1. As I mentioned in our study of the final verses of Revelation chapter 15, chapter 15 and chapter 16 are actually one integral unit.
2. If you will recall, in chapter 15 we found that John recorded the preparations that will be made in heaven for the great and final outpouring of God’s wrath on the human race.
3. Tonight, as we begin our journey through chapter 16, we will study the actual fulfillment of that great outpouring of wrath. “This chapter unveils the seven final and most severe judgments of the Great Tribulation. This period lasts three and one-half years and prepares the world for the coming of Christ in power to establish His kingdom. The vials that are poured out by these seven angels are literal plagues or catastrophes that will come on the earth.”
4. Again allow me to point out, on the diagram (“The Revelation of Jesus Christ”) the ushers are handing out to you, where we are, chronologically. If the Word of God is to be interpreted according to the normal rules of grammar and communication then this chart represents the basic prophetic events which have occurred and which will occur until the end of the 1000 year reign of Christ.
5. Are there any questions before we begin?
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.
1. In Revelation 15.8 we made mention of the fact that God was so intent on this great outpouring of wrath upon unsaved mankind that no man was able to enter into His Temple to approach Him.
2. I also mentioned that this future short period of time will be the only time, ever, that the child of God may not boldly approach his Father in heaven. So that truth in Revelation 15.8 makes it necessary for the voice out of the Temple to be God’s voice. No one else will be in the Temple at this crucial time.
3. Notice what God says to these seven angels: “Go your ways, and pour out the vials of THE WRATH OF GOD upon the earth.” (Emphasis added) “It will be noted that the temple vessels, used as a means of grace, are now to be used here as vessels of wrath.”
4. Whose wrath is this? Right. It is God’s wrath. Let me ask you another question. Will any Christians experience the seven plagues that we begin to read about tonight? Why?
Romans 5.9: “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
First Thessalonians 5.9: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(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.
1. Who will receive this sore? Those with the mark of the beast. Those who will worship the beast. Those who are unsaved, since we know that only the saved people who will live on earth during this time will refuse to worship his image and receive his mark.
2. What happens to them is that they get a sore, possibly a boil, like when God punished Egypt for opposing Him. At any rate, the sore, whatever it is, will be a bad one, and extremely painful. The phrase “noisome and grievous sore” refers to a “bad and malignant sore.”
3. Turn to Exodus 9.8-12, where we see how God did it once before:
the LORD said unto Moses
and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let
Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh.
it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil
breaking forth with blains upon
man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt.
they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses
sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with
blains upon man, and upon beast.
the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the
boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.
the LORD hardened the heart
of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.
4. It is as if God is making these fellows as diseased and infected physically as they are spiritually. They have stooped to base idolatry to commit spiritual adultery, so they are experiencing the beginning of God’s harsh retribution.
(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 vial is poured out upon the sea with the result that
the sea becomes as blood (literally ‘it became blood as of a dead
man’), and every living soul in the sea dies. As in the second trumpet
in 8:8, the analogy seems to be to the first of the ten plagues in Egypt
(Exodus 7:20-25) which killed all the fish in the Nile River and made the
water unfit to drink. In all these cases it is possible that the sea does
not become literally human blood but that it corresponds to it in
appearance and loathsomeness. The area of the judgment is similar to that
of the second trumpet where one-third of the sea is turned to blood and
one third of the creatures of the sea die. Here the judgment is universal.
The reference to the sea may be limited to the Mediterranean, but the same
word would be used if the judgment extended to all large bodies of water.
In the latter event, a major portion of the earth would be involved in the
judgment as most of the earth is covered with water.”
2. Can you begin to imagine the amount of death this judgment will bring about? Every living thing in the sea will die as a result of what we would today refer to as some kind of pollutant in the water.
3. Stop here to consider your concept of God, as opposed to the way He reveals Himself in scripture. There are many today who embrace environmentalism as a profoundly spiritual movement that seeks harmony with nature and which sees mankind as a polluting threat to the environment. But this is a passage that shows God wreaking havoc on the environment, God polluting the sea beyond any hope of recovery, God killing untold numbers of species in the oceans.
4. To be sure, mankind is responsible to be environmentally responsible. We are given charge over the earth’s resources, but that does not mean we are given license to waste and ruin. But what about God? Is He sovereign over His creation? Does He have the right, in your conception of what is right and proper, to do what He chooses with His creation, even if it means ruining it with poisonous pollution and annihilating whole species?
