God’s Wrath Released on Rome
In Part 9 the importance of the study of prophecy in understanding the plans and purposes of God was highlighted. This study takes a magnifying glass to Chapters 16-19 of the book of Revelation, revealing the extent of God’s wrath towards the End Times’ rebellion against his Word. Mankind has forsaken the Word of God for the philosophies of man, this abandonment of faith in Him will result in Judgement against the apostacy that is the Great Whore of Babylon. The four chapters reveal God’s true feeling towards the city that has been the home base in Satan’s battle for the hearts and minds of God’s treasured creation.
The seventh Bowl (16:17-21)
Before starting to study the Wrath of God revealed against the Great Whore in the seventh bowl judgement, it is important to understand that the Trumpet and Bowl Judgements are an answer to the prayers of God’s saints. Chapter 8 of Revelation has Jesus as our High Priest (Heb. 4:4-16) and mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), offering incense that He is given by the 24 elders, which He places on the Golden Altar of incense before the Throne of God. The smoke of the incense is the prayers of God’s people, a sweet-smelling savour which goes up to God the Father, seated on His throne of authority and judgement. God does not start the Judgements until He has received the prayers of His Saints on the matter, the message should be clear to all believers, God requires us to pray before He acts, so believers must pray into prophecy.
Now to put the seventh bowl judgement into perspective, the Trumpet Judgements are often referred to as the “judgement in thirds,” as they cover one third of the world, while the Bowl Judgements are for the most part world-wide. The last bowl judgement however is very localised on a very specific location, “Babylon the Great,” the city that is home to the apostate religion – Rome:
“17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. 21 And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe” (Rev. 16:17-21).
With the pouring out of the last Bowl Judgement, the cry goes forth “it is done.” Not only do we see the end of God’s judgements, with the greatest, most devastating earthquake, we also see the end of Satan’s dominion over the earth. The last judgement carries the crescendo of God’s wrath, which is focused at the root cause of all of man’s rebellion – Babylon! The last drops from the cup of God’s wrath are drained upon the city. The Greek use of thymou (fury – a passion-driven outburst of anger), and orgēs (wrath – violent indignation, used for punishment), together implies the strongest possible outpouring of divine judgment. I have repeatedly written of God’s hatred of syncretism during this blog titled “There will be Enmity,” when man’s philosophies contaminate God’s Word, the seventh Bowl Judgement is an emotion turned into action, as God vents His wrath upon the city. Rome the home of the apostate church, which had become the genesis of the End Time rebellion against God, becomes the focus for God’s climatic anger. The words “It is done,” signals the commencement of the Kingdom of God over the earth. It is not only a signal to an end, it is a shout of victory, announcing a new beginning – the rule of the Son of David, from the City of David – the victor takes His rightful place on the throne of David in Jerusalem.
Satan, through the Antichrist, brought about a one-world religion, a one-world government and a one-world economy. Revelation 17 describes the destruction of the religious whore that deceived mankind, and in the seventh Bowl Judgement we see the complete destruction of the centre of the world’s political and economic system. Babylon the great is Rome, the home of the Whore of Revelation, but also the heart of the False Prophet’s economic system. The system that brought the nations of the world into subjugation to the authority of the Antichrist. The city of Rome, the focus of God’s last outpouring of wrath is fractured and broken by a mighty earthquake. Then Revelation 19:11-21 describes how the rule of the Antichrist comes to an end, when the armies of the world are destroyed at Armageddon by the returning King of Kings.
In the book of Revelation, the title Babylon refers to the city that is the home of the apostate End Times religion. The religion that had its genesis at the rebellion of Nimrod and Semiramis, in the city of Babylon, has come full circle with the apostacy that is the Roman Catholic Church. The city of Rome is therefore referred to as Babylon, and the apostate religion that found its home there is called the Whore of Babylon. Even in New Testament times, Rome was referred to in code as Babylon, the apostle John used this code in the Book of Revelation, as did Peter who refers to Rome as Babylon in his first epistle (1 Peter 5:13), his reason being to protect the church in Rome from persecution should the letter fall into the wrong hands.
The Earthquake that devastates Rome is accompanied by the greatest storm ever to strike earth, which mirrors the great wrath of God. The hailstorm is used in Scripture to reveal the power and strength of God (Isaiah 28:2) and hailstones are repeatedly seen in Scripture as a tool of God’s judgement:
- The seven plagues against Egypt (Exodus 9:24).
- The Canaanites (Joshua 10:11).
