The Loud Cry of Revelation 18 causes the darkness of the fifth plague.

SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

THE LOUD CRY

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.”

This is not a literal angel, but a message proclaimed on earth by God’s people through the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of the power by which the Revelation 18-message will be given, this article refers to it as the loud cry.

THE FIFTH PLAGUE

The fifth plague-angel pours his bowl out on “the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened” (Rev 16:10). The throne of the beast has been identified in a previous article as a Cghristian religious authority

Both the fifth plague and the loud cry, therefore, attack the beast’s authority. The purpose of the current article is to show that these two are the same.

THE LOUD CRY WILL BE HEARD DURING THE PLAGUES.

The loud cry will be proclaimed before the seventh plague because:
The seventh plague destroys Babylon (Rev 16:19) and

the loud cry places her destruction in the future (Rev 18:8-10, 15, 21).

The loud cry will be later in time than the three angels of Rev 14:7-11 because:
(A) The loud cry is given with more power than the three angels (e.g., Rev 18:1) and
(B) There is no call to repentance in the loud cry. (In other words, the time for repentance has passed.)

The loud cry will be heard during the seven last plagues because:
(A) There is no repentance in both the loud cry or the plagues (cf. Rev 16:9, 11) and
(B) Revelation 15 is the point in history when the work of the three angels of Rev 14 will cease and the plagues begin, and because the loud cry is heard later than the three angels. To explain:

The three angels of Rev 14 will give their warning message while the image of the beast is persecuting God’s people (Rev 14:9).

Revelation 15 represents a point in history when every person has made his or her final decision to worship the beast (Rev 14:9) or God (Rev 14:7). For that reason, at that point in time, the warning of the three angels of Rev 14 will cease. It will have has no further purpose.

But that is also the point in time when the command is given to pour out the plagues (Rev 16:1).)

THE LOUD CRY WILL BE HEARD DURING THE FIFTH PLAGUE.

The loud cry will be heard during the fifth plague because:

(A) The loud cry calls God’s people out of Babylon so that they would not receive her plagues (Rev 18:4), and the sixth and seventh plagues are particularly the plagues on Babylon (Rev 16:12, 19). My people,” therefore, come out of her before the sixth plague.

(B) The contrast between the darkness in the beast’s kingdom in the fifth plague (Rev 16:10) and the bright light of the loud cry (Rev 18:1) implies that the illumination of the whole earth by the angel in Revelation 18 causes the darkness on the kingdom of the beast.

INTERPRETATION

Through the loud cry, the Holy Spirit will intensify the message of the three angel of Revelation 14 and, during the fifth plague, convince the peoples of the world that the light from false Christianity is actually spiritual darkness. 

– END OF SUMMARY – 

THE THREE MESSAGES OF REVELATION 18

In Rev 18:1-2, John saw an angel:

Having GREAT AUTHORITY,
and the EARTH WAS ILLUMINED with his glory.”

The angel cried out with a “mighty voice:”

“Fallen, FALLEN IS BABYLON THE GREAT!
She has become a dwelling place of demons.”

Because of the angel’s “mighty voice,” this article refers to it as the loud cry. 

Babylon is explained in Reve 17. She represents the religious system that has existed for all of human history; corrupting people (Rev 17:2) and reigning over kings (Rev 17:2, 3, 10, 18).

After John saw the angel, he heard “another voice from heaven” (Rev 18:4).  This possibly is God Himself, for the voice says: Come out of her, MY people.”    

Later in Revelation 18, a “strong angel” (Rev 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 (Rev 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?’

(Rev 13:3, 4)

But the plagues weaken this powerful beast. The first four plagues target specifically the beast’s followers and their environment (see First Four Plagues). The fifth plague attacks the core of the beast’s kingdom, namely, “the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened” (Rev 16:10). The throne of the beast is a symbol of its authority. In other words, in the fifth plague, the beast suffers a great loss of authority. A previous article identified its authority as Christian religious authority.   

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE

Both the fifth plague and the loud cry attack the beast’s authority. The purpose of the current article is to show that these two are the same. In other words, the darkness of the fifth plague is caused by the illumination of the powerful loud cry.

THE LOUD CRY PRECEDES THE SEVENTH PLAGUE.

