Revelation 16

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

September 17, 1997


Itís now time for the final outpouring of Godís wrath upon the earth.

These last seven plagues, the seven "vials" or "bowls" are the grand finale of Godís righteous judgment on an unbelieving world.

The Seven Vials

:1 a great voice

So guess who this is? It is God.

Heís the only one left in the temple at the moment (15:8)

:1 the vials of the wrath of God

The world like to portray God's wrath as if He is some cruel tyrant, just waiting for the opportunity to lash out against man, that He enjoys it somehow.

(Ezek 33:11 KJV) Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

:2 a noisome and grievous sore

noisome Ė bad or evil

grievous Ė evil, bad

sore - helkos - a wound, esp. a wound producing a discharge pus; a sore, an ulcer

We might say, "a bad, bad owie"

:2 upon the men which had the mark of the beast

Note that this punishment is selective.

A similar thing happened in Egypt, when during the fourth (flies), fifth (cattle disease), seventh (hail), and ninth (darkness) plagues when God struck the Egyptians, but not the Israelites (Ex.8:2; 9:4; 9:26; 10:23).

Itís only on those who take the mark and worship the antichrist.

Who will be worshiping the beast?

Those who did not love the truth.

(2 Th 2:10 NLT) He will use every kind of wicked deception to fool those who are on their way to destruction because they refuse to believe the truth that would save them.

Sunday morning we talked about "getting real".

"Getting real" starts with loving the truth, the truth of the gospel, and just the truth about everything!

:3 poured out his vial upon the sea

We saw back in Rev.8:8-9, that when the second trumpet blows, a great burning mountain falls into the sea, and a third of the life in it died.

We talked then that it may be applying to just the Mediterranean Sea, but it could very well apply to the whole earth's oceans, the same here.

:3 it became as the blood of a dead man

Apparently a dark red color.

:3 every living soul died in the sea.

soul Ė psuche Ė breath, for man or animals, soul.

(Rev 8:8-9 KJV) And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; {9} And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

Here, all the rest dies.

If it includes the earth's oceans, think of the implications on the world's oxygen supply as all the plankton die. Think of the implications on the food chain as all the fish die.

:4 the rivers and fountains of waters

In contrast with the last angel, this one affects the fresh water supply.

(Rev 8:10-11 KJV) And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; {11} And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

Here, the rest of the world's fresh water supply is polluted.

:4 they became blood

If God decides to do this one in the manner of the first plague in Egypt, then even the bottled water will be turning to blood.

(Exo 7:19 KJV) And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone.

Again, think of the implications! (Everybody gets to drink Pepsi?)

: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.

Apparently the angel that poured the vial over the waters is the one speaking here.

We mentioned last week how proper and right Godís judgment is. He doesnít make mistakes.

The angel that is declaring that from his perspective, God is absolutely correct in bringing judgment on the world.





:6 For they have shed the blood of saints Ö

shed Ė ekcheo Ė to pour out, shed forth

This is the same word used to describe the angels "pouring out" the vials upon the earth.

Thereís a great sense of irony here.

The world poured out the blood of the saints, God pours out wrath and gives them blood to drink.

:7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so Ö

We saw the martyrs under the altar in heaven.

(Rev 6:9-10 KJV) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: {10} And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

Whoever the voice is at the altar, knows all about those who have given their life for the Lord.

:8 the sun; and power was given unto him

The "him" refers to the sun, given power to scorch.

Could this be related to the problems we're having with the ozone layer?

:9 blasphemed the name of God

blasphemed Ė blasphemeo - to speak lightly or profanely of sacred things

These people start cursing Godís name.

And what comes out of your mouth only shows you your heart's condition.

(Mat 15:18-20 NLT) But evil words come from an evil heart and defile the person who says them. {19} For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all other immorality, theft, lying, and slander. {20} These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands could never defile you and make you unacceptable to God!"

If you want to change what comes out of your mouth, change your heart.


Tough times reveal your heart.

Sometimes tough times surprise us, and things come out of our mouths.

Is it cursing or praise?

Iíve heard it described that your heart is like a cup, and when you get "bumped", then the things in your heart come spilling out.

