The message of Revelation 18 causes the darkness of the fifth plague.

SUMMARY

In Revelation 18 an angel with great authority descends from heaven and illuminates the earth with his glory. He cried out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon … Come out of her, my people.”  This is not a literal angel, but a message proclaimed on earth by God’s people through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The fifth plague-angel pours his bowl out on “the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened.” The throne of the beast symbolizes his authority, which is religious authority.  In other words, in the fifth plague, the beast suffers a great loss of religious authority.

The purpose of this article is to show that the fifth plague is the powerful message of Revelation 18; that the illumination of the angel darkens the beast’s kingdom.

END-TIME EVENTS

In brief, the sequence of end-time events, according to Revelation 13 to 19, is as follows:  After the Sea Beast’s fatal wound was healed, the Earth Beast convinces the people of the world, by means of miracles, to make an image of the Sea Beast.  The image then puts the mark of the beast on people.  People that refuse, it persecutes and kills.  At the same time, the three angels of Revelation 14 warn sternly against the mark of the Beast. When every person has been permanently marked for eternity, either with the mark of the Beast or the seal of God, the plagues start to fall.  Babylon is finally destroyed in the seventh plague. 

DURING THE PLAGUES

The message of Revelation 18 will be proclaimed:

Before the seventh plague, because the seventh plague destroys Babylon, and Revelation 18 presents the destruction of Babylon as in the future, for example, “her plagues will come” (18:8).

After the three angels, because the message of Revelation 18 is given with much more power than the three angels.  The message of Revelation 18 may be a final climax of the three angels.

During the plagues, because there is no call to repentance in Revelation 18.  This implies that the time for repentance is has passed and we are now in the plagues.

This conclusion is supported as follows: The purpose of three angels of Revelation 14 is to warn people against the mark of the beast.  They must, therefore, work until the last person has made his or her choice for or against the beast.  When the last person has been marked, either with the mark of the beast or the seal of God, the three angels have no further purpose.  At that point, also, the plagues start to fall.  The mighty angel of Revelation 18 proclaims his message later than the three angels, and therefore during the plagues.

DURING THE FIFTH PLAGUE

During the fifth plague, justified as follows:

Firstly, the contrast between the darkness in the beast’s kingdom in the fifth plague and the illumination of the whole world by the glory of the mighty angel of Revelation 18:1 implies a connection.  In other words, the illumination of the earth by the angel in Revelation 18 causes the darkness on the kingdom of the beast. 

Secondly, in Revelation 18 God’s people are called out of Babylon so that they would not receive her plagues, and the sixth and seventh are particularly Babylon’s plagues. 

Thirdly, Revelation 18 calls God’s people to “pay her back (18:7).  This does NOT REFER TO THE SEVENTH PLAGUE, for then Babylon is finally destroyed by the “kings” (17:16). This also does NOT REFER TO THE SIXTH PLAGUE, for then Babylon loses her influence over the peoples of the world, which is therefore also not something done by God’s people.  It, therefore, is possible that God’s people “pay her back” during the fifth plague.

CONCLUSION

The fifth plague is the proclamation of the messages of Revelation 18, when the Holy Spirit works powerfully to convince the peoples of the world that light from their system of worship is actually spiritual darkness. 

LOUD CRY

 “I saw another angel coming down from heaven,
having GREAT AUTHORITY,
and the EARTH WAS ILLUMINED with his glory.
And he cried out with a MIGHTY VOICE, saying,
“Fallen, FALLEN IS BABYLON THE GREAT!
She has become a dwelling place of demons …

(Revelation 18:1-2)

Because of the angel’s “mighty voice,” this is sometimes called the Loud Cry. 

Babylon is the religious system that has existed for all of human history, corrupting people and reigning over kings.  See Babylon, the mother of harlots.

After John saw the angel, he heard “another voice from heaven” (18:4).  This possibly is God Himself, for the voice says:

Come out of her, MY people” (18:4).    

After this, a “strong angel” (18:21) illustrates how sudden Babylon’s fall will be. 

