The Beasts with Seven Heads

There are three beasts in Revelation that are described as having seven heads and ten horns, namely:

  • the Dragon (Revelation 12);
  • the Sea Beast (Revelation 13) and
  • the Scarlet Beast on which the harlot sits (Revelation 17)

Commentators agree these are not literal beasts.  Because they all have seven heads and ten horns there must be some relationship between them.  What are these beasts?  How they relate to each other?  Are they the same, or do they symbolize different things?


While the beasts of Revelation each have 7 heads and 10 horns, the beasts of Daniel 7 have, in total, 7 heads and 10 horns.  The beasts of Daniel 7 are:

  • a lion (7:4);
  • a bear (7:5);
  • a leopard with four heads (7:6) and;;
  • a “dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong” beast with ten horns (Dan 7:7).

The 7 heads and 10 horns of the beasts of Revelation means that they have some relationship to the beasts of Daniel 7.  It implies that they are part of the series of beasts in Daniel 7.  This series of beasts of Daniel 7 are represented by a single image of a man in Daniel 2, where each body part represents an empire.  The head is the first (the ancient Babylonian empire) and the feet are the last, to be destroyed by the return of Christ.  Where-as the beasts of Daniel 7 emphasize their individuality, the image in Daniel 2 indicates that, from God’s perspective, they all form part of a single entity.  It may be more appropriate to compare the beasts of Revelation to this image of a man.  It is proposed that all three seven headed beasts in Revelation are different perspectives on the image of Daniel 2.

To make the relationship between Daniel’s and Revelation’s beasts completely clear, Revelation 13 tells us that the Sea Beast “was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the Dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority” (13:2 NASB).  The leopard, bear and lion are the first three beasts of Daniel 7, while “Dragon” would be a good description for the fourth beast of Daniel 7.  This means that the Sea-beast inherits something from each of the four beasts of Daniel 7.  It seems therefore abundant­ly clear that the beasts of Revelation are part of the series of beast-kingdoms described in Daniel.  They provide additional information about the empires represented by Daniel, and as we shall see, particularly about the last empire.

The discussion of Daniel 7 identifies the beasts as follows:

  1. Lion = Babylonian Empire
  2. Bear = Mede-Persian Empire
  3. Leopard = Grecian Empire
  4. Dragon = Roman Empire

However, the main actor in the drama of Daniel 7 is neither of these four.  Most of the verses in Daniel 7 describe a fifth power, namely the 11th horn that grows out of the fourth beast (Dan 7:8).  An analysis of Daniel 7 will show that this chapter allocates more verses to this 11th horn than perhaps of all four beasts put together.  This 11th horn is the focal point of Daniel 7, and the four beasts are described as its predecessors merely so that we may be able to identify this horn.

Initially there are 10 horns that grow on Daniel’s fourth beast.  This is explained as “out of this kingdom (Roman Empire) ten kings will arise” (Dan 7:24).  The Roman Empire came to its end over hundreds of year as its territory was systematically eroded.  The ten horns represent the nations that were formed as the Empire dissolved.  Since “king” and “kingdom” are synonyms in Daniel (Dan 7:17, 23), each of the ten horns may be understood as a kingdom; a series of kings.

Then an eleven horn will arise from the Roman Empire.  It dominates the other kingdoms (Dan 7:20, 24), “speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One” (Dan 7:25).  Daniel 7 predicts that this 11th horn will be the most significant opposition to God and to His people of all time.  It will become so important that a court that will sit in heaven to judge between this horn and God’s people (7:26, 9-11 and 14).  At the return of Christ this 11th horn will be destroyed (7:26, 11), and the everlasting kingdom will be given to the saints (7:27) and to the Son of man (7:13-14).  This 11th horn will therefore be a continuation (horn) of the Roman Empire in some way, and will exist until the return of Jesus.

It is proposed here that this 11th horn is the Church of Rome.  About 200 years ago arguably all Protestant commentators accepted this interpretation.  Today more or less nobody believes it anymore.  Over the last 200 year the Church of Rome has not been able to destroy Bibles and persecute the saints, but it has been able to erase from human memory most of what it did during the Middle Ages.  Today it is no longer socially acceptable to identify this Church with the great persecuting power of Daniel.

In academic circles Antiochus Epiphanies IV has been awarded this honour, based on the assumption that Daniel was not written, as the book indicates, in the time of ancient Babylon, in the sixth century before Christ, but that it was written in the time of Antiochus in about 165 BC.  This view is not accepted here.  The present author has made a study of when Daniel was written, and sufficient evidence exists in the book itself, such as the amazing historical accuracy of the fifth chapter, and outside the book, such as in the Dead Sea scrolls, that Daniel was written in the sixth century B.C.  A lengthy article is available on this topic.

In non-academic circles the dispensationalist view is dominant, postponing the Antichrist to a future seven year period after a secret rapture.

Today there is considerable resistance against any conspiracy theory.  People do not want to believe that there exists today a massive conspiracy to brain wash the peoples of the world.  People, even Christians, no longer believe in the existence of Satan, and therefore they do not believe in any form of conspiracy.  But Revelation warns us “those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality” (17:2).  It is maintained here, against the massive resistance, that the Roman Church is the 11th horn of Daniel 7.

Just think about the macro sequence of the Daniel 7 prophecy.  Four empires are described, the fourth being Rome.  Rome will break up into a large number of nations, and the Antichrist will be among them; stronger than the others, but still among them.  This requires an Antichrist that fit this sequence.  Neither the Antiochus nor futuristic theories fit this pattern.  It has been proposed above that we are informed of this sequence of beasts in order that we may be able to identify the 11th horn.  But the Antiochus and futuristic interpretations separate the 11th horn form its ancestry.

Also consider the continuity between Rome and the Antichrist; Rome will continue to exist until the return of Christ.  In Daniel 2 Rome is represented by the legs of iron.  In the feet Rome continues because the feet are made partly of iron and partly of clay, until the image is struck at it feet by Christ’s return, which vaporises the whole image (Dan 2:45).  In Daniel 7 the great persecuting power is a horn that grows on the fourth beast, and this horn continues its evil work until the return of Christ.  Antiochus and an Antichrist that will exist after a secret rapture do not satisfy the requirement of continuity with Rome.  But the Roman Church does.  It is a direct descendent from the Roman Empire.  As Rome became weaker and weaker, the Church grew stronger and stronger.  In this way, over time, the Pope replaced the Caesars, and inherited many of their titles.

Today people do not want to think any more about the history of the Roman Church, how it actively destroyed Bibles and killed God’s people.  The Roman Church is not the continuation of the early church.  The Roman Church developed in the church in Rome, and in an effort to become acceptable, it adopted heathen theories.  It became strong.  It even became the official religion of the Roman Empire, and was able to systematically destroy the remnant of the true church.  It replaced the gospel with a different religion; one where one is able to buy salvation; one that is based on the ancient mother-child religion from the time of Nimrod and Semiramis.  It has become a church that is based on wealth, splendour and power, mesmerizing the world with it dignity, power and wealth.

Since the reformation the Roman Church has been able to institute a counter reformation, and both theories, namely Antiochus and the futuristic Antichrist, have been developed by the counter-reformation.  It has been so successful that today very few people identify the Roman Church any longer as the Antichrist of Daniel.  However, consider the identifications provided by Daniel:

TEN KINGS:  According to Daniel 7 “ten kings” will arise out of “this kingdom”  (Rome) (v24).  Rome did break up into a large number of nations, such as the Visigoths, Ostrogoths and Vandals.  This, by itself, was a remarkable prophecy, made long before it happened, even if one assume Daniel was written in 165 BC, because each of the previous empires were conquered by one single mighty nation.  Babylon was conquered by Mede-Persia, Mede-Persia by Greece, and Greece by Rome.  In contrast, Rome’s end came over hundreds of years, as the “barbarian nations” eroded it from all sides.  This break-up happens before the 11thhorn became dominant.  How does this fit the Antiochus or the futuristic interpretations?  The text of the prophecy is completely incompatible with these interpretations. The Antiochus interpretation is based on the proposal that Media is the second empire, Persia the third and Greece the fourth,  which is contrary to the direct statement of the angel in Daniel 8:20, and contrary to the consistent information in Daniel that Mede-Persia was a single empire.  But even if we accept their proposal that Media and Persia be split, what are the 10 horns on Greece?  In Daniel 8 Greece is represented as a goat with four horns, not ten.  And where to you find 10 horns that fit the futuristic interpretation?  Remember that this Antichristian power of Daniel 7 subdues three of the horns.  What three horns are subdues by Antiochus or by an end time Antichrist?The point is that there are identifying marks in Daniel, and we have to use them to identify the Antichrist, and not be guided by politically acceptable notions.

