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REVELATION 17 - 22

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

We come now not only to the final chapters of the book of Revelation and the final chapters of the Bible, but also to the final chapters of life on earth as we now know it.  In chapters seventeen through twenty-two of the book of Revelation, we are introduced to Mystery Babylon, the battle of Armageddon and the glorious return of Jesus Christ, the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, and heaven.  Hold on to your seat and fasten your safety belt as we learn of how God ends His book!

7. The events that lead to God's judgment (#2) (17:1-19:5)
The theme of the next two chapters is "Babylon."  "Babylon" is a symbolic word that summarizes man's united rebellion against God and the results of man's rebellion.  Man first united in rebellion against God at the Tower of Babel when they decided to unite together to make a name for themselves.  See Genesis 11:1-4  At the time described in the book Revelation, man will have become united worldwide in their prideful and wicked rebellion against God.  These chapters describe this Babylon-the final worldwide rebellion against God and the fall of this Babylon.

a. Mystery Babylon - the Great Prostitute (17) Satan's abominable version of

the church!
"One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, 'Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters.  With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.  Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert.  Then I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.  The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls.  She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.  This title was written on her forehead: Mystery Babylon the Great the Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the Earth.  I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.  When I saw her I was greatly astonished."

Thought Question #1: Attempt to explain the symbolisms in these verses.

 

 

Thought Question #2: Who do you believe is "the great prostitute"?

 

 

(1) Her world-wide influence (17:1-2)

"One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, 'Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute who sits on many waters.  With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.'"  False religion started at the Tower of Babel, with man's first attempt to create his own religion.  "Come let us build ourselves a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens."  (Genesis 11:4)  Man's religion began with the Tower of Babel.  The city they built became the ancient city of Babylon, and eventually the capital city of the Babylonian empire.  In Isaiah 14, the King of Babylon says these words:  "I will ascend to heaven, I will raise my throne above the stars of God.  I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.  I will ascend above the tops of the clouds."  It is believed by many, if not most Bible scholars, that this description is also a description of the pride of Satan; for it was Satan's prideful heart that filled the heart of the Babylonian king.  Satan is also behind all the false religions of the world who exalt man rather than God.

Let's look at what this chapter says about this false church.  What is symbolized by this woman, "the great prostitute"?  Ray Stedman observes that "the symbol of this woman receives more attention than any other in the book.  In fact, the woman on the beast is surrounded by more identifying clues than any other symbol in Revelation."  Taken from God's Final Word by Ray C. Stedman.  Copyright 1991 by Discovery House Publishing."

First of all, she is called a "prostitute".  This false church not only sins herself, but also seduces others into her sin of rebellion against God and exalting man to the place of being equal or superior to God.

Next, we see that the whole world is seduced by the false church, "the great prostitute."  In Proverbs 5 and 7 an adulteress is described who is the picture of Satan's and the world's seduction of men into sin.  In the last days, nations and their kings will be seduced into Satan's-man-exalting-false church.  She will captivate men in the very same way that men are seduced by a prostitute, by an appeal to lust and pride.

King Ahab was seduced by Jezebel into worshiping her Phoenician gods and idols.  Solomon was seduced by women from foreign countries and ultimately allowed the worship of their gods in Israel.  Samson was seduced away from God by Delilah.  In the end times, the world will be seduced by "the great prostitute" to follow Satan's religion.  It is very likely that part of the seduction will be some type of sexual allurement.  See Revelation 2:20-23

Also, the kings of the earth will be "intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries."  Although this description is a symbolic picture of people being intoxicated by the false church, it is also very likely that alcohol and drugs will be an important part of the false church.

This woman clearly could not be one single woman, for all of the kings of the earth are said to commit adultery with her.  That she "sits on many waters" and the kings of the earth committed adultery with her, tells us that "the great prostitute" will influence every part of the world.  And her influence will be like the influence of alcohol.  Because of her intoxicating influence, people will not think clearly or act wisely.  See also 17:15: "Then the angel said to me, 'The waters you saw where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.'"

The great prostitute's influence will likely begin during the first 3 ½ years of the seven-year period that has come to be called the Tribulation period.

(2) Her evil accomplice the Beast (17:3)

"Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert.  Then I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns."  It appears from this description of the great prostitute riding on the "beast," that for a while she is in charge of the kingdom of the Beast.  She rides and guides it for a period of time.  For a long period in western history, the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church controlled the western world.  Ecclesiastic power was greater than political power during the Middle Ages.  Kings were under the authority of the church.  The great prostitute sitting on the "beast" may describe a time when, like Roman Catholicism, the false religious system of the last days will be more powerful than the political power of the "beast"The Antichrist, though, will turn on her and conquer her in the end.  See 17:16-17

(3) Her great riches (17:4)

"The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls.  She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries."  In Luke 16:19, Jesus describes a "rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day."  This false religion that the world will follow will be like this rich man.  Jesus, on the other hand, had nowhere to lay His head and was born in a manger.  Nevertheless, churches are often very wealthy.  In the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church built great ornate cathedrals in the middle of poverty.  So, today, we can spend more riches on our church buildings than we spend on helping the needy.

The church was meant to be primarily a loving relationship with God and loving relationship between members of the church.  Jesus said that "where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."  (Matthew 18:20)

What is meant by the "golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries"?  It is like the description that Jesus gave of the Pharisees in Matthew 23: "You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead man's bones and everything unclean.  In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."  The gold of this cup gives the impression that this false religion of Babylon is godly and of great value, but it is only an outward impression.   This false religion will be motivated by greed, sexual immorality, demonism, pride, and what is ugly.

This cup may be a counterfeit of the communion cup.  Instead of being a picture of the Lord's pure blood given for us, it is filed with everything impure.

(4) Her title (17:5)

"Mystery Babylon the Great the Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the Earth."  What is meant by Mystery Babylon"?  Mystery in John's time meant that there were certain rituals and knowledge that were only known by the initiated members of a particular group.  Mystery in John's time is similar to the members of a college fraternity having secret rituals that only the members know.  In John's time, only those inside the religion that had these types of mysteries were allowed to know its secrets.

"Mystery Babylon" is that false religion that was started at the Tower of Babel.  John is revealing to us here, the mysteries of this false religion.  We know that though it gives the impression that it is a religion that worships God, it is actually a religion that is in rebellion against God.  Many outside of the true church are fooled and think that it is a legitimate form of the church.  Paul, when he was a Pharisee, thought that God wanted him to kill Christians.  Many who are in the Babylonian church also believe that they are worshiping God in the way He wants to be worshiped.  To the true church, though, Babylon is no mystery.  But, those outside of the church do not understand that this religion is the very opposite of true religion.

It is a rebellion against God that masquerades as a God-honoring religion.  It is Satan's great counterfeit religion.  The religion that began in Babylon is centered in the worship of a goddess.  "In addition to the materials given in the Bible itself, ancient accounts indicate that the wife of Nimrod, who founded the city of Babylon, became the head of the so-called Babylonian mysteries which consisted of secret religious rites which were developed as a part of the worship of idols in Babylon.  She was known by the name of Semiramis and was a high priestess of the idol worship.  According to extrabiblical records which have been preserved, Semiramis gave birth to a son who she claimed was conceived miraculously.  This son given the name of Tammuz, was considered a savior of his people and was, in effect, a false Messiah, purported to be the fulfillment of the promise given to Eve.  The legend of the mother and child was incorporated into the religious rites and is repeated in various pagan religions.  Idols picturing the mother as the queen of heaven with babe in arms are found throughout the ancient world."  "Taken from The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John F. Walvoord.  Copyright 1966 by Moody Press."

The "Queen of Heaven" is mentioned in Jeremiah 7:18 and 44:17-19,25.  Tammuz is mentioned in Ezekiel 8:14.  This "Queen of Heaven" was Isis in Egypt, Ashtoreth in Canaan, Aphrodite in Corinth, and Diana in Ephesus.  The Roman Catholic Church's worship of Mary is a continuation of the worship of the "Queen of Heaven."  There are those within the ultra-liberal wing of the women's movement who have used this mother and baby worship throughout numerous religions to support their view that God is a woman.

In this verse we are told that "Mystery Babylon" is "The Mother of Prostitutes and the abominations of the Earth."  The religion of Babylon has spawned a whole system of false religion.  These false religions are found all over the world.  Each of these religions follows the pattern described in these verses; they portray what is actually a rebellion against God as a worship of God.  See also Zechariah 5:5-11 and Revelation 2:18-25

(5) Her murders (17:6)

"I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.  When I saw her I was greatly astonished."  One way that we can know that a church is clearly false is when it murders Christians.  Not only does this great prostitute kill Christians, but she is completely intoxicated while she is doing it.  In other words, she enjoys it!

John is "greatly astonished" that this church enjoys murdering.  The only church he knew in his day was being persecuted and murdered, not doing the murdering.  He was amazed that this church begun by Jesus, and he and the other Apostles,could end up murdering those who believed in Jesus Christ.

The Roman Catholic Church did murder Christians.  Jack MacArthur refers to a study done by Sir Robert Anderson of Scotland Yard where it is estimated that Rome murdered over 50 million Christians.  The Inquisition is an undeniable and horrible part of history.  The murderers of believers in Jesus Christ will perform their most evil atrocities, though, during the time of the Antichrist.

(6) The mystery of the beast who once was (17:7-14)

"Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come. “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”"

Thought Question #1:  What are the seven hills on which the woman sits?

 

 

Thought Question 2:  Who do you believe the eight kings are?

 

 

Thought Question 3: What is meant by the Beast who "once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss"?

 

 

Thought Question 4:  How can the eighth king belong to the seven?

 

 

"Then the angel said to me:  'Why are you so astonished?  I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and the beast she rides, which has seven heads and ten horns.  The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to her destruction.  The inhabitants of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.'"  Is the meaning of these verses clear to you?  You probably are saying at this point, "It is as clear as mud."  Verse eight and verses 9-11 are verses that are not easily interpreted.

Because the meaning of verse eight is intertwined with meaning of verses 9-11, I shall proceed to these verses:  "This calls for a mind with wisdom.  The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits.  They are also seven kings.  Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while.  The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king.  He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction."

What does all of this mean?  It is important, first of all, to remember what is taught about the four beasts and four empires in Daniel 7.  The first beast (the Lion) and the first empire was the Babylonian empire.  The second beast (the Bear) and the second empire was the Medo-Persian Empire.  The third beast (the Leopard) and the third empire was the Greek empire started by Alexander the Great.  And the fourth beast and the fourth empire was Rome.  The beast of Revelation 13 and 17, then, is this last empire, the Roman Empire.  The Roman Catholic Church obviously was united with the Roman Empire.  For a while, the Roman Catholic Church controlled the Roman Empire (or what had once been the Roman Empire).  So, it would appear that the meaning of these difficult verses is somehow tied to the Roman Empire-an empire that will be revived in the last days.

The other three empires were replaced by other empires, but the Roman Empire, though no longer ruling the world, has not been replaced.  It is still waiting for a ruler to come along who can revive it.  Charlemagne and Hitler tried to restore this empire to its former glory-the glory that was once Rome's (the second and third Reichs).  The Antichrist will restore this final beast to its former glory, and the Roman Empire will once again be a worldwide Empire.

Now, let us attempt to interpret the meaning of these verses.  An easier part of these verses is verse nine:  "The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits."  The city of Rome is on seven hills.  "Seven hills formed the nucleus of the ancient city on the left bank of the Tiber.  These hills received the names of Palatine, Aventine, Caelian, Esquiline, Viminal, Quirinal, and Capitoline."  "Taken from The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John F. Walvoord.  Copyright 1966 by Moody Press."

The Roman Catholic Church is located in Rome.  So, it is very likely that the woman sitting on seven hills is a description of the Roman Catholic Church.  Verse eighteen supports this interpretation:  "The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth."  The Church of Rome did rule over the kings of the earth and will one day rule over them again.  Even today, the Church of Rome has a very strong influence on leaders of the countries of the world.

Ray Stedman calls the type of religion that is called here - "Mystery Babylon," a Babylonian-influenced Christianity.  It is a Christianity that has been penetrated and became dominated by Babylonian paganism.  Many of the practices found in Roman Catholicism did not have their origin in the Bible.  Rather, they originated from pagan practices, and have become Christianized.  For example, the worship of saints came from the practice of worshiping gods and goddesses.  Is there anything in the Bible that encourages us to worship saints?  On the contrary, the Bible teaches that all who are Christians are saints.  The nuns are also not found in the Bible.  They have their origin from the pagan temple priestesses.  Paganism, though, has also penetrated other parts of Christianity besides Roman Catholicism.  For example, the New Age movement has been welcomed into many churches.  Pagan forms of worship have also crept into our churches.  Disorderly worship services are a pagan form or worship and not a Biblical pattern.  See I Corinthians 12:1-3, 14:26-38

Now, the more difficult parts of these verses: "They are also seven kings.  Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while.  The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king.  He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction."  John begins this section of verses with, "This calls for a mind with wisdom."  He appears to mean that what he is about to say will not be easy to understand.  So, we will need God's wisdom to be able to figure out the meaning of these verses.

First of all, we notice that the "seven heads" are also "seven kings."  The "seven heads" are the Seven Hills of Rome and they are also "seven kings."  The reasonable conclusion is that the "seven kings" are kings who ruled or would rule in Rome.  The ten kings are ten kings who would rule in the future at the same time.  The "seven heads" appear to represent seven kings who rule consecutively, one after another, over a period of time.  None of these kings, then, will rule at the same time.  In John's time, because five of the kings had fallen, these five kings had already either been conquered or had died.  One of the kings, the sixth king, was ruling at the time that John received this revelation.  The seventh king had not yet ruled.  A possible interpretation of this verse (verse ten) is that it is describing a series of emperors who ruled in Rome.  The first five emperors could then, for example, be Julius Caesar, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, and Domitian. 

