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Revelation (scene 6 of 7)

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Scene 6 of 7.  “Celebration and the Millennium.” (chapters 19-20). During scene six we learn of preparations being made for the great celebration known as the wedding supper of the lamb.  (v19:9).  This scene also marks the end of the Great Tribulation as is clear from verses 11-21.  We have gleaned sufficient information from the first six scenes to construct a timeline of events.  While we do not (and cannot) know the starting point, it is important for us to understand the process and the final outcome!  The basic timeline of history can be illustrated as follows:


     Church age        Tribulation         Christ’s return          Millennium

There are three vertical bars on the timeline, the first is the start of the tribulation, the second is Christ’s return, and the third is the end of the millennium.  We know that the time between the first and second bar is seven years.  We also know that the timeline between the second and third bar one thousand years.  Scene one of Revelation occurs prior to the Tribulation and Scene seven occurs after the Millennium.  Thus we know that Scenes two through six take place in a seven year span of time between bars one and two – during the Tribulation.  In this next illustration let us zoom in on the seven year tribulation:


     Trib begins                             42 months                              Trib ends

      Scene 2         Scene 3           Scene 4           Scene 5         Scene 6

The tribulation begins in scene 2 and scene 6 ends the tribulation.  Scene 4 (the pauses, but specifically the death of the two-witness of chapter 11) happens at the mid-point of the tribulation.  The arrival, ministry, death, and resurrection of these witnesses will be one of the clearest markers of the Tribulation.  From this timeline we can logically assume that scene 3 happens during the first half of the Tribulation and scene 5 during the second half of the Tribulation.  Scene 3 is comprised of the Seal & Trumpet judgments while scene 5 is comprised of the bowl judgments and the destruction of Mystery Babylon.

There is one last important event on this timeline that is not addressed definitively by the book of Revelation – the Rapture.  While the term rapture (meaning to be snatched up) is not found in the Bible, the concept is clearly Biblical.  Please review the following passages:  Matthew 24:37-42, Acts 1:9-11, 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, 2 Peter 3:10, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, and 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6.  While the Bible speaks multiple times about this Rapture event, we are not given the specific time of its occurrence.  In fact, Jesus warned against any attempt to determine the time of His return for it is a time that only the Father knows.  Even so, there has been much speculation on the timing of the Rapture and three competing theories are common today:  pre-, post-, and mid-tribulation.  Scholars find evidence for each position in Scripture, however I do not find the evidence for any single position to be definitive.  It is my opinion that we ought to plan for a post-tribulation return of Christ and pray for a pre-tribulation Rapture.

But let us return to the text and the celebration that is taking place in heaven at the beginning of chapter 19.  In verse 1 John hears a multitude in heaven shouting, “Hallelujah!  Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are His judgments.  He has condemned the great prostitute…”  The great prostitute is the false system of religion that the beast/anti-Christ has used to subjugate the people on earth.  The punishment of the earth is complete, as is the destruction of the prostitute.   Heaven is preparing for a great celebration!  Three times the great multitude of declares, “Hallelujah” (verses 1, 3, and 6).  In verse 7 the official announcement is made, “for the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride (the Church) has made herself ready.”  The Church is dressed in white wedding garments signifying our righteousness in Christ. 

For clarity, the angel guiding John directs him to write the following (verse 9), “… Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”  John understands the message of the angel and falls to his knees in worship.  The angel quickly admonishes John to rise.  “Worship only God,” he declares.

John’s attention is again focused on heaven as he observes another vision starting in verse 11.  John is witness to a rider on a white horse but this is a different rider than the one back in chapter 5.  The rider on this white horse is called Faithful and True.  As John describes this rider it quickly becomes clear that this is Jesus, for on His robe is written, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”  This time Jesus is not portrayed as a suffering servant on the cross but as a mighty King.  While the angel makes it clear that preparations for the wedding supper continue, there is one other task that needs to be completed. 

In verse 19, John’s attention turns again toward earth with his focus upon the beast/anti-Christ.  Standing with the beast are the kings (governments) of the earth and they are ready for war.  The lines are drawn.  On one side Jesus stands with His Church.  In opposition, we have the beast/anti-Christ and his horde of human followers that have been deceived and accepted the mark (666). 

Let us carefully read verse 20: “But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet… the two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.”  Chapter 19 concludes by noting that the human followers of the beast were killed with the sword of Jesus.  We can assume this refers to a physical death because verse 21 notes that birds gorged on the flesh of the dead.  

However, scene 6 is not yet complete.  While the beast/anti-Christ and the false prophet have been dealt with, the third member of the false trinity yet remains.  We must continue reading in chapter 20 to learn about the demise of the dragon - satan.  In verse two we learn that an angel seizes satan and locks him in the Abyss for 1000 years.  (This 1000 year period is referred to as the Millennium.)  For some unknown reason, satan must be released for a short term after the Millennium (verse 3b).

