As you read the scripture passage today: Things to remember: (1) Babylon the Great is the woman on the beast, who has dominion over the kings of the earth (Revelation 17:5, 18); (2) Revelation 18:4 is a call to the Church (Jewish and Gentile), from 90 AD until the time of the seventh trumpet judgment, to not participate in the sinful world system depicted by the woman on the beast. (3) Sexual immorality refers to participating in the sins of the world system, including all the physical sexual perversions, rather than live in covenant relationship with Jesus. Things to look for: (1) What the voices from heavens are saying and to whom; (2) What is vain to trust in; (3) How the Christians lived in a hostile environment.
Revelation 18:1-24 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. 2 And he called out with a mighty voice, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. 3 For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living." 4 Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; 5 for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. 7 As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, 'I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.' 8 For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her." 9 And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. 10 They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, "Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come." 11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, 12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls. 14 "The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!" 15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, 16 "Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! 17 For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste." And all shipmasters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off 18 and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, "What city was like the great city?" 19 And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out, "Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in a single hour she has been laid waste. 20 Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!" 21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, "So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more; 22 and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will be heard in you no more, and a craftsman of any craft will be found in you no more, and the sound of the mill will be heard in you no more, 23 and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery. 24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth."
Voice one from heaven announced the fall of the sinful world system. Voice two (1) called the Church to not be conformed to the world system, but to live for God; (2) declared the transitory character of the fruit of sin. Voice three declares the current world system, which is devoid of God, will be thrown down never to rise again.
The Christians were willing to lose their lives for Christ’s sake rather than participate in the things of the world at the expense of living for Christ. The Christians were prudent, that is, they knew the future results of their present actions. They knew dying for the sake of Christ brought eternal reward and happiness and that conforming to the ways of the world to save their lives would bring eternal loss.
How does the scripture instruct me to daily live? How am I daily living? As I compare how I am daily living with how the scriptures instruct me to daily live, what changes or growth do I need to make?
Revelation 17:1-18 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk." 3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. 5 And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: "Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations." 6 And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly. 7 But the angel said to me, "Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. 9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. 11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. 12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13 These are of one mind and hand over their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful." 15 And the angel said to me, "The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. 16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, 17 for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth."
The woman riding the beast is the head of a godless world system. She rides on the scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns. The seven heads are seven prominent rulers of empires, five are no more, one is, and one is yet to come. The Revelation was given in 90 AD, so the reference of the rulers is from that point of time. The five heads that are no more are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. The empire that exists at the time the Revelation was given to John is the Roman Empire. The ruler of the empire to come is the Anti-Christ who will be the seventh world ruler, but also the eighth in that the beast rising from the bottomless pit rules through this seventh ruler. The seventh ruler is the Anti-Christ who rules during the great tribulation shedding the blood of Christians.
The ten kings are ten world rulers who rule during the time of the Anti-Christ and give all their power to the Anti-Christ making him the ruler of the entire world and together with him make war on the Lamb and His people, the Church. Ten rulers may very well stand for all the rulers in the world.
The world is made desolate under the rule of the Anti-Christ according to the plan of God to judge all whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life. God’s words are fulfilled through this wicked leadership.
We are to remain faithful to the primary assignments of our Lord given in Matthew 28:19-20. We are first of all to take the message of Christ’s salvation by grace to all nations. We are second of all to teach each person, who repents of his/her sins and believes the gospel, to obey everything that Jesus commanded us. We need to evaluate ourselves often to make sure we are accomplishing our primary assignments among the people we have been placed by the Lord, especially with our families.
Revelation 17:1-16 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk." 3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. 5 And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: "Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth's abominations." 6 And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I marveled greatly. 7 But the angel said to me, "Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. 9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. 11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. 12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13 These are of one mind and hand over their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful." 15 And the angel said to me, "The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. 16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire,
A good way to understand this passage of scripture is to highlight the woman and the beast and write down what describes them and their surroundings. Today we will look at the woman and tomorrow the beast.
The woman is the head of a godless world system run by a world leader and prominent kings all inspired by the evil one. The world system and leaders are hostile to the saints. The blood of the Christians is on their hands. Please note the end result of this satanically inspired leadership is the desolation of the commercial center of the world and ultimately the entire world.
