Revelation 16:12

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. Revelation 16:12

With the events of the fifth bowl complete, John now begins that of the sixth, saying, “Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates.”

This follows in thought after the sixth trumpet –

“Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’” Revelation 9:13, 14

The Euphrates lies within modern-day Iraq, and it is an area that is noted throughout biblical history. This will be no less true in the end times. When the angel pours out the bowl, John says of it, “and its water was dried up.”

No indication of how this happens is given. The Euphrates was diverted by Cyrus when he attacked and overcame the Babylonian Empire. It could be something like this, or it could be that the heat of the previous bowl judgments has caused it to literally dry up. Others take this as figurative language. But the statement appears to be literal, however it happens. And there is a reason this is noted. It is “so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.”

Here, the Greek literally reads “from the rising of the sun,” thus signifying “eastward.” Who the “kings from the east” are is debatable. The events are future, and there is a lot of land filled with many people groups in that direction. East of the Euphrates lies Persia (modern-day Iran), Afghanistan, Pakistan, (lots of other “stans” as well), India, China, and etc. Who exactly is referred to is thus speculative.

Interestingly, as this commentary is typed, China is working on its “Belt and Road Initiative.” It is an effort to make a modern-day “silk road” from east to west and elsewhere around the world. It is a global development of infrastructure, investing in numerous countries in order to make this global trade effort possible. Thus, the movement of man and material would be easy enough and quick enough for “the kings of the east” to include nations all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Again, who these are is speculative at this time.

Life application: Everything that happens, no matter how seemingly disconnected or unrelated, is a part of God’s plan. The Euphrates River is one of four riverheads that came from the main river flowing from the Garden of Eden. This is recorded in Genesis 2:4.

The Hebrew name of the Euphrates is Perath and means “fruitfulness.” It has been the dividing line between what is considered living in God’s presence and being separated from it since the very beginning. In Genesis 15:18, God told Abraham that this river would be the northernmost dividing line of the land he was being given. Therefore, anything outside of that would be considered a place of wandering and exile.

It is the land where Cain fled to before the flood. It is the land established by Nimrod after the flood. It is the spot where the nations attempted to cast off God’s rule and build the tower of Babel, and it is the land from which the patriarchs moved from before being called into the Promised Land (see Joshua 24:2). When Israel was disobedient, it was to Babylon that they were exiled. It is symbolic of enmity with God and false religion.

Now, this river is being dried up so that the kings of the east will have unrestrained access to enter into the land in preparation for the great battle to come. This hasn’t happened yet in history since the writing of Revelation and therefore it must be future.

To attempt to align Revelation with the events of AD70 (the preterist view) makes no sense and such a view must dismiss these clearly stated verses. There is a battle coming which will involve many millions of people, and those in Asia will be a large part of the participating forces. The number is staggering, and the battle will be immense, but first, the waters must be dried up.

After the previous bowl where the sun has scorched the earth, this can be easily imagined. The world’s water supply will be highly diminished and large rivers will become dry beds of cracked clay. The river of fruitfulness will become withered and unfruitful.

The world will head into a tailspin of war, blood, and death. The book is written, and the events will come to pass. Let us pay heed to the warning and be wise. Let us call out now for the saving grace bestowed upon man through God’s giving of His Son. Let us call out now for JESUS.

Lord, even from the moment of creation, You have been in control of all things. The waters which flow tell us of Your wisdom. The sun which shines does so at Your command. All things are tied together and are working towards the fulfillment of Your plan. Thank You that this plan includes forgiveness through Jesus. Thank You for Jesus! Amen.

 

 

Revelation 16:11

Friday, 7 May 2021

They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds. Revelation 16:11

The fifth bowl has been poured out, resulting in darkness in the kingdom of the beast. Along with that, we saw that “they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.” Normally, when tragedy occurs, the instinct is to cry out, “Oh God!” as a petition for relief. This happens to saint and sinner alike. Even avowed atheists will say this. The deepest understanding instilled in the human psyche is that there is a God and that He is merciful when petitioned.

