about the fame of your great kindness, and sing about your justice. (Psalms 145:5-7 NET).
I said, “There is no one like you, Lord. You are great. And you are renowned for your power. Everyone should revere you, O King of all nations, because you deserve to be revered. For there is no one like you among any of the wise people of the nations nor among any of their kings. (Jeremiah 10:6-7 NET).
The Lord is the only true God. He is the living God and the everlasting King. When he shows his anger the earth shakes. None of the nations can stand up to his fury. (Jeremiah 10:10 NET).
The Tabernacle of the Testimony
After these things I looked, and the temple (the tent of the testimony) was opened in heaven, and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, dressed in clean bright linen, wearing wide golden belts around their chests. Then one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the temple was filled with smoke from God’s glory and from his power. Thus no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues from the seven angels were completed. (Revelation 15:5–8 NET)
After this great hymn, the heavenly tabernacle is opened. The earthly one was patterned after this heavenly tabernacle’s likeness (Exodus chapters 25-27). (26)
As John observes this incredible scene in Heaven, he sees the Temple of God and the Holy of Holies. The English wording in verse 5 could be clearer. The phrase “the temple (the tent of the testimony)” means the inner room of the Tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, which housed the Ark of the Covenant. This is the same scene that John saw in Revelation 11:19. The wording is clearer in that verse, which says: (21)
Then the temple of God in heaven was opened and the ark of his covenant was visible within his temple. And there were flashes of lightning, roaring, crashes of thunder, an earthquake, and a great hailstorm. (Revelation 11:19 NET)
The statement’s significance is that the Holy of Holies is open when it would normally be closed or concealed by a thick curtain (Exodus 40:21).
This scene takes us back to when God told the Hebrews to make a tabernacle, or tent, where He would dwell among them. (21)
We read in Exodus that God said,
Let them make for me a sanctuary, so that I may live among them. (Exodus 25:8).
Bible students will recall that the Tabernacle was divided into three sections:
1) the Outer Courtyard (1),
2) the first room, called the Holy Place (1), and
3) the inner room, called the Holy of Holies (1).
When God gave Moses the second set of Ten Commandments (called the Testimony), He needed a place to preserve them. So He instructed Moses to make a small wooden chest to house them. (21)
At that same time the Lord said to me, “Carve out for yourself two stone tablets like the first ones and come up the mountain to me; also make for yourself a wooden ark. I will write on the tablets the same words that were on the first tablets you broke, and you must put them into the ark.” So I made an ark of acacia wood and carved out two stone tablets just like the first ones. Then I went up the mountain with the two tablets in my hands. The Lord then wrote on the tablets the same words, the ten commandments, which he had spoken to you at the mountain from the middle of the fire at the time of that assembly, and he gave them to me. Then I turned, went down the mountain, and placed the tablets into the ark I had made—they are still there, just as the Lord commanded me. (Deuteronomy 10:1–5 NET)
God also gave Moses specific instructions for making the Ark of the Covenant. The lid or top of the Ark was called the Mercy Seat. Statues of two cherubim angels were made and attached to the two ends of the Mercy Seat. God told Moses that He would meet him in the Holy of Holies above the Mercy Seat. (21)
Bezalel made this wooden ark covered with gold to house the second set of the Ten Commandments for Moses. This Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle.
You are to put the atonement lid on top of the ark, and in the ark you are to put the testimony I am giving you. I will meet with you there, and from above the atonement lid, from between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will command you for the Israelites. (Exodus 25:21- 22 NET).
Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood; its length was three feet nine inches, its width two feet three inches, and its height two feet three inches. He overlaid it with pure gold, inside and out, and he made a surrounding border of gold for it. He cast four gold rings for it that he put on its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other side. He made poles of acacia wood, overlaid them with gold, and put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark in order to carry the ark. He made an atonement lid of pure gold; its length was three feet nine inches, and its width was two feet three inches. He made two cherubim of gold; he made them of hammered metal on the two ends of the atonement lid, one cherub on one end and one cherub on the other end. He made the cherubim from the atonement lid on its two ends. The cherubim were spreading their wings upward, overshadowing the atonement lid with their wings. The cherubim faced each other, looking toward the atonement lid. (Exodus 37:1–9 NET)
“You are to put into the ark the testimony that I will give to you.” (Exodus 25:16).
We learn in the New Testament that the pot of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded was also placed in the Ark of the Covenant (Hebrews 9:4).
And after the second curtain there was a tent called the holy of holies. It contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered entirely with gold. In this ark were the golden urn containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. (Hebrews 9:3–4 NET)
The Tabernacle was a portable structure that the Hebrews could carry with them in their 40 years of wandering through the desert. Later, when they settled in the land, King David wanted to build a permanent Temple as the central place of worship. However, since King David was a man of war, God did not allow him to build the Temple. His son, King Solomon, was given the assignment. (21)
As we see the Temple worship scenes in Heaven, we realize that both the earthly Tabernacle and Temple were copies of the heavenly dwelling of God. They were “made according to the pattern” God gave Moses and later King David. They would be visuals or pictures on the earth of the eternal reality in Heaven. (21)
In Revelation 15, John sees the seven angels coming out of the Holy of Holies, the seven angels who will release the seven last judgments. Their garments symbolize their purity and undefiled nature. One of the four special living beings gives them the seven golden bowls that John says are “filled with the wrath of God” (Revelation 15:7). John says there is no more mercy coming from the Mercy Seat of God. There is only judgment, as those who have opposed God have rejected His mercy. (21)
Once again, it is apparent that the angels are entrusted with God’s judgments, not the living creatures. The temple is filled with God’s power, might, and great wrath that no one can enter until His judgments are completed. The bowl judgments will be so fierce that there will never be anything similar to them again. The world has now fallen into the hands of an angry God whose long suffering and patience have ended. This final period of wrath will be upon the kingdom of the Antichrist and those who have worshipped the beast, and it will be complete. (26)
These bowls, or basins, are the same vessels used in the Tabernacle and Temple for catching the blood of the sacrifices offered to God. They represent both the mercy and the judgment of God. (21)
On Yom Kippur, the Great Day of Atonements, the High Priest would sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat at the Tabernacle and Temple (Leviticus 17). Looking down from His glory cloud, God would see the blood covering the Ark of the Covenant. For that day each year, He did not see the evidence of the people’s sins represented by the pot of manna, Aaron’s rod, and the stone tables. The innocent blood sacrifice changed God’s throne from one of judgment to one of mercy. That was the administration of the blood covenant before the time of Jesus. (21)
The blood of Jesus began the administration of the blood covenant that did away with the need for animal sacrifices. Whereas the blood of bulls and goats can only cover sin, the blood of Jesus takes sin away to be remembered no more. This is why the believers are singing the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb. (21)
The slain but resurrected Lamb of God now sits at the right hand of God on the throne of the universe. It is His blood that the earthly sacrifices are pictured as a type. It is His blood that changes God’s heavenly throne from one of judgment to one of mercy. Those who accept the blood of the Lamb of God as their innocent sacrifice for sin receive God’s mercy. Those who reject it receive God’s judgment. (21)
John sees the glory and power of God, like smoke, filling the Holy of Holies and the Temple. This manifestation of God was so awesome and holy that no one could enter the Temple until the judgments were complete. (21)
John’s vision again takes us back to the Tabernacle and Temple when God’s glory appeared to the people. (21)
When the Tabernacle was dedicated:
Then the cloud [the manifested presence of God] covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 40:34–35 NET)
Later, when the Temple was dedicated, the presence of God so filled the place that the priests could not even stand to minister:
The priests brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its assigned place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, in the most holy place, under the wings of the cherubs... Once the priests left the holy place, a cloud filled the Lord’s temple. The priests could not carry out their duties because of the cloud; the Lord’s glory filled his temple. (1 Kings 8:6;8:10–11 NET)
When the Tabernacle was finished by Moses and the Temple by Solomon, there was a “cloud,” the “Shekinah Glory,” but no smoke. The “cloud” means Grace, and the “smoke” means Judgment. (8)
In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the sovereign master seated on a high, elevated throne. The hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs stood over him; each one had six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and they used the remaining two to fly. They called out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord who commands armies! His majestic splendor fills the entire earth!” The sound of their voices shook the door frames, and the temple was filled with smoke. (Isaiah 6:1–4 NET)
Now Mount Sinai was completely covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire, and its smoke went up like the smoke of a great furnace, and the whole mountain shook violently. When the sound of the horn grew louder and louder, Moses was speaking and God was answering him with a voice. (Exodus 19:18–19 NET)
As we contemplate the awesomeness and goodness of our God, may His glorious presence also fill our bodies and souls—each personal house of God. May we experience the cloud of God’s glory so we cannot stand under the weight of His manifested presence. May the worship of Heaven become our ever-present reality. Let this be our prayer today. (21)
FLASHBACK: The Seven Plagues or Bowl Judgments are Poured Out by the Seven Angels (Circa immediately after the 7th Trumpet)
It is essential to understand that the next series of judgments are to take place after the seven-year period of the Seventieth Week has ended. Jesus has already returned physically for the salvation of national Israel following their repentance during the “ten days of awe.” While the trumpets were primarily to bring Israel to repentance, the bowls will be initiated against the unbelieving Gentile kingdoms and all who have taken the beast’s mark. (26)
The bowl judgments are contained in the little scroll that was open and in the hand of Jesus as He retook possession of the earth. The bowl judgments will herald the destruction of the Gentile kingdoms that have persecuted Israel and the church throughout history. John is now presented with our Lord’s return as a “thief to destroy.” Jesus will now bring the kingdom of the Antichrist to a violent end. In a critical passage, the prophet Daniel outlines exactly when the bowl judgments will be poured out and their duration. (26)
We were previously introduced to the Seven Angels with the Seven Bowls.
Then I saw another great and astounding sign in heaven: seven angels who have seven final plagues (they are final because in them God’s anger is completed). (Revelation 15:1 NET)
The Last Seven Bowl judgments are now revealed to have occurred after the Seventh Trumpet. This is another “SIGN” or “Wonder.” It was great and marvelous because it “Filled Up the Wrath of God,” completing the pouring out of the accumulated “Wrath of God.”
As stated above, the bowl judgments begin after the Seventieth Week has ended, with the seventh trumpet signaling the final culmination of God’s redemptive plan by revealing these seven bowl judgments. (26)
Our study of the feasts showed that five days after the end of the Seventieth Week, Jesus celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with the 144,000 atop Mount Zion. This will then leave 25 days for the bowl judgments to unfold. (26)
John reveals that the bowl judgments will occur quickly, in rapid-fire succession. The word used for a bowl in the text of Revelation indicates a very shallow bowl or goblet, which has more breadth than depth. Because of this, the contents of the bowls can be drained quickly. This reveals the swiftness and finality of God’s final wrath. (26)
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple declaring to the seven angels: “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls containing God’s wrath.” (Revelation 16:1 NET)
John hears a loud voice from the Temple. Although he does not identify the voice, it is most likely the Lord’s. Isaiah said that he heard a voice from the Temple, which he identified as the voice of the Lord who fully repays His enemies. (21)
The sound of battle comes from the city; the sound comes from the temple! It is the sound of the Lord paying back his enemies. (Isaiah 66:6 NET)
The voice commands the seven angels to pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth. (21)
Believers can take comfort in knowing that these judgments are not for them but are intended for those who took the Mark of the Beast. (21)
These terrible judgments are poured out at the end of the Day of the Lord leading up to the second coming of the Lord. They occur over thirty days, during which God completely destroys the anti-God, one-world system, which John sees happening in Revelation 17–18. (21)
With this Satanic kingdom destroyed Jesus will come and establish the full measure of the Kingdom of God on the earth. Hallelujah! Our God reigns. (21)
|Egyptian Deities||God’s Judgment Plague|
|1||2,3||2,3||Osiris—god of the Nile||The Nile turned to blood|
|2||Heqt—frog goddess||Frogs covered the land|
|3||Seb—Earth god||Dust turned to lice|
|4||Scarabus—a flying bug||Swarms of flies|
|5||Apis—bull god||Death to livestock|
|6||1||Neit—god of health||Boils and sores|
|7||1||7||Shu—god of nature||Hail and fire|
|8||5||Serapia—god of locusts||Locusts eat what remains|
|9||4||5||Ra—the sun god||Darkness over the land|
|10||6||7||Pharaoh—the incarnation of Ra||Death of firstborn|
The First Bowl – Devasting Sores
So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth. Then ugly and painful sores appeared on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image. (Revelation 16:2 NET)
The first angel is commanded to pour out the first bowl. As this is done, a foul sore comes upon all those who worship and have the mark of the beast. While this sore’s exact nature is unclear, it is extremely painful and repulsive in appearance. It obviously causes great physical suffering. (21)
Because this judgment parallels the sixth plague in Egypt, it may be that the sore is a boil. The Lord instructed Moses and Aaron to take some ashes from a furnace and toss them toward Heaven while Pharaoh watched. The Lord then scattered the ashes throughout Egypt, and they caused boils in the Egyptians. (21)
Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from a furnace, and have Moses throw it into the air while Pharaoh is watching.It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt and will cause boils to break out and fester on both people and animals in all the land of Egypt.” So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh, Moses threw it into the air, and it caused festering boils to break out on both people and animals. The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for boils were on the magicians and on all the Egyptians. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted to Moses. (Exodus 9:8–12 NET)
The English text that says “the LORD hardened Pharoah’s heart” can be misleading. It means that God created a circumstance to test Pharaoh. However, Pharaoh would not repent but hardened his own heart against God because of the plague. (21)
Until this point in Revelation, there has been no direct judgment on those who have trusted the Antichrist. During this period, they will begin to pay the awesome price for tossing their lot in with the Antichrist. Their great leader, who dared to defy God, will now be unable to save them. (26)
It is interesting to note the parallels between this plague in Egypt and the Book of Revelation. Both are described as sore. Both are done in the presence of the anti-God leaders (Pharaoh and the anti-Messiah). Both afflict only those who reject God. And in both instances, those judged had hardened their hearts against God instead of repenting. (21)
The Second Bowl – The Sea Turns to Blood
Next, the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea and it turned into blood, like that of a corpse, and every living creature that was in the sea died. (Revelation 16:3 NET)
One-third of the Mediterranean Sea was turned to blood at the second trumpet. With the second bowl, the entire sea will be affected. As it is turned entirely to blood, every living creature in the sea will die. This will be a judgment of the waters of the Middle East that will eclipse anything that has ever occurred in human history. The severity of this judgment will have a collateral effect on all areas of the Middle East surrounding the Mediterranean basin. (26)
Again, there are parallels between God’s judgments against Pharaoh and His judgments against the Antichrist (anti-Messiah). God poured out His judgment in the sight of Pharaoh. The judgment was only against Pharaoh and the Egyptians, not the people of God. Likewise, the bowl judgments in the Book of Revelation are poured out in the sight of the Antichrist, the false prophet, and the entire world, which, like Egypt, is the anti-God empire. The judgment is only against those who have the Mark of the Beast. Like Pharaoh, the people harden their hearts against God. (21)
