We complete the discussion we began in the last two episodes concerning the antichrist and the fall of Babylon. Tim wraps up the interlude story and tells us what the cast of characters may represent. We then move into “the victory chapter” of Revelation; Chapter 19. In these verses, we see God cleaning up and asserting his control. This interlude story leads to a scene where we witness God’s redemption and the worship of the angels.
Yesterday I happened to catch a little bit of a football game, and the home team was losing. Right at the end of the game, they were about at the 50-yard line. And all the other team had to do to win the game was just not let anything crazy happen. They weren’t even close enough to do one of those “hail Mary” things. And wouldn’t you know it—the defensive back let a guy get behind him, and they threw a bomb for a touchdown and went ahead by four points with ten seconds left. The home team went crazy. The players went crazy. Everybody went crazy because you just don’t win games that way very often.
As a matter of fact, they went so crazy they got an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty, and had to kick off from the 20. So then you think, well, you know, crazier things have happened. And sure enough, the other team got the ball at midfield, threw a “hail Mary,” and the guy caught it. And so their tremendous victory went into an unbelievable defeat.
And I’ll bet you you’ll see a repeat of that game a hundred times because it’s just so exciting because we like victory, and especially when one team gets the victory, and then all of the sudden, the other team gets the victory. It’s just fascinating to us.
Well, I’m going to nominate today’s lesson as the best chapter in the Bible because this is when the “hail Mary” happens, and we win. This is what happens today.
We’ll pick up in Revelation 18 where we left off last week.
We’ve been seeing one of these interludes that goes from the historical sequence to kind of the grand historical overview. And we saw the historical sequence is the judgments: We had seven seals as the scroll unrolls. You break the seal, and a story happens that’s judgment on the earth. God’s cleaning up. The sheriff’s cleaning up the town so we have a great place to live again.
And in the seventh seal, you get seven trumpets. And in the seventh trumpet, you get seven bowls. And the bowls of God’s wrath pours out on the earth. The sheriff’s cleaning up the town, getting rid of all the bad guys.
But then you get this historical overview, and you get these characters. And there’s the whore, the prostitute sitting on the beast on the waters. And that’s kind of the central character in the story we saw last episode.
And the interpretation that I offered to you is that the harlot represents—and some of this is just plainly explained; some of it’s inferred. The harlot represents Mystery Babylon, it’s called, which is the commercial center of the world, the commercial enterprise, the market system that exists. And we’re going to see in a minute, it’s the queen of the earth.
And the political system is reconstituted Rome. We saw Rome as a beast. And it had a lion as a head and all the components that were in Daniel, the four kingdoms, the lion, the bear, the leopard, now they’re all in one beast—so all the components of that beast.
The beast represents the antichrist. And the antichrist sits on seven hills, which is Rome, so it’s the Roman empire. And he’s of these seven kings, five were, one is, one is yet to come for a small time. And he’s the eighth, but he’s of the seven. So it’s the idea that this fellow, this beast, will be a satanic creature. He’s the antichrist. He’s the dragon man. He’s the false messiah. He’s the embodiment of Satan on earth. And he is also a reconstituted Roman emperor.
So you have the Roman emperor and this commercial system that are the king and queen.
What we ended with in the last episode was this admonition, “Come out of her.” And we talked about being in the world, but not of it. And this spirit is still going on today. We’re still in the Roman era, and the Roman era has—as we saw in the early stages of Revelation—Satan is at the seat of power. Satan is still on his earthly throne. And this game of thrones that we’re watching here is all about Satan being dispossessed, and Jesus comes on and then invites his overcomers to share it with him. That’s the overall historical perspective that we’re getting here. So we’ll pick back up.
The confidence of the economic system
Verse 7. In the measure that she glorified herself—speaking of this Mystery Babylon, this commercial system—and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’
And we talked about this, that one of the ways this could happen is if you have this mark of the beast necessary to buy and sell, you essentially have government monopoly that’s been given. I can sell because I have approval from the government. And you have this vast wealth that’s created, which is always what happens with cronyism. A few people get fabulously wealthy with cronyism.
And this commercial enterprise says, I’ve got the government backing me. I’m automatically bailed out no matter what happens. I have a guarantee for everything I do. I’m protected. Nobody can knock me off. I’m no widow. I’m safe. I have it all put together.
