The Sixth Plague

This article serves as a summary of the various articles dealing with aspects of the sixth plagues.

The sixth plague is described in five verses. The first verse reads as follows:

16:12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl
on the great river, the Euphrates;
and its water was dried up,
so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east.

Literal interpretations sometimes assume that this refers to the literal Euphrates that will literally dry up to allow literal kings from the east to attack the literal city of Babylon. Given the modern ability to send unmanned aircraft and missiles to the remotest parts of the world, this would indeed be a strange interpretation. Rivers have deterred armies in the time when Revelation was written, but certainly not today.

EUPHRATES DRIED UP

The article – The great river, the Euphrates – discusses:

What is the great river, the Euphrates?
What is the drying up of the Euphrates?

In summary, it concludes as follows:

EUPHRATES

Since the first five plagues are worldwide and since there are no indications in the plagues of portions, as one finds in the seals and the trumpets, the Euphrates River is also worldwide.  This, of course, also means that the drying up of the waters of the Euphrates is a global event.

Revelation uses the Euphrates as a symbol for the peoples of the world.  This conclusion is based on two components:

Revelation uses the names Euphrates and Babylon several times, but nowhere does it define a relationship between them.  However, Revelation does say that Babylon sits on many waters. Since we know from history that the Euphrates River flowed through the ancient city of Babylon, by inference, the many waters is another name for the Euphrates.
(Many waters = Euphrates)

Revelation explicitly defines the many waters as the peoples of the world.
(Many waters = Peoples)

Therefore: Many Waters = Euphrates = Peoples of the world

DRIED UP

Hundreds of years before Christ, the water of the literal Euphrates was literally dried up to prepare the way for literal kings from the east; Cyrus and the kings of the Medes and the Persians.  They came from the east.  Since Revelation uses a historical event to describe this a future event, the drying up of the Euphrates is symbolic language.  

As mentioned above, Babylon “sits” on the Euphrates.  That is explained by 17:2 as: “Those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.”  Babylon is the false system of religion that has existed for all of human history.  That she sits on the peoples of the world symbolizes her intoxicating influence on the world.  She controls them. 

However, Babylon has also fully infected Christianity.  As shown in a previous article, the throne of the beast is particularly Christian religious authority.  The enemy of God in Revelation is not other religions in general, but the Christian version of Babylon in particular.  

Dried up” then means that false Christianity will lose its hold on the people of the world.  These concepts are explained in more detail in the abovementioned article – The great river, the Euphrates.

KINGS FROM THE EAST

The article – Kings from the East – shows that these kings are a symbol of Christ and His angels.  In summary, that article offers the following proofs:

There are TWO GROUPS OF KINGS in the sixth plague.  Since the kings of the whole world make war against God, the kings from the east fight with God.

In Scripture, God comes from the EAST.

The sixth plague uses language from the DELIVERANCE OF GOD’S PEOPLE from ancient literal Babylon.  This implies that this plague describes God’s deliverance of His end-time people, which He will do through Christ.

The sixth plague does not describe either of the two groups of kings, but both are DESCRIBED IN CHRIST’S RETURN.  In the Return of Christ, we see the kings of the world gathered and God’s kings moving towards them.  Satan is represented, in both the sixth plague and the Return of Christ, by 4 categories: The dragon, the beast, the false prophet and by the kings of the world.

WAY PREPARED

The drying up only prepares the way for the kings from the east.  The high-level analysis of chapters 16 to 19 in the article – Kings from the East – shows that chapters 17 and 18 are an interruption and that the seventh plague continues in Revelation 19 with the Return of Christ.  In other words, the seventh plague ends with the Return of Christ.  The sixth plague is, consequently, the preparation, but the seventh plague is “the war of the great day of God” (16:14) – Armageddon.

ARMAGEDDON

According to the final verse of the Sixth Plague, the demon-spirits gather the kings of the world to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon(Rev. 16:16).  This place Har-Magedon is identified in the article Armageddon, which is how this place is usually called.  In summary, that article concludes as follows:

There is no place called Armageddon (Har-Magedon in the NASB).

Interpreters offer many solutions to identify a specific geographical location, but none of these proposals are especially persuasive.  For this reason, we should interpret Armageddon figuratively.  Other reasons to prefer a symbolic interpretation include the following:

      • The SYMBOLIC context of the plagues;
      • MODERN WARFARE does not allow for a world war limited to one specific geographical location. 
      • The GLOBAL nature of the other plagues.

