Chapter 16: Pouring Out the Seven Vial Judgments
Most awful of the judgments of God are the Seven Vial Judgments.
"Say unto God, How terrible art Thou in
Thy works! through the greatness of Thy power shall Thine enemies submit themselves
unto Thee" (Psalm 66:3). Unlike the Seal Judgments (Revelation
6:1-17; 8:1) of the First Half of the Tribulation Week, which unveil and introduce,
i.e., "Come and see" (6:1, 3, 5, 11), the Almighty's dealings with the planet, and the Trumpet
Judgments (8:2-13; 9:1-21; 11:15-19) of the Second Half of the Tribulation Week,
which further demonstrate how seriously God expects man's repentance through His
smiting of a "third part" (8:7-12; 9:15, 18) of His creation; the Seven Vial Judgments, which accordingly
must be placed at the End of the Tribulation Week because they are described by the
Spirit as the "seven last plagues" (15:1), demonstrate the finality of the "wrath
of God upon the Earth" (16:1). "For
in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture;
and He poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the Earth
shall wring them out, and drink them" (Psalm 75:8).
The "Great Voice out of the Temple" (16:1) undisputedly belongs to the LORD Jesus Christ, for another "Great Voice" that comes "out of the Temple of Heaven", comes specifically "from the Throne" (16:17), i.e., the "Throne of God and of the Lamb" (22:1, 3). Also, the Voice announces, "It is done" (16:17), which is similar to our LORD's dying words upon the Cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30). As if to emphasize the enormity of this final judgment of the Seven Vials, the word "great" (Greek, mega) appears eleven times in this chapter:
(1) a "Great Voice" coming "out of the Temple" (16:1),
(2) a "great heat" (16:9) from the Fourth Vial Judgment,
(3) the "great river Euphrates" (16:12) of the Sixth Vial Judgment,
(4) the "battle of that great day of God Almighty" (16:14), which is Armageddon,
(5) the "Great Voice [of Christ] out of the Temple of Heaven" (16:17) from the Seventh Vial Judgment,
(6) a "great earthquake" (16:18) before the Second Coming of Christ,
(7) the mightiest earthquake in the history of mankind is described as "so mighty an earthquake, and so great" (16:18),
(8) the "great city" (16:19) of Jerusalem will be topographically rearranged,
(9) "great Babylon [spiritual Babylon]" (16:19) is remembered by God for punishment,
(10) "great hail" (16:21) falls upon man, and
(11) the fierceness of the hail of plague is called "exceeding great" (16:21).
Commandment will then be given by the LORD Jesus Christ to the angels to begin the Vial Judgments. "Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the Earth" (16:1). In His First Advent, the Son of God is the meek Saviour, inviting all to find their rest in Him. "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). But, the Second Advent will find Christ as the King that the Father has appointed to judge "all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth His sheep from the goats" (25:32). "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son" (John 5:27). The Vial Judgments teach us that the Benevolent Love that emanated from the Father through the Son, will then be substituted with a ferocity of judgment against sin that signals that God has a limit to His patience with sinners. "And the LORD said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man" (Genesis 6:3). Though none repent during the Vial Judgments, i.e., "repented not" (Revelation 16:9, 11), God is still offering the opportunity of repentance; or else, He would have swiftly and immediately terminated the lives of these final surviving rebels. "And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague" (Numbers 11:33).
The First Vial Judgment is poured out upon all worshippers of the Beast, i.e., "upon them which worshipped his image" (16:2). A "vial" is translated from the Greek word chiale, which means a shallow bowl or cup, usually without a stand or foot, used to draw out of a larger goblet. The Almighty's anger with man's wickedness is that larger goblet, i.e., "God is angry with the wicked every day" (Psalm 7:11). He has wisely chosen to govern His anger by the offering of His Only Begotten Son in atonement for man's sinful rebellion; but, man's probation must eventually end, or God's Kingdom cannot ultimately stand. "And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke Me? and how long will it be ere they believe Me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?... How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against Me?" (Numbers 14:11, 27). If man could always count upon sinning with time left for repentance, then:
(1) There would be no pressing need for immediate repentance; however, Jesus preached, "Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17),
(2) Hell would be entirely empty; but, Hell (Greek, gehenna) is not idly promised to those that do not escape it, i.e., "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of Hell?" (23:33), and
(3) The White Throne Judgment would have no Unrighteous Sinners to punish; nevertheless, "whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire" (Revelation 20:15), which is the place "where the Beast and the False Prophet are [at that time already]" (20:10).
A "noisome [Greek, kakos, meaning bad] and
grievous [Greek, poneros, meaning evil] sore [Greek, helkos, meaning
sore or ulcer]"
(16:2) is a loathsome and malignant ulcer, that will be poured out upon worshippers
of the Beast. An ulcer is a lesion resulting from the gradual disintegration of tissue,
which covers most of the internal and external surfaces of the body, whose main symptom
is pain. And, pain, which was originally intended to punish, i.e., "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow
thou shalt bring forth children... cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt
thou eat of it all the days of thy life" (Genesis 3:16,
17), if it does not reform the recipient, will only be a prelude to their final destruction,
for ulcers that are painful to touch are oftentimes a cancer. "Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of
temptation in the wilderness" (Hebrews 3:8).
This malignant ulcer will fall specifically upon the "men which had [Greek, echontas, present tense, literally, are having] the Mark of the Beast, and upon them which worshipped [Greek, proskunountas, present tense, literally, are worshipping] his image" (16:2). Is it possible for one to have received the Mark of the Beast and yet not worship the Antichrist? Yes. The Beast will mark all of humankind as his property, i.e., acting for the Antichrist, the False Prophet "causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads" (13:16), which will include even those humans who are not moral agents, e.g., infants, toddlers, mentally handicapped, etc., who have no agency, and therefore cannot receive Divine Punishment. "Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the Kingdom of God" (Mark 10:14). From the Antichrist's perspective, refusal to take the Mark of the Beast means starvation, i.e., "no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark" (Revelation 13:17), and refusal to worship the Beast means the penalty of death, i.e., "as many as would not worship the image of the Beast should be killed" (13:15). On the other hand, God will Eternally Punish those who are clinging to the Mark and worshipping the Beast. "If any man worship [Greek, proskunei, present tense, literally, is worshipping] the Beast and his image, and receive [Greek, lambanei, present tense, literally, is receiving] his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the Wrath of God" (14:9, 10).
