Monday, November 26, 2012

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 41 - Revelation 17:1-8

And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I shall show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality." And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, and upon her forehead a name was written, a mystery, "BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. And when I saw her, I wondered greatly. And the angel said to me, "Why do you wonder? I shall tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. "The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth will wonder, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. (NASB)


Explain how you can determine if this passage should be interpreted as literal or symbolic.

One of the angels who has just destroyed much of the earth and brought punishment upon the inhabitants is now going to show why this was done. The next two chapters are symbolic descriptions of what has gone on from a spiritual viewpoint and the punishment that is required. The symbolic nature of it starts immediately as John announces that he is “in the Spirit” when he is taken to see this vision. Notice the tense of the verbs used to describe the action of the kings and people. All are in the past tense. This is now a flash back to what has already taken place even though John writes in the present tense as he sees the vision.

Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so. And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way. (Judg 2:16-19 KJV)  

What is the pattern of immorality and corruption found in the Old Testament? How does it relate to today and the end-times? 

The history of Israel during the time of the judges follows a pattern that we can see repeated throughout history. It seems to be the way of the world to indulge in corruption. God has always sent people to help guide us away from other religions. He has sent evangelists and great revivals. However, after a few generations people seem to go even further from the truth than before. It points out that we cannot take for granted that our own children will follow us as we follow the Lord. It points out that even though we may have seen blessings of God in our nation, we are also seeing even greater desertion from God’s ways by the majority of people.

I’ve heard some preachers say that there will be a great worldwide revival just before the rapture. I don’t know of any Scriptures that promise this, however they might base this on the pattern in Judges. It is very possible that before the rapture, there will be one more great worldwide revival followed by the most horrific departure from God’s way in history since the days of Noah. Maybe we are in the middle of a revival and don’t recognize it because sin has greatly overshadowed it in our nation and Europe. Certainly, in many parts of the world people are coming to Christ faster than any other times in history. If this is the pattern, then after this last revival, unprecedented spiritual adultery will take place just as each succeeding generation in the times of the judges drew further away from the Lord.

Why is the symbol of the prostitute fitting for the way people go after other gods? 

 "Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your fathers and go whoring after their detestable things? When you present your gifts and offer up your children in fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, declares the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you. (Ezek 20:30-31 ESV)

The Hebrew word for whoring used in these verses is also used about 86 times in the Old Testament. Of those times, about 60 are used to describe departure from God and worship of idols, sacrificing children, sorcery, and all kinds of evil. Lest we think that this only applies to some horrible sins that only applied to Israelites, we need to remember that in God’s eyes, our own selfish desires are the same.

 … not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined  to whore after. (Num 15:39 ESV)  

I am tempted to write a long explanation of man’s base nature and how we tend to run in the opposite direction of God. But God’s own description of our waywardness is sufficient. The Lord also describes the results of our waywardness.  

"Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Since you have forgotten me and thrust me behind your back, you must bear the consequences of your lewdness and prostitution.” (Ezek 23:35 NIV)

We have been seeing the consequences throughout the book of Revelation.

They also provoked Him to wrath at the waters of Meribah, So that it went hard with Moses on their account;
Because they were rebellious against His Spirit, He spoke rashly with his lips.
They did not destroy the peoples, As the Lord commanded them, But they mingled with the nations And learned their practices, And served their idols, Which became a snare to them.
They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, And shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and their daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with the blood.
Thus they became unclean in their practices, And played the harlot in their deeds. (Ps 106:32-39 NASU) 

Read again Ps 106:32-39 applying the verses to ourselves, our nation. What are some of the things that we do to prostitute ourselves before other gods? 

We do not root out evil in our own lives. God was clear when He told the Israelites to destroy completely the peoples of the lands. They didn’t and their evil ways kept polluting the Israelites.

We don’t keep ourselves separate. We adopt the customs of the sinful world. Probably one of the most obvious is the way many Christians treat Sunday. We have adopted the philosophy that Sunday is something for us. If we had a late night, we sleep in on Sunday and skip church. We have lost the importance of worship and gathering together.

Another way don’t keep separate is when we enjoy the same entertainment as the lost. Many “Christians” don’t see the harm in pornography and many other things that are harmful to the soul. If you point out these errors, they claim you are being too legalistic.

We have idols in our lives. The Israelites had physical images that they bowed before. We do the same things by putting anything and everything at a higher priority than Jesus. We even put some things ahead of Him and do it in His name. Sometimes it is as complex as when we let our fears run our lives. Sometimes it is as simple as when our desires don’t line up with His.

We don’t follow Deut 6:6-7 which says that we should keep God’s Word in our hearts and be diligent in teaching them to our children. It even tells us how, by talking about His Word in all aspects of our lives, from rising to going to bed at night. We do not impress upon our children the commandments of the Lord. The result is that the next generation rejects the values of the previous. In a real sense, this is abandoning or sacrificing our children to demons.

It amazes me when I talk to people Christians and claim to have a Christian home but don’t know if their grown children are Christians or not. When we can’t share our faith with our own children or even know how to determine if they are Christians, how is it possible for us to share our faith with strangers?

