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Tuesday, September 25 2012
Introduction: We were carefully and extensively taken through the Last Two Bowls judgement last week. Amongst other things, we were reminded that even the Devil is a pawn in the hand of our God. The teaching ended in the unfolding of Great Babylon which was brought into remembrance before God. This week, we will be looking at the Judgement of Babylon The Great (The Great Harlot) and the lessons that can be learnt.
Spiritual Prostitution and Fornication: (Rev. 17:1-2 NKJV)
"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, "Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication."
· Great Harlot: This is over people, multitudes, nations. The worldly philosophy or system that teaches rebellion against God and encourages the pursuit of sin in every ramification. The world system is satan's tool of manipulation in the world. Satan hates the truth and all who rejects the truth (Jesus) are slaves to him. "Great" refers to the harlot (worldly) system that will reach its zenith after the removal of the true church (genuine believers) by means of rapture.
· Sits on Many Waters: refers to world-wide unification and control. "Sits on" suggests the concept of control and unification (Psalm 110:1, Hebrews 8:1). "Waters" refers to the nations and many people of those nations.
From the above therefore, the first verse can be rephrased as;
"Come, I will show you the judgement of the worldly philosophy that is in control of the nations and all the people of the nations"
· With whom the kings of the earth committed fornication: This indicates alliance/ agreement which those in authorities have with the worldly system. Put another way, an unfaithful, unholy alliance between the church and state which should by design remain separate. By Separate, we are not talking about the separation of church and state that is being promoted today where prayer and dependence on God has been removed from the classroom while godless ideologies are being promoted. Both the state and church were established by God (1 Timothy 2:1-3) but must remain separate if they are to carry out their purpose howbeit that they must support one another without compromising their responsibility before God.
· Inhabitants........made drunk with the wine of fornication: The unholy alliance with the worldly system and philosophy have gone unchecked for a long time, spreading like a plague and the nations and people of the nations have become entrapped in the fangs and chains of satan.
Babylon The Great: (Rev. 17: 3-9 NKJV) :
3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. 5 And on her forehead a name was written:
MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT,
6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement.
7 But the angel said to me, "Why did you marvel? 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 will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
9 "Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits.
......into the Wilderness - This obviously refers to a desolate, desert-kind of place, because it will be full of cities and peoples who are spiritually dead - a spiritual desert, which the woman and beast will rule. A church could be full of attendees who are spiritually dead. There will be no true spiritual food or water from this empty religious system. The world will be starving and dying - this is what religion does for a man, it leaves him empty, in the desert! This is not God's desire
"And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding".[Jeremiah 3:15]
It is our responsibility as pastors, workers and members in the local church to be an oasis holding forth the word of life and if we remain faithful to this, individually and corporately, the Lord will give us an open door to those who are thirsty. He will lead us to the hungry and them to us.
Scarlet Beast - As we will see later in verse 8, The Beast on which the Harlot is seated is the Antichrist. He is scarlet because he is blood-thirsty and will at the right time kill the woman (a symbol of religous system). He is a counterfeit of our Lord in that he "was" and "is not". These phrase also referred back to Rev. 13:3, 12, and 14 where the beast is resurrected. We know that the ultimate fate of this beast will be destruction just as the end of evil will be. The reason why we must desist from evil at all cost.
"The highway of the upright is to depart from evil;
......arrayed in purple and scarlet - This in part stands for her political power, and in part they point to her religous pomp. Gold, precious stones and pearls refer to her immense wealth. It is believed that these colours have, for centuries, been the colours of the Roman Catholic Church, and the wealth of this church is immense.
......having in her hand a golden cup..- Refers to her enticing manner of alluring men and nations. Religion can be very alluring and eventually become a trap. Many are trapped in the chains of religion today, even in the church of God where His power and authority are meant to be in full expression.
"having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" [2 Tim. 3:5]
The gold and religous trappings - appeal to the sensual, material and religous bent of man's sinful nature. He admires this, he is awed by it, and it blinds him.