This second bowl judgment is similar to the first plague in Egypt and the second trumpet judgment. God’s first plague against Pharaoh turned the Nile River and all the fresh water in Egypt into blood (Exodus 7:14-25). In the second trumpet judgment, only a third of the sea became blood, so only a third of the creatures living there died (Revelation 8:8-9). Since that was only a partial judgment, people had the opportunity to repent. (21)
However, It did not include the sea (i.e., the Mediterranean Sea) as in this Second Bowl. The bowl judgment is total devastation of the sea. This is God’s way of telling us that because the people will not repent, His mercy is no longer possible. (21)
The Third Bowl – The Fresh Waters Turn to Blood
Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and the springs of water, and they turned into blood. (Revelation 16:4 NET)
As the third bowl is poured out, all the rivers and springs of fresh water are turned to blood. Again, God’s first plague against Pharaoh turned the Nile River and all the fresh water in Egypt into blood. However, unlike the Second Bowl, it did not include the sea (i.e., the Mediterranean Sea). The third bowl judgment is nearly identical to the first plague in Egypt and similar to the third trumpet judgment. (26)(21)
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over Egypt’s waters—over their rivers, over their canals, over their ponds, and over all their reservoirs—so that it becomes blood.’ There will be blood everywhere in the land of Egypt, even in wooden and stone containers.” Moses and Aaron did so, just as the Lord had commanded. Moses raised the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile right before the eyes of Pharaoh and his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood. When the fish that were in the Nile died, the Nile began to stink, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood everywhere in the land of Egypt! But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts, and so Pharaoh’s heart remained hard, and he refused to listen to Moses and Aaron—just as the Lord had predicted. And Pharaoh turned and went into his house. He did not pay any attention to this. All the Egyptians dug around the Nile for water to drink, because they could not drink the water of the Nile. (Exodus 7:19–24 NET)
Because God was judging Pharaoh and the gods the Egyptians worshiped, only the fresh water in Egypt turned to blood. The Scripture says that Pharaoh hardened his heart against God (Exodus 7:22-23). (21)
In the third trumpet, only a third of the freshwater became bitter (Revelation 8:10-11). God was giving the people an opportunity to repent. (21)
With the Seven Bowls, God judges the entire world that has refused to turn to Him. He now pours out the fullness or completeness of His just judgment (His holy wrath). Consequently, all the fresh water on the whole earth turns to blood. (21)
The Angel of the Waters’ Worship
Now I heard the angel of the waters saying: “You are just—the one who is and who was, the Holy One—because you have passed these judgments, because they poured out the blood of your saints and prophets, so you have given them blood to drink. They got what they deserved!” (Revelation 16:5-7 NET)
John hears the cry of the angel who is given charge over the waters, proclaiming that now God is giving those who have shed the blood of the righteous blood to drink. Interestingly, God has an angel in charge of the earth’s waters. It is comforting to know that the hands of God Almighty control the very water supply of the world. This will be a horrifying time for those who have killed God’s elect and worshipped the Antichrist. (26)
As John beholds this terrible judgment, he hears the angel who poured out this bowl worshiping God. Contrary to worldly people who refuse to accept or be accountable to a moral Creator, the angel proclaims God’s righteousness in this judgment. The angel acknowledges the “rightness” of God’s judgment. Because the wicked have shed the blood of God’s people, God will judge them with blood. (21)
In the Bible, this is known as the Law of Reciprocity or the Law of Sowing and Reaping. As Paul explains in Galatians:
Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows, (Galatians 6:7 NET)
The angel notes that this judgment is the just due of the wicked. Where no more mercy exists, the wicked get what they deserve. (21)
The Altar’s Agreement
Then I heard the altar reply, “Yes, Lord God, the All-Powerful, your judgments are true and just!” (Revelation 16:7 NET)
As if to say, “Amen,” John hears a voice from the altar declaring God’s judgments to be true and righteous. Whose voice did John hear? (21)
Now when the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been violently killed because of the word of God and because of the testimony they had given. They cried out with a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Master, holy and true, before you judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?” Each of them was given a long white robe and they were told to rest for a little longer, until the full number was reached of both their fellow servants and their brothers who were going to be killed just as they had been. (Revelation 6:9–11 NET)
How long, O God, will the adversary hurl insults? Will the enemy blaspheme your name forever? (Psalm 74:10 NET)
He heard the voice of the martyrs from the altar in Heaven. The Lord told them to wait until the right time, and He would vindicate them. The pouring out of the seven bowl judgments is the time God had in mind. He is fully vindicating His people who were faithful even unto death. As they see these final judgments, they acknowledge God’s faithfulness to them. He is the Lord God Almighty, and His judgments are true and righteous. Amen (21)
The Fourth Bowl – Scorching Sun
Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was permitted to scorch people with fire. Thus people were scorched by the terrible heat, yet they blasphemed the name of God, who has ruling authority over these plagues, and they would not repent and give him glory. (Revelation 16:8–9 NET)
In the fourth bowl judgment, God continues demonstrating sovereignty over His creation. In this instance, it is the sun. In the fourth trumpet judgment, God darkened the sun, the moon, and the stars for a third of the day and night. This judgment is just the opposite. He heats up the sun so hot that it scorches those who have the Mark of the Beast. (21)
This is the fulfillment of what was spoken by Malachi: (8)
“For indeed the day is coming, burning like a furnace, and all the arrogant evildoers will be chaff. The coming day will burn them up,” says the Lord who rules over all. “It will not leave even a root or branch. (Malachi 4:1 NET)
This is the fulfillment of what was spoken by Isaiah: (26)
Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left. (Isaiah 24:6 ESV)
This is the fulfillment of what was spoken by David:
You prevail over all your enemies; your power is too great for those who hate you. You burn them up like a fiery furnace when you appear; the Lord angrily devours them; the fire consumes them. You destroy their offspring from the earth, their descendants from among the human race. Yes, they intend to do you harm; they dream up a scheme, but they do not succeed. For you make them retreat when you shoot your arrows at them. Rise up, O Lord, in strength! We will sing and praise your power! (Psalm 21:8–13 NET)
God has used the sun in times past to accomplish His purposes. Joshua and his army were fighting and winning. But Joshua became concerned that the sun would go down before they could completely destroy their enemy. According to the Bible, Joshua commanded the sun to stand still. God honored his faith by stopping the sun until the enemy was fully defeated. (21)
The day the Lord delivered the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua prayed to the Lord before Israel: “O sun, stand still over Gibeon! O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon!” The sun stood still and the moon stood motionless while the nation took vengeance on its enemies. The event is recorded in the Scroll of the Upright One. The sun stood motionless in the middle of the sky and did not set for about a full day. There has not been a day like it before or since. The Lord obeyed a man, for the Lord fought for Israel! Then Joshua and all Israel returned to the camp at Gilgal. (Joshua 10:12–15 NET)
Tragically, instead of repenting, the people reveal what is in their hearts by cursing God. They demonstrate the same character and hatred of God as the Antichrist they are following. The people and the Antichrist are one in that they both blaspheme God, as we learned earlier: (21)
Now the beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority to rule. One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement; they worshiped the dragon because he had given ruling authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast too, saying: “Who is like the beast?” and “Who is able to make war against him?” The beast was given a mouth speaking proud words and blasphemies, and he was permitted to exercise ruling authority for forty-two months. So the beast opened his mouth to blaspheme against God—to blaspheme both his name and his dwelling place, that is, those who dwell in heaven. (Revelation 13:2–6 NET)
Those who have followed the Antichrist will continue to remain indignant until the bitter end. (26)
Many people think that if God would reveal Himself clearly to people, they would believe in Him. Oh, how I wish this were true. Instead, it is a very naïve understanding of the human heart. Do not be deceived; we can harden our hearts to the point that we become completely irrational in our thinking regarding God. We can go so far as to lose any ability to repent and seek Him. (21)
The Bible warns us about this spiritual condition:
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks! “Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of testing in the wilderness. “There your fathers tested me and tried me, and they saw my works for forty years. “Therefore, I became provoked at that generation and said, ‘Their hearts are always wandering and they have not known my ways.’ “As I swore in my anger, ‘They will never enter my rest!’ ” See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has an evil, unbelieving heart that forsakes the living God. But exhort one another each day, as long as it is called “Today,” that none of you may become hardened by sin’s deception. For we have become partners with Christ, if in fact we hold our initial confidence firm until the end. As it says, “Oh, that today you would listen as he speaks! Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For which ones heard and rebelled? Was it not all who came out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership? And against whom was God provoked for forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose dead bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear they would never enter into his rest, except those who were disobedient? So we see that they could not enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:7–19 NET)
The Hebrews saw God perform mighty signs and wonders on their behalf for 40 years. Yet, most still did not worship Him. So they perished in the desert. There are millions of people like this today. Because they are amoral and secular, they cannot see the connection between national and personal tragedies and their sinful behavior. When their situations go from bad to worse, they curse God rather than repent. When godly leaders point out this connection, they curse, marginalize, and cancel them as religious fanatics. (21)
The Fifth Bowl – Darkness
Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast so that darkness covered his kingdom, and people began to bite their tongues because of their pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their sufferings and because of their sores, but nevertheless they still refused to repent of their deeds. (Revelation 16:10–11 NET)
This fifth bowl is the first judgment that is focused directly against the kingdom of the Antichrist. (26)
The fifth bowl judgment is similar to the fourth trumpet judgment, except, with this judgment, there is total darkness. John mentions that the darkness is directed toward the throne of the Beast, and it extends over the whole Kingdom of the Beast. To John’s first-century readers, this would be Rome. For those of us living in the end times, the throne of the Beast is the center of the Antichrist’s one-world political and religious system. (21)
This will be a fulfillment of what was spoken by Joel: (8)
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm signal on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land shake with fear, for the day of the Lord is about to come. Indeed, it is near! It will be a day of dreadful darkness, a day of foreboding storm clouds, like blackness spread over the mountains. It is a huge and powerful army— there has never been anything like it ever before, and there will not be anything like it for many generations to come! (Joel 2:1–2 NET)
Notice that this plague immediately follows the “Scorching Heat” plague, as if God in mercy would hide the Sun whose rays had been so hard to bear. The effect of the darkness was to make men gnaw their tongues for pain and for their sores (sores from the first bowl judgment), showing that these plagues overlapped each other or followed in such rapid order that they were not over the sufferings of one before they were suffering from another and that they were limited to a short period. (8)
This judgment is similar to God’s ninth plague against Pharaoh and Egypt. (21)
The Lord said to Moses, “Extend your hand toward heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness so thick it can be felt.” So Moses extended his hand toward heaven, and there was absolute darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days. No one could see another person, and no one could rise from his place for three days. But the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. (Exodus 10:21–23 NET)
The darkness in Egypt lasted three days. It was so dark that people could not see anything for three days. But the Children of Israel had light in their dwellings. Can you imagine being in such total darkness that you cannot see your hand in front of your face? As in Egypt, this is a selective judgment of those who oppose God. It is not a judgment against God’s people. As pointed out, God raptured the believers and sealed the 144,000 to protect them from His wrath after the Sixth Seal was opened. (21)
It will likely be even worse during this judgment. Imagine the entire world plunged into thick darkness. The Antichrist and his kingdom will be absolutely powerless as this occurs. Yet, men will continue to harden their hearts and blaspheme the name of God. (26)
This total natural darkness corresponds to the total spiritual darkness of those who oppose God. They cannot see physically or spiritually. John notes that the people are already suffering greatly due to the previous judgments. Yet, like Pharaoh, they do not repent. They continue to blaspheme God. No human words can describe the depths of the horror of rejecting God. It is too painful to contemplate. (21)
Some talk of conversion in Hell and the ultimate restoration of the wicked, but it is not revealed here. If Hell’s torments will cause men to repent, why do not the torments of those under these plagues lead to repentance? No, it only causes them to blaspheme more, and while sin and impenitence last, Hell lasts. (8)
The Sixth Bowl – Euphrates River Dries Up
Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates and dried up its water to prepare the way for the kings from the east. (Revelation 16:12 NET)
In this next-to-last bowl judgment, John sees the Euphrates River dried up. Why the Euphrates River? And why is it dried up? (21)
This will be dried so that the armies of the east will easily reach the valley of Armageddon with ease. Jesus will bid these armies to challenge Him to battle, and He will not make it difficult for them to assemble. This will not be a battle against Jerusalem, as many propose, but a battle against Jesus as He returns. (26)
This will be a fulfillment of what was spoken by Isaiah. (8)
The Lord will divide the gulf of the Egyptian Sea; he will wave his hand over the Euphrates River and send a strong wind, he will turn it into seven dried-up streams, and enable them to walk across in their sandals. There will be a highway leading out of Assyria for the remnant of his people, just as there was for Israel, when they went up from the land of Egypt. (Isaiah 11:15–16 NET)
In the sixth trumpet judgment, we learned that the Euphrates River was the most important river in Bible times. In Hebrew, its name means to “break forth.” Beginning in the mountains of Turkey, the Euphrates River and the Tigris broke forth from the mountains and provided the necessary water for the whole region to prosper. These rivers were important in the development and prosperity of Ur, the biblical city where Abraham lived (Genesis 11:31). (21)
With its life-giving waters traversing 1,780 miles from Turkey to the Persian Gulf, the flow of the Euphrates River enabled the forming of ancient civilizations such as the Assyrians, Babylonians, Sumerians, and others. The Euphrates and Tigris rivers run parallel to each other before coming together to empty into the Persian Gulf. In fact, the word Mesopotamia is a Greek word meaning “the land between the rivers.” (Euphrates and Tigris). (21)
The Garden of Eden was located near the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (Genesis 2:14). It was also the boundary of the land God promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants (Genesis 15:18). Because of its prominence, the Bible sometimes refers to the Euphrates simply as “the river” or “the great river” (Deuteronomy 11:24; Genesis 15:18). Everyone in Bible times knew which river was being referred to. (21)
Because of its greatness, no one in John’s time would ever have imagined the Euphrates River drying up. His first-century readers must have shaken their heads in disbelief. They would not shake their heads if they lived in our times because the great river is drying up. (21)
The Euphrates flows through Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. (Iraq is geographically located in the area of ancient Babylon.) These three countries compete with each other for the river’s precious water. Because the Euphrates originates in Turkey, it has the upstream advantage over Syria and Iraq when using the waters for its own needs. Syria has an upstream advantage over Iraq. (21)
