Posts by rickbarbareblog

I am a retired Clergyman and a retired College instructor. I live in Trenton, SC in Edgefield County.

Revelation 19: The Great “Supper of God”

Revelation 19:17-21

The Great Supper of God, follows the Coming of the Divine Warrior to deal with all rebellion against Him and persecution of His people. These folks destroyed are hardcore opponents of God and His people.

I agree with one pastor who said, “It is the most unnecessary thing in the world that a soul should go to hell.” Jesus says hell was never intended for people. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41 ESV.) God reveals His existence in nature, so none can claim they weren’t told about the existence of God—Romans 1:18-20.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,g in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Matthew 23:37-39 underscores Jesus’ willingness to receive those who respond to His message, the Gospel—

37 “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

Many bring up the question, why not give the lost a second chance after they die? Wouldn’t they want to leave hell and go to heaven?


People in Hell would not chose to leave and go to Heaven

[In The Great Divorce] “C. S. Lewis presents [the fictional] concept about the damned having a [vacation], some kind of rest for a moment of time. A bus from heaven comes down to hell and picks up passengers who want on to go and check out heaven to see if they want in or not. As we see, going into the larger space of heaven, when they go on, it is a scary place and much bigger than they expected. They feel naked and very, very insubstantial.”

In the end the “vacationers” board the bus to return to hell. “You will discover in the book, and here is the bottom line, that virtually all of them decide to head back to hell because they really do not like what they see. They are not even in heaven, they are only on the outskirts and the sun has not yet risen. Nowhere in hell is the sun fully dark. It is a twilight.”

Lewis concludes, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.” (See Boa, below)

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (II Corinthians 6:2 ESV)


The theme of Revelation 19:17-21 is
The Judgment of God will come at last upon those who have actively rebelled against God’s laws and ways and who have persecuted His people.

I. The end time battle includes the destruction of all classes of rebellious and unrepentant combatants on the earth. vss. 17-18

vs. 17-18 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” 

[Prior to the pouring out of the wrath of God in the seven bowls, Christ removes His people to heaven (Rev. 14:1 144,000 symbol of the full complement of God’s people safe and secure).]

The imagery of Revelation 19:17-21 is drawn from Ezekiel 39:17-20—

17 “As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord God: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field: ‘Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast on the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. 18 You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth—of rams, of lambs, and of he-goats, of bulls, all of them fat beasts of Bashan. 19 And you shall eat fat till you are filled, and drink blood till you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you. 20 And you shall be filled at my table with horses and charioteers, with mighty men and all kinds of warriors,’ declares the Lord God. (Illustration left: Siege of Tyre 333 B.C. by Andre Castaigne (1898-1899) Public Domain

Armageddon is a macabre scene indeed for opponents of Christ and His people! “This is not…the “supper” of verse 9, but rather a contrast to it; it is that supper which is reserved for the ungodly, at which they form the prey.”  (see Plummer, below.)

As Christians we live between two suppers.

The first supper is the Last Supper of the Lord John 13 (by Giotto c.1304 – c.1306 public domain)

The Second is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (photo of a treasured wedding present that has hung in our different dinning rooms over the years).

Armageddon stands in marked contrast to the marriage feast of the Lamb mentioned earlier. The birds summoned to the supper are the orneon—”the vultures,” carrion birds of prey.

When I was a boy, I heard my Appalachian forebears talking of something smelling like “kyarn” (click on word for audio pronunciation if you’ve never heard it before). It is an eliding of letters from “carrion.” It is a “de-comp” “road-kill” odor (to be polite) [see “The Blind Pig and the Acorn” Blog, below]. Can you imagine the stench of this carrion battlefield when the birds are drawn in to clean it up.

“Supper” is the same word as “feast”—deipnon (a formal banquet). Instead of a banquet spread for people, the people are spread for the vultures. “This is a bold and powerful picture of the battlefield after the victory of the Messiah, ‘a sacrificial feast spread on God’s table for all the vultures of the sky.’ The evil spirits, watching over fallen Rome like night-birds or harpies that wait for their prey, build their aeries [nesting places] in the broken towers which rise from the ashes of the city” (see H. B. Swete below). This was true long ago of Babylon; Nineveh, and Tyre; it was true of Rome, and will be true in the future city of the end-time Babylon.

This is John’s description of the effects of Armageddon (further described in Revelation 20). Remember, last time I pointed out that in Revelation 12-21 John introduces God’s people and their reward; and then He introduces the evil figures in one order, and then records their destruction in reverse order. I post the chart below as an aid to memory. The literary structure gives us the flow of visions, but does not necessarily give us the indication of chronological fulfillment. The first century Church would have viewed these visions as true of Rome. Each generation has its own “Babylon,” controlled by Satan and dominating people for selfish gain; for example: Examples in the past include: Napoleon’s empire; the Ottoman empire; the Prussian empire; Kaiser Willem’s attempt at empire during WWI; Hitler’s and Mussolini’s imperial aspirations during WWII; Stalin’s imperial pretensions during the “cold war,” etc.

II. The end time battle includes the destruction of Antichrist. vs. 19

vs. 19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 

This is the latest incarnation of “Antichrist” and his coalition arrayed against Christ at the battle of Armageddon. I say latest because different anti-Christian figures have been put into place over the ages. The same spirit that animates Antichrist in the end inhabits the different anti-Christian figures throughout time.

III. The end time battle includes the destruction of the False Prophet—false religion with its perverse culture. vs. 20

vs. 20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 

Here we have the beast from the sea of chapter 13 further identified. The first is antichrist and the second beast is called “the false prophet.” The False Prophet is heretical religion and culture that aids antichrist in his dominion. They are both seized—piazō.” The word “deluded” is planaō from which we derive the English word “planet” (wandering heavenly bodies in the sky)“to cause to wander from something (the truth)—which means to “deceive. The lake of fire” is a reference to hell—gehenna. Literally, it means “Land of Hinnom”—a reference to the “garbage dump” of Jerusalem where fires burned dead carcasses and garbage constantly. So, Hell is the garbage dump of lost angels and humanity. It lies outside the dimension of our Cosmos. (And does not lie at the center of the earth.)

Ancient topography of First Century Jerusalem. (https://www.israel-a-history-of.com/jerusalem-history.html)

IV. The end time battle includes the destruction of all non-combatants who formed Antichrist’s support services. vs. 21

vs. 21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

Some might think, “I’m not rich, and I am not in a high position. I am not a soldier in the army arrayed against God an His people. This won’t apply to me.” After the leaders are cleared from the battlefield in verses 17-18, “all the rest” are destroyed in verse 21. Many do not take an active role in fighting, but they are a part of Antichrist’s support system  behind the scenes.


In Nazi Germany, the Gestapo numbered 16,000 and the population numbered 66 million. You may ask how could 10,000 policeman control the entire country. (see McDonough, below.)  They did it by using informants and fear of being caught imprisoned and tortured.

How about the Holocaust? The SS did the killing, but civilians also were complicit. See the short film clip (1 min. 6 secs.) below for the range of civilians it took to operate the killing machine. (Of course, I am not disparaging the German people today.) 


Christ does not need to use force against His foes (unlike Antichrist). He merely speaks the Word and his enemies are destroyed. “The contrast between the assembling of the beast’s might with his kings and their soldiers and the ease with which he is overthrown and captured highlight the beast’s powerlessness before his mighty Conqueror.” (see Johnson, A. F., below) Although the force is arrayed, no real battle is fought as we conceive of battles. Christ slays them with the words from his mouth just like he created the world with His spoken word (Genesis 1).

Next time we will begin Chapter 20.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Blind Pig and Acorn. (2014). “Something Smells Bad.” Blog. Accessed 24 April 2021 at https://blindpigandtheacorn.com/something-smells-bad/

Boa, K. (2021). The Great Doivorce. A book review. Accessed 30 April 2021 from https://bible.org/article/great-divorce

Collaboration. (n.d.). “German collaboration and complicity.” Accessed 1 May 2021 from https://www.theholocaustexplained.org/resistance-responses-collaboration/german-collaboration-and-complicity/informants/

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

McDonough, F. (2015). “Careless whispers: how the German public used and abused the Gestapo.” Accessed 1 May 2021 from https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/careless-whispers-how-the-german-public-used-and-abused-the-gestapo-1.2369837

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Plummer, A. (1909). Exposition of Revelation in the Pulpit Commentary series (New York: NY: Funk and Wagnells Co.

Swete, H. B. (1917). The Apocalypse of St. John: the Greek Text with Introduction, Notes and Indices. (London, UK: MacMillian & Co. Ltd.

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 19 The Second Coming of Christ!

Revelation 19:11-16

Image from WikiMedia Commons; “The Rider on White Horse” early 14th century; British Library digital collections. Public Domain.

We often assume events and persons are given in chronological order, but John often presents events and persons in a literary order, not in chronological order (see Poythress, below). 