.....abominations and filthiness - Man's religion offers no solution to the flesh. It's the flesh seeking to overcome the flesh and it profits nothing. These may refer to the various forms of idolatry involved in the worship of God through images, statues, and medals (achievements) etc. Filthiness (Unclean things) does not only refer to the natutre of the doctrines taught, but what they lead to in life, immorality and impurity!
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. [John 6:63]
....and on her forehead a name..- In ancient times, the practice of harlots was to write their names on their foreheads for easy recognition, which showed the shamelessness of their character, revealing a seared conscience from continual rejection of God's truth.
.....Babylon The Great - is the secret name. This refers not only to the city of Babylon, but to a religous system, the Babylonianism of ancient time, which will reach its peak in the tribulation.
......Mother of Harlots....- This points to the source. Besides the concept of origin or source of all spiritual idolatry and false religions, the word "mother" indicates the position the harlot will play in the final days, gathering all the form of false religions under her wings for the one great world-wide harlot system.
Martyrdom of Believers (Rev. 17:6a) - Refers to the rampant matrydom of believers during this time This is one of the ways satan will promote the one-world church system - by annihilation of all opposition.
John Marvelled (Rev. 17:6b) - Another word for Marvel here is to Wonder. The greek word here is "to be amazed, surprised" or "to wonder at something with attentive interest". Shouldn't that be the effect that Bible study and the word of God have on our hearts when we open the Word and study, reflecting on its marvelous truth? We should be interested in the details of God's revelation, its explanation and application. When this is done, God sees to it that that we have an opportunity to learn and to know.
"And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." [Jer. 29:13]
Description of the Woman (Rev. 17:7)- The angel's question about John's amazement at the sight of the fully decked and pompous woman and description shows we should not marvel at the woman which appears in such pompous and religous attire because she's so satanic and thereby destructive and deceptive also - these are some of the consequences and effects of evil. We should never be deceived by outward form of religousity no matter their outward attractiveness of influence or power as is the case of false ecumenical (promotion of unity among churches) and godless system.
And finally, regardless of the details of who the beast is, we know that its ultimate end will be destruction. But before he meets his end, he will deceive "those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world." The opposite side of this verse is very encouraging to the believer when you notice that your name has been written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world. Your name was not placed there at the point of your salvation. Your name was there before you were saved.before you were born.even before the foundation of the world. If you have believed in Jesus as your Savior, you can be confident that God chose you and has placed your name in the Book of Life. What an encouragement! You didn't choose God; He chose you! Because He chose you, He will be sure to preserve you in His grace. Amen!
"just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love," [Ephesians 1:4]
Contributor: Leye Olayiwola
Tuesday, September 25 2012
In the study last week, we considered the first five bowls judgment comparing them with the trumpet judgment. We looked at the similarities and considered the intensity of the suffering. In today's study we will look at the trailer of the last two bowls judgment and the divinely orchestrated end of events.
"And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared."
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; similar to that of the sixth trumpet judgment. A cruel army arose from the great river region to kill a third of mankind. (Rev 9:14). The Euphrates River is called "the great river" in Genesis 15:18. The importance of the river becomes apparent as the text unfolds. It dried up.
So that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east God dries the great river Euphrates to prepare the way for the kings of the east (for the slaughter of the Battle of Armageddon at the appointed time). It would appear that the kings were already on their journey to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army Rev 19:19b; so the Lord clears the way for them to plunge to their deaths.
Interestingly, even the Devil is a pawn in God's hands. You will expect that by now he would know better. See Isaiah 45:7
"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things."
"And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty"
The dragon, the beast and the false prophet released demonic spirits to influence the kings of the world by performing signs that will cajole them. So God dries up the river Euphrates for the kings of the east and the dragon, the beast and the false prophet cajoles the kings of the world to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty
"Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame."
"Behold, I come as a thief" is a warning, but this verse is also meant to be a promise to those who read it before Armageddon is fought. Only to the wicked, will He come as a thief.