Turkey and Syria have built numerous dams to harness the waters of the Euphrates for irrigation and hydroelectric power. By the time the Euphrates reaches Iraq, much of its waters have already been diverted. Furthermore, the Iraqi government and farmers along the Euphrates have greatly mismanaged the use and conservation of the river. To make matters worse, there has been a severe drought in the region for several years. Where there was once abundant water, some areas are now mud and hard clay. This situation devastates the farmers who depend on the Euphrates for their livelihood. Concerned officials are fearful that the great river will soon be half what it is today. (21)
Yes, the great Euphrates River is clearly drying up. The only possible way John could see this prophetically is if God showed it to him in his apocalyptic vision. (21)
The fulfillment of this vision is one of the most important signs that we are living in the end days of history before the coming of the Lord. (21)
John explains that the drying up of the Euphrates River enables the kings from the east to “break forth” across it, bringing their armies to gather with the world’s armies in the battle of the great day of God Almighty. When discussing the sixth trumpet-shofar judgment, I noted that the Euphrates River formed the boundary between East and West and was the Eastern limit of the Roman Empire. In the first century, Rome’s most feared enemy east of the Euphrates was the Parthians. John, however, sees a worldwide battle when God gathers the armies of all the nations in a central place to destroy them. This is why the battle is called the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (21)
The interval between the Sixth and Seventh Bowls – Three Unclean Spirits
Then I saw three unclean spirits that looked like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of the demons performing signs who go out to the kings of the earth to bring them together for the battle that will take place on the great day of God, the All-Powerful. (Look! I will come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays alert and does not lose his clothes so that he will not have to walk around naked and his shameful condition be seen.) Now the spirits gathered the kings and their armies to the place that is called Armageddon in Hebrew. (Revelation 16:13–16 NET)
Here we are told how the “Kings of the Earth” and their armies will be gathered for the “Battle of Armageddon.” “Three Unclean Spirits” like frogs, John does not say they were frogs, will come one out of the mouth of the “Dragon” (i.e., Satan), one out of the mouth of the “Beast” (i.e., Antichrist), and one out of the mouth of the “False Prophet.” (8)
John then sees demonic beings, like frogs, come from the mouth of the False Prophet, the Antichrist, and Satan. That they are not real frogs is clear from their miracle-working power. They are the “Spirits of Demons,” working miracles, which go forth unto the “Kings of the Earth” and of the whole world to gather them to the “Battle of that Great Day of God Almighty.” They are the “Seducing Spirits” who go forth preaching the “Doctrine of Devils” in the “latter times” of whom Paul warns Timothy. (8)
Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will desert the faith and occupy themselves with deceiving spirits and demonic teachings, (1 Timothy 4:1 NET)
They are sent out by the “Satanic Trinity,” the “Dragon,” the “Beast,” and the “False Prophet” on a miracle-working ministry. (8)
They are “frog-like” in that they come forth out of the pestiferous quagmires of darkness, do their devilish work in the evening shadows of “Man’s Day,” and creep, and croak, and defile, and fill the ears of the nations with their noisy demonstrations, until they set the kings and armies of the nations in the enthusiastic commotion and movement toward the Holy Land to crush out the effort to establish the Kingdom of Christ on earth. (8)
The power of a delusive and enthusiastic sentiment, however, engendered to lead to the destruction of great hosts of men is seen in the Crusades to recover the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. At nine different times, religious fanaticism could cause hundreds of thousands of religious devotees to undergo unspeakable hardships for a religious purpose. What will not the miracle-working wonders of the “Frog-Like Demons” of the last days of this Dispensation not be able to do in arousing whole nations and creating vast armies to march in all directions from all countries, headed by their Kings, to prevent the establishment of the Kingdom of the King of Kings in His own Land of Israel? (8)
God allows these demonic spirits from the mouth of the dragon, the Antichrist, and the false prophet to persuade world leaders and their armies to gather in the valley of Megiddo to challenge Jesus in this last great battle, ending in their destruction. This reveals man’s absolute depravity and wickedness during this moment in history. Even after God’s mighty trumpet and bowl judgments, men still think they can defeat Jesus. The Antichrist, powerless against these great judgments, will still be able to muster loyal followers. It is no secret that Jesus will return to the valley of Megiddo. Here, the Antichrist will make his final stand against God Almighty. (26)
Much like the demonically empowered magicians in Egypt (Exodus 8:7-19), the demonic spirits work through Satan, the anti-Messiah, and the false prophet to entice and deceive the leaders, convincing them to bring their armies into the “great winepress of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:19). (21)
A story in the Hebrew Bible serves as a precedent for these lying spirits deceiving world leaders. It also involves an apocalyptic vision like John’s. It is recorded in First Kings 22: (21)
King Ahab was the King of Israel (the northern kingdom). He asked King Jehoshaphat (king of the southern kingdom) to join him in attacking Syria. God was going to convince King Ahab to attack Syria because He planned to use the Syrians to kill Ahab because he was wicked. God put a lying spirit in the mouths of 400 false prophets to tell King Ahab that he would defeat the Syrians. King Jehoshaphat knew these were false prophets, so he asked for a true prophet of God to prophesy. (21)
King Ahab reluctantly sent for the prophet Micaiah, who first mocked the king by telling him what he wanted to hear. When the king told Micaiah to tell him the truth, Micaiah said, (21)
Micaiah said, “That being the case, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, with all the heavenly assembly standing on his right and on his left. The Lord said, ‘Who will deceive Ahab, so he will attack Ramoth Gilead and die there?’ One said this and another that. Then a spirit stepped forward and stood before the Lord. He said, ‘I will deceive him.’ The Lord asked him, ‘How?’ He replied, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.’ The Lord said, ‘Deceive and overpower him. Go out and do as you have proposed.’ So now, look, the Lord has placed a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours; but the Lord has decreed disaster for you.” (1 Kings 22:19–23 NET)
Because of the wickedness of world leaders, God has declared disaster against them. He will destroy them all in the last great battle at the coming of Jesus. Because of their hearts’ hardness and rejection of truth, God allows them to be deceived by the lying spirits calling them to come to this battle. (21)
The apostle Paul wrote of this end-time deception: (21)
The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false. And so all of them who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil will be condemned. (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12 NET)
John informs us that the world’s armies will come together at Armageddon. In Hebrew, this word is Har Megiddo or Har Megiddon, which essentially means “the Mount or Hill (Giva) of Megiddo.” The Hill of Megiddo overlooks the town of Megiddo and the vast Jezreel Valley, where many scholars believe the armies will assemble for this battle. Furthermore, the Hill of Megiddo is located strategically at the junction where the ancient main road from Egypt (Via Maris or Way of the Sea) makes a northeast turn toward Syria. Ancient trade caravans, as well as armies, traveled this route. Whoever controlled the Hill of Megiddo controlled the entire region. (21)
Historically, many battles have taken place in this area. The Hebrew Bible tells us that Deborah and Barak defeated the Canaanites in the Jezreel Valley. Gideon defeated the Midianites here as well. (Judges 4–8.) Due to its strategic location, King Solomon made the Hill of Megiddo a fortress for defending the pass and the valley (1 Kings 9:15-19). Pharaoh Necho defeated King Josiah at Megiddo (2 Kings 23:29). In more modern times, Napoleon and General Allenby defeated the Turks near Megiddo. In fact, General Allenby was given the title “Earl of Megiddo.” Today, the Hill of Megiddo is a major archeological dig and a tourist must-stop. (21)
Megiddo seems to be the staging area for these armies as they make their way toward Jerusalem, where the climax of the battle against God will occur. Zechariah prophesied about this battle when Messiah comes. (21)
“I will pour out on the kingship of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me, the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn. On that day the lamentation in Jerusalem will be as great as the lamentation at Hadad-Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. (Zechariah 12:10–11 NET)
He says that the inhabitants of Jerusalem will mourn when they realize that it is Jesus, the “pierced One” they had rejected (Zechariah 12:10). He compares their mourning to the time when Pharaoh Necho defeated King Josiah. (21)
Zechariah further says:
“I am about to make Jerusalem a cup that brings dizziness to all the surrounding nations; indeed, Judah will also be included when Jerusalem is besieged. Moreover, on that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy burden for all the nations, and all who try to carry it will be seriously injured; yet all the peoples of the earth will be assembled against it. In that day,” says the Lord, “I will strike every horse with confusion and its rider with madness. I will pay close attention to the house of Judah, but will strike all the horses of the nations with blindness. Then the leaders of Judah will say to themselves, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem are a means of strength to us through their God, the Lord who rules over all.’ On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like an igniter among sticks and a burning torch among sheaves, and they will burn up all the surrounding nations right and left. Then the people of Jerusalem will settle once more in their place, the city of Jerusalem. The Lord also will deliver the homes of Judah first, so that the splendor of the kingship of David and of the people of Jerusalem may not exceed that of Judah. On that day the Lord himself will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the weakest among them will be like mighty David, and the dynasty of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord before them. So on that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 12:2–9 NET)
The Lord interjects in this passage that He is coming as a thief who comes when no one expects it. This is His final coming as a “thief to destroy.” For He will now end the rule of the Gentiles. The kingdom of God will begin and last for all eternity. Armageddon is just the final step of stamping out the Lord’s enemies.
Jesus also declares,
(Look! I will come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays alert and does not lose his clothes so that he will not have to walk around naked and his shameful condition be seen.) (Revelation 16:15 NET)
This seems to reference one of the Lord’s parables concerning His wedding to His bride, the church. (26)
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to summon those who had been invited to the banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Look! The feast I have prepared for you is ready. My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.” ’ But they were indifferent and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest seized his slaves, insolently mistreated them, and killed them. The king was furious! He sent his soldiers, and they put those murderers to death and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but the ones who had been invited were not worthy. So go into the main streets and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ And those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all they found, both bad and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the wedding guests, he saw a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ But he had nothing to say.Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:1–14 NET)
In this parable, many people are invited to witness the wedding. One of the guests who had come to the wedding was found to be without a wedding garment. Since he was at the wedding unworthily, he was bound and kicked out into the outer darkness. In the same way, when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom, those who have taken the mark and have survived the Day of the Lord will be found naked and not be allowed to witness the wedding of Christ to the Church. They will be expelled from His kingdom into the outer darkness of hell. It would not be wise to be found naked before Jesus. (26)
The Lord had already warned the congregations at Sardis (1)
Wake up then, and strengthen what remains that was about to die, because I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Therefore, remember what you received and heard, and obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will never know at what hour I will come against you. But you have a few individuals in Sardis who have not stained their clothes, and they will walk with me dressed in white, because they are worthy. The one who conquers will be dressed like them in white clothing, and I will never erase his name from the book of life, but will declare his name before my Father and before his angels. (Revelation 3:2–5 NET)
and Laodicea (1).
take my advice and buy gold from me refined by fire so you can become rich! Buy from me white clothing so you can be clothed and your shameful nakedness will not be exposed, and buy eye salve to put on your eyes so you can see! (Revelation 3:18 NET)
In His teaching recorded in Matthew 24, Jesus said: (21)
“Therefore stay alert, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have been alert and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:42–44 NET)
The apostle Paul gave the same instructions with these words: (21)
Now on the topic of times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night. Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the darkness for the day to overtake you like a thief would. For you all are sons of the light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness. So then we must not sleep as the rest, but must stay alert and sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:1–6 NET)
In Revelation 11:15-19, the seventh angel announced that the seventh trumpet was about to be blown. This was the proclamation that the Kingdom of God was coming to destroy the kingdoms of this world. In Revelation 14:6-10, an angel repeated the proclamation and added details regarding the fall of Babylon. The seventh bowl judgment is the final fulfillment of those proclamations.
The Seventh Bowl – The Earth is Shaken and Pummeled with Gigantic Hail
Finally the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying: “It is done!” Then there were flashes of lightning, roaring, and crashes of thunder, and there was a tremendous earthquake—an earthquake unequaled since humanity has been on the earth, so tremendous was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts and the cities of the nations collapsed. So Babylon the great was remembered before God, and was given the cup filled with the wine made of God’s furious wrath. Every island fled away and no mountains could be found. And gigantic hailstones, weighing about a hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people, but they blasphemed God because of the plague of hail, since it was so horrendous. (Revelation 16:17–21 NET)
The seventh bowl is the last judgment against the anti-God, one-world system. In Revelation 16:1, John heard a loud voice from the Temple telling the seven angels to pour out the bowl judgments. Now, John hears a loud voice from the Temple and the throne again. No doubt, this is again the voice of God Himself announcing the end. (21)
The last bowl is poured out as the angel proclaims, “It is done.” When the voice declares, “It is done!” (Revelation 16:17), this clearly connects to when Jesus said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Both refer to the final act of divine judgment against sin. Jesus took the judgment for us on the cross. Now, those who reject Him must bear the judgment themselves. (21)
When God opened the seventh seal, He announced it with “noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake” (Revelation 8:5). Now for the pouring out of the seventh bowl judgment, the Creator of the universe once again announces His final judgment with noises, thunderings, lightnings, a great earthquake, and this time, hailstones. These are God’s weapons of mass destruction.
Have you entered the storehouse of the snow, or seen the armory of the hail, which I reserve for the time of trouble, for the day of war and battle? (Job 38:23 NET)
Since the physical earth is cursed because of sin, it has experienced many natural upheavals in its long history. The earth itself suffers due to humankind’s rebellion against God. This is why earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and many other natural disasters exist. Jesus prophesied this in His teaching about future events (Matthew 24). The apostle Paul wrote that all creation groans and labors with birth pangs waiting to be delivered from the curse of sin it has endured. (21)
For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly but because of God who subjected it—in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now. (Romans 8:20–22 NET)
Now that time of waiting is coming to an end. (21)
God’s divine wrath will now culminate with the severest of all the judgments. The greatest earthquake the world has ever witnessed will now occur. It will literally change the face of the entire earth. Jerusalem will be divided into three parts, and every other city will crumble. The world’s cities will be rendered nothing but ash heaps. Many mountains will be leveled, while others will be raised. This will include all islands because they are really mountains under the ocean. This earthquake will also change the contour of the entire land of Israel.
