The Book of Revelation Revisited 10: Armageddon

Last time we reviewed the ‘seven bowls’ of God’s final judgment upon the fallen earth. Then we were introduced to the ‘scarlet woman’ and the ‘scarlet beast.’

Continuing through the apostle John’s apocalyptic visions from Christ, he is now refocused backwards in time, so that we may learn how the devil has brought together ‘false religion,’ (symbolized by the scarlet woman and the scarlet beast), in cahoots with the corrupt world leaders and their armies, to conquer Christ and His army.

John’s vision remains earthward, but then shifts forward in time to the mid-tribulations period:

After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven…And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons… Rv. 18:1, 2. NKJV

Thus, God’s prophecy about the final destruction of the institute of false religion has come to fruition. (Rv. 14:8) Here, Jesus momentarily stops John’s visions, to warn us all about the dangers of associating with false religion:

“Come out of her, my people, so that you will not be a partner in her sins and receive her plagues…” Rv. 18:4 AMP

“And in her was found the blood of the prophets and saints, all who were slain on the earth.” Rv. 18:24 NKJV

The Scarlet Woman (Babylon) never thought she’d lose her power, yet it was felled in a single day. In addition, we see that it was the false religion’s teachings (the worldly ways that were opposed to God), that led to the death of all those who put their faith in them.

John’s vision resumes – now focused heavenward and slightly forward in time to the beginning of the second half of the tribulation. He sees heaven rejoicing over the fall of Babylon:

Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” Rv. 19:6, 7. NASB

And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Rv. 19:8 NKJV

The celebration is over the destruction of false religion and expresses the joyous anticipation of when the church (of all ages) is sealed forever as the ‘bride of Christ,’ through the righteousness that He has provided for all of God’s children.

John’s vision remains heavenward, but the time slides forward to the last day of the tribulations – to the battle of Armageddon:

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God. Rv. 19:11 – 13. NKJV

The ‘Word of God,’ gives His identity away. (Jn. 1:10) It is Jesus Christ Himself, preparing for battle on our behalf. He carries a name that is above all names. (Phil. 2:9) His robe is dipped in atoning blood, not the blood of His enemies, because He hasn’t gone to battle yet.

And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Rv. 19:14 – 16. NASB

The army clothed in the white linen is the bride of Christ!

John’s vision turns earthward:

And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet…These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword that proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. Rv. 19:19 – 21. NKJV

So, Christ vanquished all of His foes (with the exception of the devil), with the sword coming out of His mouth; i.e. His victory came only by His speaking the word of God. That’s righteous power! And He did it all for you.

Immediately after Jesus’ victory:

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound Him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, shut him in, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations nor more until the thousand years were finished. But after these things, he must be released for a little while. Rv. 20:1 – 3. NKJV

Stay with me. Next, we visit the end of time…

Goodnight and God bless.

Advertisements

The Book of Revelation Revisited 9: Woe to the wicked

The apostle John’s vision changes its view again – now heavenward, but the timeframe remains at the beginning of the second half of the tribulations:

After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues… Rv. 15:5, 6. NKJV

Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven bowls full of the wrath of God…And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God…and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues were completed. Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying…”Go and pour out the bowls of wrath upon the earth.” Rv. 15:7 – 16:1. NKJV

So, we see that there is a temple in heaven; and we see that God is inaccessible to anyone during the dispersal of His final judgments. Those who are still on the earth at this time, have no escape.

John’s vision expands to straddle both heaven and earth. We get to see the emptying of the bowls, which are God’s final judgments on those who steadfastly rejected Him.

The first bowl produced painful sores over the entire bodies of those who worshiped Satan’s beast. The second bowl pollutes all of the oceans, thus destroying all marine life. The third purifies all the fresh water on earth. The fourth bowl alters the sun – magnifying its heat so that people were literally being burned. Yet they still cursed God.

The fifth bowl is directed at the throne of the beast and his kingdom. It causes great pain to fall upon the devil’s followers and it envelopes this same throne in perpetual darkness. The sixth bowl dries up a section of the Euphrates River, so that the army from the east can cross over to attempt to engage Christ and His Father at the battle of Armageddon. At this point, the dragon, the beast and the false prophet send out demonic spirits to convince the world leaders of other nations to combine their armies with them in this battle on the final day of the tribulations.

