We look at the seriousness of sin and the judgment it brings. But not everyone is eternally punished. Revelation talks about the glorious ending in store for the saints. This is a call to be faithful and obedient and to not fear death. “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Chapter 15 focuses on the great victory. Tim examines why God pours out his wrath and what it takes to satisfy it. We begin in verse 8 of Revelation 14.
The Daniel 2 statue
In verse 8, And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”
We’re going to get into this much more when we get to chapter 17, but Babylon here is a city; and I’m going to take the position that it represents not just a city—although any kingdom always has a key city. Was Rome an empire or a city? Yes, right. So I imagine that this is going to be both.
But I think what we’re talking about here is this kingdom of man, this Daniel 2 statue. And it’s called Babylon because Babylon is the superior authority. It’s the head. And now we have it all wrapped into one. It’s just not one followed by another, followed by another. It’s now all in one.
And the kingdoms of this world have been overcome by the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.
Remember in Daniel chapter 2, you’ve got this statue, and then a rock made without hands comes and breaks the statue and then fills the whole earth. That part’s what’s happening now. The rock is on its way rolling to knock down that statue.
Babylon has fallen. This is the point where the rock hits the statue, and it starts to crumble.
You know in those epic movies when the computer graphics kick in, and something comes in, and the giant structure starts to blow up and fall. That’s what’s happening here.
The wages of sin
Babylon is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” We’ll see a little more about that in a minute. Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.
When you take that drink of the world and say I’m taking the cup of Babylon, you get two things when you get that. I will take the cup of the world. It looks good to me. I will drink of the cup of the world. You get two things when you take that big drink: You get the wrath of the world, and you get the wrath of God. What a deal! It’s a double bonus of wrath.
This is nothing different than what we’re told all through the New Testament epistles. Sin is death. The reward of sin is death. The wages of sin is death. And Paul’s point is you can have all the death you want, but since you’ve been delivered from it, why don’t you live apart from it instead? It’s a better deal.
Tormented…in the presence of the Lamb
Well, continuing on here, it’s just more intense. Not only that, He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
So if someone takes the mark of the beast, part of the indignation and wrath they get is to be tormented with fire and brimstone, where? In the center of the earth? Is that what it says? No. Where? In Hell? Is that what it says? It doesn’t say that. It says in the presence of the holy angels and the presence of the Lamb.
Let me just skip over really quick to Revelation 22:14, because when we get to the new city and the new heaven and the new earth, all things are made new, it says, Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
Some people get to go into the city. As a matter of fact, we’re going to see that the kings of the nations bring their glory into the city. But outside the city in the new earth are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. Living outside the city but don’t get to go in the city, in the new earth.
I don’t know who that is, but it could be that it’s the people who took the mark of the beast. And they’re living in the new earth, and living in the presence of the light of the Lamb that’s so bright you don’t even need the sun might be the lake of fire for them. And that might be the wrath of indignation in the presence of the holy angels and the presence of the Lamb.
It could be something else, but what’s for sure is when those guys under the altar say how long are you going to wait before you avenge our deaths? And God says just hang on a little longer, what is for sure is that’s going to take place. There is a consequence for injustice.
Their torment continues forever
Verse 11. And the smoke of their torment ascends aioniosaionios, to the age of the age. When you see forever and ever, to the age of the age, I’m pretty confident it means forever.
It doesn’t show up that often. Any other time, it means to the age, and you have to think what age are we talking about here? Which age?
When you see to the age of the age, I think you’re talking about all future ages. And, in this case, the torment is going to go all future ages.
That has been of late a question that people have asked, and in this particular instance, for these people, it’s clear.
The perseverance of the saints
Verse 12, Here is the patience of the saints—or the perseverance of the saints. Here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”
Here’s the perseverance of the saints. Don’t fear death. Be faithful unto death. In fact, in this particular case, death is now an extra bonus.
In the early church, they had a problem. People were trying to get arrested and thrown into the Coliseum to be eaten by the animals. They understood this. They knew if you died faithfully, you would get the max reward.
This teaching wasn’t diluted at that point in time. It’s since been kind of muddled up. And the church leaders had to go to people and say, no, no, no. No, that’s not the way this works! You’re not supposed to try to get killed. You’re supposed to live faithfully. And if that happens to you, it’s okay. But to live is Christ; to die is gain. The dying part God chooses, but we’re supposed to live. “Oh! okay.”
That’s going to be the case here. To live is Christ; to die is gain. And here, special benefit if you die in this era for your faith.
Be a great witness. Be faithful unto death.
The grapes of wrath
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. We’re going to see a different kind of harvest here.
He told us the fields are white, the laborers are few. Go into the harvest. He’s talking about harvesting souls for Christ. Now we’re going to have a different kind of harvest.
And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.
A sickle is a knife on the end of a stick, and you use it to manually cut wheat or some kind of grain. You whack it. They used to have to do all this by hand; they didn’t have combines. So this picture is of whacking and harvesting.
Verse 17. Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.”
Now we’re going in and we’re harvesting grapes because the grapes are ready to pick.
And so the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. We harvest the grapes, we put them in the wine bath, and now we’re going to go stomp them.
And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.
Now we have the grapes of wrath. This is the grapes of wrath. We have these grapes harvested, and then they’re mashed, and the result is this massive amount of blood.