AFTER THEM:  The eleventh horn will arise “after them” (v24).  Initially the Roman Church was purely a church.  It was only later that it also assumed political authority over other nations.  After what ten horns did Antiochus or will an end time Antichrist arise?

DIFFERENT:  “He will be different from the previous ones” (v24), which the Roman Church was, being partly religious, partly political.

SUBDUE THREE:  The 11th horn “will subdue three kings” (v24).  Certain Arian nations (Heruldi, Vandals and Ostrogoths), not believing in the deity of Christ, opposed the Church.  They were subdued before the Church was able to become dominant.  But these nations did continue to exist.  In the end all 11 horns existed simultaneously.  How does this satisfy the Antiochus or futuristic interpretations?

LARGER:  The 11th horn is “larger in appearance than its associates” (v20).  During the long dark period of history known as the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church dealt with a high hand.  She made and unmade kings:

Emperors and kings had to … be in communion with the Pope, as essential conditions of their reigning lawfully; if these conditions were broken, of which the Pope was the judge, then … he could … declare their ruler unfit to reign. [Cath Dic, 257]

Sixtus V (Cath. Ency. I729) excommunicated Protestant Henry of Navarre, and sent an army to unseat him.  Sixtus promised the Spanish King a subsidy for the Armada, with which England was to be subjugated.  Let’s take a look at how Pope Gregory compels King Henry to freeze three days before he would receive him:

Striped of his royal robes, and clad as a penitent, Henry had to come barefooted mid ice and snow, and crave for admission to the presence of the pope. All day he remained at the door of the citadel, fasting and exposed to the inclemency of the wintry weather, but was refused admission. A second and third day he thus humiliated and disciplined himself, and finally on 28 January, l077, he was received by the pontiff and absolved from censure, but on condition that he would appear at the proposed council and submit himself to its decision. Cath. Ency. VI, 794

Imagine the head of a significant nation today having to ask the pope for forgiveness in this way.  All of this shows how arrogant the Catholic Church was during the dark ages and how she ruled over the kingdoms of Europe.

WAR WITH THE SAINTS:  The 11th horn was “waging war with the saints and overpowering them” (v21).  Rome’s long history was marked with the shedding of the blood of saints.  In 1208 Pope Innocent III warred against the Waldines and Albigines (Bohemian Brethren), in which one million perished. From the beginning of the Jesuits 1540-1580 it is estimated that 900,000 were destroyed through papal cruelty.  One hundred fifty thousand perished by the inquisition in thirty years.  In the low lands 50,000 persons were hanged, beheaded, burned alive or buried alive for the crime of heresy (Christianity).  Within 38 years from the edict of Charles V, 18,000 were executed.  The Popes tried to put down the reformation in Germany and Switzerland.  One might consider the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, Martyrdom of John Calas, John Wycliff, John Huss, Jerome of Prague, Tyndale, Luther, Persecutions in Germany, France, Scotland, England, Ireland, persecution of Quakers. The historian W.E. H. Lecky says, “The Church of Rome has shed more innocent blood than any other institution that ever existed among mankind, will be questioned by no Protestant who has a complete knowledge of history.” Some historians have estimated that the persecuting hands of Rome have been reddened by the blood of fifty million saints. I doubt that anyone can come close to the exact number.

SPEAK AGAINST THE MOST HIGH:  It will “speak out against the Most High” (v25).  This may be found in statements by the Church claiming what belongs to God, for instance: “we (popes) hold on this earth the place of God Almighty.”  Christ “is the head of the body” (Col 1:18), but the pope claims to be head of all churches.  “Christ Jesus … will judge the living and the dead” (2 Tim. 4:1), but the Pope claims to be the Judge of the Living and the Dead.  Jesus promised “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth. (John 14:16-17), but the Pope claim to “hold upon this earth the place of God almighty”.  Jesus said ” do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers” (Mat 23:8), but the church claims that the supreme teacher in the church is the Roman Pontiff.  For more information and references see the section on the Roman Church in the article on Babylon.

ALTER LAW:  It will “intend to make alterations in times and in law” (Dan 7:25).  The Church allows worship of images, and legalised many other sins, such as the forgiveness of sins for a price.  She changed the laws with respect to the Lord’s Supper and enacted celibacy of the clergy.  In 1075 Gregory VII declared all clerical marriages invalid.  This was the greatest mass divorce in history.  She changed the 10 commandments.  The deification of Mary is really the continuation of the ancient Semiramis religion.  The picture of the woman with the child in her arms is really a picture of Semiramis with a child (Tammuz).The Catholic Church acknowledges that its doctrines are not based on the Bible, but on “traditions”.  First Timothy 4:1‑5 gives us one of the primary doctrines of the Antichrist, namely celibacy among the priests.  This has led to horrible atro­cities in the Roman Catholic Church.  In Chiniquy’s book, Fifty Years in the Roman Catholic Church, he says that a young student priest was question­ing a superior about this doctrine of Rome and received the following reply: “You have spoken as a true heretic…you speak of the Holy Scriptures just as a Protestant would.  You appeal to them as the only source of Christian truth and knowledge. Have you forgotten that we have the holy traditionsto guide us, the authority of which is equal to the Scriptures?”Such a position nullified Scripture on the basis of human tradition(Mark7:13).  It refuses to allow people to carry out their responsibility to func­tion as Berean believers, “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

TIME, TIMES AND HALF:  The “saints … given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time” (v25).  Because the “time, times and half a time” is the period of the prominent horn of Daniel 7 (v25), and because the horns of Daniel 7 are the kingdoms of Europe after Imperial Rome broke up, it is proposed that the “time, times and half a time” is a symbol for the Middle Ages.  The only place outside of Daniel where the phrase “time, times and half a time” appears, is in Revelation 12.  A study of the sequence of seven wars confirms that this is the Middle Ages.  Please read the article “Overview of Revelation 12 to 14” for more information.

It is therefore concluded that the Roman Church fits the identifying marks provided by Daniel, and that the alternative theories do not

The next question is; how do the beasts of Revelation relate to the five empires of Daniel?


The first seven-headed beast that we come across in Revelation is the “great red Dragon having seven heads and ten horns” (12:3).  It is also the seven-headed beast that disappears last from the scene.  The Sea Beast disappears before the Millennium into the lake of fire (19:20, but the dragon is only thrown into the lake of fire after the Millennium (20:10).

Revelation 12 provides a high level overview of various wars between God and Satan, from the war between the woman and the serpent since the Garden of Eden, until the final great conflict of Revelation 13.  In each of these wars the dragon is the antagonist, even the war in heaven (12:7-12).

In the context of the war in heaven, and when imprisoned during the Millennium, the dragon is specifically identified as Satan (12:7-9; 20:2) and as such exists for all human history.  In this sense it continues to exist beyond the return of Christ (20:2), and only vanishes only from the pages of Revelation when it is thrown in the lake of fire after the Millennium (20:10).

However, when first introduced as standing before the woman, it is presented as having 7 heads and 10 horns (12:3).  Both the heads and the horns are “kings” (17:10, 12).  The dragon therefore also represents kingdoms.  Because it has exactly 7 heads and 10 horns it is part of the continuum of beasts of Daniel 7.  Therefore, when in conflict with the woman’s Child Jesus (12:5), it represents the specific earthly authority at the time of Jesus’s earthly life, namely the fourth kingdom (beast) in Daniel 7, which is the Roman Empire.  This is supported by the observation that “dragon” would be a good name for the fourth beats of Daniel 7.

The article titled “overview of Revelation 12 to 14” indicates that the dragon is involved in various others wars, such as:

  • The war against the woman before the “time, times and half a time” (12:13)
  • The war against the woman during the “time, times and half a time” (12:14, 15)
  • The war against the woman’s “other children” (12:17), which follows after the “time, times and half a time”, and is the war of Revelation 13

As discussed in the article on the overview of Revelation 12 to 14, some of these wars are beyond the time of Imperial Rome.  “Dragon”, in these wars, may then represent either Satan or the continuing influence of the Roman Empire.


