Summary: REFUTES THE IDEA OF A REVISED ROMAN EMPIRE.
THE WARP AND THE WOOF
OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION
One of the primary themes of the Book of Revelation is that God will judge those peoples who persecute His saints (6:10). The pattern of this theme in the Book of Revelation has a warp and a woof. The warp threads describe how God in a series of three judgments associated with the Battle of Armageddon (16:1-21; 19:6-21) will judge many nations existing at that time who have persecuted the saints of God. The woof threads describe God’s judgment upon Rome, the prime persecutor of the saints in the time of John the Apostle (17:1-18:24). The warp threads always appear in the sequences. The woof threads always appear in the interludes which are woven into certain specific places in the sequences; namely, between the sixth and seventh part of a particular series, or between the seventh part of one series and the first of the next.
Scholars have confused these threads, having misunderstood the statement that at the battle of Armageddon, “Babylon the great was remembered before God” (16:19). Scholars have concluded that “Babylon” will fall at the battle of Armageddon and that whatever “Babylon” represents will be in existence in some form at the Second Coming of Christ. Such is a confusion of the warp and the woof.
It is clear from a careful study of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of the Revelation that the Battle of Armageddon and the fall of Babylon (Rome) are distinct entities, and that the fall of Babylon does not take place at the Battle of Armageddon, but rather comes to remembrance out of the historical past when the Battle of Armageddon takes place. When, at the outset of the Battle of Armageddon, the great city (Jerusalem) is divided by a great earth-quake and the cities of the nations fall, in heaven, before God, a previous judgment of God, namely the fall of Babylon (Rome), which occurred years before during the course of human history, is remembered (16:19)
Let us carefully examine the characteristics of each of these two battles and we shall see the distinct differences between them.
1. The battle of Armageddon takes place after the Second Coming of Christ (11:15) and before the Millennium (20:1-6).
2. The battle of Armageddon is preceded by and accompanied by many supernatural cataclysmic events initiated by the action of angels (16:1-4, 8-10, 12-21).
3. After the battle of Armageddon the beast and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire (19:20).
4. The battle of Armageddon takes place in Palestine and involves primarily Armageddon (16:12,16) and the great city (Jerusalem) (16:19)
5. The victor in the battle of Armageddon is Jesus Christ (19:11-21).
6. After the battle no nations are left to stand as it were on the sidelines to mourn (19:21) for one another. After the signs which precede the Second Coming of Christ the concern of the nations is only for escape from the wrath of God (6:12-17).
7. As far as John is concerned the stage setting for the battle of Armageddon is the whole earth (16:11) from which the saints have been raptured (11:12).
The characteristics of the fall of Rome are so different that one wonders how these two events were ever confused.
1. The fall of Rome takes place in the midst of human history before the Second Coming of Christ (17:12-18). It concerns that kingdom, Rome, which was reigning over the other nations when John was living (Rev. 17:9-18; Daniel 2:40).
2. The fall of Rome takes place in accordance with the normal happenings of external war and internal deterioration (17:16; 18:8). The beast is involved as a force (probably unseen) in these happenings (17:16), but these happenings are not cataclysmic. In the two chapters describing the fall of Rome angels do not initiate any action leading to cataclysmic events but rather act as they do throughout the course of human history, as messengers (17:1,3,7; 18:12,21,24).
3. After the fall of Rome the beast (and the false prophet) will exercise powers through the ten kings represented by the ten horns (17:12,16). These represent the whole number of the descendants of the Roman Empire who will never again be united in the strength which Rome had (Daniel 2:40-43), even though they are energized by one whose supernatural powers are greater than the power of all earthly kingdoms (Rev. 13:1-8).
4. The fall of Rome takes place in the Roman Empire (17:9-18).
5. The victors are other godless nations (17:11-18).
6. After the fall of Rome history continues. Other nations will rise and fall (17:11-16). The primary concerns of other godless nations will be political and economical (18:9-24). They will not see the event as a supernatural cataclysmic event ushering in the great day of the wrath of God (6:17). Indeed it will not be such. Only the godly will understand why Rome falls (18:1-8).