The children of these people didn’t openly rebel but when they have been neglected spiritually it is natural for them to turn to other gods. Since there is a void in everyone’s life, it will be filled by God or Satan. I am thankful to belong to a church that makes Deut 6:6-7 a high priority in ministry. Hopefully, most of our members follow through at home and don’t depend on the church to provide all of their kid’s spiritual education.

I don’t want to put a guilt trip on anyone either. This isn’t a guarantee that our children will follow the Lord, but it is our duty to provide them with everything we can to point them in the right direction. 

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4 KJV)  

If we are a friend of the world, how does that make us adulterers? 

James clearly states that when we are friends with the world, either by the way we conduct our business or the way we practice our religion we are being adulterers. The world is the whole system by which Satan would have things run. As we look more at the religious system of Babylon, we can see that God is serious about keeping us away from what even appears to be the most harmless of mystical things. 

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. (2 Cor 11:2 KJV)  

There is one primary reason why we need to be pure from all other religious pursuits, superstitions, or anything that takes our eyes of Jesus. We are His bride! We are to be presented to Him pure. If we are glancing at other men as we go up to Him at the altar, we haven’t focused on Him. Anything we are trusting in more than Him (usually others or self) will not help us present ourselves as pure.

What is the source of this spiritual harlotry that will seemingly overcome the world? 

Satan is the source and he is clever. He will find ways to bring back the most hideous types of religion and disguise them as new and sophisticated. No wonder each generation gets worse. This last generation will be the worst. It will cover the whole earth; both leaders and followers will be involved. The leaders will promote it and the common people will revel in it. They will become intoxicated by it. They won’t be able to get enough.

Several years ago in the movie, “The Temple of Doom[1],” there were scenes where the people drank the blood of the sacrificial victim and became intoxicated by and completely involved in the religious system. More recently we have vampire stories where the vampires are either good or bad. What does that imply? What people don’t realize is that as they tread the wine of this adultery, they are also treading the wine of God’s wrath. He won’t be mocked.

The Woman

What is your impression of this woman? Who or what is she? 

The woman is described in many ways. Her clothing, sins, drunkenness, location, and even the inscription on her forehead are all mentioned. This description is significantly longer than the description of the beast. However, it is significant that the explanation of what she represents is found only in one verse. 

 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. (Rev 17:18 KJV)  

John was specifically told that she was a city that ruled over the kings of the earth. This makes me wonder why there are so many differing theories about who she is. Regardless of the fact that she represents a city, there are many symbols in her description that can help us understand her and what the Lord wants us to know when we study these symbols.

On Many Waters

How do we know what the many waters where the woman sits represents? 

And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. (Rev 17:15 KJV)  

Fortunately the explanation of the waters is given so that we can understand that they aren’t rivers, lakes, or seas. This woman has had authority or control over almost all of the people of the earth. In contrast, Jesus has already purchased men from every tribe, language, people, and nation (Rev 5:9). While the woman sits over many, the word tribe is missing. The beast that came out of the sea was given authority over every tribe, language, people, and nation (Rev 13:7). I’m not sure what the significance is, but it could indicate a limit to the ability of the woman to persecute Christians even though she is drunk on their blood. The beast, on the other hand, has been given authority over the saints for a time.

In The Desert

Why would John be taken to a desert to see the woman if she sits on many waters? 

The city doesn’t have to be in a physical desert. She sits over many waters, which has been clearly shown to be symbolic. Because the waters are symbolic, it would imply that the desert should also be considered as symbolic rather than physical. The desert has been used significantly in the Bible. Israel wandered in the desert for forty years. Jesus went to the desert for forty days. Paul spent three years in the desert after his conversion. It is a place of punishment, trial, testing, and an opportunity to come close to the Lord. I think that in this case, the woman is in the desert because she represents a time of trial for Christians as well as a spiritually dry place. As long as she is in charge there will be testing, but with the testing we will be strengthened. Like Jesus, we will learn how to withstand the onslaught of Satan. Like Paul, the Lord will teach us in the desert.

Her Clothing

What would her attire represent?

The dress of the woman is pure luxury and the attempt to imitate royalty. Purple and scarlet are colors of royalty. Her glittering attire could represent the lure of evil. The jewels speak of the wealth of the city.  

Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God's people. (Eph 5:3-4 NLT) 

We are sometimes so opposed to sexual immorality that we forget that it is in the same class with greed. The wealth of the woman would suggest that she has led as many away from the Lord by riches as she has with her immorality.

Her Cup

What does this cup remind you about religions that depend on works for salvation? 

The cup the woman holds is outwardly beautiful and precious - made of gold. When we look into the cup, we see the true make-up of the woman since it is filled with abominations. 

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. (Matt 23:27-28 KJV)  

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day looked good on the outside but were evil within. Outwardly their religious system appeared to be the way to God but inwardly there was death and decay. The same fits the woman. To the world, her religion appears to be the way to God, probably promoted as the only way because of the inference to her authority. God has always condemned as adultery any path to Himself other than through the worship He prescribed in the Old Testament and the fulfillment of that worship in Jesus. It bears repeating: there is only one way to worship God and that is through Jesus. Anyone who says that there are multiple paths to God are simply adding to the adulterous filth that is in the woman’s cup.

We should take this very personally and examine our own lives. Are we trusting in Jesus for our salvation and Him alone? If we think that our outward behavior will get us into heaven while we harbor evil in our hearts, then we are just like the Pharisees. If our outward behavior looks good because we have Jesus living in our hearts then we are in a right relationship with God.

Her Identity

Explain how you can identify the city either symbolically or literally. 

From verse 18 we found out that the woman is a great city that rules over the earth. From her title, we understand that she is the city Babylon, however it is could be used symbolically as well as literally.

There is strong consensus among scholars that Babylon is not literal. The description of the beast she sits upon is described as having its seven heads as seven hills in verse 9. This provides a clue to the location of the city though not a good one as has been mentioned earlier. The seven heads also represent seven kings of the past, present, and future which lends to describing Rome. The ancient city of Rome was built on seven hills so there is some correlation between Rome becoming the center of this religion as the Roman Empire is revived.

However, the hills could be symbolic, in which case they don’t support the city being Rome at all.

Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. (1 Kings 11:7 KJV)  

It seems that most of the detestable gods of the Old Testament required altars on the tops of hills called high places. It is very possible that the reference to the seven hills in Revelation is simply symbolic of the false religions that have supported this woman. 

The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son. (1 Peter 5:13 KJV)  

When Peter wrote to believers he made this reference at the end of his first letter. Many scholars originally believed that he was in Rome at that time and that “she” is the church in Rome. They also supposed that the physical city of Babylon didn’t exist in Peter’s time. This would lend a lot of credibility to the city in Revelation being Rome rather than the actual city of Babylon. This is probably the reason that many believe that the woman also represents the Roman Catholic Church.

However, more recent scholars are refuting these claims and suggest that Peter was actually in the city of Babylon. According to Wikipedia, Babylon was still was still going strong in the 1st and 2nd centuries and was the location of the Bishop of the Church of the East.[2] It was also a city that claimed a large population of dispersed Jews.

For those that believe that the city is the literal Babylon, it means that the city must be rebuilt before the end of the tribulation. This has raised a lot of interest since Saddam Hussein started rebuilding the city in 1983. If we see some significant religions (perhaps seven) moving their headquarters to the new city, then we may be more certain that this city is the literal Babylon.


What was Babylon’s spiritual claim to fame and how does knowing this help us personally?

And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. (Gen 11:4 KJV)

According to Dana Sherstad in her excellent Bible study about constellations telling the story of redemption, this verse should be translated to say that he top of the tower was with the heavens meaning that it contain star maps of constellations that are the basis of the current astrological signs.[3] This would reinforce the position that the worship of the stars started long before many other religions. In this way, the tower of Babel was man’s means for reaching into heaven. As we know, God put a stop to it as he will this future Babylon.

It wasn’t just their desire to make a tall building or establish worship of the stars. They also wanted it to keep themselves together. Since the tower was intended for astrological pursuits its purpose was likely to become a one-world religion that would keep mankind together. From this came Babylon and the mysticism of the East.  

Stand fast in your enchantments and your many sorceries, with which you have labored from your youth; perhaps you may be able to succeed, perhaps you may inspire terror. You are wearied with your many counsels; let them stand forth and save you, those who divide the heavens, who gaze at the stars, who at the new moons predict what shall befall you. (Isa 47:12-13 RSV)  

This prophecy against Babylon supports the idea that astrology and magic were common practice and the background of Babylon.  

Then the king commanded to call the magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to shew the king his dreams. (Dan 2:2a KJV)  

Even when Daniel was there these evil practices were still common.

Even Christians are susceptible to the desire to know the future. It is common to find believers who read their horoscope or believe that forces other than our sovereign God can affect their lives. Some are so wrapped in prophecies and trying to fit them into current events and the near future that they miss out on what God would have them do.

Many are investing in remote survival sites to take care of them when the predicted apocalypse occurs. Jesus never told us to bunker down but to watch. He told us to keep on doing what we are supposed to be doing until He returns. The parable of the ten virgins teaches us to be ready, not bunker down and hide (Matt 25:1-13). In Luke 21:29-36 He told of the signs that will come and not to be weighed down with the cares of this life. 

What should we be doing while we wait and watch? 

And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. (Luke 12:42-43 KJV) 

As we read Matt 25:31-46, we see that those who are taking care of others, being kind and compassionate, are the ones that Jesus will reward, not those who have hoarded supplies to wait out various disasters or the tribulation if the rapture doesn’t occur first. The other thing that we are to do is to spread the Gospel and make disciples. These are the two basic things we should be doing.


What is a mystery and what are the dangers of mysteries in religion?