The Sea-beast is frequently mentioned as working with the Dragon (e.g. 16:13), which means it is not the same as the Dragon.  The Sea Beast is here identified as the 11th horn of Daniel 7, namely the Roman Church, for the following reasons:

  1. Because the Sea Beast also has 7 heads and 10 horns (13:1) it must, like the dragon, be part of the continuum of empires of Daniel 7.
  2. The Sea Beast inherits something for each of the first four beasts of Daniel 7 (compare Rev 13:2 with the beasts of Daniel 7):
    • like a leopard (Greece);
    • feet were like those of a bear (Medo-Persia);
    • mouth like the mouth of a lion (Babylon);
    • throne and great authority from the dragon (Rome)  (13:2)

Because the Sea-beast inherits something from each of the four animals of Daniel 7, it must come in existence after them.  Therefore it is the fifth; namely the 11th horn.

  1. It is the Dragon that calls up the Beast from the Sea (13:1) and the Dragon gave the Sea Beast his power and his throne and great authority (13:2).  This implies that the Sea Beast is the Dragon’s successor.  Since the dragon is the Roman Empire (when represented as having seven heads and ten horns), and since the 11th horn is the real successor of the Roman Empire (Daniel 7), the Sea Beast is the 11th horn.
  2. Further comparisons of the 11th horn with the Sea-beast will verify this conclusion.
    • Both persecute the saints for “a time, times, and half a time” (Dan 7:25; Rev 13:5).  (Comparing 12:6 to 12:14 proves that “a time, times, and half a time” is equal to 1260 days, and 42 months x 30 days = 1260 days.)
    • Both overpower the saints (Dan 7:21; Rev 13:7).
    • Both blaspheme God (Dan 7:8, 20; Rev 15:5).

The Sea Beast goes through three phases.  It first arises from the sea, then dies and then is resurrected (13:3, 4).  After its resurrection “the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast” (13:3).  All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain (13:8; 17:8).  We have therefore now effectively identified seven phases:

  1. Babylon
  2. Mede-Persia
  3. Greece
  4. Rome
  5. 11th horn after it arose from the sea
  6. 11th horn after it died
  7. 11th horn resurrected


The Scarlet Beast of Revelation 17 is mentioned briefly in 11:7, but is described more fully in Revelation 17.  The Scarlet Beast is not the same as the Sea Beast of Revelation 13:

They differ in terms of associates:

  • The Sea Beast receives it power from the Dragon (13:2) and gives his authority to the Land Beast (13:12).  In Revelation we often find this evil trio working together (e.g. 16:13; 19:20-20:2).  In contrast the Scarlet Beast is never mentioned as working with or having a relationship with any of this trio.
  • The Scarlet Beast is mentioned with Babylon, while the evil trio (Dragon, Sea Beast and Land Beast) is never mentioned in the same breath as Babylon.  It almost seems as if different sets of symbols are used in Revelation 13 and 17.

In Revelation 13 the people worship the Sea Beast (13:3-4).  The Sea Beast therefore reigns.  In contrast, in Revelation 17 the harlot sits on the Scarlet Beast (17:3).  She therefore rules over the Scarlet Beast (17:18), while the Scarlet Beast is presented in a subservient role.  Therefore, while the Sea Beast rules, the Scarlet Beast is ruled over.

The relationships between the beasts and the peoples of the world are also different.  In Revelation 13 the Sea Beast is worshipped by the people, and is therefore something apart from the people.  In contrast, in Revelation 17 the harlot (Babylon) sits on both the beast and the waters (people—17:1, 15), indicating a close relationship between the beast and the people.


It is therefore clear that the Scarlet Beast is something very different from the Dragon and the Sea Beast.  But the Scarlet Beast must relate in some way to the beasts of Daniel 7 because it has seven heads and ten horns.  So what is going on?  Observations from the text include:

  1. The Scarlet Beast exists for all of human history:The harlot is identified in the article on Babylon as “false religion”.  The harlot (Babylon) exists for all of human history because “in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth” (18:24), and because she is the “mother (origin) of harlots” (17:5).  If she exists for all human history, the same must apply to the scarlet beast.In contrast, the Sea Beast of Revelation 13 is a specific organisation, coming into existence at a specific point in time, when it comes out of the sea (13:1) of the human population (Daniel 7:3, 17).
  2. The Scarlet Beast represents the “kings of the earth”:The harlot (Babylon) sitting on the Scarlet Beast is explained in 17:18:

“The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth”.

Because the Scarlet Beast represents the “kings” and kingdoms of the world, and because it exists for the whole of human history, it must represent all the kingdoms of Daniel 7.  It cannot be limited to only one of those kingdoms.  It therefore includes both the Dragon and the Sea Beast.

  1. The Sea Beast includes Babylon. This is clear when the Sea Beast “make war with the saints and to overcome them” (13:7), while actually Babylon must carry the blame for all martyr deaths of God’s people (18:24).  This is also indicated by the fact that the Sea Beast is in charge, similar to Babylon.

Revelation 17 therefore presents the anti-God powers for all of human history, but shows that it consists of two components; a political (beast) and a religious (harlot) component, with the religious component reigning over the political.  It is further proposed that the Sea Beast represents that same anti-God power, consisting of both the political and religious components, but limited to one specific organisation in one period of human history.

The symbolism of Revelation 17 informs us that the kingdoms of the world are always under the control of the deceiving influence of Babylon.  Babylon corrupts the minds of the people (17:2) and kills the saints (18:24).  Babylon exists during all the empires of Daniel 7.

TO: General Table of Contents

The Purpose of the Plagues


Nobody is saved during plagues.  This is indicated by the empty temple (15:8), which symbolises that intercession and therefore salvation is no longer available, and by the repeated mention of unbelievers not repenting (v9, 11, 21).

Many believe that the plagues are punitive in nature. “Punitive” means it is for punishment only, without any saving purpose.  In other words, God will “punish” the wicked for the sake of punishment only.  Many also believe that the wicked that will be resurrected after the millennium, will then again be severely punished (either by burning forever or as long as “they deserve”), for no other reason but to make them suffer.  This is the average Christian’s idea of a “loving God.”

These views are not supported in this commentary.  But the question remains, why does a loving God, which dearly loves His creation, even the people that received the mark of the beast, torment men in the fearful manner described in Revelation 16 when there will be no opportunity for Intercession and salvation?  Why doesn’t Christ return and end the reign of sin immediately after everybody have made their final choice?


The Egypt typology in the plagues can lead us to the answer.

Both the catastrophes that befell Egypt and the end time scourges are called plagues.  Both the Egyptians and the end time plagues include sores, water turning to blood, darkness and frogs (Ex. 7:17-21; 8:2-13; 9:8-11; 10:21-23).  The fact that the plagues of Egypt underlie the symbolism in Revelation 16 informs us that the principles are the same in both sets of plagues.

As Israel was enslaved and subjected to harsh treatment in Egypt, the persecution of God’s people (13:15) will act as catalyst for the end time plagues.

As in Egypt, the plagues testify to the authority of God.  Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? (Ex. 5:1, 2)  Then the LORD said to Moses … Go to Pharaoh … say to him … By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood.  (Ex. 7:14-17 NASB; see also 8:22)

As in Egypt, God will deliver His people and defeat their enemies through supernatural means.

We usually think of slavery as the problem God solved in sending the ten plagues on Egypt, and this is certainly correct.  But the bigger issue, the one that fuelled the slavery problem, was false worship.  The Egyptians worshiped the sun, the river, and other things.  The Hebrews in Egypt did not have religious liberty.  Moses was not free to teach them what they had, over generations, forgotten.  Similarly during the end time plagues the bigger issue is false versus true worship.  As in Egypt, the plagues are designed to demonstrate how false the claims of false religion are, and how futile the reliance was upon them:

‘For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments (Ex. 12:12 NASB)

But there is still a more profound principle involved.  In redeeming Israel from Egypt God chose to act very visibly.  In redeeming Israel from historical Babylon He acted less visibly.  He sent strong forces against Babylon and arranged that these strong forces are favourable towards Israel.  God could have done the same in the redemption of Israel from Egypt.  Why did He act so visibly?  He could have controlled events in such a way that people would not be able to see that He is at work.  In contrast, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and that His purpose was to instruct the Egyptians and the nations of the true God:

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, (Exo 10:1 NASB)

“Thus I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.”  (Exo 14:4 NASB; see also 7:3; 4:21; 10:20, 27; 11:10; 14:8)

The deliverance from Egypt served as visible lesson to the peoples of the world.  He wanted to instruct His people, and perhaps also the other nations, through the plagues.  In His mercy He wanted them to learn of the existence and power of the real God:

“TheEgyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”  (Exo 7:5 NASB)


It is therefore concluded here that the same applies to the end time plagues, namely that the end time plagues serve as a visible lesson.  It is submitted that God will not let people suffer simply for the sake of punishment.  But the question is, for whom is it a lesson, what is that lesson, and why is the lesson needed?


