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REVELATION 12 - 16

THE UNVEILING OF THE GLORIFIED JESUS CHRIST
AND THE END OF THE AGE

by LARRY CORY

 

A SUMMARY OF THE MESSAGE OF
REVELATION

 

Introduction (1:1-8)

What you have seen - The Glorified Christ (1:9-20)

What is now - the church age (2-3)

What will take place later - the last days (4-22)

1. A look into Heaven (4)

2. The Lamb who is worthy (5)

3. The Seven Seals (6:1-8:1)

4. The Seven Trumpets (8:2-11:19)

5. The events that lead to God's Judgment of the earth #1 (12-14)

6. The Seven Bowls (15-16)

7. The events that lead to God's judgment #2 (17:1-19:5)

8. The Wedding Supper of the Lamb (19:6-10)

9. The Second Coming (19:11-21)

10. The Millennium (20:1-10)

11.  The Great White Throne Judgment (20:11-15)

12. Heaven (21-22)

 

INTRODUCTORY INFORMATION ABOUT REVELATION

1. The author: Four times in the book of Revelation, the author identifies himself as being named John (1:1, 1:4, 1:9, and 22:8).  The early church leaders in the period immediately following the time of the Apostles wrote that it was John the Apostle who was the author of the book of Revelation.  There is also early church evidence that the Apostle John, like the John of Revelation, was imprisoned for a period of time on the Isle of Patmos during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian.  So, the evidence is strong that John the Apostle was the author of the book of Revelation.

2. The date:  Most evangelical scholars believe that Revelation was written in 95 AD, one year before Domitian died in A.D. 96

3. The recipients:  The book was written to "the seven churches in the province of Asia."  Because the number seven is used symbolically as a number of completeness throughout the book of Revelation, we can safely conclude that the book of Revelation was written to the complete church throughout the ages.  "Hence the number used fifty-four times, more than any other number in the book, refers to seven literal churches in the opening chapter.  Yet by the very usage of this number (which speaks of completion or perfection) the concept is conveyed that these were representative churches which in some sense were complete in their description of the normal needs of the church.  There were not only seven churches but seven lampstands, seven stars, seven spirits of God, seven seals on the scroll, seven angels with seven trumpets, seven vials or bowls containing seven plagues, seven thunders, 7,000 killed in the earthquake of chapter 12, a dragon with seven heads and seven crowns, the beast of chapter 13 with seven heads, seven mountains of chapter 17, and the seven kings."  "Taken from The Revelation John F. Walvoord.  Copyright 1966 by Moody Press."

4. The apocalyptic symbolism of the book of Revelation:  The first word in the book of Revelation is the Greek word "Apokalypsis."  In English it means uncovering, exposing, or unveiling.  Apocalyptic literature is a form of literature that was used during times when the enemies of God were in charge and when it appeared that they would prevail.  It, in a very dramatic way, unveils or uncovers the reality that in the end, God and His forces will overwhelmingly triumph.  The book of Revelation was written primarily using this literary form.  The books of Daniel and Zechariah, as well as parts of some other books in the Bible (Joel, Amos, Matthew 24,25, I Thessalonians 4:13-5:11) were apocalyptic.  Also, there were books outside of the Bible that used this apocalyptic method of communicating God's ultimate victory. 

The following are some of the characteristics of apocalyptic literature.  The setting of this literature is the whole world or the whole universe.  So, the stage is quite large.  The cast are the main figures in the universe: God, Satan, the angels, and all the peoples of the earth.  The plot is the struggle between God and holiness versus Satan and evil.  The books end with the total victory of God and good over Satan and evil.  The plot takes us from the present struggle between good and evil, where it appears that evil is invincible, to the dramatic and total victory of God over evil.  A primary characteristic of apocalyptic literature was the use of huge symbolic figures to describe the primary characters and the primary forces involved in this universal struggle.  Examples of these symbols are the horrible beasts in the book of Daniel; and the "enormous dragon with seven heads," "Mystery Babylon" the "great prostitute," and the description of the glorified Jesus Christ in the book of Revelation.  It is possible that these symbols were used as a sort of mysterious code so that the Romans and other nations in power over the Jews would not be able to understand that the apocalyptic books were describing them as beasts and dragons who would inevitably be totally conquered by the God of the Jews and the Christians.

The book of Revelation is filled with apocalyptical symbolism.  The following quotes provide some guidelines for interpreting these symbols.  "To be thoroughly literal we would have to insist that a literal (actual) woman sat literally upon seven literal hills! That Jesus Christ has a literal sword coming out of his mouth! and that beasts can act and talk like men!....Every effort must be made to discover whether the symbol had any meaning in the culture of the writer....With special reference to the book of Revelation the Old Testament must be searched thoroughly for every possible clue to the symbols that were used."  "Taken from Protestant Biblical interpretation by Bernard Ramm.  Copyright 1956 by Baker Book House."  "Make sure that your interpretation of such imagery would be entirely clear to the original author.  In evaluating commentaries in this regard note how far the commentator has been able to enter into the thought of the original writer.  When a commentator fills apocalyptic imagery with his own ideas he disqualifies himself as a true interpreter."  "Taken from Interpreting the Bible by A. Berkeley Mickelson.  Copyright 1963 by Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company."

Often, the symbols can be interpreted by looking at their meaning within the book of Revelation.  Secondly, we can often use the Old Testament and particularly the book of Daniel to interpret these symbols.  Finally, the use of the symbols in other apocalyptic literature of the time can be helpful in the interpretation of the symbols in the book of Revelation.  In short, a knowledge of the whole Bible and its overall themes help us to interpret the symbolism in this the last book of the Bible.  We need to have done a thorough reading of the whole Bible before we can understand the final chapter of the Bible.

 

THE MESSAGE OF REVELATION

In chapters twelve through sixteen of the book of Revelation you will find many more significant symbols such as a woman who is about to give birth, an enormous red dragon, two beasts, the 144,000 are mentioned again, a great end time harvest, and the seven bowls of wrath.  What are the meanings of these symbols?  What do they tell us about what will precede the very last chapters of life as we have known it?  What will occur in the days just preceding Jesus' final return?

5. The events that lead to God's judgment of the earth (12-14)

a. The woman and the dragon-the battle that leads to God's judgment (12)

The book of Revelation is written in a literary form called apocalyptic literature.  It is different from other literary forms in the following ways:  In most literature, the setting is some part of the world.  It may take place in a city or even a country.  The setting for apocalyptic literature is the whole world or even the whole universe.  The book of Revelation describes international, universal, and eternal events.  Also, apocalyptic literature uses figures of speech and symbols to capture these universal and eternal events.

In this chapter, there will be a woman.  It is my belief that this woman represents a whole nation-not just a nation in one period of time, but a nation over a period of time.  A dragon symbolizes a being from outside our world.  If we do not understand the apocalyptic nature of the book of Revelation with its world-wide and universe-wide stage, and with its symbols that represent the key players on this universal stage, we will not understand the book of Revelation.  In this case, we will not understand the twelfth chapter of Revelation.

In the twelfth chapter of Revelation, we are introduced to a woman, a dragon, and the Archangel Michael.  In this chapter we learn about a great battle that has been going on throughout time.  There is no better place to learn of this battle than in Revelation chapter twelve.

"A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.  She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.  Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.  His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.  The dragon stood in the front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.  She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.  And her child was snatched up to God and to the throne.  The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1260 days."

Thought Question #1:  What do you believe is the meaning of the symbolism in these verses? (the woman? the Dragon?  the Dragon stood in front of the woman..? iron scepter? snatched up to God?)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What is the meaning of the dragon's tail sweeping a "third of the stars out of the sky" and flinging them to earth?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  Now, what do all these symbolisms mean when they are all put together?

 

 

(1) The woman (12:1-2)

"A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven:  A woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.  She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth."  Who is this woman?  Or, what does this woman symbolize?  The Roman Catholic Church believes that the woman is Mary:  "The church of Rome has maintained that she represents the virgin Mary.  In 1678 the Spanish artist Murillo created his famous painting 'Mystery of the Immaculate Conception,' a painting of the 'woman clothed with the sun.' "  "Taken from Revelation by Tim LaHaye.  Copyright 1975 by Zondervan Publishing House. "  But, in verse six, John writes that "the woman fled into the desert . . . for 1260 days."  Because there is nothing in the Bible about Mary fleeing into the desert for 1260 days (3 ½ years - 12:14), it is very unlikely that the woman is Mary.  Also, the other mention of 1260 days in the book of Revelation is clearly about a 3 ½ year period in the last days.  If the two references to 1260 days both refer to the same period of time, the 1260 days could not be referring to anything that took place during Mary's lifetime.  See Revelation 11:3,4

Others say she is the church.  But, we will see that this woman gives birth to Jesus Christ.  Jesus gave birth to the church; the church did not give birth to Jesus Christ.  So, this woman cannot be the church.

Who, then, is this woman that gives birth to Jesus Christ if she is not Mary or the church?  The symbols - the sun, moon, and stars are symbols of the nation of Israel.  In Genesis 37:9-11, we read that Joseph the son of Jacob (whose name was changed to "Israel") had a dream in which the sun and the moon are symbols of his father and mother, and the stars symbolize his brothers.  So, there is good reason for believing that the sun, moon, and stars do symbolize the nation of Israel.  And the nation of Israel did give birth to a very significant child---Israel gave birth to Jesus Christ.

The woman symbolizes, then, not just the nation of Israel at one point in time, but the woman symbolizes the nation of Israel beginning with her birth, continuing through Jesus' birth, and continuing on to Israel in the very last days.  It is typical of apocalyptic literature to use symbols to capture things which are larger than life, such as this woman that symbolizes a nation throughout time.

The fact that she is pictured in heaven, clothed with the sun, moon, and stars, tells us that she is more than just a single human being.  Israel, the woman of this chapter, is a key player in God's great plan for the earth and for mankind.  As we can see, the symbolism in Revelation goes beyond describing individuals, one locale, or even one time period, but it describes the key players (nations throughout time, Satan, angels, Jesus Christ, and God) in a universal and eternal drama.

(2) The Dragon (12:3-4)

"Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads.  His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.  The dragon stood in the front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born."  What or who is the dragon?  Revelation 12:9 will tell us that the dragon is the ancient serpent in the Garden of Eden.

What is meant by the seven heads and ten horns?  We will discover as we continue in Revelation that the heads and the horns are a picture of an empire that Satan will indwell and rule.  Since other chapters in the book of Revelation go into this subject in more detail, we will postpone the discussion of the meaning of the seven heads and ten horns until we come to those chapters in the book of Revelation (ten horns - chapter 13, seven heads - chapter 17).

What is meant by his tail sweeping "a third of the stars out of the sky"?  There are primarily two different answers usually given to this question.  Some say that it describes Satan and the Antichrist murdering Jewish leaders or Jewish people.  In other words, it is predicting that Satan through the Antichrist and his followers will kill 1/3 of the Jewish people.  In Daniel 8:10, Daniel describes the rise of the Antichrist:  "It grew until it reached the host of heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them."  The "starry host" that Daniel is talking about are clearly God's people, the Jews.  It could be that the book of Revelation is saying that the Antichrist will kill 1/3 of the Jewish people when it says that the Dragon will sweep a third of the stars out of the sky.

Another interpretation that is commonly given for these verses is that this is a picture of Satan dragging 1/3 of the angels down with him when he rebelled against God.  These verses, then, would be the only description in the Bible of the fall and the origin of demons and evil spirits.

It is difficult to choose between these two interpretations.  A good argument can be made for each of them.  The first interpretation appears to be the most likely because it is based on Daniel's interpretation of the starry host as the Jewish people.  Daniel and Revelation are both apocalyptic books and there are many parallels between these two books.  But if we accept this interpretation, we are left without one verse in the Bible explaining the origin of the fallen angels.  Also, in Job 38:7, angels are referred to as "stars."

Which interpretation is correct?  I lean toward the second interpretation because John goes on in the following verses and talks about an angelic war in heaven between Satan and his angels and Michael and his angels.  This verse, then, would explain how Satan's angels became his angels.

