Revelation Chapter Sixteen
Introduction: Central to chapters fifteen and sixteen is the idea of probationary time. Probationary time is that time given to each person, and each nation, to make a decision about what to do with God. This concept is expressed in the time issues of Egypt and of the Amorites in Genesis 15:13-16. This concept is also attached to the time allotted for the people to decide whether they could trust Noah in Genesis 6:3 and to the determination of whether Sodom should be destroyed in Genesis 18:16-33. Until that probationary period runs out God will not close the book but will keep it open and give that person or nation sufficient time to make an informed decision and then He will carry out His threatened judgments.
In the plagues God wants us to compare these with the plagues of Egypt. In those plagues there were several plagues before God focused entirely upon Egypt. After these preliminary plagues God put a dividing line between His people Israel and Egypt. (Exodus 8:20-24; 9:6-7, 25-26). But with the Egyptian plagues God still granted mercy with the judgments. In the Seven Last Plagues there will be no more mercy.
With these thoughts in mind let us proceed to the Seven Plagues – the Wrath of God.
1And 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.
Author: In Revelation 14:9-11 God promises to pour out His wrath without mixing it with His mercy (Matthew 23:23 the weightier matters of the law are judgment, mercy, and faith, when God pours out His wrath there will be no mercy to mingle with His wrath – see The Great Controversy pages 627-628). So in verse one God gives permission to the angels to pour out His wrath upon the earth.
2And 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.
Author: In verse two God pours out His first vial on those who had received the mark of the beast and those who have worshipped the image to the beast. We would also have to assume that those who received the mark of the beast and worshipped the image of the beast did not have victory over the number of his name either. This is a brief statement that says that these people are opposite of the 144,000 spoken of in Revelation 15:2. Now God’s threatening will come to pass just as He said but there is no sheltering grace to provide mercy in their time of need. They receive a grievous sore on them which testifies that they are the ones who are in rebellion against God.
3And 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.
Author: Because of the desire of these people to kill God’s people (Revelation 13:15; 16:6) they now will see blood everywhere they go including in the sea. As a result of this blood all the creatures of the sea will die off.
4And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
Author: The third plague affected the fresh water supplies in a manner similar to that which fell upon Egypt in Exodus 7:14-25. We are not told how long this plague will be poured out upon the world but we know that there is no mercy for the wicked, yet the righteous will receive food and water. (Isaiah 33:16).
5And 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.
Author: The angel that poured out his vial into the water proclaims that God is righteous for judging this way.
6For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
Author: The angel says that God is righteous because the people have shed the blood of saints and prophets and thus they are worthy to drink blood.
7And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
Author: This is a voice out of the altar of sacrifice from Revelation 6:9-11 say that God’s judgments are righteous. Now all is being cared for and God is addressing all of those necessary things for His people. (See also Matthew 23:34-37 and The Great Controversy 628).
8And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
Author: God allows the atmosphere of the earth to deteriorate sufficiently that the sun is hot enough to scorch men with fire. (This is also addressed in Joel 1:10-12, 17-20; Amos 8:3; The Great Controversy 628).
9And 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.
Author: This verse tells the story clearly that even under great pain and suffering the people are not interested in changing. They blaspheme and will not repent of their sins to give God the glory. After probation closes, and the Holy Spirit is withdrawn due to lack of interest, there is no repentance available for these people are sealed into their evil.
10And 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,
Author: In The Great Controversy page 635-636 we are told of a unique application of this plague. She says: “With shouts of triumph, jeering, and imprecations, throngs of evil men are about to rush upon their prey, when, lo, a dense blackness, deeper than the darkness of the night, falls upon the earth…” In this quotation it would appear that God’s prophet is saying that the whole earth is the seat of the beast and that darkness comes upon the whole earth thus testifying that Satan’s kingdom has no light in it because they have rejected God’s law and His testimony. (Isaiah 8:20). While pondering these things the wicked are gnawing their tongues with pain indicating that the physical effects of the plagues, and the sores from plague number one are giving them a painful experience.
11And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
Author: Again God says that even in the midst of suffering they are acting just like Pharaoh in the time of Egypt. They do not repent of their deeds and they do not want to change.
12And 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.
Author: In this verse God is asking us to look toward the Old Testament and look at some of His other stories to see comparisons. God is asking us to look at the Euphrates the river that supported literal Babylon in history. Cyrus, the ravenous bird from the east of Isaiah 46:5, would come and dry up Babylon’s river (Isaiah 44:27-28; Daniel 5:25-31), and thus have access to the capital city, Babylon, and found the gates unlocked (Isaiah 45:1) and thus he overthrew Babylon of old. This same principle will be applied to spiritual Babylon – the harlot of Revelation 17:5.
Another example is that of Egypt in Exodus 12-15. God lead His people out to the Red Sea and He dried up the waters so that Israel could cross by faith. When Israel went in by faith, Egypt sought to follow the, but without faith. (Hebrews 11:29) When the armies of Egypt attempted to harm Israel then God fought for them and delivered them.