Revelation chapter 16 consists of descriptions of the plagues, but also includes responses to the plagues:

  • The response of unbelievers; not repent + blaspheme God (16:9, 11, 21)
  • Warning to the believers to watch their clothes (16:15)
  • Declarations of the righteousness of God’s judgements (15:3-4; 16:5-7; 19:2)

Most commentaries spend much time on the plagues, with fleeting references to the responses to the plagues.  It is proposed here is that the responses to the plagues contain the real messages to us, because they explain the plagues.

Three times (16:9, 11, 21) it is said that the people blaspheme God and do not repent, as if the purpose is to see whether they would.  Remember that before the plagues start to fall, the people of the world are divided into two clearly demarcated groups.  The people with the mark of the beast are not allowed to buy and sell.  The others are not.  Remember also that the plagues only fall on one of the two groups, namely the large group with the mark of the Beast (16:2).  They must therefore become increasingly aware of some sort of supernatural support for the hated minority.  The plagues therefore lead men to increasingly realize that they have been fighting against God.  But instead of repenting, they curse Him even more bitterly than ever and become even more resolute in their opposition.  Those suffering from the plagues refuse to admit themselves wrong, even in the face of these severe judgments that would lead honest contrite men to amend their ways.  It is therefore concluded that one purpose of the plagues is to show that these people are hardened beyond repentance.  The plagues serve to graphically demonstrate and to reveal the spirit of rebellion which controls their hearts, and to show what becomes of God’s beautiful creatures when they separate themselves from Him.  As it is put in the warning with respect to Armageddon, men will walk about naked and all will see their shame (16:15).  Armageddon is where God reveals what really is inside people, as Paul also wrote:

on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.  (Rom 2:16 NASB)

Sin changed people.  There is a point where it becomes impossible for a person to freely turn to God.  Then that person has received the mark of the beast, or stated in different words, committed the unpardonable sin.  Then that person cannot be saved, not because God does not want to save the person.  Something has changed in that individual which makes it impossible to become one with God again:

but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy.  (2Ch 36:16 NASB)

The plagues are not some arbitrary punishment.  It has an eternal purpose and benefit.  The tares as it were are proved to be tares, (cf. Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) When those being tested have passed the point of no return, God continues to test them to provide abundant witness of their unwillingness and inability to return.  They refuse to yield to His will and show themselves to be what they really are; devoted servants to Satan.  The refusal to repent proves them to be unalterably opposed to God.

The second category of response to the plagues is the warning to God’s people to “keep their clothes” (16:15).  The plagues follow and continue the period of the most intense persecution of believers ever.  Under the extremely difficult circumstances created by the plagues, their persecutors continue to blaspheme God, and therefore continue to persecute the saints.  God will withdraw His restraining Spirit, to allow the lost to do whatever they want to God’s people.  This trial will test the characters of the saints.  It will show what have become of sinners who were washed clean with the blood of Christ.  The plagues will demonstrate that the remnant would rather die than disobey God.

The third type of response to the plagues is praise to God for His righteous judgements.  Satan is called the accuser by Revelation (12:10).  He accuses God of poor judgement, for instance in the case of Job (Job 1:9, 10) and Joshua (Zech. 3:1).  Throughout history Satan has maligned the character of God who sentenced Satan and his angels to the lake of fire (Matt. 25:41).  The plagues prove to the intelligent creatures of the universe that the distinction that God made between the peoples of the world is faultless.  It proves that the people that follow the beast are so hardened that they would not repent even under the most trying circumstances.  The plagues also prove that the people with the seal of God are willing to forsake everything for the promise of God.  Together these issues prove thatGod judged rightly, as confirmed in the plagues (16:5, 7) and afterwards (19:2).  This is a major purpose of the plagues.


The question is who needs to learn these lessons, and why.  To answer these questions require some abstract thinking.

A fundamental principle, easily overlooked due Revelation’s graphic word pictures, is that God’s government is based on unconditional love.  He loves all His creatures.  He loved them so much He was willing to die for them (John 3:16).  And He wants us to love Him.  That is the greatest commandment (Mat 22:37-38), but love cannot be commanded.  Love that is commanded is no love.  Fear cannot generate love.  Love can only be generated by an appreciation of the other’s character.  You can only love somebody that you know and understand.  Therefore God wants us to know and understand Him.  He wants us to trust Him.  He wants us to understand and agree with His decisions and actions.

Most importantly, in the context of Armageddon, He wants us to understand why He destroys people that we love.  God desires everybody to understand that His decisions are right.  He is not a dictator.  He wants to be loved.  He wants us to be completely convinced of His trustworthiness; that He can be trusted to always make the best decision for every person.  That is why Armageddon is a revelation of what is really inside each person.  Then we will understand the indescribable greatness and rightness of His love and judgement.  Then we will all understand God as completely reliable and live in complete safety and trust is the wonderful, perfect world which He will create out of this mess on earth:

“Behold, I am making all things new” (21:5).


But the issue is actually more profound than this.  Love is only love it is the result of free will.  Therefore, all God’s creatures are completely free.  The only obedience that God wants is the obedience that springs from love.  Obedience that is forced, or based on fear, even in the slightest degree, is no obedience at all.  God desires only the obedience of complete admiration and love.

Now this results in a weighty conclusion.  If we fear that God will punish us if we do something that He does not like, then we are not completely free, and our obedience is forced.  Therefore God’s intelligent creatures are free to do whatever they wish, without fear of retribution.  Because love is the foundation of God’s government, we have to conclude that freedom is complete.

Satan was a “covering cherub” (Ezek. 18:16).  He perhaps was the created being that was the closest to God, with the most complete understanding of Him, but still Satan sinned, because he did not fear punishment.


God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  (1Jn 1:5 NASB)  God is love (1Jn 4:8, 16).  Therefore God’s character is to allow unqualified freedom.  Under the principle of complete, unqualified freedom God has no right to bring Satan and his government to an end.  But the Bible is clear that Satan’s government will be eliminated.  So let us try to probe this through a series of questions.

(1) Perhaps the most fundamental question about God’s character is why He allowed sin to develop in the first place.  Why does sin exist?  It is proposed here that God could have chosen to create robots, programmed to always say “i love you”.  But He wanted to create free intelligent creatures, with the ability to say “no” to Him.  This automatically created the potential for resistance to the will of the Father (sin).

(2) Why did He not “zap” Satan when he harboured the first thoughts of sin?  He could have erased any memory of Satan from our minds, could He not?  It is proposed here that that would be contrary to God’s character.  We can take extreme comfort in the fact that God is not an exterminating dictator.  God allows us freedom.

(3) Why did God not make an end to sin after Jesus won the victory on the cross?  It is certainly obvious that God would make an end to sin as soon as possible.  It is submitted here that the victory on the cross was sufficient for our salvation, but on the basis of the fact that sin is still alive and well 2000 years after the cross we must unfortunately conclude that the cross does not provide God with the right to make a complete end to evil.

(4) What would give God the right to make an end to evil?  It is proposed here that the agreement of all His intelligent creatures (complete consensus for all eternity) is required before God can exterminate evil.  God cannot afford to make an end to evil until all questions with respect to evil have been completely answered.  Thus, and only thus, will evil be prevented from ever again erupting anywhere in the universe.  In the new heavens and new earth the redeemed will exercise their complete freedom knowing what the end result of selfishness is.

Many people of God as a judge, wanting to condemn.  God is not a judge.  In the judgement scene in Daniel many thrones are set up, and the books were opened (Dan 7:9).  It is therefore not only God that judge, and God does not need books.  According to Revelation the judgement will be given to the saved (20:4).  God wants His created being to judge for themselves.  Obviously God knows and understands everything, but He wants us to understand.  And once the universe agrees that this is the right thing to do, God will eliminate all destructive forces from the universe, and love will again be the source of all actions and decisions.  If we want to compare God to a human professional, He is more of a doctor, trying to save.


Most people think that all sinless heavenly beings do not need more information to understand that rebellion against God is bad, but this is or at least was not so.  We need to understand a little of how sin developed.

