Revelation 21-22 New Heavens and Earth

TMS Leviticus 19:11 Honesty is the Best Policy
Leviticus 19:11 “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.”

Observations: 19:11 Although the contents of this verse is included in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), it's worth having as a separate memory verse because these sins are so common in our society. We're tempted to steal or deal falsely (not portray things honestly in good faith) or lie to and deceive others because we don't believe God. We don't trust that He is good, and will give what's best, when it's best. So we disobey Him, and violate the rights of others, and fail to act in love, to satisfy our selfish appetites. We also don't believe that God is omniscient and just. We don't fear His judgment, both for being unfaithful to Him and unjust to others.
Hebrews 4:13 "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account."
Application: When tempted to act unrighteously, think about how you'll explain it to a fearsomely holy God.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me be content with Your provision, and help me follow Your will so You can develop me and give me all that is best for me. Thanks. Amen.

Revelation 21-22 The final chapters of the Bible present the eternal blessing and rewards the faithful believers will receive and enjoy when Christ returns. John sees the new heavens and new earth, the future heavenly Jerusalem descend out of heaven and takes a tour. He sees the River of Life and the Tree of Life, and records the promises of Jesus to the Church Age saints. Jesus freely offers the water of life to whomever thirsts, but the fruits of the Tree of Life are reserved exclusively for those who faithfully obey Him (just like it was in the Garden of Eden). Drink deeply, and eat heartily.

Revelation 21 Heavenly City Hovers
21:1 "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more. 2 I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, "Behold, God’s dwelling is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away." 5 He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." He said, "Write, for these words of God are faithful and true."
6 He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give freely to him who is thirsty from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes, I will give him these things. I will be his God, and he will be My son. 8 But for the cowardly, unfaithful, sinners, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death."

9 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were loaded with the seven last plagues came, and he spoke with me, saying, "Come here. I will show you the wife, the Lamb’s bride." 10 He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, as if it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal; 12 having a great and high wall; having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. 13 On the east were three gates; and on the north three gates; and on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. 15 He who spoke with me had for a measure, a golden reed, to measure the city, its gates, and its walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, and its length is as great as its breadth. He measured the city with the reed, Twelve thousand twelve stadia. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. 17 Its wall is one hundred forty-four cubits, by the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 18 The construction of its wall was jasper. The city was pure gold, like pure glass. 19 The foundations of the city’s wall were adorned with all kinds of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprasus; the eleventh, jacinth; and the twelfth, amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls. Each one of the gates was made of one pearl. The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple. 23 The city has no need for the sun, neither of the moon, to shine, for the very glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk in its light. The kings of the earth bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. 25 Its gates will in no way be shut by day (for there will be no night there), 26 and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it so that they may enter. 27 There will in no way enter into it anything profane, or one who causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life."

Observations: 21:1 Next John sees a new heaven and a new earth, because the first ones passed away (aorist), and the sea as well as the land mass was no more. This is chronologically after the Millennium, in which the sea still exists (Ezekiel 47:8-20; 48:28; Zechariah 14:8). The need for a new earth is that the old one was cursed, and thus an unsuitable place for God to dwell (Genesis 3:17; Isaiah 24:4-6; 19-23). Isaiah and the other prophets saw the future events of the Day of the Lord from afar, viewing multiple events (such as the Tribulation, various judgments, the Millennium, and the Eternal State), like a mountain range, and not distinguishing the spaces and valleys in between them. John sees them up close and differentiates between them. Peter gave a little more commentary on the climactic destruction of the atmospheric heavens and terrestrial earth.
2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”
Like becoming a spiritual child of God, the new heaven and earth are not a reformation, but a new creation.
21:2-5 John also sees the holy city, the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, which implies it previously existed beyond the atmospheric heavens (Hebrews 8:5). The city was radiant/glorious like a bride. John hears the last of loud voices proclaiming that God's dwelling is with men, as it was back in the Garden before the Fall. The relationship has been restored. One has to wonder where the people are in all this, especially if the old physical order is no more. In order for there to be people existing on the new earth, they had to be removed from the old one, and placed back on the new one. God will wipe away every tear (same word as blot out); there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain, because the old “order” is past, and God on His throne, speaking directly for the first time since 1:8), says He is making all things new. As Isaiah wrote in
Isaiah 65:17 "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” 
God specifically tells John to write the words of the faithful and true God as John was told earlier (in Revelation 14:13 and Revelation 19:9) so his readers could put their faith and hope in God's revelation.
21:6-8 God affirms His sovereignty, and two actions that flow from it. First, that He gives freely, to all who thirst, from the spring of the water of life. This was promised by Jesus to the woman at the well and is affirmed again in one of the last verses in the Bible (next chapter Revelation 22:17).
John 4:14 "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."Revelation 22:17 "And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”
The emphasis is on God giving a free gift, to whomever wants it. As seen throughout the Scriptures, part of God's sovereign plan is for humans to have free will, and sovereign consequences attached to their free choices. Anyone who thirsts is offered the solution.
Note, in Jesus' offer to the woman, the distinction between reception of the water and the eternal life which follows. See the discussion at the end of the last chapter about eternal life (dominion of the Age) being given as a gift to those who believe and are born-again. There is a distinction, as the next aspect of God's pronouncement make clear.
The second action that flows from God's sovereignty is God giving heirship to overcomers. There is a correspondence between these last chapters and the first ones of Revelation, where the overcomers are promised rewards; those who don't overcome (be victorious) don't get them, but forfeit whatever they would have (see comments on the parable of the minas - Luke 19:24). For victorious overcomers, there is intimacy with God (cf the distinction between priests in Ezekiel 44). The recognition of a child as a son or an heir indicated that they would have the right of inheritance (equated with reward - Colossians 3:24 and in OT = 1 Corinthians 10 references). In the justice of God, for the losers, there is loss, which continues into the eternal state if one is following the sequential chronology. For believers who behave badly (see the list in verse 8) their allotted portion or inheritance is burned in the lake of fire. Works are burned or tried in Gehenna (1 Corinthians 3:15) the garbage dump outside the city, where faithful believers works are shown to be gold, silver and precious stones that remain, and result in eternal reward. The losers works are wood, hay, and stubble, and nothing remains to exchange for reward (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:37). The inheritance or allotted portion of the unfaithful (see comments on Revelation 20:26) is in the lake of fire. Note carefully that the text does not say that the losers themselves are tossed into the lake of fire. That was the destiny of those who had never believed in Christ, and thus never got their names written in the Book of Life. All the “unbelievers” were consigned to the never ending torment of the lake of fire at the end of the last chapter (Revelation 20:15). This is a new day and new world in chapter 21, the old has passed. So these losers can't be those who were tossed into the lake of fire at the end of the last chapter. Again, note that these are not tossed but their allotted portion or inheritance (not place) is in the lake of fire. We'll actually see these losers again in the next chapter, excluded from the city. For some reason folks who've been exposed to a faulty oral tradition all their lives can't see the difference between justification and glorification, which is essential for understanding what might amount to a hundred difficult passages in the Scriptures (I haven't counted them, but that might be a low estimate, if one includes all the parables and contexts).
21:9-21 One of the angels who had one of the seven bowl/vial plagues invited John to see the wife, the Lamb's bride. This is not a person, nor a group of people (like Israel or the Church) but rather the heavenly city of New Jerusalem, in contrast to the harlot Babylon. The marriage imagery is used of the Church, Israel, and the City, and it should be obvious that they are not all the same entity just because they are described with the same imagery. John gets carried away in the Spirit to a mountain to view the descent of the city from heaven. The nation of Israel is still a distinct entity from the Church, as indicated by the names of the tribes being on each gate. The arrangement echos that of the nation camping around the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle, on which dwelt the Shekinah glory of God. The wall of the city had foundations with the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb, representing the Church. Both Jews and Gentiles are united in future dwelling place of God, which is what Paul and Peter taught should be their status in the Church Age (Ephesians 2:22: 1 Peter 2:5). The angel measures the city: it has four equal sides and could be a cube (like the Holy of Holies) or a pyramid, 1,500 miles per side (more than 75% of the land mass of the Continental USA).
21:22-27 John saw no temple in the city, which distinguishes it very clearly from Ezekiel's Millennial Temple, because the Lord and the Lamb are its temple, perhaps meaning there is no longer any need for symbolic ritual, since the reality is present. There is no need for sun or moon because the glory of God gives light, as radiating from the lamp of the Lamb. The nations will walk by the light of the glory of God, which gives perpetual day, and no night. What are the nations doing in this picture? The kings of the earth (which implies that there are nations and kings organized in a hierarchical structure on earth, and not everyone is in the city) bring tribute, the glory and honor of the nations, into the city, so they may enter it (so much for the thought of a classless society in heaven, unless this isn't heaven). The kings only enter bearing gifts. No common, nor profane person, nor defiled (abomination), nor a liar can enter the city, but only those whose names have been (perfect tense) written in the Lamb's Book of Life, the register of those who can participate in the rule of a kingdom (see comments at the end of last chapter). Why is there a reference to there being people excluded from the city? See next chapter.

