The Time of Jacob’s Trouble
Arlen L. Chitwood
Jerusalem and Babylon, Old & New Testament
To see “Babylon” used as a metaphor for Jerusalem in the book of Revelation, one could only expect to find a prior Jerusalem-Babylon association in the Old Testament, for there is nothing in the New Testament that does not have its roots somewhere in the Old Testament. The New is simply an opening up and unveiling of that which was previously brought into existence and dealt with in the Old.
A relationship of this nature between the two Testaments can be seen in the opening verse of the last book of Scripture, the book of Revelation, stating at the outset the nature of the book’s contents:
The Revelation [Greek: Apokalupsis (‘a revealing’ in the sense of ‘an uncovering,’ ‘an unveiling,’ ‘a laying bare’)] of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him, to show to His servants — things which must shortly take place. And he sent and signified it [‘communicated it,’ ‘made it known’] by His angel to His servant John. (1:1)
The entirety of the Old Testament is about the person and work of Jesus Christ (Luke 24:25-27; John 5:39-47). And the New Testament, continuing from the Old — with “the Word” (the Old Testament Scriptures) becoming “flesh” (John 1:1, 2, 14) — must be viewed in exactly the same light. The New is an opening up and unveiling of the Old; and the book of Revelation, forming the capstone to all previous revelation (both the Old and New Testaments), completes the unveiling. The book of Revelation, by its own introductory statement — an introductory statement peculiar to this book alone — forms the one book in Scripture that brings all previous revelation to its proper climax.
Thus, not only should a Jerusalem-Babylon association be found in the Old Testament, one which would allow “Babylon” to be used as a metaphor for Jerusalem, but an association of this nature should also exist as it pertains to the numerous other things dealt with throughout Revelation chapters seventeen through the first part of nineteen as well (e.g., the beast in chapter 17, and the trade and commerce in chapter 18). And this is exactly what one finds when going back to the Old Testament, comparing Scripture with Scripture.
Again, there is nothing in the book of Revelation that does not have its roots in the Old Testament Scriptures.
Note that “Babylon” in Revelation chapter seventeen is referred to as not just “Babylon,” but as “a mystery, [which is] Babylon . . . .” (v. 5, NASB), and the word “mystery” is used again in verse seven of both “the woman” and “the beast.”
A mystery in the New Testament does not have to do with something completely new, something not dealt with at all or unknown in the Old Testament. Rather, a mystery in the New Testament has to do with an opening up and an unveiling of something previously introduced and dealt with in the Old Testament. A mystery has to do with additional revelation, commentary, on that which is already seen in the Old Testament, allowing the Old Testament revelation to be fully opened up and revealed (ref. Chapter 1 in this book, pp. 15, 16).
And the preceding is exactly what is in view by referring to “the woman” and “the beast” with the use of the word mystery. This alone would tell a person that foundational material for both can, and must, be found in the Old Testament.
Dealing with Babylon, Jerusalem, and the beast in the book of Revelation, one would naturally turn to the book of Daniel. Though Babylon, Jerusalem, and the beast are first mentioned early in Genesis (3:15; 10:10; 14:18), Daniel is the book that deals with the entire matter in relation to the beginning, progression, and end of the Times of the Gentiles. The kingdom of Babylon is brought into full view in this book, Daniel deals with Israel and the nations in relation to this Babylonian kingdom, and Daniel places a particular emphasis on details pertaining to the latter days — details having to do with Babylon’s end-time ruler, the beast, exactly as seen in the book of Revelation (though this man had previously been introduced in different ways and places in the Old Testament, beginning in Genesis, then quite extensively in Exodus).
The complete period of the Times of the Gentiles is depicted by and through two main means in the book of Daniel — by and through a four-part great image in chapter two (revealed by and through a dream) and by and through four great beasts in chapter seven (revealed by and through a vision). That which is depicted by the great image in chapter two is Babylonian in its entirety (from the head of gold to the feet part of iron and part of clay), as is that depicted by the four great beasts in chapter seven (from the lion to the dreadful, terrible, and exceedingly strong beast). The great image and great beasts present exactly the same picture, though from two different perspectives.
