Revelation 16-18

God’s Wrath

In Chapter 16 we read that the seven angels who had each been given a bowl filled with God’s wrath begin to pour them out on the Earth and its inhabitants. The first bowl is poured out on the people who took the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The second bowl was poured on the sea and the third one in the rivers and springs of water. In both cases the water became like blood. In the case of the sea everything died. When the fourth bowl was poured out on the sun things began to heat up and it appears people with little protection from the sun’s rays were burned. The fifth angel poured out God’s wrath on the throne of the beast and his kingdom became darkened. The word for darkened should be taken in a moral sense rather than a physical sense. The word pain here has to do with toil or labor. Tongue means speaking, and gnaw means chew. Given these, verse 10 would mean that those serving in the kingdom began to grumble more and more as things got more difficult. When the sixth angel pours out God’s wrath, the Euphrates River dries up. It is clear that the kingdom of the beast is starting to implode.

Of course the antichrist could explain all of this away with the people having an allergic reaction to the mark of the beast. For the rest he could blame climate change. Today we blame climate change for the dead zones in the ocean. Harmful algae blooms can deplete oxygen in the water and kill marine life. Fertilizer run off in the streams and rivers along with warm temperatures are ideal conditions for algae to grow.

When the seventh angel pours out God’s wrath, John hears a loud voice from the throne in the temple saying “it is done.” Following this he saw flashes of lightening,  heard peals of thunder, and felt a mighty earth quake. Even though everything is done now, the Kingdom of the Beast will continue on for a short time as we will see in the chapters that follow. However, this is a good place to stop and reflect on what has taken place for there was another who cried out “It is Finished” and He gave up His life that we might live and escape God’s wrath. As Jesus hung on the cross darkness covered the land for three hours. When he cried out those words and died there was also a great earthquake and the old order of things began to change. The nation went on for a time but was soon destroyed by Rome. As we reflect on what we have been reading in this book I hope we come away with a greater understanding of the price Jesus paid for our salvation when the wrath of God for our sin was placed on Him.

In Chapter 17 we are introduced to the great harlot. She is seen riding on a scarlet beast and dressed as royalty, adorned with wealth and prosperity. With her is a cup filled with abominations, immorality, and unclean things. She is believed to represent the false religious system and I am certain this is true but she also represents much more. I believe she is the source of every evil, ungodly, unclean belief mankind has in this world which would include power, prosperity, and pleasure to name a few. In short, she is the source of everything the antichrist believes in to rule his kingdom, and the source of everything the false prophet believes and does.

To gain a better understanding of what I mean let’s take a look at Jezebel who we read about in Chapter 2:20-23 where we see that she influences the mind and the heart of her followers. Jezebel was the daughter of the King Ethbaal who was king of Tyre and Sidon. These were prosperous commercial areas. Ethbaal wasn’t always king. He was a priest of Astarte the goddess of war and sexual love. Astarte was also identified with Asherah, Ishtar, and Ashtoreth depending on which nation worshiped her. Ethbaal the priest killed his brother, Pheles, who was the king of Tyre and Sidon in order to become king. Pheles had killed their brother, Aserymus, who was, you guessed it, the king. Ahab, King of Israel, married Jezebel and she introduced Baal and Astarte worship to Israel. She also tried to kill all the priests of God.  Jezebel had a powerful influence on her husband and led him into sin and rebellion. Soon Idol worship was established in Israel and spreading.

The daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, Athaliah, married Jehoram King of Judah. She too introduced Idol worship into Judah. When Jehoram died her son Ahaziah became King of Judah and followed the evil counsel of his mother. When Ahaziah was killed, Athaliah proceeded to kill the remaining heirs to the throne from the line of David and set herself up as queen, ruling for a short time. Fortunately, one son of Ahaziah, Joash, a baby at the time, was saved and became king at the age of seven.

I think Jezebel is a good illustration of this one who is called, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Revelation 17:5b NASB

She is the source of every belief, religious or otherwise, that goes against God and what His Word teaches. She will be judged and in Chapter 18:2 we read that Babylon the Great has fallen. In verse 3 we read that her influence has spread to every corner of the world and in everything that the world does and values.

When we get to verses 4&5, of Chapter 18, we must remember that we are reading a prophesy. These are events that are coming and serve as a warning. Verses 4&5 are saying to you and me to separate ourselves from the teaching and influence of Babylon the Great. She is going to be judged and if we are hanging out with her so will we.

If God’s people follow her ways God sees this as adultery and harlotry. This is the subject of Proverbs 5-9. In Proverbs Chapter 8 we can see that it is Jesus who is speaking. He is the Word of God John 1 tells us. It is His Words that are to influence our heart and mind. If we will choose Him and His Word we will be obeying verses 4&5.

When God’s wrath is poured out on this world as we know it, we really do not want to be found in it, or influenced by it. God does not want us to be caught in His wrath either. That is why He has given us this warning.

Pastor Dave