This will be a fulfillment of what was spoken by Zechariah: (8)
On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which lies to the east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, leaving a great valley. Half the mountain will move northward and the other half southward. Then you will escape through my mountain valley, for the mountains will extend to Azal. Indeed, you will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come with all his holy ones with him. (Zechariah 14:4–5 NET)
It will raise the Mediterranean Sea, so its waters will flow through the valley created by Jesus when He stood upon the Mount of Olives. This will allow the now fresh, waters of the Mediterranean Sea to flow again into the Dead Sea. (26)
Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple. I noticed that water was flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from under the right side of the temple, from south of the altar. He led me out by way of the north gate and brought me around the outside of the outer gate that faces toward the east; I noticed that the water was trickling out from the south side. When the man went out toward the east with a measuring line in his hand, he measured 1,750 feet, and then he led me through water, which was ankle deep. Again he measured 1,750 feet and led me through the water, which was now knee deep. Once more he measured 1,750 feet and led me through the water, which was waist deep. Again he measured 1,750 feet and it was a river I could not cross, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed. He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I had returned, I noticed a vast number of trees on the banks of the river, on both sides. He said to me, “These waters go out toward the eastern region and flow down into the Arabah; when they enter the Dead Sea, where the sea is stagnant, the waters become fresh. Every living creature which swarms where the river flows will live; there will be many fish, for these waters flow there. It will become fresh and everything will live where the river flows. Fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to En-eglaim they will spread nets. They will catch many kinds of fish, like the fish of the Great Sea.But its swamps and its marshes will not become fresh; they will remain salty. On both sides of the river’s banks, every kind of tree will grow for food. Their leaves will not wither nor will their fruit fail, but they will bear fruit every month, because their water source flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:1–12 NET)
This incredible earthquake will even destroy the great city of Babylon. John says that the earthquake will split Babylon into three parts. As I have noted, to John’s first-century readers, Babylon meant Rome. To his last-century readers (us), it means the revived Babylonian-Roman, anti-God, world system. We are not sure what city John is specifically referring to, but he is clear that the capital city of the anti-Messiah and all the cities of the nations aligned with him will be destroyed. (21)
Following the earthquake, great hail is poured out upon mankind, with each stone weighing approximately a hundred pounds. A 100 lb (45.4 kg) hailstone is around 29.8 inches (75.7 cm) in diameter and would have a terminal velocity at sea level of 284 mph (457.05 kph)! If these massive hail-producing cloud tops reached 100,000 feet (30,480 m) above the ground and the hailstones formed at this point, the wind storm to sustain and create the hailstones would be 3,171 mph (5103.23 kph)! (29)
This resembles the hail poured out during the seventh Egyptian plague (Exodus 9:13-35). In the Old Testament, blasphemers were to be stoned to death (Leviticus 24:16). Those who have blasphemed the name of God and killed His servants will be stoned to death from heaven. The absolute destruction caused by all of these judgments will make the entire earth a wasteland, as the prophet Isaiah states: (26)
Look, the Lord is ready to devastate the earth and leave it in ruins; he will mar its surface and scatter its inhabitants. Everyone will suffer—the priest as well as the people, the master as well as the servant, the elegant lady as well as the female attendant, the seller as well as the buyer, the borrower as well as the lender, the creditor as well as the debtor. The earth will be completely devastated and thoroughly ransacked. For the Lord has decreed this judgment. The earth dries up and withers, the world shrivels up and withers; the prominent people of the earth fade away. (Isaiah 24:1-4 NET)
The earth is broken in pieces, the earth is ripped to shreds, the earth shakes violently. The earth will stagger around like a drunk; it will sway back and forth like a hut in a windstorm. Its sin will weigh it down, and it will fall and never get up again. (Isaiah 24:19-20 NET)
It is possible that untold millions will be killed by this last judgment alone. Those who are fleeing from the earthquake will be met by large 100-pound hailstones that will crush and kill them. (26)
The Lord used this same weapon in His seventh judgment against Pharaoh to aid Joshua when He made the sun stand still (Exodus 9:13-35; Joshuas 10:11-13). (21)
I can only speculate how the armies gathered in the valley of Megiddo will survive this last bowl. Since they are to be assembled on a flat open plain, there would not be much danger from the earthquake. It also may be that God will not allow the great hail to fall on them because He has a personal judgment awaiting these armies. All I can state with certainty is that somehow these armies and the Antichrist will be around to face Jesus at Armageddon. Before the battle of Armageddon begins, John details the destruction of the city of Babylon. (26)
How did the people respond? Did they repent and cry out to God for mercy? They continued to blaspheme God even as Pharaoh hardened his heart (Exodus 9:34-35). How ironic that God decreed that the judgment for blaspheming His name was stoning (Leviticus 24:16). Here, God stones them from Heaven with hail. (21)
BACKSTORY/FLASHBACK: Religious Babylon; the Global False Religious System (circa 1916 B.C., when the Tower of Babel was built until the 4th Seal is Opened)
In the Western mindset, one often views physically what is happening, forgetting the spiritual force behind the occurrence. It is vital to comprehend the physical manifestation and spiritual forces behind what is presented in Revelation chapter 17. The two should not be separated, or an incomplete picture will emerge. Again, what is contained in chapter 17 occurs up until and immediately before the midpoint of the Seventieth Week. (26)
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke to me. “Come,” he said, “I will show you the condemnation and punishment of the great prostitute who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality and the earth’s inhabitants got drunk with the wine of her immorality.” So he carried me away in the Spirit to a wilderness, and there I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. Now the woman was dressed in purple and scarlet clothing, and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls. She held in her hand a golden cup filled with detestable things and unclean things from her sexual immorality. On her forehead was written a name, a mystery: “Babylon the Great, the Mother of prostitutes and of the detestable things of the earth.” I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of those who testified to Jesus. I was greatly astounded when I saw her. (Revelation 17:1–6 NET)
Two women are presented in the Book of Revelation. The first is the true woman, made up of God’s elect. The second is the false woman, which comprises those who have refused to believe in God’s way of salvation but have chosen Satan’s way. (26)
The great harlot, the false woman is the religious counterpart of the Antichrist’s political system. Working in alliance with the Antichrist, it is the religious world power ruling over the souls of humankind. Filled with riches and arrogance, it has martyred many of God’s people and appears victorious. To the natural eye, the wicked have prevailed over the righteous. Where is God in all of this? Where is there hope for His people? (21)
One of the angels with the seven bowls provides the answer that cannot be seen with the natural eye. He shows John God’s final judgment on the harlot that results from outpouring the seven bowl judgments. The angel mentions that the harlot sits on many waters. Later the angel explains that the many waters symbolize the nations and people of the world. (21)
Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw (where the prostitute is seated) are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages. (Revelation 17:15 NET)
The clear idea the angel is communicating is that the religious system is ruling over and influencing the souls of the people of the world—those who have taken the Mark of the Beast. (21)
The angel further explains that the world leaders and the people have committed fornication with this religious system. Since this vision is spiritual in its nature, the angel is referring to spiritual fornication. This means that the kings of the earth have committed spiritual fornication by following gods other than the true God Almighty. (26)
We have previously explained that the Bible calls idolatry a type of spiritual adultery. Recall this was the problem with the congregation at Thyatira (1). They were allowing a woman called Jezebel to seduce believers into worshiping idols and committing immorality. The Lord severely rebuked the congregation for accepting this unholy teaching and practice. (21)
The religious system is called the great whore because it is a spiritual prostitute to the wicked. They have not just taken a sip of the wine of her fornication; the angel says they are drunk with it. They continued to drink from this cup with the prostitute. Like alcoholics, they want more and more until they have lost all control of their spiritual senses. In their spiritually drunken state, they have taken the Mark of the Beast, cursed God, and persecuted the believers. They have sold their souls to Satan. They are wicked, beyond redemption and the mercy of God. (21)
The angel wants John to have another view of the harlot to help him better understand what he sees. Using apocalyptic language, John says that the angel carries him away in the Spirit into the wilderness (desert). John uses the phrase “in the Spirit” four times in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 1:10;4:2;17:3;21:10). Again, “in the Spirit” does not mean that he literally went into the desert. He means that the Holy Spirit opened his spiritual eyes to see what he could not know in the natural. (21)
From this “in the Spirit-desert view,” John sees the harlot sitting on a scarlet Beast. The fact that the harlot is sitting on the Beast implies that the harlot is strongly influencing, or perhaps, even dominating, the Beast, but with its willing support. This simply means that, at this point, the harlot and the Beast need each other. They use each other for their purposes, but that will soon change. (21)
This woman is said to be supported by a scarlet beast full of names of blasphemy with seven heads and ten horns. Physically, this beast takes shape as the final kingdom of the Antichrist. Spiritually, the force that propels the Antichrist, and carries the woman, is Satan himself. The seven heads represent the seven spiritual prince demons who ruled over the Gentile empires that persecuted the nation of Israel since the time of Babylon. (26)
In the book of Daniel, we are given greater insight into these princes who are the spiritual forces that ruled these empires: (26)
He said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Now I am about to return to engage in battle with the prince of Persia. When I go, the prince of Greece is coming. (Daniel 10:20 NET)
The angel, speaking to Daniel, reveals that as each one of these princes is defeated in the spirit realm, the physical empire itself loses its dominion. When the demonic ruler overseeing the Medo-Persian Empire was defeated, Alexander the Great conquered Medo-Persia, and the Grecian Empire was empowered. (26)
We were first introduced to this scarlet Beast in Daniel 7. We can also clearly connect the scarlet Beast to Revelation 12:3, where we see a similar description of the fiery red dragon (Satan). The description is repeated in Revelation 13:1, where we learn about the Beast From the Sea (the Antichrist) and the anti-God Beast system). Since these descriptions are all similar, we can understand that they are talking about the same Satanically inspired and empowered anti-God one-world system through different world leaders in different time periods of history. The most prominent are Babylon, Rome, and the end-of-days anti-God, one-world system. (21)
As John mentioned previously in Revelation 13:1, the Beast has blasphemous names written on him. In ancient times, emperors were considered the human embodiment of the nation’s gods. Therefore, they had the names of the gods inscribed on their crowns, garments, staffs, statues, etc. In addition, as we have learned, they often deified themselves and were referred to as gods, saviors, lords, masters, rulers of the universe, etc. (21)
Historically, John would write about Rome, the Roman Empire, and the Roman emperors. To readers, at the end of the age, he is referring to Satan, the Antichrist, and the anti-God, one-world system. Both the personal and the Beast systems would have the Mark of the Beast and other blasphemous names written on them and everything representing them. (21)
The harlot is dressed as a prostitute dressed in Bible times.
The dress of the harlot symbolizes her wealth and position. The word purple (Revelation 17:3) should probably be translated as blue or reddish blue. Blue dye was an extremely expensive color to produce in Bible times. The dye came from the blood of a hillazon snail. It took 12,000 of these snails to fill a thimble. In 200 B.C., one pound of blue cloth cost the equivalent of $36,000. By the year A.D. 300, a pound of blue cloth cost about $96,000. It is the same blue dye that God commanded the Hebrews to wear in one of the tassels (tzitzit) of their four-cornered garments. (21)
Numbers describe the tassels:
The Lord spoke to Moses: “Speak to the Israelites and tell them to make tassels for themselves on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and put a blue thread on the tassel of the corners. You must have this tassel so that you may look at it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and obey them and so that you do not follow after your own heart and your own eyes that lead you to unfaithfulness. Thus you will remember and obey all my commandments and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God.” (Numbers 15:37–41 NET)
Because a garment with this blue dye was so expensive, it was only worn by royalty and priests. Aaron’s garment of glory and beauty (1) was made of blue, purple, and scarlet (Exodus 39:1). The expense is why the Hebrew males only had one thread dyed blue. The significance of God giving this instruction is that the blue dye was a constant reminder to the people that they were all the royal priests of God. (21)
The garment the harlot is wearing is also scarlet. This color is obtained from the eggs of a certain insect. In Bible times, scarlet was a vibrant crimson color. It was also too costly to be purchased by the average person. Scarlet not only denoted wealth and royalty; it was also a symbol of sin and harlotry. (21)
For example, the Lord says:
Come, let’s consider your options,” says the Lord. “Though your sins have stained you like the color red, you can become white like snow; though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet, you can become white like wool. If you have a willing attitude and obey, then you will again eat the good crops of the land. But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” Know for certain that the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 1:19–20 NET)
Even today, we apply the scarlet color to an immoral woman. (21)
The harlot wore gold, precious stones, and pearls to further clothe herself with majesty and splendor. This is a beautiful and expensive garment, one any woman would be thrilled to wear. It should be clear to us by John’s description of her clothing that the harlot is in a position of wealth, power, and prestige. She is wearing Satan’s counterfeit royal-priestly garment of glory and beauty. In her outward appearance, she is beautiful and alluring, and seductive. It is easy to see why the world would follow her. (21)
While John further observes this harlot, he notices that she has a golden cup in her hand. As with her garment, this cup symbolizes her wealth and prominence. She only has the best and is on display for everyone to see. Her followers would certainly be impressed and enticed. (21)
However, as John describes her outward beauty, he sees what she really is on the inside. The golden cup is filled with detestable and unclean things from her sexual immorality. (21)
Now the woman was dressed in purple and scarlet clothing, and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls. She held in her hand a golden cup filled with detestable things and unclean things from her sexual immorality. (Revelation 17:4 NET)
To first-century readers, this is the most graphic description of the evil that John could give. This is what the angel wanted John to see. (21)
The abomination refers to the ultimate act of sacrilege or desecration of what is holy. When Antiochus Epiphanes set up an altar to Zeus in the Temple of God in 167 B.C., that was an abomination to the One True God.
Jesus spoke of:
“So when you see the abomination of desolation—spoken about by Daniel the prophet—standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), (Matt. 24:15 NET).
The imperial cult worship was an abomination of desolation. The Antichrist and the false prophet taking the place of God is an abomination of desolation. (21)
Anytime religion tries to take the place of God,
it is an abomination of desolation.
John relates this act of abomination to spiritual fornication. Using highly descriptive language, John says this harlot, who is so attractive on the outside, is inward as unclean spiritually and morally as a prostitute. Yet, because the people have rejected the truth, God has given them over to the allure and deception of this deadly harlot. She is a gold cup in God’s hand from which the people drink the wine of their destruction. (21)
John’s words echoed those of Jeremiah when he spoke of ancient Babylon:
Babylonia had been a gold cup in the Lord’s hand. She had made the whole world drunk. The nations had drunk from the wine of her wrath. So they have all gone mad. (Jeremiah 51:7 NET)
John sees that the harlot has words written on her forehead. As pagan priests and priestesses had marks on their bodies and clothing identifying them with their gods and goddesses, this harlot was finally identified. Whereas her identity has been a mystery, she is now revealed as the source of all pagan religions originating in ancient Babylon. (21)
This harlot is said to be the “mother of all harlots and the abominations of the earth.” She represents not merely one branch but all branches of false religion. It is from her womb all the world’s false religions have arisen, and it has been Satan who has been the force behind them. She is referred to as “Babylon the Great” because it is from the Babylon of Nimrod’s time, from which all false religions started. (26)
A brief review is helpful as a reminder of the connection between the ancient Babylonian religion, Rome, and the harlot of the book of Revelation.
We go back to Genesis, where we learn about the infamous Nimrod in Genesis 10:8-11 and Genesis 11. Nimrod, a type of Antichrist, was the Bible’s first person who started a war. He wanted to conquer his neighbors to establish an empire with himself as the ruler. His first conquest was Babel, which later became Babylon and the great Babylonian Empire of the days of Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon was one of the greatest cities of the ancient world. Nimrod also built Nineveh, another great city, which became the capital of the Assyrian Empire. (21)
Babylon was the seat of idolatry, in which man attempted to become like God. The mentality of Babylon’s past will culminate in the Antichrist, who will again incite the world to unite behind him against God Almighty. There are many false religious systems, some greater than others, but they are all the offspring of the original Babylonian idolatry. This false religious system will bring about a great deception that Jesus stated many false christ’s would arise from.