That which is seen by and through the great image and the great beasts centers on and sets forth Gentile world rule during the Times of the Gentiles, from its beginning to its end, as this period relates to Babylon. The Times of the Gentiles began in Babylon, and this period of time will end in Babylon.
God used the first king of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar [the first king during time covered by the great image, or the great beasts]) to complete the removal of the Jewish people from their land — because of their prior, continued disobedience, extending over centuries of time — resulting in an end to the Old Testament theocracy.
And God will use the last king of Babylon (Antichrist) to complete the reason for the removal of His people under the first king of Babylon — to effect repentance, resulting in a reestablishment of the theocracy at a future time.
The former theocracy was established under the old covenant, and the latter theocracy will be established under a new covenant (cf. Exodus 19:5, 6; Jeremiah 31:31-33).
The Visions of Zechariah
With these things in mind, note the eight visions in the first six chapters of Zechariah, for these visions deal with exactly the same thing seen in both the books of Daniel and Revelation, though from a different perspective yet. These are visions revealed to and recorded by Zechariah following the return of a remnant from the Babylonian captivity. And it is within these visions that possibly the best Old Testament basis for an association of “Jerusalem” with Babylon, as is seen in the book of Revelation, can be found.
1) Understanding the Visions
These eight visions are introduced by the Lord’s statement surrounding Israel’s past disobedience, the result of this disobedience, the call for repentance, and that which will result following Israel’s repentance (1:1-6). Disobedience resulted in the Times of the Gentiles, and repentance would ultimately be effected by and through Gentile persecution during this period.
Then, the visions begin immediately following this, with verse seven, and continue uninterrupted until part way through chapter six of the book.
These visions have to be understood in the light of the manner in which they are introduced. They have to be understood in the light of Israel’s past disobedience, which has resulted in the Times of the Gentiles; and they have to be understood in the light of the reason for the Times of the Gentiles — Israel not only reaping the consequences of her actions, but ultimately bringing the nation to the place of repentance — and that which will occur once God’s purpose for this period is realized. The visions, understood contextually, must be looked upon as having to do with Israel and the nations during and at the end of the Times of the Gentiles.
(Note that one of the laws of the harvest has to do with the fact that a person not only reaps what he sows but he always reaps more than he sows. Israel has “sown the wind” [violating God’s covenant through centuries of harlotry], and they will, resultantly, “reap the whirlwind” [Hosea 8:7 [KJV]; cf. vv. 1, 8-14].
Thus, with Israel occupying center-stage, this law of the harvest would reflect upon the reason for the intensity of the judgments and related activity seen during the Tribulation [cf. Matthew 24:14].)
Though God drove His people out among the nations, to effect repentance, the principles set forth in Genesis 12:3 remain. God will not only use Gentile persecution to bring about repentance but He will also subsequently judge the Gentiles because of this persecution.
Summarily, these visions bridge the centuries of time between the first and last kings of Babylon. They have to do with different facets of Israeli persecution at the hands of the Gentiles, with the principles set forth in Genesis 12:3 ultimately being worked out and realized. They have to do with Israel ultimately being brought to the place of repentance, the Times of the Gentiles being brought to an end, and Gentile persecution of Israel being fully dealt with.
Only then will Israel occupy her proper place at the head of the nations in a restored theocracy, with the nations being blessed through Israel.
That, in short, is how the eight visions in Zechariah must be understood. Each presents a different facet of the matter, and all of the visions together form a composite picture of that which God revealed concerning Israel and the nations through Zechariah.
Then, immediately after the last vision (6:1-8, dealing with the destruction of Gentile world power), Zechariah calls attention to the crowning of Joshua, the high priest, with reference then made to “the Man whose name is the BRANCH,” which is followed by a reference to the building of the Temple (6:11-13).
The name “Joshua” (Hebrew: Jehoshua) is an Anglicized form of the Hebrew name for “Jesus” (Greek: Iesous). The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Tesstament) uses Iesous in Zechariah 6:11, and this is the reason that the KJV translators erroneously translated Iesous as “Jesus” instead of “Joshua” in Acts 7:45 and Hebrew 4:8. They are the same name, whether Jehoshua in Hebrew or Iesous in Greek. And the name, “the BRANCH,” in Zechariah 6:12 is a Messianic title applied to Christ elsewhere in the Old Testament (Isaiah 4:2; 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Zechariah 3:8).
Thus, note that which is in view immediately following the visions in Zechariah, immediately following the Times of the Gentiles, when Israel occupies her proper place at the head of the nations, in a restored theocracy. Events surrounding the crowning of Joshua (at the termination of the visions), the high priest during Zechariah’s day, foreshadow future events surrounding the crowning of Jesus (at the termination of that which is set forth in the visions), who will then be the great King-Priest. And the building of the Temple following the restoration of a remnant during Zechariah’s day foreshadows the building of the millennial Temple by Messiah Himself, in that future day following Israel’s restoration.
2) The Woman in the Ephah
Now, with all that in mind, note the seventh of the eight visions — a woman seated in the midst of an ephah (5:5-11 [KJV]) — immediately before the vision having to do with the destruction of Gentile world power (6:1-8). This vision of the woman seated in the ephah has a direct bearing upon a proper understanding and interpretation of Revelation chapter seventeen through the opening verses of chapter nineteen, paralleling, in a number of instances, that which is seen in these three chapters.
The destruction of Gentile world power then follows in both Zechariah’s visions and that which is revealed to John in the book of Revelation. And the crowning of Joshua and the reference to “the BRANCH” building the Temple foreshadow and have to do with that which follows in the book of Revelation — Christ appearing as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (chapter 19b), with certain events then occurring both preparatory to and during His millennial reign (chapter 20a).
Thus, there is a parallel between the seventh and eighth visions and that which immediately follows in Zechariah with that seen in Revelation chapter seventeen through the opening verses of chapter twenty. Both sections of Scripture deal with exactly the same thing, from two different perspectives — Israel and the nations during the Times of the Gentiles, Israel brought to the place of repentance by and through Gentile persecution, Gentile world power destroyed, and the Messianic Kingdom ushered in.
And similar parallels can be seen between a number of other things in Zechariah’s first six visions and other parts of the book of Revelation as well.
Then the angel who talked with me came out and said to me, “Lift your eyes now, and see what this is that goes forth.”
So I asked, “What is it?” And he said, “It is a basket [KJV: ephah] that is going forth.” He also said, “This is their resemblance throughout the earth:
Here is a lead disc lifted up [KJV: was lifted up a talent of lead], and this is a woman sitting inside the basket [KJV: in the midst of the ephah]”;
then he said, “This is Wickedness!” And he thrust her down into the basket [KJV: he cast it into the midst of the ephah], and threw the lead cover over its mouth.
Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were two women, coming with the wind in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket [KJV: the ephah] between earth and heaven.
So I said to the angel who talked with me, “Where are they carrying the basket [KJV: the ephah]?”
And he said to me, “To build a house for it in the land of Shinar; when it is ready, the basket will be set there on its base.” (Zechariah 5:5-11)
There are numerous metaphors throughout Zechariah’s visions, and the vision of the woman in the ephah is no different. Metaphors are used for practically everything in this vision, including “a house . . . in the land of Shinar.”
However, metaphors, as used in these visions, or elsewhere in Scripture, do not lend themselves to fanciful interpretation. Scripture uses metaphors after a consistent fashion (e.g., “a mountain” always has to do with a kingdom, “the sea” always has to do with the Gentiles or the place of death, “a fig tree” always has to do with Israel or showing a connection with Israel, etc.).
Metaphors found anyplace in Scripture are to be understood and explained contextually and/or through comparing Scripture with Scripture, in accordance with how Scripture deals with the metaphors being used.
For example, three women are in view in this vision — one in the ephah, and two who transport the ephah (with a woman inside). Since the manner in which the visions are introduced at the beginning of Zechariah has to do with Israel and the nations, ascertaining who these three women represent is quite simple, for “a woman” is sometimes used in Scripture, in a metaphorical way, to represent a nation (Isaiah 47:1-7; 62:1-5; Revelation 12:1; 17:3ff).
Remaining with the subject matter of the visions and the metaphorical use of women elsewhere in Scripture, the “woman” in the ephah can only represent Israel, with the “two women” who transport the ephah representing Gentile nations. The woman in the ephah is removed from one land and transported to another. Though the matter has its roots in history, where exactly the same thing occurred, the vision must be understood mainly relative to the end times, for the destruction of Gentile world power follows in the next and last vision.
