Lightning over the Rincon Mountains

“It is done!” – Revelation 16:17-19

Previously: Assemble them for battle – Revelation 16:14-16

The scripture

Rev. 16:17 –Then the seventh [angel] poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the sanctuary from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 There were flashes of lightning and rumblings of thunder. And a severe earthquake occurred like no other since man has been on the earth – so great was the quake. 19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the Great was remembered in God’s presence; He gave her the cup filled with the wine of His fierce anger. (HCSB)

Lightning over the Rincon Mountains“It is done!”

When the seventh angel pours out his bowl into the air, a loud voice from the sanctuary declares, “It is done!” The 24 elders make a similar pronouncement in Rev. 11:15-19. They announce that “the time has come for the dead to be judged and to give the reward to Your servants the prophets, to the saints, and to those who fear Your name, both small and great, and the time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth” (v. 18).

More importantly, this cry echoes the declaration of a triumphant Jesus on the cross. Just before His death He shouts, “It is finished!” At Calvary, the Son of Man completes the work of redemption, bearing our sin and receiving the wrath of God on our behalf. Like a Roman commander overlooking the battlefield, He shouts, “It is finished!” because He has vanquished the evil one and released those bound to him in captivity. And like the high priest on the Day of Atonement, He shouts, “It is finished!” because no more sacrifices will be accepted. Both the Roman soldiers and the Jews around the cross have a clear context for understanding the significance of the Lord’s declaration. Jesus has fulfilled the law through His sinless life; fulfilled the types and shadows of the Old Covenant; fulfilled the prophecies of Messiah’s suffering; and completed the task for which the Father sent Him and the Spirit empowered Him. The work of redemption – it is finished!

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Eucharist

What do Roman Catholics believe? (continued)

This is the third in a four-part series on Roman Catholicism.

Read part one: Who are Roman Catholics?

Read part two: What do Roman Catholics believe?

EucharistRoman Catholics embrace at least seven doctrines that evangelical Christians reject as unbiblical. In the previous article, we explored five of these doctrines. This column examines two more.

Sacramentalism

The Bible reveals that salvation is a gift of God received by faith in Jesus Christ. The Christian partakes of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as acts of obedience, or ordinances, which have no saving value.

Roman Catholics, however, teach seven sacraments that are essential to an individual’s eternal destiny. Sacraments in Catholic theology do not merely symbolize grace; they are said to be containers of grace, which participants receive as they partake.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states plainly: “The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.”

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Lightning over the road

Assemble them for battle: Revelation 16:14-16

Previously: The sixth bowl: Revelation 16:12-16

The scripture

Rev. 16:14 – For they are spirits of demons performing signs, who travel to the kings of the whole world to assemble them for the battle of the great day of God, the Almighty. 15 “Look, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who is alert and remains clothed so that he may not go naked, and they see his shame.” 16 So they assembled them at the place called in Hebrew Armageddon. (HCSB)

Assemble them for the battle … in Armageddon

Now the kings of the world are assembled for “the battle of the great day of God, the Almighty” (v. 14). Verse 16 tells us the evil spirits assemble the kings at “the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.” This is the only mention of “Armageddon” in the Bible. But the place is well known. The word “Armageddon” in Hebrew is har-megiddon, meaning “the mount of Megiddo.” Although there is no mountain by this name, the great city of Megiddo is strategically placed to guard the pass between the Mediterranean coast and the valley of Jezreel or Esdraelon.

Lightning over the roadThe outcome of this battle is reported in Rev. 17:14 and 19:11-21 as the Lamb obliterates the forces of evil. As the Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy and End Times points out, the gathering of the wicked for destruction is a common theme in the Old Testament. For example:

  • In Joel 3:11-16 the Lord invites the nations to come to the “Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit down to judge all the surrounding nations.”
  • In Zeph. 3:8 the Lord declares, “For My decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, in order to pour out My indignation on them, all My burning anger; for the whole earth will be consumed by the fire of My jealousy.”
  • And in Zech. 12:3-4 and 14:2-5 Yahweh promises, “On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the people; all who try to lift it will injure themselves severely when all the nations of the earth gather against her…. I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle…. Then the Lord will go out to fight against those nations as He fights on a day of battle …”

More specifically, the valley of Jezreel or Esdraelon is the site of many important battles in the history of Israel. It is the place where earthly kings are no match for the Lord’s heavenly host; indeed, they are punished for oppressing God’s people (Judges 5:19). It is where the prophets of Baal are slaughtered in the days of Elijah (1 Kings 18:40). And it is where good king Josiah is killed, resulting in national mourning (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chron. 35:20-25).

