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Second Quarter 2018 April • May • June
COMMENTARY—PREPARATION FOR THE END TIME
Week 12: June 16–22
COMMENTARY ON "Babylon and Armageddon"
Following is a combined commentary on the material included in the Bible Study Guide with references as necessary to the supplemental passages included in the E. G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
The quarterly memory text for this week is:
And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” (Rev. 17:5)
The lessons for this week cover, way to briefly, a large amount of Scripture that should be studied in context and in the order it is recorded. There is no way a serious student of Scripture will learn and understand the Book of Revelation by jumping back and forth and all over the place all the while introducing themes not part of the text. Remember these are the very words of Jesus Christ given to and recorded by the Apostle John. We should study this book and message in the way it is written.
This commentary is for the purpose of separating known biblical and historical fact from the assumptions introduced by the lesson author.
The lesson's assumed 'last day events' at Mount Carmel will not be ignored as this is not part of Scripture. Instead it is an obvious attempted to interject the unbiblical Great Controversy theme. In the words of Nehemiah, the king's cupbearer, commissioned by the King Artaxerxes to rebuild the city (walls) of Jerusalem:
Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” (Neh. 6:8)
THE BOWELS OF GOD'S COMING WRATH
The quarterly lesson's for this week confuse what the biblical text teaches partly by not placing Armageddon and Babylon within the context of the bowls of God's coming wrath and by not showing that chapter 14 is about God's final warning to repent before these bowls of his wrath are poured out:
Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished. (Rev. 15:1)
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” (Rev. 16:1)
BOWL 1 (Vs. 16:2)
God's wrath in the form of "harmful and painful sores" is poured upon those who have the mark of the beast.
BOWL 2 (Vs. 16:3)
God's wrath is poured upon the sea which becomes like "the blood of a corpse".
BOWL 3 (Vs. 16:4-7)
In God's wrath the rivers and springs of water "become like blood". The angel says; “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments..."
BOWL 4 (Vs. 16:8-9)
In God's wrath the people are scorched with fire from the sun because they do not repent nor give God glory.
BOWL 5 (Vs. 16:10-11)
God's wrath is poured upon the throne of the beast plunging it's kingdom is into darkness.
BOWL 6 (Vs. 16:12-16)
God's wrath is poured upon the river Euphrates which dries up to prepare "kings" to come in from the east. Demonic spirits go abroad to the kings of the whole earth to assemble them (at Armageddon) for battle "on the great day of God Almighty". Blessed are those who stay awake for they will not be "naked and seen exposed".
BOWL 7 (Vs. 16:17-21)
The seventh angel pours out the bowl of God's wrath and proclaims; "It is done!" There are flashes of lightning, rumblings, thunder and a great earthquake. "The great city" is split into three parts, the cities of the nations fall and God remembers Babylon to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. All islands and mountains disappear. Great hailstones fall from heaven. Instead of repenting the people curse God because of the plague.
ARMAGEDDON (THE SIXTH BOWL OF GOD'S WRATH)
The lessons for this week begin by introducing Armageddon which is mentioned in the sixth of seven bowls of God's coming wrath that will be poured out by angels upon the earth, Rev. 16:1. The sixth angel mentions "Euphrates" and "Armageddon" without any reference to "Babylon":
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. (Rev. 16:12-16)
With reference to 'Armageddon' the lesson is correct in saying: "The word occurs only in Scripture here in Revelation and is based on a Hebrew phrase that seems to mean “Mount of Megiddo”. However it is referencing a known location in ancient Israel out on an open plain. The lesson author is incorrect in assuming that this prophecy must be referring to some other location rather than the known site simply because it is not at the top of a mountain. However the original Megiddo is now as known as "Tel Megiddo" and is a mound within an open plain.
The Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation in Greek with the word 'Armageddon' being a Greek word founded upon an obscure Hebrew root word that 'seems to mean mount'. However the sure and actual definition is not known and vigorously debated by scholars. It could also mean 'hill', 'range of hills', 'mound' or 'high rise' on otherwise level ground depending who you want to believe. The fact is the site of ancient Megiddo is well known as the "Tel Megiddo" which overlooks the Plain of Megiddo which is located at the north-western end of the Jezreel Valley. Since Rev. 16:16 clearly speaks of ancient Megiddo there is no justification to shift our focus to nearby Mount Carmel for the outpouring of the seventh bowl of God's coming wrath.
What the Quarterly lesson author does is take an assumed meaning of Armageddon and then transfer this prophecy concerning Armageddon to Mount Carmel thereby giving unbiblical support to Ellen G. White's Great Controversy theme by doing a supposed 'last-day' replay of Elijah's defeat of the prophets of Baal.
The lesson author assumes the great controversy to be true without biblical proof. The most serious problem with the supposed great controversy is that it limits the absolute sovereignty of Jesus Christ the eternal Son of God. It is not known why Lucifer (Satan) rebelled in heaven furthermore he was totally personally defeated when he was cast out of heaven.
With regards to Armageddon and the sixth bowl of God's coming wrath we are only told what we need to know. There is no justification in assuming to be possible what is not revealed in Scripture and then transposing those assumptions into supposed 'truth'.
GOD REMEMBERS BABYLON (THE SEVENTH BOWL OF GOD'S WRATH)
The Sunday quarterly lesson titled "The Wine of Her Wrath" should be reworded because the theme is about God's wrath against Babylon first identified in Revelation chapter 14:
Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.” (Rev. 14:8)
The ESV version of the bible says 'passion' not 'wrath' which is a better English translation of the original Greek. As we study this section of Revelation we see that the focus is of God's wrath that is upon Babylon because of "the passion of her sexual immorality" that has infected all the nations of the world. This becomes obvious as you study on down to verse 10 which says in part: "...he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath...". The point is that this and the following chapters are about God's wrath, what God is and will do. What God says he will do will happen exactly as he says will happen because God is sovereign.
There is no justification to insert the "Great Controversy" concept (as the quarterly lesson author has done) in with these words of the book Revelation. Satan has no ability to confront, alter or in any way defeat God in what God says he will do because Satan's abilities are limited whereas God is infinitely powerful, all knowing and everywhere present from before time began.
Since Babylon is first mentioned here in chapter 14 of Revelation we need step back to verse one to find the context of why Babylon is mentioned. Here it mentions 'the Lamb and with him 144,000'. This takes us on back to chapter seven where we learn who are the 144,000. There it becomes brutally clear that the 144,000 are not Seventh-day Adventist. Instead they are 12,000 each from the literal twelve tribes of Israel who go out to all the world preaching the biblical gospel message of Jesus Christ. They are those whose robes have been made white by the shed blood of the Lamb and as such these Jewish evangelist are of the true remnant, which according to Scripture is the remnant of Israel.
REVELATION CHAPTER FOURTEEN