The Final 7 Plagues
(Revelation Ch 15 & 16 )
The final series of judgements that are inflicted on the earth dwellers, the Antichrist (the Beast) his system, and his worshippers (16:1-21), are what is called the seven Bowls or Vials, which are in the form of seven plagues.
In verse one, this sign is called “great” because of the awesome power of the judgements. It is called “marvelous” because it represents the final vindication of God’s people and His divine judgement against everything that is evil and wicked.
These “seven plagues” complete or finish God’s wrath (15:1-19:5).
There are those who believe that these plagues are symbolic. However the scripture does not say that they are symbolic.
It is clear that God's judgement of this world will not be a symbolic judgement.
These will be literal plagues and will be a literal judgement on a literal sinful world, a literal antichrist and a literal world system of a Political, Financial and Religious government.
We can remember that the reality behind a symbol is always more real - and in this case therefore far more terrifying - than the symbol itself.
Revelation Ch 15 is an account that Celebrates God’s ultimate victory.(ch15:1-4) ( My words in brackets)
1.And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. ( The End is in Sight )
2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass (glass functions as a mirror, reflecting God’s glory and majesty. The sea is also symbolic of God’s purity, holiness, and separation from His creation (Exod 24:10; Ezek 1:22). mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over ( over, Greek Ek Out from) his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
( These are come out of Great Tribulation )
3 And they sing the song of Moses (deliverance) the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb,
( The Redemptive work of Christ) saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. ( The song of Moses - The deliverance from Egypt through the Red Sea when the Wrath of God was poured out on Pharaoh’s armies. ) ( The Song of the Lamb - Christs death and Resurrection, saving all of His Elect )
4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; ( Futurist ) for thy judgements are made manifest.
5 And after ( and after—Chronological event ) that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.
7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.
8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled. (Nothing impure can enter The Temple, only God)
Revelation Ch 16
(Rev 16:1) A voice from the temple. (Since no one could enter the temple )(Revelation 15:8), (this loud voice from the temple must be God Himself, who personally initiates the horrific judgement of the bowls).
Images from the Exodus of the Hebrews are prominent in the bowl judgements. In the days of Moses, God sent plagues upon Egypt that included plagues of boils (Exodus 9:8-12), waters turning to blood (Exodus 7:14-25), and darkness (Exodus 10:21-29).
(Rev 16:2) The first bowl: foul and loathsome sores.
And the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image.
Those who worshipped the beast and received his mark are now "marked" by God with loathsome sores.
(Rev 16:3) The second bowl: the sea turned to blood.
Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.
The sea … became blood: Revelation 8:8-9 described a partial contamination of the sea. Here the contamination is made complete (every living creature in the sea died).
Blood as of a dead man: The sea doesn't necessarily become blood, but as of a corpse's blood. It will match the appearance and sickening character of the blood in a dead body.
(Rev 16:4) The third bowl: fresh waters polluted.
Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
The rivers and springs of water, and they became blood: This complete contamination is in contrast to the partial (one-third) pollution of fresh waters shown in Revelation 8:10-11.
These judgments come, right at end, so the return of Jesus must be very near. No one on earth could continue to live long in conditions like this.
"They had spilled blood and massacred the saints of God; and now they have got blood to drink!".
(Rev 16:5-7) The righteous judgment of God.
And I heard the angel of the waters saying: "You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due." And I heard another from the altar saying, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgements."
It is completely fitting that those who took pleasure in shedding the blood of the saints should now be forced to drink "blood."
Even in the midst of judgment, it is right that the angel declares You are
righteous, O Lord. Not only is God's justice fair, it is also appropriate in these circumstances.
V7 I heard another from the altar saying: As if this was an answer to the prayers of the martyrs (Revelation 6:9) and the prayers of the saints (Revelation 8:3-5).
(Rev 16:8-9) The fourth bowl: the sun scorches men.
Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
The sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire: What is normally taken for granted as a blessing - the warmth of the shining sun - is now a curse.
They did not repent and give Him glory: Mans nature is towards sin. It is what he is. Those who are not won through the mercy of God, will never be won.
One would think that men would repent if they only knew or experienced the power and righteous judgment of God. But men are sinners by nature and at enmity with God. Men’s hearts are hardened towards God and so will not come.
Bowls directed against the beast and his government.
(Rev 16:10-11) Fifth bowl: a plague of darkness.
Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds. His kingdom became full of darkness:
Some see this as a symbolic darkness but it isn't necessary to see this darkness as a symbolic political darkness. The ninth plague on Egypt was a literal darkness, with spiritual overtones.
It could be felt, as described in Exodus 10:21-22. They gnawed their tongues because of the pain: The darkness of the fifth bowl is a preview of Hell itself, which is described by Jesus as the outer darkness (Matthew 25:30). Those under the judgement of this fifth bowl stand, as it were, on the shores of the lake of fire. And did not repent of their deeds:
In man's sinful condition, he increases his sin when under God's judgement, the very time he should forsake his sin.
(A quote from Spurgeon)
"Judgement may produce a carnal repentance, a repentance that is of the flesh, and after the manner of the sinful nature of men. In this repentance the depravity of the heart remains the same in essence, though it takes another form of showing itself. Though the man changes, he is not savingly changed: he becomes another man, but not a new man. The same sin rules in him, but it is called by another name, and wears another dress. The stone is carved into a more sightly shape but it is not turned into flesh. The iron is cast into another image, but it is not transformed into gold. This carnal repentance is caused by fear. Does not every thief repent of robbery when he is convicted and sent to jail? Does not every murderer repent of his crime when he stands under the fatal tree?" "This is real penitence, when the man gives glory to the justice of God, even though it condemns him. O my hearer, do you thus repent? Is sin really sinful to you? Do you see its desert of hell? If not, your repentance needs to be repented of."