James presents the ideal:

James 1:2-3 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

:9 which hath power over these plagues

It is God who has the power over these plagues, they will be coming from Him.

And the world will know it.

Hocking: One of the purposes of this plague is to demonstrate the power and wrath of Almighty God and to make sure that humanity knows it is coming from God.

:9 and they repented not to give him glory.

The world had been warned by the flying angel to give God glory:

(Rev 14:6-7 KJV) And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, {7} 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.

Here, in rebellion to God, men do just the opposite.

:10 poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast

or, "the throne of the beast"

:10 his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,

The pain they are experiencing may be a result of the first bowl judgment (the sores)

But it seems that itís because of the darkness.

There is also a parallel here again with the plagues of the Exodus:

(Exo 10:21-23 KJV) And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. {22} And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: {23} They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

Note Ė the Egyptian darkness could be "felt", and it seemed localized in one place.

In describing hell itself, Jesus said,

(Mat 25:30 KJV) And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Maybe this darkness is a preview of things to come.

:11 and repented not of their deeds.

A quick lesson about repentance here. Repentance involves a change of lifestyle, not just sorrowful words.

To the Pharisees who were coming out to be baptized by him, John the Baptist said,

(Mat 3:7-8 KJV) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? {8} Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

:12 the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up,

The Euphrates River is 1700 miles long, is 3-12 miles wide, and has an average depth of 30 feet.

It starts out in Turkey, then runs through Syria, then through Iraq.

Over the centuries, it has been the great natural barrier between the east and the west because you don't easily take invading armies across it.

As of July, 1996, Turkey had three existing dams built on the Euphrates river, and a fourth one in the planning stages to be built for 1.6 billion dollars.

Both Syria and Iraq are very upset that Turkey has taken so much control over the river.

:12 that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.

Literally: "the kings from the rising sun"

Talking about one of the last battles of the antichrist, Daniel writes:

(Dan 11:44 KJV) But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.

:13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth Ö

This tells us that the Antichrist and the False Prophet will be demon possessed.

Hitler was said to be controlled by a group of occult masters who now live in South America.

:14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles

These demonic spirits that come out of Satan, the antichrist and false prophet, will be performing miracles that will draw the nations of the world together.

:14 to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

They are apparently, knowingly gathered together to do battle against Jesus when He returns:

(Rev 19:19 KJV) And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.

Apparently, part of the deception from these demonic spirits involves telling the nations that they have to battle against Jesus.

:15 Behold, I come as a thiefÖ.

More later Ö

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

Or, Har-Magedon

The exact meaning is not clear.

Some say it means "mountain of slaughter".

Some say "mountain" (har) or "hill" of Megiddo.

Others say "city" (ar) of Megiddo.

Megiddo is an ancient city that stood at the one pass between the valley of Jezreel and the Plain of Sharon.

It was an ancient site of many battles.

Several notes:

1. This place is too small.

This valley is not big enough for all the armies of the world. It is only 5 x 50 miles long.

2. The fighting will stretch over 200 miles.

We saw this a few weeks ago (Rev. 14:20)

3. There will be fighting around Jerusalem.

(Zec 14:2 KJV) For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

4. There will also be fighting in Jordan (Bozrah).

We also saw this a few weeks ago (Isa 63:1-4)

See also Hab. 3:3-5; Mic. 2:12-13

:17 there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne

Who's voice is this? It must be God because He's the only one left in the temple until this is all over with (Rev.15:8).

:17 It is done

This has been compared to John 19:30, where on the cross Jesus cried, "It is finished". The problem is that these are two entirely different Greek words.

Here the word is gegonen "to come to pass, take place, happen"

There it is tetelestai, "to bring to an end, complete, finish"

Jesus' words spoke of God's whole plan of redemption being accomplished, finished, completed on the cross.

In Revelation, it seems to simply indicate that the last bowl has been poured out, that's all folks.

:18 there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth

This IS the BIG ONE

Whereas all other earthquakes are localized, limited to a specific area, this one will be felt around the world.

This one will be a 9.9 or 10 on the Richter Scale.

