THE OBITUARY OF BABYLON (ROME)
As we begin here in chapter 17 the bowls of the wrath of God have been poured out.
And now it is time for the obituary.
17:1 And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I shall show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,
Now, in verse 5, John is going to speak of the harlot as being “Babylon the Great.”
Notice verse 1 again. John says that the “great harlot sits on many waters.”
But there is another meaning behind this phrase “sits on many waters.” Look at verse 15:
15 And he said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.
So Rome did this in many regions…and that is why she “sits” on all these nations and peoples.
So the harlot here is Rome…and there is another reason why the angels speaks of her “sitting on man waters.”
So, lets read it again: Rev 17:1-2
And one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I shall show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality. ”
3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.
4 And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet (these are colors of royalty. She is royal on the outside…but inside she is disgusting. She is nothing more than a well dressed tramp.)
4 And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality(she was quick to share these things with any who wanted to participate with her. However, those who participated with her…would be destroyed like she was)
5 and upon her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS(she teaches all the other little harlots how to be big harlots like her.)
5 and upon her forehead a name was written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” 6 And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.
And when I saw her, I wondered greatly.
7 And the angel said to me, “Why do you wonder? I shall tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.
8 “The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth will wonder, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. 9 “Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits,
9 “Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, 10 and they are seven kings; five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain a little while. 11 “And the beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. 12 “And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour.
Galba (7 mos.)
Otho (3 mos.) These three were victims of a horrible civil war. They made no
Vitelius (9 mos.) contribution to the Empire.
“Beast which was and is not, is himself also and eighth, and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction”; vs. 11 (see also vs. 8).
12 “And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour.
13 “These have one purpose and they give their power and authority to the beast. 14 “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.”
Now, notice the word “chosen”…that does not speak of “election.”
15 And he said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues. 16 “And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire.
17 “For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose,(they are God’s too of judgment and don’t know it.) and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God should be fulfilled.
18 “And the woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.”
Again, this is the beginning of the obituary…or the announcement of death and a brief biography of the deceased.
THE HARVEST OF THE WICKED
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when trying to understand the book of Revelation is they try to take each event mentioned and apply it to some specific event either in the modern past or still yet in the future.
What we need to understand about this book is instead of trying to apply each vision or event to a specific occurrence, what we must do is simply look at the obvious.
It really is not hard to understand what the theme is of this book and that is true here in this chapter.
Now, when you come to chapter 14 we need to keep in mind that this is all a part of a vision that John is seeing…so we cannot take all he says here as being literal…or that it is going to be literally fulfilled.
At the same time, this chapter is intended to reassure the faithful who are perhaps wondering if their faith in God and His Son has been in vain.
So, let’s look at chapter 14.
And the beast of chapter 13 was a great, terrifying beast that mocked God and persecuted His people.
And now what you are going to see in chapter 14 is the One who really is Lord.
So, let’s look at this, and once again, simply try to grasp the obvious message of what is said.
Vs. 1 And 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 notice the Lamb was standing on “Mt. Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand.”
And notice in the last phrase of the verse is something that we all had better have stamped on our foreheads…and that is His name and the name of His Father.
Now, verse 2: And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps.
Vs. 3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four 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.
Vs. 4 These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.
So these first 5 verses are encouraging words to these Christians…because it reminds them that the Lamb is still alive…that He meets with heavens approval….and so to do those who are remained faithful to Him.
Now verse 6:
And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel (good news) to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people;
Vs. 7 …and he(the angel) said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”
Vs. 8 And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”
And notice that Rome is looked at from a seductive view point.
And notice the angel says: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.”
Vs. 9: And another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
Those who follow the beast have benefited from the beasts power, influence, and economic prowess.
“And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” 12 Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
13 And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”
For those who die in the Lord…death is a closed door that Satan cannot open.
Now, we are going to see the harvest of those who follow the beast.
14 And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown (stephanos: victors crown) on His head, and a sharp sickle in His hand.
15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, because the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 And He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth; and the earth was reaped.
17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Put in your sharp sickle, and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.” 19 And the angel swung his sickle to the earth, and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God.
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.
The vision of the wine press is symbolic of the horror of God’s judgment.
The message of this chapter is not hard to understand.
But those who have the name of the Lord on their foreheads…those who die in the Lord…will be blessed…from now on.
This whole chapter is written here to warn us to come to the Lamb…or to remain faithful to Him even unto death.
REASSURANCE TO THE REDEEMED
In chapter 6 we read about the breaking of the seals.