Does this mean that someone who has taken the Mark and worshipped the Beast might yet be converted before it was too late? Yes, but no one should ever take the Mark-- much less, take it with the mental reservation that they they will repent of it later-- for "ye know not what shall be on the morrow" (James 4:14). However, if repentance was morally impossible for all who had taken the Mark and worshipped the Beast, then:
(1) Why is the Everlasting Gospel preached in the Last Hour to "them that dwell on the Earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people" (Revelation 14:6), if the offering was not sincere, or the hearers were unable to believe?
(2) Why report that the hearers "repented not" (16:9, 11), if their repentance would not be accepted, or they were not still morally capable of repenting?, and
(3) Who will be saved to physically enter into the Millennial Kingdom, where the "wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them" (Isaiah 11:6), as subjects of Messiah the King? Remember that a "Great Multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues" (Revelation 7:9) of Tribulation Saints, will come "out of Great Tribulation" (7:14), after the Mark of the Beast has been implemented; and, undoubtedly, there will be former Beast Worshippers in that number. "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (Luke 18:27).
"Every living soul died in the sea" (16:3) when the "second angel
poured out his vial upon the sea" (16:3) causing it to
become "as the blood of a dead man" (16:3). This is the Second Vial Judgment.
"17 Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the
LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which
are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. 18 And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river
shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river" (Exodus 7:17-18). Unlike the ancient plague that Moses brought upon the
nation of Egypt, or the Second Trumpet Judgment of this same Tribulation Week, where
only the "third part of the sea became
blood" (Revelation 8:8), the Second Vial Judgment will
completely change the seas of the world into actual blood. Our beautiful planet,
when viewed from space, is 70.8 percent covered by oceans and marginal seas, encompassing
139.4 million square miles (361.1 million square kilometers), holding a volume of
329 million cubic miles (1.37 billion cubic kilometers) of seawater, at an average
depth of 12,450 feet (3,795 meters), and appearing in rich shades of blue under patches,
bands, and swirls of clouds. But, soon the Almighty's fierce wrath will turn the
planet's appearance into visible shades of red blood. "He
treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (19:15).
Since blood is half blood cells and half plasma-- with plasma's chemical composition resembling seawater-- when the Second Vial Judgment miraculously transforms the sea into actual blood, the vast addition of the organic waste of the blood cells to the seas will deplete the supply of dissolved oxygen in the ocean, which is normally renewed by absorption from the air and by photosynthesis. When bacteria degrades the organic waste into its inorganic components (nitrogen, phosphorous, and carbon)-- which in turn nourishes the microscopic algae of the aquatic food chain-- the process consumes oxygen present in the sea. But, when Jehovah overwhelms the process with apocalyptic proportions of the organic wastes of blood cells, the process collapses. The seas' oxygen supply is exhausted, and the ocean eutrophies or "dies". Thus, the sea turns slimy and stinks. "He is the Rock, His work is Perfect: for all His ways are Judgment: a God of Truth and without iniquity, Just and Right is He" (Deuteronomy 32:4). Man began the pollution of the oceans; but, in judgment, God will instantaneously complete the process, with the result that "every living soul died in the sea" (16:3). Thus, the great life giving reservoir of the oceans are rendered dead because of God's judgment upon man's sin. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is Eternal Life through Jesus Christ our LORD" (Romans 6:23).
To complete the destruction of the hydrosphere, the LORD God Almighty
will cause His angel to pour out the Third Vial Judgment upon the remaining sources
of fresh water. "And the third angel poured
out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters"
(16:4). It is estimated that the Earth's hydrosphere contains 336 million cubic miles
(1.4 billion cubic kilometers) of water, with the oceans constituting 97 percent
of this amount. The polar ice caps and glaciers hold slightly more than 2 percent;
and, the remainder is found in freshwater bodies (e.g., lakes, streams, the "rivers and fountains of waters"),
groundwater, vegetation, and atmospheric vapour. "Thou
visitest the Earth, and waterest it: Thou greatly enrichest it with the river of
God, which is full of water" (Psalm 65:9). Life on the
planet survives on less than one percent of the water in the Earth's hydrosphere;
and, it is evident that without a hydrologic cycle of transferring water from the
oceans through the atmosphere to the continents by means of evaporation and precipitation,
and back to the oceans through transpiration, infiltration, subterranean percolation,
overland flow, runoff, and other complex processes, life on dry land would cease.
"The LORD by wisdom hath founded the Earth;
by understanding hath He established the heavens" (Proverbs
However, survival on this planet after the Second and Third Vial Judgment, i.e., the sea became "as the blood of a dead man" (16:3) and freshwater sources "became blood" (16:4), will rapidly become a life ending crisis. The human body can live for seven to nine weeks without food (depending upon body weight), but it can only survive up to ten days without water (in moderate weather). When deprived of food but not water, the body will deplete its carbohydrates, that are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle cells, after the first day. It will then begin to consume the body's fat reserves for the next four to six weeks. Subsequently, the body will begin to consume its protein reserves-- which is the body itself-- irreparably damaging itself, especially the brain, for the last two to three weeks. On the other hand, water is immediately more vital to survival, since the weight of the adult human body is 55 to 60 percent water, and it is recommended to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses (about 2 liters) of water or other fluids daily for healthful maintenance. "The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the Judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether" (Psalm 19:9).
Even in this Third Vial Judgment, God does not eradicate human life instantaneously; rather, He justifies Himself in wisdom by preparing the last vestiges of the elect-but-still-lost for their just-in-time repentance at His Second Coming. "Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the Earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children" (Isaiah 66:8). Unlike the plague that Jehovah visited upon the ancient Egyptians, where both the Nile River and even water found "in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone" (Exodus 7:19-20) became blood, the Third Vial Judgment seems to restrict itself to only the natural sources of freshwater storage, e.g., aquifers, rivers, lakes, springs, etc. "And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters" (16:4). By apparently allowing manmade water storage containers to escape this judgment, it appears that the Almighty is preserving even the lives of wicked men to be slain several days hence at Armageddon, i.e., the "battle of that great day of God Almighty" (16:14). "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou restrain" (Psalm 76:10). Man has little conception of the glory due unto the Name of the LORD; and therefore, it is accordingly difficult for the same minds to conceive that the "LORD is known by the judgment which He executeth" (9:16). But, He must exalt Himself in judgment, if man will not repent. "Thus will I magnify Myself, and sanctify Myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD" (Ezekiel 38:23).