"Blessed is he that watcheth" The receiver of this promise; the one who "watcheth" and awaits his LORD's coming is blessed. See 1Thessalonians 5:2-9
"To keep one's garments" imply a carefulness to walk in holiness as well as preparedness; because it is the one who is unprepared (asleep, indulging) that will be caught naked.
"And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon."
The place of "the war of great day of God, the Almighty" is called (in Hebrew) Har-Magedon. This is the only place in the Bible where the word occurs. The Hebrew word can be translated to be either a hill or mountain. Megiddon "was an ancient city located on a plain in the southwest portion of the Valley of Jezreel (Jewish name) or Esdraelon (Greek name)."
Two great mountains stand to the northeast and southeast of the hill of Megiddo: Mt. Tabor and Mt. Gilboa. Between these two mountains run the valley of Jezreel, which is fifteen miles wide at its widest point. It will be the place of God's great slaughter of the nations depicted in Revelation 19:11-21.
"And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, it is done."
The seventh angel poured out his vial into the air, introducing the final bowl judgment. The seventh and final bowl-carrying angel punishes the air. The earth (land), water, fire and air are the four elements that are the objects of God's wrath.
A great voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, "It is done." God at this stage pronounces, "It is done," What is done? It usually refers to something being over, finished or completed. However, it must be kept in mind that bowls six and seven are given in summary fashion. We will see the details in Chapters 17-19.
"And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty."
Having poured his bowl upon the air, lightning and thunder rocked the air followed by a great earthquake unparalleled in all of human history.
"And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great."
The great city . . . What city? Revelation 11:8 identifies Jerusalem as "the great city."
Divided into three parts: Zechariah 13:8 says: "And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein."
Zechariah 14:2 "For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city."
Zechariah 14:5 also implies that God will empty Jerusalem of his people just prior to His arrival with His angels for the battle of Armageddon.
The cities of the nations fell: as a result of the earthquake, the rest of the world fell.
Babylon the great was remembered before God apart from suffering the effect of the earthquake, God poured out the worst expression of His wrath the world will ever know upon it. Islands and mountains disappeared and then He sent a great hail from heaven; stones weighing about 45kg!
Now that we have seen the trailer of the end of events, I invite you to tune in for the actual unfolding of the end as God unleashes His wrath but yet in it all He still sends a warning for those who would care to listen!
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Friday, September 07 2012
Last week we saw the Joy and celebration of them who got the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God (Rev.15:2) They sang high praises to God, and His Lamb, for giving them the grace to overcome. We also saw the Angels with the seven golden vials full of the wrath of God ready to release the wrath of God (Rev.15:7). Our emphasis last week was on the content of their songs. It was pure praises and worship directed to God (Rev.15:3,4).
This week we shall study the effects of the wrath of God on the earth as the Angels were releasing the seven last plagues.
There is a great deal of similarity in the judgments of the trumpets (Rev.8&9) and bowls. In both, the first series deals with the earth (Rev.8:7 with 16:2), the second series deals with the sea (Rev.8:8-9 with 16:3), the third series deals with the rivers and fountains of water (Rev.8:10-11 with 16:4), the fourth series deals with the sun (Rev.8:12 with 16:8), the fifth series deals with darkness (Rev.8:12 with 16:10), the sixth series deals with the Euphrates (Rev.9:13-14 with 16:12), and the seventh series deals with lightning, thunders, and earthquakes (Rev.11:19b with 16:17-21).
1) The First Bowl: Painful Sores (Rev.16:1,2)
And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God on the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial on the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore on the men which had the mark of the beast, and on them which worshipped his image.
This bowl resulted in "loathsome" (evil) and "malignant" (painful) sores. Can you imagine if you had a case of terrible sores over your entire body? You would be unable to walk, sit, or lie down without pain. Such will be the case during the tribulation for those who experience these sores.
