The keys To Understanding The Apocalypse- The Book Of Revelations
The Apocalypse- Revelations Study Four!
The history of the Bible is the record of a mighty conflict between two forces - the forces or righteousness and the forces of evil, or between God and the Devil. The beginning of the conflict is recorded in Genesis 3:15 and the final outcome is set forth in the Book of Revelation. Revelation Chapter 1 speaks of the final Victor, the Lord Jesus Christ. Chapters 2 and 3 trace the history of the Church from Pentecost to the Rapture.
The first half of the Tribulation Period is portrayed in Chapters 4-8. The last half known as The Great Tribulation is described in Chapters 9-11 and 16-19. Chapters 12-15 are a preview of The Great Tribulation and set forth the chief actors of this tremendous drama.
Let us read Revelation 12:1-6:"And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days."
In his vision John saw a woman in heaven who brings forth a son. That woman is Israel of whom, concerning the flesh, Christ came.
There are four important women found in the Book of Revelation:
(1) Jezebel who pictures the false church;
- (2) this wonder woman who speaks of Israel;
- (3) the harlot woman of Chapter 17 who represents the final ecumenical and charismatic church;
- (4) the Bride of the Lamb in Chapter 19.
John saw "a great wonder in heaven" but this woman was actually upon the earth according to verse 6. The woman is Israel and the man child is Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ who was the object of Satan's hatred. The Devil tried every means to destroy Christ - even on the Cross. But God raised Him from the dead and He is today seated at God's right hand. He will one day return to make His enemies His footstool and to bring final defeat to the Devil.
The second wonder (Rev. 12:3) is "a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads." This dragon is Satan. The seven crowns speak of his authority as the god of this age and the ten horns speak of his power. In Revelation 20:2 he is called "that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan." He is red, the colour of blood-having been a murderer from the beginning. We are living in a day when the colour red is constantly before us and you can be sure that this colour and Satan go together.
Nahum describes the warriors of the nations at the end-time as red: "The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet" (Nahum 2:3). Red is the colour connected with Antichrist. The beast himself with the seven heads and the ten horns is scarlet coloured. Babylon, the city of Antichrist, will be a red city.
The dragon here is the Devil and he is red. Red is the colour of sin. Isaiah 1:18 speaks of sin as "scarlet" and "red like crimson." In the war that is spoken of in Rev. 12:7-9 we see that Michael and his angels prevail. The red dragon is cast out and all his angels with him.
This casting out of Satan from heaven occurs during the middle of the 7 year Tribulation Period, just before The Great Tribulation begins. "and there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."
The casting out of Satan sets the stage for the final consummation of the age. In a short time (42 months), he is chained in the bottomless pit for a thousand years; then after the last judgement he is cast into the lake of fire forever.
Even today Satan has tremendous power upon the earth. A continual warfare is being carried on between him and all believers. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12).
But there is victory over the Devil. Revelation 12: 10,11: "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for he accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."
There is power in the blood. The blood atonement of our Lord gives believers access to the throne of God. The blood gives access to the throne of grace. In the power of the Son of God and in our access to the throne of God, covered by the blood, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not, desert to its foes. That soul tho' all hell should endeavour to shake, I'll never, no never, no never forsake.
They also overcame him by "the word of their testimony", and in the greek this really speaks of "the world of their martyrdom." This is the witness made by saints of all ages who have consecrated their lives 100% to God. Stephen, the first martyr was such a victor. John Huss, of pre-Reformation days, sang praises to God while the flames enveloped him. Jerome, a fellow-martyr, when the fire was placed at his back to spare him the agony of watching the flames, said: "Bring it around to the front, set the fire before my eyes; if I had been afraid I wouldn't be in this place."
Yes, this is the word of witness of John Bunyan, who spent 12 years in jail because he was an independent preacher. He preached through prison bars for people to repent and wrote his magnificent book, PILGRIM'S PROGRESS.
