Revelation commentary chapter 16 - seven last plagues poured out

by Don Koenig

  

John now describes the vial judgments that come from Father God on a world that is worshiping Satan as God. As strange as the judgments appear, these are actual events that happen on the earth just prior to the return of Jesus to set up the Kingdom of God on earth. These vial judgments probably begin about 6 months before His coming. I believe the judgments span the last 6 months or so because their descriptions make it certain that each vial affects the world for some length of time. The gathering of all the world armies to Armageddon after the sixth vial would appear to take some time even with the help of Satan’s angels. The judgments are certain to occur in the last part of the 3 ½ years because The Beast has had time to set up his counterfeit kingdom by forcing people to take his 666 mark.

 

1   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.

 

The great voice out of the temple is the voice of Jesus serving as high priest in the temple. He tells the seven angels to go in the order they were assigned to pour out the wrath of God upon the earth.

 

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 worshiped his image.

 

The first vial is poured out and terrible sores come upon all who have taken the mark of the Beast and on those who have worshiped his image. The sores are ulcers or boils. They are like what Egypt experienced in ancient days when God judged her (Exodus). The sores will warn people who have not worshiped Satan to turn to call on the God of heaven. It will also be an incentive for evil people who want Satan to be God, to find a reason to hate the God of heaven and to seek to fight against God.

 

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.

 

In the previous trumpet judgments, there was a similar judgment on a third of the earth. Now we see these things are taking place on the whole earth. These judgments cannot happen until the angel pours out the vial, so these are separate judgments and are not just expansions of the trumpet judgments like some writers have speculated. When the second angel pours out his vial the sea will become like the blood of a dead man and everything in it will die. This is not dark red/brown food coloring; it is a very foul toxic substance that kills every living thing with a soul in the sea.

 

4  And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

5  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.

7  And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.

 

When the third angel pours out his vial all the fresh water on the earth will also be turned to blood. God is giving them blood to drink because they have slaughtered His saints and prophets. These judgments are repayment for those that were slaughtered for their faith at the hands of “Babylon the Great” (chapter 18). The angel that kept these martyred souls under the altar testifies that God’s judgments on these people on earth are deserving and just. 

 

8  And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.

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.

 

This fourth judgment should make it clear that these judgments are global in effect. I have read a lot of speculation about what may bring the heat and it ranges from nuclear warfare to depleted ozone in the atmosphere. However, the text plainly says that the vial will be poured out on the sun and not on the earth. No nation will escape the heat of the sun when it goes into a nova and scorches all mankind with great heat. This is the real future global warming that man should worry about.

 

With all this, they still will not admit that the God of heaven is Almighty. They will blaspheme His name for these judgments and probably call Him the Devil. Those that worship the Beast on earth really want Satan to be God, as do his fallen angels. Believing or wishing a lie is true does not make it true. There is only one Creator God and He is the one that dwells in heaven.

 

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,

11  And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds

 

When the fifth vial is poured out the kingdom of the Beast will be full of darkness. It will be a darkness that can be felt and they will gnaw their tongues for pain. There will be no light in the kingdom of the Beast because God will show the world that the Beast ruling the earth has no light in himself. An example of this type of darkness can be found in Exodus when God judged Egypt.

In Egypt, the darkness lasted three days; we are not told how long this darkness will last. The people in the Beast’s kingdom living with sores, heat, thirst and darkness will not repent of following Satan as God, or of their sins. They will instead blaspheme the God of heaven. 

With this plague of darkness God is graphically demonstrating to the people on the earth who have not yet worshiped the Beast or taken his mark what hell will be like for eternity if they do. They must by their own free will call on the God of heaven for mercy and salvation and accept Jesus to be saved from Satan. If they did, God would have his angels protect them from the plagues yet to come. Yet, most left on earth will continue to believe the lie that Satan is God.

 

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.

13  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.

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.

 

When the sixth vial is poured out on the river Euphrates all the armies of the world are gathered together by the satanic trinity (Dragon, Beast, False Prophet) to the staging ground of Megiddo in Israel (Armageddon). The Euphrates River that separates East from West will be dried up so that the armies of the east can walk to Israel. When all the armies of the world are gathered to the valley of decision, they will be judged in the winepress of God. During the next few months, the following scripture will be completely fulfilled.

 

Joe 3:9   Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up:

10  Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.

11  Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.

12  Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.

13  Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.

14  Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

15  The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.

16  The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.

17  So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.

 

Satanic angels will use lying signs and wonders to deceive and to gather all those who wish to fight against the God of heaven. They will reap the consequences of such a foolish and futile attempt to war against the real Creator.

 

15   Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame

 

This is a parenthetical passage between the sixth and seventh vial that says that Jesus will come as a thief. Some think it is referring back to the time of the pre-tribulation rapture but I do not. Before the final battle takes place and while the Beast is gathering his forces, God will send his angels to gather all those who are looking for Him before the final vial is poured out. This seems to be the gathering spoken of in Matthew and Luke.

 

Mt 24:40  Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Mt 24:41  Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Lu 17:35  Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Lu 17:36  Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

 

These here have no white robes so it is not those seen in heaven who came out of the great tribulation (Rev 7:14). They are wearing the garments of their good works and patience in the tribulation. Those said to be “walking” naked probably either had no good works or stopped doing good works. Some will be ashamed before the rest of them but they will still go. This gathering may or may not include the natural descendants of Israel who did not take the mark. Perhaps at this point, some descendants of Israel in the world still do not know that Jesus is Jehovah. Whatever the case, Isaiah speaks of the return of natural Israel in the last days in the following passage:

 

Isa 11:16  And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.

2  Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

3  Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

4   And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.

5  Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.

Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.

 

Isa 35: 8  And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.

9  No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:

10  And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

 

 

16  And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

 

Joe 3:2  I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.

 

Armageddon is Megiddo in northern Israel; Megiddo will be the staging area for the armies of the Beast but this is not where the armies will be destroyed. When Jesus destroys these armies, the blood of the armies will flow in this valley of Jehoshaphat (Rev 14:20). The valley of Jehoshaphat will be a great rift valley that runs for about 185 miles on the east side of Israel. Much of it was created by the earthquake that opened this valley for the obedient in Jerusalem to flee to the mountains for divine protection.

The God of heaven will ask the kings of the earth and their armies to allow all descendants of natural Israel to return to the land that He appointed for them. The nations will comply because they will fear judgment or will see an opportunity to kill all the Jews on earth at one location. However, as Egypt did in ancient days, after they let the sons of Israel go; they will harden their hearts and go after them to kill them.

God will judge all the world’s armies that come against Israel in this valley. They will receive total destruction, as did the armies of Pharaoh who came against Israel. The actual destruction of this army is described in chapter 19 after John first tells about the deeds and destruction of “Mystery Babylon” in chapter 17 and “Babylon the Great” in chapter 18.

 

Notice the verse in Joel says they parted the land of God. This process of parting the land of God promised to the descendants of Israel is the focus in the Middle-East peace process even today.

 

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.

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.

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.

20  And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

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.

 

When the seventh angel pours out his vial in the atmosphere the greatest earthquake that ever was or that ever will take place on earth will occur. All the cities of the world will fall. All high mountain ranges will dissolve and all islands will be moved or disappear. Jerusalem will be divided into three parts at that time. The mountain of the Lord will be raised as the highest point in the area or possibly the world.

This total changing of the earth’s crust will allow fulfillment of the prophecies that speak about the desert land being watered and being lush during the millennial reign. Most deserts are caused by high mountain ranges. When the mountain ranges are dissolved most of the world will become fertile. This change of the crust will eliminate fault lines. There will be no major earthquakes during the millennium. There will also be more gentle wind patterns without the mountain ranges, meaning less severe storms. The earth will become a paradise.

 

Isa 2:2  And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD‘S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

 

 

The weight of the hailstones is about a talent. A talent was 3000 shekels - these hailstones weigh about 100 pounds each. The hailstones will rain down all over the earth during this final plague before the second coming of Jesus. All this upheaval on earth comes about by a rock made without hands hitting the earth at Babylon. Daniel speaks of this rock. These passages in Daniel have a dual fulfillment. They speak of the Rock (Jesus) destroying the works of the Devil they also speak of the kingdom of the Beast (Babylon) being destroyed by a rock. More will be said about the destruction of the Beast kingdom in chapter 18.

 

Dan 2:34  Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.

Dan 2:45  Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.

 

Back to The Revelation index


To Revelation chapter 17

The Prophetic Years | Bible prophecy - Christian Worldviews and Commentary