Revelation

Chapter 16

This chapter is a continuation of things to come concerning the thousand-year reign of Christ. It begins to unfold those events clear up to the final judgment and battle that is known in the Word as Armageddon.  However, just as the time for the sounding of the seventh trumpet has not yet arrived, so to the pouring out of the seventh plague must await its assigned hour for they both represent the final judgment of all… both man and angel.  In the meantime the kingdom of God moves along its assigned path in its preordained manner precisely on its divinely prescribed timetable.

Rev 16:1

Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go, pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth." NIV

This voice from the temple would be Christ.  We know this because Christ directs Gods wrath, which is why He was the only one able to break the seals in chapter five.

Rev 5:5

Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."  NIV

Then in chapter six which gave us more information on this subject it speaks of the sea, or general population, which runs in fear of the events unfolding before them:

Rev 6:15

Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. NIV

Remember, mountains represent governments, so the sea or population that is not part of the family of God look to their leaders for help and protection. However, there is no help or protection for them, for these governments cannot help themselves, let alone anyone else.

Rev 6:16-17

16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!

17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"  NIV

Notice that we are told, in verse 16, that all this comes “…from the wrath of the Lamb!” and in verse 17 we are told, “The great day of their wrath has come.”

It might also be pointed out here, that again, the Bible makes a distinct separation between the living entities of God Almighty and His only begotten Son… by the use of the words “Their wrath."  That wrath now takes on a distinct form, about which the whole House of Israel had been forewarned.

Rev 16:2

The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. NIV

The warning concerned those that did not live up to the agreement with God was laid out in no uncertain terms in Deuteronomy chapter 28, from which a sample is given below.

Deuteronomy 28:27-29

27 The LORD will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured.

28 The LORD will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. 29 At midday you will grope about like a blind man in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you. NIV

  The above scriptures are only a sample of what is in store for mankind in general, but mainly the Jews in particular. To get a fuller understanding read the entire chapter of Deuteronomy 28 and you will see the relationship to the warnings in that chapter and the prediction concerning the first golden bowl poured out on the earth by the first angel in Rev 16:2.  This bowl of plagues is aimed at the wayward Jews because what is written in Deuteronomy chapter 28 was spoken to warn any member of Israel who did not obey the law, as it was given at that time, under that covenant. 

Deuteronomy 28:59

The LORD will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. NIV

        In other words, God held Israel more responsible than the pagan nations.  This was because they knew the difference, for it was God Himself who had given them the law to live under and had warned them what would happen if they did not abide by that law.   This was the same divinely given law, by the way, that the nation of Israel had, on three separate occasions, taken an oath to follow.

      Notice also in Rev 16: 2 that the plagues from the first bowl do not affect those that are of the family of God but are reserved for “The people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.”  Just as the angels of death passed over those with the blood of a lamb sprinkled on their doorframes during the last plague in Egypt, before the Pharaoh released the people that were led to freedom by Moses. Which, by the way, gives the symbolism of the Passover far greater meaning than previously thought. The symbolism here is that Christians are marked with the blood of the Messiah, not on their doorframes but on their foreheads. 

      However, before we fall into the trap of taking what is being said literally, let us look at the next verse in chapter 16 of Revelation.

Rev 16:3

The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died.  NIV

     Now, if verse 3 were taken literally, then it contradicts verse 2.  For in verse 2 we are told its plagues affect only those with the mark of the beast.  But if all the water in the world were turned into literal blood then it would also kill those that were not marked with the beast. Therefore we have to look for the meaning of the symbolism that makes each verse, not only in this chapter of Revelation, but in all the rest of the Bible as well, harmonize together.

      Now, why is verse 3 saying, “Blood like that of a dead man?” Is there something different about the blood of the dead man?  There most certainly is: in a dead man… the blood:

HAS NO LIFE IN IT.

