Another strong angel
Aug 03, 2016
Revelation 18:21 says,
21 And a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “Thus will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.”
There are no weak angels, but some are described as “strong” in order to let us know that there is no possibility that the prophesied events will fail. This is the third “strong angel” that John saw in the book of Revelation. (See Revelation 5:2; 10:1; 18:21.)
According to my own personal revelation, the “strong angel” in Revelation 18:21 is named according to his job description: Judging the Lawless. He is the one responsible for shaking the heavens and the earth (Hebrews 12:26, 27) and to separate the lawless from the lawful ones (Luke 13:27, 28).
We have already seen how Jeremiah sent his prophecy of the overthrow of Babylon with Seraiah to Babylon and how Seraiah was to attach a stone to it and cast it into the Euphrates (Jeremiah 51:60, 63). Seraiah was acting out the part of the strong angel in Revelation 18:21 as he cast the stone into the water. As the quartermaster, Seraiah’s job was to prepare the camp for the king of Judah. So also the strong angel, by casting down Babylon, is called to clear the campsite for the overcomers. Essentially, Judging the Lawless angel is a Kingdom quartermaster.
The previous verse (Revelation 18:20) essentially introduces this angel to us when it tells the saints to rejoice “because God judged your judgment on her” (The Emphatic Diaglott).
Great Changes Ahead
The strong angel further describes the overthrow of Babylon in Revelation 18:22, 23, saying,
22 And the sound of harpists and musicians and flute-players and trumpeters will not be heard in you any longer; and the sound of a mill will not be heard in you any longer; 23 and the light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you any longer; for your merchants were the great men of the earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery.
During Babylon’s time of dominion, the lawless ones rejoiced with their “musicians,” but when the city falls, their music stops and it is the overcomers’ turn to rejoice. During Babylon’s time of dominion, the lawless ones were well fed with bread from the flour being ground in the mills, but when the city falls, the overcomers provide everyone with the true bread of life (John 6:35).
During Babylon’s time of dominion, the lawless ones walked at night with the light of their own lamps, but when the city falls, the overcomers provide the true light of the world (Matthew 5:14; John 8:12) to guide all mankind in the right paths.
During Babylon’s time of dominion, lawless bridegrooms took lawless brides to bring forth another lawless generation, but when the city falls, the true Bridegroom will claim the Bride who has made herself ready (Revelation 19:7).
Deception by Sorcery
The angel identifies the merchants as “the great men of the earth,” telling us that they achieved greatness through deception and “sorcery.” The Greek word translated “sorcery” is pharmakeia, which, according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, means “the use or administering of drugs, poisoning, or enchantment.” The modern word is pharmacy, the “drug store.”
In John’s time, it was well known that drugs were poisons that put people into a mental state where they could be manipulated, deceived, or enchanted. Such drugs were often used in the mystery religions of the day to assist in “divine revelation.” The angel, however, tells us that this had allowed Babylon to deceive the people with false beliefs.
Today we see the pharmaceutical industry, owned by the great merchants of Babylon. They have convinced large numbers of people that their drugs are beneficial in some way, even though God never created our bodies or minds with a need for drugs. We are made of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). Like any farmland, our bodies need to be replenished with minerals, not drugs or chemicals. Yet we poison our bodies with drugs and farmland with chemical fertilizers, and then wonder why sickness and disease has increased exponentially.
The great men of the earth administer drugs and call it “health care.” It is not health care. It is pharmakeia. True health care gives the body what it needs according to the plan of the Creator. The strong angel of Revelation 18:21 is preparing to shake the earth, and the pharmaceutical industry will not remain standing. Their wealth will evaporate as the true paths to health become known and as men discover how they have been deceived in order to make the merchants wealthy.