That is to say, the same thing occurred in and through the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, bringing about the Times of the Gentiles following the Babylonian captivity; and the same thing will occur in the future, bringing a close to the Times of the Gentiles.
During the end times, the Babylonian kingdom of the man of sin will encompass all the Gentile nations; and “the land of Shinar,” used in a metaphorical sense (in keeping with all the other metaphors used in the vision), would refer, not to one tract of land in the Mesopotamian Valley but to the origin (the land of Shinar) of a Babylonian kingdom that will then exist worldwide.
Thus, since the woman is moved to “the land of Shinar,” the only place from which the woman could possibly be moved would be the land of Israel, for any other part of the earth would be within the scope of the metaphorical use of “the land of Shinar” at this future time.
As previously stated, this occurred in history when the Jews were transported to the actual land of Shinar by the first king of Babylon (the first king as seen in Daniel’s image), and this will occur in the future, once again, when the Jewish people are uprooted from their land and scattered throughout a Babylonian kingdom that will then exist worldwide (though evidently with a Middle Eastern capital). This disbursement of the Jewish people throughout the Gentile world, both past and future, is exactly what is seen in Revelation 17:1, 15 — the woman, referred to as “the great whore” both here and in numerous Old Testament passages, seated in the midst of the nations, scattered throughout Antichrist’s kingdom.
The woman in the ephah is described by the word “Wickedness [or, ‘unrighteousness’]” (Zachariah 5:8), which would be in perfect keeping with her harlotry as she courts other lovers among the nations, particularly as she continues to court the Gentile nations in the final form of the kingdom of Babylon.
The “ephah” was the largest measure for dry goods used by the Jews, though of Egyptian origin. And the “ephah,” when used in a symbolic sense, would invariably be thought of as referring to trade or commerce. This was simply the manner in which the “ephah” was used, allowing it to be a natural emblem for merchandising.
The woman seated in the midst of the ephah, in this respect, would point to one characteristic of the Jewish people after being removed from their land — transformed from a nation primarily involved in agriculture to a nation primarily involved in merchandising. Note that merchandising is a main realm in which the woman is seen involved throughout a large section of Revelation chapter eighteen (vv. 3, 9-23).
The vision of the woman seated in the midst of the ephah though could refer to something else as well. As previously pointed out, the “ephah” was the largest of the measures used by the Jews for dry goods, though of Egyptian origin. “Egypt” is used in Scripture to typify or symbolize the world outside the land of Israel, the Gentile nations. And, in this respect, the woman seated in the midst of the ephah could very well also call attention to the full measure of Israel’s sin of harlotry, as she finds herself seated in the midst of the Gentile nations (seated in the largest of measures, one of Gentile origin) in the kingdom of Antichrist.
The woman in the vision sought to escape from the ephah (ref. v. 8, NASB, NIV), probably realizing the fate about to befall her should she remain in the ephah. But she was prevented from escaping, and she was cast back into the ephah and kept inside by a lead covering placed over the top, weighing a talent. The woman was to realize her own inevitable fate, in the midst of the ephah in the land of Shinar, i.e., in the midst of commercialism, among the nations, in the kingdom of Antichrist. This is where the harlot is to be destroyed, as seen in Revelation chapters seventeen through the first part of nineteen.
A talent of lead placed over the opening of the ephah kept the woman inside. A “talent” was the largest weight used among the Jewish people, and “lead” was one of the heaviest of metals. Such a covering showed that there was no escape from that which must occur, for her sins had “reached unto heaven,” and God had “remembered her iniquities” (Revelation 18:5).
The heaviest of weights (a talent of lead) was placed over the opening of the largest of measures (the ephah) to keep the woman (Israel) inside the ephah (Zachariah 5:7), for a purpose — to be transported from her land to a place among the nations.
Two women (which could only represent other nations, Gentile nations), with stork-like wings (the stork, an unclean bird [Leviticus 11:13, 19; Deuteronomy 14:12, 18]), lifted the ephah up from the land of Israel and transported it out among the nations (to that foreshadowed by the land of Shinar in that coming day). And there, among her Gentile lovers, the woman, Israel, was to be established and dealt with by God in relation to the magnitude of her sin, with a view to repentance.