Jesus momentarily halts John’s vision to address him directly – imparting a warning for all of us:

“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” Rv. 16:15 NKJV

Christ is urging us to stay alert and to behave as righteously as possible until He returns.

Jesus restarts John’s vision, where he sees Satan’s armies gather at the valley of Megiddo in Israel to do battle. In heaven, the last bowl (the seventh judgment) is poured upon the earth:

And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been seen since man was on the earth…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. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people… Rv. 16:18 – 21. ESV

The city is Jerusalem, the headquarters of Satan’s false religion (i.e. Babylon). The seventh bowl brings cataclysmic destruction upon the earth, completely changing its surface.

At this point, an angel takes John, (in his vision), earthward and backward in time to show him more of the parts the devil has played in the downfall of man:

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked to me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

So he carried me away the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornications. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. Rv. 17:1 – 6. NKJV

In the Bible, when the word ‘fornication’ is not referring to sex out of wedlock, it always refers to idolatry, i.e. false religion. It is an institution that perverts the word of God to bring glory to itself. This scripture tells us that all of the earthly governments conspire with false religion to control its constituents.

We see that the ‘harlot’ (false religious institution) has grown wealthy from her association with the world and is literally astride (being supported by) Satan’s beast. So, it is fitting that she bears the cup full of ‘abominations’ (idolatry and all of its related practices).

The names on the woman’s forehead are also revealing. ‘Mystery’ is from the Greek mustering, meaning a ‘secret’ or ‘mystery’ – associated with the silence often imposed in the initiation of shady religious rites. It suggests the occult. ‘Babylon the Great’ (when not referring to the ancient empire that conquered Judah), is always used in the Bible to represent an institution of false religion.

The ‘mother of harlots’ depicts false religion as the pinnacle of earthly evil; and the ‘mother of the abominations of the earth’ tell us that false religion stands for everything that is against God. Finally, we see that false religion is responsible for the deaths of the saints throughout history.

The angel speaks again:

“…I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. The beast you saw was, and is not, and is about to come out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.” Rv. 17:7, 8. NASB

The beast was and then was not (is mortally wounded), and it will supposedly come back to life. He will then go to his destruction, because his time on earth is short. Until then, he will deceive all of the people who reject Jesus, i.e. those whose names are not found in the book of life.

The angel gives John further clarification:

“This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of which have fallen, one is, the other is yet to come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth, but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction.” Rv. 17:9 – 11. ESV

Some interpret the symbolic mountains to be ancient Rome, other see it as the papacy, and still others believe them to represent all of the kingdoms that will rise up  against God’s children.

There is yet another interpretation that references the events that were happening in the world about the time John received his vision (90 A.D.). This interpretation says that the seven mountains represent certain world empires: the first five being those that have already fallen – Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persian and Greek. The kingdom that ‘is’ would be the Roman empire during John’s time on the earth; and there hasn’t been a world empire since.

The seventh empire will be that of Satan’s world system (the beast), and the eighth is a representative of the seventh – the Antichrist, who uses false religion to bring himself to power until the time of the mid-tribulations, whereupon he declares himself to be God.

The angel continues to speak:

“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is the Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called chosen and faithful.” Rv. 17:12 – 14. NKJV

The ten horns are ten nations that give their alliance to the Antichrist – promising to stand with him in battle, against the Son of God. ‘One hour’ means that this alliance will be short-lived.

And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. 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 with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry his purpose of being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth. Rv. 17:15 – 18. ESV

When the Antichrist declares himself to be God, he will destroy the institution of false religion, because it cannot support his claim of divinity and keep itself relevant. Until that time, false religion will reign supreme over the world systems.

The ‘city’ is the false religion institution (in whatever form that is going to take).

It’s interesting to note that God uses the devil’s own devices to wipe out false religion. The plot thickens…

Goodnight and God bless.