However, the Bible also refers to the searing of the conscience in people. This comes out in varying degrees, but there is a point where the conscience is so seared that even the most fundamental part of who we are is obliterated. The connection to God is so damaged that this deep-seated knowledge that He may relent from His wrath is gone. This is seen to be the case now in the pouring out of the fifth bowl. Instead of crying out to God for relief and/or giving Him glory (see Revelation 11:13), it now says, “They blasphemed the God of heaven.”

This is similar to what was just said in verse 16:9 –

“And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.”

The title, God of heaven, however, intensifies the crime. In verse 16:9, it acknowledged that God has power over these plagues, but in the minds of the people it could be a lesser “god.” However, here that idea is extinguished. There is the understanding that One God resides in heaven and that He is the force behind the events. Instead of giving Him glory, they blaspheme Him. It is an astonishing thought to consider.

These people are aware of God’s existence, they are receiving His judgments, and yet they are so depraved in their thinking that instead of acknowledging His right to judge them and calling out for mercy, they only provoke Him further “because of their pains and their sores.”

If a person were to place his hand on a hot stove, the reaction would be to withdraw it quickly and not venture to do so again. In connection with that, they may shout out, “Stupid, stupid, stupid. I can’t believe I did that.” The people here respond in exactly the opposite manner. They have done wrong; they have been plagued because of their wrongdoing; and yet they return to their same depraved thinking. Peter speaks of the mental state of such people –

But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, 13 and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime.” 2 Peter 2:12, 13

The Source of the pains and sores is attacked as if the depraved people are begging for more. And just to make sure that they have completely departed from any chance of His mercy, the verse finishes with, “and did not repent of their deeds.”

The conduct that brought them the agonies in the first place is not rejected. Instead, they continue down the same brutal path to perdition.

Life application: In 16:9, during the fourth bowl judgment, the sun scorched the people with great heat. At that time, the people are said to have “blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues.” Now, when the kingdom became “full of darkness,” the people have again “blasphemed the God of heaven.”

Whether in light or darkness, the heart of these people remains hard and defiant against God. The very fact that they blaspheme His name indicates an acknowledgment that He exists. No one blasphemes Godzilla because, despite being a scary movie monster, we all know he is not real. The agony and pain the people feel is returned to God in angry comments about Him and vulgar language toward Him.

What a vast difference from righteous Job who suffered in a similar fashion and yet made the acknowledgment that God is still deserving of praise –

“And he said:
‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.’
22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Job 1:21

After His beautiful and heartfelt utterance, the Bible records the appropriateness of Job’s words and actions by acknowledging that he did not charge God with wrong. The pattern has been given to us for holy living and right thought in the presence of God. It is laid out in the pages of the Bible, and it is available to all people. And yet, because of the deception of the antichrist and the blinding of the people’s eyes to the truth of God, they have rejected His word and thus God Himself.

Now only pain and suffering, with added condemnation for an ungodly response, is forthcoming. It should be noted that these verses are given in the aorist tense, and yet they are future to us even now. The entire book of Revelation is a testimony to the transcendence of God over what has been created, even into the future, and into the responses of each and every person who has lived or ever will live.

This in no way contradicts free will in man though. Just because God knows the choices we will make, it doesn’t mean that our responsibility is negated. Rather, it shows the just nature of God when He judges. It is man’s responsibility to act. And the main action that man can take to be reconciled to God is to call out to Him as He has decided is right. He has given the way, and He has made the path available. He has done everything for restoration to come about. He has given us JESUS.

Lord, one of the most common sights in the world is to see people blame You when disaster strikes – “How could God let this happen?” But it is our response to Your actions that demonstrate faith or faithlessness. Help us to be like Job where, even in affliction, we respond to You with words that will please You and bring You the honor You are due. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 16:10

Thursday, 6 May 2021 

Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. Revelation 16:10

With the fourth bowl complete, the scene immediately moves to the pouring out of the next one, and so John says, “Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast.”

The pouring out has gone from the earth to the sea to the rivers and springs of water. It now goes to “the throne of the beast.” Where is the throne of the beast? Revelation can get confusing and biblical references, depending on one’s world view, will be chosen to fit the scenario. Chapter 17 identifies a great harlot who sