The Wedding of the Lamb

CHAPTER NINETEEN. The Seven Dooms are interrupted with a set of three parentheses within the parenthesis:

(1) the Wedding of the Lamb; (2) the Return of Christ and Bride; and (3) the Great Supper of God. AFTER THIS (19:1-8) refers to the fall of Ecclesiastical Babylon and Commercial-Political Babylon. The roar of a great multitude may indicate the martyred Tribulation saints, or all the redeemed if this answers the command to rejoice in 18:20, or all the hosts of heaven.

HALLELUJAH (allhlouia) comes from the combined Hebrew: hy wllh (Praise Yahweh or Praise the LORD). The four Hallelujahs center on the themes:

1. Redemption (19:1-2)
2. Retribution (19:3)
3. Realization (19:4-5)
4. Relationship (19:6-8)

The first time Hallelujah appears in the Bible is 1 Chronicles 16:4:

He [David] appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to make petition, to give thanks, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel.

The ark of the LORD signified for those who feared God the realization of His presence in redemption, retribution and relationship.

These outbursts are expressions of heavenly joy of what has taken place on earth and in heaven. The best rendering of Handal’s great oratorio The Messiah and its very famous “Hallelujah Chorus” are dwarfed by these Hallelujahs.

The voice from the Throne might be God’s or the Lamb’s. Again, the fear of God is ultimate in one’s life. It has been said, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. “ Those who fear God, glorify Him!

He will bless those who fear the LORD—small and great alike (Psalm 115:13).

THE WEDDING OF THE LAMB AND HIS BRIDE (19:6-8). Often marriage is used in Scripture as a metaphor for relationship. The Hebrew wedding consists of three phases: (1) betrothal; (2) presentation; and (3) ceremony. The Church was betrothed to Christ as part of God’s plan of salvation (Romans 9) in the New Covenant (Hebrews 9:15). She is presented to Christ at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and the marriage ceremony takes place (hlyen, prophetic aorist: “come at last”) when Christ and His Bride enter the house for the marriage supper.

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Fine linen stands for ta dikaiwmata (the righteous acts or the righteousness) of the saints; either translation is possible. It does not imply, however, any kind of meritorious works that would bring about salvation. Since not all saints will receive a reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ, it cannot stand for rewards. The Church’s clothing is distinct from the Great Prostitute’s purple and scarlet clothing.

THE WEDDING SUPPER OF THE LAMB (19:9) refers to the millennial reign of Christ as King on the earth. Notice the angel’s instruction (for John to write) immediately precedes the Second Coming of Christ, indicating the Wedding Supper will take place on earth.

Christ and His bride (gunh, wife) are joined by the invited guests. Many holding a Post-Tribulation Rapture of the Church, place the Rapture here. Here occurs the fourth beatitude of Revelation.

Those invited to the Wedding Supper are OT Saints and Tribulation Saints—the Bride is not invited to her own wedding. The Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22) and the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) describe those who are invited to share in the Millennial Kingdom with Christ and His Bride (the Church). By this point, the OT and Tribulation Saints must be resurrected (Daniel 12:1-3). John the Baptist will be one of the guests according to his own testimony in John 3:29:

The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.

God does not treat all saints alike! There are different groups, rewards and opportunities to serve in His kingdom.

THE COMMAND TO WORSHIP GOD (19:10). John is so impressed with the scene that he falls at the angel’s feet to worship him. “Worship God!” is the angel’s straightforward command. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” that is the very nature or purpose of prophecy is to testify of Jesus Christ and bring glory to God.

Historicists believe the Marriage of the Lamb either represents the future state of the true Church after the fall of the papacy or the true Church at present, in a relationship to be intensified in the future.

Preterists hold the Marriage of the Lamb is the opening of the Temple and the full establishment of the New Covenant.

Idealists perceive the Marriage of the Lamb as the day of Christ’s Second Advent. Those who are faithful to Christ are at the same time the Lamb’s bride and guests.

The Political-Commercial Babylon

THE ANNOUNCEMENT (18:1-3) of the Fall of Babylon the Great is shouted by the angel coming down from heaven, who illuminates the earth with his splendor from being in the presence of God. The Antichrist’s kingdom was plunged into darkness with the fifth bowl (Revelation 16:10). Now the darkness is broken and all eyes are focused on this angel. His message is Good News for God’s people on earth.

The Greek text indicates Babylon the Great is already fallen at this point, but this must be a flash-forward based on the following verses.

THE SECOND VOICE FROM HEAVEN (18:4-8) is God the Father’s or the Lamb’s voice. “Come out of her” could be taken to mean:

1. God calls His people to disentangle themselves from the evil system
2. God raptures the Church
3. God’s warning for His people (surviving Tribulations saints) to leave the city as Christians did when they fled Jerusalem in A.D. 66.

A similar warning was given to Lot and his family by two angels before the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19:15). Another warning is given in Jeremiah 51:6-7:

Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the LORD’s vengeance; he will pay her what she deserves. Babylon was a gold cup in the LORD’s hand; she made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad.

The events surrounding the fall of Babylon in the sixth century B.C. do not match the prophecy of Jeremiah 51; hence, that prophecy must refer to this time. The two announcements closely parallel the prediction of Babylon’s fall in Isaiah 13:1-22.

Once more, the appropriateness of God’s judgment is seen in the principle of sowing and reaping in verses 6-7. Retribution is doubled because of the magnitude of sin in the last days. This judgment goes beyond lex talionis, the law of revenge as she drinks from her own cup of iniquity. The cup of blessings overflows for the saints (Psalm 23:5) as does the cup of iniquity for the sinners. In verse 8, God’s judgment on Babylon the Great is fivefold: (1) plagues; (2) death; (3) mourning; (4); famine; and (5) fire. If anyone disputes the might of the Lord God, there is no questioning now! For they will discover He is neither finite nor impotent, but all-powerful.

The demise of Political Babylon will be swift—in one day and in one hour—as though a nuclear explosion took place (verses 8 and 17). “She will be consumed by fire” equals total destruction. Neo-Babylon fell in one night (Daniel 5:30-31), foreshadowing the swiftness of the fall of Babylon the Great.

LAMENTS OVER THE JUDGMENT OF BABYLON (18:9-19). When the political and economic center of the world is destroyed, weeping and mourning by kings (9-10), merchants (11-17a), and seamen (17b-19), who have committed adultery with her and shared her luxury will be heard.

Compare the sins being judged in this chapter with Romans 1:18-32. Lawlessness is manifested by the breaking of the First and Last of the Ten Commandments in 18:2-8:

The First Commandment is broken with the worship of other gods in false religion.
The Last Commandment is broken with the worship of self with covetousness.

The world of the last days, influenced by demons, will be materialistic. Covetousness will reign. Jesus warns in Matthew 6:21-24:

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Those who have placed their faith in money and materialism will see the world stock market crash. There are twenty-eight commodities mentioned in verses 12-13; fifteen of these are mentioned in the lament over Tyre in Ezekiel 27, which parallels the lament here.

Like Babylon of old and the last days, Tyre was the commercial center of its day. Tyre, “the gateway to the sea,” was the leading city of Phoenicia during the first millennium B.C. Ezekiel’s lament against Tyre and prophecy against its king are a foreshadowing of the horrible end of Babylon, the Antichrist and Satan (Ezekiel 27-28). Since the beginning, pride and covetousness have blinded people to God and His judgment.

REJOICING AT THE JUDGMENT OF BABYLON (18:20) takes place in heaven by the saints and apostles and prophets; for God has judged the world for the way it treated His people. Three times heaven is told to rejoice in the Apocalypse:

1. When Satan is cast out (12:12)
2. When Political-Commercial Babylon is destroyed (18:20)
3. When the marriage of the Lamb is come and His wife is ready (19:7)
Comparison of the Two Babylons

ECCLESIASTICAL BABYLON
Rides the Beast
Angel Explains
One is called the Great Prostitute
Names are Written on Forehead
John Astonished
Becomes Rich by Deceiving People
Destroyed by Man Destroyed by God
People Rejoice Over Destruction
God Moves People to Destroy
Not Destroyed in One Hour
No Commodities Mentioned
People are Drunk on Her Adulteries
Sheds Blood of Saints
Cup of Abominable Things
Made Desolate
Clothed in Purple and Scarlet

POLITICAL-COMMERCIAL BABYLON
Does not Ride the Beast
Several Explain
The Other is Not So Called
No Names are Mentioned
John Not Astonished
Makes People Rich
People Lament over Destruction
God Does Not Move People to Destroy
Destroyed in One Hour
Twenty-nine Commodities Mentioned
People are Maddened by Her Adulteries
Sheds Blood of Saints
Cup of Torture and Grief
Made Desolate
Clothed in Purple and Scarlet

BOULDER THROWN INTO THE SEA (18:21-24) spells the end of world kingdoms. The millstone signifies that the crushing power of the Antichrist’s kingdom is ended. This imagery is similar to Yahweh’s command to His prophet in Jeremiah 51:63-64:

When you finish reading this scroll, tie a stone to it and throw it into the Euphrates. Then say, ‘So will Babylon sink to rise no more because of the disaster I will bring upon her. And her people will fall.’” The words of Jeremiah end here.

Finality of the Antichrist’s kingdom is pictured by the lack of music, workmen, machinery, light, marriage, merchants, and sorcery. Life in the great city ceases! Yet in her, the blood of the prophets and of the saints and all who have been killed on the earth still cries out for vengeance. Jesus told His generation:

And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barakiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar (Matthew 23:35).

The Day of Vengeance will come!

Historicists behold spiritual Babylon (Papal Rome) destroyed in chapter eighteen. That Babylon is the dwelling place for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird is a spiritualized illusion to the fall of literal Babylon in the sixth century B.C. The call to come out of her (Roman Catholic Church) is the Protestant Reformation. The commercial aspect of the European Economic Community, formed under the Treaty of Rome in 1957, is totally intertwined with Roman Catholicism. Therefore, the burning of Babylon the Great is the downfall of Catholicism, not a literal city. The true Church will triumph and the millstone (Catholicism) will be thrown into the sea.

Preterists view the fall of Babylon the Great as either Rome (A.D. 476) or Jerusalem (A.D. 70), which is overrun by every unclean thing and commits fornication with the kings of the earth (Ezekiel 16:14-15, 26, 28-30; 23:12-21). “Come out of her, my people” is addressed to the Christians who fled Jerusalem before her destruction. Destruction in one day and one hour is not to be taken literally, since neither Jerusalem nor Rome fell suddenly; however, that is contrary to the actual fall of Babylon in the sixth century B.C. It fell suddenly and unexpectedly in one night to the Medes and Persians.

Idealists link Babylon the Great with Rome, but others object since this city was not a great commercial center in the Ancient world. Therefore, they see this city as symbolic of the world as a seducer, which is the great millstone cast into the sea.

Futurists have diverse interpretations as to whether Babylon the Great is a rebuilt Babylon or symbol of the godless culture in the last days. Some hold “come out of her, my people” is a Rapture of the surviving Tribulations saints. However, a translation at this point would leave no one to populate the Millennial Kingdom of Christ in natural bodies. Some speculate that a literal city called Babylon will be destroyed by nuclear explosion, while others hold to a supernatural fire from heaven.

The Woman Sitting on a Scarlet Beast

THE WOMAN SITTING ON A SCARLET BEAST (17:3-5) is the Great Prostitute dressed in queenly attire (cf. Ezekiel 16:13). Purple and scarlet are the colors of royalty and flagrant sinfulness. Glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls denote the wealth under her control. The golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries is false religion. The beauty and gross wickedness of this woman compares to Jesus’ description of the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees.

You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean (Matthew 23:27).

She is outwardly attractive but the cup she holds is obnoxious, repellent, repulsive, contemptible, and filled with idolatry and error. Those attracted to her are the simple (undiscerning fools) and the mockers on their way to Hell (cf. Proverbs 9).

THE SCARLET BEAST is the Antichrist (Revelation 13:1-4), who for a time will support and use the false religious system to affect world unity. The Beast is covered with blasphemous names because of his self-deification. The seven heads and ten horns symbolize the extent of his economic-political kingdom.

DRUNK WITH THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS (17:6-7) indicates that Ecclesiastical Babylon will advance the murder of the martyred Tribulation saints. False religion has killed millions of believers over the centuries, and the final false system will be far more deadly than any that preceded it. John is astonished at the sight of this vision; the angel questioned his astonishment as though what he saw should be expected and understood. So the angel explains to him the mystery of the woman and the Beast she rides.

THE MYSTERY (17:8-14). The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. This teaches neither reincarnation nor resurrection of an individual. There is no Scripture to prove that Antichrist will be different from any other natural man in his lifetime as to his birth, death, etc. He will merely be used by satanic powers in the last days. The Beast (the Antichrist) will come out of the Abyss (demonic empowered) and goes to his destruction (the Lake of Fire).

Keep in mind that the Beast symbolizes two things:

1. The Antichrist, who is a man possessed by demonic power (17:8)
2. An eighth kingdom, of which he is the king (17:11)

Some passages apply to Beast in both ways, while others apply to the man, or his kingdom alone. Some interpret the Beast as Satan and place him in the Abyss, where he will be absolutely out of the picture for one thousand years (“now is not, and yet will come”). A major problem with this interpretation comes when Satan is thrown into the Lake of Fire, for the Beast and the False Prophet are already there (Revelation 19:20; 20:10). There are three beings, not one or two in the Lake of Fire!

In Revelation 12:3, Satan is seen not as the head of the ten-nation kingdom of the Revived Roman Empire, but as a persecutor of the child Christ and the woman Israel. His seven heads, with their seven crowns, showed that he had been the controlling factor in the agenda of the five fallen kings (Egypt, Assyria, Medo-Persia, Babylon, and Greece). Satan was the main broker in the “one who is” (the Roman Empire of John’s day) and would exercise the same power in the agenda of the one who “now is not, and yet will come” (the Revived Roman Empire of the end times).

THIS CALLS FOR WISDOM (17:9): ai epta kefalai orh. Modern translations tend to translate orh as “hills” instead of “mountains.” Since Rome is known as “the city of seven hills,” Ecclesiastical Babylon is often linked to Rome. However, the Aramaic word rwj (tuwr) for mountain is symbolically used in Daniel 2:35 for Christ’s kingdom that fills the whole earth. Here the seven mountains are empires or kingdoms, not the city of Rome. See Explanation of The Ten Heads, the Ten Horns and Seven Crowns at 12:3-4. From the Book of Daniel, it seems clear that other descriptions apply to the Revived Roman Empire of the last days.

THE ONE PURPOSE of this confederacy of kings is to give power and authority to the Antichrist, who will lead them in war against the Lamb. However, the Lamb will overcome them because He is the Lord of lords and King of kings. Those who come with Christ are His called, chosen and faithful—the threefold description of all overcomers:

1. They are called by the Father through the Spirit to Christ.
2. They are chosen because they confess with their mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead.
3. They remain faithful until called to heaven.

THE BOOK OF LIFE. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written (unbelievers) in the book of life (the roll of the saved) from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come. They will believe his lies and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10). When one refuses to believe the truth, just about any convincing or startling lie will do!

THE TURNCOATS (17:15-16). Ecclesiastical Babylon will be deserted and destroyed by Political-Commercial Babylon of the Beast; for they will hate the Prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. After using the false religious system to unify his kingdom and gain control, the Antichrist will turn against the religious system, plunder and destroy it, and seize all power and worship for himself.

Satan always destroys what he uses. For instance, Judas Iscariot hung himself after Satan used him to betray Christ. Alexander the Great died in a drunken stupor in Babylon, Antiochus IV Epiphanes died there in a state of depression and Adolph Hitler committed suicide after killing six million Jews.

The angel assures John that God is still in control. God will influence their hearts to accomplish His purpose, and thereby fulfill His prophetic Word. In its own peculiar way, evil only cooperates to accomplish God’s good and perfect will.

Historicists approach the fall of Babylon as the overthrow of the papal system of religion and government in the yet future. This will be accomplished by the rider on the white horse as He continually conquers His enemies through His Word. “Drunk with the blood of saints” refers to bloody persecutions perpetrated by the Roman Catholic Church. Others think the Roman Empire was the Beast. The seven heads or hills are Christian emperors from Constantine to Augustulus and the eighth is Diocletian, who received a death wound from the Christian emperor Theodosius. Others identify the eighth as the papacy, beginning with Gregory.

Preterists identify Babylon with either the fall of Rome or Jerusalem in the past. Some hold that the Beast is Rome; while others believe the Great Prostitute is Rome or Jerusalem. Various schemes are used to apply the heads and hills to Roman emperors or seven procurators of Judea under Claudius and Nero.

Idealists believe Babylon represents the world system, as the seducer of the godly throughout the ages, and it is manifested as Rome in John’s time. Others take Babylon to represent the world viewed as the embodiment of “the lust of the flesh.” Idealists are divided as to whether ultimate judgment on the world system will occur at Christ’s Second Coming or if it will come about by more gradual conquests with the preaching of the Gospel. Some identify the ten horns as future coalition of ten European kingdoms that will grow out of the fourth beast of Daniel 7:23. Many take the number ten as symbolic, representing all the anti-Christian powers on earth after the breakup of the Roman Empire.

Futurists say Babylon represents the Roman Catholic Church or some great apostate religious entity formed under the Antichrist in the end times. Some hold the seven hills are seven kings, not literal mountains, but empires, which have risen in succession in history. Others identify the seven hills as Rome.

Dispensationalists equate the ten horns to the ten toes of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Daniel 2).

The Lie

THE LIE goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when the serpent (Satan) lied to Eve.

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).

Eve, and then Adam, ate the forbidden fruit and instantly knew good and evil; their consciences exploded with the shame of depravity and unrighteous. Instantly they died spiritually, and death came to their physical bodies many years later. They had become very unlike God—no longer in His likeness!