5. This portion of scripture challenges people who have devised a god after their own imagination, and confronts them with the God Who is sovereign over His creation and Who disposes of it as He wills.
And the third
angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and
they became blood.
1. The same thing that happened to the seas also happens to the fresh water supplies of the human race. Do you see what is happening here? “Fresh water, already in short supply because of the prolonged drought (11:6), will now suffer the fate of the oceans (cf. Ex. 7:19ff). In addition to suffering from thirst, the worshipers of Antichrist will have no clean water with which to wash their sores.”
2. These who universally reject the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the living water, will suffer God cutting off their supply of fresh water. And not even Arrowhead or Evian will have clean drinking water for sale. God’s judgment on the fresh water supply will result in it becoming blood, just as the vial poured out by the second angel turned the ocean water supply to blood.
3. Verses 5-6 tell us why God does this.
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.
6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
1. Apparently God has supernatural servants who attend to the details of His physical universe, as we have previously seen evidence of. So, when God turns the water into blood, the angel of the waters will actually praise God for what He has done. God will be acclaimed righteous for judging rebellious mankind in this way.
2. The reason God does this, according to verse 6, is because He is giving to the lost the just payment for their sins against God’s servants. They have shed the blood of the saints and the prophets, so God repays them with blood. They wanted the blood of the innocent, so God will give them more blood than they can stand, as just punishment.
3. And since we know that the wrath of God poured upon the unsaved will result in their eternal punishment and destruction, what experiences are referred to in this passage are really only the beginning of sorrows for the damned.
4. Looking back to
verse 5 before continuing, notice how the angel acknowledges God’s
art, and wast, and shalt be.”
This One Whose existence spans the breadth of eternity past to eternity
future is righteous. And while God’s eternity is acknowledged by the
angel, it is God’s righteousness which is displayed by the judgments
that are described in this portion of scripture.
Take a moment to reflect, my unsaved friend. Should you live
through the next prophetic event, what we have termed the Rapture, you
will be visited by an astonishing array of disasters, each one after the
other poured out upon you by holy angels dispatched by the righteous God
of eternity. There is absolute right and absolute wrong, and when God
begins to judge you in this way for your sins it will be the right thing
to do. Do you ever think about that? When God’s judgment begins to fall
upon you it will be the right thing, God’s Own righteousness on display
for the universe to see . . . and you will be one of the objects of His
And I heard
another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and
righteous are thy judgments.
1. Is God just and righteous in what He does? Well, according to the Bible a thing or a truth is established by the mouths of two truthful witnesses. This additional testimony of God’s righteousness is both proper and expected. The angel of waters, you will remember, said that God was right for doing this. And now another out of the altar seconds the motion.
2. God is righteous in punishing the wicked and Christ-rejecting of this world . . . whether now or in the future during the time we are now reading about. You do realize, do you know, that God’s judgment upon unsaved people begins in the here and now, during the course of their lifetimes, before they die?
3. Read Romans 1.18-32 with me to see God’s judgment of the unsaved during the course of their natural lifetimes:
the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and
unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it
the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly
seen, being understood by the things that are made, even
his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
that, when they knew God, they glorified him
not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations,
and their foolish heart was darkened.
themselves to be wise, they became fools,
changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to
corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own
hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the
creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did
change the natural use into that which is against nature:
likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in
their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is
unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which
even as they did not like to retain God in their
knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things
which are not convenient;
filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness,
maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity;
haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things,
disobedient to parents,
understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable,
knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy
of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
a. Of course, Romans 1.18 declares who God’s wrath is poured out on. Notice that Paul writes “is revealed” and not “will be revealed.” This shows us that God’s judgment upon someone who is unsaved actually begins before that person goes to Hell, before that person dies.
b. Look down to verse 24. Because of what men did, which is detailed in verses 19-23, “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.”
c. In verse 26 we see more of God’s judgment: “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections.”
d. Finally, in the last half of verse 28, we see yet a third judgment God visits upon the lost: “God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”
e. Please understand something: The judgment of God has already begun for some of you. This is but the beginning of God’s wrath, and it is God’s response to your sinning and to your refusal to respond to the gospel of God’s grace.
f. Back to Revelation 16.7. God does not begin to pour out His wrath on the unsaved during the Tribulation. His wrath has been poured out on the unsaved for thousands of years. But after the Rapture, throughout the Tribulation, and especially during the vial judgments, the intensity of God’s wrath is severely escalated to a level never before seen on earth.