Application: God graciously gives life to whomever wants it, but inheritance only to overcomers; those who exclude Him from their lives now will be excluded from His life in the future.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are my God; may I be a faithful son/daughter who enjoys Your fellowship forever. Thanks. Amen.

Revelation 22 Free Water, Earned Blessing
22:1 "And He showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruits, yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 There will be no curse any more. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants serve Him. 4 They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no night, and they need no lamp light; for the Lord God will illuminate them. They will reign forever and ever.
6 He said to me, "These words are faithful and true. The Lord God of the spirits of the prophets sent His angel to show to His bondservants the things which must happen soon." 7 "Behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." 8 Now I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. When I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who had shown me these things. 9 He said to me, "See you don’t do it! I am a fellow bondservant with you and with your brothers, the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God." 10 He said to me, "Don’t seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. 11 He who acts unjustly, let him act unjustly still. He who is filthy, let him be filthy still. He who is righteous, let him do righteousness still. He who is holy, let him be holy still."
12 "Behold, I come quickly. My reward is with Me, to repay to each man according to his work. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
16 I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify these things to you for the assemblies. I am the root and the offspring of David; the Bright and Morning Star. 17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" He who hears, let him say, "Come!" He who is thirsty, let him come. He who desires, let him take the water of life freely.
18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book, if anyone adds to them, may God add to him the plagues which are written in this book. 19 If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, may God take away his part from the book of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book.
20 He who testifies these things says, "Yes, I come quickly." Amen! Yes, come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints. Amen."

Observations: 22:1-5 Continuing the tour, the angel shows John a river, containing the water of life, that proceeds out from the throne of God and the Lamb. In the Millennial temple (Ezekiel 47) similar waters, flanked by many trees, flowed from under the threshold of the temple to the sea. A comparison of the two records indicate two different scenes (there is no temple in the Heavenly Jerusalem). On either side of the river of the water of life in the heavenly city was a tree of life (no definite article) which means there were two trees or one that spanned the river. The tree of life bore twelve kinds of fruit, perhaps one each month, and its leaves were for the healing of the nations. Why do the nations need healing? There is no curse any more. This is a reversal of Genesis 3 where the earth was cursed, and farming difficult (earthly trees only yield fruit seasonally) to a restoration of the pre-Fall state where abundance was the rule. The throne of God and the Lamb are in the city, and His servants shall serve/worship Him (cf Revelation 7:15-17 where the worship of the Lamb by the Tribulation saints is described with the same word and a similar setting). John rounds out the blessings of faithful God's servants describing the intimacy they enjoy with God (similar to that in the pre-Fall Garden). His name is on their foreheads, like the High Priest who alone was allowed into the Holy of Holies. There is no longer any night, nor need for lamp light, for God illuminates them, and they will reign forever and ever. Over whom do the faithful saints/servants reign? Angels (1 Corinthians 6:3)? Over whom do the kings of 21:24 (above) reign? There it is specified as the nations.
Most of the difficulties raised in the above questions find a resolution in a view I first heard form one of my old professors (really old, he's a few years shy of the century mark), Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, author of “Things to Come.” In class one day he mentioned that some thought the New Jerusalem hovered over the old earth during the Millennium, giving light to the earth (remember the sun got pretty trashed in the Tribulation), and then would finally settle on a new earth after the old one had been destroyed. Because the old earth was cursed, it could not be the abode of God “in person.” That's all I remember for the class, but this view allows for there to be kings and nations outside the city, faithful saints allowed into it, and unfaithful believers to be excluded from it. Faithful believers with glorified bodies (2 Corinthians 4-5) would be able to move between earth and a city suspended above it. Unfaithful, non-glorified “naked” believers wouldn't. One of the ways those believers ruling over the nations would be able to maintain their rule, during the Millennium, would be by having access to the leaves of the Tree of Life, to dispense for various ailments of the 1,000 year period (wrinkles being a major problem). The inhabitants of the nation of Israel would have access to the healing waters which flowed from under the Millennial temple (Ezekiel 47:8-9), so the leaves weren't specified for them. So while seeing the Heavenly Jerusalem which doesn't rest on earth until after the Millennial Kingdom, John describes features of it that relate to the Kingdom. An alternative view is to say that prophesy is a jumbled affair that doesn't always make sense, and John was just seeing a tangled mess and telling us parts of it out of order. But since there is a scenario that accounts for all the facts (see Sidebar for the 7 Questions, “How Do You Know What's True?”), and in light of the following verses, it's worth seeking an embracing that which best explains all the facts.
22:6-11 The angel says that the God of the spirits of the prophets has sent him to show what must happen soon, so that believers will understand and obey the revelation. Those who do will be blessed (those who don't, won't be blessed). When John heard and saw these things he fell down to worship at the feet of the angel (again - Revelation 19:9-10). The angel admonishes him to worship only God, and not seal or hide the words of the prophecy of this book because “the time is at hand.” These words stress that believers of all ages should always live ready to face their final day of judgment and retribution, which one day will be the next day. Verse 11 is somewhat ironic, sinners might as well continue to be sinners, and saints should continue to be saints because any day the judgment will come and fix them in their choices. While the faithful should continue to be faithful in light of the coming judgment, obviously sinners should repent.
22:12-15 Jesus now speaks, giving His last Sermon on Motivation. He is the Alpha and Omega, whom none can supersede (cf comments on Revelation 1:7-8 where He makes the same claim). He is coming quickly, and His reward is with Him. When He returns He will repay (as in wages that are earned) each person according to his works. No work, no pay (what about Colossians 3:24 don't people understand?). The believers who get blessed are those who have done, (as in works) his commandments (as in plural). This goes beyond belief (forgiveness/justification by faith) to faithful obedience and works (sanctification) which will result in reward (glorification). All three are aspects of our salvation, and effectively reverse the effects of the Fall. Only those believers who obey will have the right to the Tree of Life in the heavenly city. Only glorified believers will be able to enter the city.
Outside the city are the unfaithful believers who accepted Christ as an insurance policy against the lake of fire. These are the ones who were ruled over during the Millennium, or were resurrected after the 1,000 year reign of Christ. The first resurrection before the start of the Kingdom was the resurrection of the righteous. This was the “first in kind” since, Christ, the righteous first-fruits after His resurrection from the Cross, the raptured saints (holy ones), and the two-witnesses would also be among those experiencing the “first resurrection.”
The second resurrection, after the Kingdom was for the unrighteous/unfaithful. If one understands the term “in Christ” to mean faithful believers “in union with Christ” (which is the only way to read most contexts where the term shows up), then only such believers would have been resurrected before the Kingdom to reign with Christ. It's possible such critters were included in the Rapture, in which case they would be among those ruled over. If not raptured, then these are the ones whose names had been written in the Book of Life, and then crossed out for renouncing their allegiance to Christ by their independent lifestyles. They were spared the lake of fire because they had been written in the Book of Life as a result of being justified/forgiven by faith (see comments on Revelation 20:15). These are those who were not allowed to enter the city in 20:8 whose inheritance (allotted portion, not themselves) was in the lake of fire (in contrast to the inheritance of the faithful in Revelation 20:7). They are the believers Paul warned would not have an inheritance in the kingdom. He was warning believers who do these things.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."Ephesians 5:5-6 "For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience."
They are also the forgiven but deceived Jews who refused their invitation to the wedding feast in the kingdom of heaven (see Matthew 22:1-14) who would not enjoy the festivities.
Matthew 8:11-12 "And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
22:16-17 Jesus says He sent His angel to testify to these thing for the benefit of the assemblies/churches. He is the Promised Messiah, the offspring of David (cf Revelation 5:5 the One who has prevailed to open the seals of the title deed to the earth; as well as the Davidic descendant prophesied of in the Davidic Covenant - 2 Samuel 7; Psalm 89), and the bright and morning star (predicted in Numbers 24:17 and 2 Peter 1:19; cf Revelation 2:28). As the Messiah, He invites anyone who hears and desires to come and take the water of life freely. This is the gracious offer of God to all humanity, each of which is slowly dying of thirst.
22:18-19 Jesus also gives a solemn warning that if any man, woman, priest or prophet adds to the book any additional revelation, claiming it to be from God, God will add to him the plagues written in this book. Jesus alone is the one who can open the seals and who has redeemed people, and will rule over them in the prophesied Kingdom. If anyone takes away from the words, God will take away his “allotted portion” from the book of life (a textual variant has “tree” but “book” fits the context), as in deprive of inheritance and access to the city (cf comments on Revelation 20:6; 21:8).
22:20 Jesus testifies to the veracity of these things and promises He will come quickly. John adds his prayer that the Lord Jesus will come, and then prays that the covenantal blessing of the grace of the Lord Jesus the Messiah would be with all the holy ones (saints).