The first five ruled before John's time.  Domitian was ruling at the time John received this revelation from God.  A seventh king could be the final king, the Antichrist, who after being filled by Satan also becomes the eighth king.

John goes on to describe this "eighth king."  He is the beast mentioned in verse eight "who once was, now is not, and yet will come."  If the series of seven kings are Roman emperors, the eighth king would also need to be a Roman emperor.  I will present five possible interpretations of these verses.  Then, I will share with you my own conclusion as to which interpretation appears to me to best fit these verses.  You, of course, can also choose which interpretation you believe best interprets these difficult verses (or you may choose yet another interpretation).

(1) One theory is that Nero meets all the qualification for the eighth king.  At John's time he "once was."  He once did rule Rome.  It is also true that in John's time he "was not," for he was no longer ruling at the time that John wrote this book.  Nero also was, then, one of "the seven."  The Antichrist, then, could be a resurrected Nero.

(2) It could also mean that Satan (or a demon) was inside one of the emperors like Nero, and Satan (or a demon) will also fill a king in the future in the same way that he filled Nero.  In verse eight it says that this beast will "come up out of the Abyss."  This could mean that Satan from the Abyss will indwell this eighth king as he once indwelled another king of John's time.  For example, a demon that possessed Nero may also possess the Beast.

(3) Another possibility is that the seventh king is the Antichrist who rules for a little while, dies, resurrects, and is filled by Satan.  The seventh king, then, would become the eighth king after he is resurrected and Satan fills him.
(4) Still another possibility is that the seven empires represents seven consecutive empires (rather than seven consecutive emperors) (The final kingdom of Jesus Christ is called a mountain in Daniel 2:35,44-45).  Then, the seven mountains would be seven successive empires.  Five would have fallen before John's time.  One would have existed in John's time.  Then, one empire would exist after John's time.  The first five empires that existed before John's time could be the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Greek empires.  The one that existed in John's time would then be the Roman Empire.  The seventh king would be the ten nation empire of the last days.  The eighth kingdom, then, would be this final kingdom in the last days, ruled by the Antichrist and not by the ten kings.

(5) Finally, a possibility is that the seventh empire was the Third Reich of Adolph Hitler, and the eighth king will be ruled by the Antichrist who will be the resurrected Adolph Hitler.  Robert Van Kampen, the author of "The Sign" holds this position.

A strong argument has been made for each of these five positions.  We need to choose which interpretation is correct.  My conclusion is that as Satan dominated and filled Nero's life, so he will take over a resurrected ruler in the last days.  This king before he is resurrected will be the seventh king.  After he is resurrected and filled with Satan he will become the Satan-filled and Satan-empowered Antichrist, who is the eighth king.  The Antichrist will, then, be a man very much like Nero.

"The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.  They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast.  They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lord and King of kings---and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.

Thought Question:  Who do you believe will be the ten kings?

 

 

"The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.  They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast.  They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings---and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."  The final kingdom of the Antichrist will be a revived Roman Empire ruled by ten kings.  These ten kings will ultimately give their authority to rule this kingdom to the Antichrist.  This kingdom will be united in one cause, to eliminate men's worship of Jesus Christ the Lamb.  This kingdom will seek to rid the world of God's people in much the same way as Hitler and the Nazis attempted to rid the world of the Jewish people.

In the end, though, Jesus Christ will prevail, for He is God; the true Ruler of all.  It was preposterous to attack God.  It was a certainty from the beginning who would win.  See Psalm two

Who are these ten kings?  Some believe that the future united Europe will be ruled by ten kings.  Another possibility is that it will be a future union of the Mediterranean countries who cover a similar area as the old Roman empire.  Another possibility is that it will be a truly worldwide kingdom.  Possibly the ten kings will rule over ten regions like North America, South America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa, Australia and four divisions of Asia (the Middle East, China, India, etc.).  We cannot be sure what parts of the world these ten kings will rule over, but we can be sure that ten kings will rule over a kingdom or empire that will eventually rule the world.  And we can be sure that Jesus Christ will ultimately decisively conquer this Satanic and Antichrist-led empire.  Although we do not have all the details, we do know where the world is heading.  The Hero will win!

Verse fourteen says that when Jesus conquers the Beast's kingdom, He will be accompanied by His followers.  That means that you and I who are His followers will be there, and we will be part of this great victory over evil and over the evil one.

(7) The fall of the Great Prostitute (17:15-18)

"Then the angel said to me, 'The waters you saw where the prostitute sits are people, multitudes, nations and languages.  The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute.  They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.  For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled.  The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.'"

Thought Question 1:  Why do you believe the ten kings and the Beast will hate the prostitute?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What city is the "great city that rules over the kings of the earth" that is also "the woman"?

 

 

"Then the angel said to me, 'The waters you saw where the prostitute sits are people, multitudes, nations and languages.'"  We discussed this verse when we covered verse one.  The false religion symbolized as a prostitute is a worldwide religion.

"The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute.  They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire."  The Beast and the ten rulers will be subject at first to the Babylon religious system.  The period of time when the Beast will be ruled by this false religious system will be, at least in part, during the first 3 ½ years of the final seven year period of the last days; the period that modern-day theologians have named "the Tribulation."  The Beast and the ten rulers will at first be ruled by this religious system.  It will probably be at the mid-point of the seven years that they will turn on her, rebel against her rule over them, and conquer her.

The words used to describe how the Beast and the rulers will overthrow the Great Prostitute, graphically describes a vicious attack and a sudden overthrow:  "bring her to ruin."  The woman who "was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls" will become a complete "ruin."  "They will eat her flesh."  Not only will her riches be taken from her, but even her flesh will be devoured.  See Psalm 27:2; Micah 3:3  It is a description of total conquest.  "burn her with fire"  It is a picture of a conquest so complete that there will be nothing left of the Great Prostitute but ashes.  See Leviticus 20:14, 21:9  This false religious system will be totally replaced by the worship of the Antichrist as god.

What happened to Jezebel the wicked wife of King Ahab is a prediction of what will happen to the Great Prostitute.  She was thrown out of a window:  "Some of her blood spattered on the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot . . . When they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet, and her hands."  The same will happen to the Great Prostitute religion!

"For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled."  This verse is a clear teaching about God's total sovereign rule over what happens on this earth.  Although God does not do evil, He directs men's evil to accomplish His purposes.  When the rulers overthrow the false religious system of the Great Prostitute and give over their kingdoms to be ruled by the Beast, they will be thinking that it is all their idea.  But, they will actually be doing exactly what God desires them to do.

We can feel, as we see evil winning; that our world is completely out of control.  But, we can see from this verse that God is even in charge of evil.  When evil is winning, it is because it is God's purpose at that time for evil to win.  God is fulfilling His purposes even in the worst of times.

"The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth."  In John's time, the great city was Rome.  And, after John's time, she did rule over the kings of the earth: Roman Catholicism would have, in the Middle Ages, the power to make kings bow before her popes.  Some believe, though, that the actual city of Babylon will be restored, and that she will be this woman.  Still others believe that "Mystery Babylon" is a pagan form of religion that will spread throughout the world.  But, the clearest and simplest interpretation is that the "great city" is Rome.  Rome was the great city of John's time, and she does sit on seven hills.  See 17:9

b. The Fall of Babylon (18:1-19:5)

The book of Revelation describes the future as a time when men will progress toward our best accomplishments without God.  That is what men began to do in Genesis 11.  They were seeking to unite to make a name for themselves.  What will it be like when man does his very best without God?  Revelation 18 answers that question.  Man's best without God is summed up in one word: "Babylon."  Man left God's paradise Eden and has sought to build his own paradise.  Man's paradise is "the city."  God calls it "Babylon."  To Him it is not beautiful, but ugly and wicked.  Revelation 17 is about man's religious system without God; Revelation 18 is about man's financial or economic system without God.

(1) The fall of man's paradise - the fall of Babylon (18:1-3)

"After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven.  He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor.  With a mighty voice he shouted:  'Fallen!  Fallen is Babylon the Great!  She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.  For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries.  The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.'"

Thought Question #1:  Do you believe that the Babylon in Revelation 18 is the same Babylon as in Revelation 17?  Explain why you believe it is the same or different (or both different and the same).

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Attempt to explain the symbolisms found in these verses.

 

 

Cities are man's finest accomplishments.  But, they have become, and will become even more, a place for demons.  What are our cities like now?  They are places for selling and using drugs, gang wars, prostitution, pornographic movies and literature, all types of crime, and excessive luxury.  Our finest accomplishment-the city-is in God's eyes, the ugliest place on earth!

I personally have watched Los Angeles grow from the city of Angels to one of the ugliest places on earth.  There they seek happiness through the pursuit of pleasure rather than through the pursuit of God.

Notice that the angel shouts, "Fallen!  Fallen is Babylon the Great!"  The repetition of "Fallen" describes a sudden event.  Babylon's fall, the fall of man's commercial system, will be sudden and complete!

Some believe that chapter 18 is a continuation of chapter 17, and that chapter 18 is also describing the false religious system.  But, notice that John says, "After this," and "another angel."  Also, the Babylon of chapter 17 is destroyed by the Beast and the ten kings (17:15-17), but when the Babylon of chapter 18 is destroyed, the kings mourn (18:9-15).  The Babylon of chapter 18 is man's commercial and economic system that is centered in a city or in the city.

Babylon is the "haunt of every unclean and detestable bird."  There are beautiful birds, but there are also birds that are ugly.  There is the cardinal and the peacock, but there is also the buzzard and the vulture.  The city is not the home of the beautiful, but the ugly.  It is the home of thousands of bars, pimps, drug dealers, fast talking car salesmen, bickering millionaire athletes and millionaire owners, gambling casinos, and all types of corruption.  Every ugly bird makes its home there.  We see here that God has abandoned the city to demons.

Is this "Babylon the Great" one city?  It could represent cities in general or it could be one city in the future.  The richest city in the United States is New York.  There may be one city in the future that will stand out from all the rest, in that it will be the largest and the most corrupt city of its time.  Again, Rome in the restored Roman Empire may regain its former splendor in the years ahead.

Some believe that it may be a restored Babylon.  Today, Babylon would be located in Iraq.  But Isaiah 13:19,20 states that Babylon will never be rebuilt:  "Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory of the Babylonians' pride, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah.  She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there, no shepherd will rest his flocks there."

Tim LaHaye, though, argues that Babylon has not been destroyed yet to the degree that is prophesied in Isaiah 13 and 14, and Jeremiah 50 and 51.  He provides a list of times when Babylon has been occupied, concluding with Iraq's present attempt to restore ancient Babylon.  He believes that the chapters in Isaiah and Jeremiah that contain prophecies of Babylon's destruction are prophecies of an incomplete destruction in Isaiah's and Jeremiah's time and a complete destruction of Babylon in the last days.

It could be that Rome will be the capital of the false religious system where the False Prophet will reign; and that Babylon will be the capital city of the world where the Antichrist will rule.  The first Babylon sits on seven hills as Rome does; the second Babylon needs to be totally destroyed as was predicted by Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Another possibility is that Rome could be Babylon during the first 3 ½ years when the religious system rules the world.  Then, Rome or Babylon would be the place from which the Antichrist will rule in the second 3 ½ years of these seven last years.

Notice that the angel says that the "kings of the earth have committed adultery with her."  Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters . . . You cannot serve God and Money." (Matthew 6:24)  In the future, the kings of the earth will wholeheartedly choose Money over God.  Certainly, our world and our rulers are more in love with money than with God.  At the time of this writing, one of the biggest debates relating to our leaders is over campaign donations; and particularly over what is called "soft money."  In the last days, rulers or leaders will wholeheartedly choose selfish indulgence, power, and personal prestige over obedience to their Creator.  They will leave God for another lover.  They will be adulterers.  As the Apostle John warned:  "Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."  (I John 2:15)

"Then I heard another voice from heaven say:  'Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to the heavens, and God has remembered her crimes.  Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done.  Mix her a double portion from her own cup.  Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself.  In her heart she boasts, "I sit as queen, I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.  Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning, and famine.  She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her."

Thought Question #1:  What do these verses tell us about what this Babylon will be like?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do these verses tell us about the fate of this Babylon?

 

 

(2) "Come out of Babylon!" (18:4)

"Then I heard another voice from heaven say:  'Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;'"  Lot and his family were taken out of Sodom and Gomorrah before these cities were judged.  In the last days, God's people are to come out of Babylon, so they will not "share" or participate with her in her sins.

This does not mean we are to separate ourselves from the people of the world, but that we are to separate ourselves from the worldliness of the world.  Jesus said that we are in the world, but not of it.  "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." (John 17:15)  See also Jeremiah 50:4-9, 51:6,45; Genesis 19:12-22; Numbers 16:23-26; Isaiah 48:20; II Corinthians 6:14,15,; Romans 12:2)

(3) The reason for Babylon's judgment (18:5-8)

"for her sins are piled up to the heavens, and God has remembered her crimes."  At the Tower of Babel, the people wanted to build a tower that would reach "up to the heavens." (Genesis 11:1)  The final Babylon will have sins that reach up to the heavens!

"Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done.  Mix her a double portion from her own cup.  Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself.  In her heart she boasts, 'I sit as queen, I am not a widow, and I will never mourn."  We have a saying today, "What goes around, comes around."  Notice that Babylon will receive back double what she has dished out to others.  Our nation started with pioneering and hard work.  Now, we have accumulated luxuries as result of the hard work of those who came before us.  We have become like the man in Luke 12:16-20.  "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years.  Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry."  (Luke 12:19)  See also Matthew 7:2; Jeremiah 50:29  Babylon will be like this wealthy man, for those in it will feel no need of God at all.  "In her heart she boasts . . . "I will never mourn."  See also Isaiah 3:16-17

What happened to the rich man in Jesus' parable will also happen to this last days' Babylon:  "This very night your life will be demanded from you" (Luke 12:20).  So Babylon will suddenly be judged!  "Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning, and famine.  She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her."  In "one day"!  The Babylonian empire fell in one day.  See Daniel 5:30-31  So, the final Babylon will fall in one day.  She will be "consumed by fire." This could be the result of a nuclear war.  See also II Peter 3:10

(4) Mourning dirges for Babylon (18:9-17)

"“When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “‘Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!’ “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more— cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men. “They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn and cry out: “‘Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’ “Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off.  When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: “‘Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin! Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.’”"