Just like the leaders of the seven churches are called angels (2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14), and just like the three angel-messages of Revelation 14, these are not literal angels or a literal voice from heaven, but a message proclaimed on earth by God’s people, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

FIFTH PLAGUE

The first four plagues target the beast’s followers and their environment (see First Four Plagues), but “the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened” (16:10).  The throne of the beast symbolizes his authority, which is religious authority..  In other words, in the fifth plague, the beast suffers a great loss of religious authority. 

After the beast’s his deadly wound was healed,

The whole earth … followed after the beast …
they worshiped the beast, saying,
‘… Who is able to wage war with him?’
” (13:3, 4). 

But in the fifth plague, the beast suffers a great humiliation and loss of authority.

The purpose of this article is to show that the fifth plague is the powerful message of Revelation 18; that the illumination of the angel darkens the beast’s kingdom.

END-TIME EVENTS

In brief, the sequence of end-time events, according to Revelation 13 to 19, is as follows:  After the Sea Beast’s fatal wound was healed, the Earth Beast convinces the people of the world, by means of miracles, to make an image of the Sea Beast (13:12-14).  The image then becomes alive and puts the mark of the beast on the people that obey it.  Those that refuse, it persecutes and kills (13:15-17).  At the same time, the three angels of Revelation 14 sternly warn against the mark of the Beast and encourage God’s people to persevere, even onto death (14:9-13). When every person has been permanently marked for eternity, either with the mark of the Beast or the seal of God (14:1), the temple closes (15:8).  This means that after this point in time, nobody will be saved. (See Introduction to the Plagues of Revelation.)  From this point onwards nobody will switch sides:

“Let the one who does WRONG, still do wrong;
and the one who is FILTHY, still be filthy;
and let the one who is RIGHTEOUS, still practice righteousness;
and the one who is HOLY, still keep himself holy.”  (Rev 22:11)

At that point in time, the plagues start to fall (16:1) until Babylon is finally destroyed in the seventh plague (16:19). 

The purpose of the current article is to determine WHEN, in this sequence of the end-time events, the messages of Revelation 18 will be proclaimed. 

BEFORE THE SEVENTH PLAGUE

The messages of Revelation 18 precede the seventh plague because the seventh plague destroys Babylon (16:19), and Revelation 18 presents the destruction of Babylon as in the future.  This is clear from the future verb tenses used when referring to her destruction:

Her plagues will come” (18:8).
She will be burned up” (18:9).
The kings “will weep” (18:10).
The merchants “will stand at a distance” (18:15).
So will” Babylon be thrown down (18:21). 

AFTER THE THREE ANGELS

Both the mighty angel of Revelation 18 and the second of the three angel messages in Revelation 14 are world-wide (14:6; 18:1) and announce “Babylon is fallen” (14:8; 18:2), but the message of Revelation 18 is given in much more power and detail:

Revelation 14:8 simply reads “And another angel, a second one, followed, saying.”

The angel in Revelation 18, in contrast, has “great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory.” “He cried out with a mighty voice” (18:1-2). 

The angel in Revelation 18 also expands on the causes and consequences of Babylon’s fall (v2-3).

Because the three messages in Revelation 18 are described LATER in the book of Revelation and are given with much more POWER and detail than the three messages of Revelation 14, it concluded that they are not the same as the three angels of Revelation 14. 

It is, furthermore, concluded that the messages in Revelation 18 follow later in time, namely when Babylon’s sins have fully matured.  The message of Revelation 18 may be a final climax of the three angels’ message.

DURING THE PLAGUES

The messages of Revelation 18 are proclaimed during the plagues, because there is no call to repentance in Revelation 18:

The messages of the three angels in Revelation 14 are for “every nation and tribe and tongue and people” (14:6).  They encourage the people to worship the Creator (14:7), and not the Beast and its image (14:9).

But Revelation 18 has no call to repentance.  It is a message for God’s people only: “Come out of her, my people” (18:4). 

It is, therefore, concluded that the time for repentance has passed and we are now in the time of the plagues. 

This conclusion is supported as follows: The purpose of three angels of Revelation 14 is to warn people against the mark of the beast (14:6-11).  They must, therefore, work until the last person has made his or her choice for or against the beast.  When the last person has been marked, either with the mark of the beast or the seal of God, the three angels have no further purpose.  At that point, also, the plagues start to fall.  As shown above, the mighty angel of Revelation 18 proclaims his message later than the three angels, and therefore during the plagues.