4. Notice one thing before we move on. From Revelation 15.8 we know that no one is in the heavenly temple at this time, yet the verse before us indicates that the angel speaking is “out of the altar.” How can this be?
a. It can be in two ways: Either the angel is from the altar but was sent forth prior to the events of Revelation 15.8, and he is outside the Temple when his words of 16.7 are uttered, or he was sent forth from the Temple and has now returned to the altar, from where he speaks these words.
b. The phrase “out of the altar” tells from where the angel originated, but it does not tell us when. So, there is no necessary conflict between this verse and the words of Revelation 16.1 having to be the words of God.
And the fourth
angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to
scorch men with fire.
1. Listen to what a friend of mine writes about this strange occurrence: “Earlier under the fourth trumpet (8:12), the heavenly bodies were diminished in brilliance by one third, but here the light, heat and rays of the sun are increased. This is no mere extreme peak of temperature, as might be found in the hottest deserts, but rather a special phenomena, wherein solar rays feel like torches. Isaiah may have foreseen this in 24:5, 6, a chapter dealing with the end times: ‘The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse defileth the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.’”
2. Did God create the sun? Sure He did. Then, should it be a great surprise that He uses one of His created beings to somehow alter the state of one of His created objects? I do not think so. Thus, God authorizes one of His angels to use the sun to scorch men.
3. How were the men scorched with fire? I would suspect with radiation burns. And this should not surprise us. After all, when someone gets a sun burn at the beach or while working around the house on a hot summer day that sun burn is nothing less than low level nuclear radiation burns.
4. “The sun that normally provides light, warmth, and energy will become a deadly killer. With no fresh water to drink, earth’s inhabitants will face extreme heat. The scorching heat will melt the polar ice caps, which some estimate would raise the level of the world’s oceans by 200 ft., inundating many of the world’s major cities and producing further catastrophic loss of life (cf. Amos 9:5, 6). The resulting disruption of ocean transportation will make it difficult to distribute the dwindling resources of food and water.”
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.
1. There are two observable effects that I am aware of that astronomers have seen with other stars which might explain the effects we read about here. This assumes, of course, that other stars are essentially similar to our sun and that they are at least similar orders of magnitude in size.
#1 The sun could have a small nova. A nova is when the sun flares up and then cools off, usually destroying all of its surrounding planets. But conceivably, God could bring about a small nova which would scorch this planet without destroying it.
#2 Or, the kind of light the sun gives off could vary. It could change from mainly yellow light, which gives both heat and visible light, to a more ultraviolet light, which would diminish the amount of visible light we might see, but would greatly increase the amount of penetrating radiation reaching us, causing people to be scorched. Of course, the depletion of the ozone layer might very well be a prelude to these events, creating an environment in which ultraviolet radiation can more easily penetrate the atmosphere and reach us, if ozone depletion is really occurring.
2. No matter how much or how severe God’s punishment of man will be, man will not repent. It says so in the verse before us. When God’s wrath rains down, mankind will not change his mind and decide to worship God after all. Rather than do that he will probably blame God for the way his mother raised him, or some such nonsense as that, and try to shift the blame for all his troubles to someone else.
3. Folks, the reason God is going to punish men is because men are responsible. He will not punish men in the hope that they will change their ways, because men will not change their ways. Listen to what Jeremiah 13.23 says with regard to being able to alter your nature: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”
4. God will punish the wicked because you deserve God’s wrath for your rebellion against Him. The only way any man will ever change is if God gives him a new heart and he receives Christ as his personal Savior. The old heart will never change.
5. Would you like to know what you will do instead of repent of your sins? Fully aware that the scorching heat of the sun is God’s judgment for your sins, you will refuse to repent because you are opposed to giving God glory. And not only that, which is a stubborn, yet passive, obstinacy. You will actively sin against God by blaspheming His name.
6. I am reminded of good king Hezekiah, who ruled over the kingdom of Judah in the days when the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel. “. . . the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh . . . to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army.” And Rabshakeh spoke against the LORD, denying that He had the power to deliver Hezekiah from the mighty Assyrian army. Rabshakeh’s words were described by Hezekiah’s advisers as “blasphemy.”
