Understanding The Apocalypse

Revelation 14:8-13
Chapter 24

I read an article published during the Persian Gulf War that reported Saddam Hussien was rebuilding the City of Babylon. It was said that because he considers himself to be the modern-day Nebuchadnezzar, his goal was to restore Babylon and his kingdom to greatness by reclaiming the lands once conquered by the Babylonian Empire.

To restore the Babylonian Empire, Saddam needed to conquer Israel as Nebuchadnezzar had done. His desire to do this was proved by his Scud missile attacks on Israel.

Possibly, the invasion of Kuwait was to provide the resources and strategic location to launch and sustain an attack on Israel and the surrounding nations. However, this plan was thwarted by U. N. intervention and Hussien was forced to fight before he was ready.

The point is this: Babylon from its beginning has always stood against God and His people, and this episode in Babylonian history is no exception.

The first mention of Babylon in the Scriptures is found in Genesis 10:8-10.

"And Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, 'Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.' And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar."
Nimrod, the great grandson of Noah was a man of strength and boldness who rose to power among the people of the earth. He established a kingdom in the land of Shinar and Babel was one of the principle cities in his kingdom.

According to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, Nimrod held that happiness and prosperity were not derived from the favor of God brought by obedience to Him, but were the results of man's own power and pursuits.

He persuaded the people to disobey God's command to disperse and populate the earth by telling them they did not need God if they would stick together.

Nimrod demonstrated great contempt for the Lord and vowed to the people that he would personally hold God accountable if He ever decided to drown the world again. As a safeguard against God's judgment, Nimrod suggested building a tower too high for water to cover and promised that when it was finished, he would avenge himself on God for destroying their ancestors.

Thinking a tower would protect them from the judgment of God and believing in a leader they thought greater than the Lord, the people of Babel began work on their edifice. The result of their efforts is today known as the Tower of Babel and the Biblical account of this rebellion is in Genesis ll.

The place where Nimrod and his followers built their tower in direct contempt and disobedience to God, was first called Babel and later called Babylon.

Babylon has always represented contempt for God and man's pride in himself. But because "God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6), Babylon has always suffered defeat.

I. The Fall of Babylon

"And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication" (Revelation 14:8).

While Babylon always represents evil, it is generally recognized that Babylon is mentioned in the Scriptures in three ways. These are:

(1) As a city - Babylon is the city where the throne of the Antichrist will be established.

(2) As a religious system - Babylon is the religious system or the apostate church that will be dominated by the false prophet.

(3) As a political system - Babylon is the political system that will be controlled by the Antichrist.

Because Revelation 14:8, is a general, not a specific, account of the fall of Babylon it is reasonable to think she represents all three in this verse.

Notice why Babylon must fall: "Because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." The word "fornication" used in this statement is not a reference to sexual immorality in Babylon. It is used metaphorically to describe worship of the Antichrist. Just as sexual immorality is not a genuine sexual relationship, worship of the Antichrist is not a genuine relationship with God.

Furthermore, this fornication or idolatrous worship of the Antichrist is marked by wrath and drunkenness. As Nimrod was angry and spoke against the Almighty, so too will the Antichrist blaspheme and his wrath against God will affect the people. They will be intoxicated by his claims to be god and his ability to perform miracles. This will allow him to deceive the nations and force his idolatries and blasphemies on them.

Just as people in ancient Babel, called "Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord" the Babylonians in Revelation 14:8 will esteem the Antichrist before the Lord and follow him to destruction.

II. The Destiny of The Babylonians

"And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall 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 ascendeth up forever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name" (Revelation 14:9-11).
It has been said in several of our previous studies that the Great Tribulation is not a time for the demonstration of the Grace of God, but is a time for the wrath or judgment of God to be poured upon the earth. In Revelation 14:9-11, we see a Scriptural application of this viewpoint. Clearly, the subjects here are those who worship the beast or Antichrist and receive his mark. Consequently, the wrath of God will be upon them.

