XXXIII - 10(95) Excerpt


what of the night?”

"The hour has come, the hour is striking and striking at you,
the hour and the end!" Eze. 7:6 (Moffatt)


The Tale of Two Cities

(Part 6)

So much Adventist tradition has been built around the "angel" of Revelation 18, that it is most difficult to analyze just what is written without reading into the text some aspects of that tradition. The message of this angel which comes down from heaven "having great authority" is similar to the message of the second angel of Revelation 14 with certain distinct differences. Babylon has now become "the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird." (ver. 2) Instead of the proffered wine which Babylon made all nations drink (14:8), the nations now have drunk (perfect tense), and the leaders ("kings") of the earth have committed fornication with her and the "merchants of the earth" have profited by their association. (18:3) The union between the combined forces of religion - "Babylon the great" - and the governments of earth is complete. The dire warning is that the power which activates these religious forces is the power of the devil. To all outward appearances, he has become the undisputed sovereign of the earth.

If we understand the symbolism of this angel the same as the symbolism of the three angels of Revelation 14, it represents a "movement" under the direction of this assigned angel of heaven who is given great authority to carry out his mandate. But when will this take place? Obviously from the text, it is just prior to the pouring out of the Seven Last Plagues, because these are spoken of as still future in the context (18:8). Yet the message declares that the forces of evil have fixed their abode in Babylon - "Babylon ... is become the habitation of devils." (18:2) This prior event noted in the prophecy is the working of "the spirits of devils" as they gather "the kings of the earth and the whole world" to "the battle of that great day of God Almighty." (Rev. 16:14) (Keep in mind that Revelation 16:13-16 describes activity in "the last remnant of time" which is the justification of the sixth plague, verse 12. See WWN, 8/95, pp 3-4; also note Great Controversy, pp. 561-562)

The revelation of what the Harlot says in her heart –

"I sit a queen, and am no more a widow..." (18:7) - clearly defines the time of the message of this fourth angel as congruent with the "harlot" riding forth out of the wilderness on the scarlet colored beast. (17:3-5) While yet future, it is the immediate future! We can even now see the beginnings of this final confrontation.

Within the two chapters - the 17th and the 18th -certain time references are given. The ten horns "receive power as kings one hour with the beast." (17:12) While the harlot's plagues "come in one day" (18:8), in "one hour is [her] judgment come" (v. 10). "In one hour" her "great riches is come to nought" (v. 17). "In one hour is she made desolate" (v. 19). A close comparison of the wording would indicate that the same time allocated to the reign of the ten horns, is the same amount of time that these horns use to turn on the harlot and make her "desolate." (Compare 17:12, 17 with 18:19) While a prophetic day equals one year (Eze. 4:6), the hour, if reckoned as a 24th part of the prophetic day, would be 15 literal days. However, hora, the Greek word for hour, can mean a short period of time, rather than a literal 24 hours. Whatever reckoning of time is used, there is one thing certain - "the final movements will be rapid ones."

It is indicated that those on the side of the Lamb "are called, and chosen, and faithful." (17:14) Little do we realize what faithfulness in that hour will mean. To all appearances, Christ has come. Spiritual wonders convince the eye. The third millenium projects unity, peace and prosperity. For the human instruments to give the warning of the fourth angel will require an absolute confidence in the revelation of the Word contrary to all outward appearances. For those on the side of the Lamb will have to call the great return to "moral values" the working of Satan disguised as an angel of light. Those who cannot stand for truth now, how can they expect to stand then?

The 18th Chapter closes with an illustration. A mighty angel takes a millstone and casts it into the sea, saying, "Thus with violence shall the great city be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all." (18:21) Pen cannot describe, the carnage, the anarchy - "the violence" - which will ensue when the inhabitants of earth awaken to the fact that through religious deception they have lost all in the battle of life and have joined forces with Satan against Christ.


The 19th Chapter of Revelation opens with the third interlude (vers. 1-5) of this second section of the book. The first interlude was placed between the description of the work of the "false prophet" and the Three Angels' Messages (14:1-15). The second interlude was interfaced with the announcement and the carrying out of the Seven Last Plagues. (15:2-5) Now the final interlude marks the transition from the end of the prophecy concerning the "Harlot," the wife of the dragon-beast, to the call to "the marriage supper of the Lamb" (19:9). The basic message of this interlude is praise to God for His judgment on "the great whore which did corrupt the earth with her fornication." (v.2)

There is heard "a voice" which "came out of the throne, saying, 'Praise our God, all ye His servants, and ye that fear His name, both small and great."' (ver. 5) The One in the midst of the throne is the Lamb "as it had been slain" but is "alive for evermore." (5:6; 1:18) He who sent the message on that resurrection morning through Mary Magdalene, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to your God, and my God" (John 20:17) now calls for universal praise to "our God." He still identifies Himself with the sons of men who look to the One God and Father of us all. He who emptied Himself for the redemption of man now eternalizes the Example set in time that "God may be all in all." (I Cor. 15:28)

In the prophetic imagery of the call to the marriage supper of the Lamb, because of its brevity (19:6-9), we should not overlook its momentous significance. This is one of the seven Beatitudes of the book of Revelation, and is declared to be along with the promise of "making all things new" (21:5), as "the true sayings of God." Why are these uniquely marked as the "true sayings of God"? Making "all things new" marks the end of the incident of sin. The pain and anguish which this interlude of sin has brought to the heart of God is past, all things can become new, and new in a new dimension. The Lamb has accomplished His objective to seek and save that which was lost. Now His marriage is come.

