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Revelation 16-17

October 17th, 2010 by Vic

“Look out for frogs”

Revelation 16-17

The earth is about to receive God’s wrath.  At the same time a great choir of believers is standing on the sea of glass praising God before the throne.  These are ones who would not bow down to worship the beast.

In chapter 12 the dragon appeared, followed by the beast (13:1), the false prophet (13:11), and Babylon (14:6).  Their destruction will be explained in reverse order beginning in 16:17 (Babylon, the false prophet, the beast, and 20:10 the dragon).

There are similarities and differences between the seals, the trumpets and bowls.  The first have a partial effect, the bowls universal.  All are modeled on the exodus plagues.  It seems to me the first six seals and trumpets and the first five bowls cover the church age between Christ’s ascension and his 2nd coming, while the last seal and trumpet and the last 2 bowls describe the last judgment.  All judgments climax in the great last judgment of the 7th bowl.  The number 7 is figurative and refers to the completeness and severity of God’s judgment.  Judgment originates in heaven.

16:1  At this final moment, God speaks.  The great voice is for us to know that God is in control.  Bitter medicine is about to be given to cure the world of sin.  There is no more restraint of mercy.

Just as the priest would pour out the sacrificial blood at the base of the altar and sprinkle the blood 7 times in front of the sanctuary to verify God’s cleansing of the tabernacle, so the pouring out of the 7 bowls cleanses the earth from defilement.  Spring-cleaning is a plan used by God.

16:2  The mark of the beast really was pleasure for the moment, but pain for eternity.  The mark is like a silicon implant, a stomach staple, or a tattoo gone bad.  It seemed good at the time.  The mark that was prized so highly turns into a deadly magnet attracting God’s wrath.  The punishment matches the crime.  Figuratively if you received a mark of the beast on your flesh, you will then receive a punishment like a sore on your flesh.  If satan’s mark is his offer of security in worldly things then the punishment will be suffering the torment of uncertainty and no security.

16:3‑4  The second and third angels turn the sea and fresh waters to rotting or clotted blood.  This is like the blood of a dead person.  The sea becomes dead.  The beauty of nature is destroyed.  Without water you can’t make coffee or beer and Portland will cry.

Our blood is part of our body’s life support system.  Water is nature’s life support system.  Satan’s economic life support system for the world has clotted.  The economy has crashed.

16:5‑7  But these plagues are so very appropriate.  God shows Himself righteous and holy by executing justice throughout history in a way that the punishment fits the crime.

Blood is mentioned twice in 16:6 to express degrees of suffering.  Because they have caused God’s children to suffer, they will suffer.  They will fight among themselves and shed one another’s blood.  As God’s children are worthy to receive blessing, the wicked are worthy of punishment.  They have poured out the blood of the saints and will have their own blood poured out.

16:8‑9 The 4th bowl affects another life support system.  The very things that seem to give you life can be the source of death.  The very things that give you seeming popularity or prosperity can also be a curse.  Fire is a figurative woe confirming spiritual judgment.

In spite of these unusual natural events, men still blaspheme God.  They know that God has sent these plagues, but they don’t think they deserve this.  They get angry with the One who can save them.  They refuse to give God glory by repenting.  And even worse, they blaspheme God.  They lie about God’s character.  Like the 6th trumpet, there is no repentance.

If you are unmoved by God’s goodness, you won’t change even in Hell.

16:10‑11  The 5th bowl affects the beast’s ability to rule.  The plague of darkness in Egypt (Ex 10:22) was a direct challenge to the sun god Ra, of whom Pharaoh claimed to be an incarnation.  Spiritual darkness brings fear and horror.  God can use severe economic dark days to make the wicked suffer.  Those living in active rebellion against God are living in self-chosen darkness.

Darkness is where the beast is ruling.  The world’s materialistic, inhuman, selfish system is plunged into spiritual darkness and disruption.  Satan’s power is revealed as chaos.

They still refuse to repent.  They assume God is out of control and science will fix it.  They blame God for their problems.  They have a nonrepentant attitude, which results in a great tribulation.

16:12  The sixth angel dries up the water that the beast depends on for protection.  Science won’t find a cure for the false life that satan offers.  God will clean up the decaying world.  The world’s false immune system is removed.  The Persians conquered Babylon by diverting the waters of the Euphrates around the city.

Just as 10 righteous people could have saved Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction, so today the Christian is the salt of the world.  He is the protection from the wrath of God.  But at this point in Revelation, John sees the Christian in the presence of God so the world is unprotected from God’s wrath.  Drying up the waters may symbolize the wicked of the world becoming disloyal to Babylon.