Notice the last words of Rev. 12:11: "And they loved not their lives unto the death." Believers of all ages have been willing to die for Jesus. They never questioned and they never hesitated.
I saw the martyr at the stake, The flames could not his courage shake, Nor death his soul appal. I asked him whence his strength was given, He looked triumphantly to heaven And answered, "Christ is all".
What about believers today? Are we willing to suffer for Jesus or do we shun persecution? Are we willing to sacrifice for the Lord and to stand for what is true and right? We have enemies today! There are those who preach modernism and anti-Bible sermons. The land is full of compromise. New-evangelicalism has captured most of the faithful. We are living in a day of "new things" that cannot be found in the Bible. God's Word itself is under attack even within the fundamental fold.
Where are the true men of God who will stand for the Word of God even if they must stand alone? Where, today, in this hour of crisis and compromise, are the men and women who will devote their lives even unto death? How many are willing to fight the good fight for God?
Who will stand for God's righteousness in a world characterized by unholy alliances? Where are the Christians with a sound testimony who will dare to believe God and His Word regardless of the cost? Lord, I want to be numbered with the martyrs of all ages.
"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?" (Rev. 13:1-4)
We have here the beginning of Satanic powers during the Great Tribulation of 42 months. Satan's allies on the earth will be fully energized by him and their wrath will be directed against the Jewish remnant and the Gentiles who accept the message of the Gospel of the kingdom.
The first foe is called a beast which is the political power of the revived Roman Empire. In Daniel 2 and 7 there are four successive stages of Gentile world dominion: Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. During this period the old Roman Empire will come to the front and under Antichrist will take full control of government and religion. Daniel saw the first three empires under the emblem of the lion, the bear, and the leopard. John saw this beast like a leopard with bear's feet and a lion's mouth. This revived Roman Empire, an amalgamation of parts of the previous empires combine politically in the first part of the 7 year Tribulation Period. We saw this under the first Beast of the sea.
Now, at the beginning of the 42 months, the Dragon gives his power, his throne, and his authority to the beast. The ten horns are the ten kingdoms which will comprise that empire. In Revelation 17:13 we are told that these ten kings "have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast." The heads denote the imperial form of government which had died and now is revived in the person of the Prince of Daniel 9:27. The little horn which Daniel saw in the midst of the ten horns, will be Satan's man, the Antichrist (Dan. 7:8).
John's vision of Revelation 13:1-4 pictures the final form of political dominion and sovereignty. When the beasts is destroyed in Rev. 19:20, there will be no successor. Revelation Chapter 17 describes the great scarlet whore, a picture of decadence, debauchery and prostitution of God's faith and religion in the earth. That scarlet woman rides the beast. There the seven heads are seven mountains describing the capital city of Rome. And there are seven kings: "five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come"(Rev.17:10). The five "fallen" are the five ancient empires that preceded the day of the apostle John: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. The one that "is" was the Roman Empire of John's day. The one that is "not yet come" is this great final political, religious and economic dominion under Antichrist.
The stage is being set today for this end-time Empire. The European Union consists of the majority of the nations which made up the old Roman Empire. The world is crying for a United States of Europe which will be the Roman Empire revived.
The European Union takes away the sovereignty of each individual state and the next step is for a man to take over-that man will be Antichrist.
The first thing to notice about Antichrist is that they worshipped him. Antichrist is not just one who is AGAINST Christ but he is one who TAKES THE PLACE OF Christ. Satan will convince the multitudes that Christ the Lord was a fraud and an impostor. The world will then follow the advice of this first beast, the political dictator and ruler of the earth, and receive the second beast, Antichrist, as their Messiah.
This is what the world is doing today. Satan is working overtime convincing multitudes that Christ is not worthy to be followed so they are turning to other leaders who, in many cases, completely control their lives. Truly, the stage is being set for the world to receive Antichrist.
This false Christ, this man of sin, this incarnation of Satan, is called in the Bible the Antichrist, the son of perdition, the deceitful and bloody man.
