Revelation 16 – Crime and Punishment
Up to this point we have seen seven trumpets which are a call to repentance. We have also seen seven bowls which are the execution of total judgment without hope of repentance.
In this chapter we see the justice of God as it is poured out on the criminal behavior of humanity.
God is just. God is the judge who sees and knows everything. No investigation is needed. No cover-up is possible. Judgments of God are true. Amazingly our society is not willing to acknowledge any form of truth and does not want to be held accountable to the truth. We see in general a refusal to repent. God does what is right. There seems to be a general feeling in our culture to not follow and not conform to the ways God has designed us.
Man is criminal. There are two main charges in this chapter concerning the criminal behavior of humanity. In verse six we see murder, the murder of God’s saints. Throughout history rejection of a godly influence has meant the murder of God’s people. We have also seen that God’s prophets have been murdered. People did not want to hear from God so they attempted to silence His voice. The second charge is found in verse 11, which is blasphemy (cursing God). The sad part is they blame God for their troubles on one hand and reject His love or existence on the other hand. People are in suffering, and they look for answers everywhere except for God.
The reality is found in what is often called “the fall.” In the fall we see the sinful nature and acts of sin corrupting humanity and nature. This is not a noble rebellion or fight. Sin is a simple and shameful refusal of what is right. Humanity will not acknowledge God or His right to judge. Humanity will not submit to God or His design. Humanity will not accept God’s offer of forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus.
Justice is certain. The image of his justice in verse 15 is that of the thief in the night. It requires humanity to be watchful. Part of being watchful is being prepared. In verse 17 the bowl is poured into the air signifying a universal judgment. There is the declaration: “It is done.” We see the completion of God’s wrath. Universal and complete judgment is written in history. It is something that is done, yet from our perspective it is yet to happen.
The question becomes what destiny you will choose. Do we continue following the ways of sin to its logical conclusion or do we break the cycle and accept God’s substituting sacrificial love for us. This choice is the difference between salvation and eternal retribution. We either choose God’s love or choose the rightful consequences of our sin.
Revelation 17 – Apostasy Revealed
Definition of apostasy:
1. Oxford – “Abandonment of a belief or principle” (Greek: desertion).
2. Jude 3: “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”
3. 2 Thessalonians 2:3: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doom to destruction.”
4. Matthew 24:10, 12: “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other … Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold …”
Revelation 17 is THE description of apostasy.
I. “The Woman.”
A. Verse 1 – She is described as “the great prostitute” (“Spirit of Jezebel”).
The bride of Christ, the woman who gave birth to the male child who would rule all nations…
B. Verse 3 – She is in the desert … sitting on a scarlet beast.
This is an unexpected twist. She has gone from being chased by the dragon [12:6}, rescued by God, and now ruling the dragon [13:2].
C. Verse 4 – She has become extremely wealthy (expensive clothes, adorned with gold, jewel, and pearls).
The woman is a symbol of religion [Revelation 12, Ephesians 5 à bride of Christ. The church is ALWAYS referred to as a female).
The “whore” is an immoral and unfaithful woman. It was a symbol of fallen Israel … symbol of fallen religion.
II. The name.
A. “Babylon the Great.”
History: The Tower of Babel was humanities’ FIRST coordinated attempt to defy God. It is often seen as the first attempt to create a religion, the first attempt made to “reach heaven.”
“IF it were to happen today …” Candidates: the Roman Catholic Church, Protestant church, Evangelical church, or Charismatic church.
Common interpretation of a “one world religion” (Not sure that is necessary. It fits the one world government theory).
B. “Mother of Prostitutes” (KJV says “harlots”). The figure here is one similar to Jezebel. Revelation 2:20 describes her.
1. A woman who calls herself something she isn’t: seizes power.
2. A woman who misleads them: manipulation.
3. A woman who knows how to intimidate a man: Sex and food as examples.
4. A woman who know what she is doing [verse 21]: She is unwilling to repent.
5. A woman who has an Ahab [verse 22]: To have power someone must give her power.
C. “Mother … of the abominations of the earth.”
1. General this means a perversion or distortion of true religion.
2. The Greek word translated “Abomination occurs six times. It comes from the word generally translated “idolatry.”
How can the church become involved in “idolatry?
1. Spiritual idolatry … When we put ANYTHING before God (First Commandment)
2. Literal idolatry … icon and idols (statues). For example, “Crucifix” is an example of what the Israelites were doing when they carried their “pocket gods.”
“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters below” [Exodus 20:4].
Revelation 18:1 – 19:10: Two sides and a Choice
I. The world system:
A. [Verse 2] Describes Babylon’s inhabitants.
2. “Unclean” (evil) spirits.
3. Unclean and disgusting bird and beast.
B. [Verse 3] Describes Babylon’s seductions.
1. “The maddening wine of her adulteries” (passion of her sexual immorality, lustful passion).
2. “Committed adultery with her” (literally “indulged unlawful lusts”).
3. “Excessive luxuries” (luxurious living, loose and extravagant ways, abundance of her delicacies).
Ezekiel 16:49 – 50: “This is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were proud, had plenty to eat, and enjoyed peace and prosperity; but she didn’t help the poor and the needy. They became haughty and did detestable things in front of me, and I turned away from them as soon as I saw it.”
* Prosperity leads to pride. Pride leads to prejudice. Prejudice leads to preposterous behavior. *
Pride: “a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.” (dictionary.com).
Prejudice: “an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason” (dictionary.com).
Preposterous: “completely contrary to nature, reason, or common sense; absurd; senseless; utterly foolish” (dictionary.com)
II. God’s impression:
A. [verse 4] He requires His people to “come out.”
1. Danger of participating in her sins.
2. Danger of suffering the consequences.
B. [Verses 4 – 5] God is just.
1. “His judgments are true and just, because he judged the great prostitute, who ruined the earth by her whoring, and he exacted the penalty for the blood of his servants from her hand.” [19:2 CEB]
2. “God remembered her unjust acts” [Verse 5 CEB] (KJV “iniquities”).
3. CONTRAST: The bride of Christ (the true church)… “She was given fine, pure white linen to wear, for the fine linen is the saints’ acts of justice” [19:8].
III. The total collapse:
A. The images:
1. [Verses 9 – 10] The kings: “In a single hour your judgement has come.”
2. [Verses 11 – 17] The merchants: “All your glitter and glamour are lost to you, never ever to be found again.”
3. [Verses 17 – 19] Sea trade: “What city was ever like great city?”
4. [Verse 20] Heaven: “Rejoice… because God has condemned her as she condemned you.”
B. The completeness:
1. [Verse 21] A millstone thrown into the sea.
2. [Verse 22] No music, no sound of work.
3. [Verse 23] No light, no joy (marriage image).
* “Because all the nations were deceived by the spell you cast, and because the blood of prophets, of saints, and of all who have been slaughtered on the earth was found among you” [18:23b – 24].
IV. The holy system:
A. “The wedding day of the Lamb” [19:7]
1. The bride “has made herself ready.”
2. [Verse 8] “She was given fine, pure white linen to wear.”
B. The choice:
2. Put on the wedding gown: “acts of justice” (“righteousness”).
Revelations 19:11-chapter 20 – The Endgame
I. Jesus revealed.
1 19:11 “Faithful and true” – “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. NO one comes to the Father except through me ‘” [John 14-:16].
b. Makes war justly.
2. 19:12 – “name … no one knows.”
a. More than we can know or understand. (Names described person).
b. Reality, God’s “otherness.”
3. 19:13 – “Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God [John 1:1].
a. The “word” was the expression of an individual.
b. The “word” was how an individual was known.
4. 19:16 – “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
a. Jesus is the highest of all authorities!
b. What Jesus has said, settled, and set in place is not for us to question, ignore, or disobey.
1. Jesus leads heaven’s armies [19:14].
“When Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up. He caught sight of a man standing in front of him with his sword drawn. Joshua went up and said to him, ‘Are you on our side or that of our enemies.’ He said, ‘Neither! I’m the commander of the LORD’s heavenly force. Now I have arrived!’ Then Joshua fell flat on his face and worshipped. Joshua said to him, ‘What is my master saying to his servant.’ The commanded of the LORD’s heavenly forces aid to Joshua, “Take your sandals off your feet because the place where you are standing is holy.’ So Joshua did this [Joshua 5:13-15].
a. Notice Jesus is not on a “side.”
b. Jesus is not on a side because He is “THE SIDE.”
c. The question is – are we with Jesus or against Jesus?
2. The result of this final war [19:15].
a. Strike down the nations.
b. Rule with an iron rod.
c. Trample the winepress of the Almighty God’s passionate anger.
***We are so stuck on God being love we forget that God is a consuming fire. ***
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken, let’s continue to express our gratitude. With this gratitude, let’s serve in a way that Is pleasing to God with respect and awe, because our God really is a consuming fire“ [Hebrews 12:28-29].
“Because the Lord your God is an all-consuming fire, He is a passionate God” (Deuteronomy 4:24].
Reaction: “Then I saw that the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies had gathered to make war against the rider on the horse and his army” [19:19].
Result: “But the beast was seized, along with the false prophet who had done signs in the beast’s presence. (He had used the signs to deceive people into receiving the beast’s mark and into worshipping the beast’s image). The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake the burns with sulfur. The rest were killed by the sword that comes from the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds ate their fill of their flesh” [19:20-21].
***Notice Jesus only deals with the “the beast” and the false prophet.” Plausible idea: because they are human. ***
II. Satan’s final defeat.
A. “An angel” seizes Satan [20:1-3].
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a huge chair. He seized the dragon, the old snake, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the abyss, then locked and sealed it over him. This was to keep him from continuing to deceive the nations until the thousand years were over. After this he must be released for a little while” [20:1-3].
1. Notice the anger is NOT named – is no one special or important.
2. Notice the angel seizes Satan – not much of a struggle.
3. Notice the names.
a. “The dragon.”
b. The old snake (devil’s main task is that of tempting man to reject the way of life and redemption and to accept the way of death and destruction – Encyclopedia Britannica).
c. “Devil” – from Greek diabolos, “slanderer” or “accuser” – Encyclopedia Britannica.
d. “Satan” (the word, Satan, is the English transliteration of a Hebrew word for “adversary” in the Old Testament – Encyclopedia Britannica).
4. Notice the sentence is for 1,000 years.
B. Meanwhile the Saints rule!
1. 20:4 – The “beheaded for their witness to Jesus and God’s Word.”
2. Ruled with Christ for one thousand years.”
3. The first resurrection” [verse 5].
4. “Holy and favored” [verse 6].
5. “The second death has no power over them” [verse 6].
C. Another round of deception.
1. Satan released to deceive [verse 8].
2. Gog and Magog?
Ezekiel 38: God, Gog individual, Samaritans à eastern Europeans) in the land of Magog (unknown, Russia, USA), chief prince of Meshech (central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan) and Tubal (Turkey) is joined by Persia, Cush (Ethiopia and Sudan), and Put (Libya).
3. “They came up across the whole earth and surrounded the saints’ camp, the city that God loves. But fire came down from heaven and consumed them” [verse 9].
Result: “Then the devil who had deceived them, was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet also were. There painful suffering will be inflicted upon them day and night, forever and always [20:9].”
III. Humanities’ final judgement [20:11-15].
A. All will stand before God.
“Then anyone whose name wasn’t found written in the scroll of life was thrown into the fiery lake” [20:15].
“People are destined to die once and then face judgement” [Hebrews 9:27].
“Each one’s work will be clearly shown. The day will make it clear, because it will be revealed with fire – the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work survives they’ll get a reward. But if anyone’s work goes up in flames, they’ll lose it. However, they themselves will be saved as if they had gone through a fire” [I Corinthians 2:13-16].
“I tell you that people will have to answer on Judgement Day for every useless word they speak. By your words you will be either judged innocent or condemned as guilty” [Matthew 12:36-37].
1. “Second death” – final and eternal separation from God [2:11, 20:6,14, 21:8].
2. “Great and small” = no distinction or privileges.”
B. The judgment will be against an absolute standard.
1. “The Book of Life” (from the lamp – salvation by God’s initiative [grace] through our response [faith}.
2. Other books – dead judged according to their works.
“We all must appear before Christ in court so that each person can be paid back for the things that were done while in the body, whether they were good or bad” [2 Corinthians 5:10].
C. “The Lake of fire.”
1. Commonly referred to as “hell” (Greek “Hades”]. CEB avoids confusion by calling it the “grave.”
2. Technically eternal. Even “hell” is thrown into this place.
ONE CHOICE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE!
“So then, if anyone is in Christ, that persons is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived” [2 Corinthians 5:17]!
“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come’ Let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who is thirsty come! Let the one who wishes received life-giving water as a gift [22:17].
Revelation 21-22 – What is heaven like?”
Lots of interest: Books – “Heaven is for Real” and “5 Minutes in Heaven.”
Traditional Christian views: Heaven is where God lives, throne of God, future home of believers in Christ.
I. Revelation 21:1-8
“Then I saw new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city new Jerusalem, coming own out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’”
“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty, I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
A. Old versus New.
1. The old system is unsustainable BECAUSE of sin (physical effects, spiritual separation).
2. Problematic questions: how good do you have to be to make it to heaven? How bad do you have to be to go to eternal hell?
3. Jesus established a new covenant, requiring a new Jerusalem and temple.
B. Absent from the new system.
1. No more death.
2. No more mourning.
3. No more crying (God will wipe away the tears).
4. No more pain/distress.
5. No more “curse” [verse 3].
a. The “curse” is a technical term referring to the consequence of Adam’s sin.
b. The “curse” is a technical term meaning everything that is miserable and keeps us from feeling a deep love and longing for God.
6. No more night [21:5]. Darkness: illustration of sin and Satan.
7. No more unclean, detestable, or false things [21:26].
8. No more sea [21:1]. (The sea of the place of the underworld, death).
C. Thirsty [verse 6]?
1. Jesus gives freely. (Greek understanding to follow…).
a. “Without cost” to the receiver.
b. “Without cause” from the giver.
2. Expectation: conquers [verse 7].
a. God makes this promise: “I will be his God and he will be my son.”
b. But there is a choice:
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolater, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
“Before conversion the hardest thing is to win the heart TO God. After conversion the hardest thing is to keep the heart WITH God” (John Flavel).
II. Revelation 21:22-21
“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamp. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day – and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
A. No temple!
1. Old Testament concept = physical.
a. Focus point.
“They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, ‘See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain’” [Hebrews 8:5].
b. Sacrificial system (reminder of sin, struggle with sin).
c. Literal presence of God.
2. New Testament = symbolic.
a. The church.
b. The believer’s body (the Holy Spirit in us).
B. No need for sun or moon (illustrates a person’s walk).
1. Walk in darkness (sin and ignorance).
2. Walk by sight (events, circumstances, feelings, preferences, and people).
3. Walk by faith (eyes fixed on Jesus).
III. Revelation 22:7-21
“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed in the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of the book.”
“I John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
“And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up to words of the prophecy of this book for the time is near. Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy. Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immortal and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
“’I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the church. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star. The spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hear say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy. God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
“He who testifies to these things say, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”