REPEATED

The book of Revelation describes Armageddon in many other places without using the word Armageddon:

There are many similarities between Armageddon in the Sixth Plague and the Return of Christ in Revelation 19.  For example, in both there are two groups of kings, with the kings of the world are gathered together for war to one place while the other kings move towards them. 

Both the harvest at the end of Revelation 14 and the war at the Return of Christ in Revelation 19 refer to the treading of the winepress.

The sixth seal is the “GREAT DAY of their wrath,” similar to the “GREAT DAY of God” in the Sixth Plague.

The sixth plague is the only place in the Bible where we find the exact phrase “the great day of God,” but outside Revelation variations of it appear in nearly 30 verses.  Armageddon is, therefore, the same as the “Day of the Lord,” which is found all over the Bible.

Since Armageddon is mentioned repeatedly in Revelation and since it is the same as the Old Testament war of the “Day of the Lord,” it cannot be a world war between the nations of the world that is limited to one geographical location on the globe.

CONCLUSION

The kings of the earth are not gathered to a physical place, but the spirits of demons will unite world leaders in mind and spirit against God.  Armageddon will be a physical war, but it will be worldwide, and it will be a war between God and man.

WHY THE WATER DRIES UP

According to Revelation 16:12—the first verse of the sixth plague—the waters of the Euphrates River have to dry up to prepare the way for the Kings from the east.  As discussed above:

The Euphrates River symbolizes the people that support false Christianity.  Drying up means that the people’s support for false Christianity dries up.  This will happen after false Christianity suffers a lethal blow to its authority during the first five plagues (See Fifth plague). 

The Kings from the East have been interpreted as Christ and His angels at His return.

According to verses 13 to 16, after false Christianity loses its popular support, it receives renewed strength in the form of “spirits of demons, performing signs” (16:14).  These demon spirits enable the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet to gather the kings of the world at Armageddon (16:16).

This is discussed in the article, Why the Euphrates dries up to prepare the way for the Kings from the east.  A summary of that article is as follows:

The demon spirits mean that God allows Satan direct control.  

PEOPLE WITH THE MARK OF THE BEAST

The people with the Mark of the beast are similar to the Pharisees of Christ’s day.  They are Bible-believing, church-going Christians, but for them, the traditional teaching of the church is more important than the truth.  In reality, Satan is their god.  In their view, God is cruel and quick to judge, for they ascribe Satan’s character to God.  Then they interpret the Bible accordingly.

However, through the first five plagues, they come to realize that they are serving Satan; not God.  But they do not change, for they have become so hardened that they are unable to repent

When Satan sends his demons to gather the kings, the people with these modern Pharisees accept this new power with the full knowledge that this power is from Satan. 

QUESTION

Why must the waters dry up to prepare the way for the kings from the east?  Literally speaking, why must false Christianity realize that it is false before may Christ return?

GOD’S JUDGMENT QUESTIONED

The rebellion against God on earth actually began in heaven when a huge number of God’s HOLY angels joined Satan.

God condemned Satan and his angels to hell.  To defend himself, Satan accused God of unfair judgment.  God also sentenced the people with the Mark of the Beast to death.  Satan, therefore, similarly accuses God of bad judgment with respect to the people with the Mark of the beast.

Due to Satan’s enormous intellect and skill, many of even the sinless heavenly beings do not know whether Satan is telling the truth!

PURPOSE OF THE PLAGUES

God wants all intelligent beings to trust Him fully.  In particular, He wants all intelligent beings to understand His judgments.  For that reason that He pours out the plagues, even after the eternal destiny of every person on earth has been permanently fixed.  Through the plagues, He will shows, to all of God’s intelligent creatures, throughout the universe, that His judgment is correct

In particular, the plagues reveal to the on-looking universe the true nature of these modern Pharisees.  To do that, the plagues will reveal to the modern Pharisees that they are deceived and that they are, in reality, followers of Satan, persecuting God by persecuting His people.  This is done so that all the universe can see how the modern Pharisees respond.  Through the refusal to repent it becomes clear that they really are committed to Satan’s principles, which confirms God’s judgment of them, namely that they must die the second death.  

SPIRITS OF DEMONS | SPIRITUALISM

The last four verses of the sixth plague read as follows:

16:13 And I saw coming
out of the mouth of the dragon and
out of the mouth of the beast and
out of the mouth of the false prophet,
three unclean spirits like frogs;
14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs,
which go out to the kings of the whole world,
to gather them together
for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.

