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Revelation Sixteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Revelation 16:1 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.

the seven angels. The work of the angels with the seven vials of wrath is all a part of the sounding of the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15). See note on Revelation 15:1.

Revelation 16:2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

had the mark. This judgment will not be on just the third part of men this time (compare Revelation 9:15), but upon all the men destined for hell (Revelation 14:9-11). They had preferred the mark of the beast to suffering for Christ; now they will suffer anyhow. The selective application of this grievous sore may have some connection with the nature of the “mark” (perhaps activated through chemical or electronic means) which they will have received on their skins; whatever substance the angel pours out on the earth will perhaps react with the mark and infect it with incurable pain.

Revelation 16:3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.

the sea. Not just a third part of the sea will become blood, as it had once before (Revelation 8:8), but all of it. Sea water has an almost identical composition to that of human blood, so some small ingredient added to it by the angel will make it have the appearance of blood—not blood which would maintain life, however, but “as the blood of a dead man.” The sea will have completely fulfilled God's purpose in the creation (in the new earth, there will be “no more sea”—Revelation 21:1), and all sea creatures will die in the noxious waters.

Revelation 16:4 And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

Revelation 16:5 And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.

Revelation 16:6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

blood to drink. Evidently the 3½ year drought will have been partly lifted with the death of the two witnesses who had called for it (Revelation 11:6, 19), so there is still fresh water in the rivers and springs, but now these will also be turned into blood. Men will still be able to drink this water (Revelation 16:6), but it will be bitter and nauseous, no matter what treatments can be applied to it.

Revelation 16:7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.

heard another out of the altar say. This is probably the unified voice of all “the souls of them that were slain,” including all the tribulation martyrs still resting “under the altar” (Revelation 6:9).

true and righteous are thy judgments. The saints will agree with the angel that “they are worthy” (Revelation 16:6), since all the ungodly of the world had rejoiced vicariously in the slaying of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:10), and, no doubt, in the execution of all those who had not compromised, as they had.

Revelation 16:8 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.

upon the sun. Note Malachi 4:1; Isaiah 24:6; 30:26. The angel responsible for the sun's energy conversion processes, and understanding their real nature, will be able to intensify them perhaps sevenfold (Isaiah 30:26). The intense heat and light, little relieved even at night, will aggravate their sores even more. Furthermore, the high temperatures will likely melt the polar ice caps, causing a rapid rise in sea level which will inundate and destroy most of the great and wicked cities of the world, situated as they are almost at sea level (New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Rome, Amsterdam, etc.). Such Scriptures as Job 38:22-23 seems to suggest such a thing as well: “ … the treasures (literally ‘storehouses') of the snow … Which I have reserved against the time of trouble [or ‘tribulation'].” Note also Amos 9:5-6 and Psalm 147:17-18 in this connection.

Revelation 16:9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.

Revelation 16:10 And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,

seat of the beast. The first four vials of wrath will have affected the whole earth. The fifth, however, will be applied only to the “seat” (i.e., “throne”) of the beast and his kingdom (presumably his capital). This will likely be at restored Babylon (see notes on Revelation 17; 18). The contrast between the intense light from God all over the world with the Satanic darkness in its capitol, should be a profound spiritual parable.

Revelation 16:11 And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

repented not. Despite all these evidences of God's power, men will continue to reject and blaspheme God. Note also Revelation 9:20-21.

Revelation 16:12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.

the great river Euphrates. Although the ocean level will rise because of the melting of the ice caps, the great rivers of the world will tend to dry up because of the intense heat of the sun, and this will especially affect the key river Euphrates, flowing by Babylon and providing the main water supply for its industries and inhabitants. Much of its water comes from its source high in the permanent ice cap on Mount Ararat, which also now conceals the remains of Noah's ark. By this time, the drought of the first 3½ years will probably have melted this ice cap, and will have revealed the ark as a final convincing testimony to the worldwide Flood of Noah's day and the folly of evolutionary geology. Then, the intense heat of this plague will contribute to the more rapid depletion of Euphrates compared to other great rivers.

kings of the east. The great populations of Asia (Japan, China, India, etc.) have long followed the ancient religions of occult pantheistic evolutionism. They will be easily influenced by demonic spirits to oppose the soon-returning Christ, especially when they see the Euphrates wither away, signifying to them that the ancient boundary between east and west has been removed. They will recall all too well the terrible suffering inflicted on them by the demon horsemen from the Euphrates just four years previously (Revelation 9:14-19), but now these are gone. They know too that the plagues had been called down by the two witnesses last seen in Jerusalem, and that the land promised by God to Israel had extended to the Euphrates (Genesis 15:18). Even though they may have resisted the beast for a time (note Daniel 11:44), they will willingly hasten to the land of Israel to fight against Christ and His people, when the beast summons them this time.