When the children of Israel came out of Egypt and entered the Promised Land, Satan’s religion was waiting for them. It flourished under the names of Baal and Ashtoreth (Judges 2:11-13). This form of idolatry continued throughout the history of the nation, climaxing in the days of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31-33).

The women of Judah worshiped the Queen of Heaven and this particular idolatry is a primary reason for the seventy-year captivity (Jeremiah 7:16-19; 44:15-30; Ezekiel 8:14-18). Ironically, God removed His people to the very source of their idolatry, Babylon.

This mystery religion is Satan’s counterfeit for the real thing. It deceived people for thousands of years and it will again. Semiramis is the prototype of the “Woman” of Revelation 17:5.

It is of the system of iniquity of Mystery Babylon that Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:7:

For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.

Possibly, the Holy Spirit in the Church is the one who presently holds back this religion (1 Thessalonians 2:7). Once the Church is raptured, Mystery Babylon will take root as it has never taken root before under the False Prophet of the end times. He will point to the Beast, the Antichrist, as its king and god.

The rise of Satan’s counterfeit king will be spectacular and convincing according to 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12:

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Satan will have notorious success since he tries to counterfeit everything God is and does.

Godsatan

 

Once the Antichrist has gained control of the world and established himself as Messiah of the Jews, Satan will be but one-step away from his goal. With his one world government and one world religion blended together, the stage will be set for his final move. His goal will be so close he can taste it—getting the world to worship him as God.

In the long history of mankind, however, there will be only one truly universal world empire, called “the kingdom of the world.” Revelation 11:15 predicts:

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

The last of the world kingdoms will be achieved by superhuman means at the hand of Satan’s own ruler, the Antichrist, whose brief span of world dominion will be definitely limited by God to exactly 1,260 days. This final empire will not be achieved without Divine sanction; for the Antichrist’s universal authority will be given from above according to Revelation 13:7:

He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.

Satan’s super-church will be short-lived. There are three things, which a super-church will do for Satan— unify Europe, bring him to power, and declare him “God.” Once that has been done, the church will be of no further use to him.

IN THE SPIRIT (17:3) for the third time, John is carried into a desert, a desolate wasteland, which is appropriate for this vision. False religion is a desert! It offers nothing to quench spiritual thirst.

The Ecclesiastical Babylon

THE GREAT PROSTITUTE (17:1). One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls reveals to John the punishment of the Great Prostitute, who sits on many waters. She is identified as “the great city that rules over the kings of the earth” (verse 18) and the waters, where she sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages (verse 15). Cities are called prostitutes in the Scriptures, for instance Nineveh (Nahum 3:4), Tyre (Isaiah 23:16-17), Jerusalem (Ezekiel 16:15, 23) and Babylon (Jeremiah 51). Here the term “prostitute” signifies spiritual idolatry and adultery, not physical fornication or adultery. Earth’s kings and inhabitants committed spiritual fornication with the Great Prostitute, connoting the great system of religious error as seen by the title on her forehead in verse 5:

MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT
THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH

THE WINE OF HER ADULTERIES (17:2). History is marked with man’s failure to be the mediator of God’s Kingdom on earth. Following the flood, God makes the Noahic Covenant, authorizing the institution of human government. The tower of Babel on a plain of Shinar (that is Babylonia) was man’s first attempt to establish a central one-world government without God as its King. Having lost in the Fall that inward and spiritual unity of race which was centered in God, so men resorted to the establishment of an external unity. God confused the language of man and the plan failed. Behind the scenes of this plan is Satan.

From the plain of Babylon, rises the central-one-world kingdom that opposes God’s kingdom. This kingdom is the mystery of iniquity. From time to time in history, this kingdom raises its head, attempting to rule the world but fails. According to the Book of Revelation, it will appear a final time at the end of this age headed by the Antichrist. Revelation 14:8 announces its end:

A second angel followed and said, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”

“The maddening wine of her adulteries” is a reference to counterfeit mysteries of Babylonian religion. The Chaldean Mysteries can be traced up to the days of Semiramis (also spelled Semerimus), the wife of Nimrod, who lived only a few centuries after the flood in the time of Shem. She is known to have impressed upon the people the image of her own depraved and polluted mind. That beautiful queen of Babylon was not only herself a paragon of unbridled lust and licentiousness but in the Mysteries which she had a chief hand in forming, she was worshiped as Rhea, the great “MOTHER” of the gods—“the Queen of Heaven.”

Semiramis claimed she was conceived by the great spirit above and bore a son, Tammuz (also called Bacchus, that is, “The Lamented One”), who was slain by a boar and rose from the dead after 40 days of weeping and sorrow. Worship of the Queen of Heaven and her child penetrated the nations of the Ancient Near East and Europe under a variety of names:

queenofheaven

In 312 A.D., Constantine the Great had a vision of a flaming cross in the sky, with the words “in this sign conquer.” This vision and political expediency of unifying the empire led him to make Christianity the official religion of Rome. Church and State merged. At this point, Satan began to sow false doctrine into the Church. It was not difficult for the Roman priests of the cult of Mother-Child to adapt their system to the Madonna-Child system. With a slight adjustment, they could continue without interruption. All they had to do was add the holy water sacraments and other trappings of the satanic religion to the simple Gospel, and the priests had it made. The Church became worldly, paganized and lifeless.

For three hundred years, Satan had brought the full power of Rome against Jesus’ Church that began at Pentecost. The persecutions were fierce and awful. Yet, for every believer who died at the hand of Satan’s men, more believers arose to take his place. It was obviously the wrong tactic. The use of force was like kicking a bonfire to extinguish it. Persecution actually caused the Christian movement to spread. In time, Satan realized that approach was futile. Persecution separated the tares from the wheat. Therefore, he began to sow tares among the wheat in fulfillment of prophecy (The Parables of Matthew 13 and the Churches of Revelation 2-3 depict the course of history from Pentecost to the Second Coming of Christ on page 14).

