The Great Day of God’s Wrath and the End of the Millennium #5
Revelation 15:1, 7-8
Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.
V. 7 – Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.
After a brief hiatus to cover some other issues, I want to continue our examination of the motif of the Great Day of God’s Wrath and the End of the Millennium. As I have suggested, when we examine the book of Revelation, we find that there are not multiple Days of the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation; there is only one. And that Great Day would be at the end of the Millennium. However, that Great Day would also be at the judgment of the Harlot City, Babylon! Thus, the end of the Millennium was to be at the judgment of Babylon, which was none other than Old Covenant Jerusalem, the Great Persecutor of God’s people. This is a challenging concept in light of all three futurist views of eschatology that posit the end of the Millennium at the end of the current Christian age. For all practical purposes, the reality – the undeniable reality – that the Great Day of God’s Wrath is posited at the end of the Millennium, in vindication of the martyrs, at the judgment of Babylon / Jerusalem is a total rejection and falsification of all futurist eschatologies. Simply stated:
1. Unless it can be proven that there are multiple Great Days of the the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation, or,
2. Unless it can be proven that Babylon is some still future persecuting power, or,
3. Unless it can be proven that the Great Day of God’s Wrath to vindicate the martyrs, (in Revelation 6, 11, 16, 18-19, as we have shown) is different from the Day of the Lord’s Wrath to vindicate the martyrs at the end of the Millennium of Revelation 20 (thus, as #1 suggests, demanding that there are multiple Days of the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation), then,
If one cannot prove these points, then the end of the Millennium was, without a doubt, in the first century.
So, I suggest that it should have become apparent to the readers of this series by now is that there is but one Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation. The implications of this for two of the major futurist views of eschatology are incredible– and fatal.
Amillennialism, the view in which I was raised, posits what is known as the Historicist View, and in the Dispensational and Historic Premillennial view, it is held that the Apocalypse is sequential, chronologically sequential. That means that from front to back, the different visions are not recapitulations of each other from different perspectives, but, visions of different times and different events over the span of time until the “end of time.” (The Historicist view is what I was taught in seminary).
The problem for the sequential view is that it demands that there are no less than four, perhaps five Great Days of the Lord’s Wrath in Revelation, and, as our recent series on “The Destruction of Creation and the End of the Millennium” demonstrated, it would likewise demand that heaven and earth is destroyed at least three times! Of course, there are no proponents of either Historicism or Millennialism that teaches such a thing. But, again, you cannot say that Revelation is a panoramic, sequential vision of the flow of time until the end of the current age, without thereby demanding what we have just suggested, because there is a Great Day of the Lord in chapter 6, in chapter 11, in 12, in chapter 14, in chapter 16, in chapter 18, and in chapter 20! Likewise, we have the destruction of creation in chapter 6, in chapter 16 and in chapter 20.
Do any of the proponents of either camp teach that there are that many Days of the Lord? No. But, if there is but one, then Revelation is recapitulatory in its revealing of Christ and his triumph and the Historicist and Premillennial views of Revelation are falsified. Revelation does teach of but ONE Great Day of the Lord, as we are showing, and there is but ONE destruction of creation, but, the Apocalypse presents that one Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath in numerous ways, from different perspectives, from differing views. Let’s turn now to drive that point home in Revelation 15. I give here the entire text of Revelation 15 to set the proper context:
Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete. And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.” After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. (My emphasis)
Now, chapter 14 presented the idea of the coming Day of the Lord’s Wrath against Babylon, the persecuting City, just as chapter 12 had described the coming Day of Wrath against the Great Persecuting Serpent, just as chapter 11 had told us of the Great Day of God’s Wrath against the city that killed the prophets and saints, and just as chapter 6 foretold the Great Day of God’s Wrath about to come on those “who dwell on the earth” for persecuting the saints. This is on united story, one single narrative.
Here, in chapter 15 we are given a glimpse of the coming Wrath against the persecutor, the Beast, who forced men (in chapter 13) to bear the Mark in their foreheads, and persecuted those who refused. We should not fail to see that what is about to happen in this chapter is the answer of the prayer of the saints back in chapter 6. This is the Great Day of God’s Wrath that is about to be poured out on “those who dwell on the land” who have persecuted the saints of the Lord.
We are told that there are “seven last plagues” and in chapter 16 we are informed that those plagues are contained in the seven vials or bowls which contain the Wrath of God. That Wrath is to be poured out, the Great Day of God’s Wrath completed, in the judgment of the Great City Babylon (16:19). (This highly suggests that since the Wrath would be poured out fully against the Beast, and since it would be finished in the judgment of Babylon, that there is a direct, unbreakable association between the Beast and Babylon. Since Babylon is “where the Lord was crucified” this would seem to necessitate a “rethinking” of the identity of the Beast, would it not)?
