Revelation #28 Rev 16:17-21 & Revelation 17:6-8 (MSG) End Times: Yet Another Vision of Victory


Revelation #28 Rev 16:17-21 & Revelation  17:6-8 (MSG)

End Times: Yet Another Vision of Victory

We are picking up where we left off last time, Revelation 16:17. 6 angels have poured out the Bowls of God’s wrath upon the earth, things are catastrophically bad. The followers of the Beast have broken out in sores, the water is poisoned, the entire Empire is thrown into an eclipse, and demonic propaganda is gathering all those who are cursing God, refusing to repent to a place called Armageddon.

Now we turn our attention to the 7th bowl.  And as with the Seals and the Trumpets, the 7th event brings us a vision of victory.


Rev 16:17-21 (MSG)

 17 The seventh Angel poured his bowl into the air: From the Throne in the Temple came a shout, "Done!" 18 followed by lightning flashes and shouts, thunder crashes, and a colossal earthquake—a huge and devastating earthquake, never an earthquake like it since time began. 19 The Great City split three ways, and the cities of the nations toppled to ruin. Great Babylon had to drink the wine of God's raging anger—God remembered to give her the cup! 20 Every island fled and not a mountain was to be found. 21 Hailstones weighing a ton plummeted, crushing and smashing men and women as they cursed God for the hail, the epic disaster of hail.


Even though the 7th is the end we are not done.  It’s the voice of the living God, sovereign strong who shouts “Done!” Evil has been made impotent, all that awaits is the final judgment, a spiritual judgment. That shout “Done!” reminds us of Jesus' final words before his death, “It is Finished.”  The work of atonement was finished upon the Cross.  Now justice has been served.  We get a glimpse of that justice.


Accompanying this mighty act of God is that familiar cacophony of geophysical phenomena.  Lightning, thunder, earthquakes, that kind of stuff grabs your attention and makes you take notice.  They all can be understood as physical manifestations of the presence of God. We can interpret the greatest earthquake that has ever occurred as a total upheaval of governments and cultures that are anti-Christ. John sees “the cities of the nations becoming ruins.”  Everything that the followers of the Beast relied on is shaken to catastrophe. Talk about having the props knocked out from under you. This is a cataclysm of unprecedented proportions.  Nothing is left as it was.  But fear not, for the believer, out with the old, something new and marvelous is coming.


The Great City is Rome which John calls Great Babylon.  The earthquake splits the city which means it becomes an utter ruin and along with its downfall every nation allied to Rome suffers the same fate.  Every Dragon-inspired government comes crashing down.  The routine, life’s predictability, and the safety of living in an ordered society are suddenly consumed in social chaos.


God hands Babylon the cup of His wrath. Babylon is the antithesis, the opposite of the Heavenly Woman and New Jerusalem.  In our paraphrase of the scripture this cup is described as full of God’s anger, the NIV translation offers us the phrase “the fury of his wrath.” We need to reconcile the idea of God’s anger, with the truth of God’s love.  There seems to be a contradiction between the two.  1 John 1:8 informs us that God is love.  This highlights a fundamental attribute of God; God’s primary characteristic is love.  God incarnates, becomes human, and sacrifices Himself to make atonement for humanity’s rebellion, and then rises from the grave so that you and I can enjoy a right relationship with Him. This is a love that seeks to meet the needs of the other at the cost of personal sacrifice. This kind of love isn’t incompatible with justice. God's wrath is rooted in His loving nature.  Anything that is in opposition to love is destructive and must be dealt with.

“God’s wrath is not a psychological emotional rage but a holy rejection of evil.  It is an indignant reaction to spurned love and unfailing opposition to the despising of God’s holy will in the Law, creation, or the gospel.  It is an unalterable condemnation of a refusal of God’s love, patience, and mercy.  God’s wrath is not personal vindictiveness or an impersonal process of retribution but a response of God’s holiness to persistent and impenitent wickedness.” (Rotz. P.119)                                                                                                                                                                                                 

God’s love is protective, and anything that threatens the object of that love, in this case, you and I, His children, gets met with extreme prejudice. 

That God gives Babylon the cup is a word of encouragement for believers.  All the things you have suffered because of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet, are not forgotten.  Because of what you were inflicted with, God serves up justice.

Verse 20: “Every island fled and not a mountain was to be found.”  The result of global warming is due to that scorching sun back when the fourth angel poured its bowl in verse 8.  In 2nd Opinions chapter 16 it is revealed that it’s cow flatulence that causes the islands to flee and the mountains to disappear. I know this from firsthand experience working on my buddy Max’s dairy. John is most likely telling his readers that the old order of life is past, and something new, a new way of living is about to begin. 

John’s glimpse of the end concludes with the mother of all hailstorms. Hail is a sign of God’s reaction to evil (Exodus 9:24, Joshua 10:11. Isaiah 28:2, Ezekiel 38:22).  These times are catastrophic, the doors of grace have been closed, there is only one thing people can do and that is to curse God.