- The End Times judgement on Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38:22).
John describes hailstones weighing 45kg falling from the sky onto the earth – imagine the storm that will keep hailstones aloft until they reach a weight of 45kg! The destruction from the winds alone will be as devastating as the enormous hailstones. Compare the seventh bowl hailstones with the heaviest hailstones on record, which weighed up to 1 kg, that fell in the Gopalganj area of Bangladesh on 14 April 1986. This would have been a massive storm by any standard, now imagine a storm that will be able to drop hailstones 45 times greater in size! The Great Tribulation judgements of God are truly record breakers.
Yet, despite the severity of God’s judgements, Revelation chapter 16 ends with no record of repentance from mankind, such is the hardness of their hearts.
The Great Prostitute (Revelation 17)
“1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.” 3 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality” (Rev. 17:1-4).
Chapter 17 is a parenthesis, that pauses the narrative, and takes a closer look, giving details to explain why God had such furious wrath aimed against Rome.
It is important to remember that the symbolism of a woman in Scripture is a spiritual or religious movement. John refers to this woman as being sexually immoral, in other words an apostate religious system – a system that elevates man’s philosophies above God’s Word. A prostitute is promiscuous; she is not a wife! A wife enjoys an intimate relationship with her husband within a covenant bond, and she is faithful to him! However, a prostitute is not a wife, for she is engaged in sexual promiscuity, and does not function under a binding contract with one man. The rejection of God’s Word for the worship of other gods is referred to as “spiritual prostitution” in Scripture (Leviticus 20:6; Exodus 34:15, 16). The term “great prostitute,” emphasizes that the woman is a notorious false religious system. She is far more than just a false religion, she is the greatest of all apostacy, the very origin of all false religions, the mother that spawned all other rebellious beliefs.
The extent of her evil is made clear by the statement, “She sits on many waters,” which means her apostate faith is world-wide, covering all nations. Then the fact that “the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality” with her, refers to the rulers of these nations having benefitted from a relationship with this false religion, this emphasizes that the apostacy is universal. John continues on to describe the inhabitants of the earth being intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries, which indicates that the people of the world had been deceived by the false religion and had consumed her toxic ideology.
The Great Prostitute is adorned with gold, precious stones and pearls. Just as a pimp is garishly flashy, this Madam is gaudily over dressed in expensive cloth and lavish jewellery, emphasizing her great wealth was attained through corrupt means. The extent of her corruption is revealed by the contents of the golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things, and the filth of her adulteries. When God’s Word is contaminated by man’s philosophies, mankind no longer stands on the firm ground of God’s Word, the leaven is allowed to spoil the whole lump.
On her forehead, the place where God puts His seal on His saints (Rev. 14:1), the Great Whore advertises her status as “Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abomination of the Earth.” Her identity is exposed, the Great Prostitute is the original false religion established in the rebellion against God, led by Nimrod and Semiramis, and symbolised by the Tower of Babel. The Great Whore is drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. The depth of her apostacy is revealed in her murderous attacks against the Bride of Christ.
The last verses of chapter 17 describes the coming destruction of the Babylonian Prostitute:
“15 And the angel said to me, ‘The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages. 16 And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, 17 for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. 18 And the woman that you saw is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth’” (Rev. 17:15-18).
These last verses of chapter 17 ultimately describes the destruction of the religious system, the world will no longer worship the Great Whore, instead they will focus their worship on the image of the beast. The Antichrist will move his centre of operations to Jerusalem, and after 3½ years of the Tribulation, he will place a statue of himself on the Temple Mount and proclaiming himself to be ‘god,’ as recorded in Daniel 9:27:
“He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”
There are theologians who believe that this scripture is a pointer to the Seleucid king, Antiochus Epiphanes, who by actions such as placing a statue of Zeus on the Temple Mount, fulfils this prophecy. However, as Jesus refers to Daniel’s Scripture nearly 200 years after the time of Antiochus, Jesus was clearly pointing to a future fulfilment by the Antichrist (Matt. 24:15-16). So, Antiochus Epiphanes is a type of the Antichrist, a shadow of the reality that is yet to come.
