Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs By Nathan Jones Nathan Jones: Doesn’t it seem like God has…
The Three Witnesses to Jacob’s Trouble – Daniel, Jesus, and John – Part 3
By Randy Nettles
John is given a new vision in Revelation 14, where we fast forward from the middle of Jacob’s trouble to the very end. “Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads” (Revelation 14:1). This is the same group of Jewish believers that he saw in Revelation 7:4 that were sealed by God during the beginning of Jacob’s trouble, for the purpose of divine protection from the judgments of God and the persecution by the world government.
This vision appears to be taking place during the start of Jesus’ millennial kingdom where these Tribulation saints will enter the kingdom in their natural bodies. They will continue their service to Jesus as priests of the Lord. “These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Revelation 14:4-5).
The 144,000 Jewish saints have the name of God the Father written on their foreheads, which is the seal that protected them from God’s judgments and the beast’s persecution. This is just the opposite for those who have taken the mark of the beast. They will die a horrible death and will spend eternity in the lake of fire, forever separated from God.
Revelation 14:6-11 describes three different angels that make proclamations to the inhabitants of the earth. The first angel is seen flying in the air, preaching the gospel to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people – saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water” (Revelation 14:7). This is not the gospel of salvation but is the gospel of judgment for the wicked, and deliverance for those who love the Lord.
The second angel followed, saying: “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Revelation 14:8). This verse is a proclamation of the upcoming destruction of political Babylon, which is the capital of the Antichrist.
The third angel proclaims a warning to anyone who worships the beast and receives the mark on their forehead or hand. “They will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. 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 ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:10-11).
In Revelation 14:13, John heard another pronouncement; “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” It’s interesting to me that the Spirit is talking aloud here. This verse is referring to those who die a martyr’s death in the last 3.5 years of Jacob’s trouble. Upon death, these martyrs go immediately to heaven and will be greatly blessed. This is the 5th instance of a voice from heaven in the book of Revelation. It is indeed indicative of the grace of God.
“The parenthetical section of Revelation 14:12-14 closes with an overall vision of Armageddon and God’s judgment on the world. Revelation 14:14-20 is obviously talking about divine judgment, and the symbolism of the harvesting of grapes is taken as an illustration. The evil in the world has come to the ripe point where God can judge it at the time of Armageddon. Accordingly, the harvest is pictured as if they were gathering grapes and throwing them into the winepress, which represents God’s wrath. When the grapes are pressed, the blood is said to flow as high as the horses’ bridles.”
Revelation 15 is a prelude to the bowl judgments, which occur during the second half of Jacob’s trouble. John sees another great and marvelous sign in heaven. He sees 7 angels having the 7 last plagues, and in them the wrath of God is complete. John saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, “and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Revelation 15:2-3).
John looked and beheld the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. Moses’ tabernacle in the wilderness was fashioned from this heavenly one. “And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed” (Revelation 15:6-7).
A loud voice from the temple told the 7 angels to go and pour the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth. The 1st bowl judgment creates a foul and loathsome sore upon everyone who has the mark of the beast and those who worship his image. The 2nd bowl judgment turns the sea into blood, as of a dead man, and every living creature in the sea dies. This catastrophe is similar to the 2nd trumpet judgment, only more severe as it affects all of the sea and all of the sea creatures.
The 3rd angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. The angel of the waters said, “You are righteous O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due. And I heard another from the altar saying, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments” (Revelation 16:5-7). This judgment is similar to the 3rd trumpet, as it finishes the job of polluting all the rivers and springs of water.
The 4th angel poured out his bowl on the sun, causing the sun to intensify to the point where it scorched people like a fire would. “And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory” (Revelation 16:9). The 5th judgment occurs when the 5th angel pours his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom goes dark. The beast’s subjects gnaw their tongues because of the pain and blaspheme the God of heaven, and they do not repent of their wicked deeds.
With the 6th bowl judgment, we witness Jacob’s trouble nearing its inevitable end with Armageddon on the horizon. “Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:12-14).
The evil spirits that look like frogs are actually demons who obey the word of Satan and his main man, Antichrist. These demons are sent throughout the world to persuade the kings of the world to join in the great world war that will culminate in the Holy Land.
“The gathering of the armies is in preparation for the second coming. Apparently, Christ Himself proclaims the warning to be prepared, “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed” (vs.15). Though many events precede the second coming, and Satan himself is aware that it is impending, many will be unprepared – naked and shamefully exposed – as far as God’s righteousness is concerned.
The armies from all the world are gathered geographically to the Holy Land, apparently to fight it out for power. The locale of the war is described as Armageddon. The term Armageddon geographically refers to the area eastward from Mount Megiddo in northern Israel and includes the large plain of Esdraelon. Megiddo is, in the Hebrew, a corresponding title to the Greek, Armageddon. This area has been the scene of great battles in the past, including that of Barak and the Canaanites (Judges 4) and the victory of Gideon over the Midianites (Judges 7). Saul and Josiah also were killed in this area.
The valley is rather large, being 14 miles wide and 20 miles long. Large as this area is, it obviously cannot contain the armies of millions of men, and it seems to be a marshaling point. Actually, the armies are scattered up and down the Holy Land for a length of some 200 miles. What Satan is actually doing is gathering all the military power of the world in a vain effort to contend with the army from heaven.”
With the commencement of the 7th bowl judgment, God’s wrath is satisfied. This judgment includes flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake (a repeat of the conditions of the 7th trumpet judgment). “No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake” (Revelation 16:18). The final earthquake that occurs before the 2nd Coming of Christ surpasses all that has gone before. This will cause the city of Jerusalem to split into three parts, while the city of Babylon will suffer the full wrath of God. “Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath” (Revelation 16:19).