Here is our hope. One day everything will be set right. God’s righteousness will be fully established, conquering everything and everyone that opposes His rule. Love will ultimately prevail. Those who bend the knee to the Lordship of Christ are to remain steadfast in their commitment regardless of external circumstances. The resurrection is the promise of what is to come. If you know that there will come a time when the invitation to give your life and loyalty to Jesus will end, isn’t there someone in your life, who needs to hear the good news of the gospel? As ambassadors of Christ, it’s your task to testify God’s love and His offer of salvation. 

John sees the hail and people cursing God and then one of the 7 angels speaks to him.


Revelation 17:1-2 (MSG)


One of the Seven Angels who carried the seven bowls came and invited me, "Come, I'll show you the judgment of the great Whore who sits enthroned over many waters, the Whore with whom the kings of the earth have gone whoring, show you the judgment on earth dwellers drunk on her whorish lust."


Chapter 17 is one of the more difficult passages to understand in John’s vision. We are going to give it our best shot.  The easiest interpretation of the great Whore is what John tells us, he is referring to Babylon and therefore Rome. Rome is the center of influence from which the hatred of God and his people has spread like cancer throughout the world.   Babylon is enthroned upon many waters.  The many waters are the nations that Rome rules (Revelation 17:15). Whoring refers to spiritual adultery (Ladd, p 221). There is an additional thought that can be gleaned from Isaiah 1:21, adultery can also describe apostasy, turning your back on what you once believed. God requires fidelity from all who follow Him.  Compromise with the culture, bowing to the many cultural idols, giving anti-Christ government and false religion its due is spiritual adultery.  Babylon is all glitter, she promises wealth, power, fame, and pleasure.  She whispers, “Do what you want, do what is best for you, be your own authority, you determine what is good or evil, what is right or what is wrong.”  Babylon entices, “I’ll give you what you are looking for.” She tempts, “Wouldn’t you rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints?” Her wine, the vintage she produces, is indulgence, self-gratification, and personal gain.  Those who follow the Beast are drunk with her whorish lusts. “See the world, it can be all yours if you bow down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9).


John continues:

Revelation 17:3-6 (MSG)

In the Spirit, he carried me out in the desert. I saw a woman mounted on a Scarlet Beast. Stuffed with blasphemies, the Beast had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, festooned with gold and gems and pearls. She held a gold chalice in her hand, brimming with defiling obscenities, her foul fornications. 5 A riddle-name was branded on her forehead: great Babylon, mother of whores and abominations of the earth. I could see that the woman was drunk, drunk on the blood of God's holy people, drunk on the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.


Remember John’s vision is very fluid, back in chapter 14 we noted that if Jesus stood upon Jerusalem, the Beast must stand upon Babylon, but now there is a shift, Babylon is sitting upon the Beast.  What we can make of this is how intertwined the Beast and Babylon are, civil government and culture are.


The Beast from the Sea is depicted as having seven heads and ten horns so we know that John is speaking of the anti-Christ.  That the Beast is scarlet, or red, should be no surprise since that is the color of the Dragon. John portrays Babylon as a seductress.  She’s dressed as an elite, decked out in luxury, her wealth on display.  She is a high-priced call girl. She holds a gold cup, a symbol of royalty, but instead of fine wine, the cup is full of everything that is anti-Christ. Her foul fornications all have to do with idolatry, she seduces people away from loyalty and fidelity to God. “Go ahead worship your God, but also worship the things that I offer.”  The golden cup is filled with unrestrained egoism.  Babylon is the source of godlessness and degeneracy.


The riddle name branded on Babylon’s forehead is a clue to John’s original readers, it's up to them to figure out who Babylon is.  It should not be too hard for us to figure out the riddle, John is referring to Rome.  Historians report that it was a common practice for Roman prostitutes to wear a headband with their name written upon it (Rotz, p251).  Tacitus a Roman historian who lived during this time wrote of Rome as the place: “where all the horrible and shameful things in the world congregate and find a home” (Mounce, p 310; Cornelius Tacitus, The Annals, Book 45 chapter 44).  


Since Babylon is drinking from her cup filled with abominations and is drunk on the blood of the saints and martyrs this drinking blood represents Babylon’s persecution of the Jesus followers.  It is said that the sword is always thirsty for blood.


John is shocked by what he sees, the beauty is everything ugly, the blood of the innocents running down her chin.


Revelation  17:6-8 (MSG)

Astonished, I rubbed my eyes. I shook my head in wonder. 7 The Angel said, "Does this surprise you? Let me tell you the riddle of the woman and the Beast she rides, the Beast with seven heads and ten horns. 8 The Beast you saw once was, is no longer, and is about to ascend from the Abyss and head straight for Hell. Earth dwellers whose names weren't written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world will be dazzled when they see the Beast that once was, is no longer, and is to come.


This is where we shall pick up next time.


What we can walk away with from this look at Babylon is affirming that old saying: “All that glitters is not gold.” Temptation is seductive, if it was appealing to you, you wouldn’t give it a second thought. The Dragon disguises his double bard hook as an enticement designed especially for you. It bait. Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way of death.  The way you guard against the ways of death is through the practice of the 7 habits of a disciple.  It is through the daily practice of bible study, prayer, fellowship, service, worship, obedience, and contemplation that the Holy Spirit gives you discernment so that you can see things past an outer appearance and like John see things for how they really are. 


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