Sin existed before man was created, and was brought to earth by the Serpent of old (12:9).

Sin originated in Satan.  God said of him: “You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created Until unrighteousness was found in you” (Ezek. 28:15).  His sin was that he wanted to be the most adored being.  He wanted to be adored even as God (Isa 14:13, 14).  This sin developed because of his extraordinary beauty, as described by Ezekiel 18:13.  This implies that his beauty exceeded that of the other heavenly beings.  Logically sin did not spring up in Satan one bad morning.  It developed over a long time.  Knowing how God deals with sinners on earth, Satan must have been warned repeatedly of the consequences of the direction he was taking.  Based on the principle of freedom God would have told Satan what the end result will be of his sin.  But we know that eventually Satan gave himself over to sin.

But sin did not remain only with Satan.  We know that he succeeded in leading a very large portion of the perfect angels away from God (Rev 12:7).  He was therefore able to convince some of the angels, but the others not.  What was Satan’s modus operandi?  Satan obviously did not openly admit his intentions.  He obviously covered his motives under a blanket of words, masterfully flattering the angels when they agree with him and accusing them of not willing to suffer for the best interest of the universe when they disagree with him.  It was not clear from the beginning what the end result of Satan’s strategies would be.  He marketed his strategies as evolvement to a higher state of being, beneficial to all, and consistent with God’s principles.  He created in his followers a desire for power and self-reliance and to be honoured by fellow creatures.  Many (most? all?) of the angels did not understand what the end of this new development will be, even those that stayed loyal to God.  Therefore even the loyal angels need answers.

Satan is the extreme master debater.  He, with the assistance of his myriads of angels, is able to put a convincing slant on anything.  Against this verbal onslaught the purpose of the plagues is to provide answers to all the intelligentsia of the universe.


God had to let sin develop to where we are today, and also to where the world will be during the plagues, to provide answers.  A further question which may be added to the list above is what causes the death of sinners.  When God said in the garden of Eden “from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17), was He saying that He will kill Adam and Eve, or did He say that the fruit are poisonous?  It is submitted here that the purpose of the plagues is to prove that separation from God results in degeneration and finally destruction.  The purpose is to understand that it is not God that destroys, but separation from God that destroys.

To elaborate on this principle: To reject God out of one’s life is to reject the source and the principle of life.  God is the Source of everything, and He continually upholds everything by His power.  He is not somewhere out there, while we carry on down here.  No.  We cannot see Him because He works at such a micro level that He is invisible to us.  But still, the law of the universe is the law of love.  He gives us everything.  We return to Him a flood of love and thanksgiving.  To disconnect this circuit of life is what Satan did, and that started the degeneration which eventually also engulfed our planet.


Once this principle is proven beyond doubt, namely that it is not God that destroys, but separation from God that destroys, then God will destroy the destroyers of the earth (Rev 11:18; compare 19:21).  However:

‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! (Ezek. 33:11).

Through the plagues God’s justice in destroying the unbelievers and delivering the believers is made evident.  It is proven that Satan’s followers will kill God’s people, as they would kill each other.  It is proven abundantly that Satan’s kingdom is an evil that must be destroyed before there will be peace and freedom in the universe.  Through the unconverted Satan is permitted to demonstrate what the universe would be like if he was allowed to control it.  This gives God the right to destroy evil.  This is the ultimate purpose of the plagues, namely to ratify the justice of God’s judgements.  The plagues are described as “great and marvellous” (15:1) because because God’s judgements are wonderfully perfect.  The justice of God in ending human history is made evident to men as well as angels:


so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  (Php 2:10 NASB)

These plagues are therefore not vindictive.  God is never vindictive, because He is Love.


God wants to make an end to sin as soon as possible because He hates sin and the results there-of.  Furthermore, He is Almighty.  He can do what He pleases.  The question is therefore why He has not made an end to sin a long time ago.  What is God waiting for?  Why has He not made an end to sin immediately after Jesus’s victory on the cross?

One possible response is that God wants to give everybody time to repent (2 Peter 3:9).  This is true with respect to individuals, but if this principle is applied to the world as a whole, the end will never come.

At some point in time God will make an end to the current world.  To be able to do that, while still giving everybody ample opportunity to repent, He will create an intensified spiritual war on earth, by allowing Satan much increased influence on earth (Revelation 13), but at the same time by proclaiming the gospel with more power than ever before (Revelation 14).  This will allow and also compel every thinking person to make a choice between God’s and Satan’s government.  Thus God can make an end to the world while still giving everybody sufficient opportunity to repent.

But this still begs the question; why did God not bring this crisis about long ago, so as to bring an end to sin thousands of years ago?  Certainly He wants to.  The only reason can be that He is not able to do.  If we look into Revelation for a reason, we find that He is delaying the end until there is a group of believers that are able stand in the time of utmost testing, when the winds are released:

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree.  And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.”  (Rev 7:1-3 NASB)

Now what has this to do with the plagues?  Answer: The winds are the plagues.  This may be proved as follows: Immediately before the plagues are poured out the world’s population is divided between two clearly demarcated groups:

After the seven plague angels are introduced (15:1), but before the plagues are poured out (16:2), we are shown “those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass” (15:2).  This is therefore everybody that was victorious in the conflict of Revelation 13.

The plagues fall “on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image” (16:2).  This is therefore all the other people of earth.

We find the same two contrasting groups of people in Revelation 13 and 14, but there the “victorious” group is called the 144,000:

The Image “causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead” (13:16). … the name of the beast or the number of his name

Although it is in the next chapter, only three verses later we read about the 144,000 with the seal of God on their foreheads (14:1).

The group in Revelation 13 is the same as the group in Revelation 16; both groups have the mark of the beast.  This means that the other two groups are also the same; the “victorious ones” (15:2) are the 144,000 (14:1).  The number of the 144,000 is therefore complete before the plagues are poured out (15:2).  This means the plagues are held back until the 144,000 are sealed (ready).  Therefore, God will not release the plagues before He has a group of people that are able to remain standing in this severe period of time, when the restraint of His Holy Spirit will be removed, and Satan will be able to do whatever he wants to God’s followers.  God’s people will have to be able to remain standing for Him without the protection of the Holy Spirit.

The previous conclusion can also be proved in another way:

The sixth trumpet is the same as the plagues.  (Only in these two sections we find the mention that the people repent not. See more detail in the discussion of the sixth trumpet.)

The sixth trumpet starts with the releasing of the winds.  (Notice that four angels “hold back’ the winds (7:1), while four angels are release at the start of the sixth trumpet.)

This again means that the plagues (sixth trumpet), are held back until the 144,000 are sealed.

Satan has studied the Bible since it was written, and knows much better than we do what it says.  And still He resists.  The Bible is clear that Satan will never be reconciled to God.  His end will be in the lake of fire (Rev 20:10).  Therefore he tries his best to postpone his destination.  And he has been successful for 2000 years since the cross.  He knows that God cannot bring sin to an end before God has a group of followers that will not compromise their believe in God, even in the most severe situation, when—like Job—every support system will be taken away from them, and death at the hands of their enemies will seem sure.  Therefore Satan does whatever he can to prevent God’s people from achieving that level of commitment.  That is why Satan is working so hard to create division between churches and church members, and to lure God’s people into every form of temptation.  His life depends on it.

But that is also why it is now time that we stop giving in to Satan temptations, and learn to always and in all respects follow God.  This is probably the most important conclusion of this commentary.


The explanations offered here perhaps only scratch the surface of the real issues in the universe, but it is important to understand that this little planet is important in the universe wide conflict between good and evil.  This planet is Satan’s last stronghold (12:9) because he lost the war in heaven (12:8).  Here the final battles in the cosmic war will be fought.  Are we ready?

TO: General Table of Contents

The Seventh Plague

16:17  Then the seventh angel (messenger—YLT) poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple (sanctuary of the heaven—YLT; temple of heaven—KJV) from the throne, saying, “It is done.”  [It hath come!—YLT]

16:18 And there were flashes of lightning and sounds (voices—KJV, YLT) and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty.  19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.  20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

16:21 And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each (as of talent weight–YLT), came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God (did speak evil of God—YLT) because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.  (NASB)

The articles on the first six plagues and on the identity of Babylon should be read before this article.

That Babylon “was remembered before God” does not mean that God forgot and now remembers.  “Remember” means to act.  For instance, God “remembered” his covenant with Abraham when the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt (Exodus 2:24).  See also Gen 8:1 and 19:29.