Application: Those who do what Christ has commanded will be blessed and repaid when He returns to reward His faithful servants. Those who don't obey don't get rewarded nor blessed.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I look forward to Your return and reward; please guide me in doing all that is pleasing in Your sight. Thanks. Amen.

Digging Deeper:

God in a nutshell: God will one day dwell with faithful men (and women) on a new earth, receiving the worship due Him, freely rendered by those who believe Him.

Build-a-Jesus: Jesus is coming soon to reward those faithful to Him, who do/obey His commandments. He freely offers the water of life to all, and the fruits of the Tree of Life to the glorified saints who obey Him (cf Genesis 1-3).

Us in a nutshell: Those who faithfully obey will be blessed and rewarded, have an inheritance in the kingdom, will rule with Christ, and have intimate access to God in the most pleasurable place in the history of the universe. Those who are unfaithful to Christ now will miss out on all those benefits, eternally. What could possibly be worth it?

Where to Go for More:

Don't miss the upcoming Catacomb Church Blog!

Future DTB Posts will finish the TMS and have info about upcoming plans.

Revelation 19-20 The Return of the King of Kings

TMS 1 Peter 2:11 Abstinence is Biblical
1 Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims,
abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”

Observations: 2:11 Peter is concerned about the spiritual wellbeing and eternal happiness of his readers. He wants them to experience the blessings God has for them in this life and the next (cf 2 Peter 1:11 below). He warns them of their adversary the devil (1 Peter 5:8), but the thing most likely to do them in, is their unsanctified desires. So in the verse above he says believers should live on this planet as sojourners and pilgrims (we're just passing through an alien land for spiritual purposes). Our real home isn't here, so we shouldn't get too comfortable. In fact, we should abstain from (and steer clear away from) any fleshly lusts (desires for the temporal, particularly illegitimate sensual attractions), because such distractions war against our souls. Our souls (mind, will, emotions) are what we use to exchange our temporal days for the eternal delights of God. If we're distracted and consumed by gratifying our desires for temporal power (security/significance), pleasures, or possessions, we can't be busy laying up treasure in heaven, nor delighting in the presence of God, in Whose hand are pleasures forever more.
2 Peter 1:2 "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue...10...for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Application: Don't become a casualty like Demas who loved this present world, and departed from the path of righteousness; instead learn to kill your deadly desires, and live happily ever after.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me keep my desires and appetites focused on what is of eternal benefit, so I don't get stuffed and consumed by the temporal that never really satisfies. Amen.

Revelation 19-20 In these penultimate chapters of the Bible, the Lord Jesus actually reigns: He celebrates the wedding feast of the Lamb, returns to earth, defeats and tosses the Anti-Christ and False Prophet into the lake of fire, and treads the winepress of God, killing their followers; He resurrects and rewards faithful OT and Tribulation saints, has Satan bound, and as promised, reigns over His Millennial Kingdom for a thousand years. Satan is loosed to deceive the nations once more, but is defeated in the battle of Gog and Magog, and tossed into the lake of fire with the other members of the unholy trio. Then sitting on the Great White Throne He judges the not so righteous, according to their unrighteous deeds. Anyone whose name was not found in the Book of Life was tossed into the lake of fire (and there are still two more chapters to come).