Thought Question:  Do these verses mean that God hates wealth?  Explain your answer.

 

 

There will be those who mourn when Babylon falls.  "“When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “‘Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!’"  Kings or rulers who have lived in the luxury provided by man's achievements and wealth will cry and mourn when it is suddenly all gone.  Today, leaders in our countries are rich; very rich!  In our own country our presidents are usually very wealthy.  Where do the leaders of most countries get their wealth?  Usually, they get wealthy at the expense of the poor.  In the last days, these very wealthy leaders will see their wealth and their rich cities crumble before their eyes.  See James 5:1-6

"The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more---cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine line, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men." 

What is described here are mostly luxuries and not necessities.  What is described here had to be transported great distances, and each was very expensive so that only the very wealthy could afford them.  For example, linen came from Egypt; purple dye came from a tiny shellfish; silk came from China; citron wood came from North Africa; ivory needed to be shipped in from countries that had elephants; and cinnamon came from India.  The "bodies and souls of men" refers to slaves.

This list is a prediction that Babylon will be consumed with luxuries.  It does not, then, appear to be an exact list of the luxuries of the last days.  What are our luxuries today?  What is it that only the rich can afford?  Compared to most other countries, all Americans are rich, and live in luxury.  We have microwaves, computers, cellular phones, VCRs, large screen color television sets, large cars, driving lawn mowers, automatic garage door openers, boats, CD players, motor homes, snowmobiles, 4-wheelers, cabins, swimming pools, tennis courts, Jacuzzis, expensive furniture, and more.  Are these all necessities?  Many Americans believe they are!  Advertisers, who certainly will be an important part of Babylon's system, have convinced us that they are all necessities.  They continually inundate us in many ways, telling us that we need to have it all, to be "in" and happy.  Today we have become slaves to "Babylon."  Then, there is the credit card and the internet.  All have enslaved us to a system that is appealing to all of our selfish desires.  One day all of this will be gone in one hour!

 "“They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn and cry out: “‘Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’" Why do the merchants mourn?  It is a selfish crying, for they are crying for themselves.  They are crying that they have lost their lucrative businesses: "because no one buys their cargo anymore." (18:11)

All of these luxuries will be gone, "never to be recovered." (18:14)  It sounds like Babylon will be destroyed in some type of cataclysmic event such as a nuclear explosion or a volcanic eruption.  For the merchants will "stand far off, terrified at her torment.'  Again, the merchants will not be mourning because of the loss of lives, but because of the loss of their businesses.

"“Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off.  When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: “‘Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!"  Sea captains will have benefited from shipping all these luxuries from all over the world to this great city of the future.  In our lifetimes we have seen our world grow smaller as exports go out from every country and to every country in the world.  We have become a one-world economy.  What we wear, drive, watch, listen to, and use comes from India, Mexico, Taiwan, and every corner of the world.  We see all of this trade as wonderful.  But, it is a godless system run for selfish motives and directed toward appealing to selfish motives.  See Ezekiel 27:28-30 and Matthew 6:19-20

Thought Question #1:  Believers will rejoice when Babylon falls.  Is there a Babylonian system in the world right now that we would rejoice if it fell?  Explain your answer.

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How do you believe Babylon will be destroyed?

 

 

 (5) Heaven rejoices (18:20)

Not everyone will be mourning the fall of Babylon. Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.’”"  Babylon will have sought riches above all and will have hated and murdered those who sought God above all.  Those who will have suffered at the hands of Babylon will rejoice at her fall.  We can see in this verse that Babylon represents the whole godless system that throughout time has persecuted and killed God's people, the Apostles and the Prophets.  It started with Cain killing Abel.  It continued at the Tower of Babel as men chose to elevate themselves rather than elevate and worship God.  It is present today in our humanistic society and world.  God's people will rejoice when this ungodly and God-hating system comes crashing down in one day.

God will judge Babylon for the way she has treated God's people:  "In her was found the blood of the prophets and of the saints." (18:24)  Finally, the godless and murderous system will receive what it deserves.  See Jeremiah 5:48  The righteous who are faithful to God, even though persecuted and murdered, will ultimately be gloriously victorious!

 (5) Sudden judgment! (18:21-24)

"Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: “With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world’s great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth.”"

It will be like Pompeii.  When Mount Vesuvius erupted; where there was a city, there was no city!  Man's paradise, the city, will be destroyed.  Suddenly, it will be gone!  All that sounds like a city and looks like a city will be suddenly and forever gone!  Babylon will be destroyed with the suddenness and the violence of a millstone thrown into the water.  Babylon will be suddenly overwhelmed and crushed.  See Jeremiah 51:61-64

What is the message of Babylon and the future destruction of Babylon to us?  Does it mean that we must remove all enjoyment and pleasure from our lives?  In I Timothy 4:3-5, Paul clearly says that God gave us all things to enjoy.  He gave us the beautiful smell of a flower and the wonderful taste of honey.  Then, what is the problem with Babylon?  Pleasure is not the problem, the problem is selfishness.  The problem is what selfishness does with pleasure.  It twists and perverts the beautiful into something ugly.  Pleasure becomes more important than God and others.  The way selfishness perverts God's gift of sex is a perfect example of something beautiful becoming something ugly.  The beautiful expression of love between life-long marriage mates becomes X-rated movies, pornography, premarital sexual promiscuity, abortion, rape, and incest.  Selfishness causes pleasure to become a stench in God's nostrils.

What is important to us is that we become first of all lovers of God rather than being first of all lovers of self and lovers of pleasure.  We need to continually thank God for the enjoyments that He has given to us, and enjoy them according to His holy and pure ways. See II Timothy 3:1-4

 (6) Heaven's response to God's judgment of Babylon (19:1-5)

"After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” And again they shouted: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.” The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!” Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!”"

Thought Question #1:  What can we learn about praising the Lord from these verses?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What is meant by "the smoke from her goes up for ever and ever"?

 

 

In Handel's "Messiah" there is a time when the audience stands up.  It is called the "Hallelujah Chorus."  There will be a time in the future when the true "Hallelujah Chorus" will take place.  Here in these verses is the only place where "hallelujah" is found in the New Testament.  It is actually the Greek work 'allelujah," which is taken from the Hebrew word "hallelujah."  The Hebrew word can be broken down in the following way:  "Hallel" means "praise," and "Jah" means "God."  Together these two words simply mean "praise God!"  See Psalms 146-150 for the use of this word.  It is a way God's people can in one voice celebrate our God-who He is and what He has done.

Here, God's people celebrate the fall of the godless, man-worshiping, and Satan-empowered system of Babylon.  19:1 starts out, "After this."  These hallelujahs come after the fall of Babylon.  "After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” And again they shouted: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”"

They will shout "salvation" because they once and for all have been saved from the godless, Satan-ruled world with its temptation and its sin.  The fact that this "great multitude" shouts about "salvation" tells us that they are those who have been saved from sin and the penalty of sin.  They are the saved ones of all time, the Old and New Testament saints.  It will be a "great multitude," and you and I will be there; if you are one of the saved ones. See also Revelation 7:9

They will shout, "glory" for they will be delivered from the unholy world into the glorious presence of a holy and infinite God!  And it will be because of His infinite "power" that He was able to conquer Satan and deliver them.

Finally, all that He did was totally just and fair.  His judgment on the "great prostitute" is a colossal demonstration of His salvation, glory, and power; and it is an irrefutable, awe-inspiring demonstration of his justice.  The world is waiting for true and pure justice.  At that future time, hjeaven will see true and pure justice!  Those who are delivered dramatically from Satan's hand and into the presence of God will have every reason to be shouting, "Hallelujah!"

The praise at that time will not just come from the multitudes.  It will also come from those who are closest to God.  "The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne.  And they cried:  'Amen, Hallelujah!'"  They will affirm the worship of the multitudes and join with them in praising God.

Altogether all God's creatures who love Him and serve Him will join together in the real Hallelujah chorus.  "Then a voice came from the throne, saying:  'Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!'"  At that time all God's servants, angels and men, will join in one heart and in one accord as we together recognize the glory of God and as we together praise Him!

Who is the voice from the throne?  It is not God's voice, for the voice says to "to praise our God."  It, then, must be an angel of a high order who leads God's creatures in praising Him.

Notice, in 19:4, it says that the smoke from the judgment of the "great prostitute" will go up "for ever and ever."  Ray Stedman observes that this judgment of man's rebellious system will last forever.  It will be an eternal judgment; like God's judgment on the unrepentant sinner who rejects God.  Never again will there be rebellion against God.  See Isaiah 34:9,10 

What is the Babylonian system that will be judged forever?  It is a horrible system, for as Ray Stedman observed, "it is using religion and God's name to glorify ourselves."  "Taken from God's Final Word  by Ray Stedman.  Copyright by Discovery House Publishers."

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

"Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”"

Thought Question #1:  What do these verses tell us about the meaning of what we will be wearing at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What can we learn from these verses about what it will be like for us when we attend the Wedding Supper of the Lamb?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What does verse ten tell us about what proves that the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God?

 

 

Now, we come to the wonderful time that is the hope of all who have believed in Jesus Christ---the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.  "Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)  In Matthew 5:12 Jesus said:  "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."  It can be tough being a Christian in this sin-infested and God-hating world; but there will be a great reward for those who persevere through trial and continue to faithfully serve and represent God on earth.  The time of great reward will begin when the multitudes who have trusted God for salvation, join with Jesus Christ at a heavenly Wedding Feast.

In verse seven, we are told that the bride "has made herself ready."  How has the bride, the church, "made herself ready"?  The answer is in verse eight:   "Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)"  Christians are made righteous before God through the blood of Jesus Christ.  But, here it says that the Bride or the church "makes herself ready."  Then, we learn that the Bride wears fine linen which is the "righteous acts of the saints."  In Ephesians 2:10, Paul says, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  In I Corinthians 3:10, we learn that some of what we who are Christians do will be burned up and will not make it to heaven, but some of what we do will be the good works that God created us to do.  These righteous acts are what will make it to heaven and what we will be clothed in when we get to heaven.

"Then the angel said to me, 'Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!  And he added, 'These are the true words of God."  In Matthew five are found what is called, "The Beatitudes."  Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."  Plus there are other "blesseds" in the Beatitudes.  This "Blessed" in the book of Revelation is the beginning of the fullest fulfillment of Jesus' promises of blessedness-fullness of satisfaction and joy.  Truly and completely blessed will be those who participate in the wedding supper of the Lamb!  For, we will be beginning to share in God's infinite wisdom, love, and abundance.  What will it mean to know and to be loved by our infinite God?  It can be expressed in one word: blessed!  See Matthew 26:29

Marriage is an earthly picture of what our relationship with Jesus Christ will be like.  For those of us who are married, we can think of how our marriage started with a wedding ceremony (or we may also think of the wedding ceremony of our children).  Marriage is a time of love and great joy.  For many of us, our wedding and the marriage of our children were some the highest moments of our lives.  The marriage supper of the Lamb will be like the best of weddings.  But, it will be infinitely and purely much more.  There are many references to a marriage in the Bible:  John 3:29; Matthew 9:15, 22:1-14, 25:1; Mark 2:19; II Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:21-33.  See also Matthew 8:11,12

It may also be true that the Old Testament saints will also be part of the Bride of Christ.  The New Jerusalem which is called the Bride of Christ, as well as being based on the twelve foundations of the twelve Apostles, will also have twelve gates for the twelve tribes of Israel.  See Revelation 21:1-3

John was so excited about what the angel was revealing to HIM that he wanted to worship the angel.  "At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”"  He says do not look at the messenger, but look at and worship the message.  His message was a testimony about Jesus!  All prophecy points to Jesus Christ.  The Book of Revelation is a revelation of Jesus, a revelation of Jesus in all His glory!  The angel's purpose was to reveal Jesus Christ, so John should "worship God," and not him.  See Acts 14:1-18

In John 20:28, doubting Thomas says these words to Jesus, "My Lord and my God!"  Jesus does not do what the angel does here and tell Thomas not to worship Him.  The angel refuses to be worshiped and Jesus receives Thomas' worship.  What is the reason for the different response by Jesus?  The angel was not God, Jesus is!

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

In Isaiah 64:1 we find these gripping words:  "Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!"  Now, look at the next words in the book of Revelation!

a. What they will see!  (19:11-16)

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."

Thought Question:  What do the symbols in these verses tell us about what Jesus Christ will be like when He comes back to judge the world?

 

 

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True."  The book of Revelation is the unveiling of Jesus Christ.  We do not see Him right now, for He is veiled from our sight.  One day, though, the veil will be lifted and men will suddenly see Him in all of His glory.  See Matthew 26:64

What they will see is a rider on a "white horse."  In a Roman victory parade of that time, the victorious Roman General rode through Rome riding on a white horse.  The plunder from his victories, slaves and riches, came along behind him.  Jesus first rode into Jerusalem on a humble donkey, but this time He will ride out from heaven on a "white horse"!  See Matthew 24:30  This is the way that the Jewish people of Jesus' time expected Him to come the first time.  Some ask the question about whether there will be animals in heaven.  We can be sure of one thing, there will be horses in heaven.  See also II Kings 2:11 and 6:13-17

He who is on the "white horse" is called "Faithful and True."  In the early days of movies, you could usually tell who the good guys were and who the bad guys were.  The good guys wore white hats and rode a white horse.  The bad guys usually wore black hats and rode on a dark colored horse.  The most famous good guy who rode a white horse was probably the "\Lone Ranger.  The good guys in these movies always did good and at the end of the movies they often came, often at the very last minute, to rescue those who were surrounded by the bad men.  But, there is really only One who is like these movie heroes; for there is only One who always does good.  There is only one true hero.  He is the One who lived a perfect life and who died to rescue us from the penalty of sin.  One day He is coming back, and He will be riding on a white horse.  He is the only One who is "Faithful and True."  There actually is a pure and totally good hero of all that is right who will come to destroy evil; and He will do it at the very last moment!  See Revelation 1:5, 3:14

We are always looking to elect a president who will solve our problems.  But, no matter whom we choose, we will always wonder, "Is he for real?  Can we trust him?  Is he being controlled by the money the rich lobbies give to him for his campaign?"  What we are asking is, is he faithful and true?  There is only One who is "Faithful and True."  He is the One who will come riding on a white horse.

