REVELATION 16:17-18 and REVELATION 17
In the last lesson we finished the Sixth Seal. Today, before reading the 17th chapter of Revelation, let’s begin by reading Revelation 16:17-18.
In this lesson we will focus our attention upon some things that God Himself has singled out in His Word as being of tremendous importance to everyone. We cannot do without them and be saved/redeemed: (1) blood, (2) faith, (3) chastisement and (4) holiness.
Revelation 16:17, 18
17And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. 18And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
This is the “last series of seven judgments” before the Second Coming of Christ and this is the last judgment of the last seven judgments.
We studied about the seven seals and seven trumpets and today we are studying about the Seventh Seal before we study Chapters 17 and 18 of the book of Revelation. Again, let me repeat that the “Church” (the redeemed, those who prayed and asked God to forgive them of the sin in their lives) is NOT a part of these scenes now being described.
There will be an earthquake that will be so devastating that the great city will divide into three parts. Every island will vanish and the mountains will not be found. There will be a great hailstorm, hailstones weighing a talent which is about 100-135 pounds each. It is difficult for us to conceive of hailstones that large or of the devastating effect they would have upon the persons on which they are to fall. The Scriptures tell us about the hardness of the unsaved, unregenerate heart, those affected by the great hailstorm.
It is hard to conceive of man so rebellious that he would lift his face in defiance to God even in the face of disaster. All hopes and dreams will be ended because man will have chosen to worship Antichrist.
These people who take the mark of the Beast and worship his image will break the first four of the Ten Commandments, such as (1) Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. (2) Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image; (3) Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain. (4) Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
Jesus tells us in the Bible in Exodus 20:7, Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Men will be judged for eternity, for an eternal destination. Obedience to God is a must!
In the Bible the word “Babylon” is found 260 times. Not a single time does it signify anything good. In one of the Old Testament books it is found 67 times in a couple of chapters. Most people would think that is in the Book of Daniel, because in the first chapter of Daniel, it talks about Daniel being carried away into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, who was the king at that time. You’ll also find Babylon mentioned many times in the book of Jeremiah, chapters 50-52.
In Revelation 17:1-18 Babylon represents the Apostate Church; that is the system of false religion. In the 18th chapter of Revelation Babylon represents the Political System of the world.
In the 17th and 18th chapters of Revelation Babylon represents that which is false, rebellious against God. Remember back in the 11th chapter of Genesis, men decided to set up their own “kingdom” instead of scattering upon the earth like God told them to do.
They decided we’re going to assemble, together; we’re going to “do our thing.” We’re going to build this tower to Heaven. This displeased God, so He gave them all different languages to speak and that’s why it’s called the Tower of Babel: no one could understand the other person.
Babylon, in the Scriptures, is not a good sign; it is a sign of evil and a symbol of corrupt things. When you come to the 17th chapter of Revelation, it is the same. Notice that in Chapter 17, this chapter does not take place chronologically following what we’ve studied, concerning the seven bowls of judgment from God because these seven bowl judgments take place right before the Lord comes; however, in the 17th and 18th chapters we read about the fall of Babylon.
When Christ comes for “His Bride, the Church,” referred to as “the rapture taking place,” all that will be left is the False Church. There will be churches, preachers and Sunday School teachers all over the world, but it will be a false religion. Those that were ready, His Bride the Church, are with the LORD, not just certain denominations, and not just individual churches, but “His Church,” those who are “in Christ, the redeemed.”
Churches will probably meet the Sunday after the rapture and not miss a member. That’s sad, but where the blood and redemption are not taught “it’s like the blind leading the blind.”
1And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
The great harlot, those who have not been “born again,” is that part of the church that will remain on earth after the true Church has been raptured. We are told certain things about her, the great harlot, for example: “She sitteth upon many waters.” According to verse 15, which we will see later, the “waters” refer to great masses of people and nations.
At this time, the harlot, who is the whore, will pretty much control the world. “The kings of the earth committed fornication” shows that there is an unholy alliance between Church and State during that period.
It will bring the world under the influence of the wild Beast that comes out of the sea and the wild Beast that comes out of the earth. They will use the Apostate Church to control the masses, and the church will yield to this arrangement for political preferment and power.
You see, when people reject the genuine and pure, they are wide open for the deceitfulness of the devil. God’s cup of judgment will be the lot of the Great Harlot. God will punish her and the Beast himself with destroy her.
The Antichrist and the False Prophet will not want her around after she has served their purpose. Antichrist wants to be worshiped and he doesn’t want any competition from the church.
When you have a nation that mixes government and religion, you have a dangerous system. Here is what always happens. The Church rides upon the Government for its support; at the same time the Government seeks to rule and control the Church. For example, right now in Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church would like to get their way and are trying to get their way by removing all Evangelical and Missionary Activity and I believe that if they gain that much power, before long they would be dictating some other areas as related to their policies.
Anytime you have the Church riding hand-in-hand with the Government, you have a system that is absolutely corrupt and will always be, because God never intended His Church to mix with Government.
We are the Body of Christ and we don’t have to depend on anything for support but Almighty God, Himself. The religion of the last days will be materialism and commercialism of the worst sort. What is frightening is that we are already on the verge of it now.