The loud cry precedes the seventh plague because the seventh plague destroys Babylon (Rev 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” (Rev 18:8).
She will be burned up” (Rev 18:9).
The kings “will weep” (Rev 18:10).
The merchants “will stand at a distance” (Rev 18:15).
So will” Babylon be thrown down (Rev 18:21). 

THE LOUD CRY WILL BE HEARD DURING THE PLAGUES.

Both the mighty angel of Revelation 18 and the second of the three angel messages in Revelation 14 are worldwide (Rev 14:6; 18:1) and announce that “Babylon is fallen” (Rev 14:8; 18:2).

THE LOUD CRY IS LATER THAN THE THREE ANGELS.

For two reasons, the loud cry will be later in time than the three angels of Rev 14:7-11. Firstly, the message of Revelation 18 is given with more power and more detail:

Rev 14:8 simply reads “And another angel, a second one, followed, saying.” The angel in Rev 18, in contrast, has “great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory.” “He cried out with a mighty voice” (Rev 18:1-2). 

The angel in Revelation 18 also expands on the causes and consequences of Babylon’s fall (Rev 18:2-3).

Secondly, there is no call to repentance in the loud cry. The three angels in Revelation 14 encourage the people to worship the Creator (Rev 14:7), rather than the Beast and its image (Rev 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” (Rev 18:4). This means that the time for repentance has passed.

The message of Revelation 18 may be the final climax of the message of the three angels.

THE LOUD CRY IS DURING THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES.

Since the loud cry is later than the three angels, the loud cry must be during the seven last plagues. This is argued as follows:

The purpose of the three angels of Revelation 14 is to warn people against the mark of the beast (e.g., Rev 14:9). Therefore, they will give their warning message while the image of the beast is persecuting God’s people.

When every person has made his or her final decision to worship either the beast (Rev 14:9) or God (Rev 14:7) and has been marked; either with the mark of the beast or the seal of God (14:1), the warning of the three angels has no further purpose and will cease. That point in time is represented by the “victorious” people in Rev 15:2 and the temple closing in Rev 15:8. This means that, after this point in time, nobody will be saved. That is when the command is given to pour out the plagues (Rev 16:1).

Revelation 15, therefore, is the point in history when the message of the three angels stops and the seven last plagues begin.  Since the loud cry is later than the three angels, the loud cry must be later than Revelation 15. The loud cry, therefore, will be heard during the seven last plagues.

Further support for the proposal that the loud cry is proclaimed during the plagues is that there is no call to repentance in either the plagues or in Revelation 18.

THE LOUD CRY IS DURING THE FIFTH PLAGUE.

However, it is possible to be more specific, namely that the mighty angel of Revelation 18 proclaims his message during the fifth plague. 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 (Rev 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 of 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. It reads, “Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath” (Rev 16:19). When God remembers something, it does not mean that He previously forgot. It means that He acts. In this case, Rev 16:19 tells us what He does, namely “to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.

If “her plagues” (Rev 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.

CONCLUSION

The fifth plague is the proclamation of the messages of Revelation 18, when the Holy Spirit will work 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’ actually is God’s true people. 

In Revelation 11 we note a similar recovery of 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” (Rev 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 (Rev 17:16) in the seventh plague (Rev 16:19).

ARTICLES ON THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES

Introduction – Revelation 15

The first four plagues
  Must not be interpreted individually
 – Target the earth, sea, waters and sun, but the people do not repent.

The Fifth Plague
The Throne of the Beast is Christian Religious Authority.

  The Light of the Mighty Angel of Rev 18 causes the darkness.
  The Roman Empire gave to the Church is throne and power.

The Sixth Plague
The Great River, the Euphrates, dries up.
The Kings from the East are Christ and His angels.

  Armageddon is not a literal place but the Day of the Lord.
  Does “coming like a thief” (rEV 16:15) support a secret rapture?
  Why the Euphrates has to dry up to prepare the way for the kings
  Summary of these articles & conclusions

The Seventh Plague culminates in the return of Christ.

Purpose of the Plagues
To show that God judges perfectly

  Why is it necessary to show that God judges perfectly?

The Seventh Plague culminates in the return of Christ.