We are only provided with the briefest of summaries of what transpires during the Millennium – verses 4-6.  John sees thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.  He is also witness to the souls of those who had been martyred during the tribulation.  John specifies that the souls belong to those who did not worship the beast nor received its mark.  As John views this vision, these martyred souls come back to life (resurrected) and reign with Christ on the earth during the Millennium. 

We can conclude from verse five that the majority of the Church remain in heaven during the Millennium.  They are not resurrected until the end of the Millennium (v.5).  John is told that those who partake in this first resurrection, that is the martyrs of the tribulation, are blessed and holy.  The second death (hell) has no power of them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ during the Millennium.

If, during the Millennium the Church is in heaven and only the martyrs remain on the earth to reign with Christ, one must wonder who they reign over?  Satan, the beast, and the false prophet are locked up in the abyss.  We must therefore assume that Christ and the tribulation martyrs reign over the people who worshiped the beast and accepted his mark – and their descendants.

At the conclusion of the Millennium (v.7), satan is released for some mysterious reason.  The Deceiver goes out to Gog and Magog and gathers them for battle.  One must turn to Ezekiel 38 and Genesis 10 to understand the terms Gog and Magog.  Most scholars, though not all, understand these terms to refer to the descendants of Noah’s grandson who settled north of Israel (around the Caspian and Black Sea).  A few scholars attribute Gog and Magog to modern day Russia.  MacArthur believes that Gog is a general reference to those who oppose God, and that John uses it here to refer to the human leaders of the revolt against God.  Magog would then refer to the land or nations lead by Gog.

What we do know is that satan and Gog lead a substantial army, verse 8 describes its number as like the sand on the seashore.  This vast army faces off against Jesus Christ and His Followers at the camp of God’s people, the city He loves.  This is most assuredly a reference to Jerusalem.  Just as the great battle is about to begin, God sends fire down from heaven and devours Gog and his army (v.9).  This time, satan is permanently banished to the lake of fire (hell) along with the beast, the false prophet, the demons, and all their human followers (v.10).            

Scene 6 (chapter 20) concludes with the Great White Throne Judgment as recorded in verses 11-15.  John witnesses a great multitude of the dead standing before the throne of Jesus.   Jesus opens the Book of Life, as well as the many books that record the deeds of those standing before Him.  If there was any doubt as to the identity of those standing the Great White Throne, John clears it up in verse 13: “The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.”  This multitude is comprised of every human from the beginning of time, whose name was NOT found in the Book of Life.  The penalty for everyone was the same;  if your name was not in the Book of Life you were judged by your deeds and sentenced to the lake of fire (hell).  This is the second death, eternal separation from God and eternal torment in hell.         

Revelation (scene 5 of 7)

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Scene 5 of 7.  “God’s judgment, seven bowls.”  (chapters 15-18)   We begin scene 5 in chapter 15.  These final judgments of God are referred to as the bowl judgments.    John specifically notes that these are the last judgments, completing God’s wrath.  These seven judgments are the result of the sounding of the seventh trumpet and they are more severe than all the proceeding judgments.  While the seven seals affected a quarter of the earth and the seven trumpets affected a third of the earth, the seven bowls act upon the entire earth. 

In preparation for the bowl judgments John witnesses a large contingent of people, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image AND over the number of its name.  Each member of this vast victorious army received a harp and they sing a song:  “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty.  Just and true are your ways, King of the nations (verse 3-4).”

In verse five John sees the “Ark of the Covenant” – and it was opened.  The “Ark of the Covenant” has not been missing for 3000-years, it has been safe and sound in the heavenly throne room of God!  However, John is not given time to ponder the meaning of the open “Ark” because seven angels enter his field of vision.  Each angel is dressed in shining linen with a golden sash, and each is given a golden bowl filled with the wrath of God.  Heaven is placed in “lock down” and no one can enter into God’s presence until the work of these seven angels is complete (verse 8b).

In chapter 16 the seven angels are given the order to, “go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath upon the earth.”  While each bowl is poured out in succession, there is nothing to indicate much of a pause between them:

Bowl 1, verse 16:2, causes festering sores on those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. 

Bowl 2, verse 16:3, causes all of the seas of the earth to become blood like that of a dead person.  The blood of a dead person would be thick and dark.  It would bring death to everything in the oceans.   

Bowl 3, verse 16:4, causes all of the fresh water on the earth to turn to blood.  Not only surface water but even springs and ground water will turn to blood.  The angel pouring out this bowl declares that, “You are just in these judgments, O Holy One…”   

Bowl 4, verse 16:8, causes the sun to scorch all people with fire.  Even as the people are seared by intense heat, they continue to curse the name God. 

