13. The pouring out of the seven vials (bowls), (Rev. 15:1-16:21). The seven angels who have the seven last plagues are introduced (Rev. 15:1). Before they come forth, the saints who are victorious are pictured as standing upon a sea of glass which is mingled with fire. They are singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb, praising God and acknowledging that all glory is His. And the nations have come to worship Him (Rev. 15:2-4). The temple is opened and the seven angels having the seven last plagues come forth (Rev. 15:5, 6). One of the four beasts gives to the seven angels the seven golden vials, full of the wrath of God. The temple is full of smoke and no man is worthy to enter the temple till the seven plagues are fulfilled (Rev. 15:7, 8). A great voice tells the angel to pour out the vial (Rev. 16:1). The first angel pours the vial on the earth. A grievous sore fell on all the men who had the mark of the beast and on those who worshiped the image (Rev. 16:2). The second angel poured the next vial upon the sea; and it became as blood, and every living soul in the sea died (Rev. 16:2). The third vial is poured upon the rivers and fountains of water and they became blood. An angel declares that God is righteous in destroying the wicked for they have shed the blood of the saints. Another soul out of the altar acknowledges God’s justice in His judgments (Rev. 16:4-7). The fourth angel pours his vial upon the sun and men are scorched with fire. They in turn blaspheme God and repented not (Rev. 16:8, 9). The fifth angel poured his vial upon the seat of the beast (place of rule); and his kingdom became filled with darkness and they suffered great pain for which they blasphemed the God of heaven (Rev. 16:10, 11). The sixth vial is poured upon the great river Euphrates and the waters are dried up so that the kings of the east can come. He sees three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon. These are false prophets who work miracles and cause the kings of the earth to gather in the battle of the great day. This is called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon (Rev. 16:12-14, 16). An interjection is expressed: “Behold Christ comes as a thief, and blessed are they who watch and keep their garments clean” (Rev. 16:15). The seventh vial is poured in the air. A voice sounds from the temple, “It is done.” Thunder, lightning, earthquakes, and hailstones destroy the earth. Babylon is divided into three parts under the fierceness of God’s wrath. The ungodly respond with even more blasphemy (Rev. 16:17-21).
14. The mystery and fall of Babylon the great (Rev. 17:1-18:24). The angel invites John to come and see the judgment of the great whore with whom the kings and people have committed fornication (Rev. 17:1, 2). The Spirit carried John into the wilderness and he saw a woman arrayed in scarlet, riding upon a scarlet beast, holding in her hand a cup filled with the filthiness of her fornication (Rev. 17:3, 4). She has the name, “Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” (Rev. 17:5). She is drunk with the blood of the saints (martyrs), and all who follow her are the ungodly whose names are not in the book of life (Rev. 17:6-8). The beast represents kings that have reigned, and some must yet reign who make war with the Lamb but are overcome by the King of kings (Rev. 17:9-14). The whore that rides the beast represents the false prophets who influence people with evil (Rev. 17:15). In the end the nations shall turn against her and make the whore desolate (Rev. 17:16-18). An angel descends from heaven and announces the fall of Babylon, for the measure of her iniquity is full (Rev. 18:1-3). A call is given to the people of God to come out from Babylon, for God will reward her evil with the cup of wrath in the measure she committed abominations (Rev. 18:4-8). The kings of the earth bewail her destruction, “Alas, Babylon is fallen.” The merchants who dealt in all manner of delicacies and were made rich by her, weep. “In one hour, so great riches is come to nought.” The sailors weep when they see the smoke of Babylon rise heavenward. They cast dust on their heads and cry out in desolation (Rev. 18:9-19). The faithful people are exhorted to rejoice over Babylon’s fall (Rev. 18:20). An angel casts a great millstone into the sea and once again the harpers, musicians, and craftsmen are silenced. There is no business or pleasure, for God has come in justice to destroy Babylon (Rev. 18:21-24).
