And the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and His power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.” - Revelation 15:8
Our reading opens today with these angels being sent out from the temple with a command to “’Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.’” The first three are poured out in quick succession: painful sores, and the deaths of the seas and of the rivers. Then an interlude, as the angel, and the “blood of saints and prophets” affirm the Lord’s judgments. After this comes fierce heat, followed by darkness. Still, the earth “did not repent and give Him glory.” Finally, after the sixth plague dries the River Euphrates, the dragon and the beast strike back, assembling the kings and armies of the earth “at the place that in Hebrew is called ‘Armageddon’” Then the seventh bowl; and it is finished.
In chapter 17 the spiral returns us to Babylon: “Then one of the angels said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters…’” This again is reminiscent of Old Testament prophecy, where Israel is rebuked for placing herself under the protection of false gods and foreign armies. In this chapter the angel not only reveals her and her “scarlet beast” – which again has “seven heads and ten horns” – but also explains to John what she represents – Babylon, on the River Euphrates – and tells of her end.
In chapter 18, the kings of the earth mourn that “in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste” – this “single hour,” repeated three times, carries some significance – and an angel, throwing a millstone into the sea completes the metaphor. “After this,” however, John hears “what seemed to be a loud voice of the great multitude in heaven, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to God, for His judgments are true and just.’” And there is rejoicing; and there is worship; a white horse, a bride, a marriage feast.
And there is The Word – the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. “And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following Him on white horses.” And if you can picture that, then imagine this: on the way to meet the armies of the beast, the King of Kings calls out to the birds overhead, “’Come, gather for the great supper of God…’”
Our verse for this week is Deuteronomy 15:11: For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
Revelation 16 through 19. Now let’s read it!
For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’