16 And they gathered them together to the place
which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.

The dragon is Satan (12:9).  The beast came from the sea (13:1) and is identified in the article on the Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation.  The false prophet is the beast from the earth (compare 13:12 to 19:20). 

The war of the great day of God” is “Har-Magedon,” also known as Armageddon.  That article identifies Armageddon, NOT as a physical place, but an event, namely the Day of the Lord.  The spirits of demons will unite the world leaders; not in a place, but against God in mind and is spirit.

MOUTHS

In Revelation, many things come out of mouths, such as “fire, smoke and brimstone” (9:15-17; 11:5), “water like a river” (12:15) and “a sharp sword” (19:15).  These are not literal things coming out of literal mouths.  What comes out of the mouth symbolizes what the being does.  For example, the Image of the beast will “speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (13:15; cf. 13:5; 11-13).  The mouth, therefore, is not important. What is important is WHAT comes out of the mouth, for that symbolizes the will and deeds of the being. 

FROGS

Some believe the demons are “like frogs” (16:13) because frogs catch their prey with their tongues.  Others see some symbolic meaning in the fact that the frogs were the last plague on Egypt which the Egyptian wizards were able to replicate.  The view here is that simply the frogs must be understood like the “unclean and hateful birds,” which are also mentioned in 18:2 with unclean spirits.  “Like frogs” then simply highlights the repulsive nature of the unclean spirits in God’s sight.

SPIRITUALISM

SPIRITS OF DEMONS come out of the mouths of the evil trio.  This indicates an escalation of Satanic power which allows the evil trio to perform extraordinary deeds (signs). 

Previously the false prophet deceived mankind to make an Image of the beast by “great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men”  (Rev 13:13-14).  Now the dragon, beast, and false prophet perform signs to gather the kings of the whole world together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty – Armageddon (16:14, 16).  Through these miracles, Satan will succeed to unite the world behind him and against God.

One often hears Christians claiming miracles.  That does not prove that these things are by God’s power.  The “lawless one … whom the Lord will … bring to an end by the appearance of His coming,” will come “with all power and signs and false wonders(2Th 2:8-9).  Jesus also said, false prophets will … show great signs and wonders” (Mt. 24:24 cf. Mark 13:22).

False Christianity receives this renewed strength IN RESPONSE TO THE SETBACKS of the first five plagues, which resulted in the waters (human support) drying up, but that strength comes from Satan.  They receive the persuasive ability to lead men to an unconditional commitment to the cause of evil.  

SECRET RAPTURE

Does the phrase, “coming like a thief” in Revelation 16:15, support a secret rapture?

This article discusses the rapture-like language in Revelation 16:15.  It is not intended to discuss the rapture in general, but only whether this verse, in particular, supports the rapture concept.

In the middle of the sixth plague, immediately after God’s enemies have received renewed power from demon spirits to enable them to gather together the kings of the world for the battle of Armageddon, Jesus warns:

“Behold, I am coming like a thief.
Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes,
so that he will not walk about naked
and men will not see his shame.” (Rev. 16:15)

SUMMARY

Dispensationalism proposes that, seven years before Christ’s visible return, there will be an invisible and inaudible secret rapture that will remove the church from the earth. 

The phrase, “coming like a thief,” in the sixth plague, is sometimes interpreted to refer to this secret rapture.  There are, however, a number of passages in the Bible that mention Jesus coming like a THIEF, and it nowhere means that the relevant event will be inaudible or invisible. It always means that nobody can predict WHEN Jesus will return. 

Jesus comes like a thief on THE DAY OF THE LORD, which, in the sixth plague, refers to as THE WAR OF THE GREAT DAY OF GOD, the Almighty.  On that day there will be sudden destruction.  The heavens will pass away with a roar and the earth and its works will be burned up.  It does not like a secret event. 

The same warning which Jesus gave in 16:15, namely that His people must keep their clothes, He gave to the seven churches.  This implies that the church is still on earth during the plagues. 

But there is a difference.  The sixth plague urges God’s people TO KEEP their clothes while the Laodiceans are advised TO BUY white garments.  Jesus’s warning is, therefore, only intended for God’s people; not for the world in general.  This firstly confirms, as discussed in the Introduction to the Plagues of Revelation, that when the plagues fall, the time for repentance has passed.  