15. Christ comes to judgment over all people (Rev. 19:1-20:15). The saints in heaven introduce the next vision with a hallelujah chorus. They rejoice in that the great whore is judged and the blood of the saints avenged. They are joined by the twenty-four elders and four beasts, even the great throng of angels singing, “The Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Rev. 19:1-6). We now learn that the joyful song introduces the marriage of the Lamb with His bride, the church. The bride is adorned in fine linen, white and clean. John must write: “Blessed are they who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” He bows before the angel, but is admonished, he is to worship God (Rev. 19:7-10). Christ is pictured as a judge, riding upon a white horse, with eyes of flaming fire and whose name is, “Word of God.” The heavenly armies follow Him on white horses (Rev. 19:11-14). The name on his vesture and thigh is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword (Rev. 19:15, 16). An angel calls to the fowls to come and eat the flesh of kings, of men and horses, for the enemy is defeated (Rev. 19:17, 18). The opposition from the kings of the earth is defeated once and for all. The beast and false prophet and their followers are cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:19-21). An angel with a key to the bottomless pit binds Satan and casts him into the pit so he cannot deceive the nations for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3). During this time the souls of the martyrs reign with Christ (Rev. 20:4). This is called the first resurrection. Blessed are they who share in it, for the second death does not touch them (Rev. 20:5, 6). After the thousand years, Satan is loosed in order that he may deceive the nations, Gog and Magog, to bring them in battle against the camp of the saints (Rev. 20:7-9). God intervenes and casts all these enemies into the lake of fire which according to a later verse is called the second death. Christ sits on the great white throne and judges all creatures. Even the sea, death, and hell give up the dead for this purpose (Rev. 20:10-15).
16. The new Jerusalem and the final state of glory (Rev. 21:1-22:5). The heavens and earth pass away and are replaced with a new one (Rev. 21:1). Upon that new earth, John saw the new Jerusalem coming as a bride adorned for her husband. The tabernacle of God is with men and God shall wipe away all tears (Rev. 21:2-4). Christ declares that He makes all things new (Rev. 21:5-8). An angel introduces the bride of the Lamb. She is presented as the New Jerusalem, with twelve gates, twelve foundations, and streets of gold. There is no need for the sun, for the Lord God is the light. The gates are open for there is no opposition; the wicked are cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 21:9-27). The river of life flows from the throne of God and waters the tree of life whose fruit is for the inhabitants and whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. All the inhabitants of heaven see the face of the Lamb. God illuminates them and they reign with Christ for ever and ever (Rev. 22:1-5).
17. Conclusion of the book (Rev. 22:6-21). The angel assures John that the words of the vision are faithful and true and contain the things that must shortly come to pass (Rev. 22:6). Christ assures the reader that He is coming quickly. Blessed are they that keep the sayings of this book. John must not worship the angel, but worship God and make known the contents of the book because the end is at hand and the spiritual character of mankind is determined for eternity (Rev. 22:7-11). Again Christ says, “I come quickly, I am alpha and omega. Blessed are they that do my commandments. They have the right to the tree of life. Without are dogs and liars” (Rev. 22:12-17). The personal testimony is given that the words of the prophecy of this book are true. A warning is given that no one add or subtract anything from it lest they forfeit their place in the holy city (Rev. 22:18, 19). The closing words are, “I come quickly. Even so come, Lord Jesus.” The apostolic blessing closes the book (Rev. 22:20, 21).
Questions for Reflection
1. Why is the sub-title, “Christ’s victorious return,” an appropriate description of the content of this book?
2. Consider the reasons why we believe the apostle John wrote this book.
3. The Revelation is full of symbolism (most cannot possibly be interpreted literally). As you reflect upon this book, make a list of the outstanding symbols of the book (e.g., numbers, colors, images, visions) and next to them make a brief note as to their meaning.
4. The Revelation does not give us a time-table for the return of Christ. How should we interpret this book as far as learning how close we are to the end of the world is concerned?
5. Make a list of the terrible warnings and judgments that are prophesied upon the wicked. Next to this list, make another list of the promises and comfort that are prophesied for the people of God.
6. Reflect upon the letters to the seven churches. How do these letters apply to the congregation of which you are a member? Do some of the warnings in these letters apply in a special way to your church?
7. Show from the Revelation that creation (nature) is subject to both the curse of God and the blessing of God.
8. The truth of the antithesis emphasizes that the church is in the world, but not of the world. Refer to passages from Revelation that teach this very clearly. What is the importance of this truth as the end of the world draws near?
9. Make a list of the visions that you believe speak to you in a special way. What is their meaning and why are they precious to you?
10. According to our flesh, there are many things that we learn in Revelation that make us afraid. List some of them. Next to them, quote a passage from this book that offsets this fear.