Another Strong Angel
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 Rev. 5:2; 10:1; 18:21.)
According to my own personal revelation, the “strong angel” in Rev. 18:21 is named according to his job description. His name is Judging the Lawless. He is the one responsible for shaking the heavens and the earth (Heb. 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 (Jer. 51:60-63). Seraiah was acting out the part of the strong angel in Rev. 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 (Rev. 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 Rev. 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 (Matt. 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 (Rev. 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, that is, 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 they are advertised often with long lists of harmful side effects.
God never created our bodies or minds with a need for drugs. We are made of the dust of the ground (Gen. 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 Rev. 18:21 is preparing to shake the earth, and by the time he finishes his work, the pharmaceutical industry will not remain standing. Its 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.
Rev. 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 (Gen. 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 (Rev. 11:8). It is also Tyre and Assyria. Ultimately, it goes back to the rule of the flesh, rather than being ruled by the Spirit.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The earth was created to bear witness to heaven and to reflect heavenly glory. However, men of earth usurped power instead of remaining under God in a position of godly authority. When the earth’s rulers 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” (Matt. 23:28). He then says in Matt. 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 a father sins, liability for his debt is binding upon his children by the law of authority. We see this in Matt. 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” (Jer. 19:2), which was known later by its Greek name, Gehenna. The sentence was pronounced there in Jer. 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. By identifying themselves as the children of those who were liable, they witnessed against themselves in the divine court.
Jesus continues in Matt. 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 Gen. 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.
The Vineyard Parable
Jesus’ parable about the vineyard (Matt. 21:33-40) revealed the fact that the religious leaders in Jerusalem were the caretakers of the Kingdom who killed the prophets and the Son in order to usurp for themselves the benefits of the Kingdom. Jesus then asked them to judge the situation, and they said, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons” (Matt. 21:41).
Their verdict was correct, of course, but they did not realize that Jesus was asking them to judge themselves. We then read the final conclusion in Matt. 21:42-44,
42 Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone; this came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it. 44 And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.”
The two biblical references on which Jesus’ judgment are based come from Psalm 118:22, 23 and Dan. 2:35. Jesus was the rejected corner stone, and so the parable has the caretakers killing the Son in order to usurp the Kingdom for themselves. But Jesus is also the stone that will fall on the feet of the image representing the four empires, grinding them to “chaff” or “powder,” after which the stone replaces those world kingdoms with the Kingdom of God.
Why would Jesus bring up this prophecy from Daniel? We can say with confidence that this was part of the verdict upon the religious leaders of Jerusalem—not only them, but their descendants as well. The iron kingdom, after all, was still at its height of power in Jesus’ time, and the little horn had not yet manifested itself. The grindstone was yet afar off. So obviously, when Jesus said, “I say to YOU,” he was not referring only to the religious leaders of His own generation, but to their successors who were yet to be born.
But what relevance would this have to the leaders of Jerusalem? Were they part of Nebuchadnezzar’s image that was to be ground to powder at the end of the age?
Essentially, Jesus was warning their descendants that if they should take power over Babylon at the time the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, that stone would grind them to powder. In other words, if the Rothschilds or other Jewish leaders were to take control of Babylon through banking and the power of money, they would take upon themselves the liability for the entire image that was slated for destruction at the end of the age.
This is, of course, precisely what occurred. The final beast in Rev. 13:11-18 was indeed financed and controlled by Jewish bankers (and their allies). They worked hard to accomplish this goal in order to create wealth for themselves, to better the lives of their fellow Jews, and ultimately to establish a Jewish state in 1948. In other words, they did not heed Jesus’ warning, nor did they submit to the divine decree that they should be replaced by “a nation producing the fruit of it.” They disagreed with Jesus and continued to think of themselves as the chosen keepers of the vineyard, even though they had judged themselves and Jesus merely agreed with their own verdict!
The reason God rejected them as the ones chosen to oversee the Kingdom is due to their murdering the prophets and finally the Son of God Himself. That, in fact, is the whole point of the parable of the vineyard. They killed the servants and finally the Son, not because they failed to recognize who they were, but because they knew precisely who they were. Hence, Matt. 21:38 says about their treatment of the Son,
38 But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance.”
When men commit crimes, they seldom—if ever—believe that they will be caught or that they will have to pay for their crimes. In that sense, they are blind to what they do. But insofar as their immediate actions are concerned, they usually know what they are doing and that it is wrong. Yet they justify their actions in some way, or they calculate that they will likely not be caught or held liable.
The Jewish leaders could not help but know that He was the promised Messiah, for His miracles alone proved this. Yet because He had no intention of using miracles to overthrow Rome, and because He disregarded many of their traditional interpretations of the law, they knew that they would lose their own leadership positions if He were to be accepted as the Messiah. Hence, their motives were based on self-interest, disguised by the idea that Jesus’ policies would be bad for the nation.
Jesus’ parable of the vineyard gives the lawful basis for God’s rejection of the Jews as caretakers of the Kingdom. After Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D., the Jewish dispersion shattered their hopes that were based upon their belief that they were chosen. In the 19th century the rise of the Rothschilds renewed their messianic hopes about ruling the world, though they had not repented for the causes of divine rejection.
Their tactic, as led by the Rothschilds, was to take over Babylon and to establish Jerusalem as the world capital. While they were successful in doing this, all they really did was to become the feet of the image in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, which were composed of iron and clay. The result is that when the stone hits the feet of this image, Jerusalem will be destroyed, and the Jewish people will again find themselves betrayed after putting their trust in their religious leaders.
So the destruction of Babylon in Rev. 18:21 will coincide in some way with the utter destruction of Jerusalem in Jer. 19:11. The two cities are legally inseparable, for both cities are liable for the same crime—shedding the blood of the prophets, saints, and “all who have been slain on the earth.”
One final note: The “nation” that is given temporary charge of the vineyard was the church that has ruled as “Saul” during the Age of Pentecost. But in the end it is the overcomers (the “David” company) that will be given the Kingdom. These are the “saints of the Most High” that are given the Kingdom in Dan. 7:22, 27. These are the “saints” mentioned in Rev. 18:20 and 24.
Their genealogy does not make them saints; it is their faith in Jesus Christ, the New Covenant, and the divine plan as a whole which sets them apart from humanity and makes them fit to rule the Kingdom.
This ends our study of Revelation 18, which justifies God’s judgment upon Babylon (and Jerusalem). Here the legal case against Babylon is set forth, so that we will understand that God’s judgments are true and righteous altogether.