Revelation, Chapter 16
To skip the Introduction for Revelation chapter 16, Chapter 16 Scripture Begins Here
Revelation chapter 16 describe the final seven Vials of the wrath of God, representing the climax of God's punishment of sinners during the Tribulation period. No repentance is invited or shown. The judgments are somewhat parallel both to the 10 plaques on Egypt and to the trumpets of chapters 8 and 9.
The bowls are more total and universal in their effects than were the trumpets, and generally affect people more directly.
16:1 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.
The seven angels, each holding a bowl containing the judgments that are about to fall on the earth, seem reluctant to cast forth their bitter judgments. However, they are obedient to the voice of God when He speaks: These bowls constitute what the Lord Jesus referred to as the "great distress" (Mat. 24 v.21), or the last 42 months of the Tribulation period. Great Tribulation
Four of these seven judgments occurred literally in Egypt among the ten plagues and have never been accepted by credible Bible teachers as anything but literal. In addition, part of the 6th judgment; that of drying up the Euphrates River and producing frogs, was also literally fulfilled during the history of Israel. Frogs were generated as one of the plagues of Egypt, and both the Red Sea and Jordan River were rolled back so that God's people could walk forth on dry ground.
Therefore, nothing new will be transpiring when God dries up the Euphrates River in order that the kings of the East may march over on dry ground.
If the plagues of Egypt were literal, and they certainly were, why should we not expect these awful judgments likewise to be literal?
16:2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and [upon] them which worshipped his image.
The First Bowl Judgment - Foul and Loathsome Sores - when men choose to worship Antichrist rather than Christ and demonstrate their allegiance by accepting the mark of the beast, God responds by sending on them a plague of "foul and loathsome" sores. John makes it clear that these awful sores afflict only those who worship the Antichrist and who have accepted the mark of the Beast; no Tribulation saint suffers from them.
Further confirmation that the three judgments; the seals, the trumpets, and the vials are sequential, not concurrent, (as some bible teachers suggest) is clarified in the time of this judgment.
Antichrist will not be set up as the object of worship until the middle of the Tribulation period. This judgment falls on the human race because of their worship of Antichrist, which can only occur after the middle of the Tribulation. (Revelation Chapter 13)
The recipients are the beast worshipers. The selection from among the peoples on the earth is clearly seen in this passage: Only those containing the mark of the beast and worshiping his image will be selected for those awful sores. Mark of the Beast
This indicates that God in His marvelous grace will not bring judgment on believers during this latter half of Tribulation, but will protect them as He did the Israelites during the plagues of Egypt.
This further confirms our assumption that in the previous judgments, when He slays 25 % and then another third of the world's population that's remaining, (making a total of 50%) He will exempt believers.
16:3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead [man]: and every living soul died in the sea.
The Second Bowl Judgment - Now the second angel pours out his bowl on the sea, and it turns into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea dies.
We have already seen that God will cause a third part of the sea to turn to blood during the 2nd trumpet, but this second bowl includes the entire sea. Imagine when all living creatures in the seas die. Think of the unbearable stench and the potential for disease.
This judgment may well interfere with commercial shipping and send whole populations into confusion as people grope for an adequate supply of water, not to mention destroying what is left of the fish industry.
16:4 And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
The Third Bowl Judgment -The third bowl, a sequel to the second, carries with it an interesting explanation as to why God will permit it. God will destroy the only remaining sources of water, the rivers and fountains or springs of the deep, by letting them turn to blood.
Whether this means literal blood is inconsequential, for if Christ can turn water to wine, He certainly can turn water to blood. What is significant is that it will become corrupt blood, which will breed disease and pestilence. One of the basic needs of humankind is water. Unless God provides water from another source or engineers by some process can turn this corrupted water into pure water, the world will be in a state of riot and confusion, seeking this necessity of life.
All of this describes devastation beyond what we can comprehend. The judgment of God has fallen. Sometimes, God uses wars to bring His will about. At any rate, this no doubt does away with a good part of humanity.
16:5 And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.
Notice here, this is not the people saying that God is righteous. This is the angel saying God is righteous. At no time do the people repent. The angel here is saying that this judgment that God has brought is justified. This God mentioned here is the I Am.
16:6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
It seems that blood in their water supply is in punishment for the blood of the saints and prophets. Throughout the ages, the world and its evil system has been opposed to God and His people. They deserve this punishment.
