August 16, 2020 – Revelation 17 – 18

Lesson Date: August 16, 2020

Focal Scripture Passage: Revelation 17:1 – 18:24

AIM: To lead students to discover the ultimate fate of the anti-Christian world religious and economic system, and to commit to guarding themselves from false religious teachings.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Revelation 17 – 18 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Read the following statements to the class. After reading each statement, ask, “Do you believe that? Why or why not?”

  • “The authority for our faith should not rest upon the Bible alone, or even primarily.”
  • “To ascribe infallibility to the written words of the Bible is wrong.” The Bible must take its place alongside “the church” and “spiritual experience” as one of three “reliable sources,” none of which should be elevated to “the status of final authority.”
  • “Jesus is not God.”
  • “Jesus did not have to die.”
  • “The notion that God is the all powerful, the high and mighty principal of heaven and earth should be laid aside.”
  • “The essence of our being is good,” and “each of us is God incarnate.”
  • “Jesus did not come to tell us how to be saved. Jesus came to tell us that we are saved.”

Tell the class one person made all of those statements. Ask: “Who do you think might have made those statements? What kind of person would say such things that are clearly contrary to the teachings of the Bible?”

Allow a few moments for the students to guess who might have made those statements, and then tell them they were made by the president of a Baptist college. All of those quotations come from a book written by R. Kirby Godsey, who was president of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia from 1979 to 2006 (When We Talk About God … Let’s Be Honest, copyright © 1996, Mercer University Press).

Tell the students the fact that the president of a supposedly Christian school could make such heretical statements reveals how easily religion can become corrupt. Today’s lesson is about the ultimate fall of Antichrist’s worldwide religious and economic system near the end of the Tribulation.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that we are studying the book of Revelation.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (the pouring out of the seven bowls of God’s wrath and the fact that lost people on earth still stubbornly refused to repent).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Rev. 15:4).
    • Read Revelation 14:8 and 16:19.
    • In those verses an angel foretold Babylon’s fall and God remembered Babylon’s wickedness. In today’s lesson we will learn about the identity and fall of Babylon.
  2. Babylon’s Identity.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Revelation 17:1-2.
    • Ask: “What did the angel call John to see?” (the judgment of the great harlot that sits on many waters).
    • Explain that verse 15 says the waters are people from all nations.
    • Ask: “What does verse 2 say about the harlot?” (world leaders have committed fornication with her and the people of earth have become intoxicated with her wicked behavior).
    • Explain that the harlot is false religion. Down through history, rulers have used false religion to control and sway their followers. People willingly follow man-centered religions that make them feel good about themselves and give them license to sin.
    • Read Revelation 17:3-6.
    • Ask: “According to verse 3, what was the woman sitting upon?” (a scarlet colored beast – the Antichrist; see Rev. 13:1 and 17:8).
    • Ask: “How was the woman dressed?” (in lavish and expensive clothing and jewelry).
    • Tell the students false religions usually deck themselves and their leaders in luxurious and expensive trappings.
    • Ask: “What was she holding?” (a golden cup full of abominations and filthiness).
    • Ask: “What was written on the woman’s forehead?” (MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH).
    • Tell the class that ever since the days of the Tower of Babel, Babylon has been the source and seat of false, man-centered religion ( 11:1-9; Zech. 5:5-11).
    • Ask: “According to verse 6, what was the woman drunken with?” (the blood of those martyred for following Christ).
    • Tell the class that down through history false religions have persecuted Christians.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Revelation 17:7.
    • Tell the students the angel promised to explain the mystery of the harlot and the beast upon which she was riding.
    • Read Revelation 17:8-11.
    • Explain the following:
      • Verse 8 – The beast is the Antichrist, who will die, rise again, and ultimately go to perdition; everyone other than the saved will marvel at him.
      • Verse 9-10 – The beast’s seven heads represent seven mountains and seven kings. When John wrote these words five kingdoms had already fallen (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece), one was still in existence (Rome), and the one to come is Antichrist’s kingdom.
      • Verse 11 – The eighth king refers to Antichrist’s unrivaled rule after his resurrection.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Revelation 17:12-15.
    • Explain the following:
      • The ten horns represent ten kings who will receive power to rule for a short time under Antichrist’s worldwide rule.
      • These kings will make war against the Lamb (the battle of Armageddon).
      • Ask: “Who will win that war?” (Jesus).
    • Summarize: During the Tribulation, Babylon will be the seat of Antichrist’s government and his false religious system.
  3. Babylon’s Fall.
    • Read Revelation 17:16-18.
    • Ask: “What will the ten kings do?” (wage war against the harlot and destroy her).
    • Explain that during the first half of the Tribulation the Antichrist will use the world’s false religious system for his own advancement. Around the mid-point of the Tribulation, however, he will allow his ten kings to destroy it, clearing the way for the entire world to worship him alone (2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:8).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Revelation 18:1-3.
    • Ask: “What did the powerful angel announce?” (that Babylon had fallen and become the dwelling place of demons and scavenger birds).
    • Tell the class verse 3 reveals that all nations, rulers, and merchants took part in and became rich through Babylon’s sins.
    • Read Revelation 18:4-5.
    • Ask: “Who was told to come out of Babylon?” (“my people” – Christians).
    • Tell the students that near the end of the Tribulation God will warn his children to flee from Babylon and not take part in her sins. God will be very aware of Babylon’s wickedness and will send swift destruction.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Revelation 18:6-8.
    • Tell the class those verses describe the severity of Babylon’s judgment: she will receive double the torment and sorrow she has dished out upon God’s children (Rev. 17:6).
    • Ask: “According to verse 8, how swift will Babylon – Antichrist’s wicked kingdom and false religion – fall?” (in one day; it will be a supernaturally swift destruction).
    • Summarize: Near the very end of the Tribulation, God will cause the sudden and utter destruction of Antichrist’s wicked government and false religion.
  4. Reactions to Babylon’s Fall.
    • Tell the students the rest of this chapter describes the reactions of four different groups of people to the sudden and utter fall of Babylon.
    • Kings.
      • Ask a volunteer to read Revelation 18:9-10.
      • Ask: “How will the kings of the earth react to Babylon’s fall?” (they will mourn and stay as far away as they can).
    • Merchants.
      • Read Revelation 18:11-16.
      • Ask: “How will the merchants of the earth react to Babylon’s fall?” (they will weep and mourn because all their wealth will be gone; they will also stay as far away as possible).
    • Sea Traders.
      • Ask a volunteer to read Revelation 18:17-19.
      • Ask: “How will those who make money through the shipping business react to Babylon’s fall?” (they will weep and wail because no one will be left to buy their goods; they will also stay as far away as possible).
    • Heaven.
      • Read Revelation 18:20-24.
      • Ask: “According to verse 20, how will heaven react to Babylon’s fall?” (with rejoicing that God has taken vengeance upon Babylon).
      • Tell the class that verses 21-23 describe the completeness of Babylon’s destruction.
      • Ask: “According to verse 24, why will God destroy Babylon (Antichrist’s wicked empire and false religion)?” (because of the blood of Christ’s martyrs it sheds).
    • Summarize: The rulers and merchants of earth will mourn when Antichrist’s wicked government and false religion fall at the end of the Tribulation, but heaven will rejoice.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the class that Babylon (the site of the ancient Tower of Babel) is the source of all false religion. False religion is man-centered, as evidenced by the pride of the builders of the Tower of Babel. Throughout the Bible God pronounced judgment on Babylon. A revived Babylon will probably be Antichrist’s seat of government during the Tribulation period. Near the end of the Tribulation God will bring sudden, harsh, deadly, and utterly destructive judgment upon Babylon and all false religions.

Ask: “What is false religion?” Allow time for some responses, and then explain that it is any religious system that does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and accept His work of redemption on the cross as completely sufficient to save. Any religion that adds any human work as a requirement for salvation is false. Any religion that worships anything or anyone other than the God of the Bible is a false religion.

Tell the students that false religion is widespread, powerful, and influential. Ask: “How can we guard ourselves against falling prey to false religions and their lies?” (we must become more grounded in the Bible: we need to know the Bible so well that we can detect false doctrine). Ask: “Do you know the Bible well enough to guard against false teaching? If not, what must you do about that problem?” (devote more time and effort to reading, studying, and memorizing the Bible).

Ask: “Are you willing to make a commitment to Almighty God to learn more of His Word?” Lead a closing prayer of commitment.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Revelation 21:1-2. Tell the students we are nearing the end of the terrible Tribulation period. The stage is now set for the return of Christ. Urge them to study their lesson and come back next week to learn about Christ’s return.

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