Chart on Chiasms in 12-21

“The most transparent use of the divine-warrior motif in the book of Revelation is 19:11–21.” (see Longman and Reed, p. 146, below.)

The theme of Revelation 19:11-16 is
Jesus Christ, The Divine Warrior, will bring justice for His people and punishment to His enemies in the end!

I. The Divine Warrior (Jesus Christ) will enforce His victory, which was already won on Calvary, at the end.

vs. 11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.

The victorious conqueror rode into his city seated on a white horse in Bible times. This image was used once before in Rev. 6:1. There it was symbolic of conquest that leads to war. The rider had a victor’s crown (Greek is stephanos) on his head. (image left is a stephanos a few branches of laurel bush intertwined and given to the winner of an athletic contest.) Laurus nobilis is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is used as bay leaf for seasoning in cooking. (See Wikipedia under laurel wreath.)

The figure on a white horse in Rev. 19 is Christ. He wears a diadem (in Greek diadēma)—the crown of a King. It could be made of linen like a band around the forehead. (Image right is by Wolfgang Sauber; Diadem. Gold. Greek, probably made in Alexandria, Egypt, 220 – 100 B.C.)

Christ is described as “faithful and true.” “True” is alēthinos (-inos ending means “made up of
something). It means that which is genuine in contrast to that which is false, e.g. Rome and its made-up narrative. The verbs “judges” and “makes war” are present tense stressing the fact that this is Christ’s permanent character. Most men and nations allow passion to flare out against someone. This leads to war and vengeance. Christ is not like this. He wars from a steeled disposition of justice. The image of the warrior messiah is taken from Psalms 45:3-5—

3 Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one, in your splendor and majesty! 4 In your majesty ride out victoriously
for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; let your right hand teach you awesome deeds! 5 Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies; the peoples fall under you.

Dante’s words over the entrance to hell.

III. The Divine Warrior will not permit evil empires and persons to escape.

vs. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 

The first image connects this with the vision in chapter 1:14. Christ’s view of things is all-searching.

The reference to a “name that no one knows” means that Christ cannot be fully grasped by finite beings. There will always be mystery when it comes to God. We know him only through revelation. Often in surrounding cultures, secret names of idols were used to get favor or fortune. If a person knew that secret name, they could use it to get what they wanted. This is often called “name magic.” In the ancient world, a god’s name was a means for manipulating him/her. Knowledge of the god’s name meant shared power. The fact that he will share that name with his people means that his people will share his rule.

vs. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God

This imagery is drawn from Isaiah 63:1-3—

Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.” 2 Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the wine press? 3 “I have trodden the wine press alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel.

There are two possibilities for the source of the blood stains on Christ’s clothing: (1) the blood of his enemies; (2) his own blood. It seems best to see the source of the blood coming from his enemies. The fluidity of apocalyptic allows for blood from battle on garments before the battle has been commenced. He is further described as the Word of God. The Greek word is logos—”God in action, in creation, in revelation, and in the redemption of his people” (see Bruce, below). This word ties the Revelation to the other Johanine writings. It most certainly validates the fact that Revelation is the product of the Apostle John as tradition holds.

Dante’s etching of defeated cast into hell.

vs. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 

A favorite name for the Lord in the Old Testament is Yahweh Sebaoth—Lord of Armies. Several suggestions have been made as to who makes up the army—(1) a human army; (2) an army of angels; (3) the stars and heavenly bodies; (4) the sum total of all created beings. Gerhardus Vos, suggests that the army is made up of angels (see Vos, pg. 243,  below). The fact that the army rides horses like Christ and they wear what he wears has lead many to conclude that the army is made up of redeemed humans, rather than angels. In any case, the riders of the other horses share in Christ’s victory. It does not matter whether they are angels or humans. They do not fight the battle. Christ alone does this.

Barbarian Swords were long; Roman sword was short for close combat.- circa 1754: Charles Martel (1688-1741) ‘The Hammer’ using a battle axe while repulsing the Moors at the Battle of Tours, near Poitiers, 732. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

vs. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the wine-press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 

The sword out of Christ’s mouth is the rhomphaia—the large broad sword of the foreign hordes which surrounded the Roman empire. Just as the Lord created the world with his powerful word, he also destroys his enemies with that same powerful word. John quotes Psalm 2:9—”You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

The word “rule” is poimainō—“to shepherd.” The reference to treading the wine press is an allusion again to Isaiah 63:1-3 (see the quotation above). His name indicates that he is Absolute King of everything in this universe.

The Rider on a White Horse (early_14th_Cent.)

IV. The Divine Warrior will enforce His rule over all His enemies.

vs. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

The name on the thigh is significant since this was the usual spot to carry one’s sword (Exodus 32:27) and to place one’s hand when swearing an oath (Genesis 24:2-3; 24:9; Genesis 47:29). (see Beale, p. 414, below.)

“King of kings and Lord of lords” is a title that indicates One who is over every other royal person on earth or in hell.

Next time we will proceed to the Feast of Vultures feeding on the corpses from Armageddon.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Bruce, F. F. (1983). The Gospel and the Epistles of John. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub. Co.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Longman,T; and  Reid, D. G. (1995). God Is a Warrior (Studies in Old Testament Biblical Theology Series). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Poythress, V. (2000). The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

Vos, G. (1934). Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments. Philadelphia, PA: Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church.

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

 

Revelation 19—Invitation to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb

Revelation 19:6-10

Image above accessed 15 April 2021 at https://www.slideshare.net/newlifebiblechapel/wedding-of-the-lamb-3108966

I pointed out in the last post that Revelation 19:1-5 seems more like a closing of Chapter 18 than a beginning of chapter 18. However, the relationships of events within the chapter are compelling for it also to be a part of chapter 19.

Note with me the destruction of the scarlet prostitute (vss. 1-5) contrasts with the Second Coming of Christ (vss. 11-16 as the red indicates on the chart below). And the Invitation to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb (vvs. 6-10) contrasts with the Carrion feast of the birds who feed on the bodies of those killed at the the Battle of Armageddon (vss. 17-21) as the blue indicates on the chart below.

In this post I want to deal with the Invitation to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.

First Century believers would be encouraged by this invitation. They were left out of many regal events in Rome’s social life. They will hereafter share in the feast since believers form the Bride of Christ, the Bridegroom. They would see how they would be at the very heart of the celebration with Christ! Alienated no more in heaven, they will rejoice now in their worship over their being with Christ in glory after this life.

The theme of these verses is—

We are betrothed to Christ, and we must continue faithful to Him until He comes for us.

I. The Bridegroom will return for His Bride though the waiting should now seem long.

vs. 6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.”

The verb ” reign” is in the past tense in the Greek—For the Lord God Almighty reigned. This is a specialized use of the past tense in Greek—the ingressive = “begun to reign.” We should translate this phrase: “For the Lord God
Almighty has begun to reign.” Christ returns to earth to drive all enemy combatants from the field of battle. The Greek for “Almighty ” (pantakrator) the one who has unrestricted power exercising absolute dominion. It is the Old Testament Greek Translation (the Septuagint = LXX) equivalent of the Hebrew Lord of Armies (Yahweh Sebaoth). (see Biblehub, below.)

Image above left is by Jan Henryk Rosen, Christ Pantocrator, Washington, DC; it is in the ceiling of the apse. “Christ is watching over His own.” (image from Wikipedia.)

The Hagia Sophia has been turned into a mosque again recently. In Byzantine era, it was the largest Church in Christendom. It fell to the Muslim invasion in 1453 and was made into a mosque. Under the reign of Sultan Suleiman I, the Christian mosaics and frescoes were plastered over. The same happened in Greek Orthodox Churches after Turkish invasion of all of Greece. When the country was liberated in the 20th Century, the plaster was removed and Christ Pantokrator was still there. He had been watching over His own even though no one could see His image under the plaster. 

Jesus Christ, as Pantakrator, has always reigned earth from Heaven. This phrase serves to emphasize Christ will come in great glory and the earth will be filled with it.

vs. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;

II. Our Bridegroom has provided all we need to be with Him for all eternity.

vs. 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Wedding imagery is used often in the Bible to describe what the kingdom of God is going to be like when it comes on the earth. Matthew 22:1-3

1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.

The Old Testament frequently uses the image of marriage to describe Yahweh’s relationship to his people. Hosea 2:19—And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.

Isaiah 54:5—For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.

The Bride’s white linen is in marked contrast to the purple garments of the prostitute. Johnson points out that linen was an expensive cloth in the ancient world that was used to make the garments of priests and royalty. White indicates both cleanness and brightness. Note the balance of the Biblical statements concerning the Bride’s garments. They are given to her and she made herself ready. This indicates that righteousness is not meritorious, it is a gift, and she has kept herself pure. Compare Matthew 22:2,11-14—

2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son… .11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Bible Customs versus Modern “Brides Maid’s Dresses and Groomsmen Tux Rentals”

The wedding garments were always supplied by the host, so the man in the parable had no excuse for not having one on. He either refused to put it on initially, or had soiled the one he had been given and had taken it off. Either way, he had not responded correctly to the invitation of the King. “Righteous acts (dikaiomata) are not meritorious works that lead to salvation. Good works are the result of being in a right relationship with the Lord.