This verse begins with a declaration by the "angel of the waters" (16:5), i.e.,
the "third angel" (16:4)
of the Vial Judgments, praising and worshipping God for His righteous judgment--
"Thou art righteous, O LORD" (16:5). "48:10
According to Thy Name, O God, so is Thy praise
unto the ends of the Earth: Thy right hand is full of righteousness... 50:6 And the Heavens shall declare
His righteousness: for God is Judge Himself... 89:16 In Thy Name shall they rejoice all the day: and in Thy righteousness
shall they be exalted... 97:2 Clouds
and darkness are round about Him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of
His Throne... 119:142 Thy
righteousness is an Everlasting Righteousness, and Thy Law is the Truth... 144 The righteousness of Thy Testimonies
is everlasting: give me Understanding, and I shall live"
(Psalm 48:10; 50:6; 89:16; 97:2; 119:142, 144). In substance, if God is not righteous,
then an eternal standard does not exist to which we can anchor and by which we can
live. "Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance?
(I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?" (Romans 3:5, 6). Man's inability to justify all the actions and allowances
of the Righteous God, only underscores our minuscule understanding of what is right,
for even the visible "heavens declare
His righteousness" (Psalm 97:6).
The Eternal God, "which art, and wast, and shalt be" (16:5), must judge righteously, or the very foundations of Heaven would eventually collapse. "Thou, even Thou, art LORD alone; Thou hast made Heaven, the Heaven of Heavens, with all their host, the Earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and Thou preservest them all; and the host of Heaven worshippeth Thee" (Nehemiah 9:6). The "LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Jeremiah 23:6) has revealed that the same Jesus, whom He has appointed to "judge the quick and the dead at His appearing" (2Timothy 4:1), is "made unto us... righteousness" (1Corinthians 1:30), that "we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2Corinthians 5:21). The same "righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (2Peter 1:1) that will judge the Tribulation Rebels of this Third Vial Judgment, is the same righteousness that will always deliver His Saints. "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness" (Isaiah 41:10).
A precept of the ancient Jewish civil law was the Retributive Justice
of a "life for life, eye for eye, tooth
for tooth" (Exodus 21:23, 24). This was not intended as
a statement of mercy, but it was an unqualified fitting of the punishment to the
crime. "For he shall have judgment without
mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment" (James 2:13). Whether or not all the inhabitants of the Earth have personally
executed a Tribulation Saint, God reckons them complicit with the crime by their
adherence to the Antichrist, through their reception of the Mark of the Beast, their
worship of the Beast, and their use of the Mark to further their self-survival. "For they have shed the blood of Saints and prophets,
and Thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy"
(16:6). The crime against the unborn [see our article, "What
the Bible Says About Abortion" ---New Window], the injustice
of American slavery [see our article, "The
Spirit of Slavery (Part 1)" ---New Window], and Germany's
holocaust of the Jews are modern examples of how the Almighty must deal with a nation,
when sin is tolerated by its people. "3 Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye
judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor:
and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither
shed innocent blood in this place... 5 But if ye will not hear these Words, I swear by Myself, saith the
LORD, that this house shall become a desolation" (Jeremiah
When the Almighty shall give the world literal "blood to drink" (16:6), it is the curse of God against the human life that He fashioned into existence on the Sixth Day of Creation. "And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob" (Isaiah 49:26). Remembering that human blood is a mixture of human tissue (blood cells) and an equal proportion of plasma (whose chemical composition resembles seawater), drinking human blood would be paramount to the curse of drinking a mixture of seawater and decomposing human tissue. "The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but He blesseth the habitation of the just" (Proverbs 3:33). The very word ecology, which is the study of the relationships between organisms and their environments, comes from the Greek word oikos, which means house. Thus, according to Proverbs, the curse of the LORD is in the ecology of the wicked, "for they are worthy" (16:6). Yes, God does care that we wisely manage the environment, but He is more concerned that unrighteous humanity is covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ, "even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe" (Romans 3:22).
It is instructive that the Spirit of God deemed it wise to tarry this thought another verse, to bolster our understanding of the veracity and rightness of His actions in this Third Vial Judgment. "Even so, LORD God Almighty, true and righteous are Thy Judgments" (16:7). Man's bewilderment at God's judgments truly illustrate the words of the LORD, "My Thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My Ways" (Isaiah 55:8). Why such ferocity by the Divine One against the world after nearly two millennia of tender Gospel entreaties? Contrary to the misconception that repentance is a right guaranteed by God forever, opportunity to turn away from sin must be:
(1) limited to the present, i.e., "behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of Salvation" (2Corinthians 6:2),
(2) restricted to the time before physical death, i.e., "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:14),
(3) prior to the appointed time of judgment for all sin, i.e., "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this The Judgment" (Hebrews 9:27), and
(4) excepted that the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has not already been committed, i.e., "31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. 32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come" (Matthew 12:31-32).
Therefore, the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God in these Vial Judgments is an indication that the time of man's probation has all but expired. "Behold, thou art but a dead man" (Genesis 20:3). His vehement anger signifies not His surprise that man can still be so obstinately wicked, but it simply gauges exactly how vast and terrible man's sinfulness will finally become. "The latter end is worse with them than the beginning" (2Peter 2:20). God hates sin because it assaults the highest good and well-being of Himself and the universe. "30 Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the First Commandment. 31 And the Second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other Commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30-31). So, He must match the magnitude of the punishment to the scope of the crime, i.e., "every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward" (Hebrews 2:2), if His moral government of the universe is to endure. "Thy Throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of Thy Kingdom is a right sceptre" (Psalm 45:6). In essence, the same rebellious slogan that Lucifer incited against the Most High in the Heavenlies, has echoed throughout time, and especially against the Son of Man. "We will not have this Man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14). But now, the Vial Judgments represent the end of Jehovah's therapeutic judgments of man, whereby man's repentance is still possible. "An end is come, the end is come: it watcheth for thee; behold, it is come" (Ezekiel 7:6).