It is important to see that these sores break out "on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image." This plague and those that follow are not the expression of God's wrath against sin in general, nor are they punishments for individual wrongdoing. The judgment comes from God because of the world's allegiance to God's supreme opponent. Since these people received the Antichrist's mark (Rev.13:16-18; 14:9-10). They begin to pay the penalty for their allegiance.
2) The Second Bowl: sea turns to blood ( Rev.16:3)
And the second angel poured out his vial on the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
The Greek text here is very graphic. Literally it reads, "And it (sea) became blood as of a dead man," i.e., like a dead man wallowing in his own blood. Every living thing (sea creature) in the sea will die. Imagine all the world's oceans and seas turning to blood "like that of a dead man." In the second trumpet judgment, one-third of all sea life perished (Rev 8:8-9). The emphasis here is greater with the phrase "every living thing in the sea died." The stench alone would make most people want to die. It will wreck fishing and it is bound to affect ocean navigation, transportation and shipping. Quite frankly, this is far beyond our comprehension.
3) The Third Bowl: inland waters turn to blood (Rev.16:4-7).
And the third angel poured out his vial on the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, You are righteous, O Lord, which are, and were, and shall be, because you have judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments.
Not only are the world's oceans and seas affected, so are the fresh bodies of water ("the rivers and the springs"). Even these "became blood." This resembles the first Egyptian plague where the Nile River and its tributaries were turned into blood and all the fish died (Exod 7:14-21). There will be no fresh water to drink on the earth. During this period of judgment, fresh water to drink will be more valuable than oil! After all, people cannot exist long without any water to drink.
"The angel of the waters" literally refers to an angel who has jurisdiction over the waters of the earth as one of the varied ministries of angels. As the one in charge of this area he makes an important statement vindicating the holiness of God and setting forth the reason for this judgment (vss. 5-6).
These apostate and rebellious people have slain and shed the blood of believers, thus, just as the saints receive rest and reward for their faith, so these will receive punishment fitting the nature of their crimes. They have only blood to drink. They have been blood thirsty?now they get their fill. This gives us another indication that during the Tribulation the shedding of the blood of believers will be without parallel in history.
Two principles can be found in Rev.16:6-7: First, the world will one day pay for its treatment of believers (Rom 12:19). They rejected those who preached, and offered them the "water of life." God judges them for it by turning their water to blood. Second, because the world rejected the blood that brings forth life (Jesus), God poured out blood that brings forth death. The lesson is clear: reject what the blood of Jesus gave to save you and you will perish for eternity.
And the fourth angel poured out his vial on the sun; and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which has power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
The fourth trumpet judgment darkened the sun (Rev.8:12), but this judgment increases the sun's intensity. God will increase the intensity of the sun's heat and light rays to such a degree that it will scorch and burn the skin of men. Some scientists claim we are not experiencing global warming while others maintain the earth is cooling off. Both are in for a surprise (1 Cor. 1:25).
"And men were scorched with fierce heat and they blasphemed the name of God." This again demonstrates two things: (a) men clearly recognize the source of the plagues, but (b) they will have become so hardened in their souls they refuse to repent. They will have reached the point of no return. This was clear when they took the mark of the beast.
This hardening of the soul (or heart) poses a warning for all of us. Anyone who becomes negative toward the Lord, grows indifferent to His Word, and ignores the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit, can begin to harden his heart and become more and more callused (Heb. 3:7; Eph. 4:17-19). One way we can see such a condition developing in our lives is by the way we murmur and complain or look for "pity parties" among our friends. This is a sure indication that the heart has become somewhat hardened (Heb. 3:7-19; with 1 Cor. 10:5-10. Note particularly verse 10.)
5) The Fifth Bowl: the Beast's throne in darkness and pain (Rev.16:10-11).