Biblical and un-Biblical views of Righteousness

Faith + Works = Justification (Works-righteousness is an un-Biblical view)

Faith = Justification with no works afterward (Anti-nomianism is also an un-Biblical view) 

Faith = Justification + Works (is the Biblical view)

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The difference between these views is where we put works. In the un-Biblical views faith and works either are a requirement for justification or superfluous to justification. In the biblical view works flow from a right relationship with God. All the works to earn salvation were supplied by Christ in His active obedience to God and His law.

My professor of ethics at RTS, R. C. Sproul,  said this about righteousness in salvation—

Righteousness involved in justification [being declared to be in right standing with God] is always an “iustitia alienus“—an alien righteousness. A righteousness that’s “extra nos” [ouside of us]—a righteousness that’s apart from me, [is] not mine inherently. It belongs to Christ. And what Christ does is when I put my trust in Him, He imputes or counts to me His righteousness. And on the basis of that imputed righteousness, God declares me just right now. So that if I die right now, I go heaven right now because I’ve all the righteousness I will ever need to get there, namely the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That’s good news. (see Sproul, below.) 

III. Now is the time to live in light of Christ’s invitation to be His Bride.

vs. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 

The second step for the coming of the kingdom of God on earth is the marriage of the Lamb. The event which will inaugurate the marriage is the marriage feast of the Lamb. Old Testament marriage customs are in view here. There were three steps to marriage—

Engagement (contract agreed on) Image from YouTube

Step #1 Engagement—a contract between families for the two young persons (often made when the young mere children).

Betrothal (waiting) Image from YouTube

Step #2 Betrothal—a 9 month to 1 year period of waiting to prove the purity of the Bride (entered into when the groom reached marriageable age). The bride remained in her home doing what ever work she usually did.

Wedding Feast (consummation) Image from YouTube

Step #3 Wedding Feast—takes place at the groom’s home (the only ceremony that took place), and then afterwards they began their life together).

IV. We must steer clear of worshiping anyone or anything but Christ.

vs. 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

This verse may be an allusion to the tendency in the early church for gnostics to worship angels. Gnostics were an exclusive group that said salvation comes by receiving a special, secret knowledge that only our group can give to those initiated into our group. Colossians 2:18-19 alludes to an early Gnosticism that threatened the Church—

18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

Hebrews 1:13-14 gives us a proper view of angels—

13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

The angel rebukes John for even giving the appearance that he was worshiping an angel. God alone is entitled to worship! The angel is describes himself as the fellow servant or slave (sundoulos) together with John.

Let us take fresh courage to live out our loyalty to Christ in light of what awaits us in glory!

We will move on in the next post to the Second Coming of Christ.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

BibleHub. (2021). Panakrator, G-3841. Accessed 16 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/greek/3841.htm

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Sproul, R. C. (2019). “An Alien Righteousness.” a Ligonier resource. Accessed 16 April 2021 from https://www.ligonier.org/blog/alien-righteousness/

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 19: Heaven’s rejoicing in anticipation of Christ’s Coming

Revelation 19:1-5

Image above is from Pinterest. “Babylon’s Fall” by John Martin 1789–1854. Public Domain.

Chapter 19 as a Whole

Verses 1-5 seem to close chapter 18 rather than begin chapter 19. They are a thanksgiving for the destruction of Babylon—the trans-temporal symbol of Satan’s dominion in this world and Antichrist’s end time evil empire that engulfs the entire globe.

“John hears the response of heaven’s residents to the invitation in Revelation 18:20“—Rejoice over her, O heaven,
and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her! (see Johnson, D. E. below.)

There are three major events in chapter 19—
1. The Invitation to the Marriage-Feast of the Lamb
2. The Second Coming of Christ
3. The Battle of Armageddon/Carrion-Feast of the Birds

The theme of Revelation 19:1-5 is—God’s people will see His righteous vengeance displayed at the end.

I. Our God is a God of deliverance of His people from danger and threats to their safety and well-being.

vs. 1 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God…


John Paton (1824-1907; pictured left) was a [Scottish] missionary in the New Hebrides Islands [South Pacific]. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see their attackers leave.

A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men with you there?” Paton knew no men were present, but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station. (see Today in the Word, below.)


Vagrants might be persons without any means of support, but God’s people are beloved people of God who gives them invisible means of support! See II Kings 6—

15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

“After this” is literally “after these things” (the same phrase that occurs in Rev. 1:19 meta tauta). This phrase indicates movement in the visions, but not necessarily movement in time of fulfillment.

This is important in interpreting chapters 16-19. Some of the visions are not chronological. There are sections that retrace past events for the purpose of explanation. The “multitude” is not identified. It seems to be, however, a multitude of angels. “Hallelujah” is a Hebrew word that has been transliterated into English. It means “praise Yahweh” or “praise the Lord.” This is the only occurrence of the word in the New Testament. The three attributes mentioned are said to “belong to God.” They are demonstrated in all that he does to save his people—in the physical and spiritual sense of “salvation.”

“Dante and Beatrice gaze upon the highest Heaven”
by de Gustave Doré; Public Domain

Salvation is “God’s rescue which delivers believers out of destruction and into His safety. It has multiple ideas such as: welfare, prosperity, deliverance, preservation, salvation, safety.” (see sōtēria, below.)

Glory is doxa—from which we derive our English word doxology. Doxa means honor, renown; glory, an especially divine quality, the unspoken manifestation of God, splendor. (see doxa, below.)

Power is dunamis from which we derive the English word dynamite. (see dunamis, below.)

This paean of praise brings to mind the Lord’s Prayer given in the Gospels. (see Ellicott, below.) For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matthew 6:13). Our Lord is at the center of Heaven’s praise, and this should move us to do the same here on earth.

II. Our God’s judgment involves righteous vengeance for evil done to His people.

vs. 2 …for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

Amusement Park in Pripyat before (1980s) and 34 years after the Chernobyl disaster
from https://www.bcd-urbex.com/pripyat-then-and-now/

The photographs above show how quickly a city once vibrant with 50,000 persons can fall into disuse after 34 years. This is certainly true of Imperial Cities all through history. 

“Judgment” in Greek is krisis. The –sis ending on the word indicates that the act of final judgment is in view, not simply a temporal pronouncement in a human court.

The great prostitute is John’s symbol for Dragon’s trans-temporal empire and its ungodly culture and religion. At this point in Revelation, Babylon has already fallen. The word “who” is the indefinite relative pronoun in Greek. Its use is qualitative—”this is the very one who corrupted the earth… . ”

vs. 3 Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

Isaiah 34:8-10 seems to be the basis for John’s image here—

8 For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
9 And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch, and her soil into sulfur; her land shall become burning pitch.
10  Night and day it shall not be quenched; its smoke shall go up forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it forever and ever.

III. Angels validate God’s righteous judgment in their praises.

vs. 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”

At this point, the 24 elders mentioned in chapter 4 join in the praise of the Lord. They are an order of angels.

IV. Our God calls upon all His people to praise Him for His righteous judgment.

vs. 5 And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.”

Everyone is included in this call to worship. Alan F. Johnson says that “all socioeconomic distinctions are transcended in the united worship of the church… .” They will be in the great day of Christ’s Second Coming, for sure. Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, once had a dream. She said she saw people rising from earth to enter into heaven. Only as they rose all man-made labels fell off.

However, we might add, that such distinctions ought to be transcended now, also. This entire passage with its hallelujahs seems to be based upon Psalm 113-118 known as the Great Hallel.

(1) God’s servants (doulos—literally “slaves”) Psalm 113:1—Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord!

(2) God-fearers (phobeomai) Psalm 115:12-13—12 The Lord has remembered us; he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron; 13 he will bless those who fear the Lord, both the small and the great.

(3) Small ones (mikros)

God’s judgment doesn’t always come quickly, but it certainly does come!

Next time, we will look at the marriage feast of the lamb.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Doxa. (2021). Bible Hub. Accessed 8 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/greek/1391.htm

Dunamis. (2021). Bible Hub. Accessed 8 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/greek/1411.htm

Ellicott, J. C. (1878). Commentary for English Readers. Accessed 8 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/commentaries/revelation/19-1.htm

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Sōtēria. (2021). Bible Hub; Accessed 8 April 2021 from https://biblehub.com/greek/4991.htm

Today in the Word. (1991). “Missionary Story.” Accessed 7 April 2021 from https://www.sermonsearch.com/sermon-illustrations/1534/missionary-story/

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 18: Rejoicing over Babylon’s Fall

Revelation 18:20-24

Image above: “Fall of the Tower of Babel,” by Cornelis Anthonisz, 1547 public domain.