(End of quote).
(Rev 16:12-16) The sixth bowl: armies are gathered for a great battle.
Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
"Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame." And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.The great river Euphrates:
The Romans considered the Euphrates River a secure barrier against invasion from the empires of the east. In that day it was 1,800 miles long and anywhere from 300-1200 yards wide.Its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared:
If the Euphrates were dried up and made a road, massive armies from the east (nations such as China, India, and Japan) could move westward with ease.
Stirred up by the devils working miracles, gathering the kings together, to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (Rev 16:14). Why do these armies come? Is it to wipe out Israel? Is it to rebel against a European based world leader (the Antichrist)? Ultimately, they come to do battle against God and His Messiah (Psalm 2).
I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon: The spirits are like frogs in form.
The ancient Jewish people regarded frogs as unclean and repulsive, but the Egyptians revered a frog-goddess.They are spirits of demons, performing signs: Again, signs and wonders are used by demons as tools of deception. Gather them to the battle:
This battle is not nation against nation, but the nations against God (Psalm 2:2).
This is one of three important battles mentioned in prophecy.
1. The battle of Gog and Magog and her allies come against Israel (Ezekiel 38 and 39).
2. The battle of Armageddon, when the Antichrist leads the world system against a returning Jesus (Revelation 17:12-16, 17:14, 19:19).
3. The final battle, when Satan and his allies, after the millennium, make war against God (Revelation 20:7-10).
However, the winner of this battle is quite clear, as is the winner of the twoothers, for this is That great day of God Almighty: It is the great day of God, not the great day of man, not the great day of the Antichrist, not the great day of the dragon.
Rev 16: 15. Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame:
In the midst of the description of the coming battle, there is a warning to be prepared in light of Jesus' assured victory.Garments are pictures of spiritual and practical righteousness.
We are given the righteousness of Jesus as a garment (Galatians 3:27), but we are also called to "put on" the nature of Jesus in terms of practical holiness (Ephesians 4:20-24). Above all, we must not be "naked" - that is, without a covering, or trying to provide our own covering like Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:7), which is like filthy rags in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6).
And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon: This great battle happens at a place called Armageddon (Har-Megiddo).
Megiddo is in a region frequently associated with decisive battles: Deborah over Sisera (Judges 5:19); Gideon over the Midianites (Judges 7); Pharaoh over Josiah (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:22). It is also a place of end-times mourning (Zechariah 12:11).
The vast Valley of Megiddo has seen tremendous battles through the centuries. Over 200 battles have been fought in the region, from 1468 B.C. (with Pharaoh Tuthmosis III) to 1917 (with Lord Allenby of the British).
(Rev 16:17-21) The seventh bowl: the final judgements. Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!" And there were noises and thundering's and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.
Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great. It is done:
This announcement, coming from the throne itself tells us that there will be no more delay.
In mercy, God has stretched out this scene as much has He could. (The earth is fully ripe.)
The seals were followed by trumpets; the trumpets were followed by bowls; but there will be no more judgements upon the earth after this - it is done. Very much the same way that Jesus said on the cross “ It is finished” Nothing else left to be done.
Poured out his bowl into the air: The fact that the bowl is poured into the air may show judgement against the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and his allies.
There was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth: In these final judgements, God shakes the earth with a tremendous earthquake.
The same is promised in Hebrews 12:26: Now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven." Yet, what cannot be shaken will remain. Great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath:
The fall of Babylon (the great city) is more explicitly described in Revelation 17 and 18. Here, it is enough to say that God gives her the cup of the wine of the fierceness (the ancient Greek word thymos, describing a passionate outburst of anger) of His wrath (the ancient Greek word orge, describing a standing state of anger).
Great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent: Giant hailstones fall, weighing up to 100 pounds. Men respond in utter, unrepentant depravity (men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail).
Hail is frequently a tool of judgement against God's enemies, as seen against Egypt (Exodus 9:24), the Canaanites (Joshua 10:11), apostate Israel (Isaiah 28:2), and Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38:22).
In each of these instances, hail rained down from heaven as a tool of judgement, not as a corrective chastisement of God's own children. Despite all their suffering, many still will not repent.
(Quote from Spurgeon)
"I have known people say, 'Well, if I were afflicted I might be converted. If I lay sick I might be saved.' Oh, do not think so. Sickness and sorrow of themselves are no helps to salvation. Pain and poverty are not evangelists; disease and despair are not apostles. Look at the lost in hell. Suffering has effected no good in them. He that was filthy here is filthy there. He that was unjust in this life is unjust in the life to come. There is nothing in pain and suffering that, by their own natural operation, will tend to purification."
(End of quote )
We might say that Revelation 16 is a "great" chapter.
It describes great evil: a great city, great Babylon (Revelation 16:19).
It describes great tools of judgment: great heat (Revelation 16:9), a great river dried up (Revelation 16:12), a great earthquake (Revelation 16:18), great hail and great plagues (Revelation 16:21).
It describes a great God: His great voice (loud is the same Greek word for great; verses 1; 17), and His great day of victory (Revelation 16:14).