Today: [Revelation 16:] Seven Vials Poured Out. In this chapter the seven angels of ch. 15 pour out the vials that one of the four beasts before the throne had given them. As a result, great upheaval and destruction of nations are revealed to John with Jesus Himself standing beside him to comfort him in the unveiling of such cataclysm.
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[Rev 16:1-21 KJV] 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. 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.
In v. 1 of Rev. 16, we see the seven angels revealed in the previous chapter going out to pour the vials they were given onto the earth. What was in these vials? The wrath of God. Vials are mentioned five times in Revelation as alternately the vials of the prayers of the saints and vials full of the wrath of God and plagues being poured out on the earth. What does this tell us? That God stores his wrath in the same containers that He retains the prayers of the saints. In each case, the vials were always poured out at a specific time bringing about eventualities on the earth. Prayer does not go to God on a one-way trip; they always come back to accomplish whereunto they were sent. Prayer is like a boxcar – don’t send yours into the station empty. Give the angels something to offload that God can and will work with.
When the first vial is poured out a “grievous sore” breaks out on all those, who worship the image of the beast and have taken the mark. Is God being vicious? No, He is just honoring the laws of reciprocity that He set in motion in Gen. 1:11:
[Gen 1:11 KJV] 11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, [and] the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed [is] in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
Remember that man was formed from the earth (Gen. 2:7). What does that imply? Anything true of the earth is true of man. Our words and actions are like seeds sown that are subject to the law of seedtime and harvest. In v. 2 we see the inevitable harvest of what godless humanity has sown coming back into their lives. This is an immutable law of God that originates not just in what He does but who He is, and for that reason, it changes not because He changes not (Mal. 3:6).
The second vial is poured out upon the sea, and it becomes like the blood of a dead man resulting in the death of every living thing within it. Is this literal? We have no reason to believe otherwise.
The third angel pours out his vial in v. 4 on the rivers and fountains, and they likewise became as blood. We now see in the first three vials the reciprocity of God visited upon the earth, the sea and the fresh waters of the earth. At that moment an angel described as the “angel of the waters” declaring the righteous justice of God in so doing these things that have occurred. It is interesting to note that apparently there is an “angel of the waters” in charge of the marine environments of the earth. Why are these first three vials poured out? In recompense for the blood of the prophets and the blood of the saints slain for their faith through all of human history.
Another angel sounds who is described as the angel out of the altar. As there is an angel of the seas, there is also an angel of the altar of God answering the declaration of the angel of the sea and affirming the judgments of God as just and right and equitable.
In v. 8 the fourth angel pours out his vials and temperatures rise to unprecedented levels. In response to this, there is no repentance; instead, men shake their fist in God’s face and blasphemed his name. Then the fifth angel pours out his vials on the seat of government controlled by the beast, and his entire cabinet is cast into a state of darkness and supernatural numbness, and they gnaw their tongues just to feel something in their confusion. Realizing all of this is the hand of God; they continue to curse refusing to repent.
In v. 12 the sixth angel sounds and out of the Euphrates and it ceases to flow, drying up altogether apparently in preparation for a military force from the east to traverse on dry ground where once the Euphrates served as a natural barrier. What nations are east of the Euphrates? The countries of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. What would be directly west of their eastward march? The city of Jerusalem. In advance of this three spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, the false prophet and the beast to work miracles and wonders to bring their forces once again together to ally themselves with these eastern nations in a final assault against Isreal. Where is the beast system headquartered? In Western Europe, perhaps Russia.
At this point in this dread narrative, Jesus seems to lean over John, putting his hand on John’s shoulder to comfort him saying “Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches lest he walk naked and they see his shame…”
The narrative continues with these nations gather in conquest against Jerusalem at the Megiddo valley. This valley is bounded on three sides by the Mount of Ascension, the city of Nazareth and Mount Carmel where Elijah dispatched the 450 prophets of Baal. Now the seventh angel sounds declaring ominously “it is done.” Upon those words there now come voices, thunders, lightnings and a great earthquake of a magnitude as to never have been experienced by men on the earth. What is the “Great City?” Some suggest Jerusalem. Others point to Babylon, but Babylon does not exist as a city or even a village. Perhaps it means an earthquake in central Iraq dividing the area where Babylon once stood. Still, others maintain that Babylon is “Mystery Babylon” depicted in Revelation as a prostitute astride a beast with many names – representing the systemically corrupt Christian religious system. This does hold some credibility when you realize that Christianity like the aftermath of this earthquake is divided into three parts, the Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Whatever the case may be this is a time of great upheaval with fire, earthquake, and cataclysm in the midst of which men continue to blaspheme and shake their fist in the face of God who sent His son that they might be redeemed.
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