16:13‑16  The deceptive trinity spits out frogs.  They appear harmless, but nevertheless deceive, devour, and corrupt.  Filthy, deceptive, loud languages like a frog.  They may say that all these plagues are God’s struggle for control.  They may convince the people that God is on the run.  They will say God is having trouble keeping things under control.  There may be many signs and wonders to deceive many.  Brain implants may allow the dumb to talk.

Christians are encouraged to stay alert.  Don’t go to bed without your pj’s.  If Christians are still on the earth when these bowls of wrath are poured out, then God will protect them as he did the children of Israel during the plagues in Egypt.  Be ready.  Your redemption is drawing near.  Watch and pray.  Don’t let satanic powers deceive you.  The thief metaphor conveys the unexpected and sudden nature of Christ’s coming.

Jesus told us what the signs of the end times will be.  He expected us to be ready.

The evil spirits will convince all the kings of the world to cooperate with them in a war against God, the Almighty.  They assemble at Armageddon.  The nations are deceived into thinking that they are gathering to kill the saints, but they are gathered together ultimately by God in order to meet their own judgment at the hands of Jesus.

16:17  The 7 seals, trumpets, and bowls are finished.  Air freshener, disinfectant, or bug spray is sprayed to clean the air.  The voice speaks again from the empty sanctuary.

16:18‑21  There is more detail about the fall of Babylon and other events of these final moments, in the next 2 chapters.  The global economy will be fractured.

The great city (19) represents man in organized community against God.  The great city is the ungodly world system.  The great city includes post Christian Oregon that knows about God but refuses to hear God’s call to repent.  The entire world’s social order will fall.

The end has come.  The wrath of God has failed to reduce them to submission.  They insult God, blaspheme, and do not repent.  100 pound hailstones (21) will fall to help level the earth.  The earth and life as we know it will come to an end.

An angel comes to John in 17 and says, “Let me show you another picture of what the fall of the Satanic world power, the false church will be like.”  Then again in chapter 18 another angel comes and compares the false church to a city called Babylon and shows John another video of how judgment will come.  Chapters 17-19 review the 6th and 7th bowls.

17:1-2   It is fitting that one of the bowl angels is explaining the meaning of the bowl judgments.  The Bible calls this false church or humanistic system a great city and a harlot.  An adulterer is one who sins for egotistical pleasure, but a harlot is one who leaves her first love for financial gain.  She represents the world’s economic system.  The true church is a faithful bride.  Babylon is a harlot.  All sin is primarily a sin against love.

Many were seduced and became drunk with the wine of her ways.  If you trust anything (insurance or bank) or anyone (President Obama) for security rather than God, you are under God’s curse.

17:3   John is in the Spirit; his message is from God.  He is taken to the wilderness to get a better perspective on the attractive sin of the harlot.  Evil in the world is increasing.  Do you have eyes to see?  Do we need to spend 69 days in a mine to get our lives in focus?

The woman represents those things of the world that ride on the back of the state.  She works together with the state like a social worker, an extension agent, a welfare advocate, ODOT?

The beast is covered with blasphemous names similar to 13:1.  Every attribute of God he could think of, he took for himself.  He made many false claims.  The heads and horns represent fullness of power.  The color red identifies him with the dragon.

17:4   The description of the woman suggests that she represents worldly economic forces in collusion with the state.  She is clothed with her trading goods.  She is outwardly attractive.

The harlot wears the royal colors of purple and scarlet.  These colors are common uniform colors in some churches and in academic ceremonies.  She has a gold cup in her hand.  It looks like an attractive drink.  Usually the quality of the container suggests the quality of the contents, but this beautiful gold cup is deceptive.  It contains the poison of false teachings.  She had outward beauty, but a wicked heart.  She makes filth look attractive.  She makes moral corruption so common that no one sees it.  This system or woman is set in contrast to the mother in chapter 12 and the bride in chapter 21.

17:5 suggests she has many daughters.  She is the unholy antithesis to the bride of the Lamb.

The word mystery does not mean that you can’t understand God’s judgment, but the way you will be judged and the timing of the judgment will be unexpected or ironic in the ways it unfolds.  The kingdom of evil will be destroyed when it turns on itself and self-destructs.

17:6  She claims to be godly, but participates in killing the saints.  That is why John was amazed.  How could something that looked so good be so bad?  But in the wilderness he could understand.  The mother harlot is drunk with blood and craves for violence.  Throughout history some of the most godly people have been rejected by the organized church.

17:7   John is rebuked for his attitude.  “Why have you marveled?”  John should not admire her, neither should he fear.  The angel explains that the beast is directing the harlot.  The inhabitants of the earth don’t see the true nature of the whore.  God gives the ability to see through the façade.

