ON REVELATION - LESSON 18
Is Running Out
Revelation 17 and 18
Most of the people
in the city had concluded he was a traitor. He must be secretly palming
silver pieces from enemy operatives. Why else would he be urging them
over and over to surrender their fortress? He must have sold out to
the unclean, heathen forces besieging their beloved Jerusalem. So Pashur,
chief officer in the temple, had Jeremiah beaten and placed in stocks.
But the prophet wouldn't be silenced. He kept pleading with Israel to
accept the discipline of their God, the fountain of living water. So
King Zedekiah threw Jeremiah into a dungeon. But he kept speaking. Israel
was going to have to let go of its sacred temple; the people were going
to have to leave the city that had grown hopelessly corrupt. Nobody
wanted to listen. So officials lowered Jeremiah into a well, where he
sank into the mud and almost starved to death.
Still this courageous
prophet kept pleading. His people faced the most important choice of
their lives. It was clear. They had to choose one way or the other.
"Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death," he
proclaimed. "He who remains in this city will die by the sword, by famine,
and by pestilence; but he who goes out and defects [surrenders] to the
Chaldeans [Babylonians]... he shall live" (Jeremiah 21:8, 9).
words proved true. Those Israelites who refused to surrender were
slaughtered when the enemy broke through Jerusalem's gates. Those
who left the city managed to surviveand their descendants would
eventually return to rebuild their nation.
Revelation 17 and
18 bring us an urgent message. Decision time has arrived. Everyone
who wants to survive must "come out of Babylon" (see Revelaton 18:4).
If you haven't done so already, now is the time. John states the
issue very plainly, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in
her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues" (Revelation 18:4).
To come out of Babylon means to find eternal life in the kingdom
of Jesus Christ with complete obedience to Him.
15 and 16 we learned that the seven last plagues fall on those who
have the mark of the beast. Those who receive this mark have not
come out of Babylon. The seven last plagues fall on the Earth shortly
before Jesus returns. John has just outlined the effects of those
plagues, and now he is saying, "Okay, you know what is going to happen,
so what are you going to do about it? Where are you going to standon
Satan's side (inside of Babylon) or on God's side (outside of Babylon)?"
get an overview of Revelation 17 and 18.
Fall of Babylon, the Great Harlot (Revelation 17)
- Verses 1-3. An
angel invites John to view the judgment of the great harlot.
- Verses 3-6. The
harlot is identified as Babylon. Babylon is described.
- Verses 6-18. Babylon's
relationship with other nations and leaders is revealed.
Voices Declare Babylon's Punishment (Revelation 18)
a. Two voices
- Verses 1-3. Babylon's
fall is announced by an angel from heaven.
- Verses 4-8. God
calls His people out of Babylon and announces Babylon's destruction.
b. Three voices
from the earth.
- Verses 9,
10. The kings of the earth mourn the fall of Babylon.
- Verses 11-17. The
merchants of the earth mourn the fall of Babylon; their means of
amassing wealth have disappeared.
- Verses 17-20. Shipping
tycoons and sailors mourn the fall of Babylon for the same reason.
c. Two more
voices from heaven.
- Verses 21-24. An
angel throws a millstone into the ocean. This represents the downfall
of Babylon and all her allies.
19:1-18. There is great rejoicing in heaven because God is
victor over Babylon. (These verses will be studied in detail
in the next lesson.)
Identity of Babylon
What is written on the forehead of the harlot? (Revelation 17:5.)
THE GREAT HAS FALLEN BECAUSE OF HER ADULTERIES WITH THE
KINGS OF THE
THE GREAT, THE HARLOT WHO SITS ON MANY WATERS."
BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE
ABOMINATIONS OF THE
With what is Babylon drunk? (Revelation 17:6.)
The blood of the saints and martyrs.
The false doctrines of the beast.
authority and power given her by Satan.
Why do you think
John "marveled with amazement"? (vs. 6)
Have you ever
felt that you wanted to be a Christian but friends, family, or
society pressured you into compromise?
What can a person
do to stay firm in his or her commitment to Jesus?
in previous lessons that "Babylon" is the name of an ancient empire.
We can trace the word back to Genesis 11:1-9 where the "tower
of Babel" is described. This kind of tower, or ziggurat, was built
to house a special pagan shrine at its summit. The term "babel" originally
meant "the gate of god." Babel was a place of man-made worship;
people worshiped many different false gods along with the God
At the tower
of Babel people began speaking in different languages. Suddenly
they could not understand each other; there was great confusion.
