Today we will consider the sixth vision cycle. One of the seven angels that poured out the bowls of wrath calls John to see the judgment of the “great prostitute” whom the kings of the earth have committed “sexual immorality” (17:1-2). This woman is Babylon, which symbolizes the world system under the power of Satan. Here, sexual immorality with the prostitute symbolizes the sin mankind has committed in following Satan. The woman is sitting on a conglomeration of the dragon and the first beast (v. 3). This is the world system as carried by the deceit of Satan and worldly power. The woman is dressed like royalty, as she rules this world with Satan. This is all those who live according to the world system. Note that she is drunk with the blood of the saints (v. 6 – see 16:6).
The angel explains that the beats was, and is not and is about to rise and go to destruction (v. 8). This is the beast of worldly power in all of its iterations, including its final iteration under the anti-Christ. All those whose names are not found in the book of life marvel at the beast, that is, worldly power. The heads of the beast here are said to be seven kings (v. 10). The original readers of this book would understand the five powers that have fallen to be the world powers of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. The one that is would be Rome. However, the one that is, is really all worldly power since the First Coming of Christ. It has had many manifestations, but it is always worldly power under the control of Satan. The one that has not come but will remain for only a little while is the superlative kingdom of this world under the anti-Christ, who “is an eighth but is belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction” (v. 11). The ten horns are the earthly powers that will receive authority from the anti-Christ (v. 12), but who will be deceived into giving their power over to him (v. 13). These are the kings that will be deceived into going to war against Christ and His people at the Battle of Armageddon, a.k.a. the war of God and Magog (v. 14).
The water in which the woman sits represents the reprobate (v. 15). But note that the deceived kings and the anti-Christ will kill the prostitute (v. 16). Right before Christ returns, during the three-and-a-half, the anti-Christ will initiate a new world system. Note that they will do this not just because they are deceived by Satan, but because God will sovereignly lead them into doing this to fulfill His plan of salvation (v. 17). The angel then likens the woman to the great city (v. 18). This is Babylon, the world system of all time.
Chapter 18 again speaks of the Second Coming. The angel with authority and glory that fills the earth is Christ (18:1). This is Him coming from heaven after the events of chapter 17 happen during the three-and-a-half. Verse 2 uses destruction imagery from the Old Testament prophets. The world is about to become the wasteland as judgment for the sins of the reprobate (v. 3). But before this judgment comes, God calls His people out of the world (v. 4). This is the rapture and resurrection that happened before the plagues are released (see chapters 15-16) for the sin of the reprobate (v. 5). And again, the judgment is just (vv. 6-8).
In verse 9, we again see that when the final judgment begins, there is time for the world to see what’s happening. And instead of repenting (as we have seen), the world laments the loss of the world system (vv. 10-19). Note that part of the booty of the world system was the souls of the lost (v. 13). Yet even as judgment comes, there will be reason for the elect to rejoice (v. 20). Verse 21-22 use imagery from the Old Testament (particularly Jeremiah) describing the judgment of physical Babylon (vv. 21-24).
In chapter 19, we hear the rejoicing of the elect and the righteous angels in heaven over the consummation of God’s salvation (19:1) and His just judgment (v. 2). Verse 3 pulls from Isaiah 34:10 and previous visions in Revelation (as in 14:11). Verses 4-5 describes the worship of the elect in the presence of God and Christ that will be our eternity. The consummation of our salvation will be when Christ comes to visibly reign (v. 6) and we are joined to our Bridegroom forever (v. 7). Note that the fine, bright linen we wear is the righteous deeds we do until that day (v. 8). This means that holding to our testimony in the here-and-now guarantees our standing in Christ. Blessed, indeed, are those invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb – a picture of our eternity with Christ (v. 9).
The end of the final judgment is then described. Christ will come from heaven in judgment (vv. 11-13) with the angelic host and the glorified elect of all time (v. 14). He will destroy His enemies with a word (v. 15). We see that there is another supper about to take place (v. 17). The call for the birds to gather to eat is a callback to Ezekiel 39 and the war of God and Magog. This is another symbol of the final battle. The reprobate and the beasts (including the anti-Christ) will come against God and His people (v. 19). But they will be destroyed (vv. 20-21 – see 17:11-14).