That’s the best you can get if you’re a commercial business is if you have the government protecting you from competition, and the government may be even mandating that people buy your wares. How can you get any better than that from a standpoint of making profit?
Well, this Mystery Babylon—as we saw last week—is blamed for the martyrdom of the believers, the martyrdom of the saints. The way they get that power is by compromising with the government and persecuting the government’s enemies. That’s the way cronyism works. I give you something; you give me something. And cronyism is rampant in all societies at all times. It’s sometimes so bad that it overwhelms the system. And sometimes it’s just like a constant flu that you fight off, and there’s enough immunities in the system to overcome it.
But cronyism is going to become to the point where if you’re not in the system, you actually get killed.
The fall of the economic system
But this harlot, this Mystery Babylon says, “I am invincible.” Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.
And the Lord judges her through the ten kings who say, “You know what? We don’t want to be beholden to this commercial system anymore. We’re just going to kill it.”
Verse 9. The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her—So you have these ten kings that are the allies of the antichrist that kill this commercial system, but the other kings are unhappy about it. They liked their luxurious life.
And—when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.’
18:11. And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore:
Apparently when they kill this enterprise, they kill it as dead as a doornail because it sounds like trade just stops.
The economic system had enslaved people
Verse 12. —merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple silk and scarlet, every kind of citron wood, every kind of object of ivory, every kind of object of most precious wood, bronze, iron, and marble; and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and bodies and souls of men.
It’s interesting to think about bodies and souls of men being traded. You know that’s what the commercial system really, ultimately wants. It wants to just trade on your souls. And, in fact, if they could put addictive substances in stuff to get you to buy it, they would and have in the past.
I read an article recently about the media. The media is becoming an addiction for people. The point of the article was the way you make money in media is getting people to click more and look more, and they’re figuring out what gets people riveted, which is the same thing as what gets people addicted. And it’s becoming a vicious circle. And now some people, basically, can’t take their eyes off of the screen for long periods of time.
You sort of have the soul of a person, and you’re sucking the life out of them for your own profit. And that’s the tendency of commercial systems if they can get away with it.
Verse 14. The fruit that your soul longed for has gone from you, and all the things which are rich and splendid have gone from you, and you shall find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, who became rich by her, will stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls! For in one hour such great riches came to nothing.’ Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and as many as trade on the sea, stood at a distance and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What is like this great city?’
And we talked about this that probably this Babylon represents a spirit, represents a commercial system, and probably is represented by a city that is kind of the center of the activities. There’s always a city that’s kind of the center of things in any system. So that’s probably talking about all of the above.
Verse 19. They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and wailing, and saying, ‘Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth! For in one hour she is made desolate.’ “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her!”
So when people do commercial enterprise in a way that abuses people, and especially when it’s cronyism and it coerces people, it kills people. It brings death to the earth. It brings slavery to the earth. And God doesn’t like it. And, apparently, it’s going to develop to the point where people are actually killed through this system.
And you can see that happening, can’t you? You have this system that collects information, and the governments say, “Give us that information! In exchange for that, we’ll give you protection. And you give us the information, and then we’ll find out who’s not loyal to us, and we’ll go slaughter them.” That’s not hard to conceive of in our current era, is it?
The economic system is killed by its partner
This system, though, is going to be completely obliterated. And interestingly enough, by its own husband, essentially. The king, this Roman governmental system, actually, part of that goes and kills the commercial system.
I can see that happening as well. It’s like, we don’t like sharing power anymore. We’re just going to eliminate all this. You’ve already set it up where you can only buy and sell with the approval of the government, right?
So once somebody has that power, they can use it however they want to. And it’s easy for me to see them just saying we’re going to cut out all the merchants, and we’re just going to sell what we want to sell, the government. Easy to see a scenario like that.
Everything is shut down
Verse 21. Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore. The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore, and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore.
This is pretty drastic. Millstone is industry. You know, commercial enterprise where you’re taking corn and grinding it. So production, manufacturing shuts down. Craftsmen making goods and buying and selling goods shuts down. And then musicians. It’s either a hobby or it’s an indication that there’s wealth somewhere; there’s enough money to pay somebody to do nothing but play music. So, basically, leisure activity shuts down, commercial activity shuts down, and the exchange of commercial goods shuts down. It’s a complete obliteration of the commercial system, apparently.