The “cup” which God gives to Babylon is a common Biblical expression denoting suffering and judgments meted out (Psalm 11:6; 75:8; Isaiah 51:17, 22, 23; Jeremiah 25:15-17, 28; 49:12; Matthew 26:39).

The seventh plague informs us explicitly that God’s throne is in the temple in heaven (16:17).  The Greek word for temple (naou) describes the inner sanctuary.  According to 11:19 (NASB), and also according to the KJV of 16:17, the temple is in heaven.


In this plague there are five manifestation, namely lightning and sounds (or voices), thunder, a great earthquake and huge hailstones.  These are not literal, for the following reasons:

(A) The group of five manifestations appears several times in Revelation, where they are symbolic:

The first time we read about this group is in the context of the vision of the temple in heaven in Revelation 4.  There we only read about the first three, namely “lightning, sounds and thunder”.  They came “out from the throne” (4:5).  “Sounds” are also be translated as “voices” (KJV) and in Revelation voices often sound like thunder (6:1; 10:3).  The lightning may reflect movement.  The four living being that are represented as “in the centre and around the throne” (4:6) run “to and fro like bolts of lightning” (Ezekiel 1:14) and their voices are like thunder (6:1).  For these reasons it is proposed that the lightning, sounds and thunder represent the activities, discussions and decisions and instructions emanating from the throne in heaven.

The next mention of this group is in the introduction to the trumpets, where fire is thrown down from heaven on the earth, “followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake” (8:5).  Earthquake is therefore added to the previous three.  The trumpets describe all sorts of devastating effects on earth, and most of them have reference to fire (8:8; 9:17; 11:3-5), burning (8:7, 10) or smoke (9:2-5).  It is proposed that the earthquake is a summary symbol for all this fiery devastation.  Lightning, sounds and thunder are the decisions and activities in heaven and the earthquake symbolise the consequences on earth.

The next mention of this group is in the introduction to Revelation 12 to 14, where “the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple”, followed by all five manifestation (11:19).  Hail is therefore added to the previous four.  In the introduction to the trumpets fire was thrown to the earth, resulting in fire everywhere in the trumpets.  Similarly in the introduction to Revelation 12-14 the ark of the covenant is seen (a box which housed the ten commandments) and in Revelation 12-14 veiled references to the 10 commandments are everywhere (12:17; 14:12; 13:6, 15, 16; 14:1, 7; 15:5).  It is therefore proposed that the earthquake and hail is a summary symbol for the events of Revelation 12 to 14.

(Since each major section of Revelation is introduced with a scene of the temple in heaven, 11:19 must be the introduction for the section of Revelation in chapters 12 to 14.)

B. Babylon is not destroyed by an earthquake, but by the ten kings.

Revelation 17 expands on the seventh plague, and according to 17:16 Babylon is destroyed by the gathered kings.  Both the seventh plague and chapters 17 and 18 describe the destruction of Babylon, but with different sets of symbols.

C. A literal earthquake of this magnitude would destroy all human life and physical cities

This earthquake is so large that “every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” (16:20).  A literal earthquake of this magnitude would exterminate all human life on earth, but according to 16:21 the people do not die.  They continue to blaspheme God (16:21), indicating that the earth is still well populated.

Furthermore, according to 16:19, the earthquake split the great city into three parts.  A literal earthquake of this magnitude would not do this.  It would completely destroy all cities.

The three parts into which Babylon splits must be a symbol, implying that the “great city” is symbolic, and therefore also the earthquake.

D. This use of Old Testament events to describe future events confirms that these descriptions should be read symbolically.

The first five plagues use literal events from the Egypt Exodus to describe future events.  The two final plagues – the drying up of the great River Euphrates and the fall of Babylon (Rev 16:12, 19) – use actual events from the fall of ancient Babylon.

E. Babylon symbolizes false religion.

The “great city” is Babylon (14:8), which is a symbol for “false religion” (see article on Babylon).  Babylon is also the main target of the earthquake.  If Babylon is not a literal city then the earthquake must also be a symbol.

The physical manifestations are not literal, but symbolic of massive destruction.  As a literal earthquake leaves a literal city in ruins, so a figurative earthquake brings ruin and desolation to the symbolic “great Babylon” (16:19).


One can take nearly any portion of Revelation and try to read it literally, and it would not make sense literally.  For instance:

In the second plague all fresh waters turn to blood (16:3), but in the sixth the Euphrates dry up (16:12).  There would not be water to dry up.

In the sixth plague, why would a river be a barrier to kings, given the use of aeroplanes and missile (16:12)?

All people received malignant sores (16:2), sending them all to look for medical help, but receive none.  The sea and all fresh waters have turn to blood (16:3-4).  The sun scorches people with fire (16:8).  Where would literal kings get the resources, including food and water, and energy to group and attack another kingdom (16:14, 16)?  Under such circumstances people will die in their billions, and everyone on earth would just be trying to survive, perhaps for another day.

How do spirits of demons that look like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, beast and false prophet, and why to the three only have one mouth (16:14)?

How could all the armies of all kings gather in a single place on earth (16:16)?  How do they get there if the oceans turned to blood, on which no ship can travel?

Taken literally, why would God’s people be warned to watch their clothes, so that they not walk about naked (16:15)?

After a world-wide earthquake that levels all mountains and results in tsunamis of blood that bury all islands, and therefore also all coastal regions, what people would then be left to blaspheme God (16:18-21)?

Given these insurmountable obstacles to a literal reading, literal interpretations allocate much space and time to justify a literal interpretation, and consequently completely miss the mark.

To say that these plagues are symbolically does not mean they have no meaning.  They represent real devastations.  To determine what they mean require a careful study of the symbols in their immediate and wider context.


The sixth plague ends with the kings of the earth gathered at Armageddon (16:16).  Logically the seventh plague describes what happens at Armageddon afterwards.  What happens at Armageddon is also described in 19:11-21, because there we also see the gathered kings (19:19).  This is followed by the Beast and the False Prophet being thrown in the lake of fire (19:20).  Therefore, when Babylon is destroyed, as in the seventh plague, it is also the elimination of the Beast and the False Prophet.

This conclusion is supported by the fact that Babylon (false religion) is the driving force behind the Beast-power.  (See the article on Babylon.)  When the Beast-powers are mentioned, the involvement of Babylon is implied.  When Babylon is mentioned, the Beast and its Image, and the False Prophet are the political powers on earth through which she acts.  It therefore follows that when Babylon is destroyed, the Beast-powers are destroyed as well.

The seventh plague then includes both the destruction of Babylon as described in Revelation 17 and 18, and the destruction of the Beast-powers at the end of Revelation 19.

Babylon seems to be destroyed before the return of Jesus, because the political kingdoms of the world will destroy her (17:16).  This may seem to contradict the conclusion that the destruction of Babylon is also the destruction of the Beast and the False Prophet.  However, the destruction of Babylon by the kings could be seen as simply part of the process by which these powers are destroyed.  In other words, the world-wide religio-political anti-God coalition fight among themselves and destroy each other.  We should accept that the return of Christ is much more involved, and of a much longer duration than we often think of.

The seventh plague ends with the people cursing God, while Revelation 19 ends with the people dead.  The horrible killing of the people at the return of Christ, in which God and Christ find no pleasure, is not part of the seventh plague.


The seventh plague (Armageddon) can only be understood if one considers the background-situation on earth against which it occurs.

During the final events of earth history a powerful anti-God power (The Beast), that previously was practically dead, revives (13:3, 4).  It persecutes God’s people through the False Prophet and the Image of the Beast (13:15, 17).  The final political-religious power will command all to bow to the Image  (accept its authority), or die (13:15).  The right to buy and sell and every earthly support will be taken away from believers (13:17).  Simultaneously God’s message is powerfully proclaimed all over the world (14:6-11), compelling everybody on earth to choose; either for God (and receive the seal of God—14:1) or against God (and receive the mark of the beast—13:17).

Chapter 15 represents the point in time when everybody has made their eternal choices.  We will not know when that is, but God will.  From this point forward nobody else will be saved, as indicated by the symbol of nobody being allowed inside the temple (15:8), and by the frequent references during the plagues of people not repenting (16:9, 11, 21).

At this point in time God unleashes the plagues.  God’s people are being persecuted, but the plagues targets selectively the persecutors of God’s people (16:2, 6, 10).  However, the people are so hardened that they cannot change.  It is not that God does not want to save them:

‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! (Ezek. 33:11).