THE SEVENTH PLAGUE

16:17  Then the seventh angel
poured out his bowl upon the air,
and a loud voice came out of the temple
from the throne, saying, “It is done.”

16:18 And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty.

16:19 The great city was split into three parts,
and the cities of the nations fell.
Babylon the great was remembered before God,
to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.
20 And every island fled away,
and the mountains were not found.

16:21 And huge hailstones,
about one hundred pounds each,
came down from heaven upon men;
and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail,
because its plague was extremely severe.  (NASB)

That Babylon “was remembered before God” does not mean that God forgot and now remembers. “Remember” means to act. For instance, God “remembered” his covenant with Abraham when the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt (Exo 2:24; cf. Gen 8:1 and 19:29).

The cup” which God gives to Babylon is a common Biblical expression denoting suffering and judgments meted out (Psa 11:6; 75:8; Isa 51:17, 22, 23; Jer 25:15-17, 28; 49:12; Matt 26:39).

According to verse 17, God’s throne is in the temple. The Greek word used for the temple in this verse (naou) describes the inner sanctuary. Elsewhere, it is stated that the temple is in heaven (Rev 11:19; 16:17).

THE EARTHQUAKE AND HAIL ARE NOT LITERAL.

For the following reasons, the (1) lightning and (2) sounds (or voices), (3) thunder, (4) a great earthquake, and (5) huge hailstones in this plague are not literal:

(A) Elsewhere in Revelation, this group of five is symbolic:

REVELATION 4; THE THRONE ROOM

The first time that we read about this group is in the description of the temple in heaven in Revelation 4. There we only read about the first three, namely “lightning, sounds and thunder” which came “out from the throne” (Rev 4:5). For the following reasons, it is proposed that these three represent the activities, discussions, decisions, and instructions emanating from the throne in heaven:

      • Lightning, sounds and thunder” happen in the air during a thunderstorm.
      • The four living beings that are “in the centre and around the throne” (Rev 4:6) run “to and fro like bolts of lightning” (Ezek 1:14), and their voices sound like thunder (Rev 6:1).

REVELATION 8; TRUMPETS

The next time that we find this group is in the introduction to the seven trumpets, where fire is thrown down from heaven on the earth and there “thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake” (Rev 8:5). This, therefore, adds an earthquake to the previous three.  

REVELATION 11:19

This group also appears in Rev 11:19. In this verse, “the temple of God which is in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple.” Then all five follow. In other words, hail is added to the four in Rev 8:5.

Since every main part of Revelation begins in the temple in heaven, we assume that this verse introduces the main section of Revelation contained in chapters 12 to 14.

THE EARTHQUAKE AND HAIL SYMBOLIZE EARTHLY CONSEQUENCES.

If the lightning, sounds, and thunder symbolize what happen in heaven, for the following reasons, it is proposed that the earthquake and hail symbolize the consequences on earth:

(1) Earthquakes do not happen in the air. They destroy things on earth.

(2) In Rev 8:5 the group of four is mentioned after fire has been thrown on the earth. Subsequently, fire (Rev 8:8; 9:17; 11:3-5), burning (Rev 8:7, 10), and smoke (Rev 9:2-5) are mentioned often in the trumpets. Therefore, it is proposed that the earthquake (Rev 8:5) is a summary description of the trumpet plagues.

(3) Revelation 11:19 has a similar connection to the next three chapters: While this verse, which is the introduction to Revelation 12-14, reveals the ark of the covenant (a box which housed the Ten Commandments), Revelation 12-14 contains frequent veiled references to the Ten Commandments (Rev 12:17; 14:12; 13:6, 15, 16; 14:1, 7; 15:5). For that reason, it is proposed that the earthquake and hail in Rev 11:19 is a summary description of the events of Rev 12-14.

In summary, these five manifestations are high-level descriptions of activities in heaven, followed by events on earth. The same then applies in the seventh plague.

(B) Babylon is destroyed by ten kings.