And the fifth angel poured out his vial on the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds
The bowl is poured out "upon the throne of the beast. This is the land beast of Revelation 13 who will receive his power from Satan and who will become the object of man's worship. Neither Satan nor this Beast can alleviate this judgment. This will clearly illustrate that there is only one hope, the Eternal God and Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ whom the world has by-in-large rejected; the One who alone is the Light of the world. What irony strikes here (John 1:3-5, 9-11)!
This is just a preview of the hell that is to come (Matt 8:12; 13:42). Those who reject Christ will spend eternity in darkness. But this ultimate fate is unnecessary. Hell was not prepared for humans. It was prepared for the Devil and his angels (Matt 25:41).
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
Friday, September 07 2012
We considered the preservation and rapture of the 144,000 Jewish Believers just before the final wrath of God in our last study. The qualities of these Believers are worthy of emulation for us, namely non-defilement, following of the Master, and no guile (willful deceit of the heart). Finally, we saw God, who would not wish that any should perish, allow angels to preach before executing judgement on the earth. As we were taught last week: "the study should make us to appreciate our salvation even more; that we were fruits of the harvest of souls borne out of God's love and not that of His wrath". Indeed, it should even make us to do all that is required of us to hold on our faith with Godly fear and reverence. Today we will look a sort of preface to the final expression of God wrath and lessons for present day believers.
Another sign (vs 1)
1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
John had yet another sign which was the third sign in this book (Recall the first two in Revelation 12: 1 and 3). Seven angels were introduced having the last plagues as a final expression of God's wrath.
What John saw (vs 2-8)
2a And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire:
John was attempting to describe what he saw. Note the word "as it were", so his description will be more figurative. We can compare with Rev. 8 where John saw also seven angels while one of them came in with "the prayers of all the saints" like incense at the altar in heaven, filled the censer with fire from the altar and poured the fire on the earth in judgment (8:3-5). Here, however, as we see in the following verses, the saints are present themselves. Can we conclude that prayers of the saints trigger judgment?
The saints and what they were doing
2b and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
There are divergent views on the composition of this group. While some believe that they are the 144,000 in the preceding chapter (see for instance IVP New Testament Commentaries), others believe they are Tribulation Martyrs - group in Rev. 7:9-17 (E.g. Bible Knowledge Commentaries). It will suffice to say that these people are overcomers and it is interesting to note that they had harps of God with which they would rejoice and praise God.
It is also very important to highlight the importance of music before God. God enjoys music and infact He dwells in the praises of His people (Ps. 22:3). He described David as a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22). David was a skillful musician and indeed that skill brought him to the palace:
I Sam 16:16: Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better.
I Sam 18: 10: The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did.
As believers, we must not joke with music.
Content of the Music: They sang the song of Moses and the Lamb. Of course the song is not exactly those recorded in Exo15:1-18, Ps 90 but they all have same spirit namely celebrating the power, holiness, marvelous works and the justice of our God. This should be the content of our own music individually and corporately as a church. Any song that does not reflect these attributes of God must be thrashed!!!
Beginning of the wrath
5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
These verses outline the commencement of the wrath of God. The temple was opened so that the angels carrying plagues can exit. We should also note the description of the clothing of the angels: pure and white which should also remind us that we must be holy as believer as a prerequisite to seeing God (Heb 12:14).
God is the Everlasting God (He lives forever). Shouldn't we be excited to have this God as our Father? Shouldn't we just trust and obey this Eternal God? No matter what the present situation is, our God who lives forever is still on the throne able to do according to His will, therefore, we must take solace in this.
The glory of God is described here as a smoke similar to description given in Ex 40:35, 19:18, Isa 6:4, I Kings 8:1-66. It is amazing the precision of God's word.
In conclusion, we see a prelude to the judgment bowls containing plagues carried by seven angels. Prior to the exiting of these angels, the saints that had just been vitorious praised God with harps and song. The content of their song must strike chord with us as believers. The song was not about Moses neither should the song we sing be about us but about the majesty, justice, power, holiness, etc of our God. It should also serve as a reminder of what God expects from us:
Micah 6:8 "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
Contributor: Akin Akande