16:7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous [are] thy judgments.
As bad as these judgments are, they are deserved. As it was said before, everyone likes to think of God as love, but few remember, also, that He is the Judge of the world. Thank God His grace saved me. He is longsuffering, not willing that even one should perish. However, there is a day of reckoning when the God of the entire world will judge fairly. This seems to be that time.
16:8 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
The Fourth Bowl Judgment - The Sun Scorches Men - Their mouths already parched from lack of water, those who are unrepentant suffer even more intense thirst when God causes the sun to "scorch" them with "great heat". But even this does not drive the rebels to their knees in repentance. Instead, they blaspheme the name of God "who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory."
How right the angel was who said to God, "True and righteous are Your judgments". (16 v.7) Like Pharaoh, their hearts have become hardened (Exodus 7:13, 22, 8:15, 19, 32, 9:7, 34, 35).
The environmentalists are telling us every day that we are destroying the Ozone layer above the earth. Every time a person sprays their hair or uses an aerosol spray of any kind it does away with Ozone. The scientists tell us that this is so thin that it might just go away altogether. And if it did, people would die by the thousands from harmful rays from the sun that had not been filtered to make them safe.
You see, God put this earth together very intricately and man, in changing God's ways, has messed up the atmosphere. An interesting thing to note in connection with this is, that it takes just a very thin coat of the shed blood of Jesus to protect us from the enemy. What a comparison.
16:9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
With this type of rays from the sun, they would be covered with sores. This terrible plague is vented at the beast and its followers. The worst thing they could possibly do was to curse God, and that is just what they did. They did not repent, their hearts had been hardened. They either were not aware of God's power or just did not want to give Him the glory. Either way, they are in trouble.
This type of "heat" would burn up all crops, cause droughts, and probably even melt all of the polar ice region.
16:10-11 "And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain," "And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds."
The Fifth Bowl Judgment - Darkness: What's John talking about when he refers to the judgment falling upon the throne or seat of the beast and his kingdom? It's probably best to think of the beast's throne as a reference to his entire kingdom since his kingdom was full of darkness. Some see this to mean the city of Babylon, but his kingdom will be worldwide.
Notice also that tremendous darkness envelops the beast's kingdom. This same phenomenon occurred in Egypt during the plagues; the whole land was consumed in darkness so oppressive that Moses said you could actually feel it. That's the sort of thing that will come upon the kingdom of the Antichrist at this time. This divine judgment will give a physical illustration of their spiritual darkness.
You see, the beast may have control of evil men upon the earth, but he cannot control God or nature.
This "darkness" here was not just physical darkness, which is bad enough; but this "darkness" is of the spirit, as well, bringing depression, attempted suicide, and all sorts of evil attacks on the mind.
Two things indicate that this darkness will prevail for some time on the earth: the predictions of other prophets, and the effects on human beings. This judgment, a repetition of the 9th plague of Egypt, is to be understood literally:
"Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light." (Amos 5 v.18)
"Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him" "but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into darkness." (Nahum 1 v.6,8)
"That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness". (Zephaniah 1 v.15)
Christ's own prediction was: "But in those days, following that distress, "the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light" (Mark 13 v.24). The effects on people, described in Rev. 16 v.10 ("Men gnawed their tongues in agony"), indicate that the relief from the heat will soon produce an exasperating, frustrating darkness. We may forecast that human ingenuity in producing electricity may solve this problem, but we must remember that the water supply produces electricity, and with the tampering of the water supply, as seen in the second and third judgments, people may be incapable of continuing to draw electrical power and illumination from the rivers and bodies of water.
These judgments are so clearly supernatural that everyone will know that they descend from the God of heaven. But instead of falling down before Him to become the recipients of His mercy, people only "cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done." They not only blaspheme God, but refuse to change their ways. Let it be understood that those who reject the Lord do so not because of philosophical doubts or unexplained answers to unanswered questions, but as a result of hardness of heart and love for sin.
16:12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
The Sixth Bowl Judgment - Euphrates Dried Up: The sixth bowl judgment comes in 2 parts. (1) the drying up of the Euphrates River, which will be a preparation for the "battle on the great day of God Almighty;" and (2) the tremendous demon forces that will bring the rebellious armies of the world to the Valley of Megiddo for the purpose of opposing the Lord.
The Euphrates River is the eastern border of the land God gave to Abraham (Gen. 15 v.18). It is about 1800 miles long and so large that it forms a natural barrier against the armies of the world. Most people are not particularly conscious of the fact that it served as the eastern border of the Roman Empire. The sixth bowl judgment will dry up that river to make way for the "kings of the East."
It is likely that when the Euphrates River - the natural boundary between east and west is dried up," the "kings from the east" will march a sizable army across to battle with the King of kings. That army will probably be 3 to 5 million strong. These forces will be joined in the valley of Megiddo by huge armies from all over the world, and while that valley is vast as Napoleon has said, "the most ideal, natural battlefield in the world", even it has a limit to how many people it can hold.
This river could have dried up because of the problems caused by some of the other vials. There will be such a drought that this waterway will dry up and these armies from the east will come into Israel on dry land.
These kings from the east have befuddled Bible prophecy scholars for many years, for few scholars mentioned anything about them. That is, until the communist takeover of China after WW2. Since then it has become apparent that this largest of all countries, by population, has a prophetic role in end time events. China
China is controlled by some of the most dedicated Communists in the world. They are not "reformers" or "progressive" as our media tried to represent them a few years ago. They are a ruthless group of elite gangsters who have never wavered in their plan to use China as a military platform from which to conquer the world. The events of the next 2 decades, if indeed we have that long, will prove that point. One thing we can be certain: China is not going to go away. John the Revelator saw them as players on the world scene in the end times.
Even so, the Bible has very little to say about China. In fact, what is said includes more than just China, for the terms "kings from the east" really means "kings for the rising sun," which would include Japan and possibly other Asian countries.
Dr. John F. Walvoord was considered perhaps the world's foremost interpreter of biblical prophecy. He was a member of the Dallas Theological Seminary faculty. He was born in 1910 and died on December 20, 2002. He was 92 years old.
He was considered the dean of prophecy scholars when he wrote: There has been some tendency to take the expression "the kings of the east" literally, "the kings of the sunrise" as referring specifically to Japan where the rising sun is a symbol of its political power. However, it is more natural to consider the term "rising sun" as a synonym for east. The Euphrates River, one of the first rivers mentioned in the Bible, has served for centuries as the natural dividing line between East and West.
The significance of the rise of China to become a principal player among the nations of the world was not lost on Dr. John Walvoord. ( China )He saw the prophetic significance of the Chinese rise to prominence back in 1967 when he wrote:
The fact that the rise of Asia has occurred in the 20th century with so many rapid and unexpected developments is further evidence that the world is moving toward its final climax and the end of the times of the Gentiles. In Asia, as in other parts of the world, the stage is being set for the final drama in which the kings of the east will have their important part.
If he were writing on that subject today, he might be inclined to say the curtain is about to rise. We are the first generation to witness the sleeping giant of China reach the potential of fulfilling this prophecy. No one doubts that unless something drastic and unforeseen occurs soon, China will gain control of most of the countries of the East, with whom she shares many religious and cultural similarities.
It is realistic to believe that she could be led in these very days by her master, the dragon, "that old serpent, the devil," to so rebel against God that she would actually join the armies of the world in opposition to the coming of Jesus Christ. What is needed to bring her to that point? Very little! Merely the deceiving spirit forewarned by John the Revelator. She is almost there today and could gain control of the entire Orient in 10 or 20 years.
Remember, the events of Revelation Rev 16 v.12 do not take place until 7 years after the rise of Antichrist, which follows the Rapture of the church. More than enough time to be fulfilled and just one more reason to believe Christ may return for His church in our generation.
16:13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs [come] out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
The three unclean spirits are demons who support the activities of Satan, the beast and the false prophet. By means of miracles, they will convince the eastern "kings" and all the armies and kings of the earth and of the whole world to gather in Palestine to fight against the second coming of Christ (Rev. 19 v.19). This is Satan's final attempt to prevent Christ's return.
These unclean spirits will no doubt perform supernatural signs as part of their deception. Undoubtedly they will work lying wonders to deceive the eastern kings, seducing them to make the difficult journey to their doom at Armageddon.
16:14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, [which] go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
To gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. This is the battle of Armageddon. Armageddon
You see, it tells you here that these are "spirits of devils". In other words, they are the followers of the devil. Demons are the fallen angels who followed Lucifer out of heaven. These "spirits of devils" have power to do miracles, just like the Egyptian magicians copied some of Moses' miracles. Their power is limited, just as was the Egyptians. When Moses threw his rod down and it became a snake, the Egyptians threw two rods down and they became snakes. The only difference was that Moses' snake swallowed their snakes, Exodus 7:9 -12.