In Rev 16:18-19, a great earthquake splits “the great city … into three parts.” Rev 16:19 continues that God gave Babylon “the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.” The “great city” is the same as Babylon (Rev 17:18; 3, 5). Revelation 17 elaborates on the seventh plague (Rev 17:1) and, in that chapter, Babylon is destroyed by “the ten horns” (Rev 17:16) which symbolize “ten kings” who receive “receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour” (Rev 17:12). In other words, while Babylon is destroyed by an earthquake in the seventh plague, she is destroyed by the kings of the world according to Rev 17. This is another indication that the earthquake is symbolic.

(C) A literal reading does not make sense.

Read literally, this earthquake is so huge that “every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” (Rev 16:20). Given that the sea has already turned to blood (Rev 16:3), such a worldwide earthquake would cause tsunamis of blood that bury all islands, and therefore also all coastal regions.

A literal earthquake of this magnitude would kill all people on earth, but according to Rev 16:21, people continue to blaspheme God, indicating that the earth is still populated.

Furthermore, according to Rev 16:19, this earthquake splits the great city into three parts. A literal earthquake of this magnitude would not do this to a literal city. It would completely destroy all cities.

(D) Babylon is not a literal city.

In the seventh plague, as result of the huge earthquake, the great city Babylon splits into three parts (Rev 16:19). This symbolizes that the coalition of the evil trinity (Rev 16:13) breaks up. Babylon, therefore, is symbolic. 

A previous article concluded that Babylon, in Revelation (Rev 17:5, 18), is a symbol of the false religious system that has corrupted mankind for thousands of years. Since Babylon is not literal and since she is destroyed by an earthquake, the earthquake is also not literal.

(E) The plagues use literal historical events as symbols.

The plagues use literal historical events as symbols for end-time events. For example, the first five plagues use literal events from Israel’s liberation from Egypt as symbols. The last two plagues – the drying up of the great river Euphrates and the fall of Babylon (Rev 16:12, 19) – similarly use actual events from Israel’s liberation from ancient Babylon as symbols for the liberation of God’s people from this earth. This symbolic context requires us to interpret the earthquake and hail also as symbols.

In conclusion, the lightning, sounds, thunder, earthquake, and huge hail are not literal but symbolic of massive destruction. Just as a literal earthquake leaves a literal city in ruins, so a figurative earthquake brings ruin and desolation to the symbolic “great Babylon.

OTHER PLAGUES ARE ALSO NOT LITERAL.

One can take nearly any portion of Revelation and try to read it literally, and it would not make sense.  Consider the following examples from the plagues:

(1) After all waters turns to blood (Rev 16:3-4), there still is water in the Euphrates (Rev 16:12).

(2) Why would a river be a barrier to an army, given modern war technology (Rev 16:12)?

(3) After all people with the mark of the beast suffer malignant sores (Rev 16:2), all waters turn to blood (Rev 16:3-4), the sun scorches people with fire (Rev 16:8), where would literal kings get the resources to assemble an army for war (Rev 16:14, 16)?  Under such circumstances, people will die in their billions, and the rest would just be trying to survive, perhaps for another day.

(4) How do literal spirits of demons, that look like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon, beast, and false prophet, if the dragon is Satan (Rev 12:9), the beast is the church of the middle ages and the false prophet symbolizes end-time false Christianity (cf. Rev 13:11)? And why do the three only have one mouth (16:14)?

(5) How could all armies of the world gather in a single literal place on earth (Rev 16:16)?  And how do they get to this place if the oceans have turned to blood, on which no ship can travel?

(6) Taken literally, why would God’s people be warned to watch their clothes, so that they do not walk about naked (Rev 16:15)?

Given these insurmountable obstacles, a literal consequently completely misses the mark.

To say that these plagues are symbolic does not mean they have no meaning. They represent real devastations. To determine what they mean requires a careful study of the symbols in their immediate and wider context.

BABYLON IS DESTROYED
BY THE KINGS OF THE WORLD.

The purpose of Rev 17-18 is to explain “the judgment of the great harlot” (Rev 17:2). The harlot is Babylon (Rev 17:5). In this explanation we see that the seven heads of the beast (Rev 17:3) symbolize seven phases of the beast (Rev 17:9-10). The beast itself is also a final and eighth phase (Rev 17:11).

That explanation also refers to ten horns of the beast (Rev 17:3). They all grow out of the seventh head (cf. Rev 17:10, 12). These ten horns, therefore, are the eighth phase. Consequently, the “ten kings … receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour” (Rev 17:12). This confederacy of kings is the same as the end-time coalition of kings at Armageddon (Rev 16:14, 16).