The word mystery means anything secret or hidden that is being or has been revealed that is divine in nature. A true mystery is something that can be made known to man only by God. An example of a mystery in Christianity is found in Eph 3:1-6. Paul explains that the mystery was revealed to him and the other Apostles by the Holy Spirit. He then told us plainly that Gentiles are fellow heirs of the promises of Christ. The mystery is clearly recorded for anyone to read and not kept a secret by the upper echelons of Christianity. When only a select few know the secret, they can then exert power over the masses in the religion. This is not the case with Christianity as long as we recognize the Bible as the only rule for our faith.

The word is similar to the Greek word for apocalypse, which means revealed and known. Part of the mystery of Babylon is that God is revealing the punishment for spiritual prostitution.

The occult is always associated with mysterious things. These mysteries have crept into churches for ages. On some of the Caribbean islands it is difficult to distinguish the Catholic Church from witchcraft because voodoo and other practices have been incorporated into the church there. Protestant churches aren’t doing much better. Many have embraced all sorts of things such as using visions as a method of getting the Holy Spirit to do what they want. There have also been lessons in learning the deeper things of healing. All are mysterious and are not learned from the Bible but from someone who has had this explained to them from some mysterious source. The result and direction of these make people open to more overt occultic practices. It is very possible that these things and others will develop to the point where there is only one religion in the world.

People are very susceptible to mysterious things. As kids, we all enjoy being told a secret or telling one. As adults you can find any number of fraternal orders that have secret initiation rites. Some of these are in fact religions since in their rituals they define who God is and how our relationship with Him should be carried out. People are tricked by some of these fraternal organizations which are actually cults.

Drunk on the Blood

How does this explain why some people persecute Christians?  

For some reason, it is exhilarating for them to persecute others just as it is for the woman who is drunk on their blood. What would cause Saul to pursue the Christians to Damascus?  

And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. (Acts 14:19 KJV)  

What would cause people to follow Paul from these two cities to Lystra and incite people to stone him? What would cause people to torture and kill people because they confess Jesus instead of loyalty to the church’s leader? The reason is the driving force behind all false religion and is unified in this woman. In some ways religion is the opiate of people, an opiate that brings out the worst in men because it is not from God.

Is the Woman the Roman Catholic Church?

What are the similarities between the woman and the Roman Catholic Church? 

For many years, people have looked at this vision of the woman and have believed it to be the Roman Catholic Church. Up front, I want to assure you that I don’t agree, however you may run across people who do and you need to see where they are coming from.

There are similarities between the Roman Catholic Church and the woman. The woman has power, authority, riches, and royalty. The description of her dress with the colors, jewels, and the gold are equated to the ceremonial dress of the Pope. There is no doubt that the Roman Catholic Church at one time had more wealth than most nations. Its hierarchy has been called its royalty. The Roman Catholic Church calls the mass a mystery since in their theology, the wine and bread become the actual blood and body of Jesus. These people feel that the golden cup in the woman’s hands is filled with everything that has been or is wrong with the Roman Catholic Church. Whenever they have a difference in theology, whether based on Scripture or not, whether right or wrong, they included it in the cup. The woman is drunk on the blood of the saints. The Roman Catholic Church has in times past persecuted other Christians. To sum it up, there are as many “urban legends” surrounding the Roman Catholic Church as there are true stories of abuse and corruption.

As it ruled over many nations from Rome, the Catholic Church once had a power that was similar to the woman. Kings of these nations weren’t crowned unless they pledged allegiance to the church. It appears that another religious system will someday gain control of the kings of the earth in the same way and may very well be established in Rome. The World Council of Churches or any other religious institution could do something like this if it were backed by the beast and raised to prominence. This may seem ridiculous because the World Council of Churches is nowhere near this type of organization and neither is the Roman Catholic Church. However the roots of the medieval Catholic Church began with the powerless Apostles and there isn’t anything in the New Testament that would make one believe that Christianity would be able wield the kind of power that the Catholic Church did in the past. The point is that what seems ludicrous now is very possible in a few short years. Islam could certainly have this same kind of power as has been demonstrated in Iran. 

Why do we need to be careful about claiming the Roman Catholic Church is the woman? 

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (Matt 7:3 KJV)  

When people say that the Roman Catholic Church is this abominable woman, they tend to forget the history of their own particular denomination as well as their own sins. Besides being very judgmental, it also blinds us to other possibilities. Those other possibilities are more likely to happen if we aren’t examining our own churches and ourselves.

It is more likely that the woman represents something that will develop just before or during the last seven years. As Christianity becomes corrupted and drifts further from the truth, I’m sure it will embrace all religions. It will soon become a religion of domination and control, as they all will give way to direct Satan worship. At that time we will see Satan turn on all the methods he has used in the past to ensnare the lost and demand his worship directly.

From an historical perspective, this woman is the mother of religious prostitution. She is the one who has started and enhanced those things that have been abominations from the beginning. She is the embodiment of all false religions from the time Cane tried to offer an incorrect sacrifice to God. If Satan is the father of lies, in the same sense he is also the source of all of the false religions. This would also rule out the woman representing the Catholic Church, Islam or any other single religion.


Why was John astonished at the sight of the woman?  

Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass. (Luke 24:12 KJV)  

The word wonder is the same Greek word that is used for astonished.  

(Thaumazo (thou-mad’-zo); by implication, to admire: admire, have in admiration, marvel, wonder.)[4]

Peter wondered what had happened. He could see before him evidence that something happened but he couldn’t figure it out. It didn’t click. The same is true with John. He has seen something that is both marvelous with its outward dazzling dress of gold and jewels and repulsive with its abominations. Yet there it is, allowed by God to continue.

As believers, we often marvel at our salvation. We see verses like Eph 2:8-9 that speak of God’s gift to us. We recognize that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves and yet God has chosen us for salvation. We are amazed! 

What will be the results of unbeliever’s amazement? 

Take heed therefore, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you: “Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish; For I am accomplishing a work in your days, A work which you will never believe, though someone should describe it to you.” (Acts 13:40-41 NASB)  

While a believer may wonder what God is doing, the unbelievers have all the information they need for salvation and even marvel when God works a miracle. However, the lost ignore what God has said in the past and wonder about the prophecies that come true. The inhabitants of the earth will know that the kingdom existed in the past, disappeared, and has resurfaced as a world power. They will admire this kingdom and will perish. They will not try to figure it out from God’s perspective but buy into it hook line and sinker. They will let their prejudices rule over any warnings from God in advance. 

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor 2:14 KJV)  

If someone explained everything to them in great detail, they would still wonder about or admire the beast, because spiritual things cannot be discerned by the lost. 

And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. (Rev 13:3 KJV)  

This is an example of what the angel has said. Something happens that cannot be explained by logic or science. The people wonder or are astonished. They turn themselves over to a faith by sight or experience. That is probably why Jesus never let all of the people following Him influence Him. He knew that the only reason they believed was the miracles. Their faith was not in Jesus or God. Once the miracles stopped on the cross (from the people’s point of view) then they no longer were interested in Him. 

What is the danger for believers when they are astonished by experiences? 

When we see things happening and can’t understand them, the danger is that we may assume the wonder or miracle is from God without asking for His wisdom. Many cults and “movements” have risen out of the assumption that an experience was from God. While the initial wonder may have appeared to be led by the Holy Spirit, the end results (abuses, adultery, greed, and others) have proven that it wasn’t the Holy Spirit but another spirit. These are the things that will be rampant after the Holy Spirit is removed and Satan has control at the end.

Thank God that He has chosen to give us this information in Revelation and the Holy Spirit so that our astonishment or wonder doesn’t lead us off on the wrong path. We can trust God to give us the answer or the knowledge as we look at His Word, see the end result, and know that He is guiding and directing all things to the conclusion that He has provided.

This is His global and personal plan for us: 

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Rom 8:28-29 KJV) 

We must always fall back on this verse as a foundation rock in our faith instead of a pat answer to problems. When we believe that God is good and He will work even what we call bad for our eventual good, it keeps us from going off on a tangent that often leads to bitterness or waywardness.

Most people only quote verse 28. They fail to look at 29 to discover that this isn’t just about us. This is about bringing glory to God as we are conformed to the image of Jesus. 

Explain the contrast between the woman of Revelation 12 and the woman of Revelation 17.

In a sense the woman of Revelation 12 represented believers of all ages. From her, the Messiah came; from then on the rest of her offspring are those who follow the commandments of God. The woman in Revelation 17 is Satan’s counterfeit church. But note that from the counterfeit there is no mention of offspring, only adulteries. There is no protection by God, only a terrible end as the dragon even turns on her. Children of God come from being born again. Children of Satan come from spiritual adultery.

Let’s not become so entangled in the possibilities of these prophecies that we miss the application to our own lives. Let’s be alert to our own spiritual condition so that we don’t participate in adultery whether by accident or on purpose. Let’s keep ourselves pure so we will come to Jesus as a pure bride.

[1] The Temple of Doom Directed by Steven Spielberg. Writing credits, Willard Huyck (screenplay) & Gloria Katz (screenplay) George Lucas(story). 1984. Paramount
[2] "Babylon." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Nov. 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2012.
[3] Sherstad, Dana, and B. J. Barbich. Testimony of the Heavens: God's Redemptive Plan Preserved in the Stars. Woodinville, WA: Good Name, 2011. p24.
[4] Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Revelation Bible Study - Lesson 40 - Revelation 16:12-21

The sixth angel poured his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw, issuing from the mouth of the dragon and from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet, three foul spirits like frogs; for they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. ("Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake, keeping his garments that he may not go naked and be seen exposed!") And they assembled them at the place which is called in Hebrew Armageddon.

The seventh angel poured his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, "It is done!" And there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as had never been since men were on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered great Babylon, to make her drain the cup of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found; and great hailstones, heavy as a hundred-weight, dropped on men from heaven, till men cursed God for the plague of the hail, so fearful was that plague. (RSV)

The Sixth Plague - Great River Dried Up

How does the great river being dried up help us understand the timing of events in the book of Revelation?