SECRET RAPTURE

Does “coming like a thief” in Revelation 16:15, support a secret rapture?

This article discusses the rapture-like language in Revelation 16:15.  It is not intended to discuss the rapture in general, but only whether this verse supports the rapture concept.

In the middle of the sixth plague, immediately after God’s enemies have received renewed power from demon spirits to enable them to gather together the kings of the world for the battle of Armageddon, Jesus warns:

“Behold, I am coming like a thief.
Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes,
so that he will not walk about naked
and men will not see his shame.” (Rev. 16:15)

Dispensationalism proposes that, seven years before Christ’s visible return, there will be an invisible and inaudible secret rapture that will remove the church from the earth. 

The phrase, “coming like a thief,” in the sixth plague, is sometimes interpreted to refer to this secret rapture.  There are, however, a number of passages in the Bible that mention Jesus coming like a THIEF, and it nowhere means that the event will be inaudible or invisible. It always means that nobody can predict WHEN Jesus will return. 

Jesus comes like a thief on THE DAY OF THE LORD, which the sixth plague refers to as THE WAR OF THE GREAT DAY OF GOD, the Almighty.  Then there will be sudden destruction.  The heavens will pass away with a roar and the earth and its works will be burned up.  It will not be a secret event. 

The same warning which Jesus gives in 16:15, that God’s people must keep their clothes, He gave to the seven churches.  This implies that the church is still on earth during the plagues. 

But there is a difference.  In the sixth plague, God’s people are urged TO KEEP their clothes while the Laodiceans are advised TO BUY white garments.  Jesus’s warning is only to God’s people; not to the world in general.  This confirms that, when the plagues fall, the time for repentance has passed.  This is consistent with the proposal that the church is still on earth.

 

 

 

Next: Seventh Plague

TO: General Table of Contents

The mighty angel of Revelation 18 destroys the beast’s Christian authority.

16:10-11 The fifth angel poured out his bowl
on the throne of the beast,
and his kingdom became darkened;
and they gnawed their tongues because of pain,
and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains …;
and they did not repent of their deeds. (NASB)

KINGDOM

These verses use the pronoun “they” for “his kingdom,” rather than “it.”  The kingdom, therefore, refers to the SUBJECTS of the beast’s kingdom; not to its territory.  This confirms what we saw in the first plague (16:2), namely that the plagues SELECTIVELY target the subjects of the kingdom of the Beast.  His subjects are the people with the mark of the beast.

THRONE OF THE BEAST

The beast … was like …
And the dragon gave him his power and his throne
and great authority
” (Revelation 13:2).

Here we see that the beast received its throne from the dragon.  “Power,” “throne,” and “authority” are understood to be synonyms.  The beast’s throne is, therefore, his authority, namely that which gives him the power to rule.

To understand what its throne is, we need to know who the dragon is, for it receives its throne from the dragon (13:2). 

DRAGON  

REVELATION 12

Great Red DragonBoth the beast and the dragon have seven heads and ten horns. The article that discusses the Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation, concludes that when the dragon stands before the woman, ready to devour her Child (that is, Jesus – see Revelation 12:3-4), it represents the FOURTH KINGDOM of Daniel 7.  (The word ‘when’ is important, for when the dragon wages war against Michael and his angels, it represents Satan (12:7).)

That fourth kingdom is identified in the study of Daniel 7 as the ROMAN EMPIRE, which ruled the known world when Jesus was born.  It is therefore concluded that, in Revelation 12:3-4, the dragon is the Roman Empire.

REVELATION 13

This identification of the dragon can be confirmed from Revelation 13, where the Beast appears for the first time:

1 And the DRAGON stood on the sand of the seashore.
Then I saw a BEAST coming up out of the sea,
having ten horns and seven heads …
2 … the 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 …

The sea, from which it arises, is a symbol for the peoples of the world.

Daniel 7 represents a series of kingdoms with animals.  The four animals listed in Revelation 13:2 are exactly the same as the animals that we find in Daniel 7.  The Beast inherits characteristics from each of them (Rev 13:2; compare Daniel 7).  It inherits:

Its appearance from the leopard.
Its feet from the bear.
Its mouth from the lion.
Its throne from the dragon.

These four animals are identified in the article on Daniel 7 as:

Ancient Babylon (lion);
Mede-Persia (bear);
Greece (leopard) and
Rome (non-descript beast in Daniel 7—Dragon in Revelation). 