(The vision of the ephah could only span the centuries of time covering the entire Times of the Gentiles [some twenty-six centuries] as seen in Daniel’s great image or the four great beasts, though with a particular emphasis upon the latter days.
With Israel and the magnitude of her sin over centuries of time in view, note again the laws of the harvest relative to sowing and reaping.
Note, according to Zechariah’s vision of the woman in the ephah, that which must ultimately occur relative to the remnant of Jews presently in the land of Israel — approximately 6,000,000 today. It is exactly the same thing seen in the book of Jonah and elsewhere in Scripture. The Jews presently in the land must be cast from the ship into the sea [a place typifying “death” and “the Gentiles”].
They must be removed from their land and driven back out among the Gentile nations once again. And among the nations [in the sea] the Jewish people will be viewed as dead [as Lazarus in the seventh sign in John’s gospel, chapter eleven], awaiting God’s breath to bring about life [Ezekiel 37:1-14]. Then, and only then [after life has been restored], can they be removed from the sea, from the nations.
God drove His people out among the nations to deal with them there relative to repentance, and that is exactly where He will deal with them at the end of Man’s Day. If for no other reason than this, the Jewish people presently in the land must be uprooted and driven back out among the nations. That is not only the place where God has decreed that He will deal with them but that is also the place from whence God will re-gather them when He brings them back into the land, following repentance, belief, and the restoration of life [ref. Appendix 3 in this book].)
The Jewish people were carried away into Babylon by the first king of Babylon, which marked the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles. This was also the beginning of the Jewish association with Babylon. And most of the Jews carried away never left Babylon at the end of the seventy years to return to their land (Jeremiah 25:11, 12; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:20, 21; Daniel 9:1, 2). They had found a home in Babylon. In this respect, as long as Babylon remained in existence, the association of the Jewish people with Babylon could only have continued.
In the latter days, when the final form of Daniel’s image appears — the final form of the kingdom of Babylon — Israel will be left without a choice other than to see the nation’s harlotry brought into full bloom within the kingdom of Antichrist. The things seen in the vision of the ephah will be brought to pass during the days of the last king of Babylon, with Israel enmeshed in the final form of this Babylonian kingdom to the extent that the nation is spoken of in synonymous terms with Babylon in Revelation chapter seventeen through the opening verses of chapter nineteen.
These are the things forming the Old Testament connection that allows “Babylon” to be used as a metaphor for Jerusalem in the book of Revelation — a reference used more directly for the people of the city, the Jewish people (the people of Jerusalem are, at times, referred to by the name of their city [cf. Psalm 122:6; Jeremiah 44:13; Lamentations 1:7, 8, 17; Matthew 23:37; Revelation 21:9, 10; also ref. Chapter 2 in this book, pp. 21, 22]).
“If the woman in the ephah is to enjoy the wealth and luxury which are hers, she must court the favor of the kings of the earth, commit spiritual fornication with them, and intoxicate them with ‘the wine of her fornication’ (Revelation 17:2); for only by her worldly compromising position astride the scarlet-colored beast can she as a base harlot be ‘arrayed in purple, and scarlet color, and be ornamented with gold and precious stones and pearls’ (Revelation 17:4).
Moreover, the woman not only makes her illicit lovers drunk ‘with the wine of her fornication,’ but even more horribly she herself is ‘drunk with the blood of the saints [of the Old Testament] and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus [New Testament saints]’” (Revelation 17:6).
—Merrill Unger, “ZECHARIAH, Prophet of Messiah’s Glory”
The Woman in Revelation Chapters 12, 17-19a
The “woman,” “the great harlot,” in Revelation chapter seventeen through the opening verses of chapter nineteen is seen with an identifying name written on her forehead, which is a mystery: “Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth” (17:1-5, NASB). Two things about this identifying name will let the reader know that John, as moved by the Spirit, is referencing something previously dealt with in the Old Testament Scriptures:
1) The fact that the woman is referred to as a mystery (referring to a matter previously dealt with in the Old Testament but now about to be opened up and fully revealed).