Isa 24:18-20 And it shall come to pass, that he who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake. {19} The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. {20} The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.

:19 And the great city was divided into three parts

There are two ideas as to what this refers to:

1. Jerusalem.

It is called "the great city" in Rev. 11:8

It will experience a splitting from an earthquake. (Zech 14:4)

2. Babylon.

The context would seem to indicate it (the next sentence).

The next two chapters are about the fall of Babylon.

:19 great Babylon came in remembrance before God

Weíll get more of the details of Babylonís fall in chapters 17 & 18.

:20 And every island fled away

I've heard Pastor Chuck joke about wanting to ask the Lord if he can have Hawaii to rule over in the kingdom.

I'm not so sure it will still be around.

Iím sure my buddy Steve Santos in Maui will be bummed.

:20 and the mountains were not found.

Isa 40:4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain

Just picture Mount Baldy falling over.

:21 great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent

NAS Ė "a hundred pounds"

The talent was a biblical measure of weight, the common talent was 75 pounds, the royal talent was 150 pounds.

Admittedly, we don't get a lot of hail here in Southern California. But there are other parts of the country that know what hail is like. There have been storms that have dropped hailstones the size of baseballs, some even the size of grapefruits. When that happens and you're on the road, you head for the underpass, or else your car gets smashed. roofs are destroyed, trees flattened.

But imagine hailstones weighing 75 pounds!

Think of what it would feel like to have an ice-cube fall out of the sky and hit you in the head.

A message for us

: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.

I canít help wonder if this is a warning/word of encouragement meant not for the believers living during the Tribulation period, but for the church now, the church that is to be taken up in the Rapture.

The picture of "coming like a thief" speaks of surprise.

Yet when Jesus returns the second time, it will be according to a strict schedule, a specific number of days from the abomination of desolation. (Dan. 9, 12)

The antichrist and the armies of the world will be gathered, waiting for HIM!

This doesnít sound like much of a surprise.

Yet for us, on this side of the Rapture, we donít know just when Jesus will return.

Jesus gives us two exhortations:

1. Watch

gregoreuo - give strict attention to, be cautious, active

(Mat 26:36-41 KJV) Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. {37} And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. {38} Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. {39} And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. {40} And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? {41} Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

The disciples didnít think it was that important to pay attention to what Jesus was doing, and so they fell asleep instead of praying.

I think we need to be careful to pay attention to the things that keep us from stumbling.

Too often we can slowly fall asleep to the important disciplines like prayer, Bible study, and fellowship.

Is it any surprise then, when we stumble into sin?

2. Keep your garments.

Garments in scripture refer to the lifestyle, the works of your life.

(Rev 19:8 KJV) And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

keep Ė tereo - to attend to carefully, take care of; to guard

It speaks of taking care of your clothes, to take care of your life and works.

If you were to get a call from someone you care about, and they invited you to a night out on the town, a fancy restaurant, a show, etc.

What condition would you be in when they came to the door?

Would you be still sitting on the couch, eating potato chips and drinking root beer, in your gym shorts in front of the TV?

What kind of condition do you want to be found in when Jesus catches you up to heaven?

Itís going to happen so quick, that one moment weíll be hear talking, and with a blink, weíll open our eyes in heaven!

(1 Cor 15:51-52 KJV) Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, {52} In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Are you ready?


A young man applied for a job as a farmhand. When asked for his qualifications, he said, "I can sleep when the wind blows." This puzzled the farmer, but he took a liking to the young man and hired him. A few days later, the farmer and his wife were awakened in the night by a violent storm. They quickly began to check things out to see if all was secure. They found that the shutters of the farmhouse had been securely fastened. A good supply of logs had been set next to the fireplace. The farm implements had been placed in the storage shed, safe from the elements. The tractor had been moved into the garage. The barn had been properly locked. All was well. Even the animals were calm. It was then that the farmer grasped the meaning of the young man's words, "I can sleep when the wind blows." Because the farmhand had performed his work loyally and faithfully when the skies were clear, he was prepared for the storm when it broke. Consequently, when the wind blew, he had no fear. He was able to sleep in peace.