FIFTH PLAGUE

The mighty angel of Revelation 18 proclaims his message during the fifth plague.  In other words, the illumination of the earth by the angel in Revelation 18 causes the darkness on the kingdom of the beast.  This is justified as follows:

DARKNESS VERSUS LIGHT

Firstly, the contrast between the darkness in the beast’s kingdom in the fifth plague and the illumination of the whole world by the glory of the mighty angel of Revelation 18:1 implies a connection.   

HER PLAGUES

Secondly, in Revelation 18 God’s people are called out of Babylon so that they would not receive her plagues (18:4), and the sixth and seventh are particularly Babylon’s plagues. We see this in the following:

The first five plagues are modeled on the plagues on Egypt, but the sixth plague is modeled on the events around the fall of ancient Babylon.  (In the fall of ancient literal Babylon the waters literally dried up and king Cyrus came from the east.)

Babylon is destroyed in the seventh plague (16:19).  It reads, “Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath” (16:19).  When God remembers something, it does not mean that He previously forgot.  It means that He acts.  In this case, 16:19 tells us what He does, namely “to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.

If “her plagues” (18:4, 8) are understood as specifically the sixth and seventh plagues, then the call in Revelation 18 goes out just before these two plagues, and therefore could be the fifth plague.

 PAY HER BACK

Lastly, Revelation 18 calls God’s people to “pay her back (18:7): 

This does NOT REFER TO THE SEVENTH PLAGUE, where Babylon is finally destroyed (16:19), because she is not destroyed by God’s people, but by the “kings” (17:16), “for God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose” (17:17).  This means that God’s people will “pay her back” before she is destroyed in the seventh plague. 

This also does NOT REFER TO THE SIXTH PLAGUE.  The Euphrates in this plague (16:12) are the “many waters” on which Babylon sits (17:1), namely the peoples of the world (17:15).  When the Euphrates dries up it means that Babylon loses her influence over the peoples of the world, which is therefore also not something done by God’s people. 

It, therefore, is possible that God’s people “pay her back” during the fifth plague.

CONCLUSION

The fifth plague is the proclamation of the messages of Revelation 18, when the Holy Spirit works powerfully to convince the peoples of the world that light from their system of worship is actually spiritual darkness.  The hated and persecuted minority “sect” is identified as God’s true people. 

In Revelation 11 we note a similar recovery by God’s people, when the two witnesses come to life, after being dead for 3½ days, “and great fear fell upon those who were watching them” (11:11).

This is followed by the sixth plague, where the peoples of the world turn their backs on Babylon, followed by the complete destruction of Babylon by the kings of the earth in the seventh plague.

ARTICLES ON THE PLAGUES

Introduction to the Plagues of Revelation
The First Four Plagues are non-specific.
First Four Plagues
The throne of the beast is religious authority. (Previous article)
The message of Revelation 18 causes the darkness of the fifth plague. (Current article)
Fifth plague – main article (Next article)

The mighty angel of Revelation 18 destroys the beast’s Christian authority.

16:10-11 The fifth angel poured out his bowl
on the throne of the beast,
and his kingdom became darkened;
and they gnawed their tongues because of pain,
and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains …;
and they did not repent of their deeds. (NASB)

KINGDOM

These verses use the pronoun “they” for “his kingdom,” rather than “it.”  The kingdom, therefore, refers to the SUBJECTS of the beast’s kingdom; not to its territory.  This confirms what we saw in the first plague (16:2), namely that the plagues SELECTIVELY target the subjects of the kingdom of the Beast.  His subjects are the people with the mark of the beast.

THRONE OF THE BEAST

The beast … was like …
And the dragon gave him his power and his throne
and great authority
” (Revelation 13:2).

Here we see that the beast received its throne from the dragon.  “Power,” “throne,” and “authority” are understood to be synonyms.  The beast’s throne is, therefore, his authority, namely that which gives him the power to rule.

To understand what its throne is, we need to know who the dragon is, for it receives its throne from the dragon (13:2). 

