Revelation 15 – 18
16th June 2019
George Methodist Church
Revival starts with me
With Peter Veysie
I want to start by saying that whenever I hear the song Good good Father I am aware of the awesome role models I have in my two father’s and am so thankful for this and also for the fact that we all have a heavenly Father who really loves and cares for us so deeply.
I am also aware as a father that I have a deep responsibility to my sons Matthew Luke and Joel as well as to my wife Debbie, to be a good role model for them. It’s not always easy and we do make mistakes, however, the call is to keep going in the same direction for all of our lives – the finishing line and the Comrades.
I am also aware that the book of revelation repeatedly reminds us that there are consequences to our decisions both good and bad. The positive side is that if we choose to follow the Lord and be directed by him, then things will go well and we will find our lives being blessed. It does not mean that it will always be easy though. On the the other hand, if we choose to continue to do bad and even when we experience hardships we do not turn around, then there are also consequences which we will have to face. We have seen seven letters to the churches and seven seals and seven trumpets blowing warning us of the importance of both the threat of a world out of control and the importance of looking after the earth as well as reminding us of the challenges of war,famine,disease and deception. We need to note that these three sevens are not in chronological order but more in the form of a spiral down for a world consumed by destroying itself and up by a community who chooses to put God first.
As we read chapter 15 we see that judgment is coming to those who follow after their own desires but those who are commited to the Lord are safe and they begin to sing a worship song attributed to Moses and Jesus and it comes from Deut 32 in part.
The song of Moses
Their song is very peculiar. The song of Moses is a triumph over the power of evil by God’s judgments.
The song celebrates God and the Lamb, but by victorious sufferers who belong to heaven. His ways are celebrated.These ways in judgment were just and true. Israel would understand deliverance, and how it came; but Moses knew God’s ways. But this is all. It is not merely celebration of qualities and attributes, as the angels do, nor the full knowledge of God’s work in salvation by the blood of the Lamb. It is not the heart going up in the sense of its own relationship, but a celebration of the glory of the Lord, who would now be worshiped by the nations for His judgments were manifested. It was intelligence when judgments were manifested, not when all was yet to be learned within the veil.
In times when the crisis is high and the challenges are increasing, we are called to prayer and worship and this is exactly what we have seen in the book of Revelation, an ongoing sela between the stanzas of the book – 7 churches sela,7 seals,sela,7 trumpets,sela,7 bowls and 7 hills,sela,New Heaven and new earth sela.
We are also reminded to pray and to worship as this enables us to keep strong relationships with the Lord. As we come into the next part of the book of Revelation, it may seem as if it is all doom and gloom, however, we need to see that there is safety for those who worship the Lord and consequences for those who choose to ignore any form of spiritual connection with the Lord.
The images that John receives are not one’s to make us comfortable but rather they enable us to think a bit deeper about where we have come from, what the prophets of old have said and how we have seen both the world and the the church being confronted by these things.
Our world does not deal out fairness and we may cry with the Psalmist 13:1 and 2 – How long will it continue ?
We have stats at the moment of :
Chapter 15 is a new vision.
The consequences of thousands of years of rebellion are “bowls of wrath”, the terrible outpouring of a mercy-free cause and effect, a world without the tempering grace of the Lord God.
Standing with the angels, holding the bowls of God’s wrath, were “… those who had conquered the beast and his image and the number of his name”.
Conquering the beast would have been accomplished through the faith-enabled power of the Lord.
Conquering his image, the animated-idol which so many will worship would happen in the same way.
Conquering “… the number of his name” remains a mystery to be known in its time, but will also only happen through the faith-enabled power of the Lord.
Despite their preference for evil and rebellion every nation will submit and recognize the holy power of the Lord God.
While the “bowls of wrath” are being poured-out the Lord God becomes unapproachable in the temple, perhaps a parallel to the “furnace” of Daniel 3, which was so hot that servants who drew too-near were consumed by the heat, or Moses at the “burning bush” in Exodus 3, at which time (and later during the making of the Ten Commandments) he was warned to take care to not approach too-closely and/or to turn away.
Revelation 16 Choices have consequences.
Observe that it says “… every living creature” in the sea died. This breaks the food-cycle of the entire planet.