7. What is blasphemy? Blasphemy is speech that denigrates or defames. It is synonymous with reviling someone, or disrespecting someone, or slandering someone. It is not the same as swearing or using profanity. Instead, it is talking against someone and putting him down. Thus, should you be alive when this happens you will become enraged because of God’s wrath poured upon you, and you will rail against Him, shout verbal insults to Him, and deny that as the sovereign of the universe He has any right to punish you for lawlessness and wrongdoing.
8. So you see, this punishment will not soften you or bring you to repentance. Rather, it will harden and embitter you, even as you try to escape from it. Oh, how we underestimate the wickedness of sinful man and gloss over the sinner’s depravity. But God knows, does He not? And these plagues are, in part, designed to show sinful man for what he really is, and to illustrate just how deserving we all are of God’s punishment.
(16.10) 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,
1. You might remember that the first of the vials was poured out upon Satan’s followers, those with the mark of the beast, because they, of course, accompanied him in his rebellion against God. But the second, third, and fourth vials were poured out upon the physical universe surrounding and on this earth. Why? Because God’s creation is cursed. This fifth vial is going to be poured out on the seat of the beast, or the throne of the antichrist.
2. By the way, what is “the throne of the antichrist”? Albert Barnes writes, “The phrase ‘the seat of the beast’-- ton yronon tou yhriou--means the seat or throne which the representative of that power occupied; the central point of the Antichristian dominion.” A. T. Robertson concludes, “That is Rome.” More on this in the future.
3. What is this darkness that covers the antichrist’s kingdom? Is it a spiritual darkness only? No, I think it is a physical darkness. Why so? Because the antichrist’s kingdom has always been in spiritual darkness.
4. Then how come the darkness? Well, if the sun turned from a yellow sun to an ultraviolet sun when the fourth vial was poured out on it, then the darkness is due to the fact that ultraviolet light cannot be seen by the naked human eye. That would make it dark in the visible spectrum of light. But if the sun flared into a nova of small proportions, as I mentioned previously, then there would be scorching that would burn very painfully, followed by darkness that resulted from the sun cooling off afterwards with an accompanying reduction of the amount of light given off. Either scenario would seem to fit John’s account here.
5. Whatever the actual reason for the darkness, there is considerable pain involved, and those exposed to all of this will actually gnaw their tongues for the pain. Think about it. Those who have, in the past, blasphemed God with their tongues will be afflicted on their tongues. Interesting how God repays men for their sins, is it not?
(16.11) And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
1. Does man change? Does man ever change? Not unless God does a saving work in his heart he does not. Amen? Throughout all of this mankind continues to blaspheme, to speak against, God. And the pain and the sores seem only to make things worse.
2. What a sad note to write of men who are dying from the wrathful judgments of God, “and repented not of their deeds.” What possible reason can men have for being so stubborn, except if mankind really is depraved and wicked of heart? Amen?
3. Turn in your Bible to First Samuel 15. I want you to notice something about king Saul, who had earlier prophesied and caused some to wonder if he had gotten right with God somehow. You see, in First Samuel 10.11 we read these words: “And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”
4. First Samuel 15.23 records the words of the prophet Samuel to king Saul, who did almost what God’s man told him to do: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”
5. Many decisionists these days are convinced that king Saul was a converted man, despite the fact that he exhibited this stubborn and rebellious streak after his supposed conversion. But listen to what Jonathan Edwards wrote about genuine conversion in his book, Religious Affections:
3. Every true Christian perseveres in this way of universal obedience, and diligent and earnest service of God, through all the various kinds of trials that he meets with, to the end of life. That all true saints, all those that obtain eternal life, do thus persevere in the practice of religion and the service of God, is a doctrine so abundantly taught in the Scripture, that particularly to rehearse all the texts which imply it would be endless; I shall content myself with referring to some given below.*
But that perseverance in obedience, which is chiefly insisted on in the Scripture as a special note of the truth of grace, is the continuance of professors in the practice of their duty, and being steadfast in a holy walk, through the various trials that they meet with.
