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.

Survivors 


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. http://www.desertdispatch.com/news/barstow-8083-plans-shelter.html.

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