"With justice he judges and makes war."  He makes war?  Some might say that we do not need a God who makes war; we need a God who is a peacemaker.  But, in a hardened, sinful, rebellious, and murderous world there is a need for One who wars against all that is ugly.  For example, there was a need for our country to make war against Hitler and Nazism.  In the last days there will be a man that the world will follow who will be more evil than Hitler.  There needs to be One who will make war with him; who will make war with evil and with the Evil one.  This final war will be the first totally righteous war!  Even today, they call a police shooting that is necessary, a righteous shooting.

War is not always a bad thing.  It is sad that it is necessary, but it is still necessary.  Without our country having chosen to go to war in World War II, Europe and our country would have not conquered Adolph Hitler, and we might right now be ruled by a Nazi empire.  Also, if our country had not chosen to go to war during the Civil War, we possibly would still have slavery in our country.

"His eyes are like blazing fire."  Eyes tell us about people: in people's eyes we can see fear, pride, concern, and anger.  When are eyes like "blazing fire"?  Someone else's eyes are like "blazing fire" to us when we have done something wrong and we look into the eyes of this authority figure---a policeman, a judge, a school principal or a parent--as they stand in righteous judgment of us for doing the wrong that we did.  Jesus' eyes will blaze infinitely more with the fire of His righteous and just judgment of men as He looks on them in all their sin and rebellion against His holy standards.  The world will see in His eyes the determination and power to bring the sin of the world to an end forever.  See Revelation 1:14, 2:18 and my notes on these verses.

"And on his head are many crowns"  Certainly these words are not to be taken literally, for it cannot mean that He is balancing on His head a whole bunch of crowns.  It, instead, symbolizes Jesus being the King of Kings; the ruler over many rulers.  He no longer wears a crown of thorns, but now He is Ruler over every ruler!

"He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself."  A name describes who He is.  Who is He?  He is the infinite God!  We are finite.  We cannot fully know or fully understand this infinite God/man.  Therefore, He has a name that no one knows; no one on earth understands who He is. 

"He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood."  In this case it is not His blood, but the blood of those He will slay!  In this case, He is not the One who is slain, but He is the slayer.  "Who is this coming from Bozrah, with his garments stained crimson?  Who is this robed in splendor, striding forward in the greatness of his strength?  It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.  Why are your garments red like those of one treading the winepress?  I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me.  I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing.  For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come."  (Isaiah 63:1-4)

"And his name is the Word of God."  Jesus Christ is the accurate expression of who God is.  When He acted, we saw God act.  When He speaks, we hear God speaking to us.  See John 1:1-3

"The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean."  Today's armies wear army fatigues.  These fatigues are definitely not made of "fine linen."  They are made of sturdy material, they are good camouflage, and they do not show dirt.  Jesus' army will be dressed in clean linen.  This army of Jesus will be fighting a different type of battle.  It will be a battle of purity against impurity.  His soldiers will be dressed in His purity.

Who will be in His army?  Paul tells us in II Thessalonians 1:7 that angels will be in His army:  "This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels."  See also II Thessalonians 1:6-10 and Matthew 25:31  But His army will also include those who have been chosen by Him and have believed in Him.  John had this to say in Revelation 17:14:  "They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings---and with him will be his called, chosen, and faithful followers."  We who have believed in Him and have become members of His eternal family will also be part of His army.  See also Jude 14 and I Thessalonians 3:13

"Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations."  Have you ever had someone point out a sin in your life, a sin that you could not deny was there?  What they said was the truth.  At that time, that person's tongue was like a sword that cut right to the middle of who you were, and that person's tongue exposed the sin in your heart.  Jesus' tongue is like a sword of truth that cuts down into the hearts of men, and exposes our many sins and our sinful hearts.  In the last days, He will speak forth and expose all of the sins in the hearts of every man and woman on the earth.  And with His tongue He will judge men.  See 19:21, 1:16

"He will rule with an iron scepter"  When Jesus finally returns and takes over His rightful place as Ruler of the earth, no one will get by with anything.  All rebellion will immediately be dealt with.  At that time He will handle all rebellion with an iron fist.  He will rule with irresistible authority.  He will deal with all rebellion until there is no more rebellion.  See Revelation 2:27, 12:5; Psalm 2; and Isaiah 11:4

"He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty."  When a winepress was used, those who were working to get the juice out of the grapes would stomp the grapes until the juice was crushed out of the grapes and the juice flowed down a trough where it was collected.  They, of course, also got a lot of grape juice on themselves.  Jesus will stomp out the evil out of the world in the same way as these workers stomped grape juice out of grapes.  See Isaiah 63:1-6 and Revelation 14:19,20

"On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."  The world has rejected Him as their ruler.  Many in our country are opposed to our country being based in any way on His teachings in the Bible.  What they are opposed to is being ruled by God.  But, when He returns, the world will see Him for Who He is.  He is the Ruler over all of the world's rulers.  He is even now controlling the world and directing it toward His ultimate goals.  When He returns, even those who are now rejecting Him will bow before Him:  "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord."  (Philippians 2:10,11)  See Isaiah 9:6,7

What will the world see when they see Jesus return?  They will see the Righteous Avenger who will be able to clearly discern between what is right and what is evil.  They will see One who will finally be able to fully deal with the world's evil and injustices.

Lift your arms into the air as you anticipate that day when the Righteous Ruler will finally rule!!!

b. What will happen (19:17-21)

We have seen what the world will see when they see Jesus.  Now, we will learn what will happen when the glorified Jesus enters this evil world for the second time.

"And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.” Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh."

Thought Question #1:  What do these verses tell us about what will happen on earth when Jesus comes back to judge the world?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do these verses tell us about what God's judgment will be like for those who continue to rebel against Him?

 

 

"And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”"

We have just learned of the beautiful Wedding Supper of the Lamb.  As that supper will be beautiful, so this supper will be ugly.  The birds of prey will feed on the carcasses of those who die when He returns.  All over the length of Israel, there will be birds feeding on the bodies of those who will die in a battle that will occur in the future; a battle where blood will splatter up as high as "horses' bridles."  See Revelation 14:21 and Ezekiel 39:17-19  The Ezekiel passage refers to an earlier battle.

"Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur."  When they see Jesus coming, they should fall down and worship Him.  But they attack Him!  What a futile decision.  Their leaders will quickly learn of their powerlessness before the all-powerful Son of God.  For, they will immediately be captured and thrown alive into the Lake of Fire.  Enoch and Elijah of the Old Testament were taken alive into heaven.  The believers who will one day be raptured will also be taken alive into heaven.  But, these two, the Beast (the Antichrist) and the False Prophet, will be taken alive into hell.  From what we see in the Bible, they appear to be the first to enter into this Lake of Fire.  The unbelievers of all ages who will have already died will be waiting in a place called "Hades" for God's final judgment.  There are unbelievers waiting now and all unbelievers will be waiting then for their time of judgment before the Great White Throne.  After this judgment, they also will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.  See 20:11-15  The devil will not be thrown in the Lake of Fire until the end of the 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ on earth.  See 20:10   When Satan gets there, the Beast and the False Prophet will already have been there for 1,000 years.  Satan will have been imprisoned in the Abyss for that same 1,000 years.  See 20:2-3

Will those who reject God be tormented for ever and ever?  The cults typically teach that there will not be an eternal hell or that those who are punished will burn up and be annihilated - and cease to exist forever.

Matthew 25 describes a judgment that will occur after Jesus returns.  At that time He will divide those who are believers from the unbelievers.  He will divide the "sheep" (His followers) from the "goats" (those who have rejected Him and His people).  This is what He will say to the unbelievers:  "Depart from me, you who are cursed, in the eternal fires prepared for the devil and his angels."  He concludes this parable of the sheep and the goats with these words:  "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."  Will there be eternal punishment?  According to this verse there is both eternal life and eternal punishment.  If the punishment for those who reject God is not eternal, then it is also consistent to conclude that the reward for those who accept God's gift will also not be eternal!

The Bible states clearly, though, in a number of places that the punishment of those who reject God will be eternal: "who of us can dwell with everlasting burning . . ?"  (Isaiah 33:14)  See Daniel 12:2; II Thessalonians 1:9; Jude 7

Also, in Revelation 20:10, 1,000 years after they were thrown into the Lake of Fire, the Beast and the False Prophet are still being tormented:  "And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown.  They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

"The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh."  The leaders of this worldwide revolt against God will be immediately judged by God and thrown into the Lake of Fire.  Then, as we see in this verse, the forces of the Antichrist are slaughtered mercilessly in large numbers.  The armies of the world who had gathered against God in Israel suddenly learn Who they are battling against, as they face the righteous wrath of the Almighty Son of God!  See Isaiah 66:15-16 and Zechariah 14:12

10. The millennial rule of Jesus Christ (20)

After God's judgment of the earth's sins by the appearance of Jesus Christ and His armies, there will be one more time of grace on this earth.  This period of a thousand years has come to be called the "Millennium"-the thousand year reign of Jesus Christ.  In the Old Testament, God promised Israel a kingdom.  The thousand year rule of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of that promise.  See Isaiah 2:1-5, 11:1-9, 65:17-25; Zechariah 14:9, 16-21  Revelation 20 describes the great events that will take place during these one thousand years, as well as what will occur immediately after these thousand years.  During this one thousand year reign of Jesus, Satan will be bound and imprisoned in the "Abyss."

a. Satan will be bound for one thousand years (20:1-3)

"And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.  He served the dragon, that ancient Serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.  He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.  After that he must be set free for a short time."

Thought Question:  Look at the notes on these verses.  Which view of the Millennium is the view that you believe is taught in the Bible:  Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, or Premillennialism?  Explain the reason for your choice.

 

 

The Bible tells us that God has a prison like our San Quentin.  It is a maximum security prison for the very worst of God's enemies.  When Jesus was about to cast demons out of a demon-possessed man "they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss."  Some fallen angels are "kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains" (Jude 6) and in "gloomy dungeons."  (II Peter 2:4)  God will keep Satan in His maximum security prison for a thousand years.

This introduces us to a predicted thousand year period when Jesus will rule on earth and when Satan will be bound and imprisoned in the Abyss.  This reign of Christ has come to be called the "Millennium."  The "Millennium" comes from the Latin words for thousand-"mille" and for year-"annum."

There are those who hold the Amillennial viewpoint who believe that Satan is bound right now.  The "a" before the word "millennial" means that they believe that there will be "no" millennium or no one thousand year reign of Christ on earth.  "a" = "no," therefore it means - "no Millennium."  This could be called Nonmillennialism.  They believe that the promises to Israel that she will become a great kingdom have been fulfilled through the church.  They believe that because Israel rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah, the promises to Israel will not be fulfilled to Israel, but are being fulfilled right now through the church in a spiritual way.  The promises to them are therefore being fulfilled through the church, the spiritual Israel.

The New Testament, though, says that Satan is not bound right now.  Quite to the contrary, the Bible says that he is very busy right now "blinding the minds of unbelievers," accusing Christians (Revelation 12:10), and ruling over and working in unbelievers (Ephesians 2:2).  Our own experiences tell us that he is not bound right now.  In fact, his deceptions are evident everywhere we look.  The many cults, false religions, and false teachings within Christianity are called the doctrines or the teachings of demons.  See I Timothy 4:1  He still takes people "captive to do his will."  (II Timothy 2:26)  And our "enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."  He is not a lion in a cage, this lion is prowling around!  As someone has said, if he is chained, he is on a very long chain.

The Amillennialists, which include some very well-known Christian teachers, believe that the thousand years mentioned six times in this chapter are not literal years.  They point to the many symbols in the book of Revelation and argue that the thousand years is also a symbol and not a literal thousand years.  They say that a thousand is often used to describe a large number of something in general, rather than to delineate a specific number of years.  An example they use to support their viewpoint is      Psalm 50:10, where it says that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.

But, the word "thousand" does appear in this chapter six times.  If a long period of time was meant, John could easily have said one of these six times that this period would last a long period of time.  There does not appear to be a good reason for taking these one thousand years as being anything but a literal one thousand years.

There are many predictions in the Old and New Testament about a literal and future time when Jesus Christ will rule over the whole world from Jerusalem.  The following are some of those passages:  II Samuel 7:17; Psalm 89:20-37; Isaiah 2:1-5, 11:1-16, 35:1-10; Jeremiah 23:3-8, 33:19-22; Luke 1:32,33.  Jerusalem will be the capital city of this kingdom.  See Isaiah 2:2-4  During this time, the animal kingdom will be transformed and they will be at peace with each other.  See Isaiah 11:6-9  It will be a time of healing.  See Isaiah 35:5-6  Life spans will be greatly increased.  See Isaiah 65:20  And at that time, the world will be "full of the knowledge of the Lord."  (Isaiah 11:9)

There are three primary positions held by theologians with regard to the millennium.  The first position, the Amillennial position that there is no literal one thousand years, has already been described.  The second position is called Postmillenialism.  Those who hold this position believe that there will be a thousand year period in which the church will transform the world and bring in the kingdom.  According to this viewpoint, Jesus will return after the thousand years (after the millennium); thus His return will be "post" or "after" the millennium.  The I and II World Wars discouraged many who had held this position; for during these wars it was hard to see the world as getting better.  There, nevertheless, are those who still hold this position today.