By trials here, I mean those things that a professor meets with in his course, that especially render his continuance in his duty and faithfulness to God, difficult to nature. These things are from time to time called in Scripture by the name of trials, or temptations (which are words of the same signification). These are of various kinds: there are many things that render continuance in the way of duty difficult by their tendency to cherish and foment, or to stir up and provoke, their lusts and corruptions. Many things make it hard to continue in the way of duty, by their being of an alluring nature, and having a tendency to entice persons to sin, or by their tendency to take off restraints and embolden them in iniquity. Other things are trials of the soundness and steadfastness of professors, by their tendency to make their duty appear terrible to them, and so to affright and drive them from it; such as the sufferings which their duty will expose them to—pain, ill will, contempt, reproach and loss of
* Deut. v.29; Deut. xxxii.18, 19, 20; I Chron. xxviii.9; Psal. lxxviii. 7, 8, 10, 11, 35, 36, 37, 41, 42, 56, &c.; Psal. cvi. 3, 12-15; Psal. cxxv. 4.5; Prov. xxvi.11; Isa. lxiv.5; Jer. xvii.13; Ezek. iii.20; and xviii.24, and xxxiii.12, 13; Matt. x.22, and xiii. 4-8, with verses 19-23; and xxv.8, and xxxiii.12, 13; Luke ix.62, and xii.35, &c.; and xxii.28; and xvii.32; John viii.30, 31; and xv. 6, 7, 8, 10, 16; Rom. ii. 7; and xi.22; Col. i.22, 23; Heb. iii.6, 12, 14, and vi. 11, 12, and x.35, &c.; James i.25; Rev. ii.13, 26, and ii.10; 2 Tim. ii.15; 2 Tim. iv.4-8.
outward possessions and comforts. If persons, after they have made a profession of religion, live any considerable time in this world, which is so full of changes and so full of evil, it cannot be otherwise than that they should meet with many trials of their sincerity and steadfastness. And besides, it is God’s manner in His providence, to bring trials on His professing friends and servants designedly, that He may manifest them, and may exhibit sufficient matter of conviction of the state which they are in, to their own consciences, and oftentimes to the world; as appears by innumerable Scriptures.
saints may be guilty of some kinds and degrees of backsliding, may be
foiled by particular temptations, and may fall into sin, yea great sins.
But they never can fall away so as to grow weary of religion and the
service of God, and habitually to dislike it and neglect it, either on its
own account, or on account of the difficulties that attend it; as is
evident by Gal. vi.9, Rom. ii. 7, Heb. x.36, Isa. xliii.22, Mal. i.13.
They can never backslide so as to continue no longer in a way of universal
obedience; or so that it shall cease to be their manner to observe all the
rules of Christianity, and do all duties required, even in the most
difficult circumstances. This is abundantly manifest by the things that
have been observed already. Nor can they ever fall away so as habitually
to be more engaged in other things than in the business of religion; or so
that it should become their way and manner to serve something else more
than God; or so as statedly to cease to serve God with such earnestness
and diligence, as still to be habitually devoted and given up to the
business of religion; unless those words of Christ can fall to the ground,
“Ye cannot serve two masters,” and those of the apostle, “He that
will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God;” and unless a saint
can change his God and yet be a true saint. Nor can a true saint ever fall
away so that it shall come to this, that ordinarily there shall be no
remarkable difference in his walk and behaviour since his conversion, from
what was before. They that are truly converted are new men, new creatures;
new not only within, but without; they are sanctified throughout, in
spirit, soul and body; old things are passed away, all things are become
new; they have new hearts, and new eyes, new ears, new tongues, new hands,
new feet; i.e., a new
conversation and practice; and they walk in newness of life, and continue
to do to the end of life. And they that fall away show visibly that they
never were risen with Christ. And especially when men’s opinion of their
being converted, and so in a safe estate, is the very cause of their
failure, it is a most evident sign of their hypocrisy. And this is the
case, whether their falling away be into their former sins or into some
new kind of wickedness, having the corruption of nature only turned into a
new channel instead of its being mortified. As when persons that think
themselves converted, though they do not return to former profaneness and
lewdness, yet from the high opinion they have of their experiences,
graces, and privileges, gradually settle more and more and more in a
self-righteous and spiritually proud temper of mind, and in such a manner
of behaviour as naturally arises therefrom. When it is thus with men,
however far they may seem to be from their former evil practices. this
alone is enough to condemn them, and may render their last state far worse
than the first. For this seems to be the very case of the Jews of that
generation that Christ speaks of, Matt. xii.43-45. They had been awakened
by John the Baptist’s preaching, and brought to a reformation of their
former licentious courses, whereby the unclean spirit was as it were
turned out, and the house swept and garnished; yet, being empty of God and
of grace, full of themselves, and exalted in an exceeding high opinion of
their own righteousness and eminent holiness, they became habituated to an
answerably self-exalting behaviour. They changed the sins of publicans and
harlots for those of the Pharisees; and in issue, had seven devils and
were worse than at the first.