Revelation 13:5,6: "And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven."
It is interesting to notice that Daniel and Revelation agree perfectly in this description. Daniel describes mostly the head of the revived Roman Empire, the little horn. John sees the entire empire as such. daniel saw the fourth beast, with ten horns. The little horn had "eyes like the eyes of man and a mouth speaking great things." The little horn, "shall speak words against the Most High." The little horn, "shall wear out the saints of the Most High." The little horns time of power is, "a time and times and dividing of times" (42 months or 3 1/2; years.) This is exactly the description given in Revelation 13 by John. "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake like a dragon."
The second beast comes out of the earth and becomes the religious leader. He has the same Satanic power as the first beast who, through its head, makes a covenant (Peace treaty) with the Jews at the beginning of the seven years, but in the middle of the week breaks the covenant (Peace Treaty) (Daniel 9:27). This covenant will probably include permission for the Jews to build a temple and to resume their sacrificial worship. But when the little horn, the prince, becomes energized by Satan, he breaks that covenant.
This second beast is the counterfeit lamb and his two horns are an imitation of the priestly and kingly authority of Christ. He is the one of whose coming our Lord spoke in John 5:43: "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." He is "that man of sin" mentioned by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. He is a miracle worker. We are living in a day of miracles. Christians will follow any leader who claims to do miracles or who does miracles. But doing miracles does not necessarily mean the miracles are of God. The Bible relates miracles that are of the Devil. This false prophet is a total deceiver.
He also demands the worship of the first beast. He makes an image of the first beast (verse 15) and gives breath to it so it can speak. This image will most likely be put up inside the rebuilt temple and the beast will be worshipped. The most terrible persecution will take place in connection with this idol-worship. All commerce is controlled by the beast.
Revelation 13:16-18: "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads; and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six."
The Antichrist will have a wonderful system of keeping tab on every human being. The world is already conditioned for this control. Government computers even today keep records of name, age, nationality, occupation, place, residence, and so on. The Antichrist will have a system of marking all the population and those who refuse his authority will not be allowed to buy or sell.
The number of Antichrist is 666. Six is the number of man which is the number that falls short of the perfect number 7. Man was created on the 6th day. He is to work six of the seven days. A Hebrew slave could not be a slave more than six years. The fields were to be sown not more than six years and then they were to be allowed a year of rest. Six is the number of a man. There is a trinity of sixes here- 666. It speaks of the ultimate of all human power and Satanic authority.
Terrible days lie ahead. The rumblings of the coming judgement can be heard in the distance. The storm clouds are gathering. There is only one way out and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ who is the door to perfect safety. Those who repent of sin and receive Him and enter through this door by faith are safe. Their names are written in the "Lamb's Book of Life". Is your name written there?
Lord, I care not for riches, Neither silver nor gold; I would make sure of heaven, I would enter the fold. With its pages so fair, Tell me, Jesus, my Saviour, Is my name written there?
Lord, my sins they are many, Like the sands of the sea, But Thy Blood, oh, my Saviour, Is sufficient for me; For Thy promise is written In bright letters that glow, "Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them like snow."
REVELATION CHAPTER 14
Our study the past few weeks on Revelation has been very heartrending. Truth has fallen in the streets. The blood of God's saints has been shed. Open defiance of God and proud boastings have been overwhelming. Godliness and righteousness have almost vanished from the earth. Antichrist, glorifying and deifying himself, deceives the world and turns the whole prophetic scene into Satan's playground.
In Revelation 7 we were given a glimpse of a redeemed company from the 12 tribes of Israel. We saw in verse 3 that they were "sealed" to begin their ministry of preaching the Gospel which results in a great multitude of Gentiles from every tribe and tongue and nation being saved. Now in Revelation 14:1 we meet this same company again with the added explanation that the seal in their foreheads was the name of the Lamb's Father. "And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on he mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads."
