Jehovah’s Word Is Alive
Highlights From the Book of Revelation—II
WHAT lies ahead for those who worship Jehovah God and for those who do not? What is the future of Satan and his demons? What blessings will obedient mankind experience during the Thousand Year Reign of Christ? The answers to these and other vital questions are revealed at Revelation 13:1–22:21.a These chapters contain the last 9 of the 16 visions that the apostle John received near the end of the first century C.E.
“Happy is he who reads aloud and those who hear the words of this prophecy,” writes John, “and who observe the things written in it.” (Rev. 1:3; 22:7) Reading and applying what we learn from the book of Revelation can affect our heart, strengthen our faith in God and his Son, Jesus Christ, and give us a bright hope for the future.b—Heb. 4:12.
SEVEN BOWLS OF GOD’S ANGER ARE POURED OUT
“The nations became wrathful,” states Revelation 11:18, “and [God’s] own wrath came, and the appointed time . . . to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” Providing background for this, the eighth vision shows the activity of “a wild beast . . . with ten horns and seven heads.”—Rev. 13:1.
In the ninth vision, John sees “the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion” and with him “a hundred and forty-four thousand.” They have been “bought from among mankind.” (Rev. 14:1, 4) Angelic announcements follow. In the next vision, John beholds “seven angels with seven plagues.” Evidently, Jehovah himself commands these angels to pour out “the seven bowls of the anger of God” on various features of Satan’s world. The bowls contain pronouncements and warnings of the judgments God will execute. (Rev. 15:1; 16:1) These two visions give details of further Kingdom judgments connected with the third woe and the blowing of the seventh trumpet.—Rev. 11:14, 15.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
13:8—What is “the scroll of life of the Lamb”? This is a figurative scroll containing only the names of those who rule with Jesus Christ in his heavenly Kingdom. It includes the names of anointed Christians still on earth, who have the hope of receiving life in heaven.
13:11-13—How does the wild beast with two horns act like a dragon and make fire come down out of heaven? The fact that the two-horned wild beast—the Anglo-American World Power—speaks like a dragon indicates that it uses threats, pressure, and violence to enforce acceptance of its form of rulership. It makes fire come out of heaven in that it assumes a prophetlike role by claiming to have conquered the forces of evil in the two world wars of the 20th century and to have won a victory over Communism.
16:17—What is “the air” upon which the seventh bowl is poured out? “The air” symbolizes satanic thinking, “the spirit [mental inclination] that now operates in the sons of disobedience.” This poisonous air is breathed by Satan’s entire wicked system of things.—Eph. 2:2.
Lessons for Us:
13:1-4, 18. “A wild beast” symbolizing human governments ascends “out of the sea,” that is, from the turbulent masses of mankind. (Isa. 17:12, 13; Dan. 7:2-8, 17) This beast, created and empowered by Satan, has the number 666, denoting heightened imperfection. Understanding what the beast is helps us so that we neither follow it with admiration nor worship it as mankind in general does.—John 12:31; 15:19.
13:16, 17. Despite the hardships we may encounter in carrying out such everyday activities as ‘buying or selling,’ we should not allow ourselves to be pressured into letting the wild beast rule our lives. Accepting ‘the mark of the wild beast in our hand or upon our forehead’ would amount to permitting the wild beast to control our actions or affect our thinking.
14:6, 7. The angelic proclamation teaches us that we should declare the good news of the established Kingdom of God with urgency. We should help our Bible students to develop a healthy fear of God and to give glory to Jehovah.
14:14-20. When “the harvest of the earth,” that is, the harvest of those who will be saved, is completed, it will be time for the angel to hurl “into the great winepress of the anger of God” the gathering of “the vine of the earth.” That vine—Satan’s corrupt visible system of governments over mankind with its “clusters” of evil fruitage—will then be destroyed forever. We should be determined not to be influenced by the vine of the earth.
16:13-16. “Unclean inspired expressions” symbolize demonic propaganda intended to ensure that the kings of the earth are not swayed by the pouring out of the seven bowls of God’s anger but instead are maneuvered into opposition to Jehovah.—Matt. 24:42, 44.