Revelation 18:24 concludes the message of the strong angel:
24 And in her [Babylon] was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.
This is an astounding statement, for it shows that God holds Babylon liable for “all who have been slain on the earth.” In other words, Babylon is held liable for every murder since Cain killed Abel, even though Babylon was built by Nimrod many centuries later (Genesis 10:8-10). In fact, Babylon was not given the Dominion Mandate until the time of Nebuchadnezzar in 607 B.C. So how could Babylon be held legally liable for “all who have been slain on the earth”?
Babylon is more than the old city or the later empire. It is more than the succession of empires (i.e., the four beasts of Daniel 7). The book of Revelation tells us that Babylon is only one of its names. It is also Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem (Revelation 11:8). It is also Tyre and Assyria. Ultimately, it goes back to the rule of the flesh, rather than being led by the Spirit.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The earth was created to bear witness to heaven and to reflect heavenly glory. However, the earth usurped power instead of remaining under God in a position of godly authority. When the earth usurped power, they unwittingly took upon themselves the responsibility inherent in that power, which was to establish the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. Yet because they ceased to bear witness to heaven’s decrees, there was no way to fulfill that responsibility, so it became a liability to them.
Throughout history, various nations of the earth have usurped power, even as flesh has usurped power over the Spirit on a personal level. Power or authority bring responsibility. Failure brings liability. Liability brings judgment, or correction. Correction restores all things, and then the full cycle is complete.
In the book of Revelation, Babylon is the entity held liable when the judgment begins that will restore the lawful order in every area of life on earth. The focus is upon Babylon, because John’s revelation was a continuation of Daniel’s revelation. The book is primarily about the fourth beast that was to be given dominion over the earth. Hence, it is the entity held liable.
The Sentence of Gehenna
As we have said earlier, the earthly Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified is also Babylon. This city is to be distinguished from the heavenly Jerusalem. Jesus prophesied against the city of Jerusalem after saying that the scribes and Pharisees were “full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:28). He then says in Matthew 23:29-33,
29 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, “If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.” 31 Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are the sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell [gehenna]?
It is a principle of law that if the father sins, his debt is passed down to his children by the law of authority. We see this in Matthew 18:25. In fact, we have all been held liable for the sin of our father Adam, and this is why we are mortal. So by this same principle of law, the scribes and Pharisees claimed to be the sons of those who killed the prophets, thereby claiming liability for their murder in the divine court.
So Jesus asks, “how shall you escape the sentence of gehenna?” What was this sentence? It is given in Jeremiah 19, where the prophet was led by the Spirit to take an old earthen jar and smash it in “the valley of Ben-hinnom” (Jeremiah 19:2), which was known later by its Greek name, Gehenna. The sentence was pronounced there in Jeremiah 19:10, 11,
10 Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you 11 and say to them, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Just so shall I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot again be repaired; and they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place for burial’.”
This is the sentence of Gehenna. It was the utter destruction of the earthly Jerusalem in such a manner that it could never again be repaired or rebuilt. The reason, Jesus says, is because the religious leaders in Jerusalem claimed to be the physical children of those who killed the prophets. Therefore, they witnessed against themselves in the divine court.
Jesus continues in Matthew 23:34-36,
34 Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, 35 that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation [genea, “offspring”].
So we see that the city of Jerusalem, with its leaders in Judaism, will be held liable not only for murdering the prophets, but also going back to the first martyr, Abel, whom Cain murdered in Genesis 4:8. Both Jerusalem and Babylon are held liable for all the bloodshed going back to the beginning. Hence, legally speaking, these two cities are the same—along with Sodom, Tyre, and others, each in their own way.
We may expect, then, that the judgment upon Babylon will see also the final destruction of the earthly Jerusalem, for this is “the sentence of gehenna.” The children of the flesh, who consider the earthly Jerusalem to be their spiritual mother, will all be held liable on some level. Unfortunately, even many Christians claim Jerusalem to be their spiritual mother and will therefore suffer whatever loss is appropriate when the divine judgment is carried out.
The strong angel, whose name is Judging the Lawless, is the one called to carry out this sentence.
This is part 148 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones