In Revelation 18, an angel with great authority descends from heaven and illuminates the earth with his glory. He cries 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 is a symbol of its authority. In other words, this plague attacks the beast’s authority. Another article shows that the beast’s authority is religious in nature.
The purpose of the current article is to show that the darkness of the fifth plague is caused by the illumination of the powerful Revelation 18 message.
In brief, the sequence of end-time events, as described in Revelation 13 to 19, is as follows:
After the Sea Beast’s fatal wound heals, the Earth Beast convinces the people of the world, through miracles, to make an Image of the Sea Beast (13:12-14). That image becomes alive and puts the mark of the beast on people. It persecutes and kills people that refuse to accept its mark (13:15-17).
At the same time, the three angels of Revelation 14 warn the world against the mark of the Beast. They encourage God’s people to persevere, even to death (14:9-13).
When every person has been permanently marked for eternity, either with the mark of the Beast or with 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.) Then the plagues start to fall one by one (16:1), until Babylon is finally destroyed in the final and seventh plague (16:19).
THE LOUD CRY WILL BE HEARD DURING THE PLAGUES.
The message of Revelation 18, because of the power by which it will be given, is also called the Loud Cry. It will be proclaimed:
Before the seventh plague, because the seventh plague destroys Babylon, and Revelation 18 places her destruction in the future. For example, it says, “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. It is symbolized as a mighty angel that illuminates the whole world.
During the plagues, for two reasons:
Firstly, the plagues start to fall when every person has made his or her decision, and, at least until that point in time, the three angels of Revelation 14 will do their work. Since the mighty angel of Revelation 18 is later than the three angels, it must be during the plagues.
Secondly, significantly, there is no call to repentance in either Revelation 18 or in the plagues. This means that, in both, the time for repentance has passed.
THE LOUD CRY WILL BE HEARD DURING THE FIFTH PLAGUE.
So far, we have said that the Loud Cry will be heard during the plagues but before the seventh. We can be more specific. For the following reasons, the message of Revelation 18 will be proclaimed specifically during the fifth plague:
Firstly, the angel in Revelation 18 calls God’s people out of Babylon so that they would not receive her plagues, and the sixth and seventh are particularly Babylon’s plagues. They, therefore, come out of her before the sixth plague.
Secondly, the contrast between the darkness in the beast’s kingdom in the fifth plague and the illumination of the whole world by the Loud Cry implies a connection. This implies that the illumination of the whole earth by the angel in Revelation 18 causes the darkness on the kingdom of the beast.
The Holy Spirit will intensify the three angel-messages of Revelation 14 and convince the peoples of the world that the light from their system of worship is actually spiritual darkness.
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THE THREE MESSAGES OF REVELATION 18
“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 …”
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.”
Later in Revelation 18, a “strong angel” (18:21) illustrates how sudden Babylon’s fall will be. There are, therefore, three messages recorded in Revelation 18.
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 messages proclaimed on earth by God’s people, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
THE FIFTH PLAGUE CAUSES DARKNESS.
After the beast’s deadly wound heals,
“The whole earth … followed after the beast …
they worshiped the beast, saying,
‘… Who is able to wage war with him?’” (13:3, 4).
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. In other words, in the fifth plague, the beast suffers great humiliation and a great loss of authority. Another article identifies it as religious authority.
REVELATION 18 PRECEDES THE SEVENTH PLAGUE.
The Loud Cry precedes the seventh plague because the seventh plague destroys Babylon (16:19), while 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). However, the message of Revelation 18 is given with 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 (18:1, 4, 21) 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 implies that they are not the same as the three angels of Revelation 14 but follow later, namely when Babylon’s sins have fully matured. The message of Revelation 18 may be the final climax of the three angels’ message.
DURING THE PLAGUES
The Loud Cry is proclaimed during the plagues because there is no call to repentance in either the plagues or 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, do their work until the last person has made his or her choice for God or for 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. Since, as shown above, the mighty angel of Revelation 18 proclaims his message later than the three angels, his voice will be heard during the plagues.
DURING THE 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.
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:
(a) 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 literally came from the east.)
(b) 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.
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 the light from their system of worship is actually spiritual darkness. It becomes clear that the despised and persecuted minority ‘sect’ is 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).
The fifth plague is followed by the sixth, 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
First four plagues:
The First Four are non-specific.
Overview – the mark of the beast signify the inability to repent
The Throne of the Beast if religious authority.
The Mighty Angel of Revelation 18 causes the darkness. Current
Christian authority destroyed
The Great River, the Euphrates, dries up.
Who are the Kings from the East?
Armageddon is the Day of the Lord.
Does “coming like a thief” support a Rapture?
Why must the Euphrates dry up to prepare the way for the kings?
Purpose of the Plagues:
I To show that God judges perfectly
II Satan presents his principles as good.