Revelation 19 Wedding Or Winepress
19:1 "After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, "Hallelujah! Salvation, power, and glory belong to our God: 2 for true and righteous are His judgments. For He has judged the great prostitute, who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality, and He has avenged the blood of his servants at her hand." 3 A second said, "Hallelujah! Her smoke goes up forever and ever." 4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne, saying, "Amen! Hallelujah!"
5 A voice came forth from the throne, saying, "Give praise to our God, all you His servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great!" 6 I heard something like the voice of a great multitude, and like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of mighty thunders, saying, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Omnipotent/Almighty, reigns! 7 Let us rejoice and be exceedingly glad, and let us give the glory to Him. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." 8 It was given to her that she would array herself in bright/shining, pure, fine linen: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 He said to me, "Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’" He said to me, "These are true words of God." 10 I fell down before his feet to worship him. He said to me, "Look! Don’t do it! I am a fellow bondservant with you and with your brothers who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God, for the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy."
11 I saw the heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True. In righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has names written and a name written which no one knows but He Himself. 13 He is clothed in a garment sprinkled with blood. His name is called "The Word of God." 14 The armies which are in heaven followed Him on white horses, clothed in white/shining, pure, fine linen. 15 Out of His mouth proceeds a sharp, double-edged sword, that with it He should strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He treads the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 He has on His garment and on His thigh a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." 17 I saw an angel standing in the sun. He cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the sky, "Come! Be gathered together to the great supper of God, 18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, and small and great." 19 I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse, and against His army.
20 The beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who worked the signs in his sight, with which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword of him who sat on the horse, the sword which came forth out of his mouth. All the birds were filled with their flesh."

Observations: 19:1-4 After all the preceding judgments, John then hears praise being given to God for the executing justice on the false religious system and avenging the blood of His servants at her hand. Salvation, power and glory belong to God for His true and righteous judgments in eradicating the corrupting evil. A second voice praises God (Hallelujah means Praise Yah, as in Yahweh). The twenty-four elders and four living creatures concur.
19:5-10 A voice from the throne exhorts all God's servants, those who fear Him, to praise Him. John hears them do so, praising God for reigning, and executing His will on the earth. He had tolerated the false religious system, as a means of trying and purifying His holy ones, to give people an opportunity to demonstrate loyalty and prove themselves worthy of His blessings (unlike Satan). The saints give God glory because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride, the church has made herself ready (being clothed in bright/shining, fine linen, as in glorious, the righteous acts of the saints). John is instructed to write another “beatitude” indicating the blessedness of those who are invited to the Marriage Feast/supper of the Lamb. The placement of the Marriage Feast here, at the end of the Tribulation and the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom might cause some eyebrows to be raised, since the Rapture in the Pre-Tribulational view occurred seven years earlier (or three and a half years earlier for the Mid-Trib view). The time lag for the feast could be explained by Jewish marriage customs, for there is no Scripture that says that it has to occur immediately. However, the moving of the Rapture to just before the Feast, causes a lot more difficulties than arched eyebrows (see comments on 1 Thessalonians 4:16, and Revelation 3:10). The angel tells John that these are the true words of God, and John falls down to worship him. The angel forbids him, indicating that he is just a fellow servant along with believers who hold fast the testimony of Jesus. Only God should be worshiped, because the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. Both “testimonies” are probably the testimony which Jesus gives (subjective genitives), making the last clause mean that Jesus is the One who gives the Spirit of Prophecy, therefore He is God, and the One who should be worshiped, rather than the messenger.
19:11-19 John sees the heaven opened and a Rider on white horse. The Rider is called Faithful and True, who judges and wars in righteousness. He wears many crowns and names/titles, as well as a name which no one knows but He Himself. This implies self-sovereignty, having inherited power/glory (name). He is clothed in a garment sprinkled with blood (as the High Priests were), and is called “The Word of God” (John 1:14). The armies of heaven follow Him. Out of His mouth proceeds a sharp sword, His word (Hebrews 4:12) which strikes His enemies. He will rule the nations with a rod of iron (Psalm 2) and tread the winepress of the wrath of God, destroying all who oppose Him (Revelation 14:10-20). His visible title is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” An angel calls the vultures to the great supper of God, in which they will feed on the flesh of God's enemies. John sees the Beast and the kings of earth and their armies gathered against Jesus and His army. The worldlings don't have a chance of succeeding against Him.
19:20 The Beast was taken/captured, along with the False Prophet. They were thrown into the lake of fire, that differs from the garbage dump of Gehenna on many counts, the one noted there is that it burns with sulfur/brimstone. The rest of the opposition were killed by the sword/word of Christ, and the vultures had a feast.

Application: Three characteristics of the saints: they worship God for His righteous and just character; they are clothed in righteous deeds; and they hold fast (as in faithfully obey) the revelation Jesus gave.

Prayer: Lord, You are the victorious King of Kings, and Lord of Lords; don't let me foolishly think that anyone else is worth serving, but please guide me in pleasing You. Amen.

Revelation 20 Blessed or Burnt
20:1 "And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 He seized the dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole inhabited earth, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and cast him into the abyss, and shut it, and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were finished. After this, he must be freed for a short time.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as didn’t worship the beast nor his image, and didn’t receive the mark on their forehead and on their hand. They lived, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
5 The rest of the dead didn’t live until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over these, the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with him one thousand years.
7 And after the thousand years, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and he will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to the war; the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9 They went up over the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints, and the beloved city. Fire came down out of heaven from God, and devoured them.
10 The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet are also. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. There was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire."