In 800 A.D., Charlemagne was the first to be crowned as the “Holy Roman Emperor.” The Holy Roman Empire was founded in 962 A.D., when Otto I was crowned by Pope John XII. The Dark Ages under Roman Catholicism was broken by the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther in 1517 A.D. Suddenly, Satan suffered a set back. Large numbers of believers were free to read the Bible and worship God as they pleased. Yet, few bothered to do so. Millions remained with the Roman Catholic Church. The result was a large mass of idle believers, with a few professional clergymen trying to do all the work of the Lord. Instead of a single church, numerous denominations emerged bulging with wheat and tares mingled together.

In A.D. 1948, Israel was declared a nation and within Protestantism, the first assembly of the World Council of Churches met in Amsterdam, Holland. What was the assembly’s purpose? They wanted to bring together two separate streams with an ecumenical movement—Catholics and Protestants.

Catholicism and Protestantism have existed side by side for around 490 years. Will the unsaved of Catholicism and Protestantism combine to form the end time religion when the true Church is raptured? Will a mystical religion of the New Age movement arise to world prominence? At the end of the age, masses will “sign up” and flock to the ecumenical church of the False Prophet and the Beast.

Certainly, there will be a Pope like figure, who is the False Prophet (Roman Catholic or otherwise), of the last days and he will crown the Antichrist as the Holy Roman Emperor of the Revived Roman Empire, which will be glued together by religion and economics. The events of the past are a foreshadowing of the future. History is doomed to repeat itself!

Ecclesiastical Babylon is more than Roman Catholicism. It is an amalgamation of all religions. It is the residue of what is left after the true Church is raptured—a composite religion of error and idolatry brought together under the False Prophet. The key to Babylonian worship is the exaltation of the individual “to become like god” by means of initiation, secret rituals and Gnostic knowledge of God—like a new age cult.

Paul tells why the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godless and wickedness in Romans 1:8-32. Verse 25 literally reads:

They exchanged the truth of God for THE LIE, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen (Romans 1:25; capital letters added).

The Seven Dooms

THE SIXTH DIVISION OF REVELATION is the Seven Dooms. It is a parenthesis since the seven dooms cover chapters seventeen through twenty. Many fine expositors disagree on the details of the Book of Revelation and no one can state with absolute certainty the answers to the following questions until the last days:

1. Are there two Babylons in chapters seventeen and eighteen?
2. Are there two geographical locations for Babylon?
3. Are they representative of two different systems?
4. Are there two literal cities or are they the same?

The approach taken in this study is that chapter seventeen describes the doom of Babylon as a religious entity (Ecclesiastical Babylon) and in chapter eighteen, Babylon ends as an economic kingdom (Political-Commercial Babylon). Chapter nineteen contains three parentheses within the main parenthesis on Christ the King, and chapter twenty returns to the theme of doom for five additional parties after announcing the Millennial Kingdom.

Chapter seventeen speaks of religious Babylon, the super-church of Satan. It is hated by the kings of the earth and destroyed by them (Revelation 17:16). The political and commercial Babylon is loved by the kings of the earth. They are shocked at her demise, for she is destroyed by the judgments of God (Revelation 18:8-19).

That Babylon might be rebuilt in no way contradicts Isaiah 13:19-22, where God states that Babylon will never again be inhabited. The ancient site (already seven to nine miles from the Euphrates River) is not to be built upon, but a new Babylon could be built at a new site as was done with Jericho and Tyre. The predictions in Jeremiah 50-51, concerning Babylon are about the city destroyed in Revelation 18. At this time, it is not paramount to identify the great city that rules over the kings of the earth as Rome, Jerusalem or Rebuilt Babylon. Satan’s capital of the world like Nebuchadnezzar’s magnificent Babylon is destined to become a hole-in-the wall.

God revealed in the dream of dreams to king Nebuchadnezzar that his Babylon (604-562 B.C.) would be the greatest world kingdom up to the Millennium Kingdom. It was the greatest because King Nebuchadnezzar had absolute rule in the world; no king, since then, has ever had absolute authority and power. The Antichrist will come close in the Great Tribulation, but Christ will intervene and put an end to his reign.

Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon was wealthy and many people groups were amalgamated into its society. The city itself was the cradle of false religion with Satan working behind the scenes. The Neo-Babylon age may be properly designated as a religious age. There were four-thousand gods in the Babylon pantheon. These gods went through many changes in name, function and prominence through wars and mystical events over the course of history. Thus, the Babylonian mystery religion survived and permeated every nation to some degree and it will be resurrected to its “glory” in the last days.

The Seventh Bowl

SEVENTH BOWL: TREMENDOUS EARTHQUAKE (16:17-21). “It is done!” is one of three Divine markers spoken by God in history:

Creation: “It was very good” (Genesis 1:31) Divides creation and history
Crucifixion: “It is finished” (John 19:30) Divides Promised Redemption and Provided Redemption
Consummation: “It is done” (Revelation 16:17-21:6). Divides History and Eternity

Again, flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake denote God’s wrath being poured out. Yet, this language also suggests the appearance of a theophany such as at Mt. Sinai. Christ is coming!

This is the greatest earthquake in history. The great city is rebuilt Babylon, Rome or Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s topography of three valleys, Kidron, Hinnom and Tyropoeon, harmonizes with the threefold division. When Christ returns to earth, the topography of Jerusalem will undergo a threefold change:

On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south (Zechariah 14:4).

On the other hand, “God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath” so rebuilt Babylon or Rome could be the great city. The magnitude of this earthquake will be so great it will cause worldwide collapse of the cities of the nations. The whole world stands guilty before God. “Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found” points to a leveling of the surface of the earth; the very opposite effect of the Flood of Noah’s day. The earth is being prepared for the Millennial Kingdom.

Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 40:4-5; cf. Jeremiah 4:23-27).

HUGE HAILSTONES. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds, each fell upon men. Hailstones of this size will cause unimaginable devastation and death. This is reminiscent of the seventh plague in Egypt (Exodus 9:13-26). The only place the hail did not fall in Egypt was in Goshen, where the Israelites dwelled. By inference, God’s people will be protected again.

There is an OT account (Joshua 10) that foreshadows the fourth and seventh bowl plagues. Five kings fled from Joshua, who typifies Christ.

As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the LORD hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites (Joshua 10:11).