Rebellious Earth dwellers are the target of the Fourth Vial Judgment,
for none but the wicked remain on the planet at this time. In this instance, Earth's
Sun is the vehicle chosen by God to make the required impression. "And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun" (16:8). Our Sun is a medium sized dwarf star-- measuring 864,049 miles
in diameter compared to Earth's 7,937 miles-- located in the outer part of the Milky
Way Galaxy. It is 90 percent composed of hydrogen atoms, which are converted to helium,
thus releasing energy in the form of neutrinos, the kinetic energy of product particles,
and gamma-ray photons, which reach the Earth in about eight minutes (traveling approximately
92 million miles). At its present rate of consumption, the Sun would theoretically
consume its mass in 100 billion years. As the sun depletes its supply of hydrogen,
it burns 10 percent brighter every billion years, raising its central temperature
and potentially increasing the temperature of the Earth. "And
God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light
to rule the night" (Genesis 1:16). However, nothing in
the natural process of the Sun's nuclear burning approximates the prophetic account
of the thermostatic effect upon the Earth and all its inhabitants, i.e., "to scorch men with fire"
(16:8). "21 For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, He shall
be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and
bring to pass His act, His strange act. 22 Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong:
for I have heard from the Lord GOD of Hosts a consumption, even determined upon the
whole Earth" (Isaiah 28:21-22).
The corona, which is the outermost atmosphere of the Sun, typically has a temperature of a few million degrees Kelvin; but during a solar flare, the temperature of the sun's corona may reach 10 to 20 million degrees Kelvin, and can run as high as 100 million degrees Kelvin. Still, this nowhere captures the power of the Fourth Vial Judgment, where the Almighty God will "scorch men with fire" (16:8). "Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup" (Psalm 11:6). A solar flare is a rapid release of energy from a sunspot region of the Sun in the form of electromagnetic radiation. Though the energy released in a solar flare is the equivalent of millions of 100-megaton hydrogen bombs exploding simultaneously, it is less than a tenth of the total energy emitted by the Sun every second. Space stations and satellites-- which tie together our planet's broadcast media, communications, the Internet, commerce, banking, navigation, military, government, and ultimately the Mark of the Beast-- would be most effected by this solar bombardment. "Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him" (Isaiah 3:11). Satellite technology has rapidly become the connective tissue of modern civilization, and while the Almighty punishes and pleads with men in this Vial Judgment, He will deliver what must be a fatal blow to the satellites from the Sun. "O Earth, Earth, Earth, hear the Word of the LORD" (Jeremiah 22:29).
The amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth is a function
of both the energy output of the Sun and the condition of the stratospheric ozone
layer. Earth's atmospheric ozone layer absorbs ultraviolet radiation (UVR), preventing
it from reaching the surface of the Earth. Ozone is created by the disassociation
of oxygen by short wavelength UVR; however, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other
gases released by human activities are believed to destroy the ozone layer. A higher
incidence of skin cancer is the result of the depletion of the ozone. "Be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23). Sunburn results from the overexposure of the skin to the
ultraviolet of sunlight; but, when men are "scorched
with great heat" (16:9), more severe injury is indicated,
i.e., second-degree or third-degree burns. Both these burns damage the dermis and
epidermis, while the third-degree burn also destroys the entire thickness of the
skin. "The LORD knoweth how to deliver
the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment
to be punished" (2Peter 2:9). Pain, infection, and shock
are some of the immediate concerns of victims of severe burns, and it appears that
those injured by the Fourth Vial Judgment have sufficient consciousness, for still
they "blasphemed the Name of God" (16:9).
Can God be so mistaken about the character of these impenitent rebels that He would torture them with malignant ulcers, bloody seas, bloody waters, and now scorching heat? God would cease to be God, if His judgments were not forever righteous. "5 But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) 6 God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?" (Romans 3:5-6). God has always promised that the breaking of His Laws were to be punished with death, i.e., "But of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). It has only been the mercy, grace, and love of God that "in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). The Righteous Judge has never owed us mercy, but He has continually shown His mercy throughout this Gospel dispensation. "5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour" (Titus 3:5-6). Why should He Who "hath power over these plagues" (16:9) not judge and punish these that still have "repented not to give Him glory" (16:9)?
"As for God, His way is perfect" (2Samuel 22:31). Just as the wire of a coat hanger is repeatedly bent one
way, then another before it finally breaks, the All Wise God applies pressure first
to the seas, then to the freshwater. Next, He pressures man with light and the scorching
heat of the Sun, only to quickly reverse the circumstances to worldwide darkness
in the Fifth Vial Judgment. "And the fifth
angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the Beast; and his kingdom was full of
darkness" (16:10). Because the world ruled by the Antichrist
has been relieved of its burden of Saints, who are the "light
of the world" (Matthew 5:14)-- through Pre-Tribulational
Rapture, martyrdom, and Pre-Wrath Rapture-- the Judge of All visits Antichrist's
Earth with a physical darkness that can be felt. "Give
glory to the LORD your God, before He cause darkness, and before your feet stumble
upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, He turn it into the shadow
of death, and make it gross darkness" (Jeremiah 13:16).
[For an explanation of the concept of More Than One Rapture, please read our
article, "The Wisdom of More
Than One Rapture" ---New Window.]
Physicists define light as energy, propagated from one place to another at the speed of 186,000 miles per second (300,000 kilometers per second), to which the human eye is sensitive. Light behaves both like a wave, i.e., electromagnetic wave theory of light (19th century), and like particles, i.e., quantum theory of light (20th century). Energy in the form of light is always moving; and, when light energy ceases to move, because it has been absorbed by matter, it is no longer light. "This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1John 1:5). Darkness is the absence of light. "The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble" (Proverbs 4:19). Jude, either the half brother of the LORD Jesus or one of the original twelve apostles, described some of Lucifer's cohorts as being held in chains of darkness. "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the Judgment of the great day" (Jude 6). Astronomers theorize the existence of black holes, which is, they say, the final stage of progression of very massive stars following total gravitational collapse, so densely packed that even light cannot escape. "Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever" (Jude 13).
Like the totally blind, one who descends into the abyss of the ocean or journeys into the bowels of a cave, may experience the sensation of total darkness; and, in the Scriptural record, both Jonah in the belly of the whale and Pharaoh of the Exodus experienced a darkness that could be felt. "21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward Heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. 22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward Heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: 23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings" (Exodus 10:21-23). This type of total darkness resulted in the repentance of Jonah and the hardening of Pharaoh. And, during the final days of the Tribulation Week, we can be sure that the rebels will receive great pain from the darkness, i.e., "and they gnawed their tongues for pain" (16:10). Since most of these will never repent, they have already begun their descent into the "blackness of darkness for ever" (Jude 13), into their final place of Unending Punishment, originally "prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).
The impenitence of these Earth dwellers is not unexpected, i.e.,
they "repented not of their deeds"
(16:11). They have the infamous distinction of being the most
stubborn and defiant human beings still drawing breath, for of such "Beelzebub the prince of the devils" (Matthew 12:24) takes grudging delight. "29 Being filled with all unrighteousness,
fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate,
deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 backbiters,
haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient
to parents, 31 without
understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 who knowing the Judgment
of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same,
but have pleasure in them that do them" (Romans 1:29-32).