The Bible says that at the end, the devil will have power enough to call down fire from heaven. His miracles will be so convincing that people will believe a lie. This is deception to the utmost. These evil spirits are so deceiving, that they convince these armies to come against Israel. They willingly come to the battle of Armageddon, believing they will win. This battle is actually the forces of evil coming against God Himself. This war has actually been going on for centuries, but here is the culmination of it all.
16:15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed [is] he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
We see here that this comes unexpectedly. The garment spoken of here is the robe of righteousness. We must not despair of His coming and fall away into sin. We need to walk in righteousness after we receive our robe of righteousness, washed in the blood of the Lamb.
Verse 15 is an exhortation to the surviving believers to be watchful and alert (Matt 24:32-25:13), and to remain faithful and loyal to Christ during a time of intense persecution. To have garments, rather than be naked, relates to spiritual preparedness.
16:16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
Armageddon is the place where this great battle is to be fought is in Israel. Armageddon The blood will run to the horses bridle in this valley of Megiddo during this battle. This valley is called by the name Jezreal, also. There have already been twenty battles fought at this very spot, but never a battle of this magnitude. This battle will be the twenty-first (3 x 7). Three means God. Seven means spiritually complete. God Himself will settle the outcome of this once and for all. This truly will be the war to end all wars. Shortly after this battle, Jesus will set up His Kingdom. Kingdom
Verse 16 identifies the place of the final battle as Armageddon, from the Hebrew Har Megiddon (the Hill of Megiddo). The hill country of Megiddo and the adjacent valley of Esdraelon have been the site of many important battles (Judge 5:15; 2 Kings 9:27; 23:29).
16:17-19 "And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done." "And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, [and] so great." "And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath."
This "great voice out of the temple" was probably God. In Genesis, when God made the earth in six days, then He said "it is finished". When Jesus hung on the cross six hours, He said "it is finished". I believe that is just what this "It is done" means here. I believe this is at the close of the six-1000 year days of work for the earth, just before the 1000 year Sabbath of rest. God would be the one to decide, and I believe this is Him speaking here.
The Seventh Bowl Judgment - The Wrath of God: - Then came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed.
God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. ( Babylon the Great ) Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.
When the seventh angel pours out his bowl into the air a voice will be heard from the Temple of God before the throne, conveying a most welcome message: "It is done!" It is most welcome because it signifies the consummation of the Tribulation, the conclusion of the day of God's wrath on the ungodly, the end of the time of Jacob's trouble.
This final judgment of God will appear in the form of the world's greatest earthquake, one that "has never occurred like it since man has been on earth." As prophesied in Haggai chapter 2 verses 6-7 "For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;" "And I will shake all nations and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts."
In chapter 11 verse 8 we see where the witnesses were killed described as "the great city". This is Jerusalem where it is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
The massive earth quake will split Jerusalem into 3 parts. When the Mount of Olives splits in two, it will create a chasm into which the believers can seek refuge until the awful carnage is completed. Its interesting to note that there is a fault line that runs under the Mount of Olives that moves in exactly the same direction that the Bible prophesies.
Zech. 14 verses 3 to 5 says: "Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. And you will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah."
Jerusalem is being prepared for the central role it plays during the millennial kingdom. This is where New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven and rest.
In addition, "cities of the nations collapsed," meaning that all of the cities of the world will be destroyed.
16:20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
In addition, every island will vanish and the mountains will not be found. This will indicate a complete renovation of the earth, which may be a fulfillment of 2 Peter 3 v.10, which predicts that the entire earth will be destroyed, and "the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare." When it is done, the earth will basically flat with no seas, no islands and no mountains, preparing it for restoration to something like its pre-flood condition. New Heaven and a New Earth
16:21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, [every stone] about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.
If this were not enough catastrophes, great hailstones, weighing about 100 pounds apiece will come down out of heaven. It is difficult for us to conceive of hailstones that large or the devastating effect they will have on the people they hit.
Dr. David L. Cooper draws attention to "what the Lord said in Job 38 v.22, 23. He has filled His armory full of hail and snow "against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war."
Even now, these men do not repent. Instead of repenting and asking for God's help, they curse Him. You see, in all of these plagues, God wants them to repent and turn to Him.
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