16:21. As the end of this world nears, the proclamation of Jehovah’s judgments against Satan’s wicked system may involve unusually heavy verbal expressions of God’s judgments, likely pictured by congealed water. Still, most of mankind will continue to blaspheme God.
THE TRIUMPHANT KING RULES
“Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, is a disgusting segment of Satan’s wicked world. The 11th vision portrays her as a “great harlot”—an immoral woman—“sitting upon a scarlet-colored wild beast.” She is to be completely destroyed by “the ten horns” of the very beast that is carrying her. (Rev. 17:1, 3, 5, 16) Likening the harlot to a “great city,” the subsequent vision announces her fall and issues an urgent call to God’s people to “get out of her.” The demise of the great city is mourned by many. There is rejoicing in heaven, however, because of “the marriage of the Lamb.” (Rev. 18:4, 9, 10, 15-19; 19:7) In the 13th vision, the rider of “a white horse” goes to war with the nations. He brings Satan’s wicked world to its end.—Rev. 19:11-16.
What about “the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan”? When will he be “hurled into the lake of fire”? That is one of the subjects of the 14th vision. (Rev. 20:2, 10) The last two visions give glimpses of life during the Millennium. As the “revelation” comes to an end, John sees ‘a river of water of life flowing down the middle of the broad way,’ and a wonderful invitation is extended to “anyone thirsting.”—Rev. 1:1; 22:1, 2, 17.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
17:16; 18:9, 10—Why do “the kings of the earth” grieve over the very entity they themselves have devastated? The reason for their grief is strictly selfish. After the destruction of Babylon the Great, the kings of the earth evidently come to realize how useful she was to them. She provided a religious front for their oppressive deeds. Babylon the Great also helped them in recruiting youths for the battlefields. Moreover, she played an important part in keeping people in subjection.
19:12—How is it that no one but Jesus himself knows his unstated name? This name seems to stand for the position and privileges, such as those stated at Isaiah 9:6, that Jesus enjoys during the Lord’s day. No one knows this name but he himself in that his privileges are unique and only he can comprehend what it means to hold such a high office. However, Jesus shares some of these privileges with the members of his bride class, in effect ‘writing upon them that new name of his.’—Rev. 3:12.
19:14—Who will ride with Jesus at Armageddon? Included among ‘the armies in heaven’ that join Jesus in God’s war will be angels as well as the anointed conquerors who have already received their heavenly reward.—Matt. 25:31, 32; Rev. 2:26, 27.
20:11-15—Whose names are written in “the scroll [or, “the book”] of life”? This is the scroll containing the names of all those who come in line to receive everlasting life—the anointed Christians, the members of the great crowd, and the faithful servants of God who will experience the ‘resurrection of the righteous.’ (Acts 24:15; Rev. 2:10; 7:9) Those who will come to life in the ‘resurrection of the unrighteous’ will have their names written in “the scroll of life” only if they act in harmony with the “things written in the scrolls” of instructions opened during the Millennium. However, the entries are not made with indelible ink. The names of the anointed become permanent upon their proving themselves faithful to death. (Rev. 3:5) The names of those who receive life on earth become lasting entries when they pass the final test at the end of the thousand years.—Rev. 20:7, 8.
Lessons for Us:
17:3, 5, 7, 16. “The wisdom from above” helps us to understand “the mystery of the woman and of the [scarlet-colored] wild beast that is carrying her.” (Jas. 3:17) This symbolic wild beast began as the League of Nations and was later revived as the United Nations. Should not the unraveling of this mystery move us to be zealous in preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom and proclaiming the day of Jehovah’s judgment?
21:1-6. We can be absolutely certain that foretold blessings under Kingdom rule will become a reality. Why? Because concerning them, it is said: “They have come to pass!”
22:1, 17. The “river of water of life” represents Jehovah’s provisions for recovering obedient humans from sin and death. A measure of this water is available now. May we not only gratefully accept the invitation to come and “take life’s water free” but also eagerly extend it to others!
a For a discussion of Revelation 1:1–12:17, see “Highlights From the Book of Revelation—I” in the January 15, 2009, issue of The Watchtower.
b For a verse-by-verse consideration of the book of Revelation, see Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand!
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What marvelous blessings obedient mankind will experience under Kingdom rule!