2) The fact that the woman is seen occupying this prominent place in the book of Revelation (for there is nothing in New Testament revelation that does not have its roots someplace in Old Testament revelation).
Then, not only has the woman been previously dealt with in the Old Testament, but material leading into these three chapters in the book of Revelation (chapters 17-19a) deal with and introduce the woman as well. In short, these three chapters form a climax to that which is dealt with in the Old Testament (actually, numerous places in numerous Old Testament books) and in chapters in the book of Revelation leading up to these three chapters (particularly chapters 11-16).
Note that Jerusalem is called “the great city” in Revelation 11:8, and the woman is referred to in exactly the same manner in Revelation 17:18. Again, note that the people of Jerusalem are, at times, referred to by the name of their city, which is exactly what is in view in the latter reference; and knowing this is a major key to properly understanding Revelation chapter seventeen through the opening verses of chapter nineteen.
Then, “a woman” is introduced in Revelation 12:1, who can only be seen, as in Zechariah, as a metaphorical way of referring to Israel. This identity can be ascertained through two means:
1) Her dress.
2) That which is stated about her.
She is described as “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland [KJV: crown] of twelve stars,” which is an allusion to the second of Joseph’s two dreams in Genesis 37:5-10. Joseph’s dreams had to do with regality (vv. 7-10), which is exactly what is seen in Revelation 12:1, introducing the woman in chapter seventeen through the opening verses of chapter nineteen, where regality is again seen.
There are two words used for “crown” in the Greek New Testament — stephanos and diadema — and both words are used in the opening three verses of Revelation chapter twelve. Stephanos is used of the crown upon the head of the woman (v. 1), and diadema (plural, diademata) is used of the crowns upon the seven heads of the serpent (v. 3). Both words are used in a regal sense, but only the latter (diadema) is used of one actually seated on the throne and reigning.
That is, a stephanos upon the head of the woman shows that she is not seated upon the throne and reigning at this time, though she is about to occupy that position; and “diadems” upon the seven heads of the dragon (identified as Satan [v. 9]) depict the kingdom of Antichrist, under Satan, as it will exist during the Tribulation. The fact that the Greek word diadema is used of all seven heads shows that, at this time, the seventh head (Antichrist) will be reigning (cf. Revelation 13:1ff; 17:7-13), which, textually, points to a time shortly before the middle of the Tribulation.
Those in the kingdom of Antichrist, under Satan, are seen presently reigning at the time of the events in Revelation 12:1ff, and the woman (depicting Israel) is seen as one about to reign.
Then, note how the introduction of “the great city [Jerusalem]” in Revelation 11:8 and the introduction of the woman in Revelation 12:1 (wearing a crown, but not yet reigning) form part of the commentary (ref. Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:5) to introduce the woman in Revelation 17:18 — a woman already dealt with extensively throughout most of the Old Testament:
And the woman whom you saw is that great city [11:8, referring in 17:18 to the people of the city], which reigns over the kings of the earth [lit., ‘the one having kingly authority over the kings of the earth’].
And both of the preceding verses (12:1; 17:18), referring to the same woman, using a metaphor for a nation, could be referencing only one nation — Israel. Israel alone, of all the nations, is the one nation which God recognizes as His firstborn son (Exodus 4:22, 23), the only nation in possession of the rights of primogeniture and, thus, the only nation in a position to hold the scepter (cf. Romans 9:4).
Then another means seen in Revelation chapter twelve which identifies the woman with Israel is that which happens to her immediately following the birth of the man-child, occurring near the middle of the Tribulation. Shortly afterwards, in the middle of the Tribulation, the woman flees into a specially prepared place in the wilderness (vv. 6, 13-16), exactly as revealed elsewhere of the Jews in the land at this time in Matthew 24:15-22.
A remnant will escape to a specially prepared place and there be protected by God. The remainder will either be slain or driven back out among the nations. And Jerusalem will then be trodden down of the Gentiles for the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation, completing the Times of the Gentiles (cf. Zechariah 14:2; Luke 21:20-24; Revelation 11:2).
After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory.
And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!
For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” . . .
The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning,
standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, “Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.”
And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore:
merchandise of gold and silver, precious stones and pearls, fine linen and purple . . . . (Revelation 18:1-3, 9-12a).