What about the dragon being red in color?  We have only these verses to determine why the dragon is red.  One possibility is that he is red because red is the color of blood.  Jesus says of the Devil that "he was a murderer from the beginning."  (John 8:44)

What is meant by the dragon standing in front of the "woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her."  In Genesis 3:15, we read of the first prediction of the birth of Jesus Christ from a woman:  "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel."  Throughout the Bible, we read about Satan seeking to prevent the birth of this Promised Child.  Satan was in Cain when Cain killed his brother Abel.  The Devil apparently thought that the Promised Child would come through the line of Abel and, so, he whom Jesus said was a murderer from the beginning sought to eliminate Abel's line by killing him!  Satan was in the Pharaoh when the Pharaoh attempted to kill all of the boy babies born to Jewish women.  Satan was in the evil Haman during the time of Esther, when Haman plotted to kill all of the Jews.  Satan was in Herod when Herod attempted to kill all the boy babies two years and younger.  Satan found the right man to seek to devour Jesus, for Herod was insanely jealous.  He even killed most of his own family to protect his throne.

(3) The Son (12:5)

Who is the child?  It clearly is Jesus Christ.  "She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.  And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne."  Psalm 2:9 is a prediction of the Messiah:  "You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery."  Revelation 19:15 confirms that the prediction of the Messiah in Psalm 2:9 was fulfilled by Jesus Christ:  "Out of his mouth comes a short sword with which to strike down the nations.  He will rule them with an iron scepter."  The one who will rule with an iron scepter is Jesus Christ who will one day come riding on a white horse (Revelation 19:11). He is the King of Kings (Revelation 19:16).  In Acts 1:9, Jesus was "snatched up" up to heaven, right before the disciples' eyes.  The Scriptures are clear: the child who is born to this woman is Jesus Christ!

(4) The woman flees into the desert (12:6)

"The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1260 days."  The last seven year period predicted in Daniel 9:27 can be divided into two equal halves of  3 ½ years each.  It is unlikely that the woman will flee during the first 3 ½ years when there will be a time of peace due to "a covenant with the many" (Daniel 9:27) which will end in the middle of the seven years.  It is very much more likely that the people of Israel will flee into the desert during the last 3 ½ years when the Antichrist will be ruling and when he will be seeking to kill all of God's people.  1260 days equals 3 ½ years (there were 30 day months in Israel at that time, 12 x 30 = 360 x 3.5 = 1260 days)  We will see later why she (Israel) will flee into the desert.

(5) War in Heaven (12:7-9)

The picture shifts from the woman on earth to a battle in Heaven.  John describes a battle that will occur in the future (John' future and our future):  "And there was war in heaven.  Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.  But, he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.  The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.  He was hurled to earth, and his angels with him."

Thought Question #1:  When do you believe this will take place?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What is the significance of this battle in Heaven?  (Why does it take place when it does?  What is its place in God's plan of the ages?)

 

 

We can read about the archangel Michael in the book of Daniel.  He is one of the chief princes of the angels.  See Daniel 10:13  He is also the angel who protects Israel See Daniel 10:12,13,21, 12:1  See also Jude 9  We see in these verses that at least in one situation, Michael is the commander and chief of God's army of angels.  It sounds odd to us that Satan, who is the very personification of evil, could have access to Heaven and to God.  But, these verses reveal to us that up to this time at the middle of what is called the seven-year tribulation period, Satan will have been in Heaven.  In the tenth verse of this chapter, we learn that Satan accuses Christians before God night and day.  In Job 1:6-12, we see Satan standing in the presence of God and saying to God that Job will curse Him if anything bad happens to him (Job).  See also Job 2:1-6 and Zechariah 3:1-2.   The Greek word for Devil is "diabolos" which means "slanderer."  See John 13:27 and Luke 22:31 for other insights into Satan's methods of battling against the saints.  See Jude 9 for another example of Michael's warfare against Satan.

(6) Rejoicing in Heaven (12:10-12)

"Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:  'Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.  For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.  They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.  Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!  But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you!  He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.'"

Thought Question #1:  What do these verses tell us about how we can be victorious over Satan?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do these verses tell us about what Satan is doing right now? See also I John 2:1,2 and Zechariah 3

 

 

In these verses we learn much about the battle that is going on in Heaven.  We also learn how we are able to be victorious in this spiritual war in the invisible realm.  John presents three ways by which we are able to overcome our adversary in the heavenlies:  1) According to these verses, Satan is right now accusing us day and night.  How can we who fail and sin in so many ways be victorious over his constant accusations?  There is only one way we can stand against Satan's constant attacks on our sinfulness.  It is only because of the blood of Jesus Christ, "the blood of the Lamb," that paid for each one of our sins, that makes it possible for us to be victorious when Satan accuses us of our many sins.  Each time we sin, we can immediately confess or admit our sin.  Then, we can agree with God that Jesus' blood has already paid for the penalty that we deserve for that sin.  Satan can accuse us now, but we can defeat him each time by knowing that though he may be completely right about our sin, Jesus completely paid the penalty of that sin.  We then "overcame him by the blood of the Lamb." See also Zechariah 3:1-5 and I John 1:9-2:2

2) We are able to be victorious over Satan through our Christian witnessing.  One of Satan's main methods of warfare is his lies and deceptions.  We combat his lies with God's truth.  Can darkness conquer a light bulb?  No, one small light bulb is able to overcome the darkness.  So, in the very same way, our words of truth conquer Satan's lies.  Men may not listen to the truth, for as Paul says in II Corinthians 4:1-4, Satan blinds men to the truth.  Nevertheless, Paul's proclamation of the truth and our testimony to who God is and what He has done for us shines forth the truth, no matter how darkened the world has become.  Men can shut their eyes, but the light is still shining.  We overcome Satan by speaking forth the truth!

3) We can conquer Satan by not fearing him, and by continuing to obey God even if it costs us our lives.  "They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death."  When Jesus sent the twelve out on a missionary training time, He gave them these instructions:  "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell."  (Matthew 10:28)  Jesus is the Good Shepherd who was willing to lay His life down for the sheep.  See John 10:11-15  We are also victors over Satan's forces if we are willing to do the same.  Jesus told the church at Smyrna:  "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer, I tell you the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days.  Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life."  (Revelation 2:10)  Paul said that he would rather die, for then he would be with Jesus Christ.  See Philippians 1:21-26  If we do not fear Satan, but only fear God, we will be more than conquerors. 

How is Satan overcome?  We conquer his accusations by believing that the blood of Jesus Christ means that we have been forgiven for everything that Satan accuses us of.  We conquer his lies in our world through words of truth.  And we conquer Satan by not fearing death. 

These verses describe a time of victory and rejoicing for all of God's people.  All of these years that mankind has existed we have had a constant foe in Heaven.  Satan was the enemy of Adam and Eve, and he lured them away from God.  Satan was in Cain when he murdered Abel.  Satan was both Job's accuser and the destroyer of his family.  He has been the constant accuser of God's people through the ages.  His goal has been to eradicate God's people and God's ways from the earth.  But, God's people have not given in, and God's people and God's testimony have continued on the earth in spite of all of Satan's methods and attacks.  Here, in these verses, he is thrown out of Heaven.  No longer will he be God's Heavenly enemy.  And, so, it is a time of great rejoicing!

Because, John appears to be tying Satan's fall together with God's people overcoming him, it could be that our part in persevering and using God's weapons (prayer, for example), have in some way led to Michael's victory over Satan.

But, once he has been thrown out of Heaven, "woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you!  He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."  Satan will practice the "burnt earth" tactic that many retreating armies have used.  As they are retreating, those who are being conquered burn everything as they go, so that the conquering army will have won nothing but a lot of burnt earth.  So, in the last days, Satan will do as much damage as he can do, for he knows that it will not be very long before he will be imprisoned in a place of total darkness and despair.

(7) Protected in the wilderness (12:13-17)

"When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.  The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach.  Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent.  But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.  Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus."

Thought Question #1:  What is the meaning of the symbolism in these verses? ("two wings of a great eagle""serpent spewed water like a river"?)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What will it be like for believers and Jewish people during this time?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  How do you believe "the woman" will be rescued from Satan?

 

 

In these verses we learn that even in these last days, Satan will not be able to do all that he wants to do.  Jesus warned the people in Judea to flee to the mountains when they see the Antichrist taking over Jerusalem and declaring that he, not God, is be worshiped in Jerusalem.  This blasphemy is called the "abomination that causes desolation." See Matthew 24:15-22  At the beginning of Satan's fury on the earth, those who still believe in God are warned to run!  The believing Jews (the Jews for Jesus of their time) will flee into the mountains and the desert. 

"When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.  The woman was given two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach."  Satan sends his armies after them, but God protects them.  "Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent.  But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth."  In Jeremiah 46:7-8 and 47:2-3 rivers and waters are used to describe the movement of armies:  "Egypt rises like the Nile." and, referring to the armies of Babylon, "See how the waters are rising in the north."  A river overflowing its banks is an excellent way of describing a country overflowing its boundaries and going forth to overflow other countries. 

Satan will send forth his armies to flow after the escaping Jews with the intent of overflowing them and completely conquering these rebels.  But, God will protect them in a similar way to the way that He protected Moses and Israel as they were chased by Pharaoh's army.  God will use a miraculous natural disaster to protect them from the armies of the Antichrist.  Moses and Israel were protected from Pharaoh's armies when God opened up the Red Sea and allowed them to pass through it on dry ground; then they were protected once again when the Red Sea collapsed on the pursuing Egyptian armies.  The fleeing Israelites in the future will be protected by God when the earth will open "its mouth" and swallow up the armies of the Antichrist.

Will Satan and his Antichrist be able to kill all who are opposed to Him?  These verses tell us that there will be some believers who will survive his holocaust.  We should not be surprised, though, that there will be those who will survive Satan's day on earth, for there are many examples of those who have survived a murderous tyrant.  David survived Saul chasing him and seeking to kill him in the wildernesses of Israel and the surrounding countries.  There were Jews who survived Hitler's attempt to kill all of their people in Germany and the countries he conquered.  The people of Afghanistan were able to survive when the mighty U.S.S.R. tried to conquer them. 

Some believe that "Petra," a city, located in modern-day Jordan that is carved out of rock and is protected by the mountains and canyons that surround it, will be the place that the Jewish believers will run to and be protected by God. See Isaiah 26:20; Zechariah 13:7-9, 14:1-5  "Sela" in Isaiah 16:1-4 is the "Petra" they are talking about.  It is interesting that in Daniel 11, where there is a description of the countries that the Antichrist will conquer, we are told that Jordan will not be conquered by the Antichrist: "Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab, and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand."  (Daniel 11:41)  These three ancient countries all fall within the borders of modern-day Jordan.  It is very likely that Jewish believers will run to Jordan for safety. 

There are two figures of speech in these verses that say that God Himself will intervene to protect the believing remnant of Israel: 1) "The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert."  In Exodus 19:4, God said these words to Moses and Israel in the wilderness:  "You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself."  Just as God gave Israel the ability to successfully flee from Egypt and the Pharaoh's armies, so God will give the fleeing Israelites in the last days the ability to flee from the Antichrist. 

2) "But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon has spewed out of his mouth."  This sounds like an earthquake.  So, one possibility is that Satan's forces will be prevented from killing the fleeing Jews because they will be forced to stop their pursuit by the breaking up of the earth beneath their feet.  Other possibilities for the meaning of the earth's mouth opening up are sandstorms or landslides. God did use an earthquake to swallow up a group that was rebelling against Moses:  "the ground under them split apart and the earth opened up its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah's men and all their possessions.  They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community."  (Numbers 16:31-33)  These verses tell us that God will once again use an earthquake or something like it to protect His people from Satan's armies.

"Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus."  Satan has hated God's people since the beginning of time.  God has prevented him from venting his full fury on those he hates.  But, he has never quit seeking to murder God's people.  In these last days, he will not be able to kill those who flee into the desert, but that will not stop him from seeking to kill as many of God's people as he can brutally annihilate.  The violence and murders that take place during the reign of the Antichrist will surpass Hitler's holocaust and the killing fields of Cambodia:  "For there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again.  If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive . . ."  (Matthew 24:21-22)

b. The two beasts (13)

We have come to one of the most interesting chapters in the entire Bible.  This chapter is about the two most Satan-empowered men of all time: the Antichrist and the False Prophet.  These two men will appear and be on earth just before Jesus returns.  This is such an interesting subject that Hal Lindsay's book on this subject, The Late Great Planet Earth was at one time the nation's best-selling book.

Why does God tell us about these two Satan-filled men?  What value has there been for past generations to have known about them?  For one thing it helped them and us to see that the world is not getting better and better, nor will it ever get better and better.  Learning about these two demonic world leaders of the future helps us to see that instead of mankind evolving upward, man is devolving downwards. ("The Ascent of Man" is a film series that presents our intellectual elite's view that man is ever climbing upwards)  Man's sin is so great and has always been so terminal, that only God and His transforming grace or God and His fiery judgment can cleanse us from its deep pollution.  The book of Revelation tells us that it will get much worse before it will get better.  In the last days, man will not worship the best - God; but they will worship the worst - Satan.  They will worship Satan in the flesh; they will worship the Antichrist!  This chapter describes what it will be like when men worship Satan as their god.  But, this chapter also describes for us the last days of Satan, what he will do and what will happen to him after he has been thrown to the earth.  It will be Satan at his worst and doing his worst.

"And the dragon stood on the shore of the sea.  And I saw a beast coming out of the sea.  He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.  The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion.  The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority.  One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed.  The whole world was astonished and followed the beast."

Thought Question #1:  What do you believe is the meaning of the symbolism used in these verses? ("beast coming out of the sea""ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each a blasphemous name"?  beast that "resembled a leopard, but feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion"? a "fatal wound had been healed"?)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do these symbolisms tell us about what is going to happen in the future and in the very last days before Jesus returns?

 

 

(1) The Beast (13:1-2)

In Revelation 13, pictures are used to symbolize what it will be like during the 3 ½ period when Satan will rule the earth through the Antichrist.  In these verses, Satan the Dragon is pictured as a beast that arises out of the water:  "And I saw a beast coming out of the sea.  He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.  The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion.  The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority."  This is what is ahead in the future: not a utopia, not a perfect world with all the problems solved, but a horrible, ugly, monstrously evil beast.  This is man's best!  Men think that man's world system is evolving upwards, getting better and better; but actually we are getting worse and worse, heading toward the time when this evil beast will rule the earth.

What is this beast that John describes with symbols?  We use symbols today also.  A "pig" is used to symbolize someone who eats too much.  A "rat" is used to symbolize someone who cannot be trusted.  The symbols used to describe the Antichrist and his evil kingdom tell a lot about him.

Let us look at the symbolism used in these two verses.  John describes the Antichrist and his kingdom as a beast.  What does a beast tell us about the Antichrist?  How would you like to be trapped in a cage with a leopard?  The early Christians were trapped in the Roman Coliseum and they were torn apart by wild beasts.  In Bombay, India, the urban sprawl has invaded what was once the wilderness area of the leopard.  The leopards continue hunting for food as always.  But, now their prey is humans.  The Antichrist who will one day rule the world will be like the beasts that killed those early Christians and like the leopards that kill humans in India.

What is meant by his being like these three beasts?  In Daniel seven, Daniel describes a dream given to him by God that predicts that the world will be conquered by a series of four beasts.  The first beast is a lion which symbolizes the Babylonian Empire.  The second beast is a bear which symbolizes the Medo-Persian Empire.  The third beast is a leopard which symbolizes the Greek empire begun by Alexander the Great.  The fourth beast has iron teeth and ten horns which represents the Roman Empire.  Since the Roman Empire has not been replaced by another empire, this last beast will be revived and once again rule over mankind in the last days.

These four beasts do represent the men who ruled, rule, and will rule these empires; but these four beasts also symbolize the four empires.  In Daniel two the four kingdoms are symbolized by a statue.  Nebuchadnezzar the ruler of the first empire is told he is the head of gold (Daniel 2:38).  Yet, it is clear that the four different metals in the statue also represent four empires (not just four emperors-the same four empires that the four beasts symbolize).

The beast described in these verses in Revelation thirteen is made up of all four of Daniel's beasts.  It could be that portions of each of these four beasts have continued in our society, and will also be present in Satan's final kingdom.  For example, this final kingdom could have the roar of a lion, the swiftness of a leopard, the power of a bear, and the heart of dragon.  One thing we can be certain about: the kingdom that these beasts symbolize will be the most terrifying empire that has ever ruled the earth.  It will be more frightening then Nazi Germany or Communist Russia.

Notice that Daniel who was looking forward in time, started with the lion, or the Babylonian empire; whereas, John who was looking backwards in time, starts with the leopard and goes backwards.

What is meant by this beast having ten horns with ten crowns on each of the ten horns?  We can safely say that Satan's final empire will be made up of ten kingdoms with ten rulers.  The horns symbolize power or authority; and each crown symbolizes a king who has this authority or power over a nation or a kingdom.  In Revelation 17:12-15 we will learn that these ten kingdoms "will give their power and authority over to the beast."  (17:13)

The ten horns are represented by ten toes in the statue in Daniel two.  So, these ten rulers will rule at the very end of the rule of the Gentiles.  See Daniel 2:41-45

Who are or what are the seven heads?  Since these seven heads will be described in detail in Revelation seventeen, a detailed discussion of this subject will be postponed until we come to that chapter. 

"Each head had a blasphemous name."  The "blasphemous" names could mean that these kingdoms may be founded on some false religious system or on atheistic humanism.  An example of a "blasphemous name" was the blasphemous practice of the Roman emperors who each declared themselves to be god.  These ten kingdoms will not be Christian, Christ-honoring kingdoms, but they will be Antichristian kingdoms who will in some way be defiantly blasphemous toward God.  It is no wonder that they "will give their power and authority over to the beast." (Revelation 17:13)

The beast will come "out of the sea."  To Israel, the sea was the Mediterranean Sea to the west of them.  This may mean that the Antichrist or the beast and his kingdom will rise from the Gentile nations to the west of Israel.  If this interpretation is correct, this beast will come from the nations of Europe and possibly Africa (the nations that border and surround the Mediterranean Sea).

(2) The resurrected Beast (13:3)

As Jesus Christ is God's answer to the greatest needs of man, so the Antichrist will be Satan's answer for the greatest wants of men.  The Antichrist will seek to duplicate the wonders that were performed by Jesus Christ.  The primary way that Jesus revealed that He is the eternal Son of God was His resurrection from the dead.  The primary way that Satan will get the world's attention is that he also will appear to rise from the dead:  "One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed."  See also 13:11-14

Some believe that there will be deception involved in this resurrection of the Antichrist, and that the beast will not actually rise from the dead.  Paul does predict that the Antichrist will perform counterfeit miracles:  "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders."  But the word that is used here for "wound" is the same word used for "slain" in Revelation 5:6:  "Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain."  So, the Antichrist could actually die and be raised from the dead by Satan.

So, it could be that the resurrection of the Antichrist will be Satan's crowning moment.  For like God, he will raise a man from the dead.  God raised Jesus from the dead; Satan will raise the Antichrist from the dead (or appear to raise him from the dead).  The world will then need to decide: Who will be their Lord, God or Satan?

John Walvoord does not interpret this verse as meaning that the Antichrist will be raised from the dead or even appear to be raised from the dead.  He believes that this verse is teaching about the Roman empire being resurrected in the last days. 

There are also those who believe that this verse teaches that some historical person such as Nero, Judas Iscariot, or Hitler will be raised from the dead.  For example, Robert Van Kampen believes that the Antichrist will be the resurrected Adolph Hitler.

In Revelation 17:9-11 we learn that the seven heads are both seven hills and seven kings.  The beast is an eighth king.  But, he also is one of the seven kings.  These kings can both be interpreted as being seven empires and as being seven kings.  So, the head that dies and comes back to life can be either an empire or a person who is a king or ruler over an empire.  As was mentioned earlier, we will discuss these seven heads in greater detail when we get to chapter seventeen.

Tim LaHaye presents a very likely interpretation of this verse:  "Some Bible teachers suggest that when chapter 13 is compared to chapter 12, when Satan is cast out of heaven in the middle of the Tribulation period, it appears that Satan will actually indwell the body of the Antichrist.  This would account for the Antichrist's resurrection.  Thus during the first three-and-a-half years of the Tribulation the Antichrist will be merely a man endowed with Satanic powers, but during the last three-and-a-half years he will actually be Satan himself clothed with Antichrist's body."  "Taken from Revelation by Tim LaHaye.  Copyright 1973 by Zondervan Publishing House."

(3) The world chooses the beast (13:4-8)

"Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked who is like the beast?  Who can make war with him?  The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise authority for forty-two months.  He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.  He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them.  And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.  All the inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world."

Thought Question:  What do these verses tell us about what it will be like in the last days?

 

 

"Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast and they also worshiped the beast and asked who is like the beast?  Who can make war with him?  The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise authority for forty-two months.  He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven."  Men will voice their worship of the Antichrist at the same time that the Antichrist will be voicing his blasphemies toward God!  Here, we see what is in man's heart.  Man saw God in the form of a man.  What did they do?  They murdered Him!  Man will see Satan in the form of a man.  What will they do?  They will worship him!  It was Satan's desire from the beginning to be worshiped:  "I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."  (Isaiah 14:14)

When Jesus was on the cross they slandered and mocked Him.  When Satan comes in the flesh, they will worship the one who slanders and mocks God.  We hear men use God's name as a curse word.  In the last days, they will worship the one who is like them.  They will worship the chief of blasphemers!

"He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them.  And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.  All the inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world."  The beast is given power to defeat believers.  Satan cannot attack God directly, so he turns his hatred of God against God's people, both those who believe in Jesus Christ and against the Jewish people.  In the last days, God will allow him to have his way for a short time.  See Daniel 7:23 

There was a man in history who is a picture for us of what the Antichrist will be like.  His name was Antioches Epiphanes.  He was a ruler over a division of what had once been the Greek empire of Alexander the Great.  Antioches ruled over the region that included Israel, and he was the ruler over Israel and her people.  Antioches hated the God of Israel and tried to force them to worship the Greek gods.  Many of the Jews gave in to his pressures, and became Greeks in their practices and their worship.  Antioches massacred the Jews who continued to worship the God of Israel.  Antioches set up the worship of Zeus in the Holy of Holies in the Temple.  This was Antioches' version of the Abomination of Desolation.  The Antichrist will also set up the worship of himself in the Holy of Holies.

In the last days, Satan's man will follow the pattern of Antioches; but he will not rule and be worshiped in a small region of the world, he will demand that people from every nation and language worship him.  And for a while he will rule the whole world:  "every tribe, people, language and nation."  That sounds like the whole world to me.

When the world worships the Antichrist, who will they actually be worshiping?  The whole world will be worshiping Satan himself.  To the world at that time Satan will be like God.  Men will adore him and say, "Who is like the beast?  Who can make war against him?"

Everyone will worship him except those whose name is written in the Lamb's book of life.  Just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to fall down and worshp Nebuchadnezzar's statue in the time of Daniel (See Daniel 3), so there will be faithful men and women of God in the last days who will refuse to worship the Antichrist.

What is the "book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world" that is talked about in verse eight?  Tim LaHaye has this to say about that book:  "The book of life contains the names of the living.  It is God's book of anticipation.  That is, whenever a human being is born, God writes his name in that book, if he dies without receiving Christ (Revelation 3:5), his name is blotted out of the book so that in eternity the only people whose names remain in the Book of Life are those who have received Christ by faith while they lived.  The Lamb's Book of Life is a different matter! …..The Lamb's Book of Life includes only those who have come to the Lamb."  "Taken from Revelation by Tim LaHaye.  Copyright 1973 by Zondervan Publishers House.  Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House."

(4) The saints will need to patiently endure the time of the beast

(13:9-10)
"He who has an ear, let him hear.  If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go.  If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed.  This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints."

Thought Question:  Why do you believe God allows His people to go through horrible suffering and even death?

