Satan could not devour Christ. He failed to consume Israel. Now, he is persecuting the church. He calls the first beast, worldly nations represented by Rome, out of the sea. The first beast establishes the second beast, the imperial cult or some national leader like Caesar. The whole world, those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world, goes after the beast and bears his ethos. Standing against the beasts is a Lamb, Jesus Christ. With Him are His people who have been sealed with His mark, the Holy Spirit, and have the Law of God written on their hearts. There are two present kingdoms in the world, two kingdoms that are diametrically opposed, and the Lamb declares victory over the beast.
6 Καὶ εἶδον ἄλλον ἄγγελον πετόμενον ἐν μεσουρανήματι, ἔχοντα εὐαγγέλιον αἰώνιον εὐαγγελίσαι ἐπὶ τοὺς καθημένους ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ἐπὶ πᾶν ἔθνος καὶ φυλὴν καὶ γλῶσσαν καὶ λαόν, 7 λέγων ἐν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ· Φοβήθητε τὸν θεὸν καὶ δότε αὐτῷ δόξαν, ὅτι ἦλθεν ἡ ὥρα τῆς κρίσεως αὐτοῦ, καὶ προσκυνήσατε τῷ ποιήσαντι τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ θάλασσαν καὶ πηγὰς ὑδάτων.
8 Καὶ ἄλλος δεύτερος ἄγγελος ἠκολούθησεν λέγων· Ἔπεσεν, ἔπεσεν Βαβυλὼν ἡ μεγάλη, ἣ ἐκ τοῦ οἴνου τοῦ θυμοῦ τῆς πορνείας αὐτῆς πεπότικεν πάντα τὰ ἔθνη.
9 Καὶ ἄλλος ἄγγελος τρίτος ἠκολούθησεν αὐτοῖς λέγων ἐν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ· Εἴ τις προσκυνεῖ τὸ θηρίον καὶ τὴν εἰκόνα αὐτοῦ, καὶ λαμβάνει χάραγμα ἐπὶ τοῦ μετώπου αὐτοῦ ἢ ἐπὶ τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ, 10 καὶ αὐτὸς πίεται ἐκ τοῦ οἴνου τοῦ θυμοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ κεκερασμένου ἀκράτου ἐν τῷ ποτηρίῳ τῆς ὀργῆς αὐτοῦ, καὶ βασανισθήσεται ἐν πυρὶ καὶ θείῳ ἐνώπιον ἀγγέλων ἁγίων καὶ ἐνώπιον τοῦ ἀρνίου. 11 καὶ ὁ καπνὸς τοῦ βασανισμοῦ αὐτῶν εἰς αἰῶνας αἰώνων ἀναβαίνει, καὶ οὐκ ἔχουσιν ἀνάπαυσιν ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός, οἱ προσκυνοῦντες τὸ θηρίον καὶ τὴν εἰκόνα αὐτοῦ, καὶ εἴ τις λαμβάνει τὸ χάραγμα τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ.
12 Ὧδε ἡ ὑπομονὴ τῶν ἁγίων ἐστίν, οἱ τηροῦντες τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὴν πίστιν Ἰησοῦ.
13 Καὶ ἤκουσα φωνῆς ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ λεγούσης· Γράψον· Μακάριοι οἱ νεκροὶ οἱ ἐν κυρίῳ ἀποθνῄσκοντες ἀπʼ ἄρτι. ναί, λέγει τὸ πνεῦμα, ἵνα ἀναπαήσονται ἐκ τῶν κόπων αὐτῶν, τὰ γὰρ ἔργα αὐτῶν ἀκολουθεῖ μετʼ αὐτῶν.
Gospel proclamation (v. 6-7)
And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people.
In conjunction with the Lamb and the 144,000, John sees a messenger flying in the sky preaching the gospel to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people. This verse does a couple things for us. First, it disproves any notion that Revelation claims there will be a one world government with a one-world currency led by some antichrist figure at some point in the future. For, while the beasts are on the earth, the gospel is being proclaimed to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people (plural). The Bible does not anywhere predict a one-world government under an antichrist regime. That future is not impossible, but it is not foretold in Scripture. Second, if the beasts are Rome and the Imperial cult, we should expect to observe a flourishing of the gospel to the whole world under Roman persecution, which was described in the book of Acts. Still, today in the midst of modern beasts, the gospel is being preached to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.
And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”
The messenger flying in the sky offers a divine invitation. Instead of fearing the worldly government and taking on the ethos of the world, fear God and give Him glory. The gospel invitation is not an invitation to escape Hell or make it into Heaven. The gospel invitation is an invitation to glorify God instead of self or government. It is an invitation to submit to king Jesus rather than any king of this world (including self). Why? With the establishment of the beast, Rome, the hour of God’s judgment has come. The kingdom of heaven is at hand (cf. Matthew 4:17). Notice the timing to God’s judgment, during the reign of the heathen nations that rage. John believes God’s judgment is present as he writes Revelation. It is not a future judgment but is current to John. If Rome represents all heathen nations that rage, the judgment of God continues.