The final position is called Premillenialism.  Those who hold this position take the words in these verses literally.  They believe that Satan will be bound for a literal one thousand years.  They also believe, as we will see in the coming verses, that Jesus will rule on earth for a literal one thousand years.  This reign will begin immediately after He has conquered the worldwide rebellion described in the earlier chapters in Revelation.  Because the last view, the Premillennial view, is the view that comes from a simple and literal interpretation of what the Bible and the book of Revelation teaches on the subject of a future kingdom on earth, this author believes that it is the Biblical position on the millennium.

When Satan is bound, there will be the opportunity to see what fallen man is like without Satan's influence.  Men will no longer be able to say, "the devil made me do it."  As we will see further on in this chapter, even in this perfect environment where Jesus is ruling and Satan is absent, man will still end up rebelling against God.

b. Jesus will rule for one thousand years (20:4-6)

"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.  And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.  They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received the mark on their foreheads or their hands.  They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)  This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Christ for a thousand years."

Thought Question #1:  What do you believe it will be like for us during the Millennium?

 

 

Thought Question #2: What is the "second death"?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What is the difference between the first and second resurrection?

 

 

"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.  And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the Word of God.  They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received the mark on their foreheads or their hands.  They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

According to these verses, Jesus will reign on earth for a thousand years.  But He will not reign alone. Those who were beheaded because they chose to be ruled by Christ rather than to take the sign of the Antichrist will reign with Jesus Christ.  They died a martyr's death because of what they did - ""their testimony for Jesus and the Word of God," and because of what they did not do - "they had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands." 

There will be others who will sit on thrones and who will be given authority to be judges over those who will live during the thousand year reign of Jesus Christ.  Who will these judges be?  In Matthew 19:28 we see that Jesus made this promise to His twelve Apostles:  "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."  So, the twelve Apostles will be at least some of those who will be judges during the millennial rule of Christ.  Furthermore, Paul said the following in II Timothy 2:12:  "If we endure, we will also reign with him."  This means that all true Christians (those who endure) will reign with Jesus Christ in His kingdom.  Also, Paul makes this same promise in   I Corinthians 6:2:  "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?"  He even says in the next verse that we will "judge angels."  See also Revelation 2:26-27, 5:10 and 22:5

In Matthew 25:31-46 is a description of the judgment of all men when Jesus returns.  He will divide between those who will go into His kingdom and those will go into hell.  Resurrected Christians may also participate in this time of judgment.  Ezekiel 20:33-38 is a description of the judgment of Israel at Jesus' return.  We who are Christians may also be a part of that judgment.

"(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.  This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Christ for a thousand years."  There will be two resurrections.  Believers will be resurrected before this thousand year reign of Christ and unbelievers will be resurrected after the thousand years.  We are told here that all who are believers in Jesus Christ will not experience the second death, but unbelievers will experience the second death.  They are those described in verse five who "will not come to life until the thousand years were ended."  The first death is the physical death that we call death.  The "second death" is an eternal and spiritual death in hell-the Lake of Fire.  We will learn more about this judgment in verses 11-15 of this chapter.  See also John 5:29; Luke 14;13-14; Hebrews 11:35

We who are believers are promised that we will be "priests of God and Christ" and that we "will reign with him for a thousand years."  We who are believers will be both political and religious leaders during this one thousand year reign of Christ.

c. Satan's release after one thousand years (20:7-10)

"When a thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth---Gog and Magog---to gather them for battle.  In number they are like the sand on the seashore.  They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves.  But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.  And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown.  They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

Thought Question #1:  Why do you think God will release Satan from his prison?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why do you think so many will choose to follow Satan rather than Jesus Christ at the end of the Millennium?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  Do you believe hell will be eternal or do you believe that unbelievers will be annihilated?  Explain the reason for your answer.

 

 

"When a thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth---Gog and Magog---to gather them for battle.  In number they are like the sand on the seashore.  They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves."  Why will God let Satan go?  It would be like a President or governor in our country releasing the most violent criminal from a maximum security prison.  We would all cry out, "What are you doing?"  Protests would immediately surround the President's or the governor's capitol building.

Why will God release Satan?  It appears that the reason that Satan is released is to show us for eternity that even when man is in a perfect environment with Jesus as the Ruler and Satan is completely out of the picture, still man will rebel against God.  Even in this perfect environment where Jesus will rule with an iron fist, man will still rebel against God.  There still will be evil in man's heart in a world where the world system will be holy and the devil will be absent.  The world and the devil will be gone, but the flesh will still seek evil over God.  Outwardly, they will appear to be going along with Jesus, but in their hearts they will still have not submitted to Him.  In their hearts they are still rebels.  When Satan returns from his imprisonment, they will immediately show what is in their hearts, for they will immediately choose to ally themselves with the king of rebels.

Just as many criminals come out of prison unchanged, so Satan will come out of his thousand year imprisonment unchanged.  He will travel over the whole world to find those who hate God like he does.  He will skillfully gain their allegiance through deception and trickery.  Ultimately, he will gather an army of God-haters to attack Jerusalem.

Throughout time man has rebelled against God.  In Eden in a perfect environment, man rebelled.  In a nation ruled by God, the nation of Israel, man rebelled against God.  When Jesus the God/man was on earth, man rebelled and crucified Him.  When Jesus built His church and the church spread to the whole world, still man will ultimately rebel and follow the Beast rather than Jesus Christ.  And even after the thousand year reign of Jesus Christ when Satan is gone, man will once again rebel and turn against God.  They will only obey Jesus because they will not have a choice.  But in their hearts they will hate Him.  When Satan comes out of prison, they will find one who has the same attitude toward God as they have and they will follow him. 

They will hate God so much that they join Satan's army and march against Jesus at Jerusalem.  Those who hate God and who will attack Jesus will be no small number for they will be "like the sand on the seashore."

And so we are left with only one conclusion, apart from God's new life, man is a fallen and hopelessly sinful creature.  The environment is not at fault, man is at fault.  Man is hopelessly evil and terminal apart from God.  Jeremiah 17:9 summarizes man's problem:  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure."

The names "Gog and Magog" that are used in these verses in Revelation 20 are also found in Ezekiel 38 and 39.  They are the names of the northern nation that will attack Israel in the last days and prior to the Millennial rule of Jesus Christ.  See Ezekiel 23,39  The Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 38 and 39 will come from the north, but the Gog and Magog of Revelation 20 come from the "four corners of the earth." 

These names represent or symbolize man's united hatred of God and man's united rebellion against God.  And so, in this case, these names are used to describe a united rebellion of many on the earth against the Millennial rule of Jesus Christ.

"But fire came down from heaven, and devoured them."  Their hatred of God is so great that they attack Him even though it is hopeless, of course, for mortals to attack the immortal and all-powerful God.  Their attack will be very short-lived, for they will be immediately destroyed by fire.

"And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown.  They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."  This will be Satan's last attack against God.  He will no longer have conversations with God like he did about Job.  He will no longer accuse believers.  He will no longer rule the world.  He also will not rule in hell.  For he will be thrown in a place of torment and fire where he will suffer an eternal state of punishment.

Notice that the Beast and the False Prophet have been suffering in the Lake of Fire for a thousand years.  This is irrefutable and Biblical proof that they will not be annihilated, but instead they will continue in a state of punishment for one thousand years before Satan is also thrown into the Lake of Fire.  Then they and he will continue in this state of punishment forever.  Also, notice that it says in verse ten that they, meaning the Beast and the False Prophet, will be tormented "day and night."  There can be no question and it cannot be clearer; they will be tormented continually, day after day and night after night forever.

I Corinthians 15:24 and 25 describes the final victory by God over Satan:  "then the end will come when he hands over the kingdom of God to the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet."

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

"Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.  Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were open.  Another book was opened, which is the book of life.  The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according what he had done.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.  If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

Thought Question #1:  What is meant by the earth and sky fleeing from His presence?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What are the "books" that are talked about in these verses?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What is "Hades"?

 

 

Thought Question #4:  What do these verses motivate you to do?

 

 

"Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.  Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne." 

Immediately after the devil is thrown into the lake of fire, John sees a "great white throne."  John says that the "Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them."  What is meant by these words of John?  Two possible explanations are given for the meaning of the earth and sky fleeing from His presence:  (1) All mankind may be moved from the earth and suddenly find themselves in heaven in the presence of God.  (2) Another possible meaning of the earth fleeing is that this takes place at the time when the old heavens and old earth is replaced by the new earth.  There is a number of predictions in the Bible that the earth will disappear suddenly.  "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare."  (II Peter 3:10)  See also Psalm 102:25-27; Isaiah 51:6; Mark 13:31  In fact, immediately after these verses we read these words:  "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for, the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea."  (Revelation 21:1)

Whether mankind will be taken away from heaven and earth or heaven and earth will be destroyed and taken away from mankind, all man and women who are outside of faith in Jesus Christ will suddenly find themselves in front of a "great white throne."  We tend to see ourselves as the center of the universe.  But, neither we, our home town, our state, our nation, our planet, nor even our solar system is the center of the universe.  Mankind will one day find themselves before the One who is the center of the universe.  For they will find themselves standing before God's throne.

It will be a "great white throne."  The Bible says that the stars declare the glory of God.  See Psalm 19  There are as many stars as the sands of the seas.  Over a million earths will fit inside the sun.  There is a star that is so large the 64 million suns will fit inside of it.  Our galaxy takes light 100,000 years to go across it, and light travels 186,000 miles a second.  This distance equals six trillion miles.  If the 93,000,000 miles to the sun from the earth was equal to one paper's thickness, it would take 310 miles of thickness to go across our galaxy.  And there are one trillion galaxies in range of our telescopes.  This gives us some idea of God's greatness.  And it gives us some idea of what it will mean for those who will stand before His "great" throne of judgment.

It is a "white" throne.  Those who stand before Him will stand before One who is totally pure and absolutely fair and just.  Our human judges are not pure and holy.  Like those who stand before them, they also have their own sins, faults, and problems.  They have even broken the laws that they are making judgments about.  Which judge, for example, has not broken the speed limit.  But, those who stand before the "white" throne will stand before One who is totally pure.

Who will be the one sitting on this throne?  We are not told here who will be the judge who will be sitting on this throne.  We can be certain that it will be God, for He alone has the right to be all mankind's judge.  But, we can also be confident that it will be Jesus Christ, the God-Man, who will be sitting in judgment of mankind.  "Moreover the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son."  (John 5:22)  See also Matthew 19:28, 25:31-46; Acts 17:31, 10:42; II Timothy 4:1; Revelation 3:21

The "great and small" will stand before the throne.  This simply means that everyone will be there.  There will not be anyone who is too high in society so they will have a special privilege before God, nor will there be anyone who might think they are so unimportant that they will be overlooked when God judges men and women.  Everyone will be there.  Everyone will be there, except those who have put their faith in Jesus' death to pay the penalty for the punishment that they so justly deserve.

"and books were open.  Another book was opened, which is the book of life.  The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books."  These "books" are mentioned in Daniel 7:10:  "The court was seated and the books were opened."  These "books" appear to be a record of how each person has measured up to God's standards throughout every day of his or her life.  We can record sounds on a tape recorder and sights on a video camera.  Certainly God can record everything that has happened in each of our lives.  Today, John might have said the "computer discs" rather than the "books."  The "books" simply means that God has been keeping a record of what each man and woman has done.

God has kept a record of how well we have done in obeying His commandments.  According to Galatians 3:10, "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written:  'Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the Law.'"  God has recorded His perfect and Holy standards in the "Book of the Law," and He has recorded how well all of us have measured up to His standards in the "books" that are a record of each of our lives.  Of course, what He has recorded is all of our rebelliousness against Him and His holy standards!

We tend not to see ourselves as God sees us.  In Proverbs 16:2 it says, "All man's ways seem innocent to him."  God does not judge us based on how we judge ourselves.  For if He did base His judgment on how well we believe we are doing, we would all come out---not so bad.  But, He judges us by His holy and perfect ways.  All our arguments, rationalizations, and justifications will do us no good at all when we stand before God.  See Romans 2:1-3

God will judge us based upon what He sees in our hearts and in our actions.  See Romans 2:16  "For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."  (Ecclesiastes 12:14)  We record with video recorders.  Certainly God can, with His infinite abilities, record everything that happens everywhere, and He can even record what is going on in the hidden parts of our hearts.  It will all come out in the open before His "white throne."  Jesus said, "There is nothing concealed that will not be made known."  (Luke 12:2)  When these books are open no one will ever be able to say that they have been treated unfairly or unjustly, for even our motives will be brought before us.  See Romans 2:2,6,16; Psalm 62:12; Matthew 16:27

If there was not another book, every one of us would be hopelessly doomed.  But, there is one more book, the "book of life."  What is this "book of life?"  Tim LaHaye believes that there is a difference between the "book of life" and the "Lamb's book of life."  "To properly understand the Book of Life, you must realize that there are really two Books of Life.  One is called the Book of life, the other called the Lamb's Book of Life.  These are definitely not the same!  The Book of Life contains the names of the living.  The Lamb's Book of Life is a book belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ, the 'Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.' . . . Very clearly, then, the Lamb's Book of Life is the book of Jesus Christ in which are entered the names of those who have received His eternal life (Rev. 13:8). . . . There are two major differences between the two books.  First, the Book of Life seems to contain the names of all living people, whereas the Lamb's Book of Life includes only the names of those who call upon the Lamb for salvation.  Second, and without doubt most important, it is possible to have one's name blotted out of the Book of Life, but not out of the Lamb's Book of Life.  In Revelation 3:5 we find that 'he that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot his name out the book of life.'"  "Taken from Revelation by Tim LaHaye.  Copyright 1973 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Walvoord offers another interpretation.  He believes that the "book of life" is all those for whom Jesus died (He died for everyone).  But, if someone rejects Christ's gift, then he or she is removed from the "book of life."  The "Lamb's Book of Life," would be in the end, then, those who have received the salvation made possible by Jesus Christ the Lamb of God and whose names have not been removed from the "book of life.".