6. Why have I read from Edwards? Because so many these days exhibit poor discernment concerning the true state of a man’s soul, oftentimes thinking themselves good judges of their own condition. The brilliant Edwards shows how easily and in what ways men are deceived by their own pride. King Saul was an obviously lost man, as exhibited by his rebellious spirit and his stubborn nature. During the Tribulation God will make it easy to discern who is lost and who is saved, far easier than it is now. He will manifest their stubbornness by pouring out his wrath on them. And will it cause them to repent of their sins? Of course not. The chief characteristic of a lost stubborn man is his stubbornness. No matter the pain, the lost will not repent.
7. Those who have been touched by the grace of God, however, are neither stubborn or rebellious. They are obedient. They can be led. And this makes sense, since they are sheep and not goats. After all, God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble; grace to submit, grace to obey, grace to follow spiritual leadership, grace to exhibit the sweet fruit of the Spirit.
(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.
1. Let me read some comments of William R. Newell on this verse:
This is the literal Euphrates. There can be no other real interpretation of this passage. Imagination has very often substituted for exposition, even in such a plain passage as this.
Let us note regarding the Euphrates and its “drying up”:
1. It is mentioned twenty-one times in Scripture; and called “the great river” five times, as the Mediterranean was called “the great sea”: for the Euphrates was the eastern, as the Mediterranean was the western boundary of God’s own people’s inheritance.
2. It was a protection to Israel, both because of the difficulty of its passage, and because of the fact that God had placed a wilderness west of it, between it and Canaan. Only at the upper or northern part was it practically passable (so that Babylon is called by the prophets, the enemy “from the north country”). Even the Roman Empire had its eastern bound here.
3. It is nearly two thousand miles long (1,780). It rises in the Armenian Mountains, flowing at first toward Palestine, to within less than 100 miles of the Mediterranean, then turning away southeast to the Persian Gulf, winding upon itself constantly. It is navigable for 1200 miles. It flowed through old Babylon, which was (and may yet be) the commercial center of the whole world (Revelation 18).
4. It was first seen just outside Eden in Genesis 2, where human sin begins, and is last seen here in Revelation 16:12, where sin reaches its height. Twice in The Revelation does it appear; in chapter 9:13-15, where “at the great river Euphrates” we saw four angels bound, the loosing of which issued in killing the third of the earth’s population. Here in 16:12, its drying up permits countless thousands to rush forward to their doom at Armageddon.
5. The solemnity of the crossing of the Euphrates to invade God’s land, by these eastern hosts, is very awful indeed. That the western nations, under the Beast, the last Emperor of the fourth world-power, should invade Palestine does not startle us so much: (the Roman Empire often persecuted the Jews, and ruled them many centuries). But that these recently pagan hosts from the East, who have now heard the gospel of Christ from thousands of faithful missionaries and rejected it, choose the Antichrist and march to Armageddon to help destroy the Jews (since the Church has been taken up out of their reach) is appalling! That dry bed of Euphrates will be an eastern Rubicon: for all will know whither they are bound, and why, as the sequel shows.
2. Folks, for 4000 years the Euphrates River has been a barrier that separated the east from the west. If you look on a detailed map of the river you will see that there are no real places for fording under combat conditions. This is because where it is narrow it is quite deep, and where it is shallow it is very wide . . . frequently more than a mile wide. Much easier to invade from the north or from the south, so the Euphrates does not have to be crossed, as United States armed forces did when they entered Iraq from the south and as they had desired to enter Iraq from the north.
3. Years ago skeptics who looked at this portion of Scripture mocked this prediction of the drying up of the Euphrates. Such a thing would never happen, they maintained. But we can now build dams, can we not? What if you built a dam at the headwaters of the Euphrates? What if you significantly reduced the flow of the main river so it could be crossed by a large army? What if you are able to completely stop the flow for a while? Then there are pontoon bridges that can be used to cross the narrower courses of the river.
4. When that happens, and it can easily happen that dams are built during the tribulation where no dams exists today, the way will be open for the Asian armies to march out from the east, as the Bible predicts.
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.
1. John did not see three unclean frogs come out of the dragon’s mouth and the beast’s mouth and the false prophet’s mouth. He actually saw, apparently with spiritual perception God had given to him, three unclean spirits come forth from them. They were likened to frogs.
