Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Road to Judgment

"The nations were angry; and Your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding Your servants the prophets…” (Revelation 11:18a).

When the counterfeit Jerusalem was hit by the earthquake, part of the city falls, but many repent and convert (Revelation 11:13). Then the seventh trumpet sounds and the courts of heaven praise God because the world has become Christ’s (11:15–18). We are also told that God’s heavenly temple is opened and the ark of the covenant is seen (11:19).

The seventh trumpet ushers in the last judgments, which are full and complete: the seven chalices. We don’t get to these seven chalices, however, until several chapters later. We read in Revelation 15:5 that the temple is opened and the ark (the testimony) is revealed, and that out of the temple come the seven last angels with the chalices of wrath. Thus, Revelation 15:5 takes up where Revelation 11:19 leaves off.

In the interim we have a vision of the attack of the wicked upon the saints, probably referring in context to those converted when counterfeit Jerusalem was shaken in Revelation 11. They are symbolically numbered at 144,000 in Revelation 14, and are harvested as martyrs, dying like their Master “outside the gate” (Revelation 14:20). Their blood makes counterfeit Jerusalem (mystical Babylon) drunk (16:6; 17:6).

The earth cries out for judgment when righteous blood is spilled. So the blood drunk by Babylon cries out for judgment. (The blood of Christ we drink in the Lord’s Supper cries out for blessing upon us.) The chalices of wrath of Revelation 16 seem to be filled with the blood of these martyrs because the cups are said to have wine in them. Wine is the symbol for blood, and the martyrs’ blood comes from a winepress (14:10, 20).

How do the wicked attack the faithful? In Revelation 12 we see that Satan, the great dragon, lies behind these attacks. In Revelation 13 we are shown the beast, the power of the state, that is used to kill the wicked. But in Revelation 17 we find that the harlot, the false bride, the apostate church, the counterfeit Jerusalem, rides the beast like a chariot. It is the false church that Satan uses to provoke the beast to attack the faithful. The great whore, Mystery Babylon, is the ultimate earthly enemy, and the greatest wrath is reserved for her.

Jesus forgave those who put Him to death, but He does not forgive those who attack His bride. Jerusalem fell because she persecuted the saints. Throughout the centuries, the false church has persecuted the true, using the power of the beast as her tool. Today’s lesson should cause you to appreciate the importance of church discipline.