Revelation 16:13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

false prophet. This infernal trio (that of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet), perhaps thinking to emulate the Holy Trinity, and still hoping to defeat the Triune God, will meet in an urgent council, knowing their time is short. The devil's angels will already have been defeated by the heavenly angels (Revelation 12:7-9), so they will know these demonic hosts cannot prevail alone. Their only desperate hope is to augment these spirit-armies with all the remaining human hosts as well. All these demons of hell, evidently directed by three chief angels in the Satanic hierarchy, will soon be sent out to persuade all the nations to send their armies (and all the conscripted civilians they can muster) off to Israel to do battle with the Lord Jesus when He returns.

Revelation 16:14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

gather them. The Satan-controlled beast and false prophet will think they are gathering all the nations together, but actually it is God! Note Revelation 16:16; also see Joel 3:2: “I will also gather all nations, and bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat.” “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle” (Zechariah 14:2). The great conflict of the ages is about to be decided, and there will be “multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14). All are desperately hoping they will eventually free themselves from God and His control over their lives, but they are really being drawn into His great winepress (Revelation 14:19).

Revelation 16:15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

come as a thief. The Lord Jesus Himself interjects this exhortation to the remnant of persecuted saints who have thus far escaped the vengeance of the beast. In the context of the armies merging on Armageddon, the Lord assures them that He will soon suddenly come from heaven with His own armies (Revelation 19:11).

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

Armageddon. “Armageddon” is, more precisely, “Har-Megiddo,” or “Mount of Megiddo.” Megiddo itself is a small and very ancient town about sixty miles north of Jerusalem, overlooking the plain of Megiddo on the west and the plain of Esdraelon (or valley of Jezreel) on the northeast. This vast plains area is the obvious location for large armies to bivouac in preparation for an attack on Jerusalem. By the time all the armies arrive there, however, even this large plain cannot contain them all. Many must be deployed down the Jordan valley and the valley of Jehoshaphat, near Jerusalem, past the Dead Sea into Idumea and even beyond Bozrah (see notes on Revelation 14:20). They will come from all over the world by any means of transportation they can obtain. With the world's resources already severely depleted by the plagues, and oil probably in short supply in most nations, many will have to commandeer horses or camels or donkeys to come. But come they will, in multitudes.

Revelation 16:17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.

seventh angel. The last poured-out vial of wrath issues in the final destruction of Babylon, both religious Babylon (Revelation 17) and political Babylon (Revelation 18), capitals of the domains of the false prophet and the beast, respectively.

Revelation 16:18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.

so mighty an earthquake. There have been many devastating earthquakes on earth, ever since the eruption of the primeval subterranean water channels that initiated the great Flood and the tectonic uplifts that terminated it (Genesis 7:11; Psalm 104:6-9). The global earthquake at the judgment of the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12-17) had been so severe that “every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” This earthquake, however, is far worse—so bad, in fact, that “every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” (Revelation 16:20).

Revelation 16:19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

cities of the nations. The destructive force of this global earthquake will be so great that, like Jericho at the shout of Joshua's army, “the cities of the nations fell,” meaning that all their structures collapsed. Jerusalem, however, will not fall, but God will divide it through the midst of the Mount of Olives (the Valley of Kidron already divides it into two parts—note Zechariah 14:4, 8) when the Lord returns to stand on the Mount of Olives. Other Old Testament prophets also foresaw this mighty earthquake (e.g., Haggai 2:6-7; Isaiah 24:17-21; Joel 3:16).

Babylon. The destruction of Babylon had also been noted in Revelation 14:8, but this particular theme is so important that John will interrupt the chronological account at this point in order to devote two entire chapters (Revelation 17 and 18) to it.

Revelation 16:20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

mountains were not found. The smoothing of the topography of the world in this way is in preparation for the millennial earth as well, fulfilling Isaiah 40:4-5.

Revelation 16:21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.

weight of a talent. These stones are not ice, but boulders of rock (Greek lithinos), each weighing one hundred pounds or more, probably spread across the sky by global volcanic eruptions accompanying the global earthquake. It is possible that these are the “feet” in God's great winepress, trampling the multitudes at Armageddon (Revelation 14:20).