(16.8)         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.’”[1]


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.”[2]


(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.


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.”[3] 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.”[4]


7. What is blasphemy? Blasphemy is speech that denigrates or defames. It is synonymous with reviling someone, or disrespecting someone, or slandering someone.[5] 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.

[1] Jim Combs, Rainbows From Revelation, (Springfield, MO: Tribune Publishers, 1994), page 177.

[2] See footnote for Revelation 16.8 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2014.

[3] Isaiah 36.2

[4] Isaiah 37.3

[5] 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.

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