Whereas much of Revelation utilizes symbolism it is reasonable to take “… the angel of the waters” as a rhetorical expression to say that one angel celebrated the justice of the Egypt-like plague of turning the waters to blood.
Vs 16:6 justice and vs. 16:7 affirmation.
Here is an incredible expression of power, from a human standpoint, that the massive sun could be stimulated to expel enough energy – above and beyond the usual – to burn people on the earth. Even though it was acknowledged that the source of this plague was God, the same three prior plagues, the unrepentant people still refused to “… give Him glory but, rather, blasphemed His name.”
Sores on their bodies, no fish in the sea, no water to drink, burns, and oppressive heat, and now darkness – yet the unrepentant continue to rebel.
A huge highway is made from the river bed as it is about time for the battle of Armageddon and the armies need to gather.
God allows the demons to summon the human kings of the rebellious people.
The great prostitute is over “peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages” (see Verse 17:15). It/she is the worldly philosophy or system which teaches rebellion against God and the pursuit of sin.
“Mystery” is a term which often refers to something difficult to understand and generally involving a spiritual element. Many of the word pictures John uses are common from Revelation and elsewhere in the NT and OT. This “woman” is not the same as the “prostitute”.
Satan hates truth and all who reject Jesus are slaves to him. Those who hate truth hate those who love the truth. The world system is his tool of manipulation in the world and it desires the destruction of all believers because believers represent conviction of their blasphemous life choices.
The beast was swept from the earth “… was, and is not” but will be released to face judgment.
The unsaved will be shocked when they see that God not only took the beast away but that He may at-will bring him back for judgment.
Jesus again declares that He will return to end the days of fallen man on this earth – and no one but God knows that day – so we must be at the ready.
Not found being careless about the things required of our faith.
Armageddon means the high place of Megiddo, it is the OT location of two major victories and also where Saul and Josiah died. It is a place of massive conflict and massive losses.
The OT judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah and the last words of Jesus on the Cross are echoed “it is done” or “it is finished” as the flow of evil out from Babylon is now reversed against it.
The cities are gone, the fish are dead, the water is undrinkable, people suffer sores and sunburns, great armies have gathered at Megiddo, the land has been leveled and there are no islands to which anyone may escape.
Then the “… gigantic hailstones” fall. (The smoke and ash and dust from the burning and crumbling cities have seeded the clouds?)
But still the unrepentant people blasphemed God rather than turn to the all-powerful One and the only One who can save them.
The Lord is showing them the “sign” that they demanded in Mark 8:11-12, and as Jesus knew “in His Spirit”, would make no difference.
Some have taken this, and some text to follow, to refer to literal human kings in past history. Others take it to refer philosophies or religions. If this follows the events of Rev. 16 then either the leveling of the mountains therein was only of some, rather than all, or else the term “mountain” here is rhetorical and not literal. The beast that both is one of the seven and the eighth king is one who was a king that had fallen but has been brought back and again becomes a king.
The time-sequence of Revelation is somewhat mysterious some have speculated that John, in a non-linear time experience, is seeing the past, present and future, others suggest that he is seeing only the future (following his time), and yet others that the events are entirely from the Tribulation-forward.
It has been suggested that these are usurpers of worldly political authority in ten states or regions who are manipulated into power so that they may transfer the sovereign powers of the ten to a single one-world power.
The “Lamb” (the Son of God, member of the Trinity) has superior authority and power and will always prevail.
There is ultimately no “honor among thieves” as here they turn upon one of their own.
1.The first vial of wrath brought the utmost distress and shameful misery on all who had taken the mark of the beast.
- The second brought the power of moral death on the mass of peoples; all who were among them within the limits of the prophetic earth, died-I apprehend, gave up mere outward profession. We have here an example of the use of symbols which it is well to note. All the vials are poured out on the earth, that is, applied to the sphere of already formed relationship with God. But in this there might be a specialrelationship in which men had to do with God in this world-were inhabiters of earth, or the mass of people within that sphere.
3.The third vial was poured out on all the sources of popular influence and action; and they became positively deathful. It seems to me, that the deadly influence in alienation from God, within the sphere of prophecy, is strongly marked here. Death is used generally as the expression of the power of Satan.
4.The fourth, the supreme authority is made frightfully oppressive. This gave the first four of direct judgment according to the usual division.