There was no escape for the five kings and none will withstand Christ when He comes and takes them by surprise as Joshua did his enemies. The sun stood still over Gibeon and the moon over the Valley of Aijalon until Israel avenged itself on its enemies.

The hardhearted response of God’s enemies does not change: “And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.”

Unlike the opening of the seventh seal and the blowing of the seventh trumpet, there is nothing to come after the seventh bowl is poured out, except for Christ!

Historicists view the seven last plagues as judgments on the Latin kingdom or France in the year 1793, counting 1,260 years from the decree of Justinian that made the bishop of Rome supreme over all bishops in A.D. 533. The majority view is the bowls portray the French Revolution. Fulfillment of the second bowl comes in a series of eight great naval disasters that swept away the fleets of France from 1793 to 1805. The rivers and streams turned to blood were fulfilled in the invasion of Attila and the Huns. The darkening of the sun represents the diminishing of the power of the rulers of papal kingdoms, and especially the power of the German emperor. Others see the sun as Napoleon Bonaparte or the confusion and disorder that fell on Rome. The drying up of the Euphrates points to Turkish power.

The three frogs signify the spirit of infidelity coming from the mouth of the Dragon; the spirit of popery proceeding from the mouth of the Beast; and the spirit of priest-craft coming from the mouth of the False Prophet. Some identify the three frogs as paganism, the papacy, and Islam.

The seventh bowl is viewed as storms of hail involving judgments from Russia, France or northern papal kingdoms. Others see some supernatural or metaphorical curse and devastation wrought by aerial bombardments. It is the ultimate overthrow of the Papacy.

Preterists for the most part view Jerusalem in A.D. 70 as the object of the bowls, while others shift them to the fall of Rome. The mark of the Beast indicates either the loyal citizens of Rome or the Palestinian Jews who rejected Christ. The boils are an epidemic of lost sanitation during the siege of the city. The sea and waters turned to blood comes from the dead Jews and is a result of the shed blood of the saints and prophets. The scorched are either citizens of besieged Jerusalem or Rome.

The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish (Deuteronomy 28:22).

The darkness over the Beast and his kingdom is the turmoil that came following Nero’s suicide in A.D. 68, or the invasions that led to the ultimate fall of Rome in the fifth century. The drying up of the Euphrates is suggestive of Cyrus the Persian diverting its flow in 536 B.C. to conqueror Babylon and equates to the fall of Rome. Natural Egypt was inflicted by natural frogs and spiritual Egypt (Rome) is inflicted by spiritual frogs. None of these prophecies relate to literal Armageddon according to the Preterist view. The final bowl spells the doom of the two cities of Jerusalem and Rome.

Idealists hold that since the bowls resemble the plagues of Egypt, the reader is to see the deliverance of God’s people from Satan’s reign as Israel was delivered from Pharaoh’s reign. Thus, the seven bowls are to be understood as follows:

1. The sores are to be taken as the corruption of the world breaking out
2. The seal turned to blood is the utter putrefaction of a dead society
3. The rivers and springs turned to blood shows God’s ability to punish sinners
4. The effects of the sun shows the ultimate death of unrepentant man
5. The Beast and his kingdom plunged into darkness apply to the punishment of pagan Rome
6. The battle on that great day relates to a myth of John’s day where Nero would be resurrected and that forces from the East, fighting for God, come against Nero
7. The great earthquake, leveling of the earth and hailstones signify the sinful civilization broken into pieces

In summary, the seven bowl plagues are future and literal. They were not fulfilled in the French Revolution, the Fall of Jerusalem, by Napoleon, the pressures of the papacy or the evil, unlawful acts of Hitler and his slaughter of six million Jews. These events in history, and others like them, were mere rehearsals for the final drama of the last judgments on earth.

The Sixth Bowl

SIXTH BOWL: EUPHRATES RIVER DRIES UP (16:12-16). The miraculous drying up of the Euphrates removes a major natural obstacle. It prepares the way for the kings of the East to move westward. This Great River flows 1,800 miles from its source on the slopes of Mt. Ararat to the Persian Gulf. It forms the eastern boundary of the Promised Land (Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 1:7; 11:24; Joshua 1:4) as well as the Ancient Roman Empire.

At this point, the kings of the North and the kings of East appear to form a coalition against the Willful King. The East probably refers to an invasion of a massive army of two hundred million soldiers from East of the Euphrates River, which will have killed a third of mankind (Revelation 9:16-19). They could be from Asiatic nations, such as China, Korea, and Japan.

God shall gather the nations to the great Plain of Esdraelon and clear the way for their arrival. So when the armies of the East move westward, the Antichrist and his forces also are drawn to meet them at Armageddon.

But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him (Daniel 11:44-45).

The Plain of Esdraelon is famous for two great victories, of Barak over the Canaanites, and of Gideon over the Midianites; and for two great disasters, the deaths of kings Saul and Josiah. Hence, it is a place of great slaughter, the scene of a terrible retribution upon the wicked.

Armageddon is a transliteration of the Greek armageddon (ar-mag-ed-dohn’). In Hebrew, “Har-Magedon” means the mountain of Megiddo (Nwddgm Megiddon, “place of crowds”). In Bible times, the city of Megiddo commanded the entrances to the Costal Plain, the Plain of Acco, and the Valley of Jezreel. Over two hundred battles have been fought on this plain.

An Egyptian account of Pharaoh Thutmose III’s campaign through Palestine boasted that “taking Megiddo is like taking a thousand cities” (ANET 237). Megiddo is one of the strategic locations in Palestine, and many crucial battles have taken place in its immediate vicinity. Judges 5:19 foreshadows the end time Battle of Armageddon:

Kings came, they fought; the kings of Canaan fought at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo, but they carried off no silver, no plunder.

In the ninth century B.C., Yahweh predicted this place and outcome of this battle through the prophet Joel.

I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.

Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow— so great is their wickedness!” Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision (Joel 3:13-15).

This place is called the Valley of Jehoshaphat because here God destroyed Israel’s enemies (2 Chronicles 20:20-26). Additionally, the name “Jehoshaphat” means “Yahweh has judged.”