17:8   This description parodies Christ’s death and resurrection.  Christ’s coming consists of victory, judgment of His opponents, and his reign.  Satan’s coming results in his defeat and punishment.

Jesus defeated Satan on the cross and resurrection.  But satan appears to recover from this defeat.  There is still evil in the world.  It seems like the world has been unaffected by Christ’s victory.  The beast may temporarily appear to defeat the entire church community, but his victory will be short-lived.  He will go to destruction and Jesus will come to reign.

Sometimes satan will be more influential than at other times.  Evil may seem to be disappearing, but it will raise its ugly head again soon.  Only Christians can understand the 3-stage history of the beast.  The ‘was’ is past and the ‘is not’ refers to his defeat by Christ on Calvary.  For Christians, Satan is a toothless tiger.  Yet before the final judgment, he will appear to recover from the defeat that Christ activated on the cross.

17:9   Those not deceived will understand and know the Scripture (2P1:10).

The 7 heads or 7 mountains are used by the beast.  They symbolically would be the kingdoms of the world or world governments throughout the ages.  The heads and hills are symbolic of all satanic powers, blasphemy, and evil.  In John’s time the contemporary embodiment of the beast was Rome.

17:10   If 7 is the fullness of power, then 5 heads would represent a significant reduction of that power.  This apparent ceasing and re-emergence of evil is a cycle occurring throughout history.

17:11   John is not identifying a literal number of emperors, but the fullness of evil.  The 7 kings in this verse give way to the 8th, which is the whole beast.  The pattern 7 – 8 – 1 is common in Jewish literature.  The eighth day was the day of resurrection also the first day of a new week.  The feast of tabernacles was celebrated 7 days plus 1.  The 7th seal becomes the first trumpet.  The 7th trumpet becomes the first bowl.  The beast coming out of the sea may look like something new, but he is really the same as the 7 headed beast in Daniel and also here.

17:12   The 10 horns may be rich wicked men who will buy kingdoms and join forces with the beast when the harlot looses power.  These are the kings of the earth who do not worship God.  They are used by satan and the beast.  The future reign of evil kings with the beast will last 1 hour.  This was the shortest period of time known to the ancients.

17:13   They reign with the beast and submit to his authority.  They are united against the Lamb.

17:14   The beast is a toothless tiger.  The beast’s confederation of evil will be defeated.  God’s kingdom has come and will come.  Before they are defeated they have to destroy the great city or the world’s economy.  And the mystery is that they self-destruct.

17:15   The angel now interprets the waters as people under Babylon’s influence.  The waters of Babylon helped Babylon prosper economically and provided security against attack.  The waters represent the basis for Babylon’s economic trade and security.

17:16   The harlot’s supporters will hate her.  Those who made her great will destroy her.  Wicked men have a mutual hatred that will cause a mutual destruction.  They are not aware that they are accomplishing the will of God by punishing evil.  They carry out God’s purpose without knowing it.  The political side of the ungodly world system will turn against the social-economic-religious side and destroy it.  The disenchantment with Babylon is a prelude to her judgment.  Those who turn against Babylon here in 17 will mourn over her destruction in chapter 18.

There are connections between the OT Jezebel, the Babylon harlot, and the church at Thyatira.  John is warning the church about compromise with the system of this world.

17:17   God will inspire the beast, his allies, and this world system to self-destruct.  God’s will is done through both the righteous and the unrighteous.  Mark 3:26 says satan will rise up against himself and be divided so that he cannot stand but will have an end.

17:18   The angel tells us in the last verse that this harlot woman can also be compared to a great city or a one-world government, the archetype of every evil system.  She includes the entire evil economic-religious system of the world throughout history.

Revelation 17 reveals the ironic or unexpected manner in which Daniel 7 will be fulfilled.  Babylon’s allies will destroy her.  The world will self-destruct.  This woman who leaves her first love for financial gain will be destroyed.  Riches will destroy those who trust in riches.

In chapter 18 we are told to come out of Babylon.  Don’t be sucked into the world’s emphasis on money and things.  The very thing that makes you prosper in this world could kill you in eternity.

The message today is, “Look out for frogs.”   We are aware of the laws of God.  We know the goodness of God.  We know the love of God.  We know that the other person’s sin deserves to be punished, but our sin is not so bad.  We know there is a God, but what do we do about it?  Read God’s Word so you can recognize the frogs of deceit.

The methods that make the kingdom of America strong—economic, military, technological, informational—are not suited to making the kingdom of God strong.  God’s kingdom requires truth-telling and love-making, prayer and parable.  The armor of God and the fruit of the Spirit make God’s kingdom strong against frogs.

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