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The Revelation - Book 7

A study of Revelation 17-19. This is book 7 of an 8 part book series.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Chapter 9

The Angel of Faith’s Righteousness

We come now to Revelation 18, which correlates with the 18th Hebrew letter tsaddik, a fish hook, which represents something inescapable, a desire, something that pulls or tugs. It is seen most obviously in the name Zadok, which means “righteous, just, to be in the right.” It is associated with the 18th chapter of Revelation because there we see the justice of God upon Babylon, meted out according to God’s righteous standard.

Revelation 18:1 says,

1 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory.

After these things” refers to the time when the ten-horned beast turns against the great harlot and eats her flesh. God uses the beast to bring judgment upon her. The angel in verse 1, according to personal revelation, is the Angel of Faith’s Righteousness. This kind of righteousness contrasts with the righteousness that comes by our own works, as Paul says in Rom. 4:4, 5,

4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.

Paul also says that “faith comes from hearing” (Rom. 10:17), and so the appearance of this angel implies a time when people will hear the word of Christ and thereby will be justified by faith. So in Rom. 4:13 Paul says,

13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.

It was commonly believed in Judaism that the righteous were those who were able to follow the law according to their Old Covenant vow in Exodus 19:8. To do this, of course, each of the prominent rabbis had devised their own set of practices for their students, which, if followed, took up much of the day.

The average working man found it impossible to do everything to attain “righteousness,” because only the wealthy could afford to take off that much time. So the “righteous” depended on the financial support of those who had to work hard all day. The common laborers supporting them were unable to attain such righteousness.

The righteousness of faith, however, was within reach of all men, and it removed a great burden from the working class. Unfortunately, this basic tenet of Christianity was largely lost over time, as men began to interpret grace as divine intervention to help the flesh achieve righteousness through their good works. The New Covenant then became little more than an attempt to make the Old Covenant succeed with divine help.

The Angel of Faith’s Righteousness brings the truth that resolves this problem. This is the source of light in the angel that illumines the earth with his glory. His coming is the result of the prayers and decrees inherent in the seven bowls of water that were poured out along with the bowls of wine in Revelation 16. It is how the Kingdom is built even while Babylon falls.

The Cage of Unclean and Hateful Birds

Revelation 18:2 continues,

2 And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! And she has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.”

Here the angel pictures Babylon as “a dwelling place of demons,” rather than being a dwelling for the Holy Spirit. Likewise, it is a “prison of every unclean spirit.” The Greek word phylake is translated “cage” in the KJV and “a haunt” in The Emphatic Diaglott. Here in Rev. 18:2 it seems to refer to a cage, or bird house, as if to say that Babylon has captured every “unclean and hateful bird” it could find and brought it into the city.

The demons, unclean spirits, and birds are all different ways of expressing how Babylon had been infested by every form of uncleanness that was possible. The unclean birds are listed in Lev. 13-19. They are birds of prey which eat dead animals that have not been drained of blood. They represent bloodthirsty people, as, for example, the people of Mount Seir (i.e., Edomites) in Ezekiel 35:6. Those who are bloodthirsty are those who do not know how to speak “the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15), but rather speak with hatred. Hence, Babylon is a cage for both “unclean and hateful” birds.

Leaving Babylon

By contrast, the angel came to bring the light of the word of God and the Holy Spirit to indwell the people of God. He brings the great end-time worldwide outpouring of the Spirit that many believe will come. The result will be a reversal of fortune for Babylon. Jeremiah 51:44, 45 says,

44 And I shall punish Bel in Babylon, and I shall make what he has swallowed come out of his mouth; and the nations will no longer stream to him. Even the wall of Babylon has fallen down! 45 Come forth from her midst, My people, and each of you save yourselves from the fierce anger of the Lord.

Bel, the main god of Babylon, is here pictured as a monster who swallows many nations, as the prophet said earlier in Jer. 51:34,

34 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has devoured me and crushed me; he has set me down like an empty vessel; he has swallowed me like a monster; he has filled his stomach with my delicacies; he has washed me away [i.e., washed me down with a drink].

As a beast, Babylon enjoyed a long time in which to “eat” nations, but in the end, God causes Babylon to regurgitate all the nations that it had eaten. “I shall make what he has swallowed come out of his mouth,” God says in verse 44. This is a graphic way of telling us that God will reclaim the nations that had been assimilated by Babylon.

The Angel of Faith’s Righteousness is sent to the earth in order to give the people something to go to, rather than just having them leave Babylon. It was the same when God brought Israel out of Egypt. The purpose of leaving Egypt was to go to the Promised Land. So also is it with the command to leave Babylon and to go to the New Jerusalem. The nations must leave the darkness and go toward the light that the angel brings. Later, Rev. 21:23, 24 describes the New Jerusalem,

23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it.

These are the same “nations” and “kings of the earth” which had previously been swallowed up by Babylon, and which had also lived among the unclean and hateful birds. The destruction of Babylon does not mean that these nations are destroyed, but rather that they are saved, for “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ” (Rev. 11:15).

These are the nations on which the angel shines the light of the word. Because no unclean thing can enter the New Jerusalem, and yet the nations come into the city, it is plain that the nations in the end will be clean and will walk by faith in Jesus Christ as the King of kings.

The Wine of Babylon

Revelation 18:3 says,

3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passions of her immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of her sensuality.

The harlot seduces the kings of the earth with the wine of immorality. While her wine breaks down inhibitions and moral boundaries, she promises people the right to sin, especially sexual sins. In recent history we have witnessed how the western nations stopped enforcing laws against fornication, then adultery, then homosexual relations. (It remains illegal to charge money for such sins, because that is a commercial crime until the government is able to tax it.) Now they are making ready to legalize bestiality and pedophilia. I pray that the Angel of Faith’s Righteousness arrives to turn the hearts of the people before it goes that far.

Yet we should understand that God Himself has taken credit for making the earth drunk with the wine of Babylon. God has used Babylon as a judgment upon Jerusalem for her own immorality and rebellion against the laws of God. When Jerusalem and Judah held the Dominion Mandate, they had authority over the whole earth, and when they rebelled and refused to repent, their sin affected all who were under their authority. Therefore, not only Jerusalem, but all nations were forced to drink from the cup. The list is in Jer. 25:15-26, which says in part,

15 For thus the Lord, the God of Israel, says to me, “Take this cup of the wine of wrath [passion] from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it. 16 And they shall drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them.” 17 Then I took the cup from the Lord’s hand, and made all the nations drink, to whom the Lord sent me: 18 Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, and its kings and its princes… 19 Pharaoh, king of Egypt20 and all the foreign people….

When we understand the divine law and the sovereignty of God, we may understand why the nations are drunk on Babylonian wine. We should not simply blame the ungodly nations for their bad behavior, but look beyond this to the root causes of all this immorality. If we understand the cause, then we can also find the solution.

The Laws of Tribulation in Deuteronomy 28 show that when Israel violated the covenant by rebelling against God’s moral laws, God judged Israel by sending them into captivity. Deut. 28:64 says,

64 Moreover, the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known.

God did indeed scatter Israel throughout the nations, and their idolatry was both the cause of divine judgment and a continuing part of it as well. Because they had refused to come to the light of the word, the light was to be withheld from them for a long time.

But we have now come to the end of the “seven times” of judgment, and soon the Angel of Faith’s Righteousness will arrive to cast out the darkness. The effect of the cup of wine is wearing off as the morning dawns. The long night of judgment is ending.

Let us make ourselves ready for the new day. Sharpen your fish hook (tsaddik), if you are able to hear the voice of the angel. The time has come to become fishers of men as the Spirit of God is poured out into the earth.