Hope in the Dark – Final Judgements
Hello church! Welcome to the second last week of our readings through Revelation. I’m not going to lie to you – we are going to jump in head first this week. No beating around the bush, no fluff. Just some intense questions to ask ourselves as we read through some intense passages!
But let me tell you. If you put in the time, and if you consider honestly what the Holy Spirit is saying to you this week through these Scriptures, you will see God at work in the mess. You will be reminded that salvation is already here, and yet is still coming. You will find hope in the dark.
Each day before you read, start your time like this:
- Take a few deep breaths and settle in
- Say a simple prayer to connect with Jesus. For example, “Lord Jesus, I am here to hear from you today, please reveal your truth to me.”
- Take 2 minutes to be silent and still in Jesus’ presence before you begin
Read Revelation 17:1-18
Babylon, the Prostitute on the Beast
17 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. 2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”
3 Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. 5 The name written on her forehead was a mystery:
Babylon the great
the mother of prostitutes
and of the abominations of the earth.
6I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.
When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. 7 Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. 8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.
9 “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
12 “The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. 14 They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
15 Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. 16 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled. 18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.”
In this passage, John writes that ,”the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of [the great prostitute’s] adulteries.”
It’s a sobering line for us to read. It is with her that humans have cheated God. What this great prostitute stands for isn’t exactly clear. Is it wealth? Luxury? Sex?
What is clear is that she represents what is in opposition to God:
- While God is faithful, she draws people to unfaithfulness
- While God is love, she merely offers pleasure
- While God is everlasting, she is merely for the moment
- While God is devoted, she is a fling
- God is the real thing, but she is a counterfeit
The great prostitute represents the idols in our lives that draw us towards that which is fleeting and temporary, and away from the God who is faithful and true. And we we read about the kings and inhabitants of the earth being intoxicated with her adulteries, we must ask ourselves: what are the things that I am intoxicated with? What are those fleeting pleasures that tempt me away from total commitment to the One True God? Is it…
- Material things?
- Could it even be the idolization of love, family, security, freedom?
Ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of any adulteries or idolatries present in your life. Don’t brush off the seemingly insignificant things that He may bring to mind. Spend some time confessing how these things have gotten in the way of your true and total worship of the Lord.
Next, spend a few moments praising God that even though powers and principalities may wage war against you, the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.
Then finish your time with a prayer of commit to live a life of renewed faithfulness to the King of Kings.
Read Revelation 18:1-20
Lament Over Fallen Babylon
18 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2 With a mighty voice he shouted:
“‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’
She has become a dwelling for demons
and a haunt for every impure spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal.
3 For all the nations have drunk
the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”
Warning to Escape Babylon’s Judgment
4 Then I heard another voice from heaven say:
“‘Come out of her, my people,’
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
5 for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her crimes.
6 Give back to her as she has given;
pay her back double for what she has done.
Pour her a double portion from her own cup.
7 Give her as much torment and grief
as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
In her heart she boasts,
‘I sit enthroned as queen.
I am not a widow;
I will never mourn.’
8 Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire,
for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.
Threefold Woe Over Babylon’s Fall
9 “When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. 10 Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry:
“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
you mighty city of Babylon!
In one hour your doom has come!’
11 “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.
14 “They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ 15 The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn 16 and cry out:
“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet,
and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’
“Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. 18 When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ 19 They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out:
“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
where all who had ships on the sea
became rich through her wealth!
In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’
20 “Rejoice over her, you heavens!
Rejoice, you people of God!
Rejoice, apostles and prophets!
For God has judged her
with the judgment she imposed on you.”
- Spend 2 minutes in quiet, asking the Lord what He wants you to pay attention to in this passage. See what comes up, and write down anything of note
The greatest lament in this passage comes from the kings, merchants and sea captains – those who had become rich through the Great Prostitutes wealth, or shared in her luxury. They all lament that her doom has come and her wealth brought to ruin. This brings us to another sobering question: are we putting our hope in wealth?
Money is not the root of all evil, but the love of it is.
- Is our hope and stability truly placed in the Kingdom of God and His righteousness?
- Are we seeking the riches of God first and foremost, or the riches of this world?
- Have we committed any sin in our pursuit of money? Or can we say that we have “come out of Babylon” and are not held captive by the lure of wealth and material things?
Spend some time asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you your attitude towards money, wealth, and material things.
- Is there anything He is asking you to repent of? Is there anything He is asking you to do?
Finish your time today in prayer, responding to whatever the Holy Spirit has revealed.
Read Revelation 18:21-19:10
The Finality of Babylon’s Doom
21 Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said:
“With such violence
the great city of Babylon will be thrown down,
never to be found again.
22 The music of harpists and musicians, pipers and trumpeters,
will never be heard in you again.
No worker of any trade
will ever be found in you again.
The sound of a millstone
will never be heard in you again.
23 The light of a lamp
will never shine in you again.
The voice of bridegroom and bride
will never be heard in you again.
Your merchants were the world’s important people.
By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.
24 In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people,
of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.”