We know from Revelation 13, that the Antichrist will control commerce in the world during the Great Tribulation. In an attempt to force all the people in the world to worship him, he will require anyone who wants to buy or sell to have some sort of identifier or mark. This mark will be available only to those who worship the beast.

So, the choice is simple. One can worship the Antichrist, receive his mark and participate in the world system or one can trust the Lord to provide his needs and refuse to worship the beast.

According to our text, those who worship the Antichrist and receive his mark will pay the penalty for their idolatry in two ways.

(1) "The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation."

Those who worship the Antichrist or drink the wine of the fornication of Babylon will also drink the wine of the wrath or judgment of God. His wrath will be poured out without mixture meaning it will be undiluted or unmerciful, and is the result of God's indignation or anger.

No wonder, the inhabitants of the earth will hide in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains and cry for the mountains and rocks to fall on them to hide them from the face of the Almighty. People will seek death to escape their torments but death will flee from them.

Surely, it will be true what Isaiah 13:6-11 predicted.

"Wail; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt; And they shall be afraid. Pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain like a woman that travaileth. They shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and he shall destroy the sinners out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in its going forth, and the moon shall not cause its light to shine. And I will punish the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible."
Terrible as they are, the torments those who worship the Antichrist will face on the earth are just the tip of the iceberg. The second phase of their penalty is yet to come.

(2) "And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb."

There is only one place identified in Scripture where there is torment with fire and brimstone. It is the Lake of Fire. However, some reject that the Lake of Fire is in reference because of the statement that the torment takes place in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. These contend the Lake of Fire or Hell is not in the presence of the Lord or His angels and therefore, this torment could not be taking place in Hell. This, then becomes their license to say this torment is taking place in a purgatory from which there is the possibility of redemption.

While we must agree the Lake of Fire is not the presence of the Lord or vice-versa we must disagree with this application of this truth. The Greek word from which "presence" is translated is "enopion." The root meaning of the word from which this compound verb is derived is, "To see or view from afar."

The Lord and all the heavenly hosts will see from afar the torments of those who worship the Antichrist when they are cast into the Lake of Fire.

"And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name."
III. The Blessing of The Saints
"Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, 'Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth.' 'Yea,' saith the Spirit, 'That they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them'" (Revelation 14:12-13).
Here we see a sharp contrast between the condemnation of the Babylonians and the blessedness of the Saints. While idolatries bring everlasting torment in the Lake of Fire, for those who have faith in Christ there is rest with the Lord.

For many, the wording of this text indicates it is necessary to keep the Ten Commandments to be saved. However, careful examination of Revelation 14:12, reveals the subject Saints keep BOTH "the commandments of God" and "the faith of Jesus." These two actions may be correlated to the results given in Revelation14:13: "They may rest from their labors and their works do follow them." Simply put, there are two separate actions given and two separate results of these actions.

The result of the Saints' faith in Jesus is they rest from their labors forever. To enter into the rest of God is to be forever free from the hardships and burdens brought into existence by sin. It is only faith in Christ that can give relief from the labors and drudgeries of sin. This is why Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Next, in Revelation 14:13, we see the result of the Saints keeping the commandments of God is their works follow them. This speaks of reward for faithful service to the Lord and we know the faithful service of a child of God will be remembered in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Apostle Paul writing on this subject in 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 said,

"Every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall test every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built upon it, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet as by fire."
IV. Conclusion

The message of Revelation 14:8-13, is clear: Babylon, which represents the seat of the throne of the Antichrist along with the religious and political systems he controls will fall and those who worship the Antichrist will be tormented forever in the Lake of Fire. This will happen after they suffer through the Great Tribulation prior to our Lord's return in Glory.

For the Saints there will be rest from the burdens and hardships of sin and reward for service to the Lord.

Then as now, a person's everlasting fate is determined by his faith. Those who believe in Christ are saved forever, while those who believe in someone other than Christ will be tormented forever in the Lake of Fire.

From "Understanding The Apocalypse"
A book of sermons by Pastor Jim McColloch, Th.M., Th.D.
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