|.Re 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.|| Great
Or "loud." Both translated from megas.
Out of the temple See note 1 below.
Go your ways Several clues help us know when the plagues will be poured out. Because the first falls on beast worshippers as a terrible sore v2 and they still suffer from the sores during the fifth plague v11 we can see that they come in sequence and in a relatively short time. The plagues would also come after the wrath of God was predicted re1409. This brief time of trouble would be after the close of probation and before the coming of Christ.
Upon the earth We see that the first plague is indeed poured out on the earth v2 but the rest fall on the sea, the water fountains, and other places. In both verses, the word "earth" is from ge, a general word meaning "earth," "land," "world," and so on. We may thus take this first statement to be a more general one which includes the others. It is interesting that the earth people may be seen as the end-time wicked who follow the earth beast.
|.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.|| Vial
Better translated "bowl" as explained below.
Noisome and grievous Or "painful and annoying." Discussed in note 2b.
|.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.|| Sea
... blood We can see scientifically how this could happen. See note
3. Also curses on the land v2 and the sea v3 may be seen to correspond
to the beasts that arose from the two places. See note
Soul From psuché and applies to animals as well as people. Souls are not vapors or spirits.
|4 And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.|| Rivers
... fountains Understanding "fountains" as our sources of water
from wells in the ground. See notes.
Considering the two sources as sources of light, see note
Blood See v6 and understood more in v5.
|.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.|| Angel
of the waters Apparently the one of v4. Compare angels of re0701
and re1418 who have power
over wind and fire.
Righteous See note 5.
Hast judged The tense shows that the judgment is completed in confirmation of comments with v1.
|.6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.||They have shed See note 6.|
|7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.||Another out of the altar An echo of the praise of v6. See note 7.|
|.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 "Upon" here is from epi and is a literal translation.
The first three plagues were poured "into" (eis) earth, sea, and
Also see note 8.
|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.||Scorched with great heat Also causing drought and starvation. Global warming could lead to this. Also consider am0811 (remembering to read more than one verse) and see note 9.|
|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,|| Darkness
... beast ... kingdom Literally "... his kingdom became darkened."
See note 10a.
Pain See note 10b.
|.11 And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.||Blasphemed At the end, the wicked guided by Satan, will reap the result of their evil hearts. Their characters will not change.|
Command from the temple
In the preceding verses we
saw the temple opened and the seven angels with plagues come out. A living
one then gave them vials (bowls) of wrath 1507+,
and smoke filled the temple. In this verse a voice [of judgment] from the
temple commands them to empty the bowls. This well-defined handling of
the sentence pronounced on the wicked emphasizes that the plagues will
not be simply chance events of nature which God sits back and watches.
They may well have scientific explanations as does the El Niño weather
influence but still directed by the Author of nature and come in His timing.
This is the time the censer is thrown down into the earth when "there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake." (Rev. 8:5). It is the time the wrath of God is poured out undiluted, 1409c.
The bowls here would be the temple vessels associated with the altar of incense. (Zech 14:20; Num. 7:84). In 0508 we saw the four living ones fall down to worship the Lamb who was found worthy. They had bowls of incense representing the prayers of the saints. In 0803 Christ (as an angel) is seen with the censer full of much incense representing the prayers of all the saints. In 8:5 He fills it with coals from the altar and throws it to the earth as noted above. Apparently the bowls and the censer have similar functions. A different Hebrew word is used for the bowls of oil for the candlesticks (menorah).
See the comments on Zechariah 9 for more on the bowels.
The seven last plagues, an overview
Again a chart helps us see
the dynamics of the situation the Holy Spirit would present to us. Several
general observations are suggested:
This experience is for end-time wicked people although the righteous will be affected. The final religious power will command all to bow to the image or die, 1315b. The right to buy and sell will be blocked. Every human support, 1317 will be cut off. The concern of the righteous, however, will not be death or being cut off. It will be anxiety, like Jacob had, over the condition of their hearts 0801c.
As with other sevens in the book, we have a group of 4 plagues and a group of 3. They are apparently consecutive, although may overlap.
They come after the close of probation as we have seen above and at the end of chapter 15, 1508+. When they occur it will be too late to change. The warning time is during the sounding of the trumpets, 0802e. The plagues will encourage the righteous, however. "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." (Luke 21:28).
We understand concepts like this by comparison with other prophecies. When it all happens or is about to happen, we will understand better. (1 Cor. 13:12).
We may expect a literal fulfillment of the plagues but with symbolic significance.
The places where the first four bowls are poured out are areas of the Creator's domain. John saw the first angel with the gospel flying and "Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." (Rev. 14:7, 1407e). This may be seen to reflect four types of false worship.
The objects of wrath, where the bowls are poured out, offer structure for the series of plagues and clues about their significance. The set of four will be end-time false religious systems. The first is an end-time development. Others are not new. We examine them in the following chart.
||2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome [bad or stinking] and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.||Earth: Image and beast worship enforced by the beast from the earth. (Rev. 13:11-17). God deals with the final apostasy first. As the wicked have accepted the beast's mark, God gives them His own.|
||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, 1603.||Sea: Worship of the blasphemous beast that arose from the sea. (Rev. 13:1). God responds with a curse on the sea.|
||4 And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood, 1604.||Fountains of waters: God responds by extending water pollution to the very sources of pure water.|
||8 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire 1608.||Sun: Consider paganism or devil worship. The sun is the chief god of paganism,13i. (Deut. 4:19).|
||10 And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat [or "throne"] of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain. 1610. . .||Seat of the beast: We may expect that one church, at the end of time, will presume to be the unique channel of light and salvation, 1408f. God's response will be to reveal its darkness (Isa. 5:20; 2 Thess. 2:8, 9).|
||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 , 1612.||The great river: The Euphrates flowed through the city of Babylon, providing its water source. The kings who are gathered under this plague will ultimately destroy the false religious coalition represented as Babylon (Rev. 17: 16, 17).|
||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, 1617.||The
air God's withdrawal, from the wicked,
of the life He gave. "Then shall the dust return to the earth as
it was: and the spirit [breath, air] shall return unto God who gave it.
Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity." (Eccl. 12:7, 8).
Christ is coming (Rev.
We may expect air pollution including nuclear fallout at the end of time. Compare Rev. 9:2; 19:13.
In the chart, we may see
an overall structure and meaning for the plagues. However, we have much
more to learn from the text.