With the Antichrist proclaiming godhood in Jerusalem, the Great Whore that he used to rise to power will be abandoned by him. During the last 3½ years all praise, honour and glory must be for the Antichrist alone. When she is abandoned by the Antichrist, the kings of the earth who had previously been subservient to her, will turn on her. They will confiscating all her wealth and precious items, the looting will pick her clean, leaving her like a village woman after a Viking raid, battered, naked, violated and vulnerable, eventually to be cast into the flames of a burning village hut. With the destruction of religious Babylon completed by the Antichrist, Revelation 18 then records the destruction of “Satan’s seat,” the commercial and governmental city of Rome, which will include the Vatican buildings, it is the prelude to the battle at Armageddon.
The Fall of Political and Commercial Babylon (Revelation 18)
As was indicated earlier, Revelation 17 is a parenthesis that places a magnifying glass over the Great Whore, describing the apostate faith that will become the one-world religion. Revelation 18 is a return back to the judgements of God, it is a continuation of the seventh Bowl Judgement, giving details of the destruction of Rome. So, chapter 17 recounts how religious Rome comes to an end, betrayed by the Antichrist, and chapter 18 gives details regarding the seventh bowl judgement, which recounts the destruction of commercial and political Rome. The city will be the home of the Antichrist in his rise to power, and also the centre for the global rebellion against God. Chapters 17 and 18 record the consequences of that rebellion.
After the Antichrist is accepted as mankind’s “messiah” at the start of the Tribulation, he will move from Rome to Jerusalem, effectively counterfeiting the future Kingdom rule of Jesus. Then, after 3½ years, at the start of the Great Tribulation, the Antichrist will turn on the Great Whore and proclaim himself to be god (Rev. 17:15-18). It is during this time that the immense wealth of the Roman Catholic church will be confiscating by the Antichrist and “the kings of the earth,” to further their own goals. The looting and vandalism that will take place is centred over the religious heart of Rome, the Vatican.
So, the flow of the narrative goes from Revelation 16, which ends with the seventh Bowl Judgement being poured out on a very specific location – “Babylon the Great,” – the city that is home to the apostate religion – Rome. Revelation 17 takes a close look at why God’s wrath is focused upon the city, and Chapter 18 returns to the seventh Bowl Judgement, giving details of the destruction of the city. Just as Babylon was the capital of Nimrod’s rebellion, Rome, the new Babylon, will be the capital of the Antichrist’s rebellion. Rome’s destruction, the seven Bowl Judgement, will take place just prior to the return of Jesus at Armageddon.
When reading through chapter 18 it must be remembered that Rome is where the Great Prostitute is seated, and that the city will be the political and economic centre of a one-world rebellion against God. So, while the physical structure of Rome is being destroyed, so too is the haunt of every vile demon that made Rome its home.
Babylon the great! A dwelling place for demons (18:1-3)
“1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was made bright with his glory. 2 And he called out with a mighty voice, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. 3 For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living’ (emphasis added).”
At the start of chapter 18 an angel flies from the presence of God, and shouts out a triumphant announcement – “‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the Great”, the root cause of the rebellion of mankind against God, has finally fallen. The repeat of “fallen” by the angel is not only done for dramatic effect, but also to emphasise the demise of both the Babylonian religious system of chapter 17, and the commercial and political system of chapter 18.
Verse 2 is a clear indicator that Rome is the seat of Satan’s demonic power, with the angel calling it “a haunt for every unclean spirit.” With this knowledge clearly provided for us, the question must be asked, is the Church doing enough to warn others of this abomination? The answer is a clear NO! “Babylon the great,” has tentacles that spread to every country, and her foul doctrine has been spread worldwide. The modus operandi of the Roman Church throughout its history, has been that whenever there has been a resistance to Roman Catholicism in a country because of a pagan belief system, the Roman Church has been very skilled at accommodating and adapting the pagan practices to become part of Roman Catholicism. An extreme example being the Voodoo goddess Yemaya of Cuba becoming the black Virgin at the Church of Our Lady of Regla, in Havana. The black virgin’s icon, holding a white baby Jesus, is celebrated each year with a procession through Havana, as she is recognised as the patroness of the sea, of sailors and mariners.
It is extremely important to note that Revelation 18:4 has a call “come out of her, my people.” The apostate church will have believers who, for whatever reason, remain loyal to Roman Catholicism. God true Church has a responsibility to expose the deceptions of the apostate faith, and call these believers out of the Great Whore.
The last verses of Chapter 18 sound the death knell for Rome:
“21 Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more 22 and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will be heard in you no more, and a craftsman of any craft will be found in you no more, and the sound of the mill will be heard in you no more, 23 and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery. 24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth’ (Rev. 18:21-24; emphasis added).”