Revelation 3:5 says the following:  "He who overcomes…I will never blot his name from the book of life."  So, it appears that people can be in the "book of life" and then removed.  In Exodus 32:32, Moses said these words just after Israel had worshiped the Golden Calf:  "But now, please forgive their sin----but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written."  David asked that God would do the following to the wicked who were conspiring against him:  "May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous."  (Psalm 69:28)  Apparently his enemies were in the "book of life," but David wanted them erased from this book.

Christians are in the "book of life:"  "help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life."  (Philippians 4:3)  In the last days everyone whose names "have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb" will worship the Beast.  (Revelation 13:8)  See also 17:8  We will see in 20:15 that those who names are not written in the "book of life" will be thrown into the lake of fire.  See also 21:27 and 22:19

We can be certain of one thing; we want to be those whose names remain in the "book of life."  For otherwise we will certainly be there at the Great White Throne judgment.  In short, we need to have a faith that overcomes and continues to trust God whatever Satan and the world throws at us.  We need to be today, like those who will refuse the number of the Beast and who will refuse to be part of Satan's kingdom in the last days.  We need to clearly choose God's kingdom over Satan's kingdom.  We are able to make this choice because of the sacrifice made by the Lamb and because of His work in our hearts.

"The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according what he had done.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire." 

Those that will appear before the Great White Throne to be judged by Jesus Christ will come from "the sea," from "death," and from "Hades."  What is meant by each of these terms?  First of all, what is and where is "Hades"?  Although the King James Version translates this word as "hell," it is not the same place as "hell."  "Hades" is a place of punishment where unbelievers are being kept right now.  They will come out of "Hades" at the White Throne judgment.  Then, they will be thrown into hell or the "lake of fire."  The "rich man" in Luke 16:19-31 is in "Hades." (Though the NIV translates the Greek word "Hades" as "hell.")  He is in a place of torment (16:23), and so "Hades" is a place of torment.

Why does John separate "death" and "Hades?"  "Death" may refer to the grave-the place of death-and "Hades" is the place of torment after death.  "Death and Hades" appear to be referring to the same place, but two aspects of this same place.  For, they will come from their graves and from their place of torment to be judged.

Now, why does he say they will come out of the "sea"?  The answer is that whether people died on land and were buried in graves, or whether they died at "sea," they will be there at this judgment seat.

"The lake of fire is the second death.  If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."  Hell, or "Gehenna," was a deep ravine south of Jerusalem.  It was used for a garbage dump.  It was perpetually burning. It was a place where at one time, human sacrifices were offered.  King Josiah, a godly king of the southern kingdom of Judah, saw it as an abomination and turned it into a garbage dump.  See II Kings 22:10  This place where the fire burned continually, came to be used as a picture of the "lake of fire."  Those who reject God will be thrown into a place of eternal fire.

Billy Graham says that he preaches about hell, but he does not like doing it. It is not a subject that any Christian likes to talk about, but it is clearly what the Bible says will happen to those who reject God.  Jesus had more to say about hell than anyone else.  See Matthew 13:42, 25:41,46  One thing we can be sure of, we do not want to go there and we do not anyone, especially our loved ones, neighbors and friends to go there.  There is no Bible truth that should motivate us more to pray for the lost, and to be involved in reaching the lost than what will happen to the lost if they are not reached with the Gospel message.  Jesus died so that anyone who believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16!)

12. Heaven (21-22)

The Alcoholics Anonymous program emphasizes "one day at a time."  When someone in the program starts talking about his or her plan to stay sober for one year they call it "future tripping."  They believe that one must seek to stay sober one day at time.  Jesus also spoke of living one day at a time: "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."  (Matthew 6:34)  But, Jesus also said in that same chapter:  "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  (Matthew 6:19-21)

Christians believe that their greatest treasure is not in this sin-polluted and sin-perverted world, but in a pure world that is still ahead.  Our primary purpose in this world is not to get all we can for ourselves, but our primary purpose is to reach as many people as we can so that they will join us in the world that is on the other side of this life.  We are to live a day at a time seeking after this goal.

Those whose hope only goes to the grave and no further, live like a match that burns for a short while and then burns out forever.  The Christian's hope is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He came back from the dead to show us there is life beyond the grave.  The Bible is full of passages that speak of our Christian hope:  "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for."  (Hebrews 11:1)  "Christ in you the hope of glory."  (Colossians 1:27)  "And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."  (Romans 5:2)  "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints."  (Ephesians 1:18)  See Hebrews 11:9,16

This happiness is getting to know God, and the greatest happiness of all will be when we will be with Him.  What will it be like when we are with Him?  There is only one place in the Bible where it talks in detail about what it will be like in heaven.  That description is found in the very last two chapters in the Bible, the chapters that we come to right now-Revelation 21 and 22.

We leave the darkest and saddest part of the Bible and move forward to the brightest and most joyous part of God's Word.  We go (1) from the last days on earth when sin and evil are at their very greatest-the final world rebellion against God and (2) from the Great White Throne Judgment of God where unbelievers will be thrown into the Lake of Fire to a glorious description of heaven.

Before we begin this description of heaven, it is important to realize that what is described in these two chapters is really beyond human description.  The Apostle Paul was permitted by God to go to heaven.  This is how he described his unparalleled  trip:  "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven.  Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know---God knows.  And I know that this man---whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows---was caught up to paradise.  He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell."  (II Corinthians 12:2-4)  Revelation 21 and 22 has a worldly description of what is beyond worldly description.  But, it will give us the best description of heaven known to man.  What will heaven be like for us who have put our trust in Jesus Christ?  Revelation 21 and 22 is the primary place in the Bible that gives us a look into heaven.

a. The New Heaven and New Earth (21:1-8)

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea."

Thought Question #1:  Why do you believe there will be a new heaven and a new earth?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why do you believe that the earth will have no sea?  (The Millennium will have seas - Psalm 72:8; Ezekiel 47:10,15,17,18,20, 48:28; Zechariah 9:10, 14:8)

 

 

Why is there a new heaven and a new earth?  It is because the present heaven and earth are hopelessly polluted by sin and evil.  Even the world of the millennial rule of Jesus Christ will be polluted by sin and the Devil.  The purpose of the final judgment of fire described in II Peter 3:7-13 is to burn away all that is ugly and vile in our world-sins, disease, ugly insects, weeds, pollution, cemeteries, and more.  See Isaiah 65:17, 66:22, and Matthew 19:28  Just as a weed-infested garden needs to be destroyed and completely replaced by a new garden, so our present world needs to be destroyed and replaced by a totally new earth and a new heaven.

What will this new world be like?  We do not know much about the new earth except that there will be no sea.  The sea in our present world is an example of God's grace.  If it was not for the oceans that cover ¾ of the world, we would have polluted ourselves out of existence long ago.  The oceans are our very large sewer system.  Our waste and pollutants flow into our rivers and streams and flow out into the seas.  There they are dissolved and neutralized in the oceans.  The water of the oceans evaporate into clouds of pure, unpolluted water.  This water comes back to earth as rain, and the whole process starts all over again.  It is only recently that we have polluted our oceans to the extent that we are beginning to kill off our oceans.

Although the Millennial earth will be transformed and it will be different from our present earth, the verses that describe the transformed earth of the Millennium reveal that the earth of that future time will include the presence of the seas.  See Psalm 72:8; Isaiah 11:9,10: Ezekiel 47:10,15,17,18,20; 48:28; Zechariah  9:10, 14:8

On the new earth after the Millennium, however, there will be no need for seas and there will be no seas or oceans. Because there will be no sin or pollution, there will be no huge salt water sewage system on the new earth.  There will only be pure water:  "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb."  (22:1)

"I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Thought Question:  What do you believe will be the highlights of being in heaven for you?  Explain your answer.

 

 

"I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband."  One of the high points of a wedding is the entry of the bride, dressed in a beautiful white gown.  One of the high points on the new earth will be the entry of the New Jerusalem in all its beauty, coming down out of heaven on to the new earth.  In 21:9-22:6 there is a description of the New Jerusalem.  So, we will postpone our description and explanation of this New Jerusalem until we come to those verses.  See Hebrews 11:10,16, 12:22-23

"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God.'"  The greatest part of what is ahead for us is not the new earth or the new city.  It is that we will finally meet our loving Maker face to face.

The Greek word for "dwell" is the Greek word for "tabernacle," and it is the verb form of this word for "tabernacle."  So, these verses could be translated, "Now the tabernacle of God is with men and He will tabernacle among them."  He will be with us as He was with Israel in the wilderness.  But, He will be with us fully.  See John 1:14

After a wedding, the new husband and wife begin to live together.  In the Garden of Eden, God and Adam walked and talked with each other.  In the New Jerusalem, we will once more have an ongoing and personal fellowship with God.  Right now God is in us who are Christians.  Then, He will also be with us!

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  Our new life on the new earth and in the New Jerusalem will be totally different than our present life on this old earth, for we are told here: "the old order of things" will have "passed away."  We are told what will not be a part of the new order of things:  "death or mourning or crying or pain."  I say, "good riddance!"  That means much that is a very sad, but a common part of our lives right now, will be gone forever.  There will be no more cancer, funerals, headaches, sore throats, murders, rape, stealing, slandering, divorce, child abuse, natural disasters, influenza, blisters, ingrown toe nails, alcoholism, rejection, bitterness, car accidents, and more.  See Isaiah 25:8, 35:10, 65:19; I Corinthians 15:54

"He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!'  Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'"

Thought Question:  In what ways is this verse an encouragement to you?

 

 

"He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!'  Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'"  We may at this point feel that a world like what is described in these verses is too good to be true.  The words in this verse immediately deals with our doubts and concerns.  He says that He is going to make "everything new." 

Heaven is going to be different from anything we have experienced.  It is in a small way, like buying a completely new car.  For some of this takes using our imagination rather than remembering our experience of owning a new car.  When we get into a completely new car, everything we see is new.  When we get to heaven, everything we see will be new and different!

Then, Jesus gives us His word that all of this will happen exactly as it is described in these chapters!  "These words are trustworthy and true."  How could it be more certain?  God is all-powerful and He never lies.  See Hebrews 6:18 and Numbers 23:19  It is going to happen in exactly the way it is described in these chapters!

"He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”"

Thought Question #1:  What does, "It is done" mean to you?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What is the meaning of the symbols in these verses?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  How can you know if you are one who "overcomes"?

 

 

"He said to me:  'It is done. I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End.'"  What the glorified Jesus says here is very similar to what God said to Moses at the burning bush. "God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.'  This is what you are to say to the Israelites:  'I AM has sent me to you.'"  (Exodus 3:14)  Jesus said to the Jews of His time: "Before Abraham was born, I am!"  (John 8:58)  He was saying that He is the God who has always existed.  Who can we trust more than He who is I AM?  See also Isaiah 44:6

It is this God who says, "It is done."  Have you heard these words before?  Jesus said these same words on the cross, "It is finished!"  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, left His home, became a man, paid the penalty for all of our sins, so one day we can share His home with Him.  He took our hell, so we can share His heaven.  When we finally get there, He can say, "It is done."  For then, God's eternal plan for man will be finally and completely done!

"To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life."  All of us have worked out in the hot sun until we were parched and dry.  At that moment, nothing tastes better than an ice cold glass of water.  The taste of that water is as good as anything that has ever touched our lips and our tongues.  This type of thirst for water is often used as a picture of our need for God.  "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God!  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."  (Psalm 42:1,2)  See also Isaiah 55:1-3,6; Jeremiah 2:13; John 4:10,14, 7:37-39

There is a hunger and a thirst that cannot be satisfied except by God.  Water was scarce in those days and in that region.  There were no water taps and no refrigeration.  They often walked long distances in hot areas.  This is the type of need that we have for God.  God will give us what we need to satisfy this greatest of all thirsts, and what will satisfy our thirst is absolutely free.  In fact, God will continually and eternally satisfy our thirst.

Why can we find religions of some type in every part of the world?  Why are so many people drawn into some type of religion?  It is that hunger and thirst within us for an eternal and infinite answer to our deepest need.  We can find that need met only through coming to know the one true God.  And He desires to fill that need in us much more than we desire to have that need filled.  See Jeremiah 2:13

"He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be His God and he will be my son."  Who are the overcomers whom Jesus talks about here?  Is there anything that we need to overcome to continue to trust God and seek God?  Jesus talks about a sower who sowed seed on four different soils.  One of the soils was covered with thorns.  The seed that was sown sprouted up, but was choked out by the thorns.  Jesus said that these thorns represented how the worries of this world and the deceitfulness of riches can choke out God's message from coming to life in a person.  see Matthew 13:1-23  See also I John 5:4-5

Some do not overcome the worries of this world and the deceitfulness of riches.  The rich young ruler who was unwilling to give up his riches and as a result did not follow Christ was not an overcomer.  An overcomer is one who follows Jesus Christ and believes in God no matter what temptations come and no matter what trials come his or her way.  Those who overcome "will inherit all this."  The following verses are promises to believers about our inheritance:  Matthew 5:5, 19:29, 25:34; I Corinthians 3:21-23, 6:9-10; Hebrews 1:4, 9:15; I Peter 1:4, 3:9; I John 5:5

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars---their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This is the second death."

Thought Question:  What does this verse tell us about what we should avoid, so that we can be an overcomer?