DRAGON  

REVELATION 12

Great Red DragonBoth the beast and the dragon have seven heads and ten horns. The article that discusses the Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation, concludes that when the dragon stands before the woman, ready to devour her Child (that is, Jesus – see Revelation 12:3-4), it represents the FOURTH KINGDOM of Daniel 7.  (The word ‘when’ is important, for when the dragon wages war against Michael and his angels, it represents Satan (12:7).)

That fourth kingdom is identified in the study of Daniel 7 as the ROMAN EMPIRE, which ruled the known world when Jesus was born.  It is therefore concluded that, in Revelation 12:3-4, the dragon is the Roman Empire.

REVELATION 13

This identification of the dragon can be confirmed from Revelation 13, where the Beast appears for the first time:

1 And the DRAGON stood on the sand of the seashore.
Then I saw a BEAST coming up out of the sea,
having ten horns and seven heads …
2 … the beast … was like a leopard,
and his feet were like those of a bear,
and his mouth like the mouth of a lion.
And the dragon gave him his power and his throne …

The sea, from which it arises, is a symbol for the peoples of the world.

Daniel 7 represents a series of kingdoms with animals.  The four animals listed in Revelation 13:2 are exactly the same as the animals that we find in Daniel 7.  The Beast inherits characteristics from each of them (Rev 13:2; compare Daniel 7).  It inherits:

Its appearance from the leopard.
Its feet from the bear.
Its mouth from the lion.
Its throne from the dragon.

These four animals are identified in the article on Daniel 7 as:

Ancient Babylon (lion);
Mede-Persia (bear);
Greece (leopard) and
Rome (non-descript beast in Daniel 7—Dragon in Revelation). 

This confirms that the dragon is the Roman Empire and that the beast, therefore, receives its throne (authority) from that empire.  

RELIGIOUS AUTHORITY

The question then is, what type of authority did the beast receive from the dragon?  In the article dealing with this question, it was concluded that the throne of the beast is religious authority.  In summary, this article provides evidence that the throne of the beast is Christian religious authority. This is based on the flow of thought in the plagues, the general nature of conflict in Revelation as a war of worship, the description of the persecuting powers as a woman, a lamb and a false prophet performing wonders and signs, intent on changing God’s law, and the fact that it always is false religion that persecutes true religion.

To explain this in historical context:

In the fourth century, the Roman Empire made Christianity its sole religion.  The Emperor became the de facto head of the church and had both military and religious authority.  When the military might of the Western Empire was conquered by the barbarian tribes, particularly in the fifth century, the Emperor’s religious authority continued to exert its influence in the West through the church. 

THE MIGHTY ANGEL

A further article compares the call made on God’s people by the mighty angel in Revelation 18 with the fifth plague.  It concludes that the mighty angel’s message of Revelation 18 causes the darkness of the fifth plague.  In summary:

In Revelation 18 a mighty angel cries out “Fallen, fallen is Babylon … Come out of her, my people.”  This is a message proclaimed on earth by God’s people through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

By analyzing the time sequence of the end-time events, this article shows that the fifth plague is the mighty angel’s powerful message.  That message convinces the peoples of the world that light from their system of worship is actually spiritual darkness.

SUMMARY

The beast’s throne is a symbol of its power and authority, which it receives from the dragon, which is the Roman Empire.  But that was Christian religious authority; not financial or military power. 

The beast’s kingdom is his subjects, namely the people with the mark of the beast.  The plagues target them selectively.

The first four plagues seriously eroded the beast’s authority, for these plagues ONLY affected its followers; the people with the mark of the beast.

The fifth plague is also the loud cry, namely the mighty angel of Revelation 18 that cries out “Fallen, fallen is Babylon … Come out of her, my people.”  This is followed by “another voice from heaven, saying,’Come out of her, my people‘” (v4).

This is a message proclaimed on earth by God’s people through the power of the Holy Spirit.  This message convinces the peoples of the world that light from their system of worship is actually spiritual darkness.  This completely destroys the beast’s reputation and therefore its authority (throne). Consequently, in the sixth plague, the people of the world withdraw their support from the beast.  (See Sixth Plague)

These conclusions are based on a number of articles, including:

The Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation
The beasts of Daniel 7
The animals of Daniel 7 and 8 identify the Evil Horn.
The throne of the beast is religious authority.
The mighty angel of Revelation 18 is the fifth plague.

Next: Sixth Plague 
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