Then the fifth seal is broken…and the souls of those who had been slain because of the word…cried out, “How long, O Lord, will you refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
And when the sixth seal is broken a picture of judgment and destruction is painted for us.
And the chapter ends with this question: …for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?”
And here in chapter 7 the writer answers this question.
7:1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth (Four relates to the world: east, west, north, south) , holding back the four winds of the earth(winds here represents the activity of God. In Exodus 10: 13 God told Moses to stretch out his hand and when he did an east wind brought locusts on the land. In Exodus 14: 21 God used a strong east wind to turn the sea into dry land. See also Isa. 57:13; Jeremiah 18:17; Dan. 7:2) , so that no wind should blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. (They hold the wind back so that no destruction on Rome can take place until God’s people are identified. This gave God’s people comfort. When Rome is destroyed God will know whom to destroy and whom to save.)
2 And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun (This angel comes from the east…from where the light originates. His message is one of cheer.), having the seal of the living God; (The seal indicates that God owns sealed ones and would keep Satan from tampering with them. This message here in this chapter is for the saints. They are under God’s protection. Is this a protection from death? No, many will die. But when they do they will not be condemned like the wicked. Ezekiel 9 and 21: 3-4 will help you understand the principles of sealing.)
2 And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.”(This angel calls for delay. The reason for the delay: the welfare of the righteous. “Don’t hurt the earth until the righteous are marked.”)
Notice that the “bond-servants of God” will be sealed.
4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
Now, let me give you some thoughts about the number 144,000.
Notice the phase: “from every tribe of the sons of Israel.”
To speak of “Israel” is to speak of God’s redeemed people.
14:1 And 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. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. 3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four 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. 4 These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.
“Israel” is an established name for the redeemed people of God.
Rev. 7:4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:5 from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, 6 from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, 7 from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, 8 from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed.
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues (four statements: four is the number of the world. Indicates these people were once in the world) standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands(Lev. 23, 40. Palm branches were used in the “Feast of Tabernacles.” It was a time of celebration, joy, thanksgiving.”
10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation to our God (Salvation is attributed to Him) who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying,
“Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
13 And one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and from where have they come?”
14 And I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation (probably the great tribulation mentioned back up in chapter 6. Daniel told of the time when the kingdom of God would destroy the 4th great kingdom on the earth.) , and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 “For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple (notice, they are priests); and He who sits on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them. 16 “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes. ”
This chapter reassures these saints…the redeemed of God that when judgment and destruction comes on Rome…even though some of them may be killed in that judgment and destruction…they will be in heaven with God and the Lamb.
THE OPENING OF THE SEALS
Here in the 6th chapter we see the breaking of the 7 seals.
Now, here in chapter 6 we see the Lamb breaking 6 of the 7 seals that sealed the book and as He does so we see the beginning of the end of the book.
Now, keep in mind that this is a vision and a lot of what is expressed here is expressed in symbols and symbolic language.
Remember that this book is a book of prophecy and prophecy always warns of a coming judgment….and it always deals with the situation that is going on at the time.
So, look at verse 1.
And I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.”
2 And I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him; and he went out conquering, and to conquer.
Notice the “white horse”.
This rider has a crown given to him.
And He says that He had a bow.
Then the verse says that this rider goes “out conquering and to conquer.”
Now verse 3: “And when He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature say “Come.”
“And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men should slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.”
In verse 5 we see a description of economic hardship. Look what He says:
“And when He broke the third seal, I heard the living creature saying, “Come.” And I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.
“And I heard as it were a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and wine.”
Economic hardship could cause the people to revolt against the authorities and the government…and this too would aid in the decline of the Roman Empire.
And notice, He says: “Do not harm the oil and the wine.”
7 And when He broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” 8 And I looked, and behold, an ashen horse (sickly pale, yellowy green); and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades (Hades…the grave. The abode of disembodied spirits. Death slays, Hades reaps) was following with him. And authority was given to them over a fourth (indication that this is not the final judgment) of the earth, to kill with sword (war) and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
9 And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained (faithful unto death. These Christians had died because of their faith); 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
11 And there was given to each of them a white robe(spiritually clean, pure); and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer (the persecution is not over yet), until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, should be completed also.
12 And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
15 And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;
There will be no place to hide when God comes in judgment.
17 for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand? ”
Chapter 6 speaks of the coming judgment on the Roman Empire.
Second: Anybody who touches God’s people touches the apple of His eye…and those people will answer to God for it.