Summary of the NT Book of Revelation (2)
by Rev M.McGeown, missionary-pastor of Limerick Reformed Fellowship (written for the mid-week Bible study group)
Revelation 13 is a distinct vision related to chapter 12. It explains how the frustrated dragon makes war with the remnant of the woman’s seed (12:17). He employs a number of instruments, namely the wicked world described under the imagery of beasts. The beast from the sea (13:1ff.) is a political entity, a composite of the four beasts of Daniel 7. Its development and gradual revelation occur throughout 42 months (this symbolic period of time is parallel with the prophesying of the Two Witnesses [11:3] and the dwelling of the woman in the wilderness [12:6, 14]. We thus see three parallel time periods of 42 months, 1260 days and time, times and half a time or three and a half years). Each of these periods refers to the entire New Testament Age, beginning with the Ascension of Christ. At the end of history, for a short time, Satan does establish a worldwide, universal, man-centred, devil-worshipping, God-defying, Christ-hating, blasphemous, wicked kingdom. Another aspect of Satan’s kingdom is religious, seen in the second beast, from the earth (13:11ff.). The kingdom of the Antichrist demands universal allegiance (just as the Lamb “seals” His people on their foreheads, so the Beast marks his followers on their hands and foreheads, signifying an allegiance of body and soul). The mark of the Beast is some indication of spiritual allegiance. It is not necessarily a physical or visible thing (barcodes, microchips, etc). The mark or number of the Beast is 666, which means godless man (one short of 7) to the nth degree.
Revelation 14 assures us (in a similar fashion to Revelation 7) that, while the Beast is in his ascendancy, and seems to triumph, the Lamb is still standing on Mt. Zion (Ps. 2:6; Heb. 12:22) and all of His 144,000 are safely with Him. The Lamb standing on Mt. Zion is symbolic of Christ’s rule in His church. The response to this is worship (14:2-3). Three angels bring three messages of comfort: First, God is sovereign. Worship Him (v. 7); Second, Babylon is fallen (v. 8); Third, the beasts’ followers will be damned (v. 9-13). These messages are both a comfort and a warning. This is followed by a vision of the end under the imagery of the treading of grapes. The vision conveys the idea of utter destruction in the winepress of God’s wrath (see Is. 63; Rev. 19:15).
Section 5 (Chapters 15-16): In these chapters we see the vials (bowls) of God’s wrath poured out on an impenitent and hardened world. Clearly, this vision concerns events before the final harvest of chapter 14. Chapter 15 is preparatory: the vision reminds us of Exodus 15, and assures us of the justice of God’s wrath. The vials are poured out in chapter 16. The effect is similar to the blowing of the seven trumpets (the first four vials affect the creation on which man depends; the second three vials affect the kingdom of man more directly). The sixth vial creates the conditions necessary for Armageddon. The River Euphrates is dried up, which means that a barrier is removed, so that the wicked world gathers together against the church to destroy it. This is effected by demons from the mouths of the dragon, beast and false prophet, which deceive the nations to gather them to battle. Armageddon (named after Megiddo) is a battle in which God gathers enemies against His people, where everything seems hopeless, and where God rescues His people suddenly and miraculously. God gathers the wicked together for their destruction (Judg. 4:1-3, 14-16; 5:19-21; Joel 3:1-2, 11-14; Micah 4:11-13; Zech. 12:2-3; 14:1-5; Rev. 20:7-9). The seventh vial is poured out. This spells the utter destruction of the world in language similar to the sixth seal and sixth trumpet (Rev. 6:12-17; 11:15-19).
Section 6 (Chapters 17-19): The destruction of Babylon the Great, the harlot/whore and the beast.
The events of chapter 17 occur before the events of chapter 16:12ff. Babylon is the world in her seduction, tempting men with pleasure and luxury (I John 2:16). She is portrayed as a harlot (alluring, luxurious, flirtatious, etc) and a city (powerful, wealthy, hedonistic, etc.). She has a kind of symbiotic relationship with the beast (17:3; see 13:1). From a safe spot in the wilderness, John beholds her with amazement. An angel describes the historical development of the beast (his seven heads and ten horns). The beast has had several historical manifestations. In John’s day, the sixth manifestation was in power (the sixth head or sixth mountain, 17:9-10),. In the future, the Beast would rise again in another form (the seventh head or seventh mountain), and it would develop into the eighth kingdom (17:11). The sixth head/mountain is the Roman Empire. The seventh head/mountain will be a future, worldwide political empire, and to that empire ten kings (a perfect number) will give their power (17:12). It is likely that the harlot will seduce them to ally with the beast. But God will overthrow the harlot, beast and dragon. Their destruction is described in chapters 18, 19 and 20.
Chapter 18 describes the fall of Babylon/the harlot (see Is. 13:19-21; 21:9; 47:1-15; Jer. 51:6-9, 60-64; Ezek. 27:29-36). Babylon’s fall is sudden, certain, complete, final and just. It is the occasion of the lamentation (but not repentance) of the world. Chapter 19 is heaven’s joyful celebration at the fall of Babylon, the announcement of the marriage supper of the Lamb, and a vision of the Second Coming, culminating (again) in the battle of Armageddon (see 14:14-20; 16:12-21; 20:7-10) with the utter destruction of the beast, the false prophet and all the wicked under the imagery of vultures gorging on their flesh (see Ezek. 39:4, 17-19). Clearly, Revelation 19 brings us again to the end of history. The events of Revelation 20, therefore, do not follow the events of Revelation 19. ... to be continued (DV).
From our midweek Bible study.
Rev. Martyn McGeown (Larisa)
Pastorates: Missionary-pastor in Limerick, Ireland for the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Northern Ireland - 2010; Providence PRC (Hudsonville, MI), Sept. 2021Website: www.prca.org/current/news/churches/usa-canada/providence-prc-hudsonville-mi
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