Lev 17:11

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life. NIV

      In other words, verse 3 is telling us that the sea, which is mankind in general, dies because its blood is as a dead man's blood, which has no life in it.  What gives life to any and all?  CHRIST, through His Father!  What else does Christ give?  The light of Truth!  Therefore, during the thousand-year reign of Christ, the only truth that gives life will be the Word of God, and everything else will perish. This is why Christ told us in:

Luke 22:20

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."  NIV

     Christ’s life was poured out for the ransom of mankind from death, which is why Christ also said…

John 6:54-55

54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.  NIV

      Christ’s real flesh was the source of truth of the New Covenant.  Since bread is known as the staff of life, because it supplies the nutrients needed by the blood and the blood carries life itself, this makes blood the symbolic real drink needed for eternal life. 

So the sea or mankind in general dies in verse 3 because Satan is locked up and not able to deceive the nations at that time which means that only truth is given or spread throughout the world. The lies or false doctrines spread by Satan and his cohorts are shown up to be what they really are, lifeless and without value.  

Revelation 20: 1-3

1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.

2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.  NIV

       Notice… “To keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.”  Since the sea belongs to Satan, and during the thousand year reign of Christ, Satan is not able to deceive the nations, his organization dies, because not only is there none to lead it, but mainly God’s truth overshadows and lays bare the lies that Satan’s organization was founded on.

Rev 16:4

The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. NIV

       Now remember, only those with the mark of the beast see and are affected by these waters of blood.  Why now are they seeing even the water they drink as blood?  This is so, because Christ is also the only way to the true waters of life.  If the water on the earth everywhere is as a dead man's blood, without life in it, then the only way to life is through Christ.  Now, this is plain to all Christians even today, but the symbolism of all the water being turned into blood will make this clear to all others besides Christians living at that time. Let's see what the Almighty has to say about this. 

Rev 21:6-7

6 He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.

7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. NIV

       It is clear from all this that the spring is the Messiah; the only begotten Son of the Almighty. The Son who had the life taken from the blood He possessed while He was with us as a human being, by being unjustly killed. It is because of the Almighty’s wishes that it is Christ who administers this free water that carries eternal life to the blood of all who drink it.  Christ Himself told us this at a well.

John 4:7-14

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?"

(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9   The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

10  Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

11   "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?

12   Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?"

13  Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 

14   but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."  NIV

      It should by now become apparent that the water symbolically turning to blood is all related to the only begotten Son of God. In fact, the angel who has poured out this bowl of wrath even makes a comment concerning this:

Rev 16:5

Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: "You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; NIV

      What could have been more appropriate then to turn the water of the world into symbolic blood without life in it?  Because the world had made His only begotten Son's blood lifeless by killing Him. Even more, it was not only His only begotten Son that the world killed, but other of God’s adopted sons as well.  This was made clear as that angel continues his comment in:

Rev 16:6

For they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve." NIV

      Now, not only this angel, but also the whole body of saints that were told to wait a little longer for the vengeance and vindication of His word, agree with this plague of blood put on the world, for John here says…

Rev 16:7

And I heard the altar respond: "Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments." NIV

    Why are saints, who John first saw under the altar saying, “True and just are your judgments” in verse 7 above?  Remember the saints that were killed for their faith in chapter six.

Rev 6:9-10

9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.

10 They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" NIV   

     Well, they were told to wait, and here in chapter 16, as more details are added, they are shown how God judges the whole world. It is as these saints proclaim… a judgment that is  “True and just” because the judgment is not simply a punishment, but an instruction and a correction as well. Who but the Creator would have thought of this?

     It also adds information as to why these saints were calling for vengeance to begin with, for as Christians they would have long since forgiven their enemies.  But now they are under the wing of God, protected from everything and able to see and talk to our Creator, and have now developed an insight into His actions and they wanted to know how His word would be vindicated.  The same word they had willingly spilled their life’s blood for.

    Well now, I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I can see judgment taking on a whole new meaning here. True, God is using judgment to punish, but He is mainly using it to instruct, to teach, to correct. That truly does make it just; it truly does make judgment from God Holy, because it is a punishment that is distinct, a one of a kind punishment that only He could administer. And in the end, it is a punishment… designed to heal. A punishment designed to bring all men to an understanding of His word, his purpose and His kingdom.  The saints who had given up their life’s blood for that word is, in verse 7, praising the judgment that God deals out to the world.