Chapter 18 contains rejoicing by various groups over the destruction
which has already occurred in the seventh bowl of wrath.  

  • Inhabitants of Heaven (Angels and the Righteous Dead?)
  • Saints
  • Apostles
  • Prophets

This call to rejoice in Revelation seems to have Jeremiah 51:48 as its background. “Then heaven and earth and all that is in them will shout for joy over Babylon” (see Fee, G. D. p. 259, below).

Revelation 18:20-24 gives believers reasons to rejoice over the destruction of Satan’s empire that rules the earth. 

I. God has answered the prayers of His people for vengeance by judging Babylon. vs. 20

vs. 20 Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!”

Note that the earth-dwellers mourn over the city’s destruction, but those in the heavens are told to rejoice over her destruction. It depends upon one’s attitude toward the Lord and his people whether one rejoices or mourns over the destruction of Babylon.

“Ancient Babylon fell in one night after having been “weighed in the balance and found wanting.” [Daniel 5:30]. Can modern empires fall just as quickly? History and the Bible provide an answer. The nations may “rage” and the rulers “take counsel together” (Psalm 2:1-2), but unless their actions are in accord with the counsel of God, in the end they will pass from the world scene.” (see McNeely, blow.) 

https://rickbarbarebiblestudies.files.wordpress.com/2021/04/159a8-1_eklkkgw222knxjhgkff7q.jpeg

Mystery, Babylon the Great, Part 1 blog post by Colin MacIntyre

II. God will erase Babylon’s dominion once and for all. vs 21.

vs. 21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more;

Jeremiah 51:60-64 seems to be the background to John’s vision in verse 21.

60 Jeremiah wrote in a book all the disaster that should come upon Babylon, all these words that are written concerning Babylon.
61 And Jeremiah said to Seraiah: “When you come to Babylon, see that you read all these words,
62 and say, ‘O Lord, you have said concerning this place that you will cut it off, so that nothing shall dwell in it, neither man nor beast, and it shall be desolate forever.’
63 When you finish reading this book, tie a stone to it and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates,
64 and say, ‘Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the disaster that I am bringing upon her, and they shall become exhausted.’”

This verse records a parable. “One quick gesture becomes a parable of the whole judgment on Babylon the Great! Suddenly she is gone forever… .” (See Johnson A. F., p.752 below.)

A millstone is 4 to 5 feet in diameter, one foot thick and hundreds of pounds in weight. The city seemed to be permanent, but at the end it proves to be easy for the Lord to overthrow it. John uses the double negative (ou me literally—”not never,” or more correctly—”by no means”) to demonstrate the finality of Babylon’s ruin.

III. God’s Judgment means there Babylon will no longer have economic incentives to draw people from God.

candle, Burning, Fire, Light, Smoke, HQ Photo

 

vs. 22 and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will be heard in you no more, and a craftsman of any craft will be found in you no more, and the sound of the mill will be heard in you no more…

John again uses the double negative (ou mē) three times in this verse—”the sound of the harpists … will by no means ever be heard in you again; workmen will by no means ever be found in you again; the sound of a millstone will by no means ever be heard in you again.”

vs. 23 …and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.

Note the use of trade with Babylon as the means of drawing men into her web of deceit. How could we in the 21st Century get further into the morass of Babylon through trade than we are? Alexandr Solzhenitsyn offers a profound insight into our world which is so interwoven into Babylon’s agenda. Whether this is the last manifestation of Babylon, only God knows.

Alexandr Solzenhenitsyn“More than half a century ago, while I was still a child (born 1 December 1918), I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

“Only once in [the 20th century] did the West gather strength — for the battle against Hitler. But the fruits of that victory have long since been lost. Faced with cannibalism, our godless age has discovered the perfect anesthetic — trade! Such is the pathetic pinnacle of contemporary wisdom… .

“To the ill-considered hopes of the last two centuries, which have reduced us to insignificance and brought us to the brink of nuclear and non-nuclear death, we can propose only a determined quest for the warm hand of God, which we have so rashly and self-confidently spurned. Only in this way can our eyes be opened to the errors of this unfortunate 20th century and our hands be directed to setting them right. There is nothing else to cling to in the landslide: the combined vision of all the thinkers of the Enlightenment amounts to nothing.” (see Solzhenitsyn, below).

Fantasy witch wizard woman using enchanting magical elixir potion bottle for love spell, witchcraft and divination. magic illustration and alchemy Premium Photo

Fantasy witch wizard woman using enchanting magical
elixir potion bottle
for love spell, witchcraft
and divination. Freepik photo

“Which is the dragon’s more dangerous weapon as he assaults the church in our time and place: Is it the beast, symbolic of [1] the state’s power to intimidate through violent persecution and even martyrdom? Or the beauty, the harlot, portrait of [2] the culture’s power to seduce through the intoxicating idolatry of prosperity and the alluring invitation to adulterous compromise?” (see Johnson, D. E., below).

John uses the double negative (ou mē) twice in this verse. This is the picture of desolation. “The melancholy recollection of the pulsing life that once filled this great city with the joy of life sounds through these verses ‘like footsteps dying away in the distance in a desolate city which lies in ruins.'” (see Johnson, A. F., below) The word “sorcery” is the Greek word pharmakeia—the use of drugs to cast spells. Empires have always used mind altering substances/thinking to content the masses. It isn’t religion that is the opiate of the people!


Richard Cory
By Edwin Arlington Robinson (1897)

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.


Babylon is an illusion and one who pins his hope on its charms and allurements will be quickly disillusioned.

IV. God remembers righteous blood shed and forgotten by men. vs. 24

vs. 24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.”

The life of God’s people is not always stress free. It is always blessed by God, however.

The word “slain” (sphazō) is the word which means “to slaughter or murder.” It fits in with the idea of martyrdom that is implied in this verse.

It’s a question of what works with Babylon’s power—the carrot or the stick?

Next time, we will move into chapter 19!

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Fee, G. D. (2010). Revelation (New Covenant Commentary). Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock publishers.

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

McNeely, D. (2010). “The Decline and Fall of Nations: A Prophetic Perspective.” accessed 2 April 2020 from https://www.ucg.org/world-news-and-prophecy/the-decline-and-fall-of-nations-a-prophetic-perspective

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Solzhenitsyn, A. (1983). “Men Have Forgotten God.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1983 Templeton Address. Accessed 3 April 2021 from https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/12/aleksandr-solzhenitsyn-men-have-forgotten-god-speech/

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 18 Lamentation Over Babylon’s Fall

Revelation 18:9-19

Image above: The Great Fire of London, depicted by an unknown painter (1675), as it would have appeared from a boat in the vicinity of Tower Wharf on the evening of Tuesday, 4 September 1666; public domain image.

As we saw previously—

Chapter 18 contains lamentation by merchants of trade over the destruction which has already occurred in the seventh bowl of wrath.  

Note that the four groups mourn in verses 9-19, but they mourn over their own personal loss  and not over the city’s destruction.

Group 1: The Kings of the earth Rev. 18:9-10
Group 2: The merchants of the earth 18:11-15
Group 3: Roman merchants Rev. 18:16-17

Group 4: Those involved in the sea trade Rev. 18-19

If we want to see who’s sad over the fall of Babylon, follow the money

I. Rulers of nations of the earth profit through trade with Babylon. vs. 9

vs. 9 And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning.

Psalm 2:1-3 pictures the rebellious attitude of the woman and the kings of the earth.

1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

II. The swiftness of destruction shocks earth-dwellers. vs. 10

vs. 10 They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say, “Alas! Alas! You great city, you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgment has come.”

Jonn begins his sentence with an adverb (makrothen) “from far away or from a distance.” The rulers of the end time will stand at a distance and view the destruction of Antichrist’s empire. They enjoyed the luxury Babylon provided, but when she is destroyed, they will be helpless to come to her aid. The NIV takes “The Great City” as a vocative—”O Great City.” John uses the dative of time to show the point in time that the judgment occurred—in one hour’s time. In other words, what took centuries to build is destroyed by God in one hour.

Gustave Boulanger, “The Slave Market” (1882)

Gustave Boulanger, “The Slave Market” (1882)
Public Domain Image from WikiPedia.

III. Fortunes built on the back of the slave trade (or human trafficking) is ill-gotten gain and will ultimately be destroyed. vss. 11-13 

vs. 11-13 11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, 12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.

As John describes the merchandise, he obviously has Ezekiel 27 in mind and pens the lament in Rev. 18—
Ezek. 27:13 13 “Javan, Tubal, and Meshech traded with you; they exchanged human beings and vessels of bronze for your merchandise.”

Note that part of the trade involves “the bodies and souls of men.” “Bodies” is a Greek idiom for slaves (cf. LXX of Gen. 36:6), while the addition of “souls of men”means “slaves, that is, human beings.” See Johnson, A.F., p. 752, below.)  