Finally, in the book The Great Controversy page 636 Ellen G. White states the following “With shouts of triumph, jeering, and imprecation, throngs of evil men are about to rush upon their pray, when, lo, a dense blackness, deeper than the darkness of the night, falls upon the earth. Then a rainbow, shining with the glory from the throne of God, spans the heavens and seems to encircle each praying company. The angry multitudes are suddenly arrested. Their mocking cries die away. The objects of their murderous rage are forgotten. With fearful forebodings they gaze upon the symbol of God’s covenant and long to be shielded from its overpowering brightness.”
In the quotation above God states that the waters of Babylon, the “throngs of evil men” are seeking to rush upon God’s people. When God stops them by covering each group of His children with a rainbow – the covenant of God, then the wicked recognize that they have been deceived by Babylon and the people they are attacking are really of God. Then the waters of evil men are dissipated and they no longer desire to attack God’s people. This is similar to the battle in the Red Sea when the Egyptians all of a sudden realize that they are fighting against God. Then they try to flee but it is too late for the God of Israel has come to fight for His people and He destroys Egypt in the Red Sea. (Exodus 14:15-31). God wants to assure His people that He can, and will deliver just as He has done for His people all through the times of the Bible.
13And 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.
Author: It appears in this verse that God wants to give us an interlude and tell us how the evil people chose to gather against God’s people. He again refers us to the Egyptian plague of frogs in Exodus 8:1-15. The frogs came up out of the waters and were found in all aspects of daily life, in the food, in the houses, in the beds. So God says that in the end there will be influences set loose by the spirits that come out of the mouths of the dragon – the kings and rulers of earth, the beast – the errors of the Roman Catholic Church, and the false prophet – the errors of apostate Protestantism – the image to the beast of Revelation 13:12-18.
14For 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.
Author: God says that these spirits are supported by the supernatural support of Satan’s fallen angels – demons. They work miracles to support their doctrinal errors and they seduce kingdoms of men to align themselves against God’s people and thus they end up fighting against God in the battle of that great day.
15Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
Author: God wants to let us know that even when Satan was calling all of his people together they had every opportunity to know the truth and respond to the truth just as the Egyptians had to hear the gospel through Joseph and then again through Moses. He gave them opportunity to put on the garments of Christ so that they would not walk naked. (See Adam and Eve when they turned against God in Genesis 3:1-21 and Matthew 22:1-14).
16And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
Author: God called them to the special place that He had arranged called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. This appears to be a place called the Mountain of the Congregation. This story is similar to the story of Elijah calling people to Mount Carmel which was near the valley of Megiddo in I Kings 18:17-40. When Elijah called them together God demonstrated His power and convinced the people that He truly was the living God. Then God destroyed the prophets of Jezebel, the OT symbol of a fallen church. Thus God delivered His people from the errors of Baal worship long ago and He will deliver His people from the errors of Babylonian worship in the end. (See also Joel 3).
17And 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.
Author: God then allows the seventh angel to pour out his plague in the air; and while that is happening God calls forth from the temple of heaven that “It is done.” This statement is very similar to that which Jesus cried out when He died a perfect sacrifice on Calvary when He cried out “It is finished. (John 19:30). In this incidence God is finished with the Most Holy Place phase of His intercessory ministry. And oddly enough all things still are not finished for God still will raise up the wicked after the millennium and cast them all into the lake of fire and then recreate the earth again. (Revelation 20-22).
18And 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.
Author: God hear displays the signs of His presence by voices, thunders, and lightnings. Then He allows a great earthquake to start its devastations on the earth.
19And 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.
Author: This earthquake is the most severe earthquake the earth has seen. The first thing that the earthquake does is divide the pseudo-godhead of the Dragon, the Beast, and the Image to the Beast. Now they will drink of the cup that Jesus drank in Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:36-45; Luke 22:39-44). They will experience what it feels like to be in the presence of the Holy God without a mediator.
20And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
Author: The Earthquake continues and every island sinks, and all mountains sink as well. Most of the people who have not died in the plagues now die via the results of the earthquake.
21And 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.
Author: The earthquake continues and God sends great hail stones to destroy the remaining people that the plagues and the earthquake have not destroyed.
These hailstones are a reminder of the great deliverance that God displayed through Joshua when he asked the sun to stand still while fighting with the five kings of the Amorites tried to destroy the Gibeonites in Joshua 10:1-11. In this story God send hailstones and He killed more people than the armies of Israel did. Thus again showing that when the wicked attempt to destroy God’s people He will stand up to deliver them with His weapons – plagues, earthquake, and then hailstones. In addition II Thessalonians 2:8 any one left will be destroyed with the brightness of the coming of Christ.
When God is finished there will be no people living on earth but the earth will be covered with the dead and no one will be there to bury them. (Jeremiah 25:30-33).