Psalms 149: 6-9

6 May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands,

     That double-edged sword that we know protrudes from the mouth of God’s Son, which is the Word of God.

7  to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples,

to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron,

to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD.  NIV

Isaiah 35:4

Say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you." NIV

“Divine Retribution!”  Retribution means to repay, but added to this payment is a payback that is also divinely inspired so much so that it is designed to heal as well as punish.

Isaiah 34:8

For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. RSV

       Notice, “For the cause of Zion” or in different words for the cause of the kingdom of God, and the purpose of God, which He has not forgotten in His wrath.  Also, although everyone thinks all this is going to happen overnight or in one day, notice “…A day of vengeance, a year of recompense… ”  That it speaks of a year means that God is speaking of a period of time for all this to take place.

     Well now, let's look at the rest of the bowls in this light and see how they also, are divinely “True and just” and understand that God has said vengeance is mine because only He is capable of administering it correctly to serve the end that He has ordained from the beginning. 

 

Revelation 16:8

The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. NIV 

      The sun has always had the power to scorch people, which we call sunburn.  The sun is, after all, a monstrously huge ball of fire. However, equating that gigantic consuming fire to God is something God Himself has done for us.

Deuteronomy 4:24

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.  NKJV

       What does God mean by, He is a consuming fire?  It means He consumes by refining.

Daniel 2:44-45

"In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.

   Way back in Daniel’s time, we were told that God would establish a kingdom here on earth that would crush or consume all other kingdoms on the earth. This is verified in the next verse in Daniel.

Daniel 2:45

This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands-a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.

          We know that Christ is armed with the double edge sword of truth that protrudes from His mouth.  So how does Christ break these kingdoms of man into pieces that are consumed by God’s fiery refinement?  He simply does it with truth!  To give you an idea of how that comes about, look at a teaching from the Catholic Church that was drastically altered recently. 

          For Centuries, the Catholic Church has taught that God has a fiery place called hell where He will torture and torment unwanted and sinful souls forever. But in 1999, the Pope declared that hell was NOT a place of fiery torment but a separation from God, which is what the Bible has been saying all along.  So in spite of themselves, the truth will be injected into the teachings of man even when they themselves do not understand it. 

Now let us go back and look at the final line to verse 2:45 in Daniel as Daniel told king Nebuchadnezzar…

 "The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy." NIV

         Now back in chapter 16 of Revelation… since God is scorching mankind with the fire of refinement, which turns out to be light and truth designed to bring all the nations of the world under His healing power, one would think that everything would be just fine from then on, but we find, that is not the case. God will not force mankind to love and honor Him and His Son, and since this is the case, we still have the God-given free will of man to deal with. And we are told that not all men will want this water of life that God is so freely offering. For in speaking of many of the sea in general, Revelation says:

Rev 16:9

They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him. NIV

     It is obvious by the above scripture that, just as today, there will be many who do not want to listen to the truth as God has given it to us.

Revelation 16:10

The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony NIV

    Now that “Men gnawed their tongues in agony” is the beginning of the sentence that is carried on in verse 11 means that no matter how hard they try to change or alter the truth of God’s Word at that time, they will not be successful at their attempts to inject falsehood into truth.  Now because of that we are told, as verse 11 continues the thought, that “They gnawed their tongues in agony”

11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done. NIV

     Now if this all seems strange to you, that in a time when peace and security through truth, granted by God across the whole world, is somehow rejected by the nations in general, think back to the time when all this began.  Back to the Garden of Eden when two people that were created physically perfect also rejected that word from their creator.  They did so because it was in their hearts to do what someone else (Satan) said was so.

    So these scriptures are telling us that it is what is in the heart of a person that God reads and knows.  This is why the river Euphrates is mentioned in the next verse.

Revelation 16:12

The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. NIV

    The Euphrates was one of the four rivers that supplied water to the Garden of Eden.  Now if the river that is here used to represent or symbolize the water of life is dried up, then the people that had come to depend on that life giving substance during the thousand year reign of Christ cannot sustain that life. 