5.The fifth vial strikes the throne of the beast, the seat and stability of his authority, which Satan had given him; and his kingdom became full of darkness. All was confusion and wretchedness, and no resource: they gnawed their tongues with anguish and blasphemed God.
6.The sixth angel pours out his vial on Euphrates–destroys, I apprehend, the securing boundary of the Western prophetic powers-not the seat of its power, but broke its frontier, that the way of the kings of the East might be prepared. I look at this simply as the bringing in of the powers of Asia into the conflict for the universal conflagration of powers.
The sixth vial sends forth three unclean spirits, the sum of all evil influences: that of Satan’s direct power as antagonistic of Christ; that of the power of the last empire, the beast; and that of the second beast of chapter 13 henceforth known as the false prophet, Satan’s influence as the Antichrist, an idolatrous wonder-working power; and the kings of the world were gathered together to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. The allusion is to Judges 5:19-20.
7.At the seventh vial there is a general break-up and subversion, and Babylon comes into judgment. And the hail of God, the judgment of God, came on men from heaven. (Compare Is. 32, 33) All separate independent interests and established powers disappeared. This was over the earth-God’s judgment by providence and instruments-but the Lamb was not come yet. The details of Babylon’s judgments are reserved for the following chapters.
But more details follow. There was a woman, a religious system, sitting on an imperial beast full of names of blasphemy, having the form which marked it Roman. The woman was gorgeously and imperially arrayed, had every human glory and ornament on her, and a rich cup of prostituting yet gross idolatries in her hand. “Abominations are simply idols; ” filthiness of her fornication,” all the horrible corruption that accompanies it. Her cup was full of them. She was in the desert; no springs of God were there. It was not, so to speak, God’s land, no heavenly country. To spiritual understanding she bore on her forehead her character (yet one known only when spiritually known), of the great city of corruption, source of all seduction to men and of all idolatry in the earth: such was Popery. But this was not all. All the blood of the saints was found in her: she was the persecuting murderess of those God delighted in, and who bore witness to Jesus.  The prophet was astonished-for it was what the church had come to.
The angel then describes the beast on which she rode. It had been, ceased to exist, and then it comes up again from direct diabolical sources-comes up out of the abyss. The renewed Roman Empire, which had disappeared, is blasphemous and diabolical in nature, and in this character goes to destruction: yet all but the elect on the earth will be in admiration of it when they see the beast that was, is not, and shall be present. Of itself this marks the Roman or Latin Empire, only that it will reappear more formally. But Rome is more distinctly marked. It is the city of the seven hills. Nor was this even all. It was the existing authority in the time of the prophecy: five of its governing powers had fallen; one was there; there was then one yet to come for a short space, and then the beast out of the abyss, the last diabolical state of the empire, would appear, and it would be destroyed. The last however is not a new form; it is one of the seven, though an eighth. My impression is, that the first Napoleon and his brief empire is the seventh, and we have now to wait for the development of the last. The beast, though imperial, has ten horns, ten distinct kingdoms. They have their power, and for the same period, with the beast. But they all give their power to the beast, and make war against Christ, the rejected One on earth; but He shall overcome them. For, despised as He may be, supreme authority is His, and there are others coming with Him, not merely angels but called ones, His saints.
Details are then added. The waters are explained as peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues-masses of populations in their diverse divisions. Next the ten horns, the kingdoms which are associated with the beast, and the beast (for so it is to be read) hate the whore and eat her flesh and burn her with fire (first, take all her substance and fatness, and then destroy her); for they are to give their kingdom to the blasphemous beast until God’s words are fulfilled. And then we are expressly to]d that the woman (not ” the whore “-the last is her corrupt idolatrous character-but the “woman”), who as riding the beast was to be such, is Rome. All this chapter 17 is description.
Chapter 18 announces the judgment.
Chapter 18 is a warning from heaven, not the angel of judgment of the earth. It is not consequent on events, but supposes spiritual apprehension of heaven’s mind. This is the case when it is simply a voice from heaven. This call then was a spiritual call, not a manifest judgment. It may be more urgent and direct just before judgment, and I doubt not will be: as the call is in Hebrews to come out of the camp because Jerusalem’s day was at hand. Hence I believe this applies whenever we see the system to be Babylon, and the sense of her iniquities is pressed upon the conscience.