The Book of Revelation Revisited 8: Last Chance

Last time, the apostle John had just finished relating an earthward-focused portion of his vision, regarding the mid-tribulation completion of the devil’s plan for world dominance. Still in the mid-tribulation period, John’s vision shifts heavenward:

Then I looked, and behold the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads…And they sang a new song before the throne before the living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. Rv. 14:1 & 3. NASB

Some interpret this group to be the remnant of the Jews in Israel who finally accept Jesus as their Messiah. Thus, they were subsequently sealed in the name of God and His Son. We see that they are now with Jesus in heaven. This event leads many interpreters to conclude that it is one of three ‘raptures’ – the other two being for the church and for the ‘great multitude.’ These ‘saved’ Jews are now able to sing a new song that only the redeemed can sing.

Still in the mid-tribulation time period, John’s vision shifts earthward again:

Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to preach to the inhabitants of the earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God [with awe and reverence], and give Him glory [and honor and praise in worship], because the hour of His judgment has come…” Rv. 14:6, 7. AMP

Mind you, this is happening before God’s final judgments are thrust upon the earth. If you adhere to the ‘rapture’ concept, you see that God is still reaching out in love to His lost creations. The church has risen to heaven and the remnant of Israel has as well. Still, God is pleading with the doubters left behind, through an angel, telling them that they must recognize Him as the only true God, and turn away from Satan and his minions.

John’s vision remains focused on the earth, but it now moves forward in time to the beginning of the second half of the tribulations:

Then another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her immorality [corrupting them with idolatry].” Rv. 14:8 AMP

‘Babylon’ is the world’s ‘false religion system” – a product of the devil himself. God is letting the stragglers know that the ultimate outcome for Satan and his designs, is one of defeat. So, in HIs great mercy, God is sending these holdouts a stern warning about sidling up with the fire and brimstone crew.

John’s vision is still fixed upon the earth, but it shifts backwards in time to the mid-tribulations period once more:

And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice,”If anyone worships the beast and its images and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will bring the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength…and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur…forever and ever…” Rv. 14:9 – 11. ESV

It is certain that the outcome for lining up with the devil is not a good one. Also, as much as some people don’t want to believe in a literal hell, this scripture sure makes a strong case for one. So, what’s happening here is that God is telling them that He doesn’t want them to share in Satan’s final misfortune:

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice in heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” Rv. 14:12, 13. ESV

God is calling upon His children who accepted Him through Christ, during the first half of the tribulation period – encouraging them to stand firm in their faith, because their redemption is guaranteed. He is also comforting those whose martyrdom is imminent, assuring them that they will be translated into His arms.

John’s vision then shifts both heavenward and forward in time to the end of the tribulations:

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle…the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. Rv. 14:14 – 17 & 19. NKJV

And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles. Rv. 14:20 NASB

What we see first is Jesus, reaping the harvest of the surviving children of God who’ve escaped being martyred. (Mt. 13:24 – 33.) Secondly, we view an angel gathering the unbelievers.

This is actually a preview of the time that follows Armageddon – the last battle where Christ and His army will stand again the army of the ‘east’ and army of the Antichrist. There will be such destruction that it will leave a swath of blood from Satan’s armies that is 200 miles long and 4 feet deep.

The apostle’s vision remains focused heavenward, but shifts backwards to the time of the second half of the tribulations:

Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete. And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have victory over the beast. over his image, and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. And they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb… Rv. 15:1 – 3. NKJV

God is gathering these seven angels to descend upon the earth to deliver His final judgments upon the unbelievers. But before He unleashes them, God ‘raptures’ up the ‘great multitude,’ the people from all over the world who came to Christ during the tribulations. This must have taken place after the mid-tribulations period, because we can see that they’ve already faced the devil and his minions and managed to cling to their faith. And when they get to heaven, they are jubilant…

Goodnight and God bless.