When a movie depicts an item spiralling its way down through the deeps of the ocean to land on the sea floor, the director is portraying the message of the total loss of the item to humanity, stranded on a desolate sea floor hundreds of feet under the ocean, out of reach to all. In Verse 21 that same image is given, Babylon the great city will sink to the bottom of the sea, never to rise again. The great millstone is an added effect, to stress the plummeting of the city into the depths, with the weight of the stone being so great, it ensures that not only that the descent will be rapid, but also that the city will rise no more.
Chapter 18 concludes with a Babylon that was once great and mighty being depicted as broken and powerless. The last two verses give the reason why the city had been the home of occult spiritual deception that had spread through the world, causing a world-wide rebellion against God. Verse 24 links with the depiction of the Great Whore being drunk on the blood of the saints in Revelation 17: “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). God does not forget the persecution of His children, those who harm His children will be held accountable. God judges the city responsible for the persecution and death of so many of His children.
Rome is judged by God for her pride, pagan spiritual deceptions and the many and varied persecutions that she metered out on the innocent. What other city matches these three criteria?
Praise in Heaven (Revelation 19:1-5)
“1 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has venged on her the blood of his servants’. 3 Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever’. 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!’ 5 And from the throne came a voice saying, ‘Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great’.”
In Revelation 19 The scene now totally changes to what is occurring in heaven, where at last, what every saint of God has waited for since Adam and Eve partook in the forbidden fruit is about to take place. The King is about to return to earth to claim His Kingdom.
It seems that all of heaven has been able to view the judgements being reigned down upon the earth, climaxing with the destruction of Babylon. I do not envision that heaven has an intercom system that announces regular updates on the progress of the judgements, or TV screens set up at regular intervals like an airport, so that those in heaven are able to see the events as they occur. Somehow, those in heaven are able to view the progression of the judgements, and as they witness the fall of the apostate city a mighty roar of approval, and praise breaks out in heaven. When a home team scores in an international soccer match, the stadium erupts, and the roar can be heard throughout the surrounding suburbs. Imaging then the sound erupting in heaven as the “great multitude” shout out “Hallelujah” in praise of God. Some commentators believe that the use of “great multitude” indicates the description given by John of those saints who were martyred in the Great Tribulation, who have great cause for celebration. I cannot see that the celebration would be limited to the Tribulation saints, there is no distinction between the commercial city and apostate religion in the city. The Great Prostitute corrupted the earth through the ages and had been the supreme adversary to God, all heaven rejoices in Babylons destruction. The victory is God’s alone, the evidence of His great triumph will be the smoke rising from the flames of the destroyed city, which will be remembered by all forever.
The word Hallelujah is a shout of praise to God, rejoicing at the awesome wonder and the greatness of God. The word Hallelujah is Hebrew in origin and is a combination of two words, hallel meaning praise and jah meaning God, and is found in Scripture only in Revelation 19, where it is used four times in the first six verses. The repeated use of this word emphasizes the great joy in heaven at the destruction of Babylon, and the encouragement for all “who fear him, small and great” to join in, in praise to God.
Many theologians believe the enmity between the “seed of the serpent,” and the “Seed of the Woman” ends at the resurrection of Jesus. Satan has bruised the heel of Jesus on the cross, and Jesus through His resurrection bruises the head of Satan. That is not the case, the enmity between The Word of God (the seed of the woman) and the Spirit of the Antichrist (the seed of the serpent) continues all the way to Revelation 19. Only when the Antichrist and the False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire, is Satan’s battle against the Word of God ended.
To put Revelation 19:1-4 into context, and also to conclude the overview of chapters 16-19, the celebration of the judgement of the Great Whore by those in heaven, is because they understand that her destruction is because of her great evil. So, you would think that the Church would be making a valiant stand against the spread of the Whore’s apostacy, but you would be wrong! The reverse is true, churches of all denominations are reuniting in relationship with the Roman Catholic Church in a spirit of ecumenicalism. Believing they share a common bond of love for their fellow man, they are able to focus on their shared beliefs and ignore the glaring differences. Be warned, Jesus is not going to return to a Bride that is in a relationship with the Great Whore. In these last days, God is going to draw a line in the sand, He is going to define His True Church. Those churches falling in line with the Roman Catholic Church will find themselves on the wrong side of the fence. On reading through the four chapters, one cannot help but understand the great hatred God has towards the paganism and philosophies of men that have so contaminated His Church. If this is so plain, why is so little being done to thwart it, and warn others of the danger posed by the growing apostacy?