 

 

The "cowardly" are afraid to take a stand for God in this unbelieving world.  "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts the Lord is kept safe."  (Proverbs 29:25)  The "unbelievers" choose to ignore God.  The "vile" live lives filled with what is ugly---that which immoral, greedy, resentful, prideful, and a bunch of other ugly conditions and practices.  The rest of the list is also ugly and familiar to us:  "murders, the sexually immoral. . . . "  For all of these there will be a place in the "fiery lake of burning sulfur."  See 21:27, 22:15; I Corinthians 6:9,10

b. The New Jerusalem (21:9-22:6)

In Hebrews eleven we learn that Abraham trusted God and went to the Promised Land "even though he did not know where he was going." (Hebrews 11:8)  There he lived in tents and never settled down because "he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God."  (Hebrews 11:16)  We also learn in Hebrews eleven that the people of faith in the Old Testament were willing to give up earthly riches because, "They were longing for a better country-a heavenly one."  (Hebrews 11:16a)  "Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:16b)  In these verses that we now have come to, we will find a description of the heavenly city that God has prepared for all who have looked to or now look to God's mercy and grace for salvation.  It is named, "the New Jerusalem."

(1) Its beauty (21:9-11)

"One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, 'Come and I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.  It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like as a jasper, clear as crystal."

Thought Question:  Why do you think the New Jerusalem is called the "wife of the Lamb"?

 

 

Have you ever climbed to some high spot by foot or in a car, and from that vantage point were able to see for miles?  John was taken to such a high viewpoint.  From this high spot, he saw one of the most glorious sights a man has ever seen.  He saw the glorious city, the New Jerusalem descending from God.  To him, it was coming down to earth like a beautifully dressed bride coming to meet her groom.  See Ezekiel 40:2

It appears that John was not physically taken to this high mountain, but that he was taken "in the Spirit" or "spiritually" to this high place.  See 17:3

What did this heavenly city look like to John?  He said it was like a very great diamond.  A "jasper" is like a diamond.  Can you imagine a diamond the size of a football?  Or think about a diamond that is as big as a car?  But, as we will see later, this diamond is bigger than a mountain and even larger than a state the size of California.  He uses the diamond as the best way he can to describe the glory of this city that shines "with the glory of God."  What a sight John saw!  What a sight we will see when we first see the New Jerusalem!  "It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like as a jasper, clear as crystal. 

Thought Question:  These verses describe our future home.  From these verses, what will this city will be like?

 

 

(2) Its walls (21:12-14)

"It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates.  On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.  There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west.  The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb."  Twelve is an important number in these last two chapters of the Bible: there are twelve gates; twelve foundations; the city is 12,000 stadia wide, long, and high (21:6); the wall is 144 cubits thick (or high) (12 X 12 = 144) (21:7); the twelve gates are twelve pearls (21:21); and there will be twelve fruits (22:2).  Why are there so many twelves?  It appears to be the number that expresses what it will be like when God fully does everything His way.

Tim La Haye gives this helpful explanation about the meaning of numbers in the Bible:  "For example, it is suggested that the number one stands for unity, two for union, three for the Trinity; four is the number of the earth (four directions: east, west, north, south), five the divisional number (five wise and five foolish virgins), six the number of man.  Everything in the Bible that has to do with man seems to be in the realm of six.  For instance, "six days shalt thou labor."  The height of the average man is about six feet.  The Antichrist uses for his number three sixes, called the number of man.  Seven seems to be the perfect number, or God's number.  He instructed Solomon to put seven steps in the throne of the temple.  He established the divine calendar on the basis of seven days…..  Twelve seems to be the government or administrative number.  Thus we find multiples of twelve in the administration of God's universe -- twenty-four thrones around the altar and one hundred forty-four thousand outstanding Christians, as described in Revelation 14, who will probably gain special leadership positions during the millennial kingdom."  Taken from Revelation by Tim LaHaye.  Copyright 1973 by Zondervan Publishing House."

Why is there a wall around the New Jerusalem?  The wall and gates show that not all will be able to enter the New Jerusalem.  The only ones who will be able to enter the New Jerusalem are those who come through Israel and the church.  Jesus told the woman at the well that "salvation is from the Jews." (John 4:22)  It is through Jesus Christ the Jewish Messiah alone that we are saved and will gain access to the New Jerusalem.  And it is through the church, which is based on the foundation of the Apostles, that the gospel message has been spread to the world.  See Ephesians 2:19-20  Ezekiel 48:31-34 gives a possible list of the names of the tribes that will be written on the twelve gates.  See also Hebrews 12:22-24

(3) Its measurement (21:15-17)

"The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls.  The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide.  He measured the city with a rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.  He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man's measurement, which the angel was using."  "12,000 stadia" equals 1,500 miles in today's measurement.  It is 1,500 miles long, wide, and high.  It completely dwarfs any of our modern-day cities.  Its length, width, and height is about the distance from Los Angeles to Seattle.  This city which is 1,500 long and wide will be a city that will be the size of most of the western states combined.  When you add the 1,500 miles high to the city, you have a city that is about the size of the moon.  Jesus said, in "my Father's house are many rooms." (John 14:2).  In the New Jerusalem there is plenty of room for many rooms (or for many dwelling places).  If you multiply 1,500 X 1,500 X 1,500 you come up with over three billion cubic miles.  That is enough room for many rooms!  And Jesus has already prepared a place for each of us who have believed in Him.

The wall is 144 cubits thick (the note in the NIV Bible say it could be 144 cubits "high").  A cubit, the distance between a man's elbow and the tip of his fingers, is about one and one half feet.  So, it is about 216 feet thick (or high).

The dimensions that are given could describe a city that is shaped like a cube.  But, it is also possible that the 1,500 miles high could be describing a pyramid-shaped city.  The top of the pyramid, then, may be the location of the throne of God.

(4) Its building materials (21:18-21)

"The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.  The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone.  The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth,  and the twelfth amethyst.  The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl.  The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass."

We make our cities and streets of wood, steel, concrete, glass, and blacktop.  The New Jerusalem will be made of the type of precious stones that are used now only in the most precious pieces of jewelry.  Each of the stones that is listed is an expensive type of gem.  And each gem is a different shade of a beautiful color.

The key to understanding this description is found in 21:11:  "It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal."

John Walvoord gives this description of the beautifully colored gems that make up the New Jerusalem:  "sapphire, is a stone similar to a diamond in hardness and blue in color….  chaledony, an agate stone from Chalcedon (in Turkey), thought to be sky blue with stripes of other colors running through it….  emerald, introduces a bright green color….  sardonyx, is a red and white stone….  sardius stone, refers to a common jewel of reddish color also found in honey color which was considered less valuable….  chrysolite, a transparent golden in color….  According to the ancient writer Pliny, and therefore somewhat different from the modern Chrysolite stone….  beryl, is a sea green….  topaz, …yellow-green..  jacynth, is a violet color…. amethyst, is commonly purple."  "Taken from The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John F. Walvoord.  Copyright 1966 by Moody Press."

Walvoord admits that the exact colors of the gems is not certain.  But, what we can be certain of is the breath-taking beauty of this heavenly city that will one day be the home of those who have chosen to put their trust in God and Jesus Christ.  Certainly, this city is beyond anything we have experienced on this earth.

The city and the streets of the city are made of a gold that is both pure and transparent.  This obviously is a type gold beyond anything we have ever seen.  As Walvoord observes, since it is a clear that this gold is different from any gold on earth; the materials on the new earth will be different from the materials that are part of our present earth.

The gates to the city are great pearls.  There is no mention in these verses or any place in the Bible of Peter being at one or more of these pearly gates.  See Matthew 13:45-46

This city is beautiful beyond what we can imagine.  First, it is 1,500 miles by 1,500 miles by 1,500 miles in size.  Also, the light shining through these beautiful gems must have been to John, beautiful beyond description!  Light going through a prism transforms light into all kinds of beautiful colors.  What will happen when the glory of the Lord passes through this huge city of jewels?

Certainly John is using human and worldly terms to describe a heavenly city that cannot be described in human and worldly terms.  This city is what is ahead for us who have received and obeyed the Gospel.  It is not what we have earned.  It tells us of God's wonderful mercy, grace, and love!

(5) It uniqueness (21:22-27)

"I did not see any temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.  The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.  On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.  The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.  Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.

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

 

 

This heavenly city is unique and different than any human city that John knew about in at least the following ways:  (1) "I did not see any temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple."  The cities of John's time were filled with temples for the worshiping of many gods.  Our cities are filled with church buildings and other religious buildings.  But, there will not be a single temple in the New Jerusalem.  The reason is that the entire city will be the dwelling place of God and Jesus Christ.  The Old Testament Temple symbolized through the altar, the holy place, and the Holy of Holies the way that sinful man can approach a holy God.  We must come through a sacrifice.  The sacrifice, of course, is through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ for our sins.  Only His death can purify us from our sins.  In heaven, we will not need rituals that describe how we can approach God, for we will already be in the presence of God.  There will be a Temple during the Millennium.  It is described in Ezekiel 40-43.

(2) "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp." The second way that the new heaven and new earth will be different from the earth and heaven that we know is that there will be no sun or moon.  Instead, in the heavenly world, we will receive our light from God's presence.  In I John 1:5, John says that "God is light."  In some way that we do not fully understand right now, when we are in God's presence there will be light.

Sometimes in science fiction movies, someone will travel to another planet where there are, for example, two suns or two moons.  This fictitious planet seems very odd.  Well, on the new earth there will be no sun or moon.  But there will be plenty of light; God's light.  It will be very different there than what we are used to here.  It is possible, from the wording used here, that there will be a sun and moon in the new heaven, for it only says that there is no need for the sun and moon.  But, it does appear that if the sun and moon are not necessary, that there will not be a sun or moon in the new heaven.

The physical world is a picture of the invisible spiritual world.  Jesus said that He was the "Bread of Life."  (John 6:35)  Physical bread is a physical picture of how Jesus' life is taken into our spirit and fills and satisfies our spiritual stomach.  Physical light is a picture of a spiritual enlightening that God gives to us so that we can see Him and understand His ways.  This spiritual light will be all the light that the eyes that we have in our new resurrection bodies will need.  See John 1:7-9, 3:19, 8:12, 12:35; I John 1:5-7; Isaiah 49:6

"The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it."  The "nations" and "kings" are believing peoples and kings who have turned to God for salvation.  Earthly kings or today's Presidents who have turned to God for salvation will bring the splendor of their high earthly positions into the heavenly city.  By doing this, they are humbling themselves and putting themselves under the King of kings in the New Jerusalem.

"On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there."  We lock our doors because we are afraid someone may come in and steal from us.  We are most concerned that someone will sneak up to our house at night and steal from us under the cover of darkness.  Since there will be no sin and no night in this new city, its gates will never be shut.

"The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.  Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."  This city will be unlike our modern-day cities for there will be no garbage, no sewage, no sleazy parts of town; it will all be pure and beautiful.  It will be pure and beautiful forever!

There will be no impure people.  For the only ones who will be there will be "those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."  The city will be inhabited by all people of all ages who have believed in God's grace through Jesus the Messiah.  See Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16

With this description of heaven, we can almost hear some professor in some university say, "Everyone would like to have a world where everyone gets along and where everything is perfect.  But, you childish dreamers need to grow up and face reality.  There is no place in the real world like this city, and there never will be a place like this heaven you talk about."  Sadly, their eyes are blind and they do not see, for they have never met Jesus Christ.  He is perfect and without sin.  He died so that all who believe in Him might one day be with Him in His glorious home.  Skeptics scoff, but believers look forward with certain hope to this new world that has been promised us by the wonderful God who created this wonderful but now sin-cursed world we live in.

(6) Its new nature (22:1-3)

The beauty of the New Jerusalem is great, but there is also the beauty of life in this new city.  When we think of a beautiful city, we do not just think of its beautiful buildings, but we also think of its beautiful flowers and its beautiful bodies of water or streams of water.  The New Jerusalem also has this type of beauty.

"Then the angel showed me the river or water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.  On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.  And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be any curse.  The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  There will be no more night.  They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.  And they will reign for ever and ever.  The angel said to me, 'These words are trustworthy and true.  The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place."

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

 

 

"Then the angel showed me the river or water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.  On each side of the river stood the tree of life bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.  And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations."

There is no question that the physical world is in many ways a picture of the spiritual world (and maybe in all ways it is a picture of the spiritual world).  The water in the New Jerusalem will be a water from God and that will fully satisfy and meet our spiritual need. 

Will this water be like our water today?  In other words, will we be able to take a drink of it.  According to I Corinthians 15:35-49, we will have spiritual bodies in heaven.  It may be that we will be able to drink this spiritual water just like we are able to drink physical water.  We will have to wait until we get there to find out for sure.

There will be trees in the New Jerusalem that will provide us with a continual source of nourishment and health.  The tree of life was in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, but their sin separated them from this tree and its provision of eternal life:  God said, "He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Genesis 3:22)   In the New Jerusalem we will once more be able to eat of this tree of life, and we will be able to live forever.

Why are there "leaves" for "healing" where there will be no sin or sickness?  The word for "healing" used here is the word from which we get our word, "therapy."  It is the Greek word, "therapeia."  These "leaves" will provide us with a continual supply of health.  They will be the ultimate in health food!

In the New Jerusalem there will be no more curse.  "No longer will there be any curse."  In the New Jerusalem there will be no weeds.  There will be plants, but no weeds; nor anything else that is the result of God's curse on this earth.  All that we endure---like weeds, flies, ticks, allergies, and all the irritations and ugly things of this earth---we will never need to endure again.

"The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.  They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads."  The New Jerusalem will be a beautiful place, but what we will love most of all about being there is that we will experience a continual relationship with the Almighty, all-loving, and holy God --- the God who loved us so much that He sent His son to die for us.  We will be members of His family, and co-heirs with His Son Jesus Christ.  His name will be on our foreheads --- we will be His possession and members of His family forever!  "And I---in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness."  (Psalm 17:15)  See 2:17, 3:12, 7:3, 14:1

We will "serve him."  This verse tells us that in heaven we will not be floating around on a cloud playing a harp.  We will be busy serving God.  What will we be doing?  The Bible gives us some answers.  We will be reigning with Jesus Christ. See II Timothy 2:12  We will be judging angels. See I Corinthians 6:2  What else will we be doing?  Certainly we will be loving God and each other; we will be learning what our infinite God is like; we will be enjoying His unlimited provisions; and experiencing more than we have the ability to understand right now.  It is our delight to wait in anticipation for the joys that are ahead of us.  Paul said, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18)  And Paul actually "was caught up to paradise.  He heard inexpressible things that man is not permitted to tell." (II Corinthians 12:4)  What will heaven be like?  Paul could tell us about the very marred beauties and joys of this earth.  But, heaven will be a place of inexpressible glory!