Threefold Hallelujah Over Babylon’s Fall
19 After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
2 for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
3 And again they shouted:
The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”
4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried:
5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying:
“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
you who fear him,
both great and small!”
6 Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
9 Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”
10 At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”
The response of heaven to God’s judgement on Babylon is worship. When evil loses (which it always will) our temptation may be to gloat, to enjoy the sight of our enemies in pain. But here John reveals that heaven’s response is worship of the one true, righteous and holy judge. Human judgements can contain errors. Human judgements can be short-sighted. But the judgements of God are pure and holy, and deserving of our worship.
In the Scriptures, to worship means to bow down before, to give reference or honor to. God commands His people to worship Him and serve Him only. And in this vision, when John bows at the angel’s feet, the angel commands John, “Worship God!” We are to worship no one and nothing else, no matter how good it seems.
- What has been getting in the way of your worship of God Almighty? Are there other things that have been stealing your attention or affection away from Him?
- What can you do today to worship God? Be intentional about incorporating worship into your day today, and every day.
Red Revelation 19:11 – 21
The Heavenly Warrior Defeats the Beast
11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
king of kings and lord of lords.
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”
19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
Sometimes we forget that we are in a war. In this scene we have Jesus, the Faithful and True, riding a white horse. His eyes blazing like fire, His mouth (truth) a weapon, His robes are stained with his own righteous blood, and behind him is His army – the people of God, clothed in fine linen, which in Revelation 19:8 we are told stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people. It is with justice that He wages war against the beast and enemies of God.
In his book Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination, Eugene Peterson writes, “St. Paul, preaching salvation, did not organize ethical societies around the Mediterranean basin; he fought battles and developed an extensive vocabulary to name the evil opposition: powers (Rom. 8:38), rulers (1 Cor 2:8), thrones (Col 1:16), dominions (Eph. 1:21). He didn’t seem to be in the least bit intimidated by these ominous forces. He was always working from a stance of accomplished victory, since Jesus on the cross ‘disarmed the principalities and power and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him’ (Col. 2:15). There is, apparently, nothing to fear in the act of fighting. Danger here is all in the not-fighting. The safest place is on the battlefield, for it is there that Christ is active, riding the white horse.”
If we’re honest. Most of us are more comfortable on the sidelines. Some of us fear the battle. Others are too lazy to enter in. Others still are simply just unaware. But over and over again Scripture is clear that we are in a spiritual war every single day.
- Take a few moments to be quiet before God. Ask Him to show you where you are when it comes to the spiritual battle. Are you on the sidelines watching? Running away/avoiding in fear? Oblivious? Or are you in the thick of it, riding behind Him?
- What does it look like for you to take up the spiritual fight against spiritual powers, rules, thrones and dominions (for help, read Ephesians 6:10-18)?
- Take some time to confess any fear, laziness, or ignorance on your part. Then ask God to make you bold. Consider memorizing a Scripture (His word truly is a sword!) that may help you as you wage war today:
- For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
- Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith. 1 Peter 5:8-9
- “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 54:17
Read Revelation 20:1-15
The Thousand Years
20 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
The Judgment of Satan
7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
The Judgment of the Dead
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
We may be tempted, at different times in our lives, to cry out and ask God, “Where is your justice!? Where is your victory!?” because there are times when it may seem like evil, injustice, or sin are winning. But John here assures us, they will not win. Though they wage war against the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, their final destiny is destruction. Eventually, the beast is thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, and his allies are killed with by the sword of Jesus. The dragon too, is defeated and left to be tormented.
Justice will be won. Our salvation will be complete.
It is then humanity is also to be judged. “Each person… according to what they had done.”
It is our actions that demonstrate our allegiance. It is our actions that show who we belong to.
The emphasis here is not on right belief, it is on right action.
We may believe the right things, but do we do them?
Are our lives marked by obedience and allegiance to Christ?
Are there any areas we have left untouched? Any sin we have not turned over and repented of?
We ask ourselves this not because our standing with God is based on how much good we have done vs. how much evil. But rather to reflect on the most important deed we will ever do: the one that does define our future: have we given ourselves fully over to the Lord Jesus Christ who has won salvation on our behalf? Are we following after Him, or are we heading in another direction? Are we chasing after Him, or are we standing still? Does sin still reign in our lives? Or have we come under the authority or Lordship of Jesus Christ?
These are important questions to ask ourselves.
It isn’t “do I believe the right things?” But rather, “Have I done the one thing and followed after Jesus as Lord?” Because if you follow after Him, you don’t have to worry about how much you did right or wrong. I believe that He is faithful and true to take us on the right paths. He will lead us down the path of righteousness.
- Take some time today to consider your life. Have you done the one thing that matters (and then every day, decided to do it over and over and over again)?
- No matter where you are at in your faith, ask Jesus to help you follow after Him with your whole heart.
- Ask Him to reveal if there is anything that is getting in the way, and then ask Him to defeat that enemy… no matter how long it might take (for even the dragon’s demise was not instant!).