Sunday, November 21, 2021

The Book of Revelation: The Dragon, the 7 Bowls, Babylon, the Millennial Reign, and the New Jerusalem


"The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of His Messiah have now come,
because the accuser of our brothers has been thrown out:
the one who accuses them before our God day and night.
They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony, for they did not love their lives
in the face of death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens,
and you who dwell in them! Woe to the earth and the sea, for the Devil has come down to you with great fury, because he knows he has a short time.” -Revelation 12:10-12

Revelation 12 seems to me to be the center point of the book of Revelation, the first 11 chapters have really dealt with one main theme, the scroll sealed 7 times being opened seal by seal by Jesus. But in Revelation 12 we see this mysterious depiction of war in heaven, particularly focusing on 3 elements, a woman, a child, and a dragon.

It's very mysterious and to understand it we have to first understand that Revelation 12 seems to be set up in a chiastic format. A sort of mirror effect of main point 1, main point 2, main point 3, then main point 2, and main point 1. A sort of rise and fall.

But basically, the entire chapter seems to center on the theme of Satan being cast out of heaven. We don’t have time to get too much into Revelation 12. But it’s very important, really the center piece of the entire book of Revelation. And this great controversy in the universe centers on one creature, the serpent, the dragon, Satan. And his crazed rebellion.

So next in chapter 13 we see the anti-christ, this mockery that Satan has developed to be an opposite to Jesus. Very strange and mysterious. It says,

Revelation 13:1-4 "And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. He had 10 horns and seven heads. On his horns were 10 diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. 2 The beast I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like a bear’s, and his mouth was like a lion’s mouth. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. 3 One of his heads appeared to be fatally wounded, but his fatal wound was healed. The whole earth was amazed and followed the beast. 4 They worshiped the dragon because he gave authority to the beast. And they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to wage war against him?”

The Mark of the beast is dealt with at the end of Rev 13. It says,

Revelation 13:15-18 “15 He was permitted to give a spirit to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast could both speak and cause whoever would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 And he requires everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beast’s name or the number of his name."

Buying or selling is restricted by the world government existing at this future date in history. But it seems to be a world-wide religion in which this mysterious "beast" is worshiped by almost all people. But somehow this "mark" gives the beast control of people, where they are no longer eligible for salvation if they take the mark. So it's a choice to do it or not to do it. But they pressure you by eventually saying, you can't even buy or sell anything unless you take it. That's a lot of pressure. No buying? No food. No nothing. 

Then it says in verse 18: "Here is wisdom: The one who has understanding must calculate the number of the beast, because it is the number of a man. His number is 666.”

I'm not going to speculate on 666. But it's certainly something worth exploring. But it's important to remember. This won't seem like the nightmare that it is.
It’s going to seem great. It’s going to seem like utopia, like a paradise. But it’s all a deception.

Revelation 14:1-3 “Then I looked, and there on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with Him were 144,000 who had His name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of cascading waters and like the rumbling of loud thunder. The sound I heard was also like harpists playing on their harps. 3 They sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders, but no one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.”



Immediately in the next chapter, we see the 144,000 before the throne of God. I must assume this means they gave their lives for Jesus in the tribulation, they refused to take the mark, and were eventually martyred for it. In fact Revelation specifically says "beheaded." 

Then we're giving a warning in Revelation 14:10-12, “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is mixed full strength in the cup of His anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb, 11 and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or anyone who receives the mark of his name. 12 This demands the perseverance of the saints, who keep God’s commands and their faith in Jesus.”

Then we see the final 7 bowls of God’s judgment on the Earth. It says, Revelation 15:1, "Then I saw another great and awe-inspiring sign in heaven: seven angels with the seven last plagues, for with them, God’s wrath will be completed."

These final plagues bear similarities to the plagues against Egypt done through Moses by God. They are... 

The First Bowl
– severely painful sores on people

The Second Bowl – the seas turn to blood, all life in the seas dies

The Third Bowl- rivers and springs become blood

The Fourth Bowl- the sun begins to burn people with intense heat

The Fifth Bowl – the anti-christ’s kingdom is plunged into darkness

The Sixth Bowl- the river Euphrates dries up to prepare the way for the anti-christ’s armies, gathering all the nations together as one, to attack God and his people, in a place called Armagedon.