"There will be no more night.  They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.  And they will reign for ever and ever."  Night and darkness is the domain of that which is evil and shameful.  Most stealing takes place in the night.  Bars usually keep the lights down low.  Most all that is immoral takes place at night behind closed doors.  But, in the New Jerusalem there will be no night or darkness.  Everywhere there will be light and purity!  And it will be like this forever!

"The angel said to me, 'These words are trustworthy and true.  The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place."  What will it be like in heaven?  It will be beautiful beyond what earthly words can tell.  There will be a very large and very beautiful city to live in.  There will be no darkness or sin, no tears or pain.  We will never be hungry, thirsty, or unhealthy.  We will always be happy and fulfilled with God's life.  Then, we are told that "These words are trustworthy and true."  We can trust God's promise of heaven given in this chapter!  And when we get there, the world as it is now will seem to have passed by and be gone from us, oh so very quickly.  It will not be long before we are there!

 c. Final words (22:7-21)

We come now to the final words in the Bible.  What are the final words God says to us?  Read on.

(1) The final promise (22:7)

"Behold I am coming soon!  Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."

Thought Question:  How can we keep "the words of the prophecy in this book"?

 

 

These are only a few words, but they are very important words.  "Behold"  In other words, wake up, be alert!  The world today needs to be awaken.  What does our world get excited about?  One word our world gets excited about is "money."  The following words get many people's immediate attention today:  "sale!" "lottery numbers," "you've gotten a raise," "stock market," "income tax refund," and other money-related words.  Behind these words is another word, the word "me."  Jesus says to our "me" world, "Behold," wake up, I am coming soon.

"coming soon."  Jesus says these words three times in the final verses of Revelation.  But, He said these words 2,000 years ago.  If I told my wife I will pick her up soon, would she expect me to come to pick her up sooner than in 2,000 years?  Jesus is talking about something much different here.  For when He comes, life as we know it will be gone forever.  Older parents tell young parents that their children will grow up sooner than they think.  When Jesus returns, it will have been just a short time for God.  For to Him, a day is like a thousand years.  See II Peter 3:1-10  The next event on God's calendar are the events described in the book of Revelation.  When these events begin to unfold, we will feel that this earthy time as we have known it will have passed by very quickly.  For it will very suddenly be gone forever, never to return again.

"Blessed"  There are seven "blesseds" in the book of Revelation.  This is the sixth.  See 1:3, 14:13, 16:15, 19:19, and 20:6  In 1:3, we are immediately told: "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy and blessed are those who hear and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near."  And in this verse, "Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book."  Why will we be blessed?  First of all, if we take the words of the book of Revelation to heart, we will not be part of the rebellion against God that is described in the pages of this book.  Instead, we will seek after God and we will seek after that which will result in our spending eternity with Him.  If we take this book to heart it will affect every part of our lives--our goals, priorities, and relationships.  If we take to heart the words of this book, we will choose attitudes toward life and a lifestyle that will be blessed by God.

(2) The final focus (22:8-9)

"I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.  And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me.  But he said to me, 'Do not do it!  I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book.  Worship God!'"

Thought Question:  What is the message for us today in the words of the angel?

 

 

It is uncertain whether John is referring back to what he described in 19:10:  "At this I fell at his feet to worship him.  But he said to me,  'Do not do it!  I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold the testimony of Jesus.  Worship God!'"  He may have attempted to worship the angel twice or he may in these verses be referring back to what had happened earlier.

Whether it happened once or twice, we can be sure that John focused for a while on the angel who gave him the message rather than on God.  The angel quickly put the focus back on God.  This would be like us focusing on and glorifying a pastor or a Christian speaker who gives us the message about God rather than glorifying God who is the Message.  The angel refuses to receive this worship.  He reveals to John that he is not like God, but he is like they are.  He is not the Creator, but he is also a created one like they are, and he is also a fellow servant of God.

John was so overwhelmed by what the angel was showing him, and he felt so privileged to see this revelation of Jesus Christ of the future that he bowed down to worship the angel.  The angel immediately said that his worship and gratitude should be directed toward God alone.  There is a message here for us.  When someone begins to pour their gratitude and even praise toward us, we also need to quickly turn the focus toward the only one who deserves to be worshiped.

(3) The final season (22:10)

"Then he told me, 'Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near.'"

Thought Question:  Compare to Daniel 12:9.  Why was the prophecy to Daniel sealed up and the prophecy to John not to be sealed up?

 

 

Many years before, Daniel was told that he should seal up what had been revealed to him.  "Go your way Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end." (Daniel 12:9)  Here, John is told by an angel not to seal up what had been revealed to him.  Why was Daniel told to seal up his vision and John was told not to seal up what was revealed to him?  The angel gives us the answer to this question:  "because the time is near."  In Daniel's time there was much more to be revealed.  In fact, all that is revealed in the New Testament was in Daniel's future.  When John received his vision of the future, there was nothing more to be revealed.  The next event on God's timetable is what is revealed in the book of Revelation.

As we approach closer and closer to the very last days, the meaning of the angel's prophecies will make more and more sense to us.  The prophecies of the book of Daniel will make more sense to us as well.

(4) The final state of the wicked (22:11)

"'Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.'"

Thought Question:  Why is this warning significant?

 

 

Daniel says something very similar to what John says in this verse:  "Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked." (Daniel 12:10)  In Ezekiel there are words that are also like these words in Revelation:  "Whoever will listen let him listen, and whoever will refuse let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house."  (Ezekiel 3:27)

If someone chooses to rebel, there will eventually come a time when God will say, "Let them do what they have chosen to do, let them continue to rebel."  There comes a time when the decision a person makes is his or her final decision.  What they have chosen at that time will determine their state for eternity.

If the warnings in the book of Revelation are rejected, there is no message left.  There is no more that can be said.  All that is left is for them to experience the full consequences of their horrible and eternal decision.  If someone has gone through the book of Revelation, reached this chapter, and has remained unmoved; they have to be very hardened in their hearts.  Each of us will ultimately end up at the place that we have chosen-be it heaven or hell.

(5) The final reward (22:12-13)

"Behold I am coming soon!  My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."

Thought Question:  Using what John says in these verses, list as many reasons as you can why we and other individuals should heed the invitation that Jesus gives in these verses?

 

 

"Behold I am coming soon!  My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."  "Behold," wake up!  He will come to a world that will be asleep, as our world is asleep today.  The world at the time when He returns will be ignoring, mocking, and rebelling against God (as our world is doing today).  When He comes, they will quickly discover that they have not gotten by with their insolence and evil.  When He comes, they will receive what they deserve.  For the One who has always existed, "the Alpha and the Omega," will suddenly appear on the scene!  See Revelation 1:8, 17, 2:8, 21:6

(6) The final choice (22:14-15)

"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.  Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."  The whole world can be fit into two groups.  And each of us can be fit into one of these two groups.  The first group is those who are "Blessed."  This is the last "Blessed" in the Bible.  Those who are "Blessed" are those "who wash their robes."  An all-time favorite hymn contains these familiar words:  "What can wash away my sin?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus."  It is only those who have put their trust in Jesus' blood to wash away their sins, who will have "the right to the tree of life" - the right to eternal life.  Are you in this group?  See Titus 3:5; Revelation 1:5-6, 7:14 

The second group are those that the angel calls "the dogs."  These "dogs" are not like the cute and friendly pets that we call "man's best friend."  In John's time "dogs" were like our rats, for they were ugly and filthy scavengers.  The symbol "dogs" used by John represents those in our world who have chosen to practice every unclean and vile thing.  "The dogs" are not those who sin, for we all sin, but they are those who have absolutely and permanently chosen sin over God.  See Philippians 3:2  They are those who choose the dark and evil magic arts over the pure worship of God.  They run after eastern religion, karate, psychics, astrology, channelers, and witches.  They are involved in immorality such as gay pride parades, promiscuity, pornography, adultery, and bawdy humor.  They worship men and man-made idols rather than God.  They are hardened against God.  If the description of the second group sounds like a description of you, but you are sick and tired of this type of life, there is still hope for you.  Run immediately to God and His mercy while there is still time!

(7) The final identification (22:16)

"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.  I am the Root and Offspring of David, and the bright and Morning Star."  John sent this angel to John to tell him that what he has been revealing to him (the book of Revelation) is not from men, but it is from God.  Hundreds of times in the Bible, the Bible claims that its words are the very words of God.  The Bible leaves us with only two choices; it is either a book full of hundreds of lies, or it is God's words.

Who is Jesus?  This verse gives us part of the answer to this question.  He is the "Root and Offspring of David."  Jesus is unique among all men who have ever lived, for David came from Jesus-Jesus created man, and Jesus came from David.  Jesus is both the God who created man and a man who was born from man.  He is both the Creator of man and He is also the Son of Man.  See Isaiah 9:7, 11:1,10; Luke 1:32,32; Revelation 5:5

Jesus is also the "bright and Morning Star."  See Revelation 2:28; II Peter 1:19; Numbers 24:17  Jesus is like the star that we see just before the sun comes up in the morning -- the planet Venus.  As the planet Venus shines just before the light of day fully comes, so Jesus the human God-man shines before God's light fully appears before our eyes, and we enter into the eternal day in God's presence in heaven.

(8) The final appeal (22:17)

"The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!'  And let him who hears say, 'Come!'  Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."  See Isaiah 35:1; John 6:35  The word "Come" is one of the most important words in the Bible.  Jack MacArthur observed that if we only had the Bible verses that contain the word "come," we would still have an adequate Gospel message to preach.  See Matthew 11:28; Isaiah 1:18

As we are now at the very end of the Bible, this is the final appeal in the Bible for men and women to turn to God.  Notice, that it is not Jesus saying to come, but it is, first of all, the Holy Spirit who is making the appeal.  All who truly come to God and believe in Jesus Christ have been invited to come and have been drawn by the Holy Spirit.  It is He who convicts us of our sin and reveals to us that we deserve God's judgment.  It is He who reveals to us that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He died for us.  See John 16:7-11

It is also the "bride" who makes this appeal.  Who is the "bride"?  It is we who are God's church.  It is the church who today preaches the gospel message and offers the invitation for people to believe in Jesus Christ and become Christians.

Also, it is each person who hears and comes and who is to invite others to come:  "let him who hears say, 'Come!'"  Once we come, then we are to invite others to come, so they also can have their thirst for God satisfied.  See John 4:29

He makes His offer to all who are "thirsty" and to "whoever wishes to come."  Those who come will receive "the free gift of the water of life."  What is the "water of life"?  It is the life of God!  We can make the very same appeal today.  We can say, "Come and receive God's life.  It will satisfy your deepest thirst, your deepest hunger, you deepest need."

You may find it interesting to compare the beginning of this book with these concluding verses.  For example, compare 1:1a and 22:7,12a, 1:1b and 22:16a; 1:3 and 22:7b, 1:8 and 22:13

(9) The final warning (22:18-19)

"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book:  If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.  And if anyone takes away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."

Thought Question #1:  In what ways can someone add or take away from the words in this prophecy?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Do these verses apply only to the book of Revelation or do they apply to any book of the Bible?  Explain your answer.

 

 

There is a question as to whether these words apply to the whole Bible or if these words apply just to the book of Revelation.  These verses may be referring only to the book of Revelation, but because there are similar warnings in other parts of the Bible, the warning applies to adding or taking away from any of God's books in the Bible. See Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6

If we tell it like it is about God's judgment on sin and about hell, the people in the world will usually tell us to quit trying to scare them into becoming Christians.  Yet, the book of Revelation is very clear and forthright about the eternal consequences of sin-it is eternal torment.  The prophet Jeremiah gave a king of Judah a scroll that contained a description of God's coming judgment on Israel through the coming attack of the Babylonians.  The king read it, and showed that he rejected Jeremiah's message about God's judgment by cutting off pieces of the scroll piece by piece, and burning it.  See Jeremiah 36 (especially 36:21-26)  He showed complete disdain for Jeremiah's warnings.  Nevertheless, Jeremiah did his job; he warned the king and he warned the people of the kingdom of Judah about God's judgment on them for their sin.  We also need to do our job and warn our generation, even though they might also despise our words to them.

Today, the people in our world cut and burn God's message about a future judgment in other ways.  Bible critics cut out parts of the Bible and say it is not God's Word.  They cut and then burn, cut and then burn, showing complete disdain for the Bible.  There are those who say that the Bible is full of myths.  They also cut and burn.  Those who cut parts from the Bible or add words to the Bible need to fear.  For those who have hardened themselves to the place where they are able, with a calloused heart, to treat the Bible with disdain, are also those who will experience God's horrible eternal judgment!

(10) The final words of the Bible (22:20-21)

"He who testifies to these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon. '  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people.  Amen."

Thought Question:  What is meant by Jesus saying that He is coming soon?

 

 

Yes, He is coming "soon."  And it is much sooner now than when John heard these words.  And we say…."Amen!"  We agree!  While we are waiting, we need God's grace to sustain us as His grace has sustained His people for two thousand years.

And so we have reached the very last words of the book of Revelation and the last words of the Bible.  We have seen the BIG picture of what life is all about.  Has it lifted you and me out of our small little plans and helped us to be a part of God's big purposes?  We are part of a large and universal struggle between good and evil.  Evil appears to be winning right now.  In the future, maybe the near future, evil will seem to have conquered the world.  But, God has always had a plan.  One day, He will have His day.  When Jesus Christ returns in all His glory, there will be no more doubt about who is in charge.  On that day, we will be exceedingly glad that we are on the Lord's side!  (Are you on the Lord's side?)

 

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