The first angel of Revelation 14 proclaims the everlasting gospel: "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, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgement is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." This everlasting gospel will be preached all the time the Antichrist is persecuting the saints at the close of the Great Tribulation. This message will bring salvation to those who believe but judgement upon all who reject it.
This is always the message of God. It means salvation to all who believe but judgement upon those who reject the Crosswork of Christ. Every preacher has a two-edged sword. One one side we are to proclaim salvation on the basis of the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who receive the message are assured of Heaven. On the other hand, we are to warn those who reject Christ that they will come under the judgement of God and will spend their eternity in Hell.
We hear much today about the love of God and the positive side of the message of salvation. This type of preaching pleases people because they want to hear about the glories of Heaven. But the same Bible that speaks of Heaven also warns of Hell and the Lake of Fire. The reason why so many preachers throw out the Book of Revelation and never preach from it is because it is a book of judgement upon the wicked.
The second angel of revelation 14 announces the fall of Babylon: "And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication" (verse 8).
The third angel tells of the awful judgements of God pronounced upon the wicked: "And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (verses 9-12).
So the first angel proclaims the everlasting gospel. The second angel announces the fall of Babylon. The third angel announces the awful torment of those who give themselves to the worship of the beast and his image.
Revelation 14:12-13 is a wonderful encouragement for all who live for God. "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them." This message from heaven says that those who die in the Lord are blessed of Him. The words are especially written for those who perish as martyrs in the Great Tribulation but the comfort and assurance is for all of God's saints in all generations.
"And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord..." God says that death is an enemy. It wastes and destroys God's creation. The aspirations of men and the tenderest ties that bind us to those whom we love are severed by death. But for the believer "in Christ" God has taken away the sting out of death and has given victory over the grave. I was saddened some weeks ago to read of an evangelist who kept his mother's body in cold storage and then tried to raise her from the dead.
Who would want their mother brought back from the dead when she is already with the Lord where there is no more pain, no more sorrow, and no more death. When we die in the Lord, it is "to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord"(2 Cor. 5:8). "To depart to be with Christ is far better" (Phil. 1:23). So, if death for a Christian is "far better" why should anyone try to bring a loved one back from the dead?
In Revelation 7:14-17 we saw this wonderful picture: "And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
So often people see all this from the viewpoint of time and say, "Blessed are the living." But God says, "Blessed are the dead." Man looks on outward appearances: the fading flower and the withered grass, the open grave, the head bowed in sorrow and the tears falling to the ground. God, however, sees all things in the light of eternity. He sees the rewards of His people, the holy fellowship in the presence of the Lord forever. The Bible says: look "not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal"(2 Cor. 4:18).
Let us notice something else about those who die in the Lord: "Yea,...that they may rest from their labours." The word "rest" speaks of the sailor who spends his life at sea, and after the battle of tempest and wave, he comes into the port of home. This word "rest" speaks also of a soldier who is scarred with battle strife and after the miseries of war he turns his face toward home.
The word "cemetery" means a sleeping place for the body of every believer until the Lord returns to raise up that body as a glorified body. That is why the early Christians laid their dead away so carefully. A visitor to the catacombs of Rome will find places where Christians laid to rest their beloved dead. The pagan and the heathen burned the body for to them death was the end of life, the end of the way. But for the believer death means two things: the spirit is in the presence of the Lord and the body is asleep in the grave until the first resurrection.
May I emphasize that the Bible does not teach "soul sleep". The Bible teaches "body sleep". The soul goes to be with the Lord which is far better: "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:8). "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him" (1 Thess. 13:14).
Revelation 14:13: "And their works do follow them." Many today put the works first and try earnestly to get right with God by means of good works. But grace comes first. Salvation is of the Lord. Our entrance into Heaven is on the basis of the Cross-work of Christ, the work of Christ, not our works. Jesus is first. He saved us through His blood. He preceded us and is preparing a place for us in Heaven. Our works do follow us because of all He has done.