Being without remorse for all their wickedness, what more evidence could the Faithful
Creator give of the stark reality of their need for repentance than the supernatural,
miraculous Vial Judgments? "23 Have I any pleasure at all that
the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his
ways, and live?... 32 For
I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore
turn yourselves, and live ye" (Ezekiel 18:23, 32).
But, they "blasphemed the God of Heaven because of their pains and their sores" (16:11). If God cannot be magnified in their Salvation, He must "lay the land desolate" and "destroy the sinners thereof out of it" (Isaiah 13:9). So much of the message of the Old Testament prophets against faithless Israel and upon the Gentile nations, made such sweeping statements of Jehovah's worldwide judgment against sin, that the final scene of judgment seemed remote-- until the world sinned away the opportunity of Gospel repentance. "6 Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (55:6-7). Their blasphemy, from the Greek word blasphemeo (to speak evilly of God's divine majesty), only further hardens them, ensuring the rightness of their destruction and damnation. "But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption" (2Peter 2:12). "Their pains and their sores" (16:11) have continued from at least the First Vial Judgment's malignant ulcers and certainly from gnawing their tongues for pain in the Fifth Vial Judgment. They are much like a repeatedly wounded animal, only looking for a way to die. "Slay all her bullocks; let them go down to the slaughter: woe unto them! for their day is come, the time of their visitation" (Jeremiah 50:27).
Preparation of the Kings of the East for the Battle of Armageddon
is the purpose for the Sixth Vial Judgment, i.e., "that
the way of the Kings of the East might be prepared" (16:12).
In particular, the Omniscient God understands the necessity for the drying up of
the Euphrates River-- to ensure the arrival of the Kings of the East for the slaughter
of the Battle of Armageddon at the appointed time. "And
the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water
thereof was dried up" (16:12). The eastern boundary of
the ancient Roman Empire was the Euphrates River. It was also the eastern extent
of the land promised to the seed of Abraham. "In
the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given
this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates" (Genesis 15:18). Flowing from the Armenian plateau in Turkey southeastward
across Syria and southern Iraq, joining to the Tigris River to form the Shatt al-Arab,
and emptying into the Persian Gulf, the Euphrates River is the largest river of western
Asia, with a total length of about 1,700 miles (2,700 kilometers). "And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden... And a
river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became
into four heads... And the fourth river is Euphrates"
(Genesis 2:8, 10, 14).
It is fittingly poetic of God that the geographic area known as the Fertile Crescent (roughly extending from the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, arching northward to Assyria, westward over Syria to the Mediterranean, southward through Israel, and extending into the Nile valley of Egypt) would be both the location of the Garden of Eden and Armageddon-- the place of man's beginning and the area of the end of his rebellion against God. "I am Alpha and Omega, The Beginning and The Ending, saith the LORD, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8). The distance from Armageddon to the "great river Euphrates" (16:12) is approximately 350 miles (560 kilometers) at its closest point and 700 miles (1,100 kilometers) at the convergence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In the beginning of the 21st century, the evident pattern is the rising military-industrial power of China, the technological ascendancy and prowess of Japan, and the continued growth in the population of India-- all guarantee sufficient capability and combatants to cross the dried Euphrates to keep an appointment at Armageddon. "Whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable" (Luke 3:17).
The "three unclean spirits"
(16:13) that "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" (16:13), indicate that the
hellish influence of the devil and Satan possessed men alike is often disseminated
by demons. "Beloved, believe not every
spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets
are gone out into the world" (1John 4:1). That the demons
are "like frogs"
(16:13), signifies that they are representatively unclean, much as
the superseded Old Testament Ceremonial Law used to specify. "5
I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel
descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from Heaven by four corners; and
it came even to me: 6
upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts
of the Earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 7 And I heard a Voice saying unto
me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. 8 But
I said, Not so, LORD: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into
my mouth" (Acts 11:5-8).
What Satan, demons, and evil men believe to be their own machinations against the Most High and His elect ones, is actually the supreme demonstration of the Omnipotent and Omniscient God in using their evil to perform His purpose. "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things" (Isaiah 45:7). Though God can never be the substance of evil, He does so thoroughly control His adversaries that the "wrath of man shall praise [Him]: the remainder of wrath [shall He] restrain" (Psalm 76:10). The slaughter of Armageddon will be promoted by the Antichrist as the final solution for eliminating the LORD Jesus Christ from contention to the rulership of the Kingdom of God, in particular, the Millennial Earth. "37 But last of all He sent unto them His Son, saying, They will reverence My Son. 38 But when the husbandmen saw the Son, they said among themselves, This is the Heir; come, let us kill Him, and let us seize on His inheritance" (Matthew 21:37-38). Armageddon will not be the revolt of the Kings of the East against the Antichrist, to be fought out in Israel. "And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the Beast" (Revelation 17:12). Rather, it will be the concerted effort of the Antichrist and the Kings of the East to finally defeat and destroy the LORD Jesus Christ, who is the Only Legitimate Heir to the Throne. "Until the appearing of our LORD Jesus Christ: which in His times He shall shew, who is the Blessed and Only Potentate, the KING of Kings, and LORD of Lords" (1Timothy 6:14-15).
It is a characteristic of ungodliness that both wicked men and
evil angels are by nature unreasonable. "And
that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith" (2Thessalonians 3:2). These faithless "spirits
of devils" (16:14) are the demons that possess those individuals
who have refused obedience to Christ, i.e., "to
whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey" (Romans 6:16), because "God
gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient" (1:28). Why? Demoniacs (the demon possessed) are those who simply "did not like to retain God in their knowledge" (1:28), that have been allowed by God to be so inhabited by demons for
the sake of punishment, judgment, and even reformation. "And [Christ's] fame went throughout all
Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases
and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick,
and those that had the palsy; and He healed them" (Matthew
Christ's healings demonstrated that curable physical illnesses were often the manifestation of demon possession. "Then was brought unto Him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and He healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw" (Matthew 12:22). In addition, demons:
(1) spoke through their host, i.e., "And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out" (Mark 1:23),
(2) possessed knowledge beyond that of their host, i.e., "Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God" (1:24),
(3) preferred inhabiting a beast, if a human was not available, i.e., "So the devils besought Him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine" (Matthew 8:31),
(4) are allowed their habitation only by permission from God, i.e., "And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, LORD, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy Name" (Luke 10:17),
(5) are cast out by the prayer and fasting of the Saints, i.e., "25 When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him... 28 And when [Jesus] was come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29 And He said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:25, 28-29), and
(6) comprehend that they are only biding their time until they will be finally and eternally judged, i.e., "And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?" (Matthew 8:29).