That's why "babel" came to mean "confusion." In Scripture, Babylon
symbolizes the confusion of false teachingsa mixture of
religious truth and error.
the book of Revelation, Babylon becomes a symbol of the religious organizations,
sects, and cults that do not completely follow God's teachings in the
Bible. As we've seen in our study of history, the medieval Roman Church
system incorporated human traditions as part of its belief system and
united with civil authorities to enforce its teachings. This same religious
system will play this role again before Jesus comes.
the Bible is talking about a religious system. There are many
wonderful believers who worship God in the Catholic Church, and
in various Protestant denominations. They love God and serve Him
sincerely. They are making a positive difference in their communities
and the world as they serve others in the name of Jesus. But all
Christians need to make a critical choice. They need to take a
stand as did John Huss, Martin Luther, and other reformers who
lived hundreds of years ago.
Many of these
courageous individuals were clergy of the Roman Catholic Church.
But in their study of Scripture they made startling discoveries.
They found to their dismay that the Church had mixed the teachings
of human beings with the teachings of God. And these traditions
had distorted essential New Testament truths about grace, forgiveness,
and salvation. So they had to rise in protest. That is where the
word "Protestant" originated, from those who protested against
the false teachings of the Church.
father of the Lutheran Church, had numerous concerns, but he focused
his protest around three key points: (1) People are saved by faith
alone. Salvation is a free gift. The Roman Church had created
ways of earning merit to ensure salvation. (2) The Bible is all-sufficient
for teaching and guidance. God warned against adding to, or subtracting
from, His Word. The Roman Church stated that church councils establish
truth. In addition, it stated that tradition as well as Scripture
may form truth. (3) All Christians are "priests" who minister
for Jesus Christ. The clergy are not the only ones to minister
and study the Bible.
that were highlighted with the emergence of Protestant denominations
include: baptism by immersion, as opposed to sprinkling; obedience
to the Ten Commandments, as opposed to a change in the commandments;
and seventh-day Sabbath worship, as opposed to worship on the
first day of the week.
God tells us
His Word is faithful and true, a light shining along the path
of life. He also tells us in the book of Revelation that the teachings
of men will fail and human religious systems will fall. It is
our responsibility to "come out" of those churches and groups
which distort basic biblical teachings by mixing them with human
key phrases in these verses sometimes confuse people. Christians down
through the centuries have speculated in many different ways about what
they all mean. Let's see if we can gain a basic understanding.
The people of earth will marvel when they see: (Revelation 17:8.)
beast turn on the harlot and attack her.
beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
beast become converted and accept Jesus.
4. John was told that the beast's seven heads represent:
seven nations which will come under the power of the woman.
seven days during which the woman will rule the earth.
seven mountains on which the woman sits.
John was also told that there are seven kings involved in this vision.
Of these seven kings:
five have fallen;
one is; and one has not yet come.
four will support the woman and fight for her; three will attack her.
will use their power and authority to protect God's people; one will
support the woman;
and one will enforce worship of the image of the beast.
The ten horns on the beast that carries the woman represent: (Revelation
ten years during which God's people will suffer terrible persecution.
ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom.
ten nations that will return to God and attack the woman.
Let's look at and
understand the key issue. These verses are telling us that nations
will form alliances to thwart God's kingdom. Satan doesn't want God
to win. He fights to the bitter end.
Up to this point
in the book of Revelation we have seen a panorama of the rise and
fall of nations. God lays out the sequence of world empires and shows
us details about events which precede the coming of Christ. In this
description of Babylon's fall, God is again summarizing the history
of nations and events from the rise of ancient Babylon to the coming
of Christ. We can discuss various interpretations about specific
words and phrases, but the fundamental issue stands out clearly.
This is what we need to focus on: Are we going to stay in Babylon
or come out of Babylon? Babylon is fallen. All the alliances created
in opposition to God's kingdom will fail.
Revelation 18:1-5, 8, 21-24.
What punishment do those share who do not come out of Babylon? (Revelation
share in her sins and are cast into the bottomless pit for ten thousand
must help destroy Babylon from within to show their loyalty to God.
share in her sins and receive her plagues.
17 and 18, paint a pretty grim picture. This is serious business.
However, remember that God is also telling us that sin and those
who perpetuate sin will be vanquished forever. Someday we will be
able to enjoy face-to-face companionship with God every day; no evil
forces will ever again interfere with our peace and happiness. But
these chapters do give people a warning. It is possible to be eternally
lost by making the wrong decision. It is possible to reject that
forever friendship with God.
shows us a bright scene in the midst of Babylon's doom.
What other name is given to Jesus, the Lamb of God? (Revelation
Faithful Morning Star.
of lords and King of kings.
One Altogether Lovely.
What name is given to those who remain faithful to Jesus? (Revelation
Chosen and Faithful.
God's Loyal Remnant.
Priests of God and of the Lamb.