Observations: 20:1-3 John next sees an angel with the key to the abyss/pit and a great chain. He seizes the Dragon/Devil/Deceiver, aka Satan and binds him for a 1000 years, and casts him into the pit, so he won't deceive the nations any more, until the 1000 years are finished. After this, he must be freed for a short time, according to God's plan. The normal way of reading this progression is as a definite and literal prison sentence. “Until” indicates a definite point in time. Those who falsely say this is an indefinite period of time, not only have no basis for saying so, but fail to read the rest of the context which explains why this period of time exists. There are over two dozen references to the Devil/Satan's activity in the lives of believers from the Day of Pentecost to the letters to the Churches in Revelation, so he wasn't bound at the Cross as some falsely teach. Obvious Satan is currently alive and well on planet earth, deceiving the nations and those who write non-contextual (unbiblical) theological commentaries (1 Peter 5:8).
20:4-6 After Satan is bound and imprisoned John sees thrones on which sat those who received rulership (one of the rewards Jesus promised to the apostles in His Kingdom -Luke 22:30, and the overcomers -Revelation 3:21). This is the resurrection of the righteous, when Christ repays righteous behavior as He promised (cf Luke 14:14).
Matthew 19:28 "Jesus said to them, "Most certainly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
He also sees the souls of martyrs who had been been beheaded for their faithfulness to the testimony of Jesus and the word of God, as well as Tribulation saints who had not worshiped the Beast nor received his mark. Righteous OT saints would wake up here (Ezekiel 37:12-13; Isaiah 26:19-21; and Daniel 12:1-3 below).
Ezekiel 37:12 “Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it," says the LORD.' "
NT saints had been resurrected at the Rapture (see comments on 1 Thessalonians 4:16). These all came to life (were resurrected) and reigned with Christ for a 1000 years in His Millennial Kingdom. The rest of the dead weren't resurrected until the 1000 years were completed, which again indicates a definite, purposeful period of time, the fulfillment of the Messianic Kingdom promises of the OT (Isaiah 40-66, Ezekiel, etc).
Another “beatitude” or blessing is pronounced on those who have a part, share, allotment, or assigned portion (see Thayer's Lexicon Strongs #3313) in the first resurrection. Notice that this blessedness is for those who are holy. Throughout the Scriptures, since expulsion from the Garden, blessing is a consequence of obedience (see the Blessings and Cursings in Deuteronomy, Psalm 1, and the Sermon on the Mount). Blessing is not some random act of kindness by God, but a benevolent response to our behavior. The blessings are listed as rulership and priesthood which are promised only to overcomers (Rev 3:12, 21). Note too, that the text does not read “take part” but “have an assigned portion” which in the context means the believer's inheritance. The second death has no power or authority over the faithful saints, but they will be priests of God and Christ (cf. Ezek 44) and reign with him 1000 years, in the administration of His Kingdom.
20:7-10 Continuing the specific time sequence, after the 1000 years are over, Satan will be released from his prison, and will go back to his old tricks of deceiving the nations who have experienced Christ's Millennial rule. Satan will gather the nations for war, (for Gog and Magog, see comments on Ezek 38:2, 16; 39:26). The deceived nations will be incited to rebel against the Messiah's rule, and surround Jerusalem. Fire will come down from heaven and destroy them. Then the Devil/Satan will join his buddies the Beast and the False Prophet in the lake of fire, for an indeterminate period of time, as in continual torment forever. There is a clear distinction in this chapter between a 1000 distinct years (which corresponds to the promised Sabbath rest for the people of God -Heb 4:9, mirroring God resting on the seventh day of creation) during which Satan is bound, and the indefinite, everlasting period of the eternal state, during which Satan is in the lake of fire. There is nothing in the text to indicate otherwise, so those who say this is symbolic (as the imagery and other parts of Revelation are), have the burden of proof to demonstrate that it is symbolic, and then specify what it is symbolic of. (Good luck).
20:11-15 Next (coordinate kai) John sees a Great White Throne, and on it is God, probably in the person of the Son, since all judgment was committed to Him. Christ not only promised a resurrection of the righteous, but also of the unrighteous as did Daniel.
John 5:27 “He also gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Don’t marvel at this, for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs will hear his voice, 29 and will come out; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”
Daniel 12:1 "At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who shall be found written in the book. 2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the expanse; and those who turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.
Then John sees all the previously unresurrected dead standing before the throne. Holy and righteous people were resurrected in the resurrection of the righteous (20:5-6 above). These are the not so righteous, who were hanging out in Hades (the grave or Sheol) during the Millennial Kingdom. (Yes, that would mean the badly behaving miss out on blessing, just like unfaithful Israel missed out on the Promised Land.) John sees a set of books opened, an then another book opened, which is the Book of Life. The Book of Life in the context of Biblical times was a register of those people (citizens) who could participate in the rule (dominion/life) of a city-state (usually by voting) or enjoy citizenship benefits in a kingdom. All believers have their names written in the Book of Life (Ex 32:32), but those who persist in rebellious sin can have they names “blotted out” (Ex 32:31). This incident of the Golden Calf in Exodus 32 is instructive. Moses wants his name blotted out of God's book on behalf of the sinning Israelites if God won't forgive them. God says those who sin will have their names blotted out (which means they were in the book), and then smites the major sinners (not the entire nation) depriving them of the blessings of the Promised Land (parallel to unfaithful believers missing out on the blessings of the Millennial Kingdom -1Cor 10).
In Psalm 69:28 David asks God to blot the names of unrighteous enemies out of the Book of Life because of their persecution of him. “Let them be blotted out of the book of life, and not be written with the righteous.” Note that their names were in the book, but they are behaving unrighteously against the Lord's anointed. Romans 11 quotes this psalm to refer to the temporary blinding of Israel to the blessings of God, as a consequence of their sin (but goes on to say God still has a plan for them).
In Revelation 3:5 Jesus promised the overcomers that their names would not be blotted out of the book of life, but instead He would confess their name before the Father (for glory and blessing -Mt 16:27). The possibility of having one's name blotted out for unfaithfulness was real, which doesn't mean they would lose their forgiveness, but lose their reward. The rest of the promises to overcomers in Revelation 2-3 are rewards in the kingdom.
The question remains of: “How does one get their name in the Book of Life?” The NT uses the term in Philippians 4:3, recording the names of faithful laborers, but doesn't specify how the names got there. In Luke 19:20, when the seventy disciples returned from casting out demons, Jesus said that they should rejoice that their names are recorded in heaven. They were just exercising the authority of Christ, and Jesus made the segue into exercising authority in heaven (not that they were forgiven, but that is a part of it).
The key (as is true in many “difficult” passages) is to recognize that “eternal life” is “dominion of the Age” in many instances, received in the NT as a result of belief in the Messiah. See the discussion on Genesis 3 and Deuteronomy 30:19 for starters (and then examine the context of every usage of the term life in the OT and NT before you reject the conclusion). The “life” that Jesus came to give consisted of forgiveness (justification), the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (given by the ascended Messiah and necessary for sanctification), and the blessing of an inheritance in the coming kingdom (glorification -Rm 8:17). The NT is abundantly clear that unrighteous believers lose their inheritance (3Jn 8; Eph 5:5, etc) or their right to rule in the kingdom (Col 3:24-25). This is precisely parallel to the OT experience as taught explicitly by Paul in 1Corinthians 10. All the Israelites that came out of Egypt exercised faith (Ex 14:31), were redeemed, had a participation in Christ (although not the New Covenant Holy Spirit), and a planned inheritance in the Promised land. Most forfeited their right to live in the Promised Land (as the ruling people) by their unfaithfulness to the Lord and His commands (Num 13-14). This is why Deuteronomy puts an emphasis on obeying so the next generation will be blessed (exercise life or dominion) rather than cursed (deprived of life and dominion) as were their parents (Dt 28 and all over the book).
The NT believer is given life in the Messianic Age as a result of their trust in Christ (John 3:16) but can forfeit it as a result of unfaithfulness (1Jn 3:15 see comments there). This does not mean they are no longer born again, nor were never born again in the first place, nor that their sins where never forgiven, but it does mean that they won't receive the blessings of the righteous. Most talk of “positional righteousness” as an attempt to explain righteousness and reward by works (as in passages like Romans 2:5-10) is mere talk. We are given life, forgiven and justified by faith in Christ, but experience abundant life by continued belief (John 20:31). Unbelief and sin don't undo regeneration, but result in forfeiture of reward. We'll see more of this in the next chapter where the allotted portion or share in blessing of the unfaithful is in the lake of fire (they're not in the lake of fire, their reward is). Those who equate Gehenna with the lake of fire have simply not studied the passages in the Gospels referring to Gehenna (often incorrectly translated “hell”) with an understanding of context, and with the removal of the glasses of their incorrect and uninformed biases (most fail to take into account the state of the forgiveness of the audience, e.g., in the Sermon on the Mount the audience were Jews who were forgiven on the basis of their participation in the Day of Atonement, as it had been for over a thousand years, and the fact that the Sermon is about being rewarded in the Kingdom, not getting one's sins covered by the blood of the cross). Since ignorant biases die hard, may I recommend the use of a concordance, and previous posts in DailyTruthbase where the context of each use of Gehenna is explained?
Back to the Great White Throne judgment, the less-than-righteous dead are resurrected, and judged according to their deeds, showing them to be worthy of death. However, as a testimony to God's grace, another book was opened, the Book of Life. After being judged worthy of death, there is no hope or merit which could spare the sinner the lake of fire, except if his name was found “having been written” (perfect tense, for an activity that happened in the past with continuing results up to the present) in the book of life. Even if his name was crossed out, or blotted out, it still had been written there. The NT/Greek usage of “blot” has a range of meanings, from wipe away a tear, smear, white-wash, plaster over or erase. It could mean totally eradicate, but as usual, the precise meaning needs to be determined from context. If a name was written on a scroll, simply crossing it out would be the practice as is seen in NT and OT manuscripts and marginal readings. The OT has similar corresponding usages, although obliterate is more common, the other usages could be appropriate. The argument is not that the name still remains (it doesn't, in terms of being a righteous citizen) but it had been written there, which is what the text says, and a person who believed is spared the lake of fire. God is gracious. There would be no purpose of having the book of life there if no name of those being judged was written in it (although some could argue for having a second witness). The second witness argument will fall to pieces under the cross examination of the next two passages referring to the book of life (21:27; 22:19) as well as the reference to the tree of life (see next post). The next chapters also present unrighteous believers, which according to any other interpretation, would not exist.
So all the dead who weren't resurrected and rewarded in the resurrection of the righteous, are judged according to their deeds which were written in the books, and if their name had not been written in the book of life, they joined the unholy trio in the lake of fire.