This confirms that the dragon is the Roman Empire and that the beast, therefore, receives its throne (authority) from that empire.  

RELIGIOUS AUTHORITY

The question then is, what type of authority did the beast receive from the dragon?  In the article dealing with this question, it was concluded that the throne of the beast is religious authority.  In summary, this article provides evidence that the throne of the beast is Christian religious authority. This is based on the flow of thought in the plagues, the general nature of conflict in Revelation as a war of worship, the description of the persecuting powers as a woman, a lamb and a false prophet performing wonders and signs, intent on changing God’s law, and the fact that it always is false religion that persecutes true religion.

To explain this in historical context:

In the fourth century, the Roman Empire made Christianity its sole religion.  The Emperor became the de facto head of the church and had both military and religious authority.  When the military might of the Western Empire was conquered by the barbarian tribes, particularly in the fifth century, the Emperor’s religious authority continued to exert its influence in the West through the church. 

THE MIGHTY ANGEL

A further article compares the call made on God’s people by the mighty angel in Revelation 18 with the fifth plague.  It concludes that the mighty angel’s message of Revelation 18 causes the darkness of the fifth plague.  In summary:

In Revelation 18 a mighty angel cries out “Fallen, fallen is Babylon … Come out of her, my people.”  This is a message proclaimed on earth by God’s people through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

By analyzing the time sequence of the end-time events, this article shows that the fifth plague is the mighty angel’s powerful message.  That message convinces the peoples of the world that light from their system of worship is actually spiritual darkness.

SUMMARY

The beast’s throne is a symbol of its power and authority, which it receives from the dragon, which is the Roman Empire.  But that was Christian religious authority; not financial or military power. 

The beast’s kingdom is his subjects, namely the people with the mark of the beast.  The plagues target them selectively.

The first four plagues seriously eroded the beast’s authority, for these plagues ONLY affected its followers; the people with the mark of the beast.

The fifth plague is also the loud cry, namely the mighty angel of Revelation 18 that cries out “Fallen, fallen is Babylon … Come out of her, my people.”  This is followed by “another voice from heaven, saying,’Come out of her, my people‘” (v4).

This is a message proclaimed on earth by God’s people through the power of the Holy Spirit.  This message convinces the peoples of the world that light from their system of worship is actually spiritual darkness.  This completely destroys the beast’s reputation and therefore its authority (throne). Consequently, in the sixth plague, the people of the world withdraw their support from the beast.  (See Sixth Plague)

These conclusions are based on a number of articles, including:

The Seven-Headed Beasts of Revelation
The beasts of Daniel 7
The animals of Daniel 7 and 8 identify the Evil Horn.
The throne of the beast is religious authority.
The mighty angel of Revelation 18 is the fifth plague.

Next: Sixth Plague 
TO: General Table of Contents 

Revelation 16 – The first four plagues target the earth, sea, waters and sun.

PREVIOUS ARTICLES

INTRODUCTION TO THE PLAGUES OF REVELATION 16

The seven plagues in Revelation 16 are part of the Return of Christ.  They were preceded by Christian on Christian PERSECUTION.  The difference between these Christians is not their doctrines but the difference between love and hate.  The people with the mark of the beast are TRADITIONALISTS, for they accept the doctrines that have been developed over the centuries and persecute other Christians as dangerous heretics.  The same controversies which we see today in the church will form the basis for that persecution. The difference, compared to today, will be in how much GOD ALLOWS Satan to persecute His true people.  (See Introduction to the Plagues of Revelation 16.)

FIRST FOUR PLAGUES ARE NON-SPECIFIC

Revelation has seven seals, seven trumpets and seven bowl plagues.  Some interpreters spend more time on the first four of a series than on the last three.  This article proposes that the first four of each of these series of seven are general and should NOT BE INDIVIDUALLY INTERPRETED.  But the last three in each series are specific and individually interpreted.  In each of the series of seven, we also find an interlude between the sixth and the seventh.  These interludes provide essential background information that explains the entire series.  (See The First Four Plagues are non-specific.)

FIRST BOWL – EARTH

So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth;
and it became a loathsome and malignant sore
on the people who had the mark of the BEAST
and who worshiped his IMAGE.
” (Revelation 16:2)

ONE GROUP

In Revelation 13, the people of the earth, on demand of the false prophet, establish the IMAGE OF THE BEAST (13:14).  This image then attempts to compel all people to worship (obey) itself and to receive the MARK OF THE BEAST (13:15, 16).  The people “who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image” are therefore not two different groups of people, but one and the same group.