 

 

What God predicts will happen, will happen!  And it will happen even to believers.  Believers in the past have been murdered.  John the Baptist was beheaded (Matt 14:1-12), James the Apostle was killed by a sword (Acts 12:2), and believers will be killed during the last days:  "If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go.  If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed."  See Jeremiah 15:2 and Matthew 26:52

What will this call for from believers in the last days?  "This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints."  The message to us is that there are some things that God has willed to happen that we would will not to happen.  It is difficult to understand why Jesus Christ allowed John the Baptist to be killed.  It is difficult to understand why James the Apostle was killed while he was imprisoned and Peter was rescued from prison by an angel.  There are many things that happen to us that are unpleasant for us, and even very difficult for us.  Ray Stedman, well-known Christian leader, talked to me while he was dying of cancer.  He recognized that God could heal him, but that if it was God's will for him to die of cancer, there was nothing he could do about it.  It was clearly very hard for him, but he accepted what God willed to happen would happen and that no one in heaven or on earth could change it or even prevent it from happening.

Here, we are told that God wills for even His people to be imprisoned and to be murdered.  What must we do in the face of persecution and atrocities against ourselves and against others who are among God's people?  We must persevere and not lose our faith.

These verses bring up an issue.  The issue is whether or not John is talking here about the church that has continued to exist into the Tribulation period.  In other words, will the church go through this time of persecution and in this time of the beast, experience imprisonment, torture, and murder?  Or, is this verse only describing a group of believers who will become believers after the church has been raptured?  Some of the arguments that these verses are not referring to the church are as follows:  1) John refers to them as "the saints" rather than calling them "the church."  2) Also, the phrase in chapter two and three of Revelation says, "He who has an ear let him hear" and concludes with "what the Spirit says to the churches." (Revelation 2:7,11,17,29, 3:6,13, and 22)  So John does talk to the Churches in the early chapters of Revelation, but ceases to mention the churches when he talks about the time of the beast.  Their conclusion: we will be raptured before the time of the beast.

Another possibility, though, is that these seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 were made up of both believers and unbelievers, as our churches today are also a mix of believers and unbelievers.  The exhortations to these churches do appear to be directed toward believers and unbelievers who are a part of these church fellowships.  Also, the name "saints" as used in verse 10, is used throughout the New Testament to refer to Christians.  See Ephesians 1:1 for one example of Christians where Christians are referred to as saints.  So, this reference to the saints could be an exhortation to Christians to persevere and continue to trust God during this time of the beast.

The whole book of Revelation was written to the "the seven churches in the province of Asia."  In these verses John says, "He who has an ear, let him hear."  These words could be directed toward those in the seven churches that he is writing to.  John, then, appears to be exhorting these seven churches to "hear" so that if they go through this time when believers will be imprisoned and murdered, they should patiently endure and continue to trust God.

c. The False Prophet (13:11-18)

In the remaining verses of chapter 13, we will be learning about the two men who will be the two most well-known men in the world in the last days.  In any period of time there are certain men who have stood out from other men.  In the early days of our country, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were two men who stood out from the other men of the time.  These two men in the last days, though, will be evil men like the infamous Nero, Hitler, and Stalin.  The two most evil men of all time will be the two men who will dominate the world in the last days.  They are the Beast (or the Antichrist) and the False Prophet.  The Beast was introduced to us in the early verses of chapter thirteen, the False Prophet is introduced to us in these verses.

(1) The dragon in lamb's clothing (13:11)

"Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth.  He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon."

Thought Question:  What is the meaning of the symbolism in this verse? ("coming out of the earth""two horns like a lamb""spoke like a dragon"?)

 

 

This lamb who speaks like a dragon comes "out of the earth."  The beast will come "out of the sea."  In Daniel the four beasts come out of the sea.  The last of the four kingdoms of Daniel seven is clearly the Beast and his kingdom described in this chapter. See Daniel 7:6  The Beast or the Antichrist could, therefore, come from the Gentile nations that surround the Mediterranean Sea. 

Some have thought that the "earth" that the False Prophet comes from may symbolize Israel, meaning that the False Prophet will be a Jew.  It is more likely, though, that the "earth" merely means that the False Prophet will be an earthly man and that his prophecies will originate from earth rather than Heaven.

He will have two horns "like a lamb," and speak "like a dragon."  Who does this lamb remind you of?  Jesus was the Lamb of God.  This symbolizing of the False Prophet as a lamb with two horns tells us that he will rule like a lamb.  The two horns are symbolic of power or authority.  He will speak like a dragon, because Satan the dragon will be in his heart.  As Jesus said, whatever is in our hearts will come out in our words.  He will have Satan in his heart; therefore, his voice will come directly from Satan.

The False Prophet will become the world's greatest religious leader, but inside he will be filled with Satan instead of God.  He will be a dragon in lamb's clothing.  During the time of the Communist Soviet Union, Communist Russian soldiers infiltrated the Rumanian churches and became their Priests.  They were Communists in Priest's clothing.  The False Prophet will exercise this same type of deception.

"He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed.  And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men.  Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth.  He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.  He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.  He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.  This calls for wisdom.  If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number.  His number is 666."

 

Thought Question #1:  What do these verses tell us about what it will be like in the last days?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do you believe is the meaning of "666"?

 

 

(2) The third person of the unholy trinity (13:12) 

These two men plus Satan form Satan's version of the Trinity - the unholy trinity.  Just as the Holy Spirit draws men to Jesus Christ, so the False Prophet will draw men to worship the Antichrist:  "He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed."

It is because of the Holy Spirit that we believe that Jesus rose from the dead and now deserves to be worshiped.  The False Prophet will convince the world that the Antichrist rose from the dead and that he deserves to be worshiped as God.

(3) Satan's Elijah (13:13)

In this verse we will see how he will draw attention to the Antichrist:  "And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men."  Like Elijah called fire down from Heaven (see I Kings 1:10-12), just as fire came down from Heaven at Pentecost (see Acts 2:3), and just as the two witnesses will use fire to destroy their enemies (see Revelation 11:5); so Satan has the power to cause fire to come down from heaven.  As God used fire as a sign at Pentecost and at other times, so the False Prophet will use fire as a sign of his power at the beginning of the reign of the Antichrist.  But, we learn from the book of Job that Satan can only use this power when God allows him to use it.  See Job 1:9-12,16  In the last days God will allow the False Prophet to have this power.

(4) The image of the Beast (13:14-15)

One of the most fearful and disgusting events imaginable is described in these verses:  "Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth.  He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.  He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed."  You may have seen the Abraham Lincoln exhibit at Disneyland.  Abe talks to us as if he is alive.  At Disneyland they also transmit three dimensional figures of men and women.  How far are we from creating an image that is totally lifelike?  The false prophet may arrange to have a three dimensional image of the Antichrist transmitted into homes all over the world.  His followers could then watch what is going on in each home as images from each home are transmitted to them through small cameras made possible through our modern fiber optics technology.  They would watch to make sure that everyone in each home is bowing down and worshiping the image of the beast.  Is this "Big Brother" type of surveillance possible?  It may not happen this way, but we do have the technology right now to make it possible.

In Daniel three a similar horrible event took place in Babylon.  "King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon."  The people were to gather in this plain before the statue, which was an image of Nebuchadnezzar.  Then when an orchestra played, they were to bow down and worship this statue.  Those who did not fall down and worship this image of Nebuchadnezzar were punished by being thrown into a blazing furnace.  Three of Daniel's friends, of course, did refuse to bow down before the idol, and they were thrown into  the furnace.  But, they were rescued from the fire by the God of Israel, who is the only One deserving of our worship.

Some group of believers (I believe it will be the church) will face something much worse than the wrath of Nebuchadnezzar, for they will be facing the anger of the Antichrist - Satan in a human body.

The False Prophet will perform miracles and deceive the world.  There have always been and up until the end times there will always be false prophets.  Jesus said, referring to the last days, "and many false prophets will appear and deceive many."  (Matthew 24:11)  Paul said, "the coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders."  (II Thessalonians 2:9)

"In ancient times religious ventriloquism was sometimes used to give the impression of supernatural speech, a practice confirmed by archaeological excavations in Corinth."  "Taken from The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John Walvoord.  Copyright 1966 by Moody Press."  Jesus rose from the dead.  Satan will appear to raise the Antichrist from the dead.  Then, the false prophet will appear to give life to an image of the Beast.  Just as magicians in the past used ventriloquism to fool people into thinking that idols came to life and witch doctors have used delusion to fool people, so this master magician will appear to give life to the image of the Beast.  This image of the Beast is also mentioned in Revelation 14:9,11, 15:2, 16:20, 19:20, 20:4.

This image will be given the power to kill all those who do not worship the Beast.  It may be that this image will also be able to record on some type of recording device those who do not worship the Beast.  Then, those who do not worship the image may be beheaded as is predicted in Revelation 20:4.  It is also possible that the image of the Beast will have some type of ability to kill those who do not worship it.

There are a number of warnings in the Bible for us to beware of false prophets.  The Bible also gives a number of ways to test to see whether someone is a false prophet or a true prophet.  Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 18:22; Jeremiah 23:16-40; and Matthew 7:15-16 all provide ways to test a prophet, to see whether he or she is true or false.  Some of the tests are as follows:  (1) Does he or she teach what is in the Bible?  (2) Do his or her predictions always come true?  (3) Does his or her life produce Christian fruit?

(5) The mark of the Beast (13:16-18)

These verses describe what it will be like to live at the time that the Antichrist will rule the world:  "He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name."  In World War II Americans needed to carry a ration card.  People in our country at that time could only buy what their ration card allowed them to buy.  In these last days, the Antichrist will control what people can buy or sell.

We are not far right now from someone being able to control what we buy or sell.  Here is all that will need to happen:  1) the elimination of money. Counting money and storing money is costly and takes our banks lots of time.  More and more we are moving away from the use of money.  We use checks and debiit cards.  Our salaries are automatically placed in our banking accounts.  The next logical step is to go to all buying being done by debiit cards or something like debit cards.

2) All financial transactions start being recorded.  Our credit card transactions are already transmitted instantaneously to the credit card company's headquarters which is usually hundreds or even thousands of miles away.  Some grocery store chains promote the use of a card that give the customer savings of some sort, but also provide the grocery chain with a record of all we buy and sell.  All that is needed is for all credit card and other card transactions to be watched over by the people of the Antichrist.

3) The elimination of credit cards.  One problem with credit cards is that they can be easily stolen.  Some of us have had our credit cards stolen and watched as we received receipts from our credit cards that were signed by someone else.  A next logical step, to prevent others from using our accounts, would be to have our credit card information permanently placed on our skin. The most logical place for these marks would be the two places that are flat and are almost always uncovered: the backs of our hands and our foreheads.  At fairs they often stamp the back of our hands.  These verses say that everyone "will receive a mark on his right hand or his forehead."

4) Everyone will have just one number. The closest to everyone having their own number in our country is our social security number.  In the last days it may be that everyone in the world will be assigned a number. 

5) You cannot buy or sell unless you have this number imprinted on your right hand or forehead.  In our computer world we are not far from meeting these five requirements.

Already we are buying on the internet.  It would not be difficult to require that we buy a scanner, and require that we have our forehead or the back of our hand scanned when we buy anything over the internet or in a store.

What will it be like, then, for believers?  Without a mark, Christians will not be able to purchase food, clothing, electricity, fuel, water, housing, or medical care.  Those who will be willing to give up the buying of these necessities and comforts will show that their faith is real!  They will also need to be on the run or in hiding.  But, just as Hitler was not able to kill all of the Jews, and our country has not been able to find all the terrorists, the Antichrist will not be able to find and kill all believers at this time. 

Next, John tells us what the mark is:  "This call for wisdom.  If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number.  His number is 666."  Many have used a letter/number equivalent to take a man's name and have it add up to 666.  Here is an example.  You can switch from Roman numerals to numbers.  I = 1, V=5, X=10, C=50.  Using this method and other methods, many have been able to get famous names to add up to 666.  Some of those whose names have added up to 666 are Nero, Hitler, the Pope, John F. Kennedy, and Henry Kissinger. The problem is that you can use different languages and numbers to make many people's names add up to 666.  But, John did not say 666 was the number of a man, but the number of man.