Application: Be righteous, be blessed, and live happily ever after. Do your will rather than God's will, and you will regret it.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, may I be faithful to You in all my ways, doing what finds Your favor and is right in Your sight. Amen.

Digging Deeper

God in a nutshell: God is the sovereign judge, who will reign with Christ and destroy all of their enemies. God the Father and God the Son are to be worshipped.

Build-a-Jesus: Jesus, the Bridegroom of the Church, the Messiah, the Word of God, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, will triumph. He will reward those who are faithful to Him, and destroy those who have totally rejected Him.

Us in a nutshell: Believers have the opportunity to be resurrected and blessed, and share in the Messiah's kingdom, or forfeit those blessings in doing the devil's will. Those who trust in Christ will have their names written in the Book of Life, and won't go into the lake of fire. Those who are faithful will live happily ever after.

Where to Go for More:

Revelation 16-18 Mystery Babylon Judged

TMS Ephesians 5:3 Holiness or No Inheritance
5:3 “But sexual immorality,
and all uncleanness, or covetousness,
let it not even be mentioned among you,
as becomes saints;
4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting,
which are not appropriate; but rather giving of thanks.
5 Know this for sure, that no sexually immoral person, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words. For because of these things, the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience. 7 Therefore don't be partakers with them."

Observations: 5:3 It's inappropriate for immorality or materialism to be associated with followers of Jesus Christ. Believers are warned against both sins by John in Revelation 17 and 18 (below). Paul goes on to say those believers who engage in such practices will not only lose their inheritance/reward, but will experience the wrath of God which will come upon His disobedient children. He doesn't say that they won't do such things, but that they will be punished for such sin. Covetousness is equated with idolatry in 5:5, because a person looks to money rather than God for the provision of his/her needs. Uncleanness is a deed of the flesh (see Galatians 5 post) which is a desire for the temporal. Earlier in Ephesians 4:18-19 Paul gave some insight in uncleanness, saying it came from being ignorant of (as in ignoring) God, and developing a calloused, insensitive spirit. The next step was to give themselves over to the fulfillment of gratifying their desires, resulting in doing all manner of uncleanness, which frequently, but not always has a sexual connotation. Failure to fully follow God opens the door for deadly desires to grow. If we don't kill them, they will destroy us. See comments on Ephesians 5 and the sermon series on Deadly Desires, and the sermon “Sanctification: It Ain't Gonna Reign No More” on for help on destroying these sins at the root.

Application: Holiness isn't a suggestion; it's commanded, and God's commands not only carry blessings, but sanctions.

Prayer: God, help me live in purity and holiness, trusting You for meeting my physical and emotional needs as well; guide me in rooting out the things which will diminish my eternal joy. Thanks. Amen.

Revelation 16-18 The final seven judgments, the Bowl or Vial Judgments are poured out on the earth in preparation for the Messiah's reign. The recipients of judgment curse God rather than repent, but God promises blessings to those who are faithful to Him. Two chapters detail the judgment of Mystery Babylon, the religious and economic world systems that keep people from a relationship with God, as preparation for the Kingdom. In Revelation 19 (next post) Jesus finally comes to earth as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Revelation 16 Seven Bowls of Judgment
16:1 "I heard a loud voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God on the earth!" 2 The first went, and poured out his bowl into the earth, and it became a harmful and evil sore on the people who had the mark of the beast, and who worshiped his image.
3 The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man. Every living thing in the sea died.
4 The third poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
5 I heard the angel of the waters saying, "You are righteous, who are and who were, you Holy one, because you have judged these things. 6 For they poured out the blood of the saints and the prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. They deserve this." 7 I heard the altar saying, "Yes, Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments."
8 The fourth poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was given to him to scorch men with fire. 9 People were scorched with great heat, and people blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues. They didn’t repent and give him glory.
10 The fifth poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was darkened. They gnawed their tongues because of the pain, 11 and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores. They didn’t repent of their works.
12 The sixth poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates. Its water was dried up, that the way might be prepared for the kings that come from the sunrise. 13 I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits, something like frogs; 14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs; which go forth to the kings of the whole inhabited earth, to gather them together for the war of that great day of God, the Almighty.
15 "Behold, I come like a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his clothes, so that he doesn’t walk naked, and they see his shame."
16 He gathered them together into the place which is called in Hebrew, Megiddo.
17 The seventh poured out his bowl into the air. A loud voice came forth out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!" 18 There were lightnings, sounds, and thunders; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since there were men on the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty. 19 The great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of God, to give to her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. 20 Every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 Great hailstones, about the weight of a talent, came down out of the sky on people. People blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, for this plague is exceedingly severe."