The economic system used mind-altering sorcery
The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived.
Sorcery here is the word pharmakeia, the Greek word pharmakeia. Anytime you see sorcery, that’s most likely the word. And, of course, we get our word pharmaceutical from it.
In the practice of the occult, typically, drugs are used because it’s mind altering. To believe you are powerful and the center of something, you kind of have to alter your mind as part of that exercise. And so this is going to involve, apparently, some wide use of drugs in the deception.
I was just reading an article recently about the massive spread of opiate addictions and, apparently, starting with prescriptions. Goes to prescription, and then I’ll find something cheaper. And this is a massive problem we have.
Now, not to say that all of this is about to happen. It’s been imminent ever since this was written. “A day is a thousand years.” So it’s always imminent. But certainly, we could be on the doorstep of all these things happening, without a doubt.
The commercial system martyred believers
Verse 24. And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.
So, the commercial system is actually blamed for the martyrdom of the believers. Now, once again, the word martyr is a translation of the Greek word martyreo, which most often is translated witness. The only time they translate that martyr in English is when the context implies that someone lost their physical life.
But again, the overarching message of Revelation is very simple. The events are not simple, but the message is simple. The overarching message is to be a great martyreo and do not fear death. Do what I’ve given you to do until I come back because my reward is in my hand. That’s the basic message of Revelation.
The residents of heaven rejoice at the destruction of the wicked
So now, chapter 19, the victory chapter. And again, what is the Greek word for victory? Nikao, the Greek goddess of victory, Nike. The victory is coming. And that’s what Revelation calls us to do: Be an overcomer. Be a nikao. Be a victor. And how do you do that? Be a great witness. Don’t fear death.
After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.”
You know the idea of heaven that there’s no real passion there, that there’s this kind of mindless staring off into space and plucking on a harp—hasn’t Revelation blown that away? We saw that harps are always accompanying singing.
One of the big songs was the song of Moses, which is “We are the champions. We beat ’em!” And here they’re saying, “Way to go, God, because you blasted the enemy! You crushed them! Because they’re evil, and you’re good! And you’re the sheriff, and you came in and cleaned up the town!”
I mean, if you lived in a town that was overrun by the bad guys, and your kids couldn’t go play in the street because there were so many bad guys, and the sheriff came in and cleaned up the town, wouldn’t you say, “Yahoo! My kids can go out in the street again!”?
And that’s what heaven is saying. They’re saying, “You’ve avenged these people who are evil and have filled the world with violence and have killed the believers. Way to go!” They’re excited because they like justice, and justice is finally happening! After all this time of holding back, God is finally coming in and cleaning things up.
Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!” They’re really excited about this destruction!
Haven’t you ever been to a movie when the bad guys are just about to win; and right at the end, they come in, and they all get killed? And the audience goes, “Yeaahhh!” Have you ever stood up and said, “What’s wrong with all you? Do you like death? What’s the matter with everybody?”
No! You cheer too, because it’s the bad guys getting killed. And that’s what’s happening here. The bad guys are getting killed. They had every chance. Remember, they had all these plagues. And they looked, and they said, “The Lamb of God’s doing this. We hate you!” But they wouldn’t repent.
God gave them chance after chance after chance. They wouldn’t repent.
Finally, he’s cleaning it up.
Verse 4. And the twenty-four elders—we’re back in the throne room again. Throne shows up 41 times in Revelation. God’s on his throne. That’s one of the other overarching messages. No matter how bad out of control things look on earth, God’s still in control. He’s still on his throne. No one ever contests the throne in heaven.
And by this point Satan’s been pitched out of heaven. He finally got evicted.
In verse 4. And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne—Where’s God? While this is happening? He’s still on his throne. He never left! While the bowls are pouring out, and all this judgment’s happening, God’s on his throne. That’s why it’s happening: because he’s judging.
A voice came from the throne
And they say, “Amen! Alleluia!” Then a voice came from the throne—Now remember this voice. This voice is going to be very important.—a voice came from the throne—What came from the throne? A voice. Remember this voice. —saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!”
So somebody from the throne has a speaking part, and I think we’re going to meet him again here in a second.
And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! You know, we’ve seen various times where the “Hallelujah Chorus” kicks in, right? Like “For our Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” That’s from Revelation. Well, here we are again. They just can’t help themselves. Just “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigns!”