Because God is a just judge, every nation, tribe, tongue, and people are invited to worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters. If one accepts the invitation to fear God and give Him glory, that person will not be judged along with the beasts and those who worship them instead of Christ. Every person either worships the beast or Christ. There are no other options.
The beasts’ destination (v. 8-12)
And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”
Following the gospel proclamation comes a pronouncement of victory over Babylon, or Rome. Even though the beast still rages, Christ’s messenger declares that it is fallen. The nation that caused all other nations to submit to its ethos, bear its mark, and partake of her immorality. Immorality, here, is the Greek πορνείας, which means fornication or sexual immorality. The Imperial Cult employed temple prostitution along with orgies and homosexual festivals. Rome quite literally shoved its sexuality agenda down the throats of the nations. Christians reading Revelation in the First Century, thus, recognize Babylon, a moniker given to the first beast, as Rome—affirming our interpretation of the two beasts in Chapter 13.
John singles out Rome’s sexual agenda. The sexual agenda of the state has much to do with its ethos. According to my own observation, rebellion against God normally begins with a redefinition of sexuality in society. The trends of worldly nations today are not new. They are simply a revival of Babylon and Rome. The beast and its sexual agenda are fallen. It cannot win. Even as it exists, the state is fallen before the Lamb and His church.
Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
Those who worship the state, adopting its ethos and especially its sexual ideology and so receiving its mark, will drink the fullness of God’s wrath—everlasting torment with fire and brimstone, everlasting Hell. Notice a few details:
- Our interpretation of the beast’s mark is affirmed. Here, John identifying the mark primarily as the sexual immorality, identification, orientation, and practice of the world—not a literalistic tattoo, implant, or new invention (e.g. bitcoin or biopay). To bear the name of the Imperial Cult (or the new Imperial Cult) is to live by the identity it gives us rather than Christ.
- The Bible explicitly states that there will be everlasting suffering for those who are of the world rather than in Christ.
- Those who are of the world will be tormented in the presence of the holy angels and Christ forever. Hell will not be physical separation from the angels or Christ. The torment of Hell will be visible to at least the angels and Christ as lasting testimony about the work of Christ, the power and mercy of God (cf. Romans 9).
Those who persevere in Christ, keeping the commandments of God, despite the pull of the world are not subject to such torment. Those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world will worship the beast, adopt its ideologies, and give themselves over to the sexuality of the world (cf. 13:8). Those whose names are written will persevere because they have the seal of Christ. Apostasy normally begins with sexual indiscretion and is follow by an attempt to justify one’s self. Then, human sexuality according to God’s design is forsaken in favor of the loose sexuality of the new Imperial Cult. Reprobate people have not changed. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it (1:3).
The saints’ destination (v. 13)
And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”
Despite Satan’s third, extravagant, attempt to hurt Christ, his beasts don’t stand a fighting chance. They certainly try to force the whole world into their sexual and moral categories. They strive to label and control all people. They kill the saints. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Notice the timing reference, here, “…from now on.” From when on? Paradise is prepared from at least the moment of Christ’s crucifixion (cf. Luke 23:43). If we read Revelation futuristically, then those who die in the Lord at the current time are not blessed and are not at rest upon death, which disagrees with Jesus’s teaching. One cannot agree with Jesus, believe that Jesus accomplished redemption and resurrection at the cross, and also read Revelation futuristically—which dismantles any dispensational interpretation of the Revelation. Jesus accomplished our redemption and resurrection in His death, burial, and resurrection from the dead. According to the testimony of the Spirit, those who die in Christ are blessed because Christ is judging the beast. We are at rest rather than in torment. We no longer labor, which reveals something about the nature of Heaven against Hell. Legalism is not a heavenly affair. Part of Hell’s torment, it seems, will be a perpetual need people have to try to prove themselves or earn something. Christians have come to Christ for rest from that sort of worldly religiosity. Those who are in Christ have their deeds follow with them. So, instead of trying to keep up with our work, our work has to keep up with us. We don’t labor in order to earn anything but because we have been given life and liberty from the world’s designations and categories. Our work does not perish because it is in Christ. It follows with us.
Our labor in this fallen world with a present beast is not in vain. If our labor is in Christ, no matter what it is, there is the promise—it will not be burned away, destroyed, or consumed. When we die in Christ, our deeds follow with us. Such is not the case for those who bear the beast’s mark and are destined for everlasting Hell.
If one’s worship and destination are determined by whether or not his or her name is written in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world (cf. 13:8), each one’s destination has already been determined. We have been predestined.
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