However, the wicked are beyond the point of no return, and continue to blaspheme God (16:9, 11, 21) and to persecute His people.  But their support for their religions wane, depicted by the symbol of the Euphrates drying up, because they now realise that it is false.

But then Satan strikes back with a renewed attack, using his supernatural forces to unite the kings of the earth behind him  False religion is replaced with outright Satanism.  Previously Satan corrupted true religion to create false religion, and the people did not know that they were really following Satan, but now they know exactly who they are following.  Knowingly they join forces against God, determined to exterminate all His followers on earth.

It is in this context that the seventh plague (Armageddon) brings an end to Babylon (Satanism at this stage), the Beast and the False Prophet.

Next: Purpose of the Plagues

TO: General Table of Contents

General Table of Contents

This website is independent and non-denominational.

This main purpose of the website is to comment on the book of Revelation, but many of the articles are about Daniel because Revelation is based on Daniel.  Further, a sound understanding of basic theology is also required to interpret Revelation, for instance Israel’s end time role and the Law of God.  Many articles therefore study other books of the Bible.

Below the available articles are listed.  Some of the articles have been summarized.  Word copies of some of the articles are available.


Daniel the prophetDaniel claims to have been written in the sixth century BC, but critics believe Daniel was written after the events it “predicts”.  What evidence do we have for when was Daniel written and to accept the book as a divinely inspired miracle of God?    Summary   Full article   Full article in Word    Summary in Word

Who was Darius the Mede? He is not mentioned in secular history. Does this prove that Daniel’s prophecies are fictional?  Darius the Mede  Article in Word

The Daniel 2 vision divides world history into six successive ages.  Daniel 2

The four beasts are four kingdoms that reign one after the other. The ten horns exist at the same time; after the fourth empire has come to an end.  Daniel 7

Coin of Antiochus IV

Critics identify the evil king in Daniel as the Greek king Antiochus IV.  This article is an overview of the prophecies of Daniel and proposes that that evil king arises after Rome has become the dominant power.  Summary    Full article in Word   Summary in Word

There are many similarities between Antiochus and Daniel’s evil king, but there are also many major differences.  Antiochus IV by no means exhausts the passage.  Antiochus IV is not the complete fulfillment of Daniel’s predicted evil king.   Summary   Full article in Word    Summary in Word

Seventy Weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city – Evaluation of the four major interpretations of Daniel 9:  Summary   Full article in Word   Summary in Word



Summary of the book: This book is important for the interpretation of Daniel 9.

Detailed analysis of Daniel 9 to identify the “he” of verse 27 and the timing of the final seven years during which he acts:  Summary    Full article in Word    Summary in Word



ROMANS 1 – Verse by Verse:
“Unrighteous” man explains “live by faith”. God reveals “His invisible attributes”, but this man rejects God. God then gives the man over to impurity.

ROMANS 2 – Verse by Verse:
Romans 2 warns Jewish Christians that they will not be justified by the Law. It announces judgment of deeds, but that is justification by faith.

ROMANS 3:1-8: The faithfulness of God:
These verses deal with the same topic as Romans 9 and 11, namely the causes and consequences of Israel’s rejection of Christ.

ROMANS 9–11; The Chosen Nation
An independent and original interpretation of Romans 9 – 11 to identify the Israel of prophecy  Article in Word

This is a summary of the article on Israel in Romans 9 – 11.  While the main article more or less sequentially works through Romans 9 – 11, this article discusses these chapters thematically.  Article in Word

Romans 9-11 contain many strong election statements, but this is election to a mission, not to salvation, as is confirmed by the Jacob-example and other.  Article in Word


ROMANS 14:1-4
Some Christians in Rome did not eat meat, namely Gentiles, converted from idolatry, who still believed that meat offered to idols gave idols control over them.

The Greek word ‘koinós’ is translated “unclean” in Romans 14:14.  It does not refer to the unclean animals of the Old Testament.

Similarities to 1 Corinthians 8-10 imply that the same dispute existed, namely meat sacrificed to idols.  For the weak Christian eating meat is idol worship.

Not the Sabbath – No Jewish elements – Issue is non-Jewish – Would contradict Galatians – Sabbath requires specific treatment – In context probably meat-days.

ROMANS 14:7-13
Judgment Seat of God: Judged by deeds but not be justified by the works of the Law.  The difference is a difference in the Law and a difference t=in the function of the Law.

ROMANS 14:13-23
Rather Abstain: Strong Christians can harm weaker brethren by eating such unholy food, and should not eat meat rather than to cause harm.



1:1-5: Introduction to the letter
Gal. 1:6-9: Distort the gospel of Christ; Accursed
Gal. 1:10-12: Gospel received through a revelation of Jesus Christ
Gal. 1:13-14; Ancestral traditions
Gal. 1:15-24: Short review of Paul’s history & Overview of Galatians 1


2:1-10: Visit to church headquarters in Jerusalem; Titus not compelled to be circumcised
Gal. 2:11-14: Conflict with Peter in Antioch over forcing Gentile Christians to be circumcised and to live like Jews
Gal. 2:15-16: Church Council in Acts 15; Man is not justified by observing the Law of Moses.  Jewish Christians continued to observe the Law of Moses.
Gal. 2:17-18: What did Paul destroy?
Gal. 2:19-20: Died to the Law, to live to God
Gal. 2:21: Nullify the grace of God, which is Christ’s death, by striving for righteousness through the Law
Overview of Galatians 1 & 2: Arguments for and against the circumcision of Gentile Christians



3:1-5: Support for the statement that man is not justified by the works of the Law – The risk of eternal loss
Gal. 3:6-9: Further proof that man is not justified by the works of the Law – Who are Abraham’s sons?
Gal. 3:10-14: Still further proof that man is not justified by the works of the Law; Christ’s death did not change God; He always loved His creatures and always will.
Gal. 3:15-18: Two reasons why man is justified through faith
Gal. 3:19-25: Law and Promises have different functions.  Man is not justified by the Law.  Christians are not subject to the Law of Moses, but to the Law of Christ.
Gal. 3:26-29: There is no difference between circumcised and uncircumcised Christians.  There is no need to circumcise Gentile Christians.  Physical Israel no longer has a separate role in God’s plan.

Overview of Galatians chapter 1 to 3: The danger of and arguments against compelling Gentile Christians to be circumcised


Building …




Colossians 1:1-8 – Introduction of the letter – Paul is the author – addressed to the church in Colossae – the Father is the One Who willed Paul’s apostleship
Colossians 1:9-14 – The Father rescued us to share in the kingdom of His beloved Son. The deception in Colossae claimed to have special knowledge.
Colossians 1:15-19 – The deception claimed to have received special knowledge from supernatural beings apart from Christ, but all knowledge is found in Christ; the Creator of all.
War in HeavenColossians 1:20-22 – In the time before Christ, some intelligent earthly and heavenly creatures waged war against God by evil deeds. God was not angry.  He ended the war by providing evidence through Christ’s death, which even heaven needed.
Colossians 1:23-28 – Paul rejoices in his suffering because it part of the stewardship he received from God. The Lord gave Paul a new message, namely that Gentiles can also be saved.


  • Colossians 2:1-4 Deceivers in Colossae were merging the church with mystery religions, arguing that Christ is not the only source of supernatural knowledge.
  • Colossians 2:5-8 The Colossian deception was man-made pagan philosophy; not Old Testament law. It claimed that God’s grace flow to man through various supernatural mediators.
  • Colossians 2:9-10 The deception claimed that Christians will only be complete if they obey supernatural rulers. But Christians, trusting Christ, are already complete.
  • Colossians 2:11 – Circumcision without hands A heart circumcised by the Spirit loves the LORD and His Law and hates sin. Its guilt and penalty for past sins is cancelled.
  • Colossians 2:11-14 Christians were made complete through circumcision of the heart, through baptism into Christ’s cross and by cancelling their certificate of debt, which is forgiving all their sins.
  • Colossians 2:14 – Translations of cheirographon – Essentially only the KJV implies that the Law of Moses has been cancelled. Most translations imply that the penalties for our sins have been cancelled.
  • Colossians 2:14 – Certificate of debt consisting of decrees – Given the pagan nature of the deception cheirographon is not the Law of Moses. It is a note of indebtedness, as confirmed by most translations and by the context.  It means to be “dead in your transgressions”.
  • Comparing Colossians 2:14 to Ephesians 2:15 – Ephesians 2:15 abolishes the Law of Moses and is similar to Colossians 2:14, but Colossians 2:14 abolishes something else to achieve a different purpose.
  • Colossians 2:15 – Satan accused God of unfair judgment. The cross demonstrated the true nature of both sides of the war in heaven, and vindicated God’s judgment.
  • Colossians 2:16 Introduction While the Sabbath is heavily debated, but it was a not controversial issue in Paul’s day.
  • Colossians 2:16 – Feasts … New Moons … Sabbaths “Festival … new moon … Sabbath” (Col. 2:16) is a technical phrase for “all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel”.