The unreasonableness of these "spirits of devils" (16:14) is that though they know that the Almighty has ultimate control over them and will finally judge them, they persist in opposing the Second Coming of the LORD Jesus Christ. But, why does God allow it? Because the Kingdom of God is a vast Moral Government-- not an autocratic rule over those who have no choice but to obey, praise, and worship the Almighty-- the King must demonstrate to the satisfaction of all His subjects that His judgment of the world that opposes Him at Armageddon, is a righteous and just execution. "9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the Faithful God, which keepeth Covenant and Mercy with them that love Him and keep His Commandments to a thousand generations; 10 and repayeth them that hate Him to their face, to destroy them: He will not be slack to him that hateth Him, He will repay him to his face. 11 Thou shalt therefore keep the Commandments, and the Statutes, and the Judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them" (Deuteronomy 7:9-11). These demons are allowed to work miracles, i.e., "working miracles" (16:14), so that they may persuade the "kings of the Earth" and the "whole world" (16:14) that they can fight and win at Armageddon, the "battle of that great day of God Almighty" (16:14). "19 And [the good prophet Micaiah] said, Hear thou therefore the Word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His Throne, and all the host of Heaven standing by Him on His right hand and on His left. 20 And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. 21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. 22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And He said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so" (1Kings 22:19-22).
"Behold, I come as a thief" (16:15) is a warning, but this verse is also meant to be a promise to those
who read it before Armageddon is fought. Only to the wicked, will He come as a thief;
but, a receiver of this promise "watcheth" (16:15) and awaits his LORD's coming. "2 For yourselves know perfectly that
the day of the LORD so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction
cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are
not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5
Ye are all the Children of Light, and the Children
of the Day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch
and be sober. 7 For they
that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
8 But let us, who are
of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet,
the hope of Salvation. 9 For
God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain Salvation by our LORD Jesus Christ" (1Thessalonians 5:2-9).
To keep one's garments, i.e., "keepeth his garments" (16:15), implies a carefulness to walk in holiness, for the first garments were given by the Creator to cover the nakedness of our first parents' sin. "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21). But, in that act of covering is the lesson that our God has provided the shed blood of His Son in atonement for our sins. "And almost all things are by the Law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22). The benefit of our Redeemer's covering extends beyond our initial Salvation, but it must encompass all subsequent cleansings for backslidings, when we "walked naked" and the world saw our "shame" (16:15). "If we confess our sins, He is Faithful and Just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1John 1:9). Only as we are taught our need of abiding in Christ, can we possibly find relief from sinning. "Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not" (1John 3:6). And, abiding in Christ is so understanding the "riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19) that conforms Christ as the answer to our every question and the provision for our every need, that we become the victor and not the vanquished. "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1John 5:4). [See our article, "Must We Then Sin?" ---New Window, which is "a clarification of what is sin, why we sin, and how not to sin".]
The most advertised battle engagement of all time is Armageddon.
"In the Hebrew tongue Armageddon" (16:16) was probably Har Megiddo, which means mount or city of Megiddo.
Armageddon, presently only a rich archaeological excavation and tourist site, lies
about 18 miles (29 kilometers) southeast of the coastal city of Haifa, in northern
Israel. Because Megiddo occupied a strategic military position on the Plain of Esdraelon--
which is the Greek derivation of the Hebrew, Yizre'el meaning God will sow, and is
also identified with the Valley of Jezreel of Scripture-- it was the scene of numerous
historic, Biblical battles and many conflicts more recent. Geographically, Armageddon's
Plain of Esdraelon cuts Israel in half, affording clear passage from the Mediterranean
Sea to the Great Rift Valley of the Jordan River. Economically, Megiddo controlled
a chokepoint on the ancient Via Maris-- the "Way
of the Sea" (Isaiah 9:1)-- making it of great importance
along that international trade route connecting Egypt to Mesopotamia, i.e., Euphrates
River. Located immediately above the Palestinian controlled West Bank area, the Plain
of Esdraelon is a green, fertile valley about 25 miles long by 5 miles. Whoever maintained
an army at Megiddo, controlled this essential international trade route, as did the
Romans, when they came and fortified Legio, a mile farther south on the same ridge.
"Multitudes, multitudes in the valley
of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision" (Joel 3:14).
Armageddon has been traditionally a symbol for a final and catastrophic conflict for the planet-- as the Judgment of God will be for the Wicked. "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" (Joel 3:12). From 1479 BC, when Thutmose III, king of Egypt, took the advice of his generals to enter Megiddo via the 'Aruna Pass to successfully defeat a coalition of Canaanite forces led by the Prince of Kadesh, to 1948, when Israeli forces used Megiddo as a base of operations against their Arab adversaries to successfully secure their statehood, the Plain of Esdraelon has witnessed innumerable battles of Armageddon. [See our article, "The Conflicts of Armageddon" ---New Window, for more background.] Understanding that the Almighty is God alone, and "there is nothing too hard for [Him]" (Jeremiah 32:17), we must consider that the closing events of Armageddon are accomplished and revealed to us in this appointed fashion that the LORD, the Master Potter, may complete the fashioning of the clay pots of the moral agency of humanity that they "learn war [no] more" (Micah 4:3). "6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in Mine hand, O house of Israel. 7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; 8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. 9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 10 if it do evil in My sight, that it obey not My voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them" (Jeremiah 18:6-10).
The timing of the Apocalyptic Armageddon is at the End of the Tribulation Week, since the Vials are poured out at the close of the "Hour of Temptation" (3:10), at nearly the rate of one Vial Judgment per day, with the Sixth Vial Judgment specifically preparing the way for the "Kings of the East" (16:12). [For a day-based calculation for the Hour of Temptation, see our comments on Revelation 3:10 ---New Window.] Since the Battle of Armageddon will be the final confrontation of the LORD Jesus Christ with the Antichrist, its climax must come when the Lamb of God casts the Antichrist and the False Prophet into the Lake of Fire. "19 And I saw the Beast [the Antichrist], and the Kings of the Earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him [Christ] that sat on the horse, and against His army. 20 And the Beast was taken, and with him the False Prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the Mark of the Beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a Lake of Fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of Him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of His mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh" (19:19-21). The Battle of Armageddon will be conducted as a campaign over a period of a few days, before and after the End of the Tribulation Week, which most importantly marks the Second Advent of the LORD Jesus Christ. "29 Immediately after the Tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the Earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:29-30).