What does 666 mean?  The number of God is seven.  Then, the number of man is six.  Man was created on the sixth day.  The number six could mean that man will always fall short of God.  No matter how man tries he will never be equal to His Creator.  But, when the Antichrist is present on the earth, the people of the world will worship a man as god; they will worship a creature rather than the Creator.  It is interesting that Nebuchadnezzar's statue was 60 cubits tall and 6 cubits wide.  See Daniel 3:1  (Cubits were 1 ½ feet.  See the NIV note)

d. The 144,000 (14:1-5)

"Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him the 144,000 who had his name written on their foreheads.  And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder.  The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.  And they sang a new song before the throne and before the living creatures and the elders.  No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.  These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure.  They follow the Lamb wherever He goes.  They were purchased from among men and offered as first-fruits to God and the Lamb.  No lie was found in their mouths, they are blameless."

Thought Question #1:  Why do you believe that we have this description of the 144,000 immediately following the chapter on the Antichrist and the False Prophet? 

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do these verses tell us about how we can be victorious over Satan and his forces today?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What do you believe is the "new song"?

 

 

Thought Question #4:  Why do you believe the 144,000 are standing on Mt. Zion?  Do you believe they are on earth or in heaven?

 

 

In chapter 13, it appears that Satan is ruling, but we see immediately in chapter 14 that God's plans and purposes are still being fulfilled.  First of all, in Revelation 7:1-8 we read of 144,000 Jews being sealed or protected by God.  In these verses we learn that they will overcome Satan's day.  Even at the time when evil is at its very worst, good will win.  Jesus said the meek will inherit the earth.  Who are the conquerors who are described in these verses?  "Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion,"  The Lamb is the victor.  John the Baptist said, "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"  The biggest problem that man needs to overcome is sin.  God's solution is a Lamb who offered Himself as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for all of our sins.  The victory comes not through a general who takes the world by force, but through a Lamb who gains victory by giving Himself sacrificially.

The Lamb is standing on Mount Zion.  What is Mount Zion?  Originally, it was the southern most hill of Jerusalem.  Later, the name Mount Zion came to be the name for Jerusalem.  Mount Zion is place where God promised that His future King would rule.  "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill."  (Psalm 2:6)  "For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has destined it for his dwelling:  This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have destined it."  The Lamb is about to rule in Zion as predicted!  See also Isaiah 2:2,3

"and with him the 144,000 who had his name written on their foreheads."  They will not have the mark of the Beast on their foreheads, but they will have the name of the Father and the Lamb written on their foreheads.  Though the False Prophet will force people to put Satan's mark on them, the 144,000 will refuse to receive this mark.  We see here that God will protect them from the Antichrist.

How are the 144,000 able to be victorious over the Antichrist and his anti-God forces?  Acts 16 describes a time when Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into jail.  This sounds like a time of defeat.  But, what did Paul and Silas do?  "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God."  Does this sound like they were defeated?  Neither will these 144,000 be defeated by the Antichrist.  "And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder.  The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps.  And they sang a new song before the throne and before the living creatures and the elders.  No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth."  Do they sound defeated?  Instead of being defeated, they have a heavenly worship service!

What is this "new song."  The musical accompaniment to the "new song" is as beautiful as harp music, but as loud and awesome as rushing water and thunder.  What is meant by their song being a "new song"?  When we became Christians we began a new life and we now have a totally new outlook on life.  Many of us heard Christian songs before we were Christians, but they did not mean much to us.  Now, they have a totally new meaning to us when we sing them.  What will our songs be like when we are on the other side of this life, and we are doing our singing in Heaven?

Only the 144,000 will be able to learn this "new song."  It could be that they alone are able to learn this new song, because they alone will have gone through the unique experience of being with the Lamb through the time of Satan's wrath.

Look at how the 144,000 will be victorious:  "These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure."  They will be living in the world at the time when it will be at its evilest.  But, they will not give in to sexual temptation.  There is a suggestion here that, like Baal worship in the Old Testament times, the Antichrist will lure men and women into his religion through sexual enticement.  Possibly, he will use female prostitutes as priestesses of his religion.  It is interesting that the false religion of the last days is described as the "great prostitute."  It could be that this term is totally figurative and refers to spiritual prostitution, but it is also possible that there will be sexual prostitution involved in this false religion.  The 144,000 will resist sexual temptation during this period, in whatever form it takes, and will not be defiled.

"They follow the Lamb wherever He goes."  At the time of the end, the world will be doing everything but follow the Lamb.  The 144,000 will follow Jesus Christ through the time of the Antichrist and will still be alive when the 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ begins.  Although there is no place in the Bible that specifically says that these 144,000, 12,000 from each tribe of Israel, will be the core of the new nation of Israel over which Jesus Christ will rule at the start of His 1,000 year, we can safely conclude that that is the reason that they have been preserved through the most anti-God time that will ever take place.

"They were purchased from among men and offered as first-fruits to God and the Lamb."  This verse also indicates that 144,000 will be the first to begin the 1,000 year reign as His people.  They will be the "first-fruits;" the first of the nation of Israel during the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ.

"No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless."  The world at this time will be full of lies, false prophets, and false Christs.  But, the 144,000 will be people of the truth and not people of the lie.

e. The angels' warnings (14:6-13)

"Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth---to every nation, tribe, language and people.  He said in a loud voice, 'Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come.  Worship him who made the heavens and the earth, the sea and the springs of water.'  A second angel followed and said, 'Fallen!  Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.'  A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice:  'If any worship the beast and his image and receives the mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath.  He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever.  There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.'  This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.  Then I heard a voice from heaven say, 'Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.  'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.'"

Thought Question #1:  How do you believe these angels will reveal themselves to mankind?  Attempt to picture what it will be like as these angels proclaim their three messages.  What will it be like for those who are rejecting God and what will it be like for those who are following God?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do these verses tell us about hell?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What is there in these verses that is a personal encouragement to you?  How does it encourage you?

 

 

We see throughout the Bible that before God judges a city, a nation, or the world, He gives a formal warning.  For example, Jonah, Elijah, Elisha, and Noah were all used by God to warn a city, the nation of Israel, and the world before a time of God's judgment.  Certainly, before the final judgment of the world there will be a warning.  In Revelation 11, we are introduced to two prophets of God who will warn the world of God's judgment.  But, there will be still another way that God will warn the world.  It will be a very unusual way.  Three angels will warn the world in the last days of God's judgment.

(1)  Angel #1 (14:6-7)

"Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth---to every nation, tribe, language and people.  He said in a loud voice, 'Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come.  Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.'"  See 8:3 and 10:1 for other examples of angels who are called "another angel."  The last days will be unusual for many reasons, one is that this angel will be visible and the world will hear his loud words.  Peter predicted that in the last days there will be scoffers:     "'Where is this coming he promised?'  Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation."  (II Peter 3:4)  When men see this angel flying and speaking, there will be no more mocking or doubting that things can change!

The first angel will speak to a world who will be ignoring God and he will tell them "in a loud voice" to do the very opposite of what they have been doing.  "Fear God and give him glory."  In Romans one Paul described how men choose to darken their minds through their voluntary choice of sin.  "For although they knew God, they neither glorify him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."  (Romans 1:21)  All men know there is a God and that we should fear Him, but unless God changes our hearts, we choose darkness over God.  But, it is God's pattern to warn people before He judges them for their sin.  Noah warned the people of earth before the universal flood.  Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah warned the nation of Israel in the last days.  Jonah warned Ninevah.  This angel will warn the whole world in the last days!

What is the "eternal gospel" the angel will preach?  It is clear that the angel will preach a warning about God's judgment.  But, a warning also implies that someone who heeds the warning can escape from the coming judgment.  Men can only escape God's judgment because of the good news-the Gospel message.  The Gospel message is that Jesus took our judgment on Himself when He died on the Cross.  It is the "eternal" Gospel because it was planned before the world began, and it will forever save those who believe on it.

There is no indication from these verses about an international revival that comes from this angel's preaching.  Sadly, it appears that the world will reject his preaching just as the world rejected Noah's warnings.  See Hebrews 2:2 for another example of a "message spoken by angels."

(2) Angel #2 (14:8)

"A second angel followed and said, 'Fallen!  Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.'"  What is the Babylon the Great that John describes?  It is the city that symbolizes man's rebellion against God.  In Genesis 11 there is a description of men gathering together to build a high tower so that they could make a name for themselves.  They thought that they were great, and so they built a great tower so they could show how great they were.  The location of this great tower became the site for the great city of Babylon.  Many years later King Nebuchadnezzar set up a statue of himself in that same Babylon, the city that was the capital of his great empire.  He demanded that his many government officials bow down and worship this statue of a man.  Later, Nebuchadnezzar had this to say about Babylon the Great:  "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty."  (Daniel 4:30)  Nebuchadnezzar also had a dream about a statue made up of many metals.  He was told by Daniel that he was the golden head of this statue.  This statue with Babylon as the head of gold is a description of the rule of man through the ages.

Because Israel rejected their God, they have been under the rule of man, beginning with the rule of Babylon.  Once again, Babylon symbolizes the rebellion of man throughout the ages.  This Babylon-like rebellion of man is growing more adamant and wide-spread as we approach the last days.  This angel signals the time when Babylon's rule will come to an end:  "Fallen!  Fallen is Babylon the Great." 

What is meant by "which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries"?  Certainly, too much wine does lead to a form of madness.  There is also a madness that can come from drinking of the ways of those who rebel against God.  A whole nation became drunk and mad because of the screaming of Adolph Hitler.  Babylon the Great symbolizes man's rebellion against God.

(3) The Third Angel (14:9-11)

"A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice:  'If any worship the beast and his image and receives the mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of his wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath.  He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever.  There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."  These verses tell us that God does not desire that people go to hell, for in last days he will warn mankind through this angel, so that they can avoid going there.  This angel warns us what it will be like for those who reject God, take on the mark of the Beast, and follow the Antichrist. 

We can see from this angel's words, what hell will be like.  It will be a place of torment where people will experience God's wrath because of their sins:  "And the smoke of their torment..."  It is very clear from these verses that "their torment" will never end:  "their torment rises for ever and ever."

It is common today for people to despise those who believe in the hell fire type of judgment that is described here.  Men love the version of Jesus Christ that men have created; a sentimental and tolerant type of Jesus.  They love this Jesus, but they hate any words about there being a hell.  But, Jesus Christ spoke more about hell than any other person in the Bible.  "Jesus referred to hell (Gehenna) eleven out of the twelve occurrences, made twelve out of the nineteen references to hell fire, and used other similar expressions more than any other in the New Testament."  "Taken from The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John F. Walvoord.  Copyright 1960 by Moody Press."

(4) Encouragements for the faithful (14:12-13)

"This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus."  In our day and in the last days, Satan's system controls our world.   Christians are despised today by the elite in our society.  In the last days believers will be hunted down and killed.  One truth that can keep us going is the truths that are presented in this chapter.  In the end, the Evil One will be conquered and totally eliminated.  So, we should do what is found in this verse: "remain faithful to Jesus." 

"Then I heard a voice from heaven say, 'Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!  'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.'"  Verse thirteen is a "voice from heaven."  For other times in Revelation when God speaks from Heaven, see 10:4,8 11:12, 14:2, 18:4, and 21:3  This voice from Heaven is the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity.  "'Yes,' says the Spirit."

Those who die outside of the Lord face eternal punishment.  Those who die in the Lord, instead of punishment, face rest and reward for their good deeds.  Consider Jesus' famous words:  "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy." (Matthew 6:20)

f. The harvest that leads to God's judgment (14:14-20)

"I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one 'like a son of man' with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.  Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud.  'Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.'  So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.  Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.  Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, 'Take you sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe.'  The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God's wrath.  They were trampled in the winepress outside the city and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 16,000 stadia."

Thought Question #1:  Have you seen sin ripening in your lifetime?  If so, in what ways has sin gotten worse?  How bad do you believe it will need to get before the harvest is ready to be reaped?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do you believe is the "great winepress" that will cause blood to rise as high as the horses' bridles for "1600 stadia"?