In verses 14-20 we have the visions of Armageddon. The picture is seen before us and the fulfilment of this prophecy is the pouring out of the vials that is immediately to follow. They culminate in the battle of Armageddon in Revelation 16:16. Here we have in view the judgement of the nations.
This judgement is described as the harvest of the vintage of the earth. The nations who reject the Lord are described as the vine and the branches, the false vine, the apostate church of Antichrist. Jesus said in John 15:5 "I am the vine, ye are the branches." This is the true church for whom our Lord died. This is the church that we see raptured in Revelation Chapter 4. After she is gone, the empty professing church of Antichrist, with its denial of the true Christ, will remain and under the leadership of Antichrist will deceive the whole world except for a small remnant who have heeded God's warning.
The Antichrist also has a vine, but it is an apostate vine and its doom is clearly described in this passage. The reference is also to the nations of the world. They are gathered together to battle against Jerusalem and suddenly the Lord appears and defeats these nations. So great shall be the slaughter that blood will run in the Valley of Jehoshaphat to a depth of over two feet for a distance of 1600 furlongs, or about 180 miles.
In the closing vision of (Joel 3:16), in that awful day, the Lord shall be the hope of His people: Verses 20,21: "But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the Lord dwelleth in Zion." Isaiah describes that beautiful millennium after the battle of Armageddon: "The wold also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them...They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea"(Isaiah 11:6,9). What a glorious day this is going to be! While we wait for His return it does not matter what the circumstances are, the Bible teaches that the Lord is taking care of His own.
Chapter 15 presents the vision of the angels of the seven last plaques.
Revelation 15:1-4: "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgements are made manifest."
Before God describes the final awful vials of the plagues of Chapter 16, He gives us a vision of the immortality of His people, Israel, who are standing on the fiery sea. In Chapter 4, John, in his vision of the rapture, saw before the great throne of God "A sea of glass like unto crystal" (verse. 6), calm and beautiful. But this sea is "mingled with fire" because the saints (the Jewish remnant) have come out of great trial and tribulation.
John also heard them singing "the song of Moses." In Exodus 15, after their deliverance from Egypt, the children of Israel sang the song of Moses. On that final shore for all eternity these saints will sing Moses' glorious song of redemption and the song of the Lamb. Moses' song is a triumphant song because of the destruction of the enemies of God. But the song of the Lamb is the song of victory over sin, death and the grave. It is interesting to notice that the first recorded song in the Bible is in Exodus 15 and the last one is in Revelation 15.
Notice that they have "the harps of God." God gives the harps of Heaven to three different groups:
(1) Those who were raptured and taken up to glory (Rev. 5)
- (2) The 144,000 gathered before the Lamb on Mount Zion (Rev. 14).
- (3) This company standing on the shores of the fiery sea singing the song of Moses and of the Lamb (Rev. 15:3)
Revelation 15:5: "And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened." John here looked into the very heart of the sanctuary, the centre of the Holy of Holies.
What he saw is described in Revelation 15:6-8: "And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled."
What a tremendous scene! Seven angels, dressed like priests, ready to pour out the seven last plagues. One of the four beasts (living creatures like angels) gave unto these seven angels seven golden vials (censers or bowls or shallow pans) in which coals from off the altar were placed. Then incense was poured on the live coals to burn unto God. The final judgement of God has come. The temple now becomes a house of wrath and judgement until these seven plagues have been poured out upon the earth.
Revelation 16:1 ushers in these seven vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. "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." What a sad day it will be when God's wrath is poured out upon the earth! And what a sad day it will be when God's judgement is poured out upon the unsaved! God, in mercy, sent His Son to die for sinners. Through the foolishness of preaching (1 Cor. 1:18), God presents the truth of His Word. He pleads with men to repent of sin and by faith to receive Christ as personal Saviour. When a wicked and unbelieving world says, "No, we will not believe. we will not have this Man to rule and to reign over us", then God's grace turns to wrath upon all Christ-rejecters.
