Beasts and Bowls
December 29 - Nº 363 Revelation 12 – 16
Before describing the destruction that would result from the seventh trumpet blast, John shared several other images he had seen. The first was of a woman who was clothed with the sun. The moon was under her feet, and there was a crown of 12 stars on her head. (It is likely the woman represented Israel based on Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37:9-11.) This woman gave birth to a child (Jesus). Then an enormous red dragon (Satan) appeared and tried to devour that child. But the child was snatched up to God’s throne (the resurrection), and the woman fled to a place where she was protected by God. John also described a war that he had seen take place in heaven between Michael (God’s chief angel) and Satan. Michael and his angels won. They cast the dragon and his demons out of heaven and hurled them to the earth. Satan was filled with rage. He pursued the woman (Israel), but God helped her escape. Frustrated, the dragon focused his wrath on believers. Two beasts then showed up on the earth. The first came out of the sea. It had seven heads and ten horns with a crown on each horn. The horns represented ten earthly nations that had united as political allies. The seven heads were seven strong leaders who would lead this union of ten nations one after the other. The seventh was the most powerful (the antichrist). He suffered what seemed to be a fatal head injury in battle but was miraculously healed. So, the whole world began to worship him. Satan (the dragon), who probably raised him from the dead, gave him a throne and the authority to rule over the earth. A second beast appeared on the scene. He came from the earth. He was a false prophet whose role was to encourage people to worship the first beast. He was given the ability to perform miraculous signs. Under his direction everyone had to receive a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. Without this mark (the number 666), they could not buy or sell anything. Then a one-world government with one-world religion was established. It was part of Satan’s plan to ultimately manipulate everyone into worshipping him. An angel then flew across the sky imploring the people to fear God and worship only Him. A second angel followed, prophesying the destruction of Babylon, the center of this new evil government. A third angel declared that anyone who worshiped the beast or received his mark would suffer and be tormented forever! Then another voice from heaven declared that those who turned to God and died as His children would be blessed from then on. As the seventh trumpet sounded (see #362 - December 28), seven angels came out of the Temple in heaven. They were dressed in clean, shining linen with golden sashes. The four living creatures from around the throne (see #360 - December 26) handed each angel a bowl filled with God’s wrath. They poured the bowls out on the earth. From each bowl came a horrible plague. Loathsome sores covered those with the mark of the beast; the sea turned to blood and all the living creatures died; all the fresh water turned to blood; the sun scorched the people with its fire; the beast’s kingdom was plunged into deep darkness; the Euphrates River dried up and unclean spirits like frogs came from the mouth of the dragon. These evil spirits gathered the kings of the earth and their armies at Armageddon. Finally, a voice from heaven declared, “It is done!” The most severe earthquake of all time rocked the whole earth and split the great city of Babylon. It was accompanied by massive hailstones. Once again, the people refused to repent. Instead, they cursed God!
A voice from heaven declared that those who have turned to God and die as His children will be blessed forever. Have you turned to God? You have nothing to fear if you have! You will not face such terror. You will spend eternity being amazed by God’s blessings! God’s ultimate goal is not to destroy people, but to help them see that He is the only hope for their salvation; to give them one more chance to turn to Him!