 

 

Two of the most unpopular words in our society are "sin" and "hell."  But, if we do not believe in sin and hell, we cannot understand the book of Revelation.  If we do not understand man's most basic and serious problem and where man is heading because of that problem, we will also not be interested in hearing about God's solution.  If someone does not believe that he has an infection, they will also not be interested in buying any antibiotics.  If we think that we are basically good people and that we will never need to face God's judgment, then the Bible has nothing to say to us.

The Bible says that since the first man and the first woman rebelled against God, we have all been born sinners.  The Bible's purpose is to lead us to see how sinful we are, tell us about the punishment that we deserve, and then to tell us about God's solution to our sin and punishment problem.  For infection, the solution is antibiotics.  For sin, the solution is Jesus on the Cross!

How serious is man's sin problem?  When we sin, we disobey God's holy laws:  "Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness."  (I John 3:4)  We are sinners because we have broken God's laws.  God says that we are not to steal, lie, covet, use God's name in a blasphemous way, and disobey our parents.  We each have broken God's laws many, many times.

Sin is selfishness. In the worldly and selfish early church at Corinth, the rich ate richly and the poor ate poorly.  The rich were sinning by being selfish.  Jeremiah summed up man's state when he said:  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure."  (Jeremiah 17:9)

But, we do not see man being as sinful as he can be.  There are many restraints on man's sin in our world:  Our society still has some standards that tell us that some behaviors are unacceptable.  We still have consciences that accuse us when we do wrong.  There are still forms of punishment in place in our society that provide us with painful consequences when we do wrong, such as discipline and punishment by parents, sanctions that are given out in our schools when students break the rules, and our legal system has prescribed punishments for crimes.  All of these consequences that follow our sins are a restraint on sin, and prevent our society and mankind from getting as sinful as it could get.

Sadly, though, we see these restraints dropping away.  Social standards continue to lower.  What used to be totally unacceptable is now acceptable and even lauded.  There is less and less training of children's consciences taking place in our society.  We have even come to the place where we see a guilty conscience as an obstacle to be removed, not listened to.  Also, our society has come to frown on children being punished.

Why all this talk about sin, sin's restraints, and the gradual removal of restraints?  Well, the section we are covering describes a time when sin will have gotten so bad in our world, that all that is left is for God to judge the world.  That was the case right before the flood:  "The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.  The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain."  Sin will also get this bad in the final days before God's final judgment of man.

Man's sin is likened to a harvest.  The world is growing a crop of sin.  In the last days, when sin has gotten its worst, this sin will be harvested by God's judgment.  There is a crop of sin growing rapidly all around us-a crop of wickedness.  Joel talked about the final judgment being as a harvest:  "Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.  Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow---so great is their wickedness."  (Joel 3:13)

"I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.  Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud.  'Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.  So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested."  This is a symbolic picture of what is about to happen, and why it is about to happen.  Jesus, who is the One who is "like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand," is about to return to defeat and horribly judge man for the universal rebellion against Him and His ways.

In Daniel 7:13-14, a son of man is described who is clearly the Son of God, Jesus Christ:  "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.  He approached the Ancient of days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power."  See also Luke 21:27 and Hebrews 2:7

This judgment will be described in Revelation 16:12-16 and 19:11-20.  Why is the harvest ready for reaping?  Sin will have gotten so bad and will have gotten such a hold on men's hearts that it will be too late for there to be a worldwide turning from it.  The earth will become like a garden that is so weed-infested that it is too late to save the garden.  It must all be dug up so that the gardener can start over.  Sadly, the warnings of the three angels described earlier in this chapter fell mostly on deaf ears.

Notice that Jesus Christ is told by an angel that the time for reaping has come.  The angel appears to be a messenger from the Father, for he comes "out of the temple."  The Father decides the time of the judgment, and the Son carries out the judgment.

The angel says that "the harvest of the earth is ripe."  The word "ripe" actually means "overripe."  "The picture here is of a fruit or vegetable that has become so ripe that it has begun to dry or wither."  "Taken from The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John F. Walvoord.  Copyright 1960 by Moody Press."  God will not judge the world until it is so ripe with sin that the world will have had all of its God-given life dried up.

"Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.  Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, 'Take you sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe.  The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great wine press of God's wrath.  They were trampled in the wine press outside the city and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 16,000 stadia."

In verses 14-16, harvesting is used to picture God's final judgment on the earth.  Now, in verses 17-20 a winepress is used as a picture of God's final judgment on the world's sin.  "It depicts judgment in terms of a winepress, which consisted of an upper and a lower trough connected by a channel.  The troughs might be hollowed out in the rock or they might be built of brick.  The grapes were put into the upper trough which was on a slightly higher level.  They were then trampled with the feet and the juice flowed down the connecting channel into the lower trough."  "Taken from The Revelation of John by Willam Barclay.  Copyright 1976 by The Westminster Press."  There are a number of times that a winepress is used to describe how God's anger will be expressed in response to man's sin.  In Isaiah 63, God describes Himself as being like those who trample the grapes until the grape juice pours out of the crushed grapes.  God predicts that He will "trample the nations in (His) anger." (Isaiah 63:1-6)  See also Lamentations 1:15; Joel 3:13; and Revelation 19:15

Here, in Revelation 14 God is described as trampling on His enemies outside of the city of Jerusalem.  The Bible predicts that there will be a final battle in which the nations will enter Israel and surround Jerusalem.  This battle is often referred to as the battle of Armageddon.  Armageddon is believed to stand for Har Mageddon or the mountain of Megiddo.  From the city of Megiddo you can look to the north and see a great plain that stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea (the plain of Esdraelon or Jezreel).  Jesus lived His younger years in Nazareth, and Nazareth was on the northern side of this plain (Megiddo was to the south of the plain, Nazareth to the north).  Jesus would have been able to look out from just above his childhood home (Nazareth was in a risen basin) and see this vast plain which will be the battlefield where the last and greatest battle on earth will take place.

"Meggido occupied a very marked position on the southern rim of the plain of Esdraelon, the great battlefield of Palestine.  It was famous for two great victories: of Barak over the Canaanites (Jud. 4:15), and of Gideon over the Midianites (Jud. 7); and for two great disasters: the deaths of Saul (I Sam. 31:8) and of Josiah (II Kings 23:29, 30: II Chron. 35:22)."  "Taken from Unger's Bible Dictionary by Merrill F. Unger.  Copyright 1957 by Moody Press."  It is reported that Napoleon stated that this valley was an ideal place for the armies of the world to do battle.

But, we are told here that blood flowed for a distance of "1600 stadia," or about 180 miles.  Because the valley of Megiddo is not 180 miles long, we can safely conclude that the final battle will take place in a larger area than the valley of Megiddo.  Since 180 miles is about equal to the length of Israel from north to south, it is likely that this final battle will include the total length of the nation of Israel.

There are places in the Bible that describe a final battle that will take place in other parts of Israel besides the valley of Megiddo.  In Joel 3, a battle is described as taking place in the valley of Jehosophat:  "I will gather all nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehosophat." (Joel 3:2)  It is believed that this is a valley near Jerusalem (far south of the valley of Megiddo).  "….it seems to be a symbolic name for a valley near Jerusalem that is here depicted as the place of God's ultimate judgment on the nations gathered against Jerusalem… There King Jehosophat had witnessed one of the Lord's historic victories over the nations (see 2Ch 20:1-30).  "Taken from the NIV Study Bible note on Joel 3:2.  Copyright 1995 Zondervan Publishing House."

In Isaiah 63 another location of a last days' battle is given.  In this chapter a final battle is described that takes place near Edom which is next to southern Israel. See Isaiah 63:1-6  And so, the final battle will take place in the northern, central, and southern parts of Israel; thus this battle will take place throughout the nation of Israel.  The final battle, therefore, will cover the 180 mile length of Israel.  See also Zechariah 12:2,3, 14:2,3

It is predicted that blood flowing out of the final war will rise "as high as a horse's bridle."  When men trampled grapes in a winepress, the grape juice splattered.  It seems unlikely that blood will flow like a river, up to a horse's bridle, and for 180 miles.  But, it would not be unlikely that blood will splatter this high all over this immense battlefield.  What is described here, in a figurative way, is the bloodiest battle that will ever be fought.

These verses dramatically describe how much God hates sin.  We do not see right now how much God hates sin.  Right now we see God's kindness and patience, while He provides opportunity for people to turn to Him and receive His forgiveness and grace.  We do see in these verses, though, what will happen when God's wrath is finally poured out on a world that is hardened in its sin.  The world will one day pay for their hardened rebellion against their own Creator.  God is not ignoring sin, for the world will one day in the future pay for choosing sin over God.  Men will in the end reap what they have sown!

6. The seven bowls of wrath (15-16)

a. Heaven prepares for the seven bowls (15)

"I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues---last, because with them God's wrath is completed.  And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name.  They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb:  'Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty.  Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.  Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name?  For you alone are holy.  All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.' "

Thought Question #1:  What do these verses tell us about what the victory will be like for those who endure in God's kingdom today and in the last days?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  In what ways will the victory of those who will be victorious in the last days over Satan and his forces be like Moses' victory at the Red Sea?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What can we learn about worship from the song that these victorious believers will sing in Heaven?

 

 

What typically happens at a national Republican or Democratic convention just before we vote to elect a President is as follows: the party who is seeking to oust the President that is in office blames any and all problems in the country on this President.  Then, they offer their presidential candidate as the solution for all these problems.  Well, they are wrong in both cases.  For the source of the problems in our country is not the last President; the source of our problems is sin!  And the solution is not the next President; the solution is for us to turn to God.  The Bible predicts, though, that in the last days moral values will reach their lowest level, consciences will grow harder, and our world will be so sin-infested that it will be ripe for God's wrath.

Chapters 15-19 of Revelation are a description of this final judgment on the earth.  These chapters describe how God will completely judge sin and cleanse this earth from sin's pollution.  John starts out chapter fifteen with a description of what will happen in Heaven as the time arrives for God's anger against sin to be poured out on the earth.

Listen to the first verse of chapter fifteen:  "I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues---last, because with them God's wrath is completed."  This is the third sign in Heaven.  The first two signs are found in 12:1-6.  The first sign was a "woman clothed with the sun" and the second sign was "an enormous red dragon."  This is the last sign, for it is the completion of God's anger. 

The signs are a symbolic revelation of some great truth.  The first sign, the woman who gives birth to Jesus Christ, tells us that Israel's purpose was to give birth to Jesus Christ, God's Son.  The second sign, a dragon, tells us that Satan is a totally evil dragon-like being who has been seeking to kill the woman and her God-sent child throughout time.  This third sign, the seven angels and the seven plagues, reveals to us that God will one day pour out His wrath on this world for our hardness in sin and our rejection of Him.  These three signs summarize the events of the last days: the woman represents God's nation Israel, the dragon represents Satan and his followers, and the seven plagues represent God's anger because our world finally and ultimately chooses to follow the Dragon rather than Him. 

It is interesting that these bowls of wrath are the third and final series of sevens in the book of Revelation.  The series of seven are the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven bowls of wrath.  Both three and seven are numbers of completion.  And so these seven bowls of wrath are the completion of God's wrath against sin.

"Completed" is the same word that Jesus uttered on the Cross when He said, "it is finished!"  With the seven bowls, God wrath against the world's sin will be finished!  It will be the end of man's arrogance, greed, murders, immorality, blasphemies, and lies.  As one man has said about this judgment:  "The world will finally be called on the carpet for all its sin and God will wipe the condescending arrogant smiles off of men's faces!"

(1) Victorious believers worship God (15:2-4)

The time of judgment will also be a time of victory for those who continue to serve and obey God through this 3 ½ year period of total rebellion against God.  As the world draws farther and farther away from God, these victorious believers grow closer and closer to God.  Here we see these victorious ones in Heaven: "And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name." Satan's worst will not stop them from obeying God.  Even though Satan will be in complete control of the world and they will not be able to buy or sell, they will continue to serve God.

