Revelation of John 16

The Seven Last Plagues SUMMARY OF REVELATION 16: The Seven Angels Directed to Pour Out God's Wrath. The First Bowl and the Grievous Ulcers. The Second Bowl Poured Out Upon the Sea. The Third Bowl on the Rivers. The Fourth Bowl Upon the Sun. Its Scorching Heat. The Fifth Bowl Poured on the Seat of the Beast. The Sixth Bowl on the Great River Euphrates. The Three Unclean Spirits. Armageddon. The Seventh Bowl Poured on the Air. The Great City Fall.

I heard a great voice. As in several more instances John hears the voice, but does not see the speaker. This voice comes out of the temple, from "the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven" (Re 15:5), from the abode of God. This signifies that God's hand will shape the events symbolized. They represent his judgments.

Pour out the vials of the wrath of God. Punishment sent for sins. As the plagues were sent on Egypt in order to secure the redemption of Israel, so these plagues are sent in order to redeem God's Israel from the slavery of spiritual Babylon. See Re 18:4.

Upon the earth. The term "earth" is still used by John in his usual meaning of the Roman world.

And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth. John sees the vial poured out, and marks its effect; very grievous ulcers fall upon men; that is, upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and [upon] them who worshipped his image. Those who suffer are those who listen to the lamb-like dragon, the anti-Christ, the false spiritual power, or, as has been found in chapter 14, the votaries of Rome.

And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea. The first calamity has been upon the earth; the second is upon the ocean. The second angel pours his vial upon the sea. Then the waters become red as blood and in the great mortality that follows it seems to John as if every soul in the sea was dead.

And the third angel poured out his vial. John sees the third "vial poured upon the rivers and fountain of waters; and they become blood".

The fourth poured out his vial on the sun. Since these vials of the wrath of God are "poured into the earth" (Re 16:1), the sun must be used as a symbol. It is a symbol of a supreme ruler--a ruler or king. Any one who becomes a great light and occupies a pre-eminent position, may be indicated by this symbol. The Savior is described as the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2). In the dream of Joseph, his father Jacob, the patriarchal ruler, is represented by the sun (Ge 37:9,10). Among the orientals it is the well-known symbol of a king or ruler.

And power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. The fourth vial is poured upon this sun, and power is given it to scorch men with fire. Fire, the instrument of bitter pain, is a symbol of suffering.

The fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast. By "the throne of the beast" (Revised Version) must be meant the seat of his power.

And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river

Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up. The angel of the sixth trumpet is connected with the river Euphrates (Re 9:14). There a movement is symbolized which ends in the overthrow of the Eastern Roman Empire, the old Roman world power. Here a movement is probably signified which will work to the same end in the case of the Roman dominion revived in the Papal world power. The river Euphrates was the seat of the great city which once oppressed Israel and carried God's people into captivity. It was taken by Cyrus, God's chosen agent, and the means employed was the drying up of the Euphrates. Cyrus turned the river, which ran through the city, unto new channels, dried up the old bed, then marched in this bed under the walls where they crossed the river on arches, and took the city. In some way the drying up of the Euphrates shall overthrow, or tend to overthrow, spiritual Babylon. Possibly this may be accomplished by the exhaustion of the resources of that power. The nations which once supplied them have been falling away.

That the way might of the kings of the east might be prepared. In the infancy of the Christ, the wise men of the East, also called kings in the Psalms, came to offer homage to the kingly child. The prophecy implies that when this obstacle is removed, the way of the inhabitants shall be opened. The drying up of the Euphrates will, in some manner, open the way for those that are signified to come to Christ, as those of the old did to the manger.
I saw three unclean spirits like frogs [come] out of the mouth of the dragon. Let the reader observe there is an alliance of three powers described as the "dragon", the "beast", and the "false prophet". From their mouths came three unclean spirits, like frogs, who go forth to the kings of the earth, rally their forces under the banners of the three allied powers, and march them to the battle of the great day of the Almighty. We have met these three powers before, and know that these are really one, animated by one spirit, but appearing in different forms. The dragon, the Satan, wars against the woman, in the form of old Pagan Rome (Re 12:13-17); he then transfers this warfare to the seven-headed beast, the political world power shown both in the form of Imperial and Papal Rome (Re 13:7); this power was supported, reanimated when about to perish, by the lamb-like dragon who is the false prophet (Re 13:11). "As it were frogs" (Revised Version). Unclean, loathsome, suggesting the plagues of Egypt (Ex 8:2). For they are the spirits of devils. The Greek is "demons". They are demoniacal influences, and will show forth false miracles by which to deceive men.

To the kings of the earth and of the whole world. They will marshal their forces for the last conflict. The conflict that shall then take place will decide the fate of Babylon. The drying up of the Euphrates will prepare the way for its destruction. For an account of the battle of that great day, see Re 19:11,19.
Behold, I come as a thief. This is interposed in order to give a place for exhortation to be always ready. The Lamb comes when men do not see him. He gathered them together. "They gathered them" (Revised Version). The three unclean spirits.

Into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. If this is a literal conflict of arms, the place where it will take place is probably indicated. Probably the conflict will be moral and spiritual. The place named is not only Hebrew, but is a famous spot in Hebrew history. Armageddon means simply the hill Megiddo. Upon the Hill Megiddo was fought the battle in which King Josiah was slain (2Ki 23:29). It was in the midst of the battle-ground of Israel. The plain of Esdraelon, the depression between Judea and Galilee, was tracked with armies. If Eze 37:8-17 is understood literally, it signifies that Palestine will be the theater of this struggle, but of all these passages I am inclined to believe that they have a spiritual signification. The Israel of Ezekiel represents the church, the true Israel. Armageddon, the battle-ground of Israel, is used metaphorically to describe the great conflict of the Israel of God.

And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air. From Paul, we learn that the air is the region of the power of evil (Eph 2:2). The fifth vial was poured upon the seat of the beast (Re 16:12); the seventh on the seat of the dragon.

And there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne. The voice so often heard but not seen. Whether the divine voice or not, it speaks the divine will.

Saying, It is done. It is finished. The work is complete. The seventh vial brings the work to an end.
And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings. See Re 8:5 11:19. These features accompany the tremendous movements of the divine will.

And there was a great earthquake. A mighty agitation, and rupturing such as was never seen before. Society will be upheaved to its very foundations.
And the great city. The great spiritual Babylon, the woman that sitteth on the beast (Re 17:3-5).

Was divided into three parts. It was broken asunder, and shaken into pieces by the great upheaval. It is difficult to settle what is meant by "three parts". Perhaps the "three unclean spirits" (Re 16:13), which represent the dragon, the beast and the false prophet, are henceforth parted from each other. If this should be signified, it would mean that worldly government would henceforth be rescued from Satan's influence, and that spiritual powers would never henceforth give homage to the world.

Great Babylon came in remembrance before God. The wrath of God is poured out because of her sins.
And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. Islands and mountains denote earthly powers. Perhaps the meaning is that the old lines between states and nations shall pass away, and that henceforth there shall be one nation, one kingdom, one people, that of Jesus Christ. There fell upon men a great hail out of heaven. Upon the men who were judged and punished. Hail is a symbol of God's judgment. [Every stone] about the weight of a talent. Hailstones of such weight signify awful judgments.

Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail. Not all men, but the men punished. In Re 16:9,11 it is declared that they repented not, and here it is again implied that they were incorrigible. The thought is that they perish in impenitence. It might be added that Robert Flemming, who in 1701 so accurately forecasted the fate of the Papacy (see topic 9769, statement in notes on the fifth vial) places the seventh in AD 1900.
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