Slave Market in Constantinople

Illustration of a slave market in Constantinople (now Istanbul),
the capital of the Ottoman Empire. public domain image.

“Slavery was an ever-present feature of the Roman world. Slaves served in households, agriculture, mines, the military, manufacturing workshops, construction and a wide range of services within the city. As many as 1 in 3 of the population in Italy or 1 in 5 across the empire were slaves and upon this foundation of forced labor was built the entire edifice of the Roman state and society.” (see Cartwright, below.)

“The merchants in Revelation find it profitable to traffic in human beings (18:13), but John identifies the slave trade with commercial practices that fall under the judgment of God… . People found the prospect of wealth alluring, but by making the sale of human beings the climactic element in his list of trade goods, John underscores the seamy side of Roman-era commerce.” (See Koester, p. 767, below.)

Our world is no stranger to the slave trade, thought it might be called “human trafficking.”

human-traffickingThe modern world is also full of the buying and selling of human beings. “Human trafficking is defined as forcing, fooling, or frightening someone into performing labor or sex for personal profit” (see Elkins, below).

It a common practice for bar codes to be tattooed on a sex worker’s or a commercial slave’s body signifying the person belongs to someone who is using him or her for business. This gives the impression that a person is a commodity just like any other personal property one has—chattel. 

The services of women as massage workers is often advertised on Craigslist and Backpage. The ads “promises regularly rotating women” from one massage parlor to another. Police officers in North Carolina watched one “business” for over a month and frequently reported women being picked up or dropped off in cars with New York tags. (see Elkins below). 

A secret and underground trade of human beings is similar to the USSR’s Gulag Archipelago. “The word Gulag is a Russian acronym for the Soviet government agency that supervised the vast network of labor camps. Solzhenitsyn used the word archipelago as a metaphor for the camps, which were scattered through the sea of civil society like a chain of islands extending” from sea to sea.” This is what happens with sex or commercial workers are moved often to keep anonymity of the forced laborers and the system itself off the radar of local police. (see Encyclopaedia Britannica, below). 

“An estimated 24.9 million victims are trapped in modern-day slavery. Of these, 16 million (64%) were exploited for labor, 4.8 million (19%) were sexually exploited, and 4.1 million (17%) were exploited in state-imposed forced labor.”

Human trafficking earns profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers, according to the ILO report from 2014. The following is a breakdown of profits, by sector:

$99 billion from commercial sexual exploitation
$34 billion in construction, manufacturing, mining and utilities
$9 billion in agriculture, including forestry and fishing
$8 billion dollars is saved annually by private households that employ domestic workers under conditions of forced labor (see Human Rights First, below).


Thomas Jefferson, who was a slave owner, said this about slavery—

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free.” (see, Jefferson Quotation, below.)


What bothers me, as one who has had a complete tour of all floors of Monticello, is that Jefferson did nothing to prevent his guests from preying on the slave women on the grounds. (See Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson. Random House. November 19, 2008. I commend the book to you, I read biographies about post-presidencies.) 

vs. 14 “The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!”

In this verse John uses the triple negative—no longer not never (ouketi ou me). In English, negatives cancel each other out. However, in Greek negatives pile up to strengthen each other. 

vs. 15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud, 16 “Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold,
with jewels, and with pearls!

These verses relay virtually the same information as Rev. 18:10.

vss. 17-19 For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.” And all ship masters and seafaring men, sailors and all whose trade is on the sea, stood far off 18 and cried out as they saw the smoke of her burning, “What city was like the great city?” 19 And they threw dust on their heads as they wept and mourned, crying out, “Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! For in a single hour she has been laid waste.

With this verse the last of the groups of mourners are introduced—the seafaring traders. This is John’s description of every despotic empire and Antichrist’s end time empire, as ultimate fulfillment. This is the third time that the time frame of the destruction is mentioned—one hour.

We as God’s people should take courage! 

Angel of the Lords Armies

Image from Pinterest

Next time we will move to the ones rejoicing over the fall of Babylon.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Cartwright, M. (2013, November 01). Slavery in the Roman World. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/article/629/

Elkins, T. (2017). “Human trafficking: a problem close to home.” Accessed 27 March 2021 from http://campbelllawobserver.com/human-trafficking-a-problem-close-to-home/#prettyPhoto

Encyclopedia Britannica. (2021). “The Gulag Archipelago.” Accessed 27 March 2021 from https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Gulag-Archipelago

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Human Rights First. (2017). “Human Trafficking by the Numbers: Facts Sheet. Accessed 27 March 2021 from https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/sites/default/files/TraffickingbytheNumbers.pdf

Jefferson Quotation. Excerpted from multiple sources: “A Summary View of the Rights of British America,” “Notes on the State of Virginia,” “The Autobiography,” letter to George Wythe (1790), letter to George Washington (1786).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Koester, C. (2008). “Roman Slave Trade and the Critique of Babylon in Revelation 18.” Accessed 22 March 2021 at https://digitalcommons.luthersem.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1015&context=faculty_articles

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

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© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 18: God’s Call for an “Exodus” from Babylon

Revelation 18:4-8

Image above is by David Roberts, “Israelites Leaving Egypt,” 1828; public domain from Wikipedia.  

Chapter 18 warns believers to stay away as much as is possible from involvement with the world system.

mountain-edge

Free Stock Photo in High Resolution – Mountain Edge
(public-domain-photos.com)

Jesus’s High Priestly prayer, gives the dangerous mountain’s-edge believers must walk—(1) We are in the world on Christ’s mission; (2) We are not of the world, to adopt its thinking and ways. John 17:14-19—

14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

“Nobody wants to be out of it; we want to be ‘with it.’ We want to be up-to-date. We want to fit in. And we’re often engulfed by peer pressure that wants us to imitate and participate in all of the structures and the styles of this world. The Bible says we are not to be conformed to the patterns of this world.” — R. C. Sproul 

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discernRomans 12_2 what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [ESV]

I like Phillips translation of Romans 12:2 Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. (see Bible Gateway below).

In Revelation 18:4-8 God is calling for an exodus of His people from the world system.

I. We must steer clear of the allurements of the “world system” (Babylon) so we will not experience the spillover effects when God judges it. vs. 4.

vs. 4 Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues…

Baylon ImageThis command can be taken three different ways: (1) it can be taken as a warning to 1st Century Christians to steer clear of Rome’s allurements; (2) it can be taken as a broad warning; in this case it would be a warning for those living in all times; or (3) it can be taken as a command for the future Christians who live will through tribulation at the end of the age and who might be tempted to give into Babylon’s allurements. Regardless of which view is taken, the warning is a real one, and is valid at any time. The warning is directed toward those who are tempted to give into the world system just to get along (e.g. “you gotta go along to get along”). Conformity to the world has dire consequences. The word “share in” is sunkoinoneō. The cognate verb koinoneō is the regular NT word for “fellowship.” The idea is that if we share in the sinful pleasures of this world, we will also share in the effects of the judgment of this world, as well. 

Those who refuse to submit to Babylon’s cultural norms, will stand out from the group who do. This will bring persecution. (See image above picturing the three Hebrew youths who refuse to bow down to ancient Babylonian statue. Image from https://www.slideserve.com/zayit/daniel-chapter-4-toppled-images)

II. We should realize God’s permitting of the world’s sins to go unpunished is only temporary. vs. 5

vs. 5 … for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

The word “piled up” is the Greek word kollaō—”to reach” or “to touch.” In this case the sins have touched heaven. Compare Genesis 18:20-21—20 Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

dew-on-grass-1369328The phrase “the Lord has remembered” (mnemoneuō) must be taken in its Old Testament connotation. The Lord has not forgotten Babylon’s previous sins in the sense that “they slipped his mind.” That is the way we use the words “forget” and “remember.” In the Old Testament times, God simply postponed his judgment until a fixed time in the future. His forgetting was deliberate and planned from eternity. So also was His remembrance! Compare Romans 3:23-26, which speaks of “in [God’s] divine forbearance He had passed over former sins.” And Acts 17:30-31. Lamentations 3:22-23 is of great comfort to those who suffer unjustly! God’s mercies are renewed like the dew, every morning.

III. We must realize that godless people’s sins have judgment built into their sin. vs. 6

vs. 6 Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.

Note that God sees the heart of Babylon. Our judgment is flawed; we only see the outward actions. God sees the internal heart attitude. The verb streniaō means to “live in the lap of luxury.” The woman says that she will never mourn (ou me, the Greek double negative). The double negative emphasizes her arrogant spirit. She trusted in her luxuries and riches to insulate her against all suffering. God sees to it she experiences grief commensurate with her arrogance.