Participants in the Battle of Armageddon will be the "Beast" (19:19) in alliance with the "Kings of the Earth" (16:14), specifically with the "Kings of the East" (16:12), arrayed against the LORD Jesus Christ-- Who is the "LORD God Omnipotent" (19:6), the "Lamb" (19:7), "Faithful and True" (19:11), "The Word of God" (19:13), "Almighty God" (19:15), "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS" (19:16), "The Great God" (19:17)-- and the Lamb's army of Angelic Hosts and Glorified Saints. "And the armies which were in Heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean" (19:14). Just as Hitler knew by 1943, after his troops were defeated in North Africa and Stalingrad, that he could not win, yet he did not sue for peace; just so, the Antichrist will unreasonably attempt to engage the LORD Jesus Christ in combat at Armageddon. "And out of [Christ's] mouth goeth a Sharp Sword, that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron: and He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (19:15). All of Antichrist's forces are bodily annihilated, i.e., the "remnant were slain with the sword of Him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of His mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh" (19:21). Instructive to the Saints is that our LORD battles and wins against the Enemy using solely His Word. How much more need we this Ultimate Weapon System? "4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2Corinthians 10:4-5).
Actual battlefield progress is limited to a description of the vast quantity of the enemies' blood that will flow at Armageddon, i.e., "And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs" (Revelation 14:20). [See our comments on Revelation 14:20 ---New Window on the manner of the Second Coming of the LORD Jesus Christ.] "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" (Joel 3:13). The towering center of attention at Armageddon is the magnificence of the LORD Jesus Christ, who is the "LORD of Sabaoth" (James 5:4), literally, the LORD of Armies, whose garments are stained with the blood of His vanquished adversaries. "1 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. 2 Wherefore art Thou red in Thine apparel, and Thy garments like Him that treadeth in the winefat? 3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with Me: for I will tread them in Mine anger, and trample them in My fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon My garments, and I will stain all My raiment" (Isaiah 63:1-3). Neither the Antichrist nor the False Prophet are killed during the engagement, but will be captured and given the ignominy of being the first two Eternal Prisoners of the Lake of Fire. "And the Beast was taken, and with him the False Prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the Mark of the Beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a Lake of Fire burning with brimstone" (Revelation 19:20). Thus, ends the Battle of Armageddon with the complete physical annihilation of the forces of the Antichrist, leaving the LORD Jesus Christ as the Victor. "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the Heaven and in the Earth is Thine; Thine is the Kingdom, O LORD, and Thou art exalted as Head Above All" (1Chronicles 29:11).
The Seventh Vial Judgment is the last recorded Apocalyptic Judgment.
Since Satan is the "prince of the power
of the air" (Ephesians 2:2) and the "god of this world" (2Corinthians
4:4), then pouring out the Seventh Vial Judgment "into
the air" (16:17), would be a frontal attack against Satan,
so that all can see how Jehovah defeats, masters, and judges the Archenemy. Finite
man finds it difficult to conceive of a supernatural Devil with vastly superior intelligence,
superhuman power, commanding a host of demons, and evilly dedicated to himself, the
destruction of the Almighty, and the ruination of mankind (a conspiracy)-- to whom
even "Michael the archangel, when contending
with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a
railing accusation, but said, The LORD rebuke thee" (Jude
9). But even, to the Saints: "Greater
is He [the Spirit of God] that
is in you, than He that is in the world [Satan]" (1John 4:4). It is to the glory
of God that He has so fortified His Saints that simply standing in faith upon the
promises and precepts of the Word of God defeats this mightiest of enemies. "Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the
same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world" (1Peter 5:9). "Submit yourselves
therefore to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you"
Again, the "Great Voice out of the Temple of Heaven" (16:17) is undoubtedly that of the LORD Jesus Christ (16:1). The declaration of our LORD, "It is done" (16:17), is an affirmation of mastery. "And in the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a Kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the Kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44). Patience and long-suffering have been the very essence of the Creator's relationship to mankind. "And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in Goodness and Truth" (Exodus 34:6). We have given the LORD every reason to destroy us, as we would put down a mad dog, for the totality of our conduct; but, He has responded with "Great Mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression" (Numbers 14:18)-- when we repented and believed-- through the Sacrificial Death of the Son of God. "But this Man [Christ Jesus], after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12). Jesus knew that the Enemy was defeated when He cried out, "It is finished" (John 19:30) on the Cross. "24 Then cometh the End, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet. 26 The Last Enemy that shall be destroyed is Death" (1Corinthians 15:24-26).
The Throne Presence of God is seen and felt throughout the world
in the Seventh and Last Apocalyptic Judgment, i.e., "voices,
and thunders, and lightnings" (16:18), leaving the planet
with the certainty that God Himself has returned. "5 And out of the Throne proceeded
lightnings and thunderings and voices... 19 And the Temple of God was opened in Heaven, and there was seen in
His Temple the Ark of His Testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings,
and an earthquake, and great hail" (Revelation 4:5; 11:19).
Just as secular writers identify Hell with misery, pain, and anguish, e.g., World
War II, American infantryman Audie Murphy's description of combat in his memoir,
"To Hell And Back" (1949), and Vietnam Era, American POW Jeremiah Denton's
description of captivity in his book, "When Hell Was in Session" (1976),
the inspired writers of Scripture characterize Heaven with victory, blessing, and
overcoming. "In Thy presence is fulness
of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore"
(Psalm 16:11). The "voices" (16:18) of the Seventh Vial Judgment are most probably those of the Godhead
commanding the Greatest Invasion Force the World Will Ever See-- the Second Coming
of the LORD Jesus Christ-- making the massive June 6th 1944 D-Day invasion of Nazi
occupied Europe by Allied forces during World War II on the beaches of Normandy,
France, only a significant footnote by comparison. "The
LORD is a Man of War: the LORD is His Name" (Exodus 15:3).
(16:18) and "lightnings" (16:18) would most appropriately represent the chain of command and the
execution of the Divine Orders. "The voice
of Thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the Earth trembled
and shook" (Psalm 77:18).