How Jesus became high priest.  God perfected Jesus through suffering.  Jesus offered Himself without blemish to God, making purification of sins through death.  Jesus then sat down on His Father’s throne and became our high priest in the tabernacle in heaven.

Jesus is a better high priest. The Levitical priesthood was merely a copy and shadow of the tabernacle in which Jesus serves, and was for that reason unable to do away with sin.  “Perfection”—a word which Hebrews uses for being put right with God—is only possible only through Christ.

Jesus appears before God for us.  He is sympathetic and merciful.  God promised, “their lawless deeds I will remember no more”, and our high priest Jesus guarantees that promise.

Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, for Jesus is faithful and sympathetic with our weaknesses: an analysis of the introduction and conclusion of the large middle section of Hebrews (4:14-10-31) which discusses Jesus as our high priest.

Impossible to renew them again to repentance Perfected people continue to sin unintentionally and they continue to do things which they do not want to do.  But in spite of those things they remain “perfect”.  But if they go “on sinning willfully”, then there only remains “a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries” (10:27).


Hebrews 1:1-3: Christ’s message is superior to that of the Old Testament prophets because He is superior to them.  He is God’s Son—the exact representation of God’s nature.  Through Him God made everything and through Him God still holds everything together.


The Seventh Day – blessed at creation, counted by Noah, made a Sabbath by Moses, corrupted by the Traditions, reformed by Christ and avoided by Paul.


  • Blessed And Sanctified At Creation
    The specialness of the seventh day is part of what God created and permanently engrained into human existence.
  • Evolution
    The view that God created man over millions of years by guiding evolution makes the Bible’s core message null and void.
  • From Creation To Moses
    Evidence exists for a seven day cycle before Moses, but not that the seventh day was a day of physical rest.
  • The Sabbath in The Law of Moses
    The Sabbath was a Symbol of Liberation, a Day of Rest, a help to Israel remember the Lord and a Test of Obedience. It was not a day for church meetings or a day to seek the Lord.


  • The Jewish Traditions are extremely detailed laws that the Jews added to the Old Testament. It was intended to help them keep God’s Law, but by representing God as a tyrant, it eventually separated them from God.


The Law of Christ (1Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2)Christ replaced the Law of Moses with a higher law – the Law of Christ. This is the law that existed “from the beginning” and reveals the Father’s heart.


  • First Two Sabbath Healing Miracles (Luke 4; Mark 1)Early in His ministry Christ publicly contravened the traditions by healing a man on the Sabbath. This prepared the ground for the later confrontations.
  • The Man With The Withered Hand (Matthew 12:9-14 and Mark 3:1-6)Jesus healed the man, saying, “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath”. The Pharisees went out and immediately began to conspire as to how they might destroy Him.
  • The Crippled Woman (Luke 13:10-17) – The Pharisees became angry because Jesus healed the woman. Jesus then asked, “should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?
  • When His Disciples Picked Grain (Matthew 12:1-8, Mark 2:23-28 and Luke 6:1-5)His disciples were accused of breaking the Sabbath. He defended them by saying “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath”, and claimed to be “Lord of the Sabbath”.
  • The Invalid At Bethesda (John 5) – He justified the healing by saying: “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working … the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing” (5:19).
  • The Man That Was Born Blind (John 9) – The miracle healings supported His astounding claims, condemned the Pharisees and explained the Sabbath as a day for the “

    good works from the Father”.


The articles above each deal with a specific Sabbath incident from the gospels. The current series of articles is a topical overview of the main principles.


Christmas: Its Meaning and Origin:
God’s willingness to become a human being reveals much about Him, but 25 December was derived from the pagan feast of the birthday of the Invincible Sun.

Eternal Life and Death in Paul’s Letters
Paul never wrote of eternal punishment for sinners.  He consistently warns that sinners will die.

The Son of God
The Bible maintains a clear distinction between God and His Son, but also says that “all the fullness of Deity dwells in Christ”.  How do we explain this?

I have no formal Bible training and do not hold a formal office in any church.


War in Heaven – This article has not yet been published.

Rulers and Authorities
Supernatural beings that oppose Christ

Disarmed the rulers and authorities
The Cross was the solution, but what was the problem, and how did the Cross solve that problem?


  • Grace: His merciful kindness
  • In Christ: A study of the meaning of the phrase “in Christ”, which is often found in Paul’s writings. Christ is the Vehicle through which we are rescued from this present evil age;
  • Justified: An interpretation of the Greek word normally translated as “justified”. It means to be reconciled to God or put right with God.
  • Live by; an Old Testament expression that means to be right with God (justified).
  • Righteousness: a synonym for Justify; to be “put right with God
  • Reconciled: How did Christ’s death reconcile us to God? Did He pay the price?  Did He pacify God?  Does justice require somebody to suffer? Did He prove God’s judgment?
  • Metaphors of Salvation
  • Atonement


Jerusalem Phase (Acts 1 to 5)
First 2 to 4 years – Receive the Holy Spirit – Exponential church growth, but in Jerusalem only.  The church remained a sect of Judaism, observing the Law of Moses.

Judea and Samaria Phase (Acts 6 to 9)
Next starts 5 or 6 years – The church grew in Judea and Samaria.  All Christians were Jews, regarded Gentiles as unclean and still observed the Law of Moses.

Gentile Dispute Phase (Acts 10 to 15)
Next about ten years – First Gentiles allowed to join the church. Dispute whether Gentiles must observe the Law of Moses.

Separation Phase
Started with the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, nearly 20 years after Christ’s death and resurrection, where it was decided that Gentile Christians do not have to observe the Law of Moses. This decision created separation between Gentile and Jewish Christians; one group observing the Law of Moses, the other not.

Theological implications of the Early Church History
Important context for Paul’s arguments with respect to the Law of Moses, Justification by the works of the Law and the Seventh Day Sabbath.

Estimated dates for significant events in the history of the early church.


Does Revelation describe a sequential list of chronological events?
Many people believe that Revelation it is a chronological record of events from start to finish. Revelation explains some things repeatedly, and sometimes even reverses the order of events.  Article in Word

The seven seals
What book does He open?  What are the seals of the book?  Who are the 144000?  What is the great tribulation?  Who is the innumerable multitude? Article in Word
Prior reading advised: Israel in Romans 9 to 11

Does the seventh seal include the trumpets?
The trumpets have their own introduction, a theme different from the seals and focus on a different people.  The seals and trumpets end with the consummation.

The Seven Wars (Revelation 12-14) – not yet published

The Beasts with Seven Heads
Revelation has three beasts with 7 heads and 10 horns—the Dragon, Sea Beast and Scarlet Beast on which the harlot sits.  What are these beasts?  Prior reading advised is Daniel’s evil horn–Greek or Roman?  Article in Word

The Seven Heads of the Beast
The heads are limited to Daniel’s four beasts and 11th horn, but the 11th horn has three phases, and the wound-period is the sixth head.  Prior reading advised is Daniel’s evil horn–Greek or Roman?  Article in Word

Babylon, the mother of harlots
Who is Babylon?  She exists for all human history, corrupts the people and reigns over the kings, but also destroyed by the kings.


Prior reading advised is “The Seven Headed Beasts” and Babylon”.

  • First four plagues – All people divide into two groups; the larger group persecutes the smaller. The plagues only affect the larger group.   How do they react?  Do they repent?
  • The Fifth Plague – The fifth plague destroys the Beast’s right to rule.  What gives the Beast its right to rule, and how is this destroyed?
  • The Sixth Plague – Euphrates dried up. The way for the kings from the east is prepared.   Demons perform miracles to gather the kings for war at Armageddon.
  • The Seventh Plague – Voices, thunder, lightning, an earth-shattering earthquake splitting Babylon into three and massive hail, but still people blaspheme God. Literal or symbolic?
  • The Purpose of the Plagues – Nobody is saved during plagues. Why then does God torment with plagues?  Why has God not made an end to sin a long time ago?