Man chainedThere was once a tyrant who summoned one of his subjects into his presence, and ordered him to make a chain. The poor blacksmith…had to go to work and forge the chain. When it was done, he brought it into the presence of the tyrant, and was ordered to take it away and make it twice the length. He brought it again to the tyrant, and again he was ordered to double it. Back he came when he had obeyed the order, and the tyrant looked at it, and then commanded the servants to bind the man hand and foot with the chain he had made and cast him into prison.

My friends, that is just what [addicted persons] do — that is just what every sinner is doing. But thank God, we can tell them of a deliverer. The Son of God has power to break every one of their fetters if they will only come to Him. (see Moody, P. 57-58, below.)

Satan and his carefully choreographed this world’s system offer a number of allurements that make can us a captive of our own appetites. If we indulge in the alluring bait, we are not satisfied. Going in for more binds us more tightly to this world system. God saves us from Satan’s traps in the world in which we live if we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and live according to His Word! 


“Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us on a wild-goose chase. Follow some other object, and possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.” (Nathaniel Hawthorne from https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/nathaniel_hawthorne_163048)

Midas daughter turns to gold

King Midas (pictured right) got what his heart longed for. How he loved gold! Now everything he touched turned to gold. An oak twig. A rock. He had what his heart treasured, until his little girl comes running into his arms. How fatal the Midas’ touch! (see King Midas, below.) Most nursery rhymes have a moral lesson within them. How many a man who is ruthless in business later decries that all his children care about is his money! Our children and grandchildren may get entrapped along with us if we crave the Midas touch!

 


'The_Destruction_of_a_City'_by_David_Roberts,_1832,_pencil_and_watercolor

‘The Destruction of a City’ by David Roberts, 1832;
Public Domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

IV. What takes mankind centuries to build can come down in one day when God judges. vs. 8

vs. 8 For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”

The wealth that she trusts in will not be able to insulate her against the judgment of the Lord. The time frame involved is “one day’s time” (en mia hmera). The plagues (plēgē) are described as death (thanatos) , grief or mourning (penthos), and famine or hunger (limos) . The city meets its end by being burned with fire (katakaiō “to consume or burn thoroughly”). The preposition kata attached to the verb kaiō is perfective. It means to burn completely. The Lord who is able to do this in such a quick fashion is said to be “mighty” (ischyros).

 

We will move on the next section of Revelation 18 next time.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely sometimes without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Bible Gateway. (1960). Accessed from https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Romans+12:2

Costain, T. B. (1958). The Three Edwards, Vol III from A History of the Plantagenets, accessed 17 March 2001 from http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/l/lust.htm

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

King Midas. (2009). Story application by Gregg Bitter accessed 15 March 2021 from https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon-illustrations/73972/king-midas-got-what-his-heart-longed-for-how-he-by-gregg-bitter

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Moody, D. L. (1878). Anecdotes and Illustrations of D. L. Moody Related by Him in His Revival Work. Washington, DC: Rhodes & McClure, Publishers.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Rockefeller, J. D. (n.d.) “Daily Short Story” blog; accessed 15 March 2021 from https://starwinar.wordpress.com/daily-short-story/just-a-little-bit-more/

Sproul, R. C. (1996). “How should we be in the world but not of it?” Accessed 15 March 2021 from https://www.christianity.com/christian-life/how-should-we-be-in-the-world-but-not-of-it-11577549.html

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Revelation 18: Angel announces the Fall of Babylon

Revelation 18:1-3

Image above is “The ancient city of Babylon, Babel Governorate, Iraq.” Image taken by Dr. Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Context: Rev. 16 describes the actual destruction of Babylon, and must not be separated from chapter 17. Chapter 17 describes Babylon in detail, but only predicts her future destruction.

Chapter 18 laments the destruction which has already occurred in the seventh bowl of wrath.  

Rev. 16:17-21—

17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.
19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.
20 And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found.
21 And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe. [ESV]

Isaiah's_Vision_of_the_Destruction_of_Babylon

Doré’s English Bible 1866 “Isaiah’s Vision of the Destruction of Babylon”
public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

Outline of Chapter 18

God, through an angel, announces Babylon’s judgment and its severe effects, which will come because of her idolatrous seduction of people (18:1-3). (see Beale, p. 381, below).

I. Large nations, from earth’s viewpoint, have the appearance of indestructible power, but God has ultimate power and authority to destroy all godless nations. vs.1

vs. 1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory.

Notice the difference between power and authority.

Power is the limited ability to exercise one’s will over others. (see Introduction to Sociology, below).

Authority is the absolute ability to bring one’s will to pass, with or without means. Compare Romans 13:1 “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

Proverbs 21:1-3 is good reminder when we see wicked national leaders acting as if they are all-powerful. Their realm is established by God and is dependent on Him for continuance. (Substitute whatever job title a non-royal leader has today.)

1 The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.
2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.
3 To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

If we ever doubt the truth of God’s sovereignty over human affairs, we should call to mind Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar from the past. Nearer in history to us are Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao Zedong, etc.

“The ultimate authority of the universe is God Himself. But God delegates authority as He reigns and rules over His creation. God raises up human governments. But if somehow we can look through them, look past them, look over them, and see the One whom the Father has invested with ultimate cosmic authority, namely, Christ Himself, we’ll have an easier time…with our struggle to submit when we recognize we’re submitting ultimately to Christ, because we know He’ll never tyrannize or abuse us” (see Sproul, below).

My mother’s favorite verse still speaks to me when I see the seeming triumph of evil—Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. [NASB]

With this background, we will go into the meaning and application of Rev. 18:1.

The first phrase, “after these things” (meta tauta), is used in the Revelation to indicate a new scene, but it does not indicate chronological progression in the fulfillment of the vision. John sees the angel coming down from heaven to the earth. 

The identity of the angel has raised quite a few questions among the commentators. Some have suggested that the angel is actually Christ himself. However, the text says it is “another angel” (allos angellos), which in Greek means “another of the same kind” as we’ve seen in the vision.

roman-empire-smallpox-plague-lessons-covid-19-

The angel of death striking a door during the plague of Rome: an engraving by Levasseur
after Jules-Elie Delaunay. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This is another of the seven angels which poured out the bowls of wrath on the Beast’s kingdom—Babylon. Oftentimes, angels which are sent on a divine mission possess the glory and splendor of the person sending them. This explains the words “and the earth was illumined from his glory (doxa).” The authority (exousia) he possessed was derived from the one who sent him and was not the angel’s by inherent right.

Don and Annabelle RulisonOne of my favorite hymns is “Jesus, the name high over all.” I first heard it quoted by Don Rulison, missionary to Hmong people of southeastern Asia. I met him, his wife and children at EI School of Biblical Training when I was a student and later when I was a teacher. After his wife’s death, he returned to Southeast Asia to live among the Hmong people again until his death. (Pictured above left is Don Rulison and his daughter Annabelle.) Hmong people from all over came to visit him in his closing days.

He often would quote a stanza of a hymn in his sermons. The quotation did not seem related to the sermon, at first. He called this “shooting a random arrow.” His quotation of the first stanza of “Jesus, the Name High over All” was an arrow to my soul which I needed at the time. 

1 Jesus, the name high over all,
In hell, or earth, or sky:
Angels and men before it fall,
And devils fear and fly.

3 Jesus the prisoner’s fetters breaks,
And bruises Satan’s head;
Pow’r into strengthless souls He speaks,
And life into the dead.

We must keep our courage up even in the face of seemingly powerful nations that persecute believers. Ancient Babylon was such a nation at one time, but it fell in one night! Daniel 5 records Babylon’s fall—22 And you Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. 30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old. [ESV; emphasis mine]


II. God’s destruction of “Babylon” in the end will be final leaving it empty except for demonic beings. vs. 2

vs. 2 And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.

The tense or the verb “fallen” is the past tense. We put truths in the present tense normally e.g. 2 + 2 is 4, but the Greeks used the past tense e.g. 2 + 2 became 4. We expect the perfect tense in English, and the NIV translates it this way. It is a simple past tense in the Greek used to state a simple fact accomplished. The word translated “home” (katoiketerion) is “dwelling place.” The amplifying word given later is “prison” or ”haunt” (phylakē).  Alan F. Johnson says “that the demons inhabit the city’s broken down towers watching for those upon whom they prey” ( see Johnson, A. F. below).

bigstock-cinematic-portrayal-of-destroy

Picture of destroyed city. Copyright © 2014 Beth Immanuel. All rights reserved.

Isaiah 13:19-22 is in John’s mind as he writes—

19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.
20 It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there; no shepherds will make their flocks lie down there.
21 But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats will dance.
22 Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged.

The word for demon (diamonion)  is associated regularly with idolatry, e.g., I Corinthians 10:20-21—

20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

And, I Timothy 4:1—Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons… .

The expression “unclean spirits” (pneuma akathartos) is reminiscent of the Gospels. See Luke 9:42—While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.

Demons as Unclean Birds

Image from Antipas Ministries © 

The last part of this verse seems strange—”a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.” However, birds are used in the Gospels as symbols of the works of the devil, e.g., see Mark 4:4, 15

4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it.
15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.