Now, nobody’s confident exactly what this is talking about. But being an engineer, I did the calculation to see how feasible this was. If you look at how many pints of blood each person has and then calculate a hundred and eighty miles, which is what this furlongs is, and the height of a horse and 50 feet wide, which would be like a river, it takes about 20 million people to create that much blood.
Which is kind of interesting because that’s only ten percent of what some people translate Revelation 9:16 to mean: myriad of myriads that come to this battle. So if ten percent of them have their blood flow in one place, that would create a river this size.
So, yes, it’s very feasible to be literal.
Now, very quickly, chapter 15 is real short. Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.
We’ve got the seventh trumpet is where we’re at. And in the seventh trumpet, the seven bowls get poured out. So what’s about to happen, what we’re going to start next time is the seven bowls getting poured out.
And in this the wrath of God is complete. We’ll come back to that to finish. And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast—victory, what word? Nikao—over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass having harps of God. They sing the song—again, no mindless harps. They’re singing a song.—of Moses.
If you look at the song of Moses, it’s very interesting. If you want to look it up, you can. It’s Exodus 15:1. And it says, “We won! God drowned all the Egyptians, and we won!” But then they also sing the song of the Lamb, which is a new song. And it’s
“Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the saints!
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.
For all nations shall come and worship before You,
For Your judgments have been manifested.
You finally did it. No longer are you just promising that justice will be done. You’re doing justice. That’s the song of the Lamb.
So they’re singing those two songs: Justice has been done. We won.
Verse 5. After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues—It’s like a ceremony. I saw these doors open and these angels come marching out. And they’re clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands. They’re in their dress uniforms.
Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls—just like in a ceremony. They come up. The angels are standing there at attention. They come and hand them the bowl. They take the bowl because they’re ready to go do their thing. And the seven golden bowls are full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. It’s like a place you can’t go into for a while.
God doesn’t change
Well, the wrath of God. Of course we know a lot of people say the Old Testament was when God was mad, and the New Testament was when he was happy. The Old Testament was when God was ticked off and kind of went and killed people; and in the New Testament’s a different thing. We had a long-haired, soft-skinned, blue-eyed Jesus who came and loved everybody.
It says God’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. God has always been love. When he pours out his wrath, it’s always for our best interests. He destroyed the earth before Noah because the earth had filled with violence, and he wanted to get rid of that and try to rebuild an earth that wasn’t full of violence.
Why he pours out his wrath
He’s pouring out his wrath now for specific reasons. Let’s look at some of those:
One is, he’s destroying the destroyers. How do you keep the earth from continually being destroyed? How do you keep the earth from continually being corrupted? You have to go clean all that out.
Another thing he’s doing is getting rid of the world’s system that’s abusing people. That’s really a good thing.
God’s wrath is often—and it’s here as well—simply people getting what they demand.
In Romans 1, it says God gives us over to our own passions, if we insist. It gives us over to our own lusts, if we insist. Addictions. So we start with passion, it becomes an addiction, and then it becomes a mindset that we can’t escape from.
If you get into an addiction, you eventually get to the point where you don’t think right. And I’ve talked to some people who say in our era, almost everybody’s addicted to something. It may be media; it may be a substance, it may be materialism.
To get out of that, you have to renew your mind. And God can do that. He has the power to do that. And stop serving this thing. It’s really a form of idolatry when we serve an appetite of some sort.
Sometimes people say will God pour out his wrath on people? They seem like nice people to me. Only if they insist. Only if that’s what they desire. Because God’s making it clear to people how to get out of wrath. People don’t want to. Remember, here, all these plagues, and people say, “That’s the Lamb of God. Who can escape?” and yet they do not repent. And that is the heart of man.
What we say is, “I want out of this addiction! I want out of this negative consequence! Why won’t God deliver me?” Well, will you take a step of faith? “No, no, no! I don’t want to do anything! I just want the consequence to go away! I still want my idol.”
That’s not the way it works. The wages of sin is death. And if we insist on having death, we will have it.
The wrath of God is complete
And the wrath of God is complete. I’ll end with this. Complete.
This is the Greek word teleo. We’re back in verse 1 of chapter 15. This is the Greek word teleo. I’m going to go through seven instances in Revelation where this word shows up.
Revelation 10:7. The mystery of God is teleo. Finished.
Revelation 11:7. The testimony is finished.
Revelation 15:8. The seven plagues, completed. They were finished.
Revelation 17:17. The words of God were fulfilled.
Revelation 23. Satan was put in the bottomless pit until a thousand years were finished or completed.
And that’s Revelations 25. Same thing. A thousand years finished.
And then, finally, Revelation 27, the thousand years expired, finished, complete.
So the wrath of God is going to be finished. Will God’s wrath go away? Yes. There will be a time when God is wrathful no more. And when will that be? When his wrath is finished. When it’s done its job. Because what we’re headed for is to see a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness reigns.
That’s the promise of Daniel’s 70th week that will bring in everlasting righteousness. Well, that’s where we’re headed. We’re going to have everlasting righteousness. We’re not going to need the wrath of God anymore because it’s all cleaned up.
When we get there, remind me, I’ll show you this. We’re going to see that people are going to walk along, see Satan on the side of the road, and say, “Isn’t that the guy who used to create all kinds of trouble for us? Look how low he’s fallen!”
I think that maybe is going to be Satan’s biggest torment is that he who viewed himself as the king of all things is just going to be a miserly beggar that just can’t affect anything. Awesome, huh?