Observations: 16:1-2 The seven angels are commanded to pour out the seven bowls/vials of God's wrath. The first four are more general and the last three more specific, just like the seals and trumpets. Some think these occur as the Lord descends. Notice they are called the wrath of God rather than the Lamb, and are somewhat similar to those plagues with which God struck Egypt at the Exodus. These are not just punitive retribution, but are revelatory of the heart of those on the earth who refuse to repent. The first angel pours out a judgment that results in boils or sores on those who received the mark of the Beast and worship his image (similar to the sixth plague on Egypt - Exodus 9:10).
16:3-7 The second turns the sea into blood and everything in it dies. The third turns the rivers and springs into blood so there is no water to drink (like what happened to the Nile, Exodus 7:17). An angel praises God for righteously judging those who poured out the blood of the saints and the prophets. The evil people deserve their judgment, in kind. The altar (voice from it) agrees that the Lord God Almighty is true and righteous in His judgment. If He didn't judge, then He wouldn't be righteous. This means that all sin must be negatively judged, and all righteous behavior positively judged. If otherwise, God would be unjust.
16:8-9 The bowl of the fourth angel causes the sun to scorch men with fire, and their response to a taste of God's fiery judgment isn't to repent. Instead, they curse/blaspheme God for the problems they brought upon themselves. They didn't repent of their works and give Him glory, which would be to recognize His right to rule in their lives.
16:10-11 The fifth angel heads to the throne of the Beast, to pour out the next bowl, and his kingdom (the earth) was darkened (Exodus 10:22). The cumulative effects of the judgments cause a lot of pain, but still no repentance nor praise, but instead, a lot of cursing against God.
16:12-14 The sixth angel's bowl dries up the Euphrates (cf Exodus 14 -Red Sea), preparing the way for the kings of the East to come on the scene for judgment at Armageddon (verse 16 below). The unholy trinity calls for all the kings of the earth to gather for war against God, issuing the invitation through three unclean spirits that somehow resembled frogs (another similarity to Exodus 8:5).
16:15 The voice of Christ is heard in one of the seven “beatitudes” or statement of blessing in Revelation (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7,14), promising blessing/reward to those who watch (stay on guard) and keep their clothes (a metaphor for righteousness) so they don't walk naked (deprived of glory - see comments on 2 Corinthians 4-5), and have their shameful sin exposed. The reminder of Christ's coming “as a thief” (2 Peter 3:10) points to the loss that the unprepared will suffer. The verse would serve as a warning for Tribulation saints to persevere, and saints of all ages to be ready for the judgment at the return of Christ. In 1:3 blessing was promised to those who hear and keep the words of this book. These are words to hear and heed.
16:16 Armageddon (literally the “mountain of the place of slaughter”) could be a reference to the mountain near the town of Megiddo, (Mt. Carmel) where Elijah slaughtered the prophets of Baal in the Valley of Jezreel.
16:17 The seventh angel pours out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice said “It is done/finished: meaning the wrath of God had been poured out. The catastrophic effects that followed were unlike any previously seen in human history (appropriate, since this is just about the end of the world as it has been known). The great city became three parts. There is debate whether this is Jerusalem, or physical Babylon, or spiritual Babylon. Ezekiel indicated major geographical changes in Jerusalem at the return of Christ, but the following chapters consider the fall of Babylon, so it's more likely that this verse introduces Babylon. All the cities of the nations fell, and Babylon is singled out for special judgment (next chapters). Every island fled, and the mountains were gone. Giant hailstones (100 pounds each) pulverized the people on whom they landed, and rather than surrendering and submitting to God, people are still cursing Him.

Application: If you don't like your circumstances, consider if you are the cause of them, and are just reaping negative consequences for your sin; if so, repent and seek God's mercy while you can; if not, seek His grace to endure righteously.

Prayer: God, You are awesomely just, and will always pay back the good and evil according to what I've sown; please guide me in sowing righteousness, so You will remember me for blessing. Amen.

Revelation 17 Religious Babylon Judged
17:1 "One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here. I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality, and those who dwell in the earth were made drunken with the wine of her sexual immorality." 3 He carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet-colored animal, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of the sexual immorality of the earth. 5 and on her forehead a name was written, "Mystery Babylon the great, the mother of the prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth." 6 I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered with great amazement.
7 The angel said to me, "Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. 8 The beast that you saw was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go into destruction. Those who dwell on the earth and whose names have not been written in the book of life from/since the foundation of the world will marvel when they see that the beast was, and is not, and shall be present. 9 Here is the mind that has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits. 10 They are seven kings. Five have fallen, the one is, the other has not yet come. When he comes, he must continue a little while. 11 The beast that was, and is not, is himself also an eighth, and is of the seven; and he goes to destruction. 12 The ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority as kings, with the beast, for one hour. 13 These have one mind, and they give their power and authority to the beast.
14 These will war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings. They also will overcome who are with him, called and chosen and faithful." 15 He said to me, "The waters which you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages. 16 The ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the prostitute, and will make her desolate, and will make her naked, and will eat her flesh, and will burn her utterly with fire. 17 For God has put in their hearts to do what he has in mind, and to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God should be accomplished. 18 The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth."

Observations: 17:1-6 Some argue for Babylon being a literal city, and in some passages it may be just that, a revived city in Iraq that achieves prominence in the End Times as it did under Nebuchadnezzar, when all the kingdoms of the know world were given to him as prophesied by God, and then he was destroyed as God also prophesied, to show that God was the One who ruled in the world. Others think Babylon is a code word for Rome, or for the Roman Catholic Church. The judgments in these two chapters relate to both a religious and commercial entity that had world wide influence. Protestants have been fond of equating this with the Papacy (and there are similarities), but the mystery Babylon of the future might be something the world has yet to see. It's most likely that Babylon is representative of the false religious systems from sensual pagan demon worship to “respectable religiosity” of any organized (or disorganized) religion not based upon the Word of God (both apostate Christian and non-Christian). John is shown a “mystery“ Babylon that represents a world religious and commercial system that is hostile toward true believers in the true God, just as it was back in the days of the Tower of Babel. Babylon is personified as a great whore or prostitute who leads or seduces the kings of the earth into idolatry, literally “fornication” or sexual immorality, an imagery used to depict unfaithfulness to God. Her sitting on many waters describes her pervasive influence over many peoples (as verse 15 indicates). John is carried in the Spirit to the wilderness to witness the woman sitting on a beast matching the description of the Anti-Christ (Revelation 13:1). Apparently she operates with his power which supports her. Outwardly she has every worldly appeal, but inside are the abominations depicted as the evil in the cup she sips. She wears an rather unflattering name tag (to most), describing her character and power (as names often do in Scripture). “Mystery” is the word for “hidden” so her evil is not obvious to those who consort with her. She is definitely opposed to Jesus, and responsible for martyring many of His followers, as well as faithful OT saints.
17:7-13 The angel explains the Beast as the one that was, was not, and is again (resurrection from the “fatal” wound 13:3). Those who fall for the phoney miracles and worship him are those whose names have not been written in the book of life. The time when they have not been written is from (apo) the foundation of the world. The preposition apo with the genitive denotes separation as its fundamental meaning. “From” or “since” are appropriate translations indicating the time span from the foundation of the world, to the present in John's day. During that time, those who believe are written in the Lamb's book of life, and their name is not blotted out (forfeit inheritance) if they remain faithful. Remember that the “book of life” is the register of those who participate in the political life or rule of a city state (see comments on 3:5, 13:8 and upcoming references in chapters 20, 21, and 22). John elaborates on the heads as seven mountains upon which the woman sits, which has led many to speculate that Rome with its seven surrounding hills in is view. Yet John is told that they represent kings on the earth, as do the horns, who in unity, give their authority to the Beast. The initial anti-God kingdoms are most likely those mentioned in Daniel (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome), with another yet to come (the Beast's). The ten kings are considered those of a revived Roman Empire. Other have matched them up with historical kings; still others say they are symbolic of all civil authority. If speculating who each king is essential for you to obey Jesus, love others, make disciples, and glorify God, feel free to consult a couple of commentaries for more details to scratch your head over.
17:14 The kings will war against the Lamb and the Lamb (Jesus) will overcome them because He is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Those who are in union with Jesus will also overcome, and are the invited (and responsive), chosen (elect, select, choice) and faithful. Note that being invited precedes the state of being choice (or of excellent quality), which precedes the condition of being faithful.
17:15-18 The religious system symbolized by the Great Prostitute will be hated by the ten kings and the Beast (lovers are so fickle), and will abandon her, destroying her with fire. This is probably a reference to the destruction of her city and power. They will turn on her who had ruled over the kings of the earth because God worked in their hearts to rebel against her, just as Satan and his minions work to get people to rebel against God.

Application: Knowing that there is a pervasive, popular and deceptive religious system opposed to the true worship of God should give us pause for reflection and evaluation to be sure that our worship of God is based upon His word, not that of men (or women).

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and Lord and Master of my life; may I be loyal to You and faithful, regardless of the cost or attractiveness of the alternatives. Amen.

Revelation 18 Economic Babylon Judged
18:1 "After these things, I saw another angel coming down out of the sky, having great authority. The earth was illuminated with his glory. 2 He cried with a mighty voice, saying, "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, and she has become a habitation of demons, a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird! 3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her sexual immorality, the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from the abundance of her luxury."
4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, my people, that you have no participation in her sins, and that you don’t receive of her plagues, 5 for her sins have reached to the sky, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 Reward her just as she rewarded, and repay her double as she did, and according to her works. In the cup which she mixed, mix to her double. 7 However much she glorified herself, and lived luxuriously, so much give her of torment and mourning. For she says in her heart, ‘I sit a queen, and am no widow, and will in no way see mourning.’ 8 Therefore in one day her plagues will come: death, mourning, and famine; and she will be utterly burned with fire; for the Lord God who has judged her is strong.
9 The kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived luxuriously with her, will weep and wail over her, when they look at the smoke of her burning, 10 standing far away for the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For your judgment has come in one hour.’ 11 The merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise any more; 12 merchandise of gold, silver, precious stones, pearls, fine linen, purple, silk, scarlet, all expensive wood, every vessel of ivory, every vessel made of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble; 13 and cinnamon, incense, perfume, frankincense, wine, olive oil, fine flour, wheat, sheep, horses, chariots, and people’s bodies and souls. 14 The fruits which your soul lusted after have been lost to you, and all things that were dainty and sumptuous have perished from you, and you will find them no more at all.
15 The merchants of these things, who were made rich by her, will stand far away for the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning; 16 saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, she who was dressed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls! 17 For in an hour such great riches are made desolate.’ Every shipmaster, and everyone who sails anywhere, and mariners, and as many as gain their living by sea, stood far away, 18 and cried out as they looked at the smoke of her burning, saying, ‘What is like the great city?’ 19 They cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had their ships in the sea were made rich by reason of her great wealth!’ For in one hour is she made desolate.
20 "Rejoice over her, O heaven, you saints, apostles, and prophets; for God has judged your judgment on her." 21 A mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and cast it into the sea, saying, "Thus with violence will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down, and will be found no more at all. 22 The voice of harpists, minstrels, flute players, and trumpeters will be heard no more at all in you. No craftsman, of whatever craft, will be found any more at all in you. The sound of a mill will be heard no more at all in you. 23 The light of a lamp will shine no more at all in you. The voice of the bridegroom and of the bride will be heard no more at all in you; for your merchants were the princes of the earth; for with your sorcery all the nations were deceived. 24 In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on the earth."

Observations: 18:1-3 Next, John sees another angel having great power, who illuminated the earth with his glory. This is a great verse to see the identification of power/authority, light, and glory, the energizing force of the universe. This angel focuses on the commerce aspects of Babylon. In Ancient times the temple of the god was the the bank and center of commerce for a city or locale. The fall of the corrupt religious system symbolized by the Great Harlot has repercussions in the world of buying and selling. The angel announces the fall of Babylon the great, and the accompanying desolation. She becomes the desolate habitation of demons and all that is unclean. The reason for this destruction is because of the unfaithfulness she propagated among the nations of the world, and the independence from God spawned by wealth. “Wall Street” comes to mind as an example of John using Babylon, as a geographical place, but also a world-influencing economic center that has often been portrayed as a hot-bed of corruption and vice. (Some would also view it as the center of worship of the almighty buck, in whom they trust.)
18:4-8 John hears another voice that has reverberated though the ages calling the people of God out of the corruption of “Babylon” so that they don't participate in her sins, otherwise they will participate in her judgment. If there was no possibility of believers being entranced and entrapped by materialism, there would be no need for this warning. God will repay “Babylon” and those who sin with her, double for her sinful ways, being corrupt, and corrupting others. To the degree that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, she will be humbled and tormented. She said she was a queen above any possibility of need, yet in one day she will be reduced to ashes, because the God who judges is so much stronger than her wealth and self-sufficiency. Remember that those believers who live for “Babylon's” pleasures and benefits, rather than the pleasure of God, and His benefits, will share in her discipline. They won't get tossed into the lake of fire (for their names were written in the book of life) but their works will be totally burned up in the garbage dump of Gehenna (1 Corinthians 3:15).
18:9-14 The kings of the earth who had profited from their union with Babylon will lament her destruction, which has not yet taken place, but will, in an very short period of time. The merchants too will mourn her loss, because the breakdown of the economic system with her fall will destroy their business. Note that they trade not only in the luxuries and necessities of life, but also in human bodies and souls! Those things for which people's souls lusted will be totally gone.
18:15-19 The merchants will weep and mourn for the loss of what was the source of their riches, as will those who profited in transportation. They will see the smoke of her burning and weep. This seems to indicate that a physical location is destroyed, observable from the sea. The fragile nature of temporal things is underscored by the fact that in an hour, all is lost.
18:20 Meanwhile, in heaven, there is cheering and rejoicing. The saints, apostles, and prophets who were victims of the temporal materialistic system will be avenged by God's judgment.
18:21-24 A mighty angel took a giant stone and cast it into the sea, indicating the violent and overwhelming destruction that will occur. Entertainment and industry, production and merriment will be no more, at all, in Babylon. Because of her deception of the nations (last chapter) and persecution of the prophets (who denounced both apostasy and injustice), and martyrdom of the saints, and the shedding of innocent blood, Babylon is judged, by the Judge of all the earth.

Application: Believer must be careful not to be seduced by false teaching nor unholy living, both the sponsors of and participants in unfaithfulness will be judged, be they believers or not.

Prayer: God, thanks that You judge righteously and will vindicate all those who follow You at the expense of worldly pleasures; may I always fear living independently of You in any manner. Amen.

Digging Deeper:

God in a nutshell: God is the judge of all the earth, and all that is in it, from the depths of the sea to the heights of the mountains. He will destroy the earth, and its religious and economic systems, executing just vengeance for those faithful to Him. He gives rebels opportunities to repent as He judges, but they curse Him instead, reaping the full measure of His wrath.

Build-a-Jesus: Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who will vanquish all pretenders to His throne when He returns, with His faithful ones to set up His Millennial Kingdom.

Us in a nutshell: Believers, whose names are written in the book of life, are still in danger of experiencing judgment if they allow themselves to be swept into false religious practices and materialism.

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