When there is a religion like Roman Catholicism and it has a Pope, and the people feel that their Pope is absolutely infallible, and what he says is the final law, and if he were to say to all the Roman Catholics you must do so and so and they do it, he has an awesome sense of power! Any government who would link up with any religion, no matter what kind it is, that has some kind of Pontificate head, that has absolute authority over all its subjects, that king or president would have the power to rule over them.
This shows us that the “False Church” has so intermingled itself with the “Political System” of the day, that it is absolutely corrupt and so immoral, that it is not worshiping God. It is a matter of sustaining itself by leaning upon the Government for its support.
When the Church is corrupt, what does the world have to look to? The fact that the Scripture says that the woman is riding on the Beast, says that the two are hand -in-hand, that the Church is riding upon the Beast, the government, who is full of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
All genuine believers, regardless of where they have gone to church, will be raptured. This will leave a church on earth that is totally apostate, rather than being the Bride of Christ. God calls it a harlot.
In verse three, these seven heads represent the authority and the government: ten horns, kings, presidents, emperors or whoever is reigning at the time. And the Woman was clothed in scarlet-color, decked with gold and precious stones and pearls. What does this imply about the false church? Rich, very wealthy.
Having traveled I’ve been in some of these Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox cathedrals. I observed people bowing down; I have observed purple and fine linen, gold and all these extravagant things, but I also observed, spiritually speaking, such a dead spirit during the meeting time, absolutely totally dead. It’s all there.
What’s He’s saying, is, that the Church is going to be all ornamental; there’s not going to be anything of the Spirit of God present, but the Church will be very, very wealthy. Naturally the Government of that future day wants to link up with the wealth of the Church, so that two ride hand-in-hand dominating and controlling the life of the people.
3So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. 7And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
When you have Government and the Church mixed together, you have an abomination for certain. Revelation 17:6 states and I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints.
There is no kind of persecution equal to religious persecution, because of its motivation. People think they are doing this in the Name of God. Whenever you have men who are seeking power and authority, and somehow in their greed and selfishness desire to rule over others and dictate to them, how they can live and how they cannot live, and rules and regulations, then you do not have anything of the Spirit of the Word of God but rather you have an imprisonment, so when you go in these big cathedrals, it’s spiritually dead; it’s old and lifeless; it’s all show; it’s all a display of wealth, but no Spirit of God present.
8The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. 9And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. 10And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
This is not an easy chapter to understand, but back in John’s day, five kingdoms (Egypt, Persia, Greece, Babylon and Assyria) had fallen. Powerful Rome existed in that day. The next kingdom will be ruled by the Antichrist for a seven-year period. Afterwards, the world will be destroyed.
11And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. 12And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
13These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. 14These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful. 15And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
The last governmental authority will last a short time. The ten horns and the ten kings who have not yet received their kingdom are those who are in submission to the Antichrist at that time. These have one purpose: they want to support and give their support, give their power and authority to the Antichrist which seems to be able to rule and reign and take charge of everything and everybody.
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 called the chosen and faithful.
With the Antichrist, referred to in Scripture as the Beast, the False Prophet will also be part of the Apostate Church. After the Rapture of the “True Church” takes place, the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” will have been at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, in Heaven, but there will still be a False Church here on earth. Some of the pastors and the congregations will not be gone. Naturally they will think, all these people are gone and all these church building are left, so someone has to take charge.
Those who are the strongest will rise to authority and prominence and the government and the Church will join together very quickly to overcome some apparent disaster, and in order to avoid confusion and looting. Someone has to take charge so it would be easy for the government to say, “Look! Considering these things, we’re going to assume authority and we’re going to help you deal with your problems and your buildings and your financing and because all these people are gone.” It will be really easy for them to come together in agreement.
As a result, when the Church mixes with the government, ultimately the government is going to rule. For a while the Church will seem to get along fine, but ultimately the government is going to rule. For example, when the Government makes any contribution to any church, in any fashion, they want to tell you what you can teach, preach and what you can’t preach. That’s why separation of Church and State is absolutely essential. We don’t depend upon them and they don’t depend on us.
We are to be the “salt” in our society. You are not to give the government any space whatsoever. Once you do and they take over, it’s all over. They have authority and what we see developing here is just that: the Antichrist courting the Church while the Apostate Church is in existence.
God will send 144,000 to preach His Word: evangelism and mission work. People will be saved by the hundreds and thousands, but also under great persecution. Persecution by whom? By the False Church.
See, the government doesn’t have to worry about persecuting the Christians because the False Church is going to do it. The attitude will be…If you don’t believe what we do and act as we do, and worship as we demand that you do, then you must pay the penalty.
It’s going to be seven miserable years but the first three and one-half years will not be nearly as hard as the last three and one-half years. When the government gets complete control of the Church, the nations will be turned against the Church because it is a false church, a compromising church. The destruction of the false church is also a judgment from Almighty God, and at some point, the Antichrist will claim that he no longer needs her. The Antichrist will strip her of all power.
16And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. 17For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil His will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. 18And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
The Antichrist will take her wealth away, take her good, rob her treasury. Everything that belonged to the False Church will now belong to the Antichrist. The False Church will be completely devoured by the Beast when he declares himself divine and the world worships him. The Antichrist will decide in the last days that he is the only king the world needs.
He will sit in the Temple of God and claim to be divine. He will oppose anything else that is called God. That is when Israel will realize its mistake in cooperating with the Beast and recognize him as the False Christ, and the world’s war with Israel will begin.