2. Why does John refer to them as “three unclean spirits like frogs”? I suspect that John is using frogs as a likeness of these spirits to show their disgusting defilement and filthiness. The frog, in John’s day, was seen to be the most filthy and unclean animal in existence . . . both to Jewish people and to a great many Gentiles. These spirits, then, are incredibly foul, showing how foul the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet must be.
3. What we should not lose sight of in this verse is the unholy trinity of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. The dragon is Satan himself. The beast is the antichrist. The false prophet is that religious figure who entices the religiously inclined to worship the beast, salving the consciences of the religious crowd so they will feel good about their apostasy.
(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.
1. This unholy trinity will actually work miracles through these three foul spirits. But this should be no great surprise, since Second Thessalonians 2.9 indicates that the enemy has supernatural power. The question is “Do the miracles draw the kings of the earth into Palestine to do battle? Or do the miracles merely convince the kings that the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet should be listened to?” I do not know the answer to that one.
2. Notice, if you will, that the unholy trinity is affecting the gathering of the kings into Palestine, obviously with their armies not far behind. But let us not forget that it is God’s purpose that is being realized as this all takes place. He is always in control of the situation. Amen?
3. As they march into Palestine, perhaps to fight for the riches and the wealth of the Dead Sea, they think they are going to prevail. What they do not realize, however, is that this is going to be God’s day, the great day of God Almighty. And this word which is translated “almighty” is the Greek word pantokratoroV, which is an adjective that refers to absolute and total power. These men who think they are powerful, are about to meet in battle the God of all power and might. Will that not be interesting for them?
Behold, I come as
a thief. Blessed is he that
watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his
1. It is the Lord Jesus Christ Who speaks here. When He comes as a thief, we can be sure that reference is being made to His second coming at the end of the Tribulation and not at the time when He comes for the Church Age believers. Remember, a thief is someone you try to lock out. When the Lord Jesus comes He will come as a thief to an unsuspecting world.
2. What does it mean to keep your garments? The great Jewish Christian scholar of days gone by, Alfred Edersheim, sheds light on the last sentence of verse 15. He points out that when the apostle John was a young man the Jewish people had temple guards who stood watch around Herod’s temple in Jerusalem, during the evening hours from sundown to sunrise. When the captain of the guards went around to check on his men he would set fire to the clothes of any man he found asleep.
3. The result, for the guard, was that he would have to serve out the rest of his guard time fully or partly naked. People and his fellow guards would see his nakedness or whatever was left of his burned clothes and he would be greatly shamed.
4. Jesus is apparently telling His followers who were saved during the Tribulation that He is coming quickly and that they must be watchful . . . not like the unsaved and Hell-bound who will be caught napping. The person who does watch is blessed.
And he gathered
them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
1. This verse shows proves that all the time the three unclean spirits were drawing the kings to Palestine, it was actually the Lord Jesus Christ Who was gathering them. He was providentially gathering them to the place called Armageddon.
2. Armageddon means “the Mount of Megiddo,” and lies in a region of Palestine where many of the decisive battles of Israelite history have been fought. But a battle will not be fought at Armageddon. It will be much more than a mere battle. It will actually be an entire military campaign.
3. At first the major military powers will do battle against each other. But when the Lord Jesus Christ comes back again, in response to the cry of His people for salvation, for deliverance, then all of those ungodly forces will unite in their opposition to the King of kings. Then, in that region round about Armageddon, they will be slain by the Word of His mouth.
4. Though John does not refer to it here, let me share a verse which relates to the events John is dealing with, Hosea 5.15: “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.” This is a prophetic verse which shows what will happen from the nation of Israel’s perspective that will result in the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(16.17) 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.
1. This, obviously, is the last and will prove to be the most devastating of the vial judgments. The angel pours his vial into the air, perhaps to show that God has complete control of a region over which Satan used to exercise power as “the prince of the power of the air.” This plague is worse than all the others before because you breathe air, but people only tread on the earth and they only drink water.
2. Then, from the temple in heaven and from the throne of God a great voice says, “It is done.”
3. Do you remember any other place in the Bible when a phrase similar to this one was spoken? That is right. Turn to John 19.30 and read with me: “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”
4. When the Lord Jesus was about to give up the ghost, die His physical death and shed His blood for our sins, He declared that all was finished. His pronouncement meant that once this was done His working for our salvation was concluded. All of God’s wrath had been poured out upon Him and He paid the penalty that was to be exacted for our offenses.
5. But for those who reject the Gospel, or for those who die without Christ, it is as though He never died on the cross. Their sin penalty is not paid by the Lord Jesus Christ.