Ironically, the Willful King will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many, but his army shall be struck down by a sharp sword out of the mouth of the rider on the white horse, who is called Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11-16). At this time, the harvest of the earth takes place (Revelation 14:14-20).

Sixteen hundred stadia (about 180 miles) is the distance from Dan to Beersheba in Palestine. The height of the initial blood will be astonishing at first, and then it will taper down as it flows from the Valley of Jezreel (Jehoshaphat, Decision, Megiddo) into the rift of the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea. Scavengers will be invited to clean up the flesh of the slain.

And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in mid-air, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great” (Revelation 19:17-18).

There are demonic forces involved in this plague also. The three evil spirits that looked like frogs came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. These might be a manifestation of evil powers, evil influences, or false teachers, which persuade the kings of the earth by lying miracles from the unholy trinity. Croaking day and night, they provoke and call forth to arms as though trumpets of war. The wicked often fall into traps they set!

Frogs are unclean animals according to OT dietary laws (Leviticus 11:10-11, 41). To Persia, the frog was the god of evil and agent of plagues. To Egypt, the frog was the goddess Heqt of resurrection and fertility. With the third plague in Egypt, God sent frogs but the powers of darkness contributed to this plague.

But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt (Exodus 8:7).

Unwittingly, the powers of darkness will participate in their own destruction when they go to Armageddon as Satan did when he entered Judas Iscariot for the betrayal of Jesus.

BEHOLD, I COME LIKE A THIEF (16:15). The armies of the world that gather for battle will not anticipate the return of Christ to make war against them (cf. Matthew 24:43; 1 Thessalonians 5:2). Their destruction will be swift and surprising.

BLESSED (16:15). This is the third of seven beatitudes in the Apocalypse (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14). Blessing is promised for the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him. Believers are clothed with the garments of righteousness; they should not lay them aside, so that their spiritual nakedness should be seen (cf. Revelation 3:4, 18). Saints are to be always clothed with the robes of salvation; always ready for any event; however soon or suddenly it may come (Matthew 24:29; 25:13).

 

The Seven Bowls

CHAPTER SIXTEEN opens with a loud voice coming from God since no one could enter the Temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels is completed. This chapter describes the third woe and man’s unrepentant response to God’s wrath on the earth. Not only are humans the object of His fury but all nature suffers as it did when Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3:17-18). The seven bowl plagues are the intense labor pains just prior to the restoration of creation during the Millennial Kingdom.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time (Romans 8:22; cf. Isaiah 65:20-25).

These seven angels, who minister God’s wrath, were ready to execute vengeance upon the earth, having full power; however, they could do nothing until they received authorization from God.

These bowl judgments appear to come rapidly, at the end of the last three and one half years of the Tribulation Period, and they are completed at the time of Christ’s Second Coming. Four similar judgments have been poured out upon Egypt. The very language describing them proves that they are literal plagues, fulfilled in the order in which they are given. As the plagues were sent on Egypt in order to secure the redemption of Israel, so these plagues are sent in order to redeem Israel and God’s people from the slavery of Babylon (the Revived Roman Empire under the Antichrist).

FIRST BOWL: UGLY AND PAINFUL SORES (6:2). This plague has no counterpart in the trumpets but is reminiscent of the sixth plague in Egypt (Exodus 9:8-11). God inflicts His enemies with ugly and painful sores; the saved of the Tribulation do not suffer this plague. These sores are characterized as kakon (evil things) and ponhron (intense pain). The Septuagint uses the same Greek word (ponhrw) to describe the boils that plagued Job (Job 2:7) and the Egyptians (Exodus 9:9-11).

The reason why the sixth Egyptian plague is the first here is that it was directed against the Egyptian magicians, Jannes and Jambres, so that they could not stand before Moses; and so here the plague is sent upon those who worship the Beast and practice sorcery—these worshipers are unclean, not qualified to worship.

“On the ghn [land or earth]” could refer to either Antichrist’s kingdom or the literal earth.

SECOND BOWL: SEA TURNS TO BLOOD (16:3). This plague is reminiscent of the first plague in Egypt, when the Nile was changed to blood (Exodus 7:17-21). Here “sea” cannot represent the world system since every living thing in it dies; it must be taken literally, probably the Mediterranean Sea. The blood in the Mediterranean Sea, or all the oceans, will turn thick, dark, and coagulate as the blood of a corpse. The death and decay of trillions of sea creatures will only add to the misery of this judgment.

THIRD BOWL: RIVERS AND SPRINGS TURN TO BLOOD (16:4-7). Fresh drinking water is already in short supply because of the prolonged drought caused by the Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:6). Now contamination of the fresh-water supply by blood follows that of the sea. Here the sowing and reaping principle (Galatians 6:7) is applied, “You spilled the blood of the God’s saints, now drink it!” This leads to tremendous physical thirst, which points to one’s great spiritual thirst.

But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14; cf. Psalm 63).

The angel in charge of the waters declares that “these judgments are just” and the personified altar echoes this by adding the word “truth.” It speaks as a witness to the lives of the righteous sacrificed on it by martyrdom.

Distress generated by God has a twofold purpose—punishment and abasing. What happens is the result of the choice made by those about to be inflicted. Sometimes Israel responded to inflictions by God with repentance, recognizing what the angel and altar declared.

The leaders of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “The LORD is just” (2 Chronicles 12:6).

Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).

Abraham asked the LORD that question prior to His destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The answer is “Yes!” An unjust God would not let sin go unpunished!

FOURTH BOWL: SUN SCORCHES PEOPLE WITH FIRE (16:8-9). Added to sores and intense thirst is the scorching of the skin from the sun. The chilling effect when the sun is darkened with the fourth trumpet (Revelation 8:12) is reversed. Increased power of the intensified sunrays scorches the wicked. This could happen several ways:

1. The sun or earth move closer together
2. Increased eruptions on the sun
3. The sun stands still
4. The ozone layer collapses over certain parts of the earth

If the sun does not stand still and the judgment is localized on the Antichrist’s kingdom, the polar ice caps will melt, inundating many of the world’s major cities with blood-polluted water and producing further catastrophic loss of life.

The Lord, the LORD Almighty, he who touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn—the whole land rises like the Nile, then sinks like the river of Egypt—he who builds his lofty palace in the heavens and sets its foundation on the earth, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land—the LORD is his name (Amos 9:5-6).

Incredibly, instead of humbling themselves and declaring, “God is just,” sinners refuse to repent and glorify Him. Their hearts grow harder like Pharaoh’s did with each plague.

FIFTH BOWL: DARKNESS (16:10-11). This plague is reminiscent of the ninth plague in Egypt.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand towards the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand towards the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived (Exodus 10:21-23).

As with the ninth plague, this one is localized also. Only the Antichrist’s throne (capital city) and kingdom are plunged into darkness. Worldwide darkness is associated with God’s judgment (cf. Isaiah 60:2; Joel 2:2; Mark 13:24-25).

By this time, the pain of the sores and scorched skin from the first and fourth plagues is so great that men gnaw their tongues in agony and curse the God of heaven. They know that “there is a God in heaven” (Daniel 2:19); yet hardened even more, they refuse to repent! There will be no repentance in Hell! The unsaved will continue to curse God forever! Darkness hates the Light! How appropriate the Beast’s kingdom is plunged into darkness; being it is the dominion of darkness (Colossians 1:13).

The Seven Angels and the Seven Last Plagues

CHAPTER FIFTEEN is a prelude of blessing in heaven that precedes God’s Wrath. It along with chapter sixteen is the fifth division of the Book of Revelation. The fifteenth chapter sets the stage for the seven bowls, called the seven last plagues. Though strikingly similar to the seven trumpets, the details of seven bowls are different. These complete the third woe.

SEVEN ANGELS WITH THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES (15:1-4). Again, the setting is heaven. John sees another great and marvelous sign; this being the third sign in heaven. The last seven plagues completed God’s wrath. The seven angels are the avenging angels.

SEA OF GLASS MIXED WITH FIRE is the same sea of glass, clear as crystal before the Throne in Revelation 4:6. Now mixed with fire symbolizes the rewarded saints of the Church whose works have been tested by fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

Others see nothing more in this imagery than a spacious lucid plain around the throne, from which fiery sparkles were continually emitted or the reflection of the light upon this lucid plain produced the prismatic colors of the most colorful rainbow. Still others perceive the sea of glass mingled with fire referring to the fiery persecution that these people had suffered under the Beast.

THOSE STANDING BESIDE THIS SEA are those who had been victorious over the Beast and his image and over the number of his name. These are the martyred Tribulation saints, who kept the faith unto death. “They” might apply to the Tribulation saints, who are given harps by God; one the other hand, other redeemed saints will have harps and sing (Revelation 5:8; 14:2). They sing their songs celebrating redemption and the victory of the LORD over the nations of the world. The Song of Moses is recorded in Exodus 15 and it was sung by the redeemed immediately after they crossed the Red Sea.

THE SONG OF MOSES was the postlude to God’s wrath. The Song of Moses was sung every Sabbath in the afternoon synagogue services. The opening stanzas foreshadow the defeat of the Antichrist (the horse and its rider) and Christ (the LORD is a warrior) unleashing His burning anger. It closes with Yahweh planting His people on their mountain of inheritance and reigning forever and ever.

With Moses, Israel triumphed over Pharaoh and his host of false gods, which were demonic.

With Christ, the saints triumph over Satan and his demonic hosts.

THE SONG OF THE LAMB is the prelude to God’s wrath and it has four parts.

A. Great and marvelous are your deeds
B. Lord God, the Almighty
C. Righteous and true are your ways
The King of the nations

A. Who will not fear you? No one!
B. Lord, and glorify your name
C. For you alone are righteous
For all nations will come into your presence and will fall upon their knees before you
For your righteous judgments are manifested (My Translation)

In the last day, both sinner and saint will come and bow before the Lamb to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

The Song of the Lamb expresses four praises:

1. The deeds of God, emphasizing His power (Psalm 145:10-13)
2. The ways of God, emphasizing His plan (Psalm 145:17)
3. The worthiness of God, emphasizing His perfection (Psalm 29:3; 96:8)
4. The worship of God, emphasizing His purpose (Psalm 66:4; 72:11; Isaiah 66:23)

Compare this song with the song recorded in Isaiah 12:1-6. Interestingly, the Song of Moses is the first song of the OT while the Song of the Lamb is the last song of the NT and both are by a sea.

DOOR OF THE TEMPLE IS OPENED (15:5-8). The Temple is called the Tabernacle of the Testimony because the Ten Commandments were stored in the Ark in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle. The Ten Commandments is the testimony that convicts every person as a sinner and transgressor of God’s Law.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10).

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law” (Galatians 3:10).

The Court of Heaven has rendered its decision and seven angels with the seven plagues are each given a golden bowl by one of the four living creatures. The seven golden bowls are filled with the wrath of the eternal God. The Temple is filled with the Shekinah Glory. No one could enter the Temple until the seven plagues are completed. This imagery looks back to the dedications of the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-35) and Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 8:10-11) when no one could enter those sanctuaries. Hence, there is no atonement, intercession, or acquittal for the guilty—all that remains is God’s wrath to be poured out!

The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished (Nahum 1:2-3).

Historicists believe seven angels do not have the final plagues that close out the affairs of this world, but possess the final judgments on the papacy. The seven last plagues are contained within the seventh trumpet (Revelation 8:1) at the time of the French Revolution in the 18th century.

Preterists also do not see the final judgments of this world here; they see the end of the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The Song of Moses reminds Jerusalem as Egypt lost “horse and rider” in the Red Sea, so Jerusalem’s horses had been bridle-deep in a virtual sea of blood (Revelation 14:20). Idealists see the last judgment acts in history at the end times here. Others, however, hold that the finality of these plagues is not with reference to end time history but to individual sinners who have not repented. The song of the redeemed is a combination of the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb that predicts all nations shall come and worship before God when His judgments have been manifested.

Futurists discern the seven last plagues upon rebellious man as the climatic judgments of God. The Tribulation saints, who play harps and sing in heaven, are either disembodied spirits or have received resurrected bodies sometime during the Tribulation Period.