The Seventh Bowl- an unthinkable terrible worldwide earthquake takes place and the “great city” is split into 3 parts, Babylon is judged. Hailstones fall, 100lbs in weight.

After this in Revelation 18 we see the fall of Babylon.

Revelation 18:1-3 “After this I saw another angel with great authority coming down from heaven, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2 He cried in a mighty voice:

It has fallen,
Babylon the Great has fallen!
She has become a dwelling for demons,
a haunt for every unclean spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
and a haunt for every unclean and despicable beast.
3 For all the nations have drunk
the wine of her sexual immorality,
which brings wrath.
The kings of the earth
have committed sexual immorality with her,
and the merchants of the earth
have grown wealthy from her excessive luxury.”

What is Babylon? Many have speculated about this. Revelation tells us that Babylon is a city that exists on seven hills.  But this also references seven leaders. Many great cities throughout history have existed on seven hills, such as Washington D.C., Jerusalem, Mecca, Tehran, Athens, Bucharest, Istanbul, Smolensk, and Brisbane, just to name a few. 
Mysterious city in Kazakhstan

Mysterious city in Kazakhstan, image 2

We see that Babylon is described as existing on "many waters." This has led some to speculate the USA, because it's surrounded by oceans. Hard to say for certain. 

Babylon is also described as being an exporter of evil. It says in Revelation that the entire world drank of her passionate adulteries, and had received all sorts of shipping products from it of fine wines and clothes, spices, and such. 

In Revelation 19 you see celebration in heaven about all these things, and at last Jesus leads his saints for his return, to totally defeat the anti-christ at Armageddon.

It says about Jesus in Rev 19, “11 Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and He judges and makes war in righteousness. 12 His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on His head. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. 13 He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is the Word of God. 14 The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. 15 A sharp sword came from His mouth, so that He might strike the nations with it. He will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. 16 And He has a name written on His robe and on His thigh:

KING OF KINGS
AND LORD OF LORDS.”

Jesus leaders the armies of God, and defeats the anti-christ and his followers.

At the beginning of Revelation 20 we see something theologians call the “millennial reign of Christ.” It says this in Rev 20, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years. 3 He threw him into the abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the nations until the 1,000 years were completed. After that, he must be released for a short time.”

4 Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God’s word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.

Satanic Rebellion Crushed

7 When the 1,000 years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 They came up over the surface of the earth and surrounded the encampment of the saints, the beloved city. Then fire came down from heaven and consumed them. 10 The Devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

After this, is the great white throne judgment, where all peoples are judged before God. And finally, in Revelation 21 we see the new heavens and the new Earth, and the New City of God, the New Jerusalem, where we will live forever.

And I’m going to read Revelation 21 for you entirely, it’s one of my favorite chapters in the whole Bible. It says, “21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed. 2 I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:

Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity,
and He will live with them.
They will be His people,
and God Himself will be with them
and be their God.
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Death will no longer exist;
grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer,
because the previous things have passed away.

5 Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life. 7 The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. 8 But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars—their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
The New Jerusalem

9 Then one of the seven angels, who had held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me: “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 arrayed with God’s glory. Her radiance was like a very precious stone, like a jasper stone, bright as crystal. 12 The city had a massive high wall, with 12 gates. Twelve angels were at the gates; the names of the 12 tribes of Israel’s sons were inscribed on the gates. 13 There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. 14 The city wall had 12 foundations, and the 12 names of the Lamb’s 12 apostles were on the foundations.

15 The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city is laid out in a square; its length and width are the same. He measured the city with the rod at 12,000 stadia. Its length, width, and height are equal. 17 Then he measured its wall, 144 cubits according to human measurement, which the angel used. 18 The building material of its wall was jasper, and the city was pure gold like clear glass.

19 The foundations of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone:

the first foundation jasper,
the second sapphire,
the third chalcedony,
the fourth emerald,
20 the fifth sardonyx,
the sixth carnelian,
the seventh chrysolite,
the eighth beryl,
the ninth topaz,
the tenth chrysoprase,
the eleventh jacinth,
the twelfth amethyst.

21 The 12 gates are 12 pearls; each individual gate was made of a single pearl. The broad street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

22 I did not see a sanctuary in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its sanctuary. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because God’s glory illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 Each day its gates will never close because it will never be night there. 26 They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. 27 Nothing profane will ever enter it: no one who does what is vile or false, but only those written in the Lamb’s book of life.”


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