These ten kings “and the beast … will hate the harlot … and will burn her up with fire” (Rev 17:16). Therefore, when God gives Babylon “the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath” (Rev 16:19), it is at the hands of the kings of the world. In other words, the worldwide religiopolitical anti-God coalition fights among themselves. As Revelation states, “The great city (Babylon) was split into three parts” (Rev 16:19).

THE SEVENTH PLAGUE
ENDS WITH CHRIST’S RETURN.

The sixth plague ends with the kings of the world gathered together at Armageddon (Rev 16:16) “for the war of the great day of God” (Rev 16:14). Logically, the seventh plague must be that war but we do not read about a war in the seventh plague. Rather, we read about the infighting in the evil confederation, causing Babylon to split into three parts (Rev 16:19). The seventh plague then ends with the people (the kings and their armies) cursing God.

But, while the kings and their armies are gathered in the sixth plague, at Christ’s return they are seen gathered (Rev 19:19) and all the cursing people “were killed with the sword” from Jesus’ mouth (Rev 19:21).

Therefore, the war at Armageddon is the return of Christ (Rev 19:11-21). It was previously shown that Rev 17-18 interrupts the seventh plague and that Rev 19 continues where the seventh plague has left off (cf. Rev 16:19; 19:2). Rev 19 then ends with Christ’s return (Rev 19:11-).

THE ROAD TO ARMAGEDDON

After that point in time, God unleashes the plagues. God’s people are being persecuted, but the plagues selectively target the persecutors of God’s people (Rev 16:2, 6, 10). However, the people of the world are so hardened that they are unable to repent. It is not that God does not want to save them:

‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! (Ezek 33:11).

However, the wicked are beyond the point of return and continue to blaspheme God (Rev 16:9, 11, 21) and to persecute His people. But support for their religion wanes, depicted by the symbol of the Euphrates drying up, because they now realize that it is false.

But then Satan strikes back with a renewed attack, using his supernatural forces to unite the kings of the earth behind him. False Christianity joins forces with Satanism. Previously, Satan created false religion by corrupting true religion. Consequently, the people did not know that they were really following Satan. But now they know. Knowingly, they join forces against God, determined to exterminate all His followers on earth.

It is in this context that the seventh plague (Armageddon) brings an end to Babylon (Satanism at this stage), the Beast and the False Prophet.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

(A) This plague, and the plagues in general, are symbols and must not be interpreted literally.

(B) When Babylon is destroyed in the seventh plague, the Beast and the False Prophet are also destroyed.

(C) The entire Revelation 19, including the killing of the people of the world (Rev 19:21), is part of the seventh plague.

Next: Purpose of the Plagues

AVAILABLE ARTICLES ON REVELATION

INTRODUCTORY

Why is the title of this website Revelation BY Jesus Christ?
Every main part of Revelation begins in the temple in heaven.
Are events described in chronological sequence?
Is a consistently literal interpretation appropriate?
Does Revelation present Jesus as God?
God’s throne – the center of the universe.

SEVEN SEALS

Revelation 4
Revelation 4:1-8 – Verse-by-verse

The 24 elders are human beings that rule under God.
Revelation 4:8-11 – Worship in God’s presence
Revelation 5
Revelation 5 is Christ’s enthronement after His ascension.
The sealed book is the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Why can God not explain His judgments?
Revelation 5 verse by verse
The Sixth Seal concludes with Christ’s Return.
Does the seventh seal include the seven trumpets?
Seven seals explained
Introduction to the Seven Seals – What book is this?

BABYLON

Babylon; the mother of harlots – main article
Babylon’s merchants are her false prophets.
Babylon is not the reconstructed ancient city of Babylon.
Babylon is the driving force behind the beast.

SEVEN-HEADED BEASTS

The Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation identified
The three beasts are three of the seven heads.
The Seven Heads identified

REVELATION 13

13:1-2 – The Beast relates to Daniel 7.
13:3-4 – The fatal wound
The beast of Revelation is the Mainstream Church of Christendom.

SEVEN PLAGUES

The Plagues of Revelation – 16 articles

For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.