Trade and commerce are brought into full view in Revelation chapter eighteen, in the kingdom of the beast. And two things stand out in this respect:
1) The woman (Israel) is seen heavily involved, worldwide.
2) The Gentile nations, along with and at the expense of Israel, are seen becoming rich through this Jewish involvement.
And this is something that must be looked upon as having a prior Old Testament connection as well. That is, the matter must first be seen in the Old Testament, with the book of Revelation in the New Testament simply drawing from the Old Testament and unveiling the end of the matter.
There are at least two main places where this can be clearly seen in the Old Testament. One is in Jeremiah, and the other is in Ezekiel.
1) Jeremiah 25:10, 11
Note that which is stated about Israel and the land of Israel in this passage in Jeremiah:
Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones and the light of the lamp.
And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
Then note that which is stated about the woman in Revelation 18:22, 23:
The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters shall not be heard in you anymore. No craftsman of any craft shall be found in you anymore, and the sound of a millstone shall not be heard in you anymore.
The light of a lamp shall not shine in you anymore, and the voice of bridegroom and bride shall not be heard in you anymore. For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived.
Exactly the same thing is stated about Israel in both Jeremiah 25:10 and Revelation 18:22, 23.
In the book of Jeremiah, the statement has to do with the Jewish people in relation to the land of Israel at the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles. Israel had been removed from her own land and transported into the land of Shinar, from a theocracy into the world kingdom of Babylon. And in the land of Babylon the Jewish people could no longer experience the things enumerated in Jeremiah 25:10 in their own land.
Then, in the book of Revelation, all of that seen in Jeremiah is turned around at the end of the Times of the Gentiles, over 2,600 years later. In this book the same statement has to do with the Jewish people in relation to the Gentile lands where Israel had been dispersed throughout the Times of the Gentiles. And the picture in the book of Revelation, reversing the matter, has to do with the Jewish people about to be removed from these Gentile lands and transported back to their own land, with the theocracy restored to Israel.
Once restored to the land, Israel would no longer experience the things stated in both Jeremiah 25:10 and Revelation 18:22, 23 in Gentile lands, for God will have removed the nation from these lands. Then, at that time, God will restore these things to her, in her own land, in connection with the restoration of the theocracy.
2) Ezekiel Chapters 25-28
Ezekiel chapters twenty-five through twenty-eight, as in Jeremiah 25:10, 11, has its setting in the Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people. And this section in Ezekiel has to do with Tyre, a Phoenician city on the eastern Mediterranean Sea, which was a center for trade and commerce.
It was because of Nebuchadnezzar’s previous actions toward Israel (transporting the remaining southern two tribes [Judah and Benjamin] into captivity) that the king of Tyre could realize profit. With Israel in captivity, removed from her own land, the King of Tyre, among other things, could now move freely through Israel’s land, utilizing trade routes.
The king of Tyre would have cause to rejoice over that which had befallen Israel, for all of the matter was to his benefit. And this is the picture seen in Ezekiel 25:3; 26:2. In each reference, the king of Tyre is seen looking at that which had befallen Israel and her land and saying “Aha,” rejoicing in this manner because of that which he would now be able to do. And God is seen pronouncing judgment upon the king of Tyre because of his attitude and resulting actions toward Israel (26:3, 17-21; 27:32-36).
Then, following the matter on through into chapter twenty-eight, the king of Tyre is dealt with in a different way yet, though in perfect keeping with that which is previously stated about him. In Ezekiel 28:12-19, Scripture moves from dealing with the king of Tyre to dealing with Satan. God uses the attitude and actions of one (the king of Tyre) to depict and move into revelation surrounding the attitude and actions of the other (Satan). The former, in this respect, is seen as part and parcel with the latter, with respect to the attitude of both toward Israel.
Satan is identified (vv. 12b-16a), and his judgment is pronounced (vv. 16b-19). In a respect, God’s dealings with Satan at this point in the book follow an identical pattern to the manner in which He had previously dealt with the king of Tyre.
And the latter is a reference to moving things to the end of the Times of the Gentiles, when there will no longer be an “Aha” from a Gentile ruler relative to that which had befallen Israel. Rather, at that time, the “Aha” will be replaced with an “Alas, alas” (Revelation 18:10, 19) because of that which God will be in the process of doing — reversing the whole of the matter relative to Israel and the Gentile nations.
The end-time world ruler, who, in the light of Ezekiel 28:12-19, might be thought of as the last king of Tyre, will be an individual spoken of in somewhat synonymous terms with those which God had previously used relating to the king of Tyre in Ezekiel’s prophecy, at the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles. This is the man identified in a synonymous sense with Satan (as was the king of Tyre in Ezekiel), to whom Satan will give “his power, his throne, and great authority” (Revelation 12:3; 13:2b). And it will be at the termination of this man’s rule that the judgments seen in Ezekiel 28:16b-19 will be carried out.
After this occurs, the Jews will no longer sit in the centers of commerce and wealth in major cities in Gentile lands, with the Gentiles becoming rich at their expense. Rather, in that coming day, all of the matter will be reversed. The Jews will be restored to their own land, within a restored theocracy, and the previously accrued wealth of the Gentiles, among other things, will belong to Israel.
Note how this is worded in Isaiah 60:5b, 11-15:
. . . because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you . . .
Therefore your gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day or night, that men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, and their kings in procession.
For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish, and those nations shall be utterly ruined.
The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the pine, and the box tree together, to beautify the place of My sanctuary; and I will make the place of My feet glorious.
Also the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you, and all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you The City of the LORD, Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, so that no one went through you, I will make you an eternal excellence, a joy of many generations.
According to Scripture, these are the things about to come to pass on this earth as they relate to Israel and the Gentile nations.
God is about to complete His purpose for the Times of the Gentiles. Israel is about to pass through her greatest time of suffering at the hands of the Gentiles. And, through this means, God will not only use the greatest Gentile power the world will have ever known to bring Israel to the place of repentance, but God will then destroy this Gentile power, bringing the Times of the Gentiles to an end.
The harlot will be burned with “fire,” and “the smoke of her burning” will ascend up “forever and ever” (Revelation 17:16; 18:8, 9, 18; 19:1-3). This is a figurative and metaphorical way of dealing with not only the end of Israel’s harlotry but also with the fact that conditions created by this termination will last forever — i.e., throughout not only the Millennium but all the ages that are to follow.
Then, following the end of Israel’s harlotry, throughout the ensuing Millennium and all of the following ages, a different type smoke as it pertains to Israel will ascend into the heavens — a smoke that will be well-pleasing to God. This is seen in the typology of Genesis 25:1ff, where Abraham remarries, following that foreshadowed by the events of previous chapters:
Chapter 22: Abraham offering his son foreshadows the Father offering His Son 2,000 years later.
Chapter 23: The death of Sarah foreshadows the setting aside of Israel following the Father offering His Son.
Chapter 24: Following events seen in the preceding two chapters, Abraham’s servant searching for and procuring a bride for his master’s son in another land foreshadows the Spirit in the world today searching for and procuring a bride for God’s Son.
Chapter 25: Then, after the servant had procured and removed the bride, Abraham remarried. He married Keturah, who, unlike Sarah, was not barren but was very fruitful.
Chapter twenty-five foreshadows that which will occur following the end of the present work of the Spirit. After the Spirit has procured and removed the bride, God will restore Israel. There will be a marriage “in Cana of Galilee,” on the seventh day (the seventh 1,000-year period, the Messianic Era), as seen in the first sign in the gospel of John (cf. 1:29, 35, 43; 2:1ff).
The name “Keturah” in Genesis 25:1 means incense. It is a proper name formed from a word that means incense and is a form of the word used numerous times in the Old Testament for incense (e.g., Exodus 30:1, 7-9; Leviticus 16:12, 13; Ezekiel 8:11). After Israel has been restored, the smoke associated with the destruction of the harlot will be replaced by an entirely different type smoke, foreshadowed by Abraham’s remarriage in Genesis 25:1. In that day Israel will be as “sweet incense” to the Lord (cf. Revelation 8:4), ascending up “forever and ever.”
At that time, a restored nation in a restored land will be placed at the head of the Gentile nations, in a restored theocracy. And the nations of the earth will, in that day, be blessed through Israel.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you. (Psalm 122:6)