There is a wonderful promise in
this verse. Jesus is Lord. He is the Sovereign of sovereigns. Remember
that childhood game called King of the Mountain? It's simple. You
just find a large rock or mound of dirt, someone gets on top, and
everyone else tries to push him off. The one who stays on top is
King of the Mountain. Similarly, Jesus Christ is going to reign as
King of kings, as the highest King on the highest mountain for all
is also wonderful hope in this verse. In the midst of the chaos
of Babylon's collapse, the dark clouds part, thunder rolls, and a stream
of light blazes down from heaven. Some instinctively cover their faces.
Others look up with assurance. Why? Because in this moment of intense
conflict God says, "It's OK. Relax, Audrey. Relax, George. Relax,
Jeanne. Relax, (your own name). You belong to Me. You are My
chosen one. I died for you. I adopted you as My very own child. So come
and rest in the shelter of My arms." What incredible assurance from
a marvelous God!
God is full
of assurances. That's just the way He is. Listen to these promises.
- "The Lord
is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Psalm
- "If God is
for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).
- "Who shall
separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress,
or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things
to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall
be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ
Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35, 38, 39).
- "Be anxious
for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with
thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the
peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your
hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6,
God wants us to
know that He will walk with us today and every day until Jesus' coming.
Simply reach out and place your hand in His. Then relax; God is leading
§ § §
had been sent into exile at the end of the war. At the time, Soviet
authorities were trying to stamp out all religious groups which they
didn't control. Still, this pastor wouldn't stop preaching the gospel
everywhere he went. So the authorities banished him to the tiny village
of Chumikan at the far edge of Siberia's frozen tundra. They figured
his faith would quickly wither in this place of freezing temperatures
and constant blizzards. And when Pastor Germaniuk stepped off the
train and looked around at the town's ramshackle buildings and the
smattering of small, deformed trees dotting the landscape, there
wasn't much to reassure him.
But Stepan knew
something the communist authorities didn't. God was walking with
him. And he believed God's promise about turning the evil plans of
men into something good. So he took off his hat in the howling wind
and prayed aloud: "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it,
and if there are any people living here, if there is even one, then
I can live here, too. I'll glorify you in this place, my Lord."
to find a room to rent in a filthy, broken-down house. The landlady
spent all her earnings on alcohol. Many of Chumikan's residents stayed
drunk most of the time to dull the pain of their miserable existence.
But before long Stepan had brightened up the residence. He scrubbed
the walls and floors. He made repairs around the house. And he began
cooking good meals and sharing the food packages he received. The
landlady was stunned. She told her friends, "I've got a holy man
living in my house." When the local police chief warned Stepan that
no preaching would be allowed, the pastor replied, "And what punishment
will you give me that's stricter than sending me here? I'm a preacher
by my convictions and my calling."
The next spring
the authorities allowed Stepan's wife and children to join him. But
they were forced to move into a rat-infested building. When they
carried in their suitcases and set them down, things didn't look
too good. But this family knew something. God was walking with them
in Siberia. And so the first thing they did was to get out a guitar,
form a circle and lift up a song of praise to God. They believed
their heavenly Father would provide.
afterwards, Stepan's work supervisor gave him permission to buy a shack
near a forest. The pastor and some of his new friends began fixing up
the place. They added a couple of rooms, and soon it looked like a real
home. The family even started a small garden. They planted potatoes
surrounded by stones. That's the only way they'd grow that far north.
During the two short months of summer, the sun beat on the stones and
actually made small potatoes grow.
Stepan and his
family began conducting worship services in their new home. Neighbors
dropped in for a visit. Some townspeople came by to check things
out. And they were astonished at what they found. These people worshiped
God with such joy! They loved to sing! Often the children would contribute
their own poetry. Sometimes the meetings lasted from morning to evening.
Everyone had such a wonderful time they hardly noticed the day passing.
That family experienced
God's closeness in one of the most desolate spots on earth. They experienced
it as they memorized Bible passages together. They experienced it as
they saw broken people come alive with a new faith in Jesus. They experienced
it walking by the seashore and watching the waves roll in. They experienced
it in the darkness of night. Stepan recalled, "We could never get our
fill of gazing at the stars. Often at night we would go out to watch
them and would sing the song, 'O starry sky, what a marvel you are,
what a reflection of God's love!'"
When a local communist
party official heard what was going on in Stepan's household, he
fumed, "Look, this man has tricked us. Even here he has a paradise."
Yes, God does
come close to His faithful people. Yes, God does walk with them each
dayno matter what their circumstances. He can turn any placewhether
it's a fiery furnace or a frozen tundrainto a paradise.
God is looking
for people today, looking for people who will stand with Him and
be counted. He is eager for you to reach out your hand to Him. He
is eager to give you His assurances. He is eager to lift you up to
Have you heard
the voice of Jesus speaking to your heart as you've studied these
chapters? Have you felt the convicting power of the Holy Spirit urging
you to completely follow God's teachings in His word? Do you sense
the urgency in these messages? Do you know where you stand with Jesus?
What do you need to say to Him?
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