First some details: One of the angels of the seven last plagues shows John, the wife of the Lamb - "that great city, the holy Jerusalem." (21:9-10) But as with the "wife" of the dragon-beast, "that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth" (17:18), people are involved. While the cities are used symbolically, they are also literal, and made up of people. A marriage supper includes not only the "wife" but also "guests." In this brief call there is "a great

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multitude," as well as the wife "arrayed in fine linen." (19:6, 8)

God's original plan called for man to be only "a little while inferior to the angels." (Heb. 2:7, margin) Created in the image of God, "designed to be a counterpart of God," a high destiny awaited man. He, however, sinned and fell prey to the dragon's "wrath" and jealousy. Now through the "redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24), not only can man be restored, but a group, designated in Revelation as the 144,000, is to be the "wife" of the Lamb, sharing His throne. Lest we read into the description - "his wife hath made herself ready" - a salvation-by-works theology, we need to recall that "those arrayed in white robes" have "washed" them and "made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (7:13-14)

What then could the expression mean - "the fine linen (in which the wife is arrayed) is the righteousness of saints"? Is this the full realization of "imparted righteousness"? If so, then if we desire to be among that group, should we not study to know exactly what it means - "His wife hath made herself ready"? What is that "readiness" by which the righteousness of Christ can become ours in a personal possessive sense?

John next sees "heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war." (19:11) This description and that which follows when Christ rides forth as King of kings and Lord of lords is not only replete with Old Testament imagery of the conquering Christ, but also brings together various symbols used in Revelation itself.

When the Lamb opened the book sealed with seven seals, the first seal revealed "a white horse" with a rider who receiving a bow, and a crown, went forth "conquering and to conquer." (6:2) There were arrayed against him, the forces of evil - human strife, poverty, pestilences, hunger and death. A price was paid in this warfare. John sees "souls under the altar" who cry unto God, "How long, 0 Lord?" (6:10) When the sixth seal is opened, the signs which would herald the coming response of God are noted. Interjected into the vision is the first introduction of the 144,000, followed by the seventh seal - "silence in heaven." Now in the final confrontation portrayed in the 19th Chapter, all "the armies in heaven followed Him on white horses." (19:14) There is silence in heaven, but not so on earth.

"Out of His mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations. ... And He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." (19:15) A description of this winepress closed the vision connected with the six angels of Revelation 14. "The vine of the earth" - those whose roots have been of the earth earthly - weeds and tares - face the wrath of Him whom they have rejected that He should not rule over them. He now rules them with a rod of iron, and the sword of His mouth destroys them. (See II Thess. 2:8) The "violence" in the overthrow of "Babylon the great" (18:21), the "wrath of Almighty God" (19:15), and "the wrath of the Lamb" (6:16) produce a "blood-letting" unparalleled in time. (14:20)

The "names" noted in this revelation of the Lamb provoke thought. He has a personal name engraved on His crowns, that He himself alone knows. (v. 12) His vesture dipped in blood has inscribed upon it the name, "King of kings, and Lord of lords." (vers. 13, 16) He is also called the Word of God - the Logos. Once in the book of Revelation, Jesus Christ speaks as "the Son of God" (2:18). Now as He comes forth to "judge and make war" He returns to His original relationship in the Godhead - "the Logos of God" - He who was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2)

The language and thought describing the "conquering" King of kings and Lord of lords is found in Isaiah 63:1-6. A thoughtful reading of these verses reveals the "tension" between what He provided as He trod "the winepress alone" and the judgment upon those who reject this great provision of salvation.

As the Word of God rides forth to "judge and make war," He does not come unopposed. "The beast and kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him that sat on the horse, and against His army." (19:19) They had been gathered together by "spirits of devils" to "a place called in the Hebrew, Har-Mo'ed," for "the war (Gr.) of the great day of God Almighty." (16:13-14, 16) The "beast" and "the false prophet" are taken and cast "alive" into "the lake of fire." (Gr. 19:20) Daniel speaks of the "beast" which had "the little horn" as being "given to the burning flame." (7:11)

The problem which arises is that "the lake of fire" in which the dragon and the lost are cast does not come till the close of the Millennium (20:9-10). Must a symbolic meaning be given to its use in 19:20, even as the "beast" and "false

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prophet" are symbols of Systems? The "lake of fire" represents "total annihilation." Is this telling then that with the close of human history at the Second Advent, the systems of earth through which the Devil deceived mankind are ended? After the 1000 years, Satan in person goes "out to deceive the nations of the earth." (20:8)

After the scenes of war and strife, and the final destruction of sin and sinners are revealed to John, he sees "a new heaven and a new earth." He hears from the throne the promise, "Behold I make all things new." He is told - "Write, for these words are true and faithful." (21:5)