    Here in this narrative, we are faced with something that is absolutely and clearly in the distant future.  Again, we are told of this in symbolic language so that even though this has not happened yet, we can visualize the events they are depicting.

Revelation 16:13

Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. NIV

   Frogs have, through the ages, represented something that was ugly, i.e. the beautiful princess had to kiss the ugly frog to turn him back into a handsome prince.  So here, in verse 13, the frog symbolizes three ugly governments because they represent opposition to God’s kingdom.  They come into existence at the future time when Satan, at the end of the thousand years, is released from his prison for a short period. It is here that we see the wisdom of God releasing Satan and his demons for this short time to do their very worst, for it is this that predicates the judgment of the seventeenth verse of this chapter.  The next verse in Rev 16 tells us who controls these frogs.

14 They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. NIV

     "Spirits of demons” leaves absolutely no doubt as to their identity.  Now these demons have known all along this time was coming and they have dreaded and feared it.

Matt 8:28-29

28   When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way.

29   "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?"  NIV

      Now keep in mind this is all speaking of the time at the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ. At this point Christ injects a comment concerning this time.

Rev 16:15

"Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed." NIV

     Now according to these scriptures, the return of Christ does not occur until the end of the thousand years that He reigns, which means that Christ reigns during that thousand years, as he does at this time in history, Spiritually.  Later in Revelation we learn that not only Christ, but His Father as well, take up residence with mankind.

     Nonetheless, we are being told here of the war between what Satan and his forces can muster and the Creator of the universe along with His Son.  This is a spiritual war that Christians can only observe for the forces joined are much too powerful for man.  Just the same, Christ is telling us that we have to be ready for this and dressed in the Armor of God to survive it.  Remember in verse 14 of this chapter, we were told that the demon spirits are out in force performing miracles to deceive. “They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs.” Without the Armor of God, one could easily fall victim to these powers.

Ephesians 6:12-13

12  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

13  “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, …”  NIV

Revelation 16:16

Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. NIV

     Now, the place known as Armageddon is also a symbolic place, for it really represents the whole surface of the earth.  And this is attested to in the next verse that describes the pouring out of judgment, as most people understand the term or word judgment as men use that word.

17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, "It is done!" NIV

    What is done?  Everything is done that has been plaguing man since Adam and Eve.  Everything… including death itself!

Revelation 20:13

13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.

      For those that claim salvation has nothing to do with your works are quite correct. Salvation stands all by itself!  Salvation was accomplished by Christ for all mankind, every single individual who ever did or ever will exist.  Notice however, “Each person was judged according to what he had done."

Revelation 20:14-15

14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

15  If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. NIV

   In other words, destroyed!  This includes, of course, Satan and the demons that followed him. As all this is taking place, we are told:

Revelation 16:18

Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. NIV

    Again, earthquakes represent the shaking up of world governments. Peals of thunder represent the voice of God, and lightning the actions of God concerning what He is doing.  The verse is telling us that God restores or rearranges things to the order that He has declared He wants.  All this as a result of His judgment and the next verse tells us the results of that judgment.

Revelation 16:19

The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. NIV

      The great city here represents those kingdoms created by Satan and his demons. But we are told they collapse. In fact God remembers Babylon the Great and she does not escape his wrath.  The result of this is that:

Revelation 16:20

Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. NIV

     No tiny out of the way nation (Island) or any major government (Mountain) survives this wrath of God; they are all destroyed and consumed by the Word.

     Remember, the water that turned to blood (Rev 16:6) and destroys all the  governments of the world except for the one that is ordained, which is the kingdom of God spoken of way back in Daniel 2:44

Revelation 16:21

From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible. NIV

    The hailstones represent the weight of huge doses of truth that cannot be ignored.  Truth can be a terrible thing to deal with when you have built your whole life on a lie.

  As was said in the beginning of this chapter God is here speaking of a battle that is still in our distant future. Just the same, it is easy to see that the outcome is just as certain as anything else God tells us.



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