All three of the images describing Babylon—(1) the home of demons; (2) the haunt of evil spirits; (3) the haunt of unclean birds—are a way of saying that the Lord will give Babylon over to demonic forces and powers. No leaders among human beings will be left. Chaos will pervade Babylon after the 7th bowl is poured out.


III. God will break every enticing aspect of Babylon, so that she has no appeal with which to attract anyone any more. vs 3

vs. 3 For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”

Arthur_Hacker_-_By_the_Waters_of_Babylon_(1888)The usual word for anger or wrath in Greek is thymos. But, here the word most likely means “passion.” The people have been driven crazy through partaking of the woman’s passion. The word translated “adultery” (porneuō) the usual word for sexual immorality of any kind forbidden by Holy Scripture. It does not necessarily imply immorality with a person to whom you are not married. The scarlet woman is a prostitute, not an unfaithful wife. “Immorality’ in Revelation means the worship of the beast instead of the Lamb.”

Etching left is by Arthur Hacker “By the Waters of Babylon” (1888). The woman is dressed in mourning garments.

The word translated “luxuries” (stranos) alludes to the excessive lifestyle that made the merchants rich. Remember in Rev. 6:5-6 that even in times of famine the luxuries were plentiful. The picture seems to be one of extreme riches among the elite contrasted with extreme poverty among the masses. In such conditions the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.


I have read of similar incidents to which I was a firsthand witness one day. I had a round trip journey, of 45 minutes each way, from our home in Trenton to Greenwood to teach for several years. In the winter or early spring I saw a lot of “road-kill” on SC-25 going north. One day I saw a hawk feeding on a deer carcass in the road. I could see its eyes darting back and forth from the carcass to my car. I thought surely it will fly at the last second to escape inevitable collision with my car. I guess the meat was too tasty for the bird to fly away and return later like vultures do. I blew my horn, but the bird still fed away. At the last possible minute it thought it could fly to safety, it tried to. However, it hit my car’s grill and plunged into the ditch becoming itself road kill. 


The allurements of “Babylon” keep people close to her and benefiting from the association. However, when can such a person stop the attachment to Babylon and escape its inevitable judgment? We only have the next breathe promised. As believers we must step away from Babylon and cling to Christ Jesus our King!

Remember, judgment is inevitable and will occur suddenly. Our Lord warned us in Revelation 16:15 “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”

“The world system is committed to at least four major objectives, which I can summarize in four words: fortune, fame, power, pleasure.”

“First and foremost: Fortune, money. The world system is driven by money; it feeds on materialism.
Second: Fame. That is another word for popularity. Fame is the longing to be known, to be somebody in someone else’s eyes.
Third: Power. This is having influence, maintaining control over individuals or groups or companies or whatever. It is the desire to manipulate and maneuver others to do something for one’s own benefit.
Fourth: Pleasure. At its basic level, pleasure has to do with fulfilling one’s sensual desires. It’s the same mindset that’s behind the slogan: “If it feels good, do it.” (see Swindoll, p. 219, below.)

Let us all bear in mind the Babylons of our day are doomed and will be destroyed and along with all of its inhabitants (the earth-dwellers). We should not get so close to the world’s system that we are judged along with it.

Next time we will see the call from God for His people to cut connection with godless, persecuting people.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Answers in Genesis. (2010). Accessed 8 March 2021 from https://answersingenesis.org/answers/biblical-authority-devotional/why-is-god-the-ultimate-authority/

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Introduction to Sociology. (n.d.). Accessed 8 March 2021 from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/wm-introductiontosociology/

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Sproul, R. C. (2017). “Living under Authority”. Accessed 8 March 2021 from https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/living-under-authority/

Swindoll, C. (1987). Living Above the Level of Mediocrity. Dallas, TX: Word Publishing.

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© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 17: Explaining the Beast

Revelation 17:9-18

Image above of the Hydra monster based on Revelation 17 by Gustave Moreau, 1876; public domain.

D. E. Johnson (see below) says this about first century Christians reading Revelation 17—”First-century Christians might have wondered, “How can Rome be so bad when she looks so good?” or, “How could Rome ever fall when she looks so strong?”

We in the Western World may look around and substitute the name of evil countries for “Rome.” The current trajectory of the West is toward globalism for economic and political purposes.

Babylon is a trans-historical reality that includes idolatrous kingdoms as diverse as Sodom, Gomorrah, Egypt, Babylon, Tyre, Nineveh, and Rome. Babylon is an eschatological symbol of satanic deception and power; it is a divine mystery that can never be wholly reducible to empirical earthly institutions (see Johnson, F. E. below, p. 736).

Seven Mountains in Rev 17Above is a drawing (by me) of Alan Johnson’s view of the mountains as kingdoms of the past. I revised the view to fit to John’s Revelation since John is updating the Old Testament prophesies to his time and ours. Antiochus Epiphanes (in Greek Epiphanes refers to [god] “manifest”; Attiochus’s enemies referred to him as Epimanes (“the Insane One”). (see Antiochus Epiphanes,  below.) He was a Seleucid ruler who persecuted Israelites and tried to force them into conformity to Grecian beliefs and customs—Hellenization. He defiled the Temple in Jerusalem by having a pig sacrificed on the altar of sacrifice. He is an appropriate figure for a type of Antichrist  who will appear in the end as a manifestation of a global power seeking to destroy the church and  to rule humankind.

Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes

Coin front and back of Antiochus Epiphanes IV.
Image from https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org

The theme of Chapter 17 is that enticing evil lies behind all nations of this world. The Beast is a composite of empires some gone and some still are on the scene in today. The application of Revelation 17 is—

God will thoroughly destroy all religious-economic-political alliances
that seek to dominate people’s lives. 

I. We must understand that everything new to us is in reality old from the standpoint of the Ancient of Days whom we serve. vss. 9-10

vss. 9-10 9 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; 10 they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. [ESV]

What is this mind with wisdom?—”[Our minds need] true wisdom to behold many incidents of the world’s history and not find stumbling-blocks in them (Psalm 73:2-3; Psalm 119:165).” (See Ellicott, below.) 

Verse 9 has led to the identification of the woman as Rome. It was noted in the ancient world as the City of Seven Hills. Note the translation in the NIV—”hills.” The Greek word is horos—usually translated “mountain.” Note that the woman is said to sit on the mountains. They are said a little later on to be kings. John uses marvel (in Greek thaumazō) to describe the reaction of the “earth-dwellers.” They awestruck over the apparent rising again of the beast after his seeming defeat, that is seeming from their viewpoint. The current infatuation of the world with globalism and commerce is an example of what this verse is talking about. The people who are involved are described as “those whose names have not been written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world.” Note the tense of the verb—perfect tense. It describes a past completed act with a present result. These people are not believers. They have deliberately chosen to follow the beast cult instead of Christ’s true religion.

Year of Four Emperors

Image from https://www.knowtheromans.co.uk/images/

Many commentators try to make this verse fit into the Roman emperors of John’s day. The numbers do not fit the text.

The Roman Emperors before and when the Apostle John lived

1. Augustus 27 B.C. to A.D. 14
2. Tiberius A.D. 14 to A.D. 37
3. Caligula A.D. 37 to A.D. 41
4. Claudius A.D. 41 to A.D. 54
5. Nero A.D. 54 to A.D. 68
6. Galba A.D. 68
7. Otho A.D. 69
8. Vittelius A.D. 69
9. Vespasion A.D. 69 TO A.D. 79
10. Titus A.D. 79 TO A.D. 81
11. Domition A.D. 81 TO A.D. 96


II. We must realize that all earthly confederations will fall and other nations will take their place. vss 11-12. 

euro-woman-beast


← Image to the left is of a 2 Euro Greece coin 2002-2006. I do not make the images in Revelation to be fulfilled in our day. I think it strange that the Greece chose an image from Revelation to be on its Greek coin.

vs. 11-12 11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. 12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast.

Evil seeming has endless lives. It is dealt with only to rise again some where else. The woman is said to sit on the mountains who are identified as kings in this verse. The kings are really kingdoms or empires. We see the handwriting on the wall, for all evil empires, just like Daniel saw.

This is the writing that was inscribed: “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN” (v. 25). This is Daniel’s interpretation of the matter: MENE—God has numbered Belshazzar’s kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL—he has been weighed in the scales and found to be lacking; and PERES—his kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians (vv. 26-28). [https://www.ministrysamples.org/excerpts/DANIELS-INTERPRETATION-OF-THE-WRITING-ON-THE-WALL.HTML]

One day all nations will be “numbered” and brought to an end; “rulers weighed and found to be lacking”; and “their country be given to another.” 