6. In the past the Lord Jesus Christ cried out that the payment for salvation was finished. In the future, in His role as Judge, and not as Savior, He will again make a pronouncement. Then it will be that the final and complete outpouring of God’s wrath upon this earth has begun.
(16.18) 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.
1. The voices and the lightnings and thunders should remind us of God’s righteousness in judgment . . . the way He revealed Himself on Mount Sinai. With those accoutrements of God’s righteousness comes the greatest earthquake that the world has ever seen.
2. Think of it. A greater earthquake than when God broke up the fountains of the deep to bring on the Flood! So, when you consider what kind of earthquakes those cataclysmic events produced as earth’s present topography was being established, the mountain ranges were being erected and the great oceans were being formed, this coming earthquake has to be of utterly unimaginable power.
(16.19) 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.
1. The great city is very likely the city of Jerusalem, since it was also termed “the great city” in Revelation 11.8. Jerusalem will be divided into three parts during this earthquake. What that means, exactly, I do not know. But the cities of the Gentile world will apparently be completely destroyed. They will be wiped out.
2. It is not a good thing for great Babylon to come in remembrance before God. That can only mean judgment. There are some who think Babylon is a veiled reference to Rome. Others are of the opinion that Babylon will be rebuilt and that this verse refers to Babylon’s final destruction.
3. As for “the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath” . . . we will learn what that phrase means in chapters 17 and 18.
And every island
fled away, and the mountains were not found.
1. What kind of devastation this greatest of all earthquakes will bring. The end result will be the complete alteration of the topography of the earth’s surface.
2. Old Testament prophecy predicts this in a number of places, as well. Think of it. Islands fleeing. Does that mean they disappear under the water, or what? Where must the mountains go to to be no more found? The human mind can scarcely imagine.
3. How many people live on islands? Do you realize that Indonesia, the largest of all moslem countries, is a nation of many islands. Would you call Australia an island? New Zealand is a country on two main islands. As well, there is Long Island in New York state. And do not forget Great Britain and Ireland, Sicily and Crete. The loss of life will be incredible.
(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.
1. Folks, a talent weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 to 100 pounds. This means that actual ice boulders will be falling out of the sky, reigning down mass destruction upon everything that manages to survive the monster earthquake.
2. Does anyone here know how hail is formed in thunder clouds? A water droplet is swept up high and frozen. Then it falls and accumulates more water on it, and is swept up again by strong winds to freeze again. This is repeated again and again until the hail is simply too heavy to be held up by the updrafts and it falls to the ground.
3. Imagine the size and the force of a thundercloud, the velocity of the updraft that would be necessary to hold up an ice boulder weighing 80 to 100 pounds!
4. So, what does unsaved mankind do when this seventh vial is poured out? Do they cry out to God, acknowledging that He is the Almighty God, and cry out for deliverance? No. Instead, they blaspheme God because of the severity of the plague.
1. We are now at the very end of the Great Tribulation. The end has come for the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. The King of kings is about to appear on the scene and take matters into His Own hands.
2. But as we look in Revelation 17 and 18 we do not read about the Second Advent of Christ, but about the political and religious system which has opposed God during the Tribulation . . . Babylon.
3. Beginning next week we will look into both political and religious Babylon. We will try to identify who she is religiously, geographically, and politically.
 See footnote for Revelation 16.1 from Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000), page 1390.
 L. Sale-Harrison, The Remarkable Revelation, (New York: Sale-Harrison Publications, 1930), page 158.
 A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol VI, (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1930), page 420.
John Walvoord, The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, (Chicago,
Illinois: Moody Press, 1966), page 233.
 See footnote for Revelation 3.1 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2014.
 Deuteronomy 19.15; Matthew 18.16; 1 Corinthians 14.29; 2 Corinthians 13.1; 1 Timothy 5.19; Hebrews 10.28
 Jim Combs, Rainbows From Revelation, (Springfield, MO: Tribune Publishers, 1994), page 177.
 See footnote for Revelation 16.8 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2014.
 Isaiah 36.2
 Isaiah 37.3
 Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 178.
Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ NT Commentary, (Bronson,
MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), firstname.lastname@example.org
 Robertson, page 422.
 Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), pages 312-314.
William R. Newell, The Book Of The Revelation, (Chicago,
Illinois: Moody Press, 1935), pages 254-256.
 Bauer, page 755.