A common thread in these battles is that this valley is a place where unrighteous nations attack the people of God. Certainly, Megiddo in scripture is connected with warfare. It’s possible, however, that John’s reference to Megiddo is in fact a reference to Jerusalem. David Stern writes, “[T]he final war may not take place at Har Megiddo at all, but in Jerusalem, at Har Migdo, the ‘mount of his choice fruit,’ i.e., the mountain of God’s blessing, Mount Zion. Mount Zion has already been mentioned at 14:1; moreover, the imagery resembles Joel’s picture of the Day of Adonai, when God’s power goes forth from Mount Zion against the forces of evil (Joel 2:1-11, 4:16-17 [3:16-17]; compare also Isaiah 31:4-9). The next passage (vv. 17-21) resembles 14:14-20, which also draws on imagery from Joel 4…. Strengthening the case further Zechariah 12:11 … mentions Jerusalem along with Megiddon” (Jewish New Testament Commentary, p. 835).

So how should we view Armageddon?

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Rosary

What do Roman Catholics believe?

This is the second in a four-part series on Roman Catholicism.

Read part one: Who are Roman Catholics?

RosaryWhile Roman Catholics and evangelicals agree on a number of Christian doctrines, as we learned in the last column, there are profound differences between the teachings of Rome and the revealed word of God in Scripture.

As Protestant theologian Harold Brown once warned, while Catholicism holds to key fundamental articles of the faith, the church “so overlays them with extraneous and sometimes false doctrines that the foundations are no longer accessible to the majority of Catholic believers.”

Roman Catholics embrace at least seven doctrines that evangelical Christians reject as unbiblical. In this article, we explore five of these divergent doctrines, with two more doctrines to follow in the next installment.

The Apocrypha. While evangelicals hold to the “canon” of 66 books in the Bible, Catholics argue that the apocryphal books – seven books and four parts of other books – belong in the canon. They call them deuterocanonical – literally, “second canon.”

The Council of Trent (A.D. 1545-1563) canonized these books, which include Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and 1st and 2nd Maccabees. Among other things, these books support such Catholic teachings as prayers for the dead and justification by faith plus works.

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Frog Shadow

The sixth bowl: Revelation 16:12-16

Previously: The fifth bowl – Revelation 16:10-11

The scripture

Rev. 16:12 –The sixth [angel] poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the east. 13 Then I saw three unclean spirits like frogs [coming] from the dragon’s mouth, from the beast’s mouth, and from the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are spirits of demons performing signs, who travel to the kings of the whole world to assemble them for the battle of the great day of God, the Almighty. 15 “Look, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who is alert and remains clothed so that he may not go naked, and they see his shame.” 16 So they assembled them at the place called in Hebrew Armageddon. (HCSB)

Its water was dried up

The Euphrates River figures prominently in both the sixth trumpet judgment and the sixth bowl judgment. As you may recall, in the sixth trumpet judgment four demons bound at the Euphrates are released to lead a vast army that kills a third of the human race. Here, in the sixth bowl judgment, the waters of the great river are dried up to make way for the “kings of the east.”

Frog ShadowIn 536 B.C., Cyrus the Persian devises a plan to divert the flow of the Euphrates River, which runs under the wall surrounding Babylon. This enables his soldiers to march under the wall, take Belshazzar by surprise and capture the city without serious resistance. It’s possible that John is drawing from this well-known historic event to prepare his readers for a swift and certain act of judgment, although it’s not necessary to interpret the drying of the waters literally. In fact, many commentators see the river as a symbol for political or religious boundaries, impediments to the advance of evil forces, or the geographic region from which many of Rome’s soldiers came to destroy Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Some futurists, however, believe the Euphrates will indeed dry up, enabling a coalition of Eastern powers to sweep into the Holy Land. While the implication is that the water is dried up by an act of God, “the fact is that dams have been built across the Euphrates River in this [20th] century to divert water for irrigation so that there are times even today when there is little or no water in the Euphrates” (J.F. Walvoord, R.B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, Rev. 16:12).

It’s worth noting the similarities between what happens here and what occurs in the crossing of the Red Sea and the march across the Jordan River as God’s people pass out of bondage and into the Promised Land. The miracle that Israel experiences in Old Testament times is now repeated in a negative sense, say preterists, as the first-century Jews who have rejected their Messiah are called into account for their national sin.

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