They are in Heaven, so they will be those who have died.  They will probably be those who will be killed by the forces of the Beast.  How will they be able to win this victory?  They will be victorious because they will not give in to Satan, even though it will cost them their lives.  On earth Satan had been the winner, but in Heaven they are the victors!  Shortly, Satan will be the loser on earth as well.

We see them standing victorious beside the crystal sea.  In Revelation 4:6 we learned that there is a crystal sea before God's throne.  Here John adds that the sea is mixed with fire.  Fire is used to clear impurities from our world.  In farm country, the spring often starts with smoke filling the air as farmers light fire to their fields to purify them from weeds.  Fire is also used to purify metals.  The fire of God will one day be poured out on our planet to burn up the impurities in this sin-infested world.

The victorious believers are like the Israelites who went through the Red Sea with Moses.  When they arrived at the other side, they looked back as the waters engulfed the Egyptians, and they were both relieved and exhilarated at the victory that God had given to them.

The sea that the victorious believers in Heaven will look at is a "sea of glass mixed with fire."  This sea is not an ordinary sea, for it is a sea that is mixed with fire.  It is a sea mixed with God's fiery judgment!  Also, the fire could be a picture of the persecution that the believers endured.

"They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb:"They are holding harps that were give to them by God.  Harps are instruments perfectly suited for praise.  When we hear harp music, it takes us in a heavenly direction; it moves us above this earth and toward heaven.  These victorious believers have also been taken above this earth; they are in Heaven, and will play heavenly music.

They will sing the "song of Moses and the song of the Lamb."  They will not take credit for their victory.  They will give the glory to God as Moses did, and they will give the glory to the Lamb.  The song of Moses is found in Exodus 15:1-18.  See also Deuteronomy 32  It is his song of praise to God after God rescued he and Israel from the Egyptians.  The song of the Lamb can be found in Revelation 5:9-12:  "And they sang a new song:  'You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God…  Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"

It is also interesting that the Israelites were rescued from Egypt because of the blood of the Passover lambs.  The blood of these lambs which was placed on the door frames of their houses, rescued them from the destroyer who killed the first-born of the Egyptians.  See Exodus 12:21-23

These victorious believers in Heaven will sing:  "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty."  He is all-powerful.  There is nothing that He cannot do.  They were victorious because God is "Almighty!"  Satan cannot defeat the One who is All-powerful!

"Just and true are your ways, King of ages."  We need never fear if we are on the side of the One who is "Almighty" and who always does what is just, fair, and true.

"Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name?  When the world finally sees Him as He is, they will fear Him.  "For you alone are holy."  He is totally pure.  How about you and me?  He is the only One who is totally pure.  One day we will see Him face to face, the One who has done everything He has done for totally pure reasons.  Can you imagine being in the presence of One who is totally holy?

"All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed."  One day the One who is perfect and infinite in every way will receive the worship and admiration that he fully deserves.  "All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name." (Psalm 86:9)  See also Isaiah 2:2-4 and Micah 4:2

Notice, that in this song that the victorious believers will sing, there is nothing said about their accomplishments.  The song is totally directed toward God and His greatness.  This may tell us about what we will be like in Heaven.  And what we need to be like before we get to Heaven.  The focus will be on God alone in Heaven; the focus needs to be on God alone on earth.

(2) The throne of wrath (15:5-8)

"After this I looked and in heaven the temple, that is, the tabernacle of the Testimony, was opened.  Out of the temple came the seven angels with seven plagues.  They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests.  Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever.  And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed."

Thought Question #1:  We do not even like to think about standing before a human judge in a courtroom.  What do these verses tell us about what it will be like to face the just wrath of the holy and infinite Judge?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How does this make you appreciate the fact that we who are Christians now approach a throne of grace and not a throne of wrath?

 

 

John's eyes turn from focusing on the victorious believers to focusing on the Temple.  "After this I looked and in heaven the temple, that is, the tabernacle of the Testimony, was opened."  The Temple is also called the "the tabernacle of the Testimony" because it contained the Ten Commandments.  These commandments are the standard by which God measures men.  How does man measure up?  We all deserve God's judgment and wrath!

"Out of the temple came the seven angels with seven plagues.  They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests."  Again, the number is seven, the number of completion.  There will be seven angels with seven plagues.  God's wrath needs to be perfectly poured out on the earth before sin on earth will be completely dealt with and the earth can be restored.  Then and only then can it once more be given to man-with Jesus Christ, the last Adam, ruling over it. 

The "linen" appears to represent God's righteousness.  These holy angels are about to deal out God's holy anger.  The "golden sashes" appear to represent God's glory.  These angels are seven angels from God who will one day pour out on the earth God's final, just, and fiery judgment.  They are the third group of seven angels in the book of Revelation:  seven angels of the seven churches (2,3), and seven angels with seven trumpets, and, here, the seven angels with seven bowls of wrath.

"Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever."  The seven bowls were bowls that could hold boiling liquids.  The boiling liquid is a picture of the wrath of God being poured out on the earth.  Some of us have trouble not spilling a cup filled with hot coffee.  These bowls filled with God's boiling wrath are about to be spilled out on the earth.

"And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed."  In Hebrews 4:16, Christians are given this encouragement:  "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help us in our time of need."  But, during the time period described in these verses, God's throne will not be a throne of grace, but it will be a throne of God's wrath toward those who have rejected God's grace.  What is the unforgivable sin?  It is when someone hardens himself or herself completely and completely rejects God's grace.  The seven bowls of God's wrath will be poured out on a world that has committed this unforgivable sin.

No one can enter the Temple at this time, for the one who enters it will see the terrors of God's judgment against sin.  The Temple filled with smoke is one more sign that this judgment will be the full wrath of God.

Another example of smoke accompanying God's awesome presence was when Moses received God's Law.  Mount Sinai was covered with smoke at that time.  See Exodus 19:18  See also Exodus 40:34-35  Ray Stedman observed that these verses may be the origin of the expression, "Holy Smoke."

God's wrath will come out of the Holy of Holies.  The Greek word for temple used in chapter 15 is naos, which is the inner holy place rather than the word that is used to describe the entire temple.  God's Law has been broken for the full time that man has lived on this earth, yet God has not given us fully what we deserve.  In the last days, His patience will come to an end.  In Chapter 16 the seven bowls of wrath will finally be poured out from God's Holy of Holies!

THE BOWL AND THE TRUMPET JUDGMENTS COMPARED:

"Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.” The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image."  ("The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, at it was hurled down upon the earth.  A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.) The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died.  ("The second angel sounded his trumpet and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea.")  The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.  Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say:  "You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.  And I heard the altar respond:  'Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.'  ("The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— the name of the star is Wormwood.  A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.")  The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire.  They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.  (The fourth angel sounded his trumpet and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark.  A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.)  The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness.  Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.  ("The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth.  The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.  When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace.  The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.  And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth.  They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.  They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five month . . . ")  The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.  Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet.  They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.  'Behold, I come like a thief!  Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.  Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrews is called Armageddon."  (The sixth angel sounded his trumpet and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God.  It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, 'Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.  And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.  The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million, I heard their number
. . .
")

Compare these Bowl judgments to the Trumpet judgments in Revelation 8 and 9:

Thought Question #1:  How are the Bowl judgments different from the Trumpet judgments?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How are the Bowl judgments similar to the Trumpet judgments?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  In what ways do the Bowl and Trumpet judgments fit together?  (For example, are the Bowl judgments a continuation or a magnification of the Trumpet judgments?  Do they happen right after each other or is there a period of time between them?)

 

 

Compare the Bowl judgments to each other:

Thought Question #1:  The ugly and painful sores of the first Bowl judgment are still present during the fifth Bowl judgment; what does this tell us about the other Bowl judgments? (See 16:11) (For example, will all of the Bowl judgments happen at the same time?  Or will they happen consecutively, but each continues on into the next Bowl judgment?)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Try to summarize what it will be like for those who will be living on the earth during these Bowl judgments?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  Why do you believe God chooses these particular Bowl judgments?  (See 16:5,6 for help)  (Notice also the similarity between the Bowl judgments and the plagues in Egypt in Exodus 7-11)

 

 

b. Bowl #1 (16:1-2)

"Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, 'Go, pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth."  Have you had anything sinful and unjust done to you?  Attempt to think of all the injustices in all of the world throughout time that have never been made right:  Hitler's slaughter of the Jews, slavery, the killing fields of Cambodia, mass murders in Communist countries, and many, many more.  The worst injustice of all was the murder of the Son of God.  Can God allow all of this to go on forever?  The answer, of course, is that there will be a time when God will finally step in to fully judge our world for mankind's rejection of Him and His holy ways.  This final judgment is described in chapters 16-19.

There are similarities between the seven trumpets of Revelation eight and nine and the seven bowls of chapter sixteen.  The similarities are as follows: "the first in the series deals with the earth, the second with the sea, the third with rivers and fountains of waters, the fourth with the sun, the fifth with darkness, the sixth with the River Euphrates, and the seventh with lightning, thunders, and a great earthquake."  The differences are as follows: "the first four trumpet judgments deal only with one-third of the earth, while the vial judgments seem to be universal in their application and greater in intensity."  "Taken from The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John F. Walvoord.  Copyright 1966 by Moody Press."  Walvoord concludes that the bowls come out of the seventh trumpet and are an intensification of the seven trumpets.

Chapter sixteen describes God's judgment of the world at a time in the future when the world will have clearly chosen sin over God.  As we continue in chapter sixteen we will see what happens when God pours out the seven bowls of His wrath.  "The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image."  This judgment immediately reminds us of one of the plagues on Egypt in Moses' time.  This plague in Egypt caused boils to form on the Egyptians.  Egypt's magicians were successful in copying some of the plagues.  But, they were defeated by this plague of boils, for they also were covered with boils.  "The magicians could not stand before Moses because of all the boils that were on them, and on all the Egyptians."  (Exodus 9:11)

In the last days, the world will also see that their heroes are not in charge, for the mark of the Beast will bring God's judgment on them.  They will have both the mark of the Beast and the "ugly and painful sores" which are a mark of God's judgment on them.  These sores could be a world-wide plague (like AIDS), that will spread rapidly over the whole earth.  So, the seven bowls of wrath begin with everyone having painful and ugly sores on them.  Can you imagine walking around and seeing everyone covered with these sores or watching television and seeing the news anchor person covered with ugly sores?  The next bowl of wrath will be poured out on a world full of people who are already suffering.  Another possibility is that the sores are caused by radioactivity caused by a nuclear meltdown or a nuclear war.  See also Deuteronomy 28:35 and Job 2:7,8

c. Bowl #2 (16:3)

"The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died."  A few years back there was concern about the Atlantic Ocean.  Refuse from hospitals was washing up on the shores and porpoises were dying.  Another sea disaster was the oil spill from the Exxon Valdez.  Also, during the Gulf war, Saddam Hussein had oil poured into the Persian Gulf, killing birds and sea life.  None of this will even slightly compare to what will happen when this second bowl of wrath is poured out on the sea.  The sea become like blood and every living thing dies!

The second trumpet judgment results in a "third of the sea" turning to blood.  Here, the entire sea turns into blood.  Many of us find it difficult to look when blood is drawn from a vein in our arm.  What will it be like when the whole sea is filled with blood or something like blood?  Add to that, the stench from a sea full of dead bodies, fish and animals that will have died during this bowl of wrath.  See Exodus 7:17-24  It could be that the sea mentioned is not all the oceans of the world, but the sea best known to Israel-the Mediterranean Sea.

d. Bowl #3 (16:4-7)

The third angel pours out his bowl on the rivers and springs of waters, and they also become blood.  "The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood."  Not only does the sea turn to blood, but in this judgment the water that is used for drinking and irrigation also turns to blood.  See also the third trumpet judgment in 8:10,11  Certainly, we take God's wonderful gift of water for granted.  We drink it, wash in it, water our plants with it, swim in it, and enjoy its glistening beauty.  Someday, mankind is going to lose it!  The next time you take a refreshing drink of water, say, "Thank you Father for your wonderful gift of water."

Is this loving and just for God to horribly judge the waters that are so vital to mankind?  "'You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.'"  The people of the world at the time of the Antichrist's reign will be able to do what many who have rejected God have desired to do, they will desire and they will be able to spill the blood of God's people.  They want blood, and they will get blood.  They will get blood everywhere!  They will shed innocent blood, and then they will have blood to drink.  As a saying that has become popular in recent years says, "What goes around comes around."  No one will be able to point the finger at God, and say that He is not fair.

We humans are experts at doing what is wrong, and saying that it was not our fault.  But, though right now mankind is not getting what we justly deserve, there will be a time when those who have not believed in Jesus will get what they have justly deserved.

"And I heard the altar respond:  'Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.'"  The altar is personified or turned figuratively into a person (it speaks as if it is a person).  The place of grace becomes a place of judgment.  The place before which the innocent were murdered, cries out - "Yes, this judgment is just!"  The sores, the blood in the sea, and the blood in the rivers and springs are what the people in the world deserve!"  See Revelation 6:9-11

We are told in 16:5 that there is an angel who is in "charge of the waters."  We learn here that one of the responsibilities of angels is to oversee different parts of God's creation.  The angel who pours out this judgment of God is apparently the one who has been taking care of our water supply since God created it.

e. Bowl #4 (16:8-9)

"The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire.  They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God,"  God turns up the heat on the earth.  We already are told that we have "global warming."  It may be that this judgment will result from an environmental change that will result in the sun becoming scorching hot.  Another possibility is that the sun will become hotter.  Even today there are great explosions or flare-ups on the sun.

All of us have gone through some time when the temperature was extremely hot.  But, nothing man has ever experienced was anything like the hot that the people on the earth will experience during this fourth bowl judgment.  See also Revelation 8:12

Will man turn to God when the earth becomes a great and horrible barbecue spit turning before the scorching heat of the sun?  "They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him."  No!  Men refuse to humble themselves before God.  Instead, they curse the God that they are ignoring and rebelling against.  They know there is a God, but they totally refuse to do it His way.  They will not turn to Him even when it is hotter than they can bear! 

Here we see that men's hearts can become so hardened that nothing will break and humble them.  As someone has said, "The same heat that melts the wax also hardens the clay."  In the last days, this heat from the sun will only serve to cause the people of that time to become more hardened toward God.  See Deuteronomy 32:24; Isaiah 24:6; Malachi 4:1-2; and Luke 21:25

 f. Bowl #5 (16:10-11)

"The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged in darkness."  Suddenly, the dark kingdom ruled by Satan's henchman, the Antichrist, is engulfed in total darkness.  God gives the world what they want.  What they want is darkness, and darkness is what they will get!  In many caves it is so dark on the inside that in the middle of the day you cannot see where you are putting your foot or see your hand in front of your face.  In the last days, the world will choose this type of darkness.  It will be so dark that men will not know what is right and what is wrong.  It will be too dark for them to know how to walk on God's path.  The Psalmist who wrote Psalm 119 declared:  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).  When God's Word is removed from the world, the lights will go out.  Then, God will also remove man's physical light. See Ephesians 4:17-19

"Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done."  A good parent seeks to guide his or her children toward God and His ways; but there are children who continue to rebel no matter what a parent may do.  God has spoken to the world through His prophets, His own Son, Christians, and the Bible.  But in the end, the world will still refuse to repent and turn to God.  In fact, instead of repenting and turning to God, they will curse and blaspheme God.  The basic problem is that they love sin and hate God.  See Amos 5:18, Zephaniah 1:15

Exodus 10:21-23 describes a plague of darkness that is a judgment on Egypt.  The Pharaoh at first was willing to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt, but then he hardens his heart.  He is a type---a symbolic predictor---of those who will harden their hearts during the plague of darkness in the last days.

Verse eleven reveals to us that these bowl judgments overlap, for while they are in the darkness of the fifth bowl judgment, they are sill suffering from the sores of the first bowl judgment.  In the darkness, they cursed "because of their pains and their sores."

Scripture shows that darkness is a consequence of man's sin.  Sin darkens our hearts.  "They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts."  (Ephesians 4:18)   There was darkness from about noon until 3 P.M. on the day Jesus was crucified (Matthew 12:45).  Hell is described as a place of the "blackest" darkness.  See Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30; II Peter 2:17; Jude 6, 13 

g. Bowl #6 (16:12-16)

"The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.  Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet.  They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.  Behold, I come like a thief!  Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.  Then, they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon."

Thought Question #1:  According to 16:12-14, why do you think the demons looked liked frogs?  (Consider that the Holy Spirit came down on Jesus like a dove.)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How do the armies of the sixth Trumpet compare to the armies of the sixth Bowl?  (For example, are they the same armies or different armies?)

 

 

Thought Question #3:  Do you believe that 16:15 is talking about Jesus coming to rapture the church?  Explain your answer.

 

 

Thought Question #4:  Where is the "Armageddon" where the kings will gather together?

 

 

"The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East."  The preparation begins for the final battle in the Bible.  Here we see the armies beginning to gather for this final battle.  The Euphrates River is 1800 miles long and is 400 yards wide.  It once was the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire.  The hoards to the east of the empire were often held off from entering and conquering Rome at the shores of this river.  In the future this river will dry up and not be an obstacle to the armies from the east as they head toward the final battle at Jerusalem. 

"Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.  They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty."  Who will gather the armies to Israel for the final battle?  The armies will be gathered by demons that come from Satan's trinity-Satan himself, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet. 

It was Hitler's goal to conquer the world.  He was able to conquer much of Europe.  What motivated him to seek to conquer the world?  Also, what motivated him to order the mass murder of the Jews?  We have the answer in these two verses.  There were undoubtedly demons who led, motivated, and empowered Hitler and his forces to conquer, brutalize and murder thousands.  These demons, in particular, led them to kill God's people, the Jews.

In the last days, demons will lead the armies of the world to attack Israel.  The demonic spirits are said here to come from the three members of the Satanic trinity.  And to John, these evil spirits look like frogs.  It is these demonic spirits that will lead the world into war.  The armies will believe that they are making the decision to go to war, but actually they are puppets of these evil spirits and puppets of the members of Satan's trinity.

These demons will motivate these armies by empowering them to "to perform miraculous signs."  Adolph Hitler was able to mesmerize Germany with his demon-empowered preaching.  In the last days, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will be able to not only motivate with their words, but they will also capture the attention of the world with miraculous signs.

What is meant by the evil spirits looking "like frogs"?  Frogs are included in the list of unclean animals that Israel was commanded to detest and abstain from eating.  See Leviticus 11:9-12  One of the plagues that fell on Egypt was a plague of frogs.  See Exodus 8:5-11 and Psalm 105:30  The demons that come out of the mouths of Satan's trinity will be unclean and detestable looking.  Frogs are found in slimy swamps.  When demons guide people, they guide them into all types of filth.  These demons will fill the armies of the world with hate toward God and His people, until their hate leads to the final worldwide battle against God.  See Psalms 2:1-3

In these verses there is the first mention of the False Prophet.  He is certainly the second beast who was described in Revelation 13:11-17.  He is also mentioned in Revelation 19:20 and 20:10.

As the armies of the world are being blindly led by Satan's Pied Piper to the great battle in Israel, Jesus gives a warning:  "Behold, I come like a thief!  Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."

Satan's armies think they are invincible.  They think it will not be long before they crush Israel, God's last stronghold in the world.  But, Jesus warns, "I will come at a time when you won't expect me to come."  The world will be asleep, for they will be blinded by their sin and rebellion.  To them Jesus will come like a thief in the night.  The world will be asleep and not expect Him.  Blessed are those, though, who will be ready for Him - those who are awake-those who are not blinded by sin.

John uses another figure of speech here also.  Blessed are those who are properly dressed.  If we are not clothed in Jesus' forgiveness and His righteousness, we will stand before Him with all our sins exposed.  We will be like Adam and Eve when God appeared to them after they ate of the fruit.  They felt naked and ashamed, and they hid from God.

"Then, they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon."  World War II was called the war to end all wars.  No!  Armageddon will be the war to end all wars!  In John's time, Megiddo was a city to the south of Nazareth.  In between Megiddo and Nazareth was a great valley that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan.  Many battles in the Old Testament were fought in this valley:  "This was the plain where Barak and Deborah overthrew Sisera and his chariots (Judges 5:19-21); where Ahaziah died by the arrows of Jehu (2 Kings 9:27); where the good Josiah perished in battle with Pharaoh Necho (2 Kings 23:29,30)  See also Zechariah 12:11  "Taken from The Revelation of John Volume 2 by William Barclay.  Copyright 197 by Westminster Press."

Napoleon saw this valley as an "ideal battleground for the armies of the world."  He was right, for it is where the armies from all over the world will gather for the final battle.  As we have seen the armies of the world gather to fight against Iraq in the Gulf War, and then against the Serbs, and against Afghanistan and Iraq once more, a gathering of the world's armies is now not hard for us to imagine.  There will someday be a gathering of the world's armies in the valley of Megiddo!  In Armageddon!

h. Bowl #7 (16:17-21)

"The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'It is done!'  Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake.  No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake.  The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed.  God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her a cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.  Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.  From the sky huge hail stones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men.  And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.

Thought Question:  Compare this earthquake with the earthquakes in 6:12, 8:5, and 11:13.  Are these all the same earthquake or are they different earthquakes?  Explain your reasons for your answers.

 

 

"The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'It is done!'"  These words tell us that this seventh bowl of wrath concludes God's wrath against mankind for our rebelliousness against Him throughout the years.  When Jesus said, "It is finished!" God's wrath was poured out on Him.  But for those who reject what Jesus did for us the cross, the wrath of God will be poured out on them.  Here is another "It is finished."  It is the "It is finished" for those who reject God's grace. 

This bowl is poured "Into the air."Some believe that this may be a nuclear explosion that fills the air and which leads to the calamity that comes next.

"Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake.  No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake.  The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed.  God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her a cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.  Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.  From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men.  And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail because the plague was so terrible."

The earthquake that is the result of the seventh bowl of God's wrath is so destructive that it leaves the whole world in rubble.  The Great City is the city where Satan will rule.  It is the capital city of the world, and the capital city from which the Antichrist will rule the world.  It could be the actual city of Babylon, which would be where man's rebellion against God began at the Tower of Babel.  It could be the city of Rome, the home of the false church.  It could also be referring to Jerusalem.  In 11:8 Jerusalem is referred to as "the great city."  Nevertheless, because Jerusalem is not referred to anywhere as "Babylon the Great," it seems more likely that the Great City described in these verses is either the actual city of Babylon, the city of Rome that will be referred to in the next chapter, or another city that is like the Babylon of old.  See 17:9

The earthquake will not only divide the Great City into three parts, it will also be a worldwide earthquake.  The "cities of the nations collapsed."  The great cities of the world, man's greatest accomplishment and man's greatest sense of pride will suddenly become a pile of rubble. 

Isaiah 24 appears to be referring to this worldwide earthquake:  "The floodgates of the heavens are opened, the foundations of the earth shake.  The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, the earth is thoroughly shaken.  The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind."  Nothing is more frightening than an earthquake.  There is nowhere to run, for the ground beneath your feet could open up and swallow you.  See also Ezekiel 38:20  Other great but lesser earthquakes precede this great worldwide earthquake.  See Revelation 6:12, 8:5, and 11:13  See also II Peter 3:10

Huge hailstones of "about a hundred pounds will fall on the earth."  Some of us can remember when we did not have refrigerators and when the ice man delivered huge blocks of ice to our homes.  The hailstones that will fall from the sky will be as large as or larger than those blocks of ice hauled by the ice man.  Other examples of God judging the world through hail stones are found in Exodus 9:24; Joshua 10:1; Job 38:22; Isaiah 28:2; and Ezekiel 38:22

It would seem logical that men would turn to God when they could no longer depend on the ground below them or the sky above them, but instead of turning to God, they will curse God.  Man's heart will have become so hardened against God that even the worst of calamities will not frighten them enough to turn to God.

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. ®   NIV ®   Copyright ©  1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.  All Rights reserved.

Studies in Revelation