GOD’S PEOPLE PROTECTED

The plagues are poured out while God’s people are still being killed because they refuse to worship (obey) the image (13:15).  But then the plagues start to fall ONLY on the worshipers of the beast (Revelation 16:2, 10).   God’s people do not suffer from the plagues.  The worshipers of the beast must now realize that they are working against God. How do they respond?  Will they repent?  This is discussed below.

SECOND BOWL – SEA

The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea,
and it became blood like that of a dead man;
and every living thing in the sea died
.” (Revelation 16:3)

Here, God destroys His creation.  That which God so lavishly created on the fifth day, He utterly destroys by means of the second plague.  We can’t help but think of how pleased the Lord was when He made all the plethora of sea life for man’s pleasure and benefit:

“God created … every living thing …
with which the waters abounded, according to their kind
… And God saw that it was GOOD
“ (Genesis 1:20-23)!

THIRD BOWL- WATERS

16:4 … the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers
and the springs of waters; and they became blood.
5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying,
“RIGHTEOUS ARE YOU, who are and who were, O Holy One,
because You judged these things;
6 for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets,
and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.

WHO ARE AND WHO WERE

Revelation often describes God as “Him who IS and who WAS and who is TO COME” (1:4, 8; 4:8).  This identifies God as eternal.  But the “is to come”-part is omitted in Revelation 16:5 because, as concluded in a previous article, the plagues are part of the RETURN OF CHRIST.  Fortunes are being reversed.  When the plagues start, God’s people are persecuted, but when the plagues come to an end, the worshipers of the beast are dead, as explained below.   

The seventh trumpet (11:17) similarly omits the “is to come”-part, describing God only as He “who are and who were,” for at that point in time Christ has already come:

the kingdom of the world HAS BECOME
the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ
” (11:15). 

Revelation consists of several sections, each ending with the return of Christ.  For a discussion of this, see Are the events in Revelation in a strict chronological sequence?

POURED OUT THE BLOOD OF SAINTS

Later in Revelation, we will read about the harlot Babylon, the mother of harlots

She is “drunk with the BLOOD of the saints” (17:6). 
In her was found the BLOOD of prophets and of the saints,
and of all who have been KILLED on the earth
” (18:24).

God’s enemies have shed the blood of saints and prophets throughout history (1K. 18:4; 19:4; 2K. 24:4; 2Chr. 24:21; Ps. 79:1-4; Jer. 2:30; Jer. 26:23; Lam. 4:13).  Jesus mentioned this in His parables:

The vine-growers took his slaves and BEAT one,
and KILLED another, and STONES a third.
” (Mat 21:35-36 NASB)

Since the rejection of Messiah Jesus, 2000 years ago, the toll of the shed blood of the saints has escalated dramatically.  Yet, the persecutions of history will pale in comparison with that which befalls the saints in the crisis when the beast (13:7, 10) and his image (13:15) slaughter the saints during SATAN’S FINAL ATTEMPT to overthrow God’s plan.

GOD JUDGES FAIRLY.

And I heard the altar saying,
‘Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty,
TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS are Your judgments.’”
(Revelation 16:7)

The angel has said basically the same thing:

RIGHTEOUS ARE YOU …
because You judged these things” (v5-6)

Both the angel and the altar confirm that God’s decisions are “true and righteous.” This relates to the purpose of the plagues, which is to serve as “demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).  This is discussed below.

THE ALTAR

One does not normally expect altars to speak, but in apocalyptic literature anything is possible.  There were two altars in the Jewish temple area.  Both are mentioned in Revelation:

Golden altar: The “golden” altar (8:3), from which rises “the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints” (8:4), is also called the altar of incense.  It was INSIDE the Jewish temple.  In Revelation, this altar is “before the throne” (8:3) and therefore “in the temple” (Revelation 16:17), which is IN HEAVEN (11:19).

Altar of burnt offerings: In Revelation 6 John saw “underneath THE ALTAR the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God” (6:9).  This “altar” was symbolized by the Jewish altar of burnt offerings, which was OUTSIDE the temple.  In represents the martyrdom of Christ and His people.  This altar is ON EARTH because that is where God’s people are persecuted and killed.  