The First vial. In Revelation 16:2 the judgements of God fall swiftly and terribly: "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."
These plagues are similar to those which fell upon Pharaoh when he refused to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt for the promised land. God sent His plagues until Pharaoh's house was destroyed. Those plagues were types of the plagues of Revelation 16. One important difference, however, should be mentioned. The plagues of Pharaoh's day were confined to the land of Egypt while those described by John will fall upon the entire earth.
The Second and Third Vial. In Revelation 16:3-7: "And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead men: and every living soul died in the sea. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. 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 this. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments." God's judgement is poured out upon the earth, followed by a vindication of the justice and righteousness of God. God will have the last say upon the ungodly.
The Forth vial. In Revelation 16: 8-9: "And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. 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." It is God who has the power over these plagues. He who created the sun is able to darken it or to increase its heat. But men still go on in rebellion and sin and will not repent.
The Fifth vial. In Revelation 16:10-11: "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. And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds." God now turns His attention to the opposition of the world. Darkness is everywhere and people gnaw their tongues in pain. The People of the earth curse God because of their suffering but they do not repent. The end of Gentile world dominion is rapidly approaching. At the pouring out of the seventh and final vial, God's plan and purpose in setting up His kingdom will be accomplished.
The Sixth vial. In 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." Here God prepares the way for "the kings of the east" He is going to bring them to Judgement at the battle of Armageddon. The "kings of the east" represent a 200 million man army which He will destroy during the final battle between good and evil.
Revelation 16:13-14: "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and come out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 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."
These Three unclean Spirits represent the unholy trinity of "the Antichrist" (The Beast) or (World Dictator) the "False Prophet" (False Prophet) or (False Religious Leader) and "Satan" ( The Dragon) or (False God) They counterfeit the true Holy Trinity or God Head.
Satan instead of God-Antichrist instead of Jesus-the False Prophet instead of the Holy Spirit
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." Here God reminds those that are still on earth that His return to do battle is imminent and that they should be watching and always ready. This probably refers to those who have been converted after the Rapture.
Revelation 16:16:"And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon."
Let us now notice that the armies and leaders are gathered in Jerusalem. This is brought to pass due to the power and deception of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet of Rev. 16:13. This awful trinity of evil will persuade those armies and leaders to gather in Palestine where the battle of Armageddon will be fought.
Armageddon, "the battle of that great day of God Almighty"(Rev. 16:14) will take place at Armageddon (Rev. 16:16). The Greek word here translated "battle" speaks of much more than an isolated battle. It is more accurately described as a campaign.
Three renowned mountains, Carmel, Gilboa and Tabor, overlook this valley.
It was here that Deborah and Barak defeated the Canaanites (Judges 4-5).
- Here Gideon triumphed over the Midianites (Judges 7).
- Here Saul was slain in the battle with the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:8).
- Here Ahaziah was slain by Jehu (2 Kings 9:27).
- Here Josiah was slain in the invasion of the Egyptians (2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chron. 35:22).
- It was on Mt. Carmel where the contest was held between Elijah's God and the devil-possessed prophets of Jezebel.
- Here was a battle between God and Satan and, praise God, "the fire of the Lord fell"!
Just as the nations are currently trying to unite against Israel, so in the day of Armageddon the hordes of Hell will gather themselves against Israel. God said in Joel 3:2: "I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat." We read in Zephaniah 3:8: "For my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms to pour upon them my indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy."
Zechariah 12:3 says: "I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people...though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it." In Zechariah 14:2-3 we also read: "For will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle...Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations as when He fought in the day of battle."
As the nations are gathered to wipe out Israel they will, at the same time, be preparing themselves for God's direct judgement.
The Seventh vial. In Revelation 16:17-21: "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. 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. 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. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 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."
Go to lesson Five: Revelations Study Five