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:24 NET)
John discloses that the “harlot” is drunk with the blood of the saints and the martyrs of Jesus. Throughout history, many true disciples have been martyred by those who belong to these false religions. Likewise, there will be numerous believers during the great tribulation that also will be killed for not bowing down to the Antichrist. (26)
Historians and scholars tell us that Nimrod incited the world to consolidate its power and build a tower that would reach heaven. It is what we call the Tower of Babel, built within Nimrod’s city of Babylon and founded in rebellion against God (Genesis 11:1-9). It was a ziggurat or temple built as a pyramid for astrological purposes in worshipping the heavens, including the sun, and exalting Nimrod as the high priest of the sun. This temple was to be the center of his empire. Nimrod was a great promoter who presented himself as the human incarnation of the sun god. This was the beginning of sun worship and emperor worship, and all pagan religions. (21)
When Nimrod died, his wife, Semiramis, claimed she was impregnated by the sun god and miraculously gave birth to a son named Tammuz. She also was a great promoter. She told the people that Tammuz was the reincarnation of Nimrod. Since she was perceived as the “Mother of God,” she and Tammuz were worshiped as the Mother-Son cult. She was the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, and her son was the reincarnation of the Father. (21)
At this time, all the people spoke the same language. God saw this powerful idolatry would seduce all the inhabitants, so He confused and scattered their languages. When the people scattered, they took with them their sun worship and worship of the Queen of Heaven. As they formed new empires and civilizations, this became their form of worship. The names were changed to the new languages the people spoke, and there were local adaptations of the worship, but it was basically the same sun worship that began with Nimrod. Similarly, Mother-Child worship was also an integral part of sun worship and passed from one empire to the next, with only the names and local practices differing. (21)
The Chaldean/Assyrians called the sun god by the name of Bel or Ba`al. The Egyptians called him Osiris. Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians worshiped the sun god as Bel-Merodach. The Persians called him Mithra. The Greeks called him Zeus (Adonis). The Romans called him Jupiter. This was the religion of Constantine when he established Christianity as the Roman Empire’s official religion. (21)
We learn in the Bible that even God’s people were influenced by this all-pervasive religion. Ezekiel tells us that the women were at the Temple in Jerusalem “weeping for Tammuz” (Ezekiel 8:14). Jeremiah says the women were making cakes for the Queen of Heaven (Jeremiah 7:18). (21)
Scholars believe that Nimrod’s sun worship religion originated all pagan religions passed down to succeeding empires. When Persia defeated Babylon, the Persians adopted and adapted Babylonian sun worship into their religion. Persia became the new world power with a mix of Babylonian and Persian sun worship. Fearing for their lives, many of the Babylonian priests fled to Asia Minor, where they established their spiritual center at Pergamos. Later, local Pergamos kings became the spiritual heirs of Nimrod’s Babylonian sun worship. (21)
While Alexander established Greek mythology throughout the Mediterranean, it did not replace Babylonian-Persian sun worship as it flourished alongside it. Therefore, when Rome became the new power in the Mediterranean world, the center of Nimrod’s religion passed from Pergamos to Rome. The Caesars embraced and incorporated the Babylonian form of sun worship into their blend of paganism, which they assimilated from the cultures they conquered. The Caesars accepted the title and position as the King-Priest of the Roman government and the Roman version of the old Babylonian religion. Thus, the Roman political order and Roman religious order, while separate entities, were one and the same. (21)
The Roman Emperor Constantine was a sun worshipper. To unite the religion of his empire, he made cosmetic changes to Babylonian sun worship and blended it with the emerging Christian faith. Constantine redefined Christianity into a Greco-Roman religion so it would be accepted by his pagan subjects, who also worshiped the sun. While it is certainly good that Constantine stopped the persecution of believers, his actions had tragic consequences for the purity of Christianity and Judeo-Christian relationships. (21)
Constantine and his successors spread his new form of Romanized Christianity throughout Europe—with the sword. It is still with us today in various forms and will reestablish itself in some final redefined expression as part of the worldwide, end-time harlot mentioned in the Book of Revelation. (21)
Throughout history, Constantine’s form of Christianity has not only persecuted Jews but also the remnant of true Bible believers. As the politically-correct religious establishment of “Christian” Europe, it has martyred millions of people who did not accept its perversion of biblical Christianity. John sees the end-time harlot still drunk with the blood of the followers of Jesus. John is amazed at the revelation of the true nature of the harlot. (21)
FLASHBACK: The Spiritual Rise of the Antichrist (Circa After the First Seal is Opened but before the Fourth Seal is Opened (i.e., during the BBP))
But the angel said to me, “Why are you astounded? I will interpret for you the mystery of the woman and of the beast with the seven heads and ten horns that carries her. The beast you saw was, and is not, but is about to come up from the abyss and then go to destruction. The inhabitants of the earth—all those whose names have not been written in the book of life since the foundation of the world—will be astounded when they see that the beast was, and is not, but is to come. (This requires a mind that has wisdom.) The seven heads are seven mountains the woman sits on. They are also seven kings: five have fallen; one is, and the other has not yet come, but whenever he does come, he must remain for only a brief time. The beast that was, and is not, is himself an eighth king and yet is one of the seven, and is going to destruction. The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but will receive ruling authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These kings have a single intent, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war with the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those accompanying the Lamb are the called, chosen, and faithful.” Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw (where the prostitute is seated) are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages. (Revelation 17:7–15 NET)
The angel seems surprised that John was astonished about the nature of the harlot. He explains the mystery of the harlot and the Beast to John. As we learn what the angel has to say, remember that Babylon was the code word for Rome. To John’s immediate audience (the seven congregations (1) of Asia Minor or modern-day Turkey), Babylon meant Rome, the Roman Empire, and the Roman emperors. (21)
We are now presented with some incredible information that the Antichrist will be a personage whom God allows to come forth from the bottomless pit. It is said that he “was, and is not, and yet is” and will “go to destruction” (Revelation 17:8; 11:7). (26)(21)
Similar phraseology is utilized by Jesus when speaking in terms of His own death and resurrection: “I am he who lives and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore.”(Revelation 1:18). John also sees Jesus as a “Lamb as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6). The exact same wording is used of the Antichrist when John sees him at the midpoint in Revelation chapter 13. John states that one of the seven heads, which represents the Antichrist, was “as if it had been mortally wounded.” (Revelation 13:3). The term used for both “mortally wounded” and “slain” is the Greek word Sphazo, which means to slay, particularly in terms of a sacrifice. (26)
The Antichrist seems to be a false representation of what the true Christ accomplished. Just as Jesus was the Son of God who died in His obedience to God and rose again, the Antichrist also will, in a special way, be the son of Satan who died in obedience to Satan and will rise again. The Antichrist will not be reincarnated but resuscitated, as Lazarus was when the Lord brought him back from the dead (John 11:1-44). The Antichrist may be an individual upon whom a false resurrection is performed. (26)
At the midpoint (i.e., the Fourth Seal is opened), the Antichrist will be revealed to the world as he is. The world will be confronted with a man who has risen from the dead, which involves a supernatural miracle God allows Satan to perform. When it is understood that the Antichrist is a dead man who comes back to life, the whole world will marvel. When he reveals his true self, he commands all humanity to worship him. (26)
John is next told that the seven heads of the scarlet beast are seven mountains. John is told that the seven mountains are also seven kings or kingdoms. Realize mountains in Scripture often represent kings or kingdoms. For example, in Daniel, Christ and His kingdom (the stone) are said to become “a great mountain that filled the whole earth.” (26)
You were watching as a stone was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its iron and clay feet, breaking them in pieces. Then the iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold were broken in pieces without distinction and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors that the wind carries away. Not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a large mountain that filled the entire earth. (Daniel 2:34,35 NET)
In the days of those kings the God of heaven will raise up an everlasting kingdom that will not be destroyed and a kingdom that will not be left to another people. It will break in pieces and bring about the demise of all these kingdoms. But it will stand forever. You saw that a stone was cut from a mountain, but not by human hands; it smashed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold into pieces. The great God has made known to the king what will occur in the future. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is reliable.” (Daniel 2:44–45 NET)
The understanding of this passage calls for wisdom—not worldly wisdom, but biblical wisdom. This means we must employ what has already been learned from the prophetic scriptures (1) to understand what is occurring within the text. The seven heads are seven mountains, or kingdoms, upon which the harlot sits. So these seven empires had the Babylonian religion as their power source. Of these seven kings, five are said to have fallen. (26)
The seven heads or kings are the same seven that Daniel gave us in Daniel Chapter 7:
- Babylon, one head;
- Medo-Persia, one head;
- Greece, four heads (Egypt, Syria, Macedonia, and Asia Minor (i.e., Modern Day Turkey); and
- Rome, one head.
The five that have fallen or have had their dominion taken away (Daniel 7:12) are
- Syria, and
It is interesting to note that each one of these kingdoms had a Babylonian type of idolatry as its chief religion. One of the empires is said to still be in existence. This would be the Roman Empire, which Daniel said would extend, as the legs of Nebuchadnezzar’s statue extended, until the return of Christ. The revived Roman Empire, with the ten kings united by the Antichrist, has not come and will continue for a short time, of only forty-two months. (26)
He says they are ten kings waiting for their time to rule. Until then, Satan working through the Antichrist allows them to rule with the Beast person and system for one hour. One hour is also mentioned in Revelation 18:10,17,19. The mention of one hour may be literal or symbolic of a short period of time. Either way, they are only in power for a short time. They recognize the superiority of the Beast person and system and submit themselves to him (it). (21)
This revived Roman Empire will not begin its existence as such until the midpoint of the Seventieth Week when the Great Tribulation begins. This last empire is merely an extension of the seventh head, as the ten toes were an extension of the statue’s feet (Daniel 2:41-45), as well as the ten horns being an extension of Daniel’s fourth beast (Daniel 7:7). It should therefore not be considered as being another head. John has now addressed six of the seven heads: (26)
- Macedonia, and
- Rome with its revived extension.
The ruling demon princes of the first five regions have been defeated and fallen. The demon prince of the Roman Empire has not fallen and will become mighty again when the ten kings of his empire give their authority to the Antichrist. (26)
John then discusses who the final head of the seven-headed beast is. John reveals that the final head is ruled by the Beast or the Antichrist. He is said to be the eighth king but ruler over one of the seven heads, again restored to world dominion. Remember, Daniel said the kingdom of Greece would rule over all the earth one day in Daniel. (26)
Now after you another kingdom will arise, one inferior to yours. Then a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule in all the earth. (Daniel 2:39 NET)
The people of the world are mesmerized by the presence and power of the Beast. Recall that the Beast (the Antichrist) and the Beast system are empowered by the Dragon (Satan). (21)
Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. It had ten horns and seven heads, and on its horns were ten diadem crowns, and on its heads a blasphemous name. Now the beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave the beast his power, his throne, and great authority to rule. One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement; they worshiped the dragon because he had given ruling authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast too, saying: “Who is like the beast?” and “Who is able to make war against him?” (Revelation 13:1–4 NET)
The only remaining head I have not yet listed is the Asia Minor division of Greece which is modern-day Turkey. This is where the throne of the Antichrist is said to reside, as well as where it was previously concluded that the Antichrist would arise (Revelation 2:13). (26)
“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write the following: “This is the solemn pronouncement of the one who has the sharp double-edged sword: ‘I know where you live—where Satan’s throne is. Yet you continue to cling to my name and you have not denied your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was killed in your city where Satan lives. (Revelation 2:12,13 NET)
This is the head from which he will rule. The first demon prince of Asia Minor was defeated and became a fallen head when the empire of Rome emerged. During the Seventieth Week, a prince will be let out of the bottomless pit to restore the dominion of Asia Minor (Turkey). He is the eighth of these princes or kings and is also none other than the Antichrist. This, then, reveals the supernatural nature of the Antichrist. While a man physically, he commands the same authority as a demon prince spiritually. What can then be concluded from these passages is that the Antichrist will rule the ten-nation revived Roman Empire, but he will do so from the Asia Minor province of the Grecian empire (Turkey). Recall that John describes only five of the seven heads as being fallen. This is because two heads—Asia Minor (Turkey) and Rome, with its revived extension—will be in power during the Seventieth Week. What John has described is in exact correlation with what Daniel had outlined. They both complement each other perfectly, with absolutely no contradictions. (26)
The ten kings will give authority to the beast and destroy the harlot. This will happen at the midpoint, where the Antichrist demands that he alone is to be worshipped. Because of this, he will allow no other forms of religion to exist. The false religions that have been propagated by Satan throughout history will come to an end. Satan will finally receive the world’s worship through their adoration of his son, the Antichrist. At this point, the church must overcome, persevere, and never bow the knee to the Antichrist. This tremendous persecution begins with the fourth seal, the Great Tribulation. (26)
The angel states what seems to be the real message of the Book of Revelation. He says of these anti-God rulers: (21)
They will make war with the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those accompanying the Lamb are the called, chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14 NET)
The angel clarifies for John that the many waters over which the harlot sits are the people of the world who have been deceived by the false prophet and have taken the Mark of the Beast. (21)
Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw (where the prostitute is seated) are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages. (Revelation 17:15 NET)
FLASHBACK: The First Doom – Destruction of Religious Babylon; the Global False Religion (Circa starting after the Fourth Seal is Opened)
When God rebuked Israel for giving herself to the gods of the pagans, He said the following:
And you, O desolate one, what do you mean that you dress in scarlet, that you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold, that you enlarge your eyes with paint? In vain you beautify yourself. Your lovers despise you; they seek your life. (Jeremiah 4:30 ESV)
As we will soon discover, this is exactly what the Beast does to the harlot in the Book of Revelation. The Antichrist and his Beast system have hated the harlot all along. When he and his political leaders no longer need the harlot to seduce the people, they turn on her. John describes their Satanic hatred in the most graphic terms. (21)
The ten horns that you saw, and the beast—these will hate the prostitute and make her desolate and naked. They will consume her flesh and burn her up with fire. For God has put into their minds to carry out his purpose by making a decision to give their royal power to the beast until the words of God are fulfilled. As for the woman you saw, she is the great city that has sovereignty over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:16-18 NET)
Recall this same proclamation was given previously:
A second angel followed the first, declaring: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great city! She made all the nations drink of the wine of her immoral passion.” (Revelation 14:8 NET)
The Second angel, who immediately follows the first angel, announces the destruction of the false religion “Babylon the Great.” The angel uses the phrase “Is fallen” twice to stress that Babylon will have two falls: (26)
1. First destroyed is Religious Babylon, the global false religious system.
This occurs at the midpoint of the Seventieth Week. It is apparent that the false religious system is being referred to because: (26)
- The angel is making his announcement in a period before the wrath of God has actually hit. Since this is the case, the bowl judgment that destroys the city of Babylon cannot at this point have occurred. (Revelation 14:8)
- We were told previously that the ten kings would give their allegiance to the Antichrist at the midpoint, and in turn, they would destroy “Babylon the Great,” the false religion that has deceived the world (Revelation 17:16-18). (26)
Therefore, since the judgment of God has not yet taken place in the context of these verses, the angel’s announcement must come sometime after the midpoint but before the Day of the Lord. Since the angel informed John that the ten kings give their authority to the Antichrist at the midpoint, the destruction of the harlot Babylonian religion likely is what the second angel will announce. (26)
2. The second destroyed is the political and economic Babylon, which is destroyed as the seventh bowl judgment is poured out.
Even this turn of events is orchestrated by God, so there will be no competition between the false prophet and the Antichrist. All will submit to the rule of this evil incarnation of Satan, who will be worshiped as God. (21)
Finally, the angel explains that the woman is the great city that reigns over the kings of the earth. Babylon, the code word for Rome, is also called the “great city” in Revelation 14:8 and Revelation 18. John wants us to understand that the Beast person and the political and religious system are rooted in ancient Rome. It will reemerge in the latter days in a one-world system with the same anti-God culture and character as Rome. (21)
FLASHBACK: Announcement of Political and Economic Babylon’s Imminent Destruction (Circa after the Seventh Bowl is Poured Out)
After these things I saw another angel, who possessed great authority, coming down out of heaven, and the earth was lit up by his radiance. He shouted with a powerful voice: “Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great! She has become a lair for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detested beast. For all the nations have fallen from the wine of her immoral passion, and the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have gotten rich from the power of her sensual behavior.” (Revelation 18:1–3 NET)
Since the Roman religion and the Roman government were united under the emperors, the Babylon of Revelation 17 and the Babylon of Revelation 18 are basically two sides of the same coin. One is “religious Babylon,” while the other is “political and economic Babylon.” It is hard to separate the two since what is said about one equally applies to the other. This is why the wording in these two chapters is so similar. John is writing about the same Beast system, just different administrations. Furthermore, the beast of Rome is seen by scholars and theologians as the model of the final Beast person and system in the latter days of world history. (21)
Throughout the Book of Revelation, the Lord has used angels to communicate His messages to John and administer His judgments on the earth. After seeing the fall of “Religious Babylon,” John sees another angel proclaiming the fall of “Political and Economic Babylon.” This angel is so powerful that John says his presence illuminates the whole earth. This is beyond our natural ability to grasp. (21)
We do not know if John means this literally or if he is using apocalyptic language to describe the brilliant appearance of this angel. Either way, we should be encouraged that God has a spectacular future for us on the other side of this life. (21)
As Paul wrote:
For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18 NET)
The angel explains that, despite its appearance to the contrary, Babylon is the abode of demons and everything unclean. The world glories in its riches, power, great structures and cities, music and arts, knowledge and technology, beauty and lusts. But to God, it is the abode of demons and unclean spirits. May we also see the world system as God sees it and refuse to live for its pleasures! (21)
The angel informs John that Political and Economic Babylon is now being judged because it has become drunk with the wine of its spiritual idolatry and immorality. It has blasphemed God and persecuted His people. It accepted Satan’s offer of the world’s riches—the same offer that Jesus rejected (1). It has sold its soul for wealth and power. It is the final and ultimate embodiment of greed. It is surely Rome of the first century but much more than Rome. It is the final anti-God, one-world system ruled by Satan and his representatives, the Antichrist, and the false prophet. (21)
Paul warned against the entrapment of materialism with these words: (21)
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:9–10 ESV)
How sad that many believers today have not heeded Paul’s words. (21)
Again, the political and economic Babylon, embodied in the City of Babylon, should not be confused with the religious Babylonian system that will be eradicated first when the Antichrist claims he alone is to be worshipped as a god at the Opening of the Fourth Seal.
Before his expulsion and execution, the former “Butcher of Baghdad,” Saddam Hussein, among other aspirations, had been busy rebuilding the great city of Babylon. In his book The Rise of Babylon, author Charles Dyer describes in detail Saddam’s rebuilding of the city of Babylon. Hussein, who had believed himself to be the second advent of King Nebuchadnezzar, looked to Babylon as again being a pivotal city in the Arab world. Because of this, he poured literally billions of dollars and thousands of man-hours into restoring the ancient city. The outer walls, along with the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar and the Ninmach Temple, have already been erected. And, as with ancient Babylon, the great Euphrates River flows through the rebuilt city. (26)
During the Seventieth Week of Daniel, the ancient city of Babylon will become the headquarters of the “Political and Economic Babylon.” Likely, the treaty the Antichrist confirms with Israel and the Arab world will also involve an economic alliance. The neutral city chosen for overseeing this alliance will possibly be the city of Babylon. The city of Babylon will play a highly important role in the economy of the Antichrist and the entire Middle East. How this is to occur remains to be seen. (26)
As the Antichrist tightens his stranglehold upon the world during the great tribulation period, all items sold in the Middle East will be exported through this great city. The Antichrist will completely control the world’s economy by guaranteeing that no one can buy or sell without his mark. To keep control of the outflow of merchandise within the areas of his empire, he will funnel all trade through the city of Babylon. John reveals that many merchants will become rich in this city. The Antichrist will control the world’s oil reserves and the economy of the entire Middle East area. He will use his power to bring the world to its economic knees by forcing all to buy and sell through him. Anyone who dares not to bow allegiance to the Antichrist by worshipping him and receiving his mark will not be able to participate in the world economy. History records how Saddam Hussein started an economic panic that brought the world’s armies to his front doorstep when he invaded tiny Kuwait. What will occur when one man has absolute control over the world’s oil reserves and economy? (26)
The Lord’s Exhortation to Flee Babylon
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, so you will not take part in her sins and so you will not receive her plagues, because her sins have piled up all the way to heaven and God has remembered her crimes. Repay her the same way she repaid others; pay her back double corresponding to her deeds. In the cup she mixed, mix double the amount for her. As much as she exalted herself and lived in sensual luxury, to this extent give her torment and grief because she said to herself, ‘I rule as queen and am no widow; I will never experience grief!’ For this reason, she will experience her plagues in a single day: disease, mourning, and famine, and she will be burned down with fire, because the Lord God who judges her is powerful!” (Revelation 18:4–8 NET)
Because of all that John has seen and written to God’s people, the Lord Himself gives the warning, telling His people to come out of Babylon or suffer His just judgments along with those who have rejected Him. He who has an ear, let him hear. Since the church was raptured after the Sixth Seal was opened, “my people” includes Jews and Gentiles that have realized Jesus is the Messiah during the Great Tribulation and have not been martyred.
The Lord issued the same warning to His people when they were captives in Babylon:
Get out of Babylonia quickly, you foreign people. Flee to save your lives. Do not let yourselves be killed because of her sins. For it is time for the Lord to wreak his revenge. He will pay Babylonia back for what she has done. (Jeremiah 51:6 NET)
Surely believers today must take John’s warning seriously in one of the letters he wrote:
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, because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever. (1 John 2:15–17 NET)
The sins of first-century Rome and this latter-day Babylon have reached Heaven like Nimrod’s Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:4). God can no longer withhold His judgment against her. The angel cried out to God to judge Babylon with a double portion of calamity because of the magnitude of her sins. As she has terrorized the believers, may God give her a double portion of terror. As she has lived in prideful arrogance and self-indulgent luxury and pleasure, may God give her a double portion of sorrow. There is no plea here for mercy. It is too late for mercy; it is time for God’s full, undiluted judgment. (21)
Daniel 5 records the judgment of ancient Babylon because of their pride and blasphemies against God. In this chapter describing the handwriting on the wall, God tells King Belshazzar that his kingdom is finished. That same night Belshazzar was killed, and the Medes replaced Babylon, establishing themselves as the new empire. (Daniel 5:22-31.) (21)
In like manner, John learns that God will destroy this end-time Babylon by fire in one day. (21)
Leviticus states that the judgment for the daughter of a priest who becomes a prostitute is to be burned with fire. (21) So, it is fitting that Religious Babylon, prostituting herself as the priestess daughter of Satan and the Antichrist, be burned with fire.
If a daughter of a priest profanes herself by engaging in prostitution, she is profaning her father. She must be burned to death. (Leviticus 21:9 NET)
This scene reminds us of God’s warning to Lot to leave Sodom before He destroyed it. When Lot was reluctant, the angels forced him to take his family and leave. God then destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone in one day. (Genesis 19.) Here the Lord is again warning His people to leave this wicked anti-God, one-world system before He completely destroys it. (21)
In the book of Zechariah, we are given more information about the forces driving this wicked city: (26)
After this the angelic messenger who had been speaking to me went out and said, “Look, see what is leaving.” I asked, “What is it?” And he replied, “It is a basket for measuring grain that is moving away from here.” Moreover, he said, “This is their ‘eye’ throughout all the earth.” Then a round lead cover was raised up, revealing a woman sitting inside the basket. He then said, “This woman represents wickedness,” and he pushed her down into the basket and placed the lead cover on top. Then I looked again and saw two women going forth with the wind in their wings (they had wings like those of a stork) and they lifted up the basket between the earth and the sky. I asked the messenger who was speaking to me, “Where are they taking the basket?” He replied, “To build a temple for her in the land of Babylonia. When it is finished, she will be placed there in her own residence.” (Zechariah 5:5–11 NET)
The basket, or Ephah, is the largest of the Hebrew dry measures and is often employed as a symbol of commerce. In the case of these passages, it refers to commerce “throughout the earth.” The woman inside the basket is called “wickedness.” We are told that this basket will be taken to the land of Shinar, or Babylon, to be placed within the rebuilt city. These verses disclose a vision of mass commercialism characterized by incredible wickedness. The mark of the beast will signal the advent of this wickedest of all economic systems. Men will be required to barter their souls in exchange for goods from the Antichrist. The city of Babylon will physically manifest this wicked political and economic system. (26)
During this period, Babylon will become one of the most influential cities in the world. Yet, its greatness will come to an abrupt end. All those who have gained from the wealth of Babylon will mourn as they witness her destruction. In Babylon, an antichrist named Nimrod tried to unite the world against God (Genesis 11). It will again be in Babylon that the Antichrist will unite the world in defiance of the Almighty. God will, again, put down man’s effort to defy His authority. Man’s religious rebellion began in Babylon, and it will be Babylon where it will end.
The destruction of Babylon will be both final and complete, as indicated by these Old Covenant scriptures: (21)
This is a message about Babylon that God revealed to Isaiah son of Amoz: On a bare hill raise a signal flag, shout to them, wave your hand, so they might enter the gates of the princes! I have given orders to my chosen soldiers; I have summoned the warriors through whom I will vent my anger, my boasting, arrogant ones. There is a loud noise on the mountains— it sounds like a large army! There is great commotion among the kingdoms— nations are being assembled! The LORD who commands armies is mustering forces for battle. They come from a distant land, from the horizon. It is the LORD with his instruments of judgment, coming to destroy the whole earth. Wail, for the LORD’s day of judgment is near; it comes with all the destructive power of the sovereign judge. For this reason all hands hang limp, every human heart loses its courage. They panic— cramps and pain seize hold of them like those of a woman who is straining to give birth. They look at one another in astonishment; their faces are flushed red. Look, the LORD’s day of judgment is coming; it is a day of cruelty and savage, raging anger, destroying the earth and annihilating its sinners. Indeed the stars in the sky and their constellations no longer give out their light; the sun is darkened as soon as it rises, and the moon does not shine. I will punish the world for its evil, and wicked people for their sin. I will put an end to the pride of the insolent, I will bring down the arrogance of tyrants. I will make human beings more scarce than pure gold, and people more scarce than gold from Ophir. So I will shake the heavens, and the earth will shake loose from its foundation, because of the fury of the LORD who commands armies, in the day he vents his raging anger. Like a frightened gazelle or a sheep with no shepherd, each will turn toward home, each will run to his homeland. Everyone who is caught will be stabbed; everyone who is seized will die by the sword. Their children will be smashed to pieces before their very eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives raped. Look, I am stirring up the Medes to attack them; they are not concerned about silver, nor are they interested in gold. Their arrows will cut young men to ribbons; they have no compassion on a person’s offspring, they will not look with pity on children. Babylon, the most admired of kingdoms, the Chaldeans’ source of honor and pride, will be destroyed by God just as Sodom and Gomorrah were. No one will live there again; no one will ever reside there again. No bedouin will camp there, no shepherds will rest their flocks there. Wild animals will rest there, the ruined houses will be full of hyenas. Ostriches will live there, wild goats will skip among the ruins. Wild dogs will yip in her ruined fortresses, jackals will yelp in the once-splendid palaces. Her time is almost up, her days will not be prolonged. (Isaiah 13:1–22 NET)
Here is a message about the Desert by the Sea: Like strong winds blowing in the south, one invades from the desert, from a land that is feared. I have received a distressing message: “The deceiver deceives, the destroyer destroys. Attack, you Elamites! Lay siege, you Medes! I will put an end to all the groaning!” For this reason my stomach churns; cramps overwhelm me like the contractions of a woman in labor. I am disturbed by what I hear, horrified by what I see. My heart palpitates, I shake in fear; the twilight I desired has brought me terror. Arrange the table, lay out the carpet, eat and drink! Get up, you officers, smear oil on the shields! For this is what the sovereign master has told me: “Go, post a guard! He must report what he sees. When he sees chariots, teams of horses, riders on donkeys, riders on camels, he must be alert, very alert.” Then the guard cries out: “On the watchtower, O sovereign master, I stand all day long; at my post I am stationed every night. Look what’s coming! A charioteer, a team of horses.” When questioned, he replies, “Babylon has fallen, fallen! All the idols of her gods lie shattered on the ground!” O my downtrodden people, crushed like stalks on the threshing floor, what I have heard from the Lord who commands armies, the God of Israel, I have reported to you. (Isaiah 21:1–10 NET)
The Lord spoke concerning Babylon and the land of Babylonia through the prophet Jeremiah. “Announce the news among the nations! Proclaim it! Signal for people to pay attention! Declare the news! Do not hide it! Say: ‘Babylon will be captured. Bel will be put to shame. Marduk will be dismayed. Babylon’s idols will be put to shame. Her disgusting images will be dismayed. For a nation from the north will attack Babylon. It will lay her land waste. People and animals will flee out of it. No one will inhabit it.’ “When that time comes,” says the Lord, “the people of Israel and Judah will return to the land together. They will come back with tears of repentance as they seek the Lord their God. They will ask the way to Zion; they will turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the Lord in a lasting covenant that will never be forgotten. “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have allow them to go astray. They have wandered around in the mountains. They have roamed from one mountain and hill to another. They have forgotten their resting place. All who encountered them devoured them. Their enemies who did this said, ‘We are not liable for punishment! For those people have sinned against the Lord, their true pasture. They have sinned against the Lord in whom their ancestors trusted.’ “People of Judah, get out of Babylon quickly! Leave the land of Babylonia! Be the first to depart! Be like the male goats that lead the herd. For I will rouse into action and bring against Babylon a host of mighty nations from the land of the north. They will set up their battle lines against her. They will come from the north and capture her. Their arrows will be like a skilled soldier who does not return from the battle empty-handed. Babylonia will be plundered. Those who plunder it will take all they want,” says the Lord. “People of Babylonia, you plundered my people. That made you happy and glad. You frolic about like calves in a pasture. Your joyous sounds are like the neighs of a stallion. But Babylonia will be put to great shame. The land where you were born will be disgraced. Indeed, Babylonia will become the least important of all nations. It will become a dry and barren desert. After I vent my wrath on it Babylon will be uninhabited. It will be totally desolate. All who pass by will be filled with horror and will hiss out their scorn because of all the disasters that have happened to it. “Take up your battle positions all around Babylon, all you soldiers who are armed with bows. Shoot all your arrows at her! Do not hold any back! For she has sinned against the Lord. Shout the battle cry from all around the city. She will throw up her hands in surrender. Her towers will fall. Her walls will be torn down. Because I, the Lord, am wreaking revenge, take out your vengeance on her! Do to her as she has done! Kill all the farmers who sow the seed in the land of Babylon. Kill all those who wield the sickle at harvest time. Let all the foreigners return to their own people. Let them hurry back to their own lands to escape destruction by that enemy army. “The people of Israel are like scattered sheep which lions have chased away. First the king of Assyria devoured them. Now last of all King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has gnawed their bones. So I, the Lord God of Israel who rules over all, say: ‘I will punish the king of Babylon and his land just as I punished the king of Assyria. But I will restore the flock of Israel to their own pasture. They will graze on Mount Carmel and the land of Bashan. They will eat until they are full on the hills of Ephraim and the land of Gilead. When that time comes, no guilt will be found in Israel. No sin will be found in Judah. For I will forgive those of them I have allowed to survive. I, the Lord, affirm it!’ ” The Lord says, “Attack the land of Merathaim and the people who live in Pekod! Pursue, kill, and completely destroy them! Do just as I have commanded you! The noise of battle can be heard in the land of Babylonia. There is the sound of great destruction. Babylon hammered the whole world to pieces. But see how that ‘hammer’ has been broken and shattered! See what an object of horror Babylon has become among the nations! I set a trap for you, Babylon; you were caught before you knew it. You fought against me. So you were found and captured. I have opened up the place where my weapons are stored. I have brought out the weapons for carrying out my wrath. For I, the Lord God who rules over all, have work to carry out in the land of Babylonia. Come from far away and attack Babylonia! Open up the places where she stores her grain! Pile her up in ruins! Destroy her completely! Do not leave anyone alive! Kill all her soldiers! Let them be slaughtered! They are doomed, for their day of reckoning has come, the time for them to be punished.” Listen! Fugitives and refugees are coming from the land of Babylon. They are coming to Zion to declare there how the Lord our God is getting revenge, getting revenge for what they have done to his temple. “Call for archers to come against Babylon! Summon against her all who draw the bow! Set up camp all around the city! Do not allow anyone to escape! Pay her back for what she has done. Do to her what she has done to others. For she has proudly defied me, the Holy One of Israel. So her young men will fall in her city squares. All her soldiers will be destroyed at that time,” says the Lord. “Listen! I am opposed to you, you proud city,” says the Lord God who rules over all. “Indeed, your day of reckoning has come, the time when I will punish you. You will stumble and fall, you proud city; no one will help you get up. I will set fire to your towns; it will burn up everything that surrounds you.” The Lord who rules over all says, “The people of Israel are oppressed. So too are the people of Judah. All those who took them captive are holding them prisoners. They refuse to set them free. But the one who will rescue them is strong. He is known as the Lord who rules over all. He will strongly champion their cause. As a result he will bring peace and rest to the earth, but trouble and turmoil to the people who inhabit Babylonia. “Destructive forces will come against the Babylonians,” says the Lord. “They will come against the people who inhabit Babylonia, against her leaders and her men of wisdom. Destructive forces will come against her false prophets; they will be shown to be fools! Destructive forces will come against her soldiers; they will be filled with terror! Destructive forces will come against her horses and her chariots. Destructive forces will come against all the foreign troops within her; they will be as frightened as women! Destructive forces will come against her treasures; they will be taken away as plunder! A drought will come upon her land; her rivers and canals will be dried up. All of this will happen because her land is filled with idols. Her people act like madmen because of those idols they fear. Therefore desert creatures and jackals will live there. Ostriches will dwell in it too. But no people will ever live there again. No one will dwell there for all time to come. I will destroy Babylonia just like I did Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring towns. No one will live there. No human being will settle in it,” says the Lord. “Look! An army is about to come from the north. A mighty nation and many kings are stirring into action in faraway parts of the earth. Its soldiers are armed with bows and spears. They are cruel and show no mercy. They sound like the roaring sea as they ride forth on their horses. Lined up in formation like men going into battle, they are coming against you, fair Babylon! The king of Babylon will become paralyzed with fear when he hears news of their coming. Anguish will grip him, agony like that of a woman giving birth to a baby. “A lion coming up from the thick undergrowth along the Jordan scatters the sheep in the pastureland around it. So too I will chase the Babylonians off of their land. Then I will appoint over it whomever I choose. For there is no one like me. There is no one who can call me to account. There is no ruler that can stand up against me. So listen to what I, the Lord, have planned against Babylon, what I intend to do to the people who inhabit the land of Babylonia. Their little ones will be dragged off. I will completely destroy their land because of what they have done. The people of the earth will quake when they hear Babylon has been captured. Her cries of anguish will be heard by the other nations.” The Lord says, “I will cause a destructive wind to blow against Babylon and the people who inhabit Babylonia. I will send people to winnow Babylonia like a wind blowing away chaff. They will winnow her and strip her land bare. This will happen when they come against her from every direction, when it is time to destroy her. Do not give her archers time to string their bows or to put on their coats of armor. Do not spare any of her young men. Completely destroy her whole army. Let them fall slain in the land of Babylonia, mortally wounded in the streets of her cities. “For Israel and Judah will not be forsaken by their God, the Lord who rules over all. For the land of Babylonia is full of guilt against the Holy One of Israel. Get out of Babylonia quickly, you foreign people. Flee to save your lives. Do not let yourselves be killed because of her sins. For it is time for the Lord to wreak his revenge. He will pay Babylonia back for what she has done. Babylonia had been a gold cup in the Lord’s hand. She had made the whole world drunk. The nations had drunk from the wine of her wrath. So they have all gone mad. But suddenly Babylonia will fall and be destroyed. Cry out in mourning over it! Get medicine for her wounds! Perhaps she can be healed! Foreigners living there will say, ‘We tried to heal her, but she could not be healed. Let’s leave Babylonia and each go back to his own country. For judgment on her will be vast in its proportions. It will be like it is piled up to heaven, stacked up into the clouds.’ The exiles from Judah will say, ‘The Lord has brought about a great deliverance for us! Come on, let’s go and proclaim in Zion what the Lord our God has done!’ “Sharpen your arrows! Fill your quivers! The Lord will arouse a spirit of hostility in the kings of Media. For he intends to destroy Babylonia. For that is how the Lord will get his revenge— how he will get his revenge for the Babylonians’ destruction of his temple. Give the signal to attack Babylon’s wall! Bring more guards! Post them all around the city! Put men in ambush! For the Lord will do what he has planned. He will do what he said he would do to the people of Babylon. “You who live along the rivers of Babylon, the time of your end has come. You who are rich in plundered treasure, it is time for your lives to be cut off. The Lord who rules over all has solemnly sworn, ‘I will fill your land with enemy soldiers. They will swarm over it like locusts. They will raise up shouts of victory over it.’ He is the one who by his power made the earth. He is the one who by his wisdom fixed the world in place, by his understanding he spread out the heavens. When his voice thunders, the waters in the heavens roar. He makes the clouds rise from the far-off horizons. He makes the lightning flash out in the midst of the rain. He unleashes the wind from the places where he stores it. All idolaters will prove to be stupid and ignorant. Every goldsmith will be disgraced by the idol he made. For the image he forges is merely a sham. There is no breath in any of those idols. They are worthless, objects to be ridiculed. When the time comes to punish them, they will be destroyed. The Lord, who is the portion of the descendants of Jacob, is not like them. For he is the one who created everything, including the people of Israel whom he claims as his own. He is known as the Lord who rules over all. “Babylon, you are my war club, my weapon for battle. I used you to smash nations. I used you to destroy kingdoms. I used you to smash horses and their riders. I used you to smash chariots and their drivers. I used you to smash men and women. I used you to smash old men and young men. I used you to smash young men and young women. I used you to smash shepherds and their flocks. I used you to smash farmers and their teams of oxen. I used you to smash governors and leaders.” “But I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia for all the wicked things they did in Zion right before the eyes of you Judeans,” says the Lord. The Lord says, “Beware! I am opposed to you, Babylon! You are like a destructive mountain that destroys all the earth. I will unleash my power against you; I will roll you off the cliffs and make you like a burned-out mountain. No one will use any of your stones as a cornerstone. No one will use any of them in the foundation of his house. For you will lie desolate forever,” says the Lord. “Raise up battle flags throughout the lands. Sound the trumpets calling the nations to do battle. Prepare the nations to do battle against Babylonia. Call for these kingdoms to attack her: Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Appoint a commander to lead the attack. Send horses against her like a swarm of locusts. Prepare the nations to do battle against her. Prepare the kings of the Medes. Prepare their governors and all their leaders. Prepare all the countries they rule to do battle against her. The earth will tremble and writhe in agony. For the Lord will carry out his plan. He plans to make the land of Babylonia a wasteland where no one lives. The soldiers of Babylonia will stop fighting. They will remain in their fortified cities. They will lose their strength to do battle. They will be as frightened as women. The houses in her cities will be set on fire. The gates of her cities will be broken down. One runner after another will come to the king of Babylon. One messenger after another will come bringing news. They will bring news to the king of Babylon that his whole city has been captured. They will report that the fords have been captured, the reed marshes have been burned, the soldiers are terrified. For the Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, ‘Fair Babylon will be like a threshing floor which has been trampled flat for harvest. The time for her to be cut down and harvested will come very soon.’ “King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon devoured me and drove my people out. Like a monster from the deep he swallowed me. He filled his belly with my riches. He made me an empty dish. He completely cleaned me out.” The person who lives in Zion says, “May Babylon pay for the violence done to me and to my relatives.” Jerusalem says, “May those living in Babylonia pay for the bloodshed of my people.” Therefore the Lord says, “I will stand up for your cause. I will pay the Babylonians back for what they have done to you. I will dry up their sea. I will make their springs run dry. Babylon will become a heap of ruins. Jackals will make their home there. It will become an object of horror and of hissing scorn, a place where no one lives. The Babylonians are all like lions roaring for prey. They are like lion cubs growling for something to eat. When their appetites are all stirred up, I will set out a banquet for them. I will make them drunk so that they will pass out, they will fall asleep forever, they will never wake up,” says the Lord. “I will lead them off to be slaughtered like lambs, rams, and male goats.” “See how Babylon has been captured! See how the pride of the whole earth has been taken! See what an object of horror Babylon has become among the nations! The sea has swept over Babylon. She has been covered by a multitude of its waves. The towns of Babylonia have become heaps of ruins. She has become a dry and barren desert. No one lives in those towns any more. No one even passes through them. I will punish the god Bel in Babylon. I will make him spit out what he has swallowed. The nations will not come streaming to him any longer. Indeed, the walls of Babylon will fall.” “Get out of Babylon, my people! Flee to save your lives from the fierce anger of the Lord! Do not lose your courage or become afraid because of the reports that are heard in the land. For a report will come in one year. Another report will follow it in the next. There will be violence in the land with ruler fighting against ruler.” “So the time will certainly come when I will punish the idols of Babylon. Her whole land will be put to shame. All her mortally wounded will collapse in her midst. Then heaven and earth and all that is in them will sing for joy over Babylon. For destroyers from the north will attack it,” says the Lord. “Babylon must fall because of the Israelites she has killed, just as the earth’s mortally wounded fell because of Babylon. You who have escaped the sword, go, do not delay. Remember the Lord in a faraway land. Think about Jerusalem. ‘We are ashamed because we have been insulted. Our faces show our disgrace. For foreigners have invaded the holy rooms in the Lord’s temple.’ Yes, but the time will certainly come,” says the Lord, “when I will punish her idols. Throughout her land the mortally wounded will groan. Even if Babylon climbs high into the sky and fortifies her elevated stronghold, I will send destroyers against her,” says the Lord. Cries of anguish will come from Babylon, the sound of great destruction from the land of the Babylonians. For the Lord is ready to destroy Babylon, and put an end to her loud noise. Their waves will roar like turbulent waters. They will make a deafening noise. For a destroyer is attacking Babylon. Her warriors will be captured; their bows will be broken. For the Lord is a God who punishes; he pays back in full. “I will make her officials and wise men drunk, along with her governors, leaders, and warriors. They will fall asleep forever and never wake up,” says the King whose name is the Lord who rules over all. This is what the Lord who rules over all says, “Babylon’s thick wall will be completely demolished. Her high gates will be set on fire. The peoples strive for what does not satisfy. The nations grow weary trying to get what will be destroyed.” (Jeremiah 50:1–51:58 NET)
FLASHBACK: Announcement that the World will Mourn the Fall of the Political and Economic City of Babylon (Circa after the Seventh Bowl is Poured Out)
Then the kings of the earth who committed immoral acts with her and lived in sensual luxury with her will weep and wail for her when they see the smoke from the fire that burns her up. They will stand a long way off because they are afraid of her torment, and will say, “Woe, woe, O great city, Babylon the powerful city! For in a single hour your doom has come!” Then the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn for her because no one buys their cargo any longer—cargo such as gold, silver, precious stones, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all sorts of things made of citron wood, all sorts of objects made of ivory, all sorts of things made of expensive wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, perfumed ointment, frankincense, wine, olive oil and costly flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and four-wheeled carriages, slaves and human lives. (The ripe fruit you greatly desired has gone from you, and all your luxury and splendor have gone from you— they will never ever be found again!) The merchants who sold these things, who got rich from her, will stand a long way off because they are afraid of her torment. They will weep and mourn, saying, “Woe, woe, O great city— dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet clothing, and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls— because in a single hour such great wealth has been destroyed!” And every ship’s captain, and all who sail along the coast—seamen, and all who make their living from the sea, stood a long way off and began to shout when they saw the smoke from the fire that burned her up, “Who is like the great city?” And they threw dust on their heads and were shouting with weeping and mourning, “Woe, Woe, O great city— in which all those who had ships on the sea got rich from her wealth— because in a single hour she has been destroyed!” (Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has pronounced judgment against her on your behalf!) (Revelation 18:9–20 NET)
Our best understanding is that this is John’s way of naming Rome, but with a prophetic look to the end-time world system that is the ultimate expression of Rome. The religious harlot and the political-economic world power are seen as one with the Beast system and the great city. They are one and the same. (2)
John mentions four different groups of people and explains how they react to the fall of Babylon. These are the kings of the earth, the merchants of the earth, the merchants of the sea, and the people of God. (2)
The Kings of the Earth will Weep and Wail
In modern times, the kings of the earth would be the political leaders of the anti-God, one-world system. John uses the same words in Revelation 17:2 when he mentions that the kings of the earth committed fornication with the harlot. The idea is that both the political leaders and the religious leaders are spiritual adulterers. They worship Satan and have sold their souls to him to maintain their power, position, and rule over the people. We might say they are greedy, corrupt politicians who will say and do anything to stay in power. (21)
When these godless political leaders see their governmental world capital burning, they distance themselves lest they, too, be consumed by the judgment fire of Almighty God. However, this action will not save them as the King Jesus the Messiah will soon destroy them. Their response is to wail and mourn as God brings to an end the system they worshiped and thought was “too big to fail.” These world leaders have given their lives to promote and protect their anti-God, one-world system. Now they see it burning to the ground. Everything they have loved, worshiped, and worked for is destroyed in one hour. (21)
The Merchants of the Earth will Weep and Mourn
The earth’s merchants respond the same way the political leaders do. These people took the Mark of the Beast, so they could prosper. With the Beast system destroyed, there is no way for them to sell their goods. The economies and financial markets of the nations have collapsed. All the manufacturers, Wall Street, financial markets, service organizations, stores, and shopping malls have been destroyed. The merchants wail and mourn as they realize no one can buy their goods.
John describes luxury items, not basic goods people need, such as food, clothing, and shelter. The idea John is presenting is a materialistic world of luxury and self-indulgence. Their most important priority is to make money. Now their wealth and prosperity are gone. Their gold and silver could not save them. Like politicians, they stand at a distance in deep anguish and despair. Their world has come to an end. All they loved, trusted in, and valued— were gone in one hour. (21)
John summarizes their loss with these words:
(The ripe fruit you greatly desired has gone from you, and all your luxury and splendor have gone from you— they will never ever be found again!) (Revelation 18:14 NET)
The Merchants of the Sea will Weep and Mourn
John further notes that the merchants of the sea who made their fortunes trading with the Beast system wail and mourn when they see the great city on fire. The world system has ended, and all who have prospered from it are left as desolate as the system itself. Everything they gave their lives for has gone up in smoke in one hour. (21)
This scene is similar to what Ezekiel wrote about when he pronounced God’s judgment on the city of Tyre, a wealthy seaport in present-day Lebanon. It was a renowned and anti-God pagan city that persecuted God’s people.
Furthermore, like Babylon and Rome, Tyre was a city that embodied the evil of Satan himself. When Ezekiel pronounced God’s judgment on Tyre, those who profited from its commerce wailed and mourned like the others. (Ezekiel 26–28.)
The warning is the same whether it is Tyre, Babylon, Rome, modern nations, or the Beast of the Book of Revelation. God will eventually judge those who oppose Him and persecute His people. The words of Jesus are certainly appropriate: (21)
For what benefit is it for a person to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his life? (Mark 8:36 NET)
When the city of Rome was the world’s capital, it was the center of an incredible amount of economic activity and prosperity. There was full employment and work for everyone. Not only did the local businesses prosper, but merchants throughout the Mediterranean brought their goods to Rome. They became rich doing business with Rome. Not only did they trade goods, but they also bought and sold slaves who did the work that ordinary Romans thought beneath them. It was a Roman world, and everyone who traded with Rome prospered. (21)
When Nero was emperor, he wanted to build a monument to himself in Rome. However, the area where he wanted to build was already overbuilt. What did Nero do? In A.D. 64, he burned the buildings to make room for his monument. Historians tell us that the fire lasted for days and burned much of the city. Merchant ships ready to unload their goods and ships at sea waiting their turn saw the smoke as Rome burned and wailed in anguish at the loss of their income. John sees a repeat of this situation with the latter-day Babylon-Rome. (21)
The People of God will Rejoice!
John mentions the martyrs in Heaven and the apostles and prophets of God make up the fourth group. Their response is certainly different from the others. Instead of weeping and wailing, a voice tells them to rejoice, for God has finally avenged them. Their wait for justice is over. The wicked anti-God, one-world system that has persecuted them for so long has ended. The kingdoms of this world have been destroyed, making way for God’s Kingdom to come to the earth. (21)
FLASHBACK: The Second Doom – Destruction of Political and Economic Babylon (Circa After the 7th Bowl is Poured Out)
Then one powerful angel picked up a stone like a huge millstone, threw it into the sea, and said, “With this kind of sudden violent force Babylon the great city will be thrown down and it will never be found again! And the sound of the harpists, musicians, flute players, and trumpeters will never be heard in you again. No craftsman who practices any trade will ever be found in you again; the noise of a mill will never be heard in you again. Even the light from a lamp will never shine in you again! The voices of the bridegroom and his bride will never be heard in you again. For your merchants were the tycoons of the world, because all the nations were deceived by your magic spells! The blood of the saints and prophets was found in her, along with the blood of all those who had been killed on the earth.” (Revelation 18:21–24 NET)
As quickly as Babylon arises, this city whose “sins have reached to heaven” will be pummeled by God Almighty. (26)
As a final statement emphasizing God’s judgment against the Beast, John sees a mighty angel pick up a stone that he compares to a great millstone. Millstones were used to grind grain and olives to produce flour and oil. A millstone was a basic tool everyone needed. Symbolically, it represented economic activity and the ability of the people to produce their food. (21)
A large millstone would be so heavy no one could even move it, much less pick it up. When John says that an angel picks up a stone that is like a great millstone, he gives a vivid word picture of the power of this angel. With great force, the angel throws the huge stone (e.g., a boulder) into the sea, and it sinks to the bottom. Likewise, God will violently throw down the great city with its anti-God, one-world system. Like the unsinkable Titanic, it will sink to the bottom of the ocean. Unlike the Titanic, there will be no survivors. All will sink with Babylon. The great city, representing the end-time political-economic Beast system, will be silent. (21)
God has used this same prophetic act as a picture of His judgment on Babylon. We earlier noted Jeremiah’s prophecy against ancient Babylon recorded in Jeremiah 50–51. Jeremiah wrote God’s judgment against Babylon on a scroll and gave it to Seraiah, who went into captivity with King Zedekiah. Jeremiah told Seraiah that when he got to Babylon, he read the judgments, tied a stone around the scroll, and threw it into the Euphrates River. As the scroll sank to the bottom of the Euphrates, so Babylon would sink, never to rise again. (21)
This is the order Jeremiah the prophet gave to Seraiah son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, when he went to King Zedekiah of Judah in Babylon during the fourth year of his reign. (Seraiah was a quartermaster.)Jeremiah recorded on one scroll all the judgments that would come upon Babylon—all these prophecies written about Babylon. Then Jeremiah said to Seraiah, “When you arrive in Babylon, make sure you read aloud all these prophecies. Then say, ‘O Lord, you have announced that you will destroy this place so that no people or animals live in it any longer. Certainly it will lie desolate forever!’ When you finish reading this scroll aloud, tie a stone to it and throw it into the middle of the Euphrates River. Then say, ‘In the same way Babylon will sink and never rise again because of the judgments I am ready to bring upon her; they will grow faint.’ ” The prophecies of Jeremiah end here. (Jeremiah 51:59–64 NET)
John clarifies again that God has judged ancient Babylon, Rome, and this end-time embodiment of those pagan empires because they killed His people.
How can a good God who is grace, mercy, and compassion pass judgment for destruction and suffering?
Do I actually delight in the death of the wicked, declares the sovereign Lord? Do I not prefer that he turn from his wicked conduct and live? (Ezekiel 18:23 NET)
The answer is that God does not cause this suffering. Mankind causes this due to the hardness of his heart. It is the result of the evil in people’s hearts to live their lives without God. His Great MERCY is extended to all equally, and He waits patiently for all to accept it.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45 NET)
Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4 NET)
The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NET)
How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers! Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; he meditates on his commands day and night. He is like a tree planted by flowing streams; it yields its fruit at the proper time, and its leaves never fall off. He succeeds in everything he attempts. Not so with the wicked! Instead they are like wind-driven chaff. For this reason the wicked cannot withstand judgment, nor can sinners join the assembly of the godly. Certainly the Lord guards the way of the godly, but the way of the wicked ends in destruction. (Psalm 1:1–6 NET)
Nevertheless, when the point is reached that a person or persons, by an act of their will, decide to never change from serving evil (Satan) to serving good (God), then the only thing left is a JUDGMENT of WRATH that will keep them that have chosen to serve Satan from affecting the MERCY to be received by those that have chosen to serve God.
An evil man is rebellious to the core. He does not fear God, for he is too proud to recognize and give up his sin. The words he speaks are sinful and deceitful; he does not care about doing what is wise and right. He plans ways to sin while he lies in bed; he is committed to a sinful lifestyle; he does not reject what is evil. (Psalm 36:1–4 NET)
God, the one who has reigned as king from long ago, will hear and humiliate them. (Selah) They refuse to change, and do not fear God. (Psalm 55:19 NET)
Turn away from evil and do what is right! Strive for peace and promote it! The Lord pays attention to the godly and hears their cry for help. But the Lord opposes evildoers and wipes out all memory of them from the earth. (Psalm 34:14–16 NET)
The MERCY for the future of those who have chosen to serve God trumps the present MERCY extended to all, resulting in the removal and eternal incarceration of those who have chosen to serve evil.
It is terrible to show partiality to the wicked, by depriving a righteous man of justice. (Proverbs 18:5 NET)
If the wicked are shown mercy, they do not learn about justice. Even in a land where right is rewarded, they act unjustly; they do not see the Lord’s majesty revealed. (Isaiah 26:10 NET)
The Lord abhors the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness. (Proverbs 15:9 NET)
The Lord approves of the godly, but he hates the wicked and those who love to do violence. (Psalm 11:5 NET)
You reprimand arrogant people. Those who stray from your commands are doomed. (Psalm 119:21 NET)
The wicked have no chance for deliverance, for they do not seek your statutes. (Psalm 119:155 NET)
If the righteous are recompensed on earth, how much more the wicked sinner! (Proverbs 11:31 NET)
Yes, look! Those far from you die; you destroy everyone who is unfaithful to you. (Psalm 73:27 NET)
The Lord protects those who love him, but he destroys all the wicked. (Psalm 145:20 NET)
May sinners disappear from the earth, and the wicked vanish! Praise the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord! (Psalm 104:35 NET)
Let anyone who has no love for the Lord be accursed. Our Lord, come! (1 Corinthians 16:22–23 NET)
Remember, refusal of the greater MERCY leaves only the WRATH. (1)
The wicked have decided to never change from evil to good, unrighteous to righteous, and wicked to godly.
There is no Mercy for the Wicked
Revelation Chapters 19 thru 20
Please see the following link for a detailed description of Revelation Chapters 19 thru 20:
His-Story (History) Series:
- Part I: The Lord of the Scroll – Fellowship Lost!
- Part II: The Lord of the Scroll – The Two Kingdoms
- Part III: The Lord of the Scroll – The Revelation of the King!
- Part IV: The Lord of the Scroll – The Death of the King
- Part V: The Lord of the Scroll – The Re-Birth of the King!
- Part VI: The Lord of the Scroll – Salvation
- Part VII: The Lord of the Scroll – Revelation of the King’s Bride!
- Part VIII: The Lord of the Scroll – Revelation of the King of Kings!
- Part IX: The Lord of the Scroll – The Lord of Hosts
- Part X: The Lord of the Scroll – When will the King of Kings Return?
- Part XI: The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (God’s Throne Room)
- Part XII: The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (The Beginning of Birth Pains (BBP))
- Part XIII: The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (The Great Tribulation (GTrib))
- Part XIV: The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (The Day of the Lord (DOL))
- Part XV: The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (GTrib and DOL Revisited)
- Part XVI: The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (BBP, GTrib, DOL, and The Days of Mourning (DOM) Revisited)
- Part XVII: The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (DOM, Cleansing the Temple (CT), The Kingdom Age (KA), Great White Throne Judgment (GWTJ) Revisited)
- Part XVIII The Lord of the Scroll – Daniel’s 70th Week (KA, GWTJ, and Ages of the Ages (AoA) Revisited)
(Security, Wholeness, Success)
Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. (3 John 1:2 NET)
(1) Select the link to open another article in a new tab with additional information.
(2) Note: Those not able to choose for themselves (1) (e.g., aborted babies, mentally challenged, etc.) are also in Heaven.
(3) The Greek word used here for air is “aer,” which refers to the lower denser atmosphere. This contrasts with the Greek word “aither,” speaking of the upper thinner atmosphere. For example, a Greek would stand on Mount Olympus (6,403 feet high) and point up to “aither” and down to “aer.”
(4) Realize God does, at times, approximate by rounding off numbers. For example, Exodus 12:40,42 states that Israelites were in Egypt for 430 years, but Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6 approximate this by rounding it down to 400 years. Based on this, the Church Age could last until 2300 AD or whatever the highest number is that rounds down in God’s math (e.g., 2400 A.D.).
(5) Maranatha is the transliteration of the Koine Greek word that means “Our Lord Come!” (KJV 1 Corinthians 16:22). This word captures what our attitude should be concerning our Lord’s return. That is, while we are not to be complacent or anxious about His return, we should live such that if Jesus were to return at any moment, we would not be ashamed but rather prepared, excited, and filled with joy to see Him! (1 John 2:28. Ephesians 5:15,16).
(6) Rogers, A. (2017). Mustard Seeds and Mountains. In Adrian Rogers Sermon Archive (Mt 16:27–17:21). Signal Hill, CA: Rogers Family Trust.
(8) Larkin, C. (1919). The Book of Revelation: A Study of the Last Prophetic Book of Holy Scripture (p. 124). Philadelphia, PA: Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate.
(9) Got Questions Ministries. (2002–2013). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Logos Bible Software.
(10) Booker, R. (2012). The lamb and the seven-sealed scroll. Destiny Image.
(11) The addition of “and see” (καὶ ἴδε or καὶ βλέπε [kai ide or kai blepe]) to “come” (ἔρχου, erchou) in 6:1, 3–5, 7 is a gloss directed to John, i.e., “come and look at the seals and the horsemen!” But the command ἔρχου is better interpreted as directed to each of the horsemen. The shorter reading also has the support of the better witnesses
Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Re 6:1). Biblical Studies Press.
(12) (www.hearthstonelegacy.com/ when the skies turned to black the locust plague of 1875.)
(13) Traditionally, we have called this event “The Rapture,” although this word does not appear in most Bible translations. The word rapture comes from the Latin, Rapare, which means to “take away” or “snatch out.” The word with the meaning of rapture in the Bible is the Greek word harpozo. This Greek word harpozo is literally translated as “caught up” and has the following meanings: to carry off by force or rescue from the danger of destruction.
The catching away or rapture of the Church will occur during the Great Tribulation before God’s wrath is poured out during the Day of the Lord.
Jesus will carry us off by force when He removes us through the territory of the Prince of the Power of the Air (lower denser atmosphere (3)) who will apparently attempt to interfere with our leaving Earth (Ephesians 2:2). Jesus will rescue us from the danger of destruction by taking us to Heaven before the outpouring of God’s wrath during the Day of the Lord.
(14) Matthew, a Jew, wrote primarily to the Jews, presenting Jesus Christ as King of the Jews. Mark, a Jew, presented Jesus as a Servant and wrote to the Romans. John, a Jew, presents Jesus as the Son of God and writes to all men. Luke, a Greek, writes primarily to the Greeks. And because the Greeks were fascinated with Aristotle’s ideal republic and Plato’s ideal man, Luke writes of Jesus as the Son of Man, the perfect Man.
Courson, J. (2003). Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (p. 295). Thomas Nelson.
(15) Luke’s Ethnic Background. Scholarly opinion has been divided on the question of Luke’s ethnic background. In general, two views are proposed:
(1) Luke was a Gentile Christian: This view is based mainly on the internal evidence of the Gospel and Acts: the superior quality of the Greek language, the avoidance of Semitic words (except Amen), the omission of gospel traditions about Jesus’ controversies with the Pharisaic understanding of the Law and about what is clean or unclean, the transformation of Palestinian local color and details into Hellenistic counterparts. These and similar factors have been cited to identify the author as a Gentile Christian, i.e. one converted to Christianity from paganism.
The argument is sometimes pushed still further to maintain that the author was actually a Gentile Christian of Greek origin or an Antiochene Greek. This is based on Paul’s statement in Col 4:11–14, where three persons are listed as his Jewish-Christian co-workers, but Luke seems to be listed among other, presumably, Gentile-Christian collaborators. For instance, K. Lake years ago claimed that the early tradition identified Luke as “an Antiochene Greek” (“Luke,” in Dictionary of the Apostolic Church [New York: Scribner, 1922] 1. 719); and more recently, K. H. Rengstorf (Evangelium nach Lukas, 11) has called him a Gentile Christian, indeed of Greek origin. Many others have followed this view (e.g., W. K. Hobart, A. von Harnack, P. Vielhauer, G. B. Caird, W. G. Kümmel, A. Plummer, W. Manson, J. Schmid).
(2) Luke was a Jewish Christian. The view that the author was a Jewish Christian, i.e. a convert from Judaism, is based mainly on the interest displayed in Luke-Acts in the OT and its phraseology, the author’s alleged Palestinian language, and the Epiphanian tradition (Panarion 51.11) that he was one of the seventy-two disciples; sometimes the mention of Lucius as among Paul’s “kinsmen” (Rom 16:21) is also invoked. Among supporters of this view, one may cite A. Schlatter, B. S. Easton, E. E. Ellis, W. F. Albright, N. Q. King, B. Reicke.
For reasons that I shall try to set forth below, I regard Luke as a Gentile Christian, not, however, as a Greek, but as a non-Jewish Semite, a native of Antioch, where he was well educated in a Hellenistic atmosphere and culture.
Fitzmyer, J. A. (2008). The Gospel according to Luke I–IX: introduction, translation, and notes (Vol. 28, pp. 41–42). Yale University Press.
(16) …The emphasis here would be that the Pharisees confront the kingdom in Jesus. They do not need to look all around for it because its central figure is in front of their eyes…
Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51–24:53 (Vol. 2, p. 1416). Baker Academic.
(17) A Full Circle Rainbow over Australia, Image Credit & Copyright: Colin Leonhardt (Birdseye View Photography)
(18) Rosenthal, Marvin (1990). The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. World Publishing
(19) “Warren’s findings, together with the discovery of Reich and Shukron described in the recent news reports, fully support Josephus’s statements relating to the tunnels beneath Jerusalem and the use to which they were put during the Roman siege of 70 A.D. These underground passages enabled many inhabitants of Jerusalem to exit the city and flee both south to Masada and, via Nahal Qidron and other wadis heading from Jerusalem eastward toward the Dead Sea, to the Machaerus fort lying just east of that sea, which was actually closer to Jerusalem than was Masada. (Josephus describes the large number of refugees who gathered at Machaerus.). The circumstances as now known leave little doubt that quite likely beginning even before the siege had begun, groups engaged in hiding the Temple treasures, the books, and other items listed in the Copper Scroll — as well as those ancient writings of the Palestinian Jews known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were found centuries later in caves near the wadis leading out of Jerusalem. Norman Golb is the Ludwig Rosenberger Professor of Jewish History and Civilization at the University of Chicago and the author of “Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?” (Simon & Schuster, 1995).” Read more here: https://forward.com/opinion/11873/newly-discovered-tunnel-may-once-have-carried-dead-00675/
(21) Booker, R. (2013). the Victorious Kingdom. Destiny Image.
(22) interruption of chronological sequence (as in a film or literary work) by interjection of events of earlier occurrence…
Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). In Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Merriam-Webster, Inc.
(23) 1984: a story that tells what led up to the main story or plot (as of a film)
Merriam-Webster, I. (2003). In Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Merriam-Webster, Inc.
(24) Booker, R. (2011). The overcomers: series- understanding the book of Revelation. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.
55 tn BDAG 352–53 s.v. ἐξουσία 2 [potential or resource to command, control, or govern, capability, might, power] states, “Also of Satan’s power Ac 26:18.” It is also possible to translate this “the domain of Satan” (cf. BDAG 353 s.v. 6 [the sphere in which power is exercised, domain]) Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Ac 26:18). Biblical Studies Press.
(25) Reid, A. (2004). Daniel: Kingdoms in Conflict (P. Barnett, Ed.; p. 146). Aquila Press.
(26) Salerno, Jr., Donald A., (2010). Revelation Unsealed. Virtualbookworm.com Publish-ing, Inc.
(27) Got Questions Ministries. (2014–2021). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Vol. 2). Faithlife.
The first use of the number 7 in the Bible relates to the creation week in Genesis 1. God spends six days creating the heavens and the earth, and then rests on the seventh day. This is our template for the seven-day week, observed around the world to this day. The seventh day was to be “set apart” for Israel; the Sabbath was a holy day of rest (Deuteronomy 5:12). Thus, right at the start of the Bible, the number 7 is identified with something being “finished” or “complete.” From then on, that association continues, as 7 is often found in contexts involving completeness or divine perfection.
(##) For a higher number reference, see: The Feasts of Israel – Passover (1) references