The woman is sexually immoral. This means more than just the physical immorality that describes the world in Romans 1:24-27. The sexual immorality is a way of expressing complete unfaithfulness to the Creator God by living in sin of all kinds, including the sins of physical sexual immorality.
The godless world system is called “this present evil age” by the Apostle Paul (Galatians 1:4) and it began when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve. The book of Revelation takes us to the second world wide judgment of mankind. Revelation 17-18 gives us a look at the world system’s history up to the end and right before the second judgment of the earth is complete (the first worldwide judgment was the flood). The seven heads stand for seven nations that ruled the world, five had fallen (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece), one is currently in power in 90 AD, the Roman empire, and one is yet to come, the one world rule of the Anti-Christ.
We need to be aware of this world wide judgment and warn people to take refuge in Jesus by repenting of their sins and believing the gospel. We need to obey Jesus’ commands of Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to the ways of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” so we will live lives that display Jesus to a sin darkened world.
Revelation 16:17-21 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, "It is done!" 18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. 21 And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.
We come to the end of God’s judgments on an unrepentant people of earth. The seventh bowl is the most severe judgment and the last before Christ defeats the rule of wickedness upon the earth. Note that all the cities of the nations were rocked and destroyed by this greatest earthquake of all time. Jerusalem (the great city) was split into three parts. One hundred pound hailstones fell on the earth. The reaction of the unbelieving people left on earth was to curse God. The people of the earth are completely deceived by sin and Satan.
Now is the time to warn people of the coming wrath of God upon all wickedness. God’s justice is delayed in the world of today, but it will come. Delays in the application of justice embolden sinful people to do even more wickedness (Ecclesiastes 8:11 “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil”). Ask the Lord to help you use each opportunity to warn people of the coming wrath of God and explain to them the way of escape.
Revelation 16:12-16 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. 13 And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. 14 For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. 15 ("Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!") 16 And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
The end of the rule of wickedness is close at hand. Demonic spirits are at work in the lives of mankind to raise opposition to the righteous rule of Jesus Christ from Israel. All the nations of the world will be opposed to the nation of Israel, the nation founded by the Creator God to display Himself to the world. The armies of the nations will gather in Armageddon, or also called the Valley of Jezreel. The valley is about forty miles NW of Jerusalem. Jesus has returned to begin His righteous rule for a thousand years and will win this battle with the sword of His mouth (Revelation 19:11-16). The non-believing people are deceived by the signs and wonders done by satanic powers (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
Jesus gives encouragement to the Church existing from 90 A.D. until the seventh trumpet. He encourages the Church that He is coming, but is coming unannounced like a thief at an unexpected time. He encourages the Church of the blessing they will receive by staying awake and keeping on the garments of righteousness. Staying awake means believers are to be completing the assignments and work He has given them to do (Revelation 3:2). The garments are the righteous deeds of the Church (Revelation 19:8). We need to heed the words of the Lord Jesus Christ and complete the works He has given us to do and be blessed.
Revelation 16:10-11 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish 11 and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.
Leviticus 26:14-33 reveals the mind of God and desire of God to help people repent and live according to the truth. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). God sends increasingly severe judgments that reveal the consequences of sin in the hope that people will repent of their sins and turn to Him to be forgiven of their sins and empowered to live according to the Truth.
We see God, in our text today, seeking to reveal the consequences of sin to the people of the earth. He plunged the entire earth into a darkness so painful that people gnawed their tongues in anguish. The people acknowledged God by cursing Him for their pain and sores.
The reality is that sin is so bad that its punishment is eternal torment. The deception is that sin is pleasurable and that sinful man’s way (devoid of Biblical truth) is the best way to “cure” the human race of damaging behaviors and habits (Hebrew 11:24-25; Proverbs 14:12). God’s judgments are meant to reveal the destructive nature of sin to mankind to motivate each person to repent and take the way of salvation (Mathew 1:21). The primary job of Christians is to live displaying Jesus to all around them and to speak the truth in love so all around may hear and respond to the salvation God has provided (John 3:16). Be bold and loving. Share the message of Jesus given in the book of Revelation to all who will listen. Perhaps some will take to heart the message of salvation, repent and believe the gospel.
Revelation 16:8-9 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.
The time period for this judgment on the people of the earth is after the last trumpet judgment, which is when the Church is removed from the earth to be with Christ (Revelation 11:15; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The scope of the judgment is the entire earth on which the sun shines.