Holman_Daniel_Interpreting_the_Writing_on_the_Wall

“Daniel Interpreting the Writing on the Wall” at Belshazzar’s feast;
illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible; from WikiMedia Commons public domain

This verse presents the interpreter with the greatest challenge. The series of 7 days followed by an 8th was familiar in the ancient world. The 8th day was the day of Christ’s resurrection. It was the symbol of the victory of Christ over the forces of evil. The coming up out of the abyss by the beast as an 8th head is an imitation of the resurrection of Christ. Christ defeated the 7 heads at Calvary, yet the 8th will rise again in the end times.

The numbers in this chapter are symbolic. Both 7 and 10 describe completeness and perfection to the ancient mind. Our interpretation should be qualitative in nature instead of quantitative. The 10 kings are simply a way of referring to a complete group of confederates that help the beast to establish his kingdom. They could be physical or spiritual in nature. However, it does not describe the European Common Market confederacy of today. Alan F. Johnson describes the 10 confederates of the beast as “none other than the principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms that Paul describes as the true enemies of Jesus’ followers (Ephesians 6:12). To be sure, they use earthly instruments, but their reality is far greater than any specific historical manifestations.” (see Johnson A. F., p. 161, below) It seems that the 10 confederates are earthly instruments of the spiritual forces operating behind the scenes.


III. We must realize when a government perverts God’s laws and authority, it becomes evil.

vss. 13-14 13 These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

Foster_Bible_Pictures_0074-1_Offering_to_Molech

 Charles Foster etching “Offering to Molech” 1897. The little children were burned to death in offerings to the god Molech. This man in the picture is just going to put a little child in the idol’s arms. Other men are blowing on trumpets and beating on drums, and making a great noise, so that no one can hear the poor little child cry. WikiMedia Commons public domain image

The members, whether physical or spiritual, will give the beast their resources in order to build the Beast’s kingdom. Molech was  referred to as the “god of child sacrifice” by some. This deity was thought to be very well pleased with offerings that burned living people, notably children, in a fire. People sacrifice their children for promises of a better life.

Just like the beast has cohorts, the Lamb has his followers. They are: “called” (klētos), “chosen” (eklektos) and “faithful” (pistos) The beast has a bloodthirsty crew with him. The Lord has a faithful group of followers who follow him to death and back to life and who share his reign. What a contrast! The Lamb is referred to as kurios kurion—Lord of Lords. Caesar’s title was kurios—Lord. He also was referred to as basileus—king. These titles are the Lord Jesus Christ’s by divine right. He will manifest this fully at his Second Coming.


IV. We must realize that the more the beast seeks to rule over people, the more chaos breaks out. (vss. 15-17).

vs. 15-18 And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. 16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, 17 for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.

De_Neuville_-_The_Huns_at_the_Battle_of_Chalons_b

“The Huns at the Battle of Chalons” from page 135 of ”A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times”
Volume I of VI (1836-1885) Project Gutenberg

Here, as pointed out in verse 1, is the explanation of the image of sitting on the waters. Here is an allusion to the fact that there will be chaos in the nations at the end. The Antichrist will weld the competing nations into a unified whole. There will be great persecution of the Lord’s people. After his purpose is accomplished, the alliance will break up and the members will destroy their own confederation (compare Ezekiel 16:36-40.)

The Greek literally says “God placed it in their hearts to do one purpose.. .and to give their kingdom to the beast.” God is always in charge of all events on this earth. He never allows things to get out from his control. It may appear to us that things have gone awry, but they are underneath God’s sovereign control. He permits the alliance to hold until his purposes have been fulfilled. Then, things come apart. Jeremiah 10:25 says, “Pour but your wrath on the nations… . For they have devoured Jacob; they have devoured him completely and destroyed his homeland.”

This is not Rome of John’s day only. Babylon is too broad a symbol to only refer to Rome. It is rather a symbol of the world system in opposition to God in all ages that has passed from the scene only to morph and reappear. Caird says, “The ravaging of the whore by the monster and its horns is John’s most vivid symbol for the self-destroying power of evil.”

This we will see fully carried out in Chapter 18 next time!

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Antiochus Epiphanes (2021). Accessed 2 March 2021 from https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-israel/antiochus-epiphanes-the-bibles-most-notoriously-forgotten-villain/

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Ellicott, C. (1878). Accessed 1 March 2021 from https://biblehub.com/revelation/17-9.htm

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Revelation 17: Explaining the Scarlet Woman

Revelation 17:6-14

In previous posts, we saw the theme of Chapter 17—The woman riding the Beast symbolizes enticing evil behind the kingdoms of this world. The application of Revelation 17 is—

God will thoroughly destroy all religious-economic-political alliances
that seek to dominate people’s lives. 

I. We must look to God alone for a true assessment of the society in which we live! 

Light on my pathvs. 6b When I saw her, I marveled greatly.

John is “awestruck” by the woman. The Greek word is thaumazō “to be awestruck at something,” from thauma “a wonder” (see Bible Hub, below).  Note below that the earth-dwellers are awestruck  at the woman riding the beast. John needed explanation from God. God is the Creator, so He alone can explain His world.

“He who marries the spirit of the times will soon find himself a widower (see, Chesterton, below).

Milner gave us a beneficial caution — “Yes, God is at work in the world [today]. That doesn’t mean the church needs to be like the world. The best thing the church can do for the world is to be the church, not regurgitate graduate school seminar room talk…” (see Milner, emphasis mine, below.)

Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established,
that,
unless we love the truth, we cannot know it
(see, Pascal, below).

“On Jordan’s Stormy Banks,” states a truth that reinforces our need to look to God in order to understand our world. God’s light on our path is important as we walk in his world. The hymn speaks of heaven, but we have God’s light here as recorded in His Word.

O’er all those wide extended plains
Shines one eternal day;
There God the Son forever reigns,
And scatters night away.

Refrain
I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.


I met George Beverly Shea when he was over a 100 years old. I thanked him for the music, and it was a passing meeting in the corridor. Later I heard him sing on the radio a version of the above hymn, and it has stuck in mind ever since.


Revelation teaches us we shouldn’t care from which direction we are coming—rich or poor; high born or low born; beautiful or not. We should be very interested in where we are headed!  Earth-dwellers are at home here and are pulled constantly in the direction of the culture. Christians are bound for glory and are pulled toward it!


II. We ever must be on guard against the allurements of this world system, which steals our affections from God.

vs. 7 But the angel said to me, “Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her.

The earth-dwellers make up their own explanation of the world in opposition to God. They thus form a false religion around the beast. I have found over the years that alternative explanations for Holy Scripture’s events or teachings are not steps toward God, but are steps away from God. God alone deserves the emotional response of awe from us, and not the Beast. I dislike the ubiquitous “awesome” in our society. God alone should elicit awe from us!

John seeks and is satisfied with the explanation God gives. Rejection of God’s explanation of reality lies at the base of all false religion. Romans 1:21-23 gives us the historical progression of rejecting God’s explanation of reality and its results—

21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. [ESV; emphasis mine.]

Read further in Romans One to see the depths of descent into depravity. That descent began with a people “knowing God, but not honoring him as God. Idolatry begins with that one step down from giving God His rightful place.


III. We must realize there are no new falsehoods, but they are merely dredged up from the past by the evil one.

vs. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come. 

Our modern aversion toward history is not simply wrong, it is dangerous.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
(see Santayana, below.)

Seven Headed Hydra MonsterThis phrase has led to the interpretation of Babylon as a future reviving of the old Roman Empire in the future. (For further explanation of the dying and rising myths see the notes on Revelation 13:3; 13:14.) Many ancient commentators associate this dying and rising again of the beast with the Nero Redivivus Myths of the first century. (One popular myth believed Nero had been reborn in Parthia and would lead armies to conquer Rome. see Nero Redivivus legend, below.) However, this is not the case at all. The identification of Nero with one of the heads is impossible (as the notes on the next verse to be explained in the nest post will point out). The best identification of the symbols behind the beast is with the hydra-monster of the ancient mythology. The theological truth illustrated is that of Christ’s victory over the beast at Calvary. It is a destruction of the beast, but not the vanquishing of the beast from the battle field. That will occur at the Second Coming. We are living in between the defeat of Satan and the vanquishing of him and his cohorts from the battlefield. We are living between D-day and VE-day, so to speak.

Notes
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

Bible Hub. (2021). Thaumazō. Accessed 6 February 2021 from https://biblehub.com/greek/2296.htm

Chesterton, G. K. (2011). Accessed 27 February 2021 from https://bustedhalo.com/tag/contemporary-culture

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com

Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Milner, M. J. (n.d.) Retrived 6 February 2021 from https://www.one-eternal-day.com/2011/08/who-marries-spirit-of-age-will-soon.html

Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Nero Redivivus legend. (2020). Accessed 28 February 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nero_Redivivus_legend

Pascal, B. (2011). Accessed February 27, 2021 from https://bustedhalo.com/tag/contemporary-culture

WikiMedia Commons for Images

© 2021 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved