Revelation 17

Revelation 17 begins a two chapter discussion on the fall of Babylon, a place mentioned 287 times in scripture, second only to Jerusalem.  Babylon was a literal city on the Euphrates River and was hostile toward God.  In general terms, the name Babylon is associated with organized idolatry, blasphemy and the persecution of God’s people.  It’s concept is far beyond a city or place, but throughout history has been presented as the world system that is opposed to God.  It is beyond a religious movement and includes economic and commercial aspects as well.

This chapter begins the prophecy of the fall of Babylon.  I won’t try to interpret what John writes here in detail.  Guzik writes “As a religious system, Babylon came into being long before Christianity, but in Satanic imitation it anticipated the coming true Messiah. According to religious history and legend, the Babylonian religion was founded by the wife of Nimrod (a great-grandson of Noah), named Semiramis. She was a high priestess of idol worship, and she gave birth to a son who she claimed was conceived miraculously. The son, named Tammuz, was considered a savior. It was also said that Tammuz was killed by a wild beast and then miraculously brought back to life. Baal was the local, Canaanite name for the Babylonian Tammuz”.

John is carried away in the spirit to see the future.  “And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come”.  Deceit will continue to be a big part of the activity during the end times.  The enemy will not only cause people to believe what is not true, but will have the power to cause people to come together in ways that are unexpected, with those who were enemies now becoming part of the same team.  “These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast”.

He will unify them against Christ.  Whatever their exact identity, their actions are clear. They ally with the Antichrist in the war against Christ.  “They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful”.  There will be a unified front against the King of Kings.  But even this is done under God’s plan.  “God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled”.  And the best news of all – we know who wins!  No matter who comes against Christ, it won’t matter.  Jesus wins!


Revelation 16

Revelation 16 has John seeing the bowl judgments begin.  “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God”.  Here are the seven bowls of wrath:

Bowl # Poured out where? Result
1 Earth Harmful and painful sores
2 Sea Turned to blood
3 Rivers and Springs Turned to blood
4 Sun Scorched people with fire
5 Throne of the Beast Plunged into darkness
6 Great River Euphrates Dried up
7 Air Lightning, thunder, earthquake, hail

Party time will be over and there will be some serious God wrath in those end time days.  God’s been patient and has held back His wrath, but on that day it will flow.

In the middle of the wrath being poured out, these words are spoken by an angel.  “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve”! It is completely fitting that those who delighted in shedding the blood of the saints should now be forced to drink “blood.” They have refused the Living Water, and now will be given the water of death.  There is a price to pay for sin and how we choose to live.  God is a fair and righteous judge.

Not only is God’s justice fair, it is also pure and appropriate. There is no “vigilante justice” with God.  God’s wrath continues to flow after the angel makes it clear about God’s judgments.  Walvoord wrote “The wishful thinking of some that men would repent if they only knew the power and righteous judgment of God is shattered by frequent mention in this chapter of the hardness of the human heart in the face of the most stringent and evident divine discipline.”  God has given each of us plenty of opportunity to turn from our wicked ways and repent and come to Him.  He sent Jesus to make that as easy as possible.  But we have to overcome our hard hearts if that is to happen.

Before the final bowl is poured out, we see the enemies of God escaping to make one last effort to defeat Him.  “And I saw, coming out of the mouth of  the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like  frogs. For they are demonic spirits,  performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle”.  They will gather the nations to do battle with God.  But Scripture makes it clear who wins that battle: “on the great day of God the Almighty”.  The winner of this battle is apparent. It is the great day of God, not the great day of man, not the great day of the Antichrist, not the great day of the dragon.  Our side wins!  Hallelujah!

Revelation 15

Revelation 15 has John giving us a preview to the seven bowl judgments which God has prepared to end it all.  “Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished”.  But before those are released, there is a sight of victory.  “And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands”.

The beast is dead and God has prevailed.  These seven last plagues are God’s judgment on a disobedient and contrary world.  But before those plagues are loosed, there is a time of worship and adoration.  “And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,  Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed”.  God is worthy of our praise, now and at the time of the end.  He is mights and worthy of our praise.

Then come the angels with the seven plagues.  “After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues”.  These angels bring God’s judgment. It is significant that they come directly from the sanctuary, from the presence and throne of God. They do not act on their own authority, but God’s.  This is His plan and this happens based on His plan and authority.  The angels serve at His hand.

And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished”.  God equips them with the wrath that will end everything.  And the fact that no one can enter the sanctuary until it is finished declares that judgment is now irreversible. Nothing can hinder it any more, because access to this temple in heaven will not long be denied.

Revelation 14

Revelation 14 has John telling of God’s victory and the beast’s defeat. “Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him  144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads”. Since they stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb, it shows that they emerge victorious from the great tribulation. The beast of Revelation 13 certainly has not defeated the 144,000; here they are triumphant, worshipping, and standing firm with Jesus.  That’s the good news of Revelation – we know that Jesus Christ is victorious and with Him all who are His!

John describes an angel who flies around proclaiming the gospel.  The angel preaches the gospel, but also announces judgment, and tells the people everywhere to Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water”.  This is how we all should see God.  He is Creator, Judge, and worthy of our praise.  He has made all things and is in charge of all things and will judge all things and before Him all of us will stand and give account.

How we live on earth matters.  “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus”. The endurance and work of the saints is remembered in heaven. Our work for the Lord goes with us into heaven, giving dignity and significance to all work here below.  God is paying attention.  Our works will not go unnoticed.  If we live in obedience and serve the Lord faithfully, there will be a reward.  God is watching how we live and how we live out our faith in Christ.

John finishes the chapter by describing the “harvest of the earth” by to angels with sickles who cut away and reap.  The scene is powerful and complete as all the earth is cut down.  It is a vivid, powerful description that shows how complete the judgment of God is.  Nothing will be overlooked or left untouched.  God will reap those who have real faith in Christ.  This is when true believers will be separated from those who merely go to church – at the final harvest.  We will all stand before Him some day.  It won’t matter our church affiliation.  All that matters is whether or not we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  That is the only factor that will determine where we end up!

Revelation 13

Revelation 13 has John giving us a picture of the two beasts with his primary focus on what happens on earth.  He spent most of the previous chapter focused on heaven, but now he gives attention to the beast “rising out of the sea” and it’s 42 month reign on the earth.  The beast is often equated to Satan and this likeness to Satan is just one of the things that identifies this beast with the one popularly known as the Antichrist. Guzik says ‘The Antichrist is the “opposite Jesus”; he is the “instead of” Jesus.  He will look wonderful, be charming and successful. He will be the ultimate winner, and appear as an angel of light. In this sense the Antichrist will be a satanic messiah, instead of the true Messiah Jesus Christ.’

The beast has much destruction and deceit to pour out upon the earth.  “It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven”.  “Blasphemer” may be a more accurate title than “Antichrist” for this end-times dictator. As much as anything, this beast is a man who speaks against God and everything God stands for.  Not only does he blaspheme God, but also he speaks against those who were taken in the rapture, and are therefore out of his reach.  His lips are filled with vile deceit and attacks.

But the beast is full of more than mere words.  “Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain”.  The beast is able to pour out persecution during the tribulation period. He can’t overcome the faith of the saints, but he can destroy their physical lives.

The tribulation will be a difficult time for those who experience it.  The beast will work to “deceive those who dwell on earth”.  This final world dictator will demand and receive worship from the whole earth from all who are not saved.  As John wraps the chapter, he gives us one ultimate piece of information about this second beast.  “This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666”.  There are dozens of opinions as to who this man is.  But instead of obsessing with fear and interest about the number of the Antichrist – how much more appropriate is it for Christians to be interested in the genuine and only Savior, Jesus Christ.

Revelation 12

In Revelation 12, John begins to introduce the main characters of the Great Tribulation.  According to Guzik, here are the key characters we’ll see in the next few chapters:

  • The woman, representing Israel
  • The dragon, representing Satan
  • The man-child, referring to Jesus
  • The angel Michael, head of the angelic host
  • The offspring of the woman, representing Gentiles who come to faith in the Tribulation
  • The beast out of the sea, representing the antichrist
  • The beast out of the earth, representing the false prophet who promotes the antichrist

This is the first of seven signs that John reveals that will describe the outcome of the Great Tribulation.

The woman faces an enemy who is out to destroy all things related to God.  The dragon has great power and claims royal authority. The crowns represent his presumptive claims of royal authority against the true King.  The end times are definitely a battle between good and evil.  The enemy makes one last attempt to push God off His throne.  And less we be unclear, Satan is “the deceiver of the whole world”. He not only has much power, but his number one quality is that of deceit and lies.  He’ll come up short, but the battle is real today and will be real in those days too.

The good news is that John gives us the rest of the story and we get to see the end before it happens – “he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him”.  We know the end of the book and God wins.  And it isn’t even close.  “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God”.  The enemy will accuse and try to derail Christ Followers in their walk, but God has won and we are on the winning side.  He’ll end it all once and for all!

John talks about the victory over evil – “they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death”.  Satan’s work of accusing only ends here, when he is cast out from his access to heaven. Today, we have an intercessor and advocate in Jesus Christ, who sits on the throne at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us.  So what are we to do given this truth?  “Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them”!  We have much to be grateful for and should rejoice and let the world know that Jesus reigns!

Revelation 11

In Revelation 11 John is ordered to measure the temple, the altar and its worshippers. The idea of measuring communicates ownership, protection, and preservation and demonstrates that God is in control.  The earth and all that is in it belongs to Him.  John is told that the holy city (Jerusalem) will be tread underfoot for a period of forty-two months, which equals 1260 days (three and one-half years). This “trampling” by Gentiles probably takes place in the last half of the final seven year period described by Daniel – when the Antichrist pours out his fury on the people of Israel.

John is told by God that “I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy”. This introduces two of the more interesting characters of Revelation, the two witnesses. The character of their ministry is prophetic and they preach and demonstrate repentance and have an effective ministry.  The world around them is not very receptive overall, but they endure and do their work for 3.5 years.  God’s heart is to reach all people, even when his messengers are disliked and mistreated.

The two witnesses have special protection from God and have the power to bring both drought and plague.  They are empowered by God.  The two witnesses are killed by the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit, most likely Satan himself, but their ministry is not cut short. They fully accomplish their task and achieve all that God set forth for them to do.  “And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city”.

But after the three and a half days  a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them”. As this happens before the eyes of the watching world, the enemies of these two witnesses are horrified and astonished.  They had mistreated and killed them, but now they have risen again.  Then the seventh trumpet finally sounds and they pronounce: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of  his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever”.  The worshippers break out and praise God for his victory over all.

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