So, Revelation 6 describes the Great Day of God’s Wrath as the time when Isaiah 2-4 would be fulfilled – as we have demonstrated. Remember that Jesus applied the very same verses from Isaiah that are cited in Revelation 6 to the coming judgment of Jerusalem (Luke 23:28f).
Likewise, Revelation 11 posits the Great Day at the judgment of the city “where the Lord was crucified” and God’s Wrath is poured out against the city that killed the prophets. Revelation 14 says that the time for the judgment of that Great Persecuting city had come, and that meant that the time of the harvest had arrived. And now, chapter 15 Wrath is to be poured out. As we will show in the following installments, that Great Day of God’s Wrath, comes as Jesus, the Word of God, comes with the armies of heaven (thus depicted as “The Lord of Hosts”) in judgment of Babylon (Revelation 19). This is the city, just as in Revelation 6 & 11 – “For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” This is the city that has now filled up the measure of the blood of the saints, as promised in Revelation 6. It is Babylon whose bloody history of killing the prophets has filled her cup full of those bloody sins (Revelation 17:6f). Thus, the constant, unbroken chain of identification of the Great Persecutor of God’s prophets is continued and points to one entity, one city, one people guilty of shedding all of the blood shed on the earth–and that was Old Covenant Jerusalem.
We cannot fail to take note of the fact that just as in chapter 11:19 John saw the Temple of God in heaven open, and witnessed there the Ark of the Testimony, here in chapter 15 he was told that no man could enter that sacred place until the Wrath of God was finished, brought to its fullness: “no one was able to enter the temple (naos – the Most Holy Place) till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.” When God’s judgment on the Great City is finished, it is then that salvation would come:
After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!” Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!” (Revelation 19:1-5)
With the judgment of Babylon, with the fulfillment of the Great Day of God’s wrath against the persecuting Great Harlot, salvation comes. Man can enter the Most Holy Place. This is the picture of Hebrews 9:6-28 where at the end of the Old Law, the end of the Temple cultus, Christ appears again, “the second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” It is likewise parallel to Luke 21, where Jesus described in detail his coming on the clouds of heaven in power and great glory (that points to Revelation 19) in the coming judgment of AD 70 and says with that destruction, “life up your eyes for your redemption draws nigh” (Luke 21:25-32).
Some try to avoid the reality that redemption is- in any way- linked with the destruction of Jerusalem. It is claimed that the “redemption” that Jesus spoke of in Luke 21:28f was not spiritual redemption, and did not have anything to do with soteriological redemption. This is even claimed by some who call themselves preterists. Ed Stevens for instance claims that the salvation of Hebrews 9:28 is not soteriological but physical salvation, deliverance from the physical horrors of the Jewish War.
This kind of dichotomization of the redemptive narrative is truly unsettling. The context of Hebrews 9: 28 is the Day of Atonement. The coming of the Lord depicted in verse 28 is the consummation of Yom Kippur, and that cannot be divorced from soteriology. Furthermore, notice that in Matthew 24:15f, Jesus had told his disciples “when you see the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet (whoso reads, let him understand), then let those in Judea flee.” The disciples fled Jerusalem and Judea before the War actually began! (If one identifies the Abomination as one of the horrific events that occurred during the siege itself, e.g. involving the slaying of the priests in the Temple, those events precluded flight, since the Romans had the city surrounded at that time). But in Hebrews 9 that promised salvation comes at the Day of the Lord, at Christ’s coming, not before the War even began! The reality is the Lord’s coming in Hebrews 9 (and Luke 21) was in fact inseparably linked to soteriological redemption. The attempt by Stevens and others to divorce redemption– soteriological redemption – from the Lord’s second appearing is a miscarriage of exegesis.
All of this brings us to this: The Great Day of God’s Wrath in Revelation 15 is not a different Day of God’s Wrath found in Revelation 6, 11, 12, or 14 – or in the ensuing chapters. It is the same Great Day of God’s Wrath against the persecuting City, Babylon, depicted as the Great Adversary, the Devil. And of course what this means is that when Revelation 20 posits the judgment and destruction of that Great Persecutor, the Devil, at the end of the Millennium, then unless one can prove definitively that Satan was to be destroyed numerous times, in different Great Days of the Lord’s Wrath in the Revelation, this means that in each of the depictions of the Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath against the persecutor in the Apocalypse we find the picture of the final victory over Satan – at the end of the Millennium. And, since that Great Day occurs in the judgment of Old Covenant Jerusalem, the city “where the Lord was crucified” that means, logically and positively, that the Millennium ended in the first century. This will be confirmed more as we proceed in our examination of the Great Day of the Lord’s Wrath. In the meantime, be sure to get a copy of my book, Who Is This Babylon? for even more information proving that the Millennium ended in the first century.