We now experience periods of intense heat from the sun on various places of the earth, but have never experienced this judgment from God to the extent it will be just before the return of Jesus to establish His one thousand year righteous rule (Revelation 20:4). Knowledge of future events produces present motivation to prepare for what is to come. We have been assigned the task of taking the good news of Jesus Christ to the people in our family, to all in our sphere of influence. It is important for us to complete the work God has assigned us. Ask the Lord to help you prepare as many as you can to be able escape this judgment coming on the earth. People are prepared when they repent of their sins, believe the gospel, and live according to the word of God by faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20). Notice the people at the time of this judgment refuse to repent and give God glory.
Revelation 16:3-7 The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea. 4 The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say, "Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments. 6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!" 7 And I heard the altar saying, "Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!"
We have in this passage of scripture the validation of Galatians 6:7-8, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
Our just God is providing the fulfillment of what the unbelievers planted by persecuting the people of God and shedding their blood. The second and third bowls of wrath turned the earth’s saltwater and fresh water into the blood of a corpse. Every living thing in the sea died. Imagine the stench of all the seas. Imagine the utter chaos of all the people near the rivers and springs of fresh water.
We hear the voices of the angel and believers that are now in the throne room of God declaring that the Lord Almighty is just, holy and true. God’s judgment may not always be immediate, but it is sure. We believers are to remain confident when the unbelievers of this world hate us, persecute us and kill us. The Lord will bring justice. We are never correct when we say, “That’s not fair or just, Lord.” The Lord is just and will repay unpardoned people justly. When sin is sown, sin will be reaped. The only way for people not to reap the sin they sow is to repent of their sin and believe the gospel. If people could see the harvest reaped from sinful planting, they just might seek to plant differently. It is the job of every believer to tell people of the justice of God and of the harvest they can expect from sowing sin. It is also our job to tell people how to not reap the sin they have sown. Let us do our job and instruct people concerning the harvest they will reap unless they repent of their sins and believe the gospel.
Revelation 16:1-2 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, "Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God." 2 So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.
All the people on the earth who had the mark of the beast (the Anti-Christ) received harmful and painful sores as the angel poured out God’s wrath on them. The people with the mark of the beast worshiped its image (the image of a man). Imagine the news as this was happening around the world. All medical facilities would be overwhelmed and unable to do anything about the sores. Imagine the confusion and terror that overtook the world. The entire Church (all Christians) had disappeared for no apparent reason, caught up to be with the returning Christ in the twinkling of an eye. Now all who worshiped the image of the beast were covered with harmful and painful sores.
Today, Jesus has revealed to each Christian through His word what will take place in the future. We are to make these truths known to our family, friends, neighbors and associates. The conversation could take place as follows:
“Do you know that one day there will be no Church in the world? The only people left will be atheists and worshippers of a world ruler who apparently died but came back to life.”
“No, I have never heard that. How do you know?”
“Jesus has revealed these facts in the Bible.” Would like to hear more?
As believers we have a responsibility to make known the Truth to as many as we can. Will you be a bold and loving Truth teller to the people in your sphere of influence? You may be their only opportunity to escape the wrath of God.
Revelation 15:5-8 After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, 6 and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. 7 And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, 8 and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.
The time period of the bowls of wrath is after the seventh and last trumpet has sounded and the Church has been removed from the earth to be with Jesus Christ. The return of Jesus is very near at this time. The scope of the judgments to be released by the angels is the entire earth. The magnitude of the judgments is severe.
The Lord is a just God and must punish sin. He is a loving God and satisfied His own justice by dying on the cross for the sins of mankind. People are offered participation in the satisfied justice. To participate in the satisfied justice of God a person needs to admit he has sinned, repent of that sin and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 10:9). However, Jesus has told us that “the many” will choose to ignore sin and experience eternal judgment. “The few” will repent of their sin, believe the gospel and be pardoned from the penalty of sin, eternal torment (Matthew 7:13-14). Sound decisions are made by knowing what lies ahead. Jesus has shown the Church what lies ahead for all who refuse God’s offer of eternal life. Knowing the devastation of sin’s penalty, the Church is to take the message of pardon to the many, not knowing who will or won’t receive the offer of eternal life. Are you taking the offer of God to those around you in the hope that some people will believe the gospel and be saved from the wrath of God?