Bowl 5, verse 16:10, causes the kingdom of the beast to be plunged into darkness.  But this darkness is more than the lack of light, the people gnaw at their tongues in agony.  The combination of festering sores, intense heat, no water, and this terrible darkness is agonizing.  Yet much like Pharaoh, they refuse to repent.   

Bowl 6, verses 16:12-16, initiates the battle of Har Meggido (Armageddon).  As the sixth angel empties his bowl, the Euphrates river dries up to prepare the way for the kings from the east.  As this happens, demons that looked like frogs exited the mouths of each member of the anti-Trinity.  These demons go out to the governments of the entire world, deceiving them into gathering for a great battle.

Jesus faces John and says (verse 15), “Look, I come like a thief!  Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

Returning his attention to the action, John records that these armies gather together in Har Megiddo.  Today, we know Har Megiddo as Armageddon.  We will return to this battle in a minute…

Bowl 7, verses 16:17-20, initiates the final destruction of evil.  As the angel pours out this last bowl, a loud voice declares “It is done!”  In the midst of lightning and thunder the earth is struck by a massive earthquake.  This earthquake splits the city of Jerusalem into three parts.  However this is not the end but only the beginning of the destruction caused the seventh bowl. 

Before John continues he receives an informative sidebar from one of the bowl angels.  In chapter 17 the angel describes Babylon, the Prostitute on the Beast. In verse 1 this angel invites John to witness the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters.  “With her,” the angels continues, “the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”  

At that point John is carried away in the Spirit so we know this is a separate vision.  In this vision John sees a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.  We have previously learned that this beast refers to the anti-Christ.  The woman (prostitute) was dressed in purple and scarlet, glittering with god, precious stones, and pearls.  She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries.  In verse five we learn of a mystery, a name written on her forehand:  “Babylon the Great – The Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the earth.”  John saw that this prostitute was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.  We will come back to this woman/prostitute when we get to verse 15 (the angel provides us with important detail).

The angel understood that John was astonished so he explained the mystery of the woman and the beast she rides.  I will quote verse eight directly.  “The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction.  The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.”  John records the following two times in this one verse:  “…the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.”  We have already learned that this beast is the anti-Christ, an evil being controlled by satan.  In chapter 13 we learned that the beast received a fatal head wound and was brought back to life.  The anti-Christ was alive, he was fatally wounded, and then he was resurrected – simply so that he can go to his destruction!

But there is more, beginning in verse 9, “this calls for a mind with wisdom.” The seven heads are seven hills upon which the woman sits.  They are also seven kings.  Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come;  but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while.  The beast (who once was, and now is not), is an eighth king.  He belongs to the seventh and is going to his destruction. 

This message from the angel brings the beast into clearer focus.  Not only is the beast the satan controlled anti-Christ BUT he/it is also an eighth king in a run.  Five kings have fallen (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece).  The sixth, Rome, existed at the time of John’s Vision, and seventh is yet to come.  Some speculate that the seventh king is Rome, or the European common market, or the Pope.  The truth is that we don’t know with any certainty whom the seventh king is.  But we do know that the anti-Christ will replace the seventh king.  And we know that the seventh king will be a leader of substantial portion of the world – similar to Rome, Greece, and Babylon. 

Verse twelve gives us one more bit of detail about the beast, “the ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast.”  Thus we also know that the beast/anti-Christ will lead a group of ten “kings” or governmental authorities (verse 13).  The beast/anti-Christ and his ten minions will wage war against the Lamb but Jesus will triumph (verse 14).  We, as Followers of Jesus Christ, will stand at His side!

 Now (verse 15) the angel turns to an explanation of the woman/prostitute.  First we learn that the “many waters” where the prostitute sits are “peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.”  Secondly, we learn that the beast HATES the woman.  God will allow the beast to bring the woman to ruin (verse 16).  That is God’s purpose and plan – for a time.  Thirdly, (verse 18) “The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”  The great city of which the angel refers is called Mystery Babylon. 

Many, myself included, interpret the woman/prostitute In chapter 17 to represent false religion(s) – the apostate church.  Thus the false church is riding on the back of an evil governmental leader (king) – the beast.  While the governmental leader hates this religion(s), he uses it to garner support and acceptance by the peoples of the earth.  At some point the beast/anti-Christ/king turns on the woman/false church/prostitute and puts her to ruin (verse 16-18).  Mystery Babylon is the false religious and government system setup by the beast to defeat Christ. 

In chapter 18 another angel, one with great authority, announces the demise of Mystery Babylon.  The rest of the chapter describes the rightful destruction of Mystery Babylon and the heaven celebration over its demise.

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