The altar in Revelation 16:7 is probably the altar of burnt offering because it is not identified as “golden” and because it responds to the statement in the previous verse about the pouring out of “the blood of saints and prophets.” 

In the fifth seal,

The souls of those who had been slain …
cried out  … How long, O Lord, holy and true,
will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood?
” (6:9-10). 

The plagues are the answer to this request.  In the plagues, the long delay in God’s judgment comes to an end, and the third plague-angel says,

They poured out the blood of saints and prophets,
and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it
” (16:6).

FOURTH BOWL – SUN

16:8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun,
and it was given to it to scorch men with fire.
9 Men were scorched with fierce heat;
and they BLASPHEMED the name of God
who has the power over these plagues,
and they DID NOT REPENT so as to give Him glory.

Normally the sun warms and cheers men and stimulates plant growth, and regulates climate and many other processes necessary to maintain life.  But now it sends forth an excess of heat that torments men and destroys life.  But, somehow, God’s people will be protected from this scorching fire (16:2).

STILL PERSECUTED

The sins of the people that worship (obey) the image of the beast include that they persecute God’s people (13:15).  Since they refuse to repent, it means that God’s people are still being persecuted.

PURPOSE OF THE PLAGUES

While the angel of the water and the altar praise God for His final judgments (16:5-7), the worshipers of the beat curse Him.

When the plagues start to fall, but they only affect the worshipers of the beast (16:2).  The people with the mark of the beast can see that the despised minority do not suffer the consequences of the plagues, and they must realize that they themselves are opposing God.  But they have become so entrenched in their ways that they are UNABLE TO REPENT (16:9, 11, 21).  Even in the face of the devastation around them, their hearts are set against God in such hatred that all they can do is to continue on their evil ways, and curse God. 

God knows that nothing will convince those, who have taken the mark of the beast, to repent.  God’s creatures, however, do not have His knowledge.  The PURPOSE OF THE PLAGUES is to prove to all intelligent beings in the universe that the worshipers of the beast have passed an invisible point of no return, and are unable to repent from their hatred, even under the most severe circumstance. 

The plagues will, therefore, show that God is right when He destroys them, which He will do in the last plague. 

MARK OF THE BEAST

That is actually the meaning of the MARK OF THE BEAST.  Rephrased, a person who has become unable to repent is said to have received the mark of the beast.  Because Revelation mentions that they did not repent, we need to assume that the opportunity to repent still exists, even at this late hour.  God’s hand of mercy is still being extended, but these multitudes will have none of it.  It is not that God does not want to forgive.  It is that these people have become unable to change.

SUMMARY

God is identified as He “who are and who were” because the plagues are part of the RETURN OF CHRIST.  These are the LAST plagues.  When they end, all the people with the mark of the beast are dead.

The first four bowls target the earth, sea, waters and the sun, but God’s people are protected from the plagues.  The people with the mark of the beast can see this, but they have become so entrenched in their ways that they are UNABLE TO REPENT.  Even in the face of the devastation around them, their hearts are set against God in such hatred that all they can do is to continue on their evil ways, and curse God. 

Both the third angel and the altar—a symbol of the martyrdom of God’s people—confirm that God’s decisions are “true and righteous.”  This is the PURPOSE OF THE PLAGUES, namely to demonstrate that God is just, namely to prove to all the universe that the worshipers of the beast are unable to repent from their hatred, even under the most severe circumstance. The plagues will, therefore, show that God is right when He destroys them, which He will do in the last plague. 

That is actually the meaning of the MARK OF THE BEAST.  God is always willing to save, but a person who has become unable to repent is said to have received the mark of the beast. 

Next: Fifth Plague

 

 

Why is the name of this website, “by” and not “Revelation of Jesus Christ?”

Jesus in Revelation 1
Jesus appearing between the seven golden candlesticks

The official name of the last book of the Bible is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ“.  Many commentators understand this to mean that it is a revelation about Jesus Christ, because of the wonderful revelation of Christ which we find in the book. However, the book is clear; the purpose is “to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place” (1:1).

This is, therefore “The Revelation of Jesus Christ“ in the sense that it has been provided by Him. Of all the books in the Bible, this is the book that came to us with the least interference by man. John just wrote down what he heard and saw. He did not even try to interpret it.

We, therefore, have books by Paul and John and Luke and many other men. There is only one book directly by Jesus Christ.

TO: General Table of Contents