As indicated in this verse, the Greatest Earthquake of All Time occurs at this Seventh Vial Judgment, i.e., "there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the Earth" (16:18). [See our editorial, "Armageddon and the Great Crack in the Earth" ---New Window, to examine the relationship between this last great earthquake and the Second Coming.] Earthquakes are sudden movements of the Earth's crust caused by the release of stress accumulated along geologic faults (tectonic earthquakes) or by volcanic activity (volcanic earthquakes). Although 50,000 earthquakes each year may be felt without the aid of instruments, very great earthquakes only occur at the rate of about one per year. In the past, only a handful have been recorded as truly great earthquakes:
(1) Lisbon, Portugal was heavily damaged by a temblor, whose epicenter was off the coast, on November 1st 1755 at 9:40 AM (All Saints Day), killing as many as 60,000 in Lisbon alone, while celebrating Mass;
(2) New Madrid, Missouri (USA) experienced a series of three earthquakes on December 16th 1811, January 23rd 1812, and February 7th 1812, felt as far away as Canada, the Gulf Coast, and Cincinnati, Ohio, affecting more than 1 million square miles, and where the Mississippi River was reported to have flowed temporarily backwards;
(3) San Francisco experienced a slip of the San Andreas fault that killed 700 people and destroyed its central business district on April 18th 1906 at 5:12 AM;
(4) Tokyo-Yokohoma, Japan on September 1st 1923 about noon was devastated by an earthquake that killed an estimated 140,000 people, destroying hundreds of thousands of homes, decimating fifty-four percent of its brick buildings, and collapsing ten percent of its reinforced concrete structures;
(5) T'ang-shan, China, a coal-mining and industrial city 68 miles (110 kilometers) east of Beijing, saw the death of 240,000 people from an earthquake, along with the injury of another 500,000 on July 28th 1976, due mainly to the collapse of unreinforced masonry homes, while they slept; and
(6) Mexico City on September 19th 1985 at 7:18 AM was shocked by a fault slip along the Benioff zone, killing 10,000 inhabitants and causing major building damage on this city founded on a former lake bed.
But, none of these tremors combined approach the damage and destruction of the worldwide shaking that will be experienced with the Seventh Vial Judgment, i.e., "so mighty an earthquake, and so great" (16:18). "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for Thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety" (Psalm 4:8). "Safety is of the LORD" (Proverbs 21:31).
The "great city" (16:19) refers to Jerusalem, i.e., the "great
city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our LORD was crucified" (11:8). Babylon the Great, which is the Harlot Rome, is not the
(16:19) mentioned at the beginning of the verse, for Rome will be utterly destroyed
in "one [literal] hour" (18:10, 17), i.e., "in one hour is she made desolate" (18:19). But, Jerusalem will not be completely destroyed, though
it will be "divided into three parts" (16:19). [See our series, "Babylon
the Great" ---New Window, for a development of the identification
of Rome with Babylon the Great.] "17:5 And upon her forehead was a name
written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE
EARTH.... 18:2 And he
cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen,
and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a
cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (17:5; 18:2).
At the End of the Tribulation Week, during the Seventh Vial Judgment, time is left
for the Almighty to complete the judgment of the "great
city" (18:10, 16, 18, 19) of Rome, which is Babylon the
Great, even before the battle is joined at Armageddon. "And
a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea,
saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall
be found no more at all" (18:21).
Not only is Jerusalem specified as a target for tripartite division, but the "cities of the nations fell" (16:19), as well. This is a Global Earthquake. "17 And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. 18 And the idols He shall utterly abolish. 19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the Earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of His majesty, when He ariseth to shake terribly the Earth" (Isaiah 2:17-19). "Great Babylon" (16:19) or "Babylon the Great" (18:2) will not be forgotten by the Omniscient God, i.e., "Great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath" (16:19). She must be made to pay for her sins. "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the LORD" (Romans 12:19). Finally impenitent Babylon must be judged, or God's Holy Law of Perfect Love toward God and man must be eternally ridiculed. The "soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Christ's Atonement on the Cross, which rescues from Hell (if we repent}, must not be depreciated by allowing Babylon the Great's sin to go unrewarded. "5 And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore Mine own arm brought Salvation unto Me; and My fury, it upheld Me. 6 And I will tread down the people in Mine anger, and make them drunk in My fury, and I will bring down their strength to the Earth" (Isaiah 63:5-6).
It is apparent that the Global Earthquake of the Seventh Vial Judgment will cause the destruction of the islands throughout the world, i.e., "every island fled away" (16:20). This will occur through the action of tsunamis (seismic sea waves), as well as the earthquake itself. Fast moving tsunami waves moving through deep water will increase in amplitude as they approach the shallow waters near land. The onrush of water, especially around bays and inlets, will cause the greatest amount of immediate destruction around the low-lying ground of such inlets. Islands will not only be catastrophically damaged by the waves, but the volcanic earthquakes that initially formed some islands, e.g., the Hawaiian Islands, will permanently destroy them or alter their existence. "And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places" (Revelation 6:14). Just as volcanoes and earthquakes were responsible for the formation of much of the world's mountains, they will now be responsible for their destruction, i.e., "and the mountains were not found" (16:20). The noble mountains that ascribed glory to God through their creation, will bow themselves down to Him again, in performance of His judgment. "He stood, and measured the Earth: He beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the Everlasting Mountains were scattered, the Perpetual Hills did bow: His ways are everlasting" (Habakkuk 3:6). Though the New Heavens and New Earth will not occur until after the Millennium, the topography of the Millennial Earth will be greatly rearranged by the Global Earthquake of the Seventh Vial Judgment. "Bow Thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke" (Psalm 144:5).
As if to ensure that what the "exceeding great" (16:21) plague of the Global Earthquake does not sufficiently awaken or destroy, "there fell upon men a great hail out of Heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent" (16:21). Hail is the precipitation of balls or pieces of ice that often accompany thunderstorms. Ordinarily, hail may be about a quarter of an inch to 4 inches (5 millimeters to 10 centimeters) in diameter, but this hail will be "every stone about the weight of a talent" (16:21). The weight of a talent would be between 90 to 100 pounds (41 to 45 kilograms). Scripture indicates that there is sufficient humanity left to be cursed by the hail, for they "blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail" (16:21). "To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts" (Hebrews 4:7). Though judgment is the theme, repentance is still possible. "How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before Me?" (Exodus 10:3). The purpose of the Seventh Vial Judgment is to prepare for the Second Coming of the LORD Jesus Christ, which follows soon thereafter. "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the Earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:30).
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