This world-shattering earthquake that will shake Jerusalem is also described in Zechariah 14:4-5. The earthquake is felt throughout the earth. “Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great” (Revelation 16:20-21).
According to Jesus, in Matthew 24:29, a worldwide blackout will also occur at this time. I believe this blackout at the end of days will last for 3 days, as it did in ancient Egypt in the time of Moses during the 10 plagues of God. This darkness was the 9th plague (judgment) against apostate Egypt. After the 3rd day, God told Moses; “About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the hand mill, and all the firstborn of the animals” (Exodus 11:4-5). This was the 10th and final plague against Egypt and resulted in the release of God’s people.
According to Exodus 11:4, Jehovah (pre-incarnate Jesus) himself is the instrument of death (the destroyer in Exodus 12:23) that kills the firstborn of the Egyptians. “And it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock” (Revelation 12:29).
Both the earthquake and the blackout of this end-time judgment of God are also described in Joel 3:14-17. The 21 judgments of God will have ended at this point, after approximately 2,490 days (1,230 + 1,260) from its start, when the Antichrist first confirmed the peace covenant with Israel. Soon after the blackout of Matthew 24:29, Jesus will return to the earth at the battle of Armageddon. Matthew 24:30 describes the 2nd Coming of Jesus. “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Just as Jehovah (pre-incarnate Jesus) came and destroyed the pagan idol-worshipping Egyptians, so Jesus will come and destroy the worshipers of the Antichrist after a time of darkness upon the earth. It’s ironic (but not with God) that at the original Passover in Egypt, Jehovah/pre-incarnate Jesus was the destroyer, and at the crucifixion in Jerusalem, Jesus was the destroyed. Jesus Christ will once again resume his role as the destroyer when he returns to the earth at Armageddon. We will discuss the 2nd Coming in more detail when we get to Revelation 19.
All of the 21 judgments (seal, trumpets, bowl) of God are in chronological order; however, not all of the events of Revelation are in order. Revelation 17 is one such example. The timing of this chapter takes us back to the first 3.5 years of Jacob’s trouble and describes the apostate world religion (Ecclesiastical Babylon) that develops after the Rapture of the true Church. This false religion is called a ‘whore’ that sits upon many waters (international). It is called a whore because she compromises the true faith with many different people and nations for material gain.
“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication’” (Revelation 17:1-2).
The angel carried John away in the spirit into the wilderness (Babylon), and John saw the woman sit upon a scarlet-colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having 7 heads and 10 horns (the civil government of the first half of Jacob’s trouble). The woman was rich with wealth. “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication” (Revelation 17:4).
Unlike the 144,000 Jewish evangelists of Revelation 14 that had the name of God written on their foreheads, the woman has the name “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth” written on her figurative forehead. According to Revelation 17:6, Ecclesiastical Babylon will persecute and kill the saints (Tribulation believers in Jesus Christ) during the first half of Jacob’s trouble.
“John saw a woman on a scarlet-colored beast with 7 heads and 10 horns. The beast is obviously the political empire described in 13:1-10. The fact that she is seated on the beast indicates that she is working with the beasts to attain common ends, that is, the subjugation of the entire world to their authority, and that the political power is supporting the apostate church. The woman wears the trappings of ceremonial religion in which purple and scarlet are prominent and often enhanced with precious stones.
From the title written on her forehead, she is linked with the mystery of Babylon the Great. In referring to this identification as a mystery because its ultimate truth is learned only by divine revelation, the influence of Babylon for evil is supported in Scripture from as early as Genesis 11 and continues through the relation of the destruction of the city in Revelation 18.
Babylon is the title that covers all false religions that claim to be Christian in their content. Babylonian influence clearly crept into the church (Roman Catholic), and much of its ritual is similar to the Babylonian religious rites. When Babylon was introduced in Genesis 11, her true character was revealed as rebelling against God and attempting to build a tower in recognition of the worship of heathen deities. Because this was contrary to the will of God, He confounded the language the people were using at that time so that they could not understand each other; hence, the term Babel, meaning confusion, applies to the subsequent history of Babylon.
After the death of Nimrod, the founder of Babylon, his wife Semiramis headed up the mystery religion that characterized Babylon. According to the adherents’ belief, she had a son conceived miraculously whose name was Tammuz. He was portrayed as a savior who fulfills the promise of deliverance that was given to Eve (Genesis 3:15). This was, of course, a satanic description that permeates pagan religions. The concept of woman and child was incorporated in various religious rites that were conducted by a priestly order that worshipped the woman and the child. The whole false religion found in Babylon is satanic in its origin and therefore is closely related to the demon world.
Throughout Scripture, references are found concerning Babylonian worship, such as Ezekiel’s protest against weeping for Tammuz (Ezekiel 8:14-15). Jeremiah objects to the heathen practice of offering cakes to Semiramis as the queen of heaven (Jeremiah 7:18). Offering of incense was also made to her as the queen of heaven (44:17-19, 25). An offshoot of this was the worship of Baal, which was one of the pagan religions of Canaan, and Baal is often identified as the same person as Tammuz.
The prophecy concerning Babylon here, as well as other allusions to religion in the book of Revelation, demonstrates that apostasy will have its final form in the great tribulation in the worship of the world ruler and Satan. In the period of the first half of the seven years leading up to second coming of Christ, Babylon combined with Romanism becomes a world religion – Christian in name, but not in content. Those who do come to Christ will be subject to her persecution of those who have a true faith in Christ. Those who come to Christ in the end time will have the double problem of avoiding martyrdom at the hands of the political rulers and at the hands of the apostate church.”