The Book of Revelation Revisited 7: Antichrist

We’re in the middle of John’s vision of the earth at the latter half of the tribulation period. The devil and his rebel angels have been kicked out of heaven. Because of God’s intervention, Satan has been unsuccessful in trying to kill Jesus, or the last remnant of Israel, who call Christ their Messiah. So, he turns his wrath towards the Gentiles who came to faith during the tribulations:

Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his head a blasphemous name. Now the beast I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him power, his throne, and great authority. Rv. 13:1, 2. NKJV

With the ten heads and horns, the beast is a mirror image of Satan. His crowns represent ten nations that the devil will assemble, to build a world empire to rival all that came before. The physical description of the beast is a composite of four beasts the prophet Daniel saw in a vision. (Dan. 7:2 – 8.) Daniel also prophesied about the coming of this future empire. (Dan. Ch. 2)

Biblical scholars see Satan’s beast(s) as symbolizing a world empire, an antichrist, and a false prophet. Many see the dragon, the Antichrist, and the false prophet as a perverse imitation of the Godhead.

John continues:

I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast and who is able to wage war with him?” Rv. 13:3, 4. NASB

The beast represents a new world system – one that has suffered death and has been resurrected (insinuating something homologous to the resurrection of Christ). All ‘God-rejecters’ who survived the first half of the tribulations will fall under the sway of this satanic world order.

And the beast was given a mouth (the power of speech), uttering great things and arrogant and blasphemous words, and he was given freedom and authority to act and to do as he pleased for forty-two months (three and a half years). And he opened his mouth to speak blasphemies (abusive speech, slander) against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, and those who live in heaven. He was also permitted to wage war against the saints (God’s people) and to overcome them, and authority and power over every tribe and people and language and nation. All the inhabitants of the earth will fall down and worship him, everyone whose name has not been written down since the foundation of the world in the Book of Life of the Lamb who has been slain [as a willing sacrifice]. Rv. 13:5 – 8. AMP

So, the beast gets a ‘mouthpiece’ – the Antichrist. This is also described in another vision of the prophet Daniel (Dan. 9:26, 27.), whereby he describes the Antichrist as a ‘little horn.’ Many interpret the vision of Daniel to mean that the Antichrist will first come as a ‘man of peace’ (after God has destroyed the ‘army of the north,’ that came against Israel), and that he will strike a peace accord with Israel.

However, at the tribulation midpoint, he breaks that accord and wages war against the followers of Christ – even forbidding any worship of God in the new temple in Jerusalem. Moreover, the Antichrist will demand worship for himself, declaring that he is God. Many of the saints are martyred at this time. (Rv. 12:10 – 12.)

However, because of the saints’ steadfast endurance for Christ, their eternal outcome will be one of triumph over Satan and his minions.

Finally, we see that those who do worship the Antichrist, will not find their names in the Lamb’s book of life – meaning that they have no heavenly hope.

John resumes the telling of his vision:

Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the whole earth and those who dwell on it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs so that he even makes fire come from heaven on earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image of the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. Rv. 13:11 – 14. NKJV

Here then is the manifestation of the second beast (the false prophet) – one who appears meek and pious, but his dragon-speech reveals his evil character to those who can discern his true nature. Satan gives power to the false prophet to manifest miracles in the name of the Antichrist, in order to prop up the Antichrist’s claim of divinity. Lastly, the false prophet commands that an idol be made in the image of the Antichrist’s so that the people could worship it. [This was previously foretold by the apostle Paul (2 Thess. 2:9 – 12.), where we learned that God allowed this deception to take place because of the people’s steadfast rejection of His salvation.]

John elaborates further about the false prophet:

And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both great and small, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast, or the number of the beast, for it is the number of man, and his number is 666. Rv. 13:15 – 18. ESV

Thus, the false prophet animates the statue of the Antichrist. It must be some form of an elaborated illusion, because only God can create life. If one is not convinced by the illusion to worship the idol, that same one will be killed.

We also see the false prophet promote the ‘mark of the beast,’ one required to having indelibly placed upon their person in order to buy or sell anything. Note: no one really knows what ‘666’ means except that it is the number of man. But because ‘sevens’ are the biblical number for ‘completeness,’ it suggests incompleteness.

Ultimately then, what we are seeing is the establishment of the complete satanic world system: the Antichrist is directing the political and economic landscape, and the false prophet is controlling religion; and all of this is being orchestrated by the devil himself. The plot thickens…

Goodnight and God bless.