This verse seems to pick up where Rev 9:14 left off where the four angels who were bound at the Euphrates are released. Between the end of Revelation 9 and the beginning of Revelation 16 there was a suspension of time while John was given more details about the people involved in the cosmic battle that is taking place between God and Satan. There doesn’t have to be a connection between these verses in chapter 9 and 16 however it certainly seems likely. If the kings from the east are from China and are leading the two million troops, then the connection is quite solid.  

What would indicate that drying up the Euphrates and the kings from the east are symbolic rather than physical? 

I think this is much more symbolic than we have been taught by those who mix current politics into their biblical exposition. The hurdles that these kings have already crossed would have been much harder to handle than the Euphrates River. If we examine the importance of the Euphrates in the Bible, we can see more of a spiritual connection. 

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. … and the fourth river is Euphrates. (Gen 2:10, 14c KJV)  

The Euphrates was one of four rivers in the Garden of Eden. In the Garden was the Tree of Life. It could be symbolic that the only thing that remained from the Garden was this river as if it were still carrying life to the earth from the Tree of Life. Perhaps drying up the Euphrates is a symbol of spiritual life that has now been dried up. 

In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: (Gen 15:18 KJV)  

It was also the marker of the northern most part of the land that the Lord gave to Abram. At this point, the border has been eradicated and Israel’s enemies are free to cross. This could symbolize that God’s supernatural protection for the nation of Israel is being removed, paving the way for the last great battle at Armageddon as described in Dan 11:40-45. 

And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him [the Anti-Christ]: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. (Dan 11:40-45 KJV) 

The Euphrates drying up seems to coincide with the other events in the Bible (Daniel above and Ezekiel), at least according to Hal Lindsey. He has gone into great detail about who is doing what in The Late Great Planet Earth[1] and n There’s A New World Coming[2]. This is a brief review of his explanation of Daniel and Ezekiel. 

1.   The kings of the south (an Arab African confederacy) attack Israel.
2.   The kings of the north (Russia) invade Israel as described in Ezek 38:14-17 and Joel 2:1-10, 20. Russians sweep through Israel and take over Egypt.
3.   Reports from the North cause the Anti-Christ to try to protect Israel because of his commitment to protect her (Dan 9:27).
4.   Reports from the East are described in Rev 9:15-16 and Rev 16:12.
5.   The Anti-Christ destroys the Russians. Dan 11:45b, Ezek 38:18-39:5, Zech 14:12, Ezek 38:22 describe the rain of hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
6.   The 200 million from the East arrive in Rev 16:12.
7.   The rest of the kings of the world arrive in Rev 16:16. 

How does this scenario fit with what we’ve already studied? 

I’m not sure that this whole outline fits what is going on at the very last or happens in the sequence that Lindsey has explained. The primary reason is that it occurs long after the Anti-Christ has broken his covenant with Israel (point 3). Perhaps the outline is correct but Lindsey’s reason for the Anti-Christ to engage in battle is simply wrong. Other authors place item 1 through 5 at the beginning of the tribulation. However, some of these prophecies have double events in history and appear to have already been fulfilled before the time of Christ. They could just as easily have triple apparent fulfillments, which means we don’t know for sure when they will occur.

Frog Demons

Explain the power that these demons must possess to deceive all the kings of the world. 

Some time occurs between the sixth and seventh plagues. The frog demons may be able to go out quickly, but the leaders of the earth must take time to move their troops. It could be a few days or a few weeks.

They remind me of the demon called Legion that Jesus cast out and that went into the pigs. Think of the power and force behind these demons that are able to go into the world and so deceive the leaders so that they will rush headlong into destruction, just as the pigs did. However, this is not an issue of demon possession. These demons are going to display miraculous powers. They are going to be able to demonstrate something to the leaders of the nations that will convince them that they will successfully battle Jesus. It is clear that they are gathered to battle Jesus and not each other. 

And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. (Rev 19:19 KJV)

Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. (Luke 14:31-32 ESV)  

Jesus’ illustration fits this situation. Obviously they know that Jesus is coming and up to this time they thought He was a long way off. They did not seek to make peace with Him, and now the frog spirits have convinced them that they have a chance of winning. They have counted the cost with eyes wide open. I am sure that they know that to lose is hell, yet they are taking their chances.

What should this inspire us to do? 

Many people today are doing the same thing. They know enough about Jesus to make a decision, but they have been deceived into thinking they have more time, or that they will be able to bargain with Him after death. They don’t know the nature of God nor His power, for they have chosen to ignore Him. Our job, should we chose it, is to help people see who God really is. It is a spiritual battle because even today demons are trying to make people decide in the wrong direction.

Warning - Jesus is Coming

Why is the warning about Jesus’ coming sandwiched in here? 

It is not because there are any believers left on earth. It is for anyone who reads this now as a nonbeliever and thinks he might have a chance to escape should he find himself left behind. It is also Jesus’ answer to the miraculous signs of the frogs. There is no show of power, only the warning of His Word. It is His Word that will conquer all of the signs of the frogs.  

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. (Rev 19:15 NIV 

It is His Word that He will use to strike down the nations. In the beginning, He used His Word to create. When Adam fell he was afraid of exposure to God’s Word and hid. Now God is reminding us at the end to avoid exposure by keeping our clothes close. He has provided clothes for us just as He provided clothes for Adam. From the beginning to the end, the solution is the same, trust in the provisions of God through Jesus Christ.

Seventh Plague - the Plague in the Air

Why is it appropriate that the last plague be in the air? 

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (Eph 2:1-2 NASU)  

All those who are following Satan are being judged. He rules in the air and has dominion over the earth. It is fitting now to see the last punishment being poured into the air where Satan has his dominion at this time. 

 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Gen 1:26 KJV)

… cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (Gen 3:17 KJV) 

Originally dominion was given to Adam after the creation. After Adam’s sin, the ground was cursed; instead of having dominion over the earth, in a sense, the earth has dominion over man. This then is how we have come under the dominion of Satan. The last plague affects his kingdom and essentially destroys the earth, which was cursed on account of sin. After this, the earth will need a complete restoration to make it inhabitable. 

What is the significance of the proclamation from the throne in the temple that it is done? 

The words of God “it is done” echoes across history to pay back to Satan what he has done. It really isn’t enough for the problems he has caused, and it still leaves one more period of time for God to deal with man. But the next time there will be no plagues, no series of seven chances.  

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30 KJV)  

On the cross, the wrath of God is also finished. It is finished for all who will trust in Jesus for their salvation, not for those who reject the fact that Jesus died to take God’s wrath upon Himself instead of letting it fall on us. This is the reason we can look at other Scriptures that say Jesus rescued us from the wrath of God and know what it means.  

Compare some of the physical events that accompanied God’s fulfillment of His wrath on Jesus (for our sins) to the events of the fulfillment of His wrath on the earth (for their own sins). 

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!" (Matt 27:50-54 NKJV)  

At the earthquake when Jesus died some were raised from the dead. During this last earthquake there will be death and destruction as people are buried alive. The only destruction when Jesus bore His wrath was the destruction of the veil that was a symbol of the separation of man from God. At the last earthquake many will be eternally separated from God. These events at Jesus’ death were signs for believers so that they may know and exclaim with the centurion that He is the Son of God. The reaction of the people in Revelation who survive is to curse God. 

If Jesus paid for all sin, why do we have the pronouncement of another “it is done” in Revelation when He pours out His wrath?  

In John 19:30, Jesus uses an accounting term that indicates that the debt has been paid. It is on the books and has been recorded. Many people have stopped by to pick up their receipt showing Jesus has paid their debt. Now the books are being closed and the balances are being called into account. Those without a receipt will have to pay their own debt.

The “done” in Rev 16:17 doesn’t have the satisfaction of completion but indicates only that something has happened. It gives me the impression of saying, “I wanted to do something to avoid it, but it had to be done and now it is completed.” The more I think about it, this is a pronouncement of sadness instead of a mighty voice in great anger and power thundering across the earth. This view can only be seen in realizing that Jesus’ death was sufficient to cover the sins of any who would come to Him and that all have the opportunity, yet some have rejected His offer. I think that even at this time if any would confess Him instead of curse Him God would save them.  

What is the significance of this third time that people have cursed God? 

This makes the pronouncement even sadder because people cursed God instead of turning to Him for forgiveness and eternal life.

However we cannot deny God’s foreknowledge or His election. He has known that these would curse Him. The finality of their decision is made evident; this is the third time they have cursed God. Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus gave Him the opportunity to express His love three times after that. These have had more than three times to give glory to God, honor Him, and turn to Him. Instead, they have given their final curse. 

What is the popular unbiblical opinion among Christians and unbelievers for the cause of this last bowl of wrath poured out on the earth? 

The description of what is happening to the earth as the last bowl is poured out is a matter of speculation to many. Some think that man finally has the ability to annihilate himself with nuclear war. That may be true. We could probably produce enough radiation to kill everything on the earth. But I don’t believe that, even if every nuclear warhead were detonated at the same time, the destruction described in Revelation would occur. Certainly all the great cities would collapse and even earthquakes could be triggered. But this says that every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. Man’s buildings are feeble attempts to imitate God’s construction work in the mountains. We think we are doing good to raise a seven hundred foot tower. Mount Everest is over 25,000 feet tall! A massive range of countless mountains supports it. Could all of our bombs combined level the Andes of South America? 

What is really happening to the earth as described by this last bowl? 

What's wrong, Red Sea, that made you hurry out of their way? What happened, Jordan River, that you turned away? Why, mountains, did you skip like rams? Why, hills, like lambs?

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob. He turned the rock into a pool of water; yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock. (Ps 114:5-8 NLT)  

This psalm portrays the earth in terms of actions like animals and people. In His presence, even inanimate objects shake. Jesus is returning to the earth. His presence is causing the whole earth to tremble. This is step one of His cleaning house. The millennium is supposed to be a time when nature is restored to the way it was in the Garden of Eden. Not only does His wrath punish the wicked, but it also provides the start of the restoration of the earth. This is not the new heaven and earth that is promised later, but a restored earth.

This plague must occur very rapidly because so many things occur in a brief amount of time – like lightning flashing (Matt 24:27). This describes how quickly the events will occur at His second coming. The earthquake that splits the Jerusalem into three parts likely occurs when Jesus sets foot on the Mount of Olives. 

And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. (Zech 14:4 KJV)

What is natural man’s reaction when they read apocalyptic disaster descriptions? 

Since they don’t know the Lord they will resort to human devices to protect themselves. The following was published on the internet. Note that they are even preparing to survive hailstones up to 90 pounds. Too bad they didn’t read these verses then look up how much a talent (hundred-weight – RSV) weighed when John wrote this. It could be as much as 130 pounds.

Robert Vicino is the founder of the Vivos Group, a southern California enterprise responsible for building a nationwide network of survival shelters, for 2012, the coming encounter of Apophis in 2029, or whatever and whenever the need may come. To date, the company's first underground complex has started construction near Barstow, California. Each nuclear blast proof facility is engineered to withstand surface temperatures reaching 1,250 Fahrenheit (for 10 days), a force 10 magnitude earthquake, water submersion for up to 500 hours, or winds of 450 MPH, as well as radiation, biological or chemical attack.

As the apocalypse may come in many forms, the shelters are also made to withstand the pressure of 90-pound hailstones traveling at the speed of 100 MPH, a "50 megaton air burst" detonated from 20 miles away, and, in the event of social anarchy, the compound may even serve as an armed fortress.[3]

God Remembers

In the middle of all this disaster, it says that God remembered Babylon the great. 

What are some Scriptures that comfort you when you think about what God remembers? 

And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged; (Gen 8:1 KJV)  

God remembered Noah. How comforting it is to think when we are in the midst of hardship or trouble that God remembers us. 

The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!

Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity. (Ps 98:2-4, 8-9 ESV)  

His remembering is also tied up in the salvation of His people. The joy of it brings life to the earth for both people and His creation. What a contrast to His judgment! He has promised a time when the earth will no longer groan under sin (Rom 8:20-22) but that means that judgment must occur. How fearsome it is to have God remember you because of your sins instead of as a son. We have the promise that His judgment will be righteous and equitable. That is OK with me since He paid for my sin and there is no punishment left for me to face. However, it won’t be OK for those who have rejected Jesus. 

What is one of the promises that God gave to Israel that hasn’t happened yet, but has been fulfilled for Christians? 

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jer 31:33-34 KJV) 

His great promise of a new heart has been given to us when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Our minds are new and our desire is to follow Jesus. It is awesome for us to know God. Yet it is incomprehensible for unbelievers to think that anyone can actually know the Lord. Won’t it be marvelous when everyone will know Him? 

What does God remember about us that demonstrates His compassion? 

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. (Ps 103:8-14 NIV)  

He remembers how fragile we are and that we are His children. He does not remember our sins. That is reserved for those who do not know or fear Him, those who are ready to curse Him, not praise Him. The reason that He can do this is because of the new heart He has given us. What a joy it is to be remembered by God when we fear Him and are in right standing with Him. Praise Him and give Him glory that He does remember the wickedness of Babylon the Great and that we are not part of it. How sad it is to contrast all that God remembers about His saints to what He remembers about those who don’t know Him. He remembers their sins. We need help in sharing what we know with others so that they have the opportunity to escape from being remembered like this.


At this time in the tribulation, is there the possibility of any being spared? 

The last three chapters of Zechariah are prophesies of the end time and also the first coming of Jesus. When He returns, even in the midst of this last plague, people will recognize who He is.  

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (Zech 12:10 KJV)  

Perhaps the survivors will have this grace poured out on them. Perhaps, even in the midst of all the curses, some will not curse Him. They aren’t Christians yet, but they aren’t being destroyed either. This is indicated in Zechariah just after Jesus touches down on the Mount of Olives.  

You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him! (Zech 14:5 NASU)

Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. (Zech 14:16 NASU) 

 Zech 14:16 also shows that the grace of God will be poured out on the whole world, not just on the survivors at Jerusalem.  

And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. (Zech 14:17-19 NKJV)  

Yet reading on lets us know that His rule will be very strict. Even though He will allow the survivors to live on the earth, they will be toeing the mark all the way.

The next two chapters will discuss and reveal just what “Babylon the Great” is all about – what God is remembering.

In the midst of God’s judgment we are reminded of His grace. May you reflect upon the grace He has poured out on you if you know Him. If you don’t know Jesus, may you reflect upon what it would be like to know Him. It will certainly be much better than the alternative.

[1] Hal Lindsey with C. C. Carlson, The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970, 1971)
[2] Hal Lindsey, There’s A New World Coming  (Santa Ana: Vision House, 1973)
[3] Dome, Arron. "Worried about 2012? Man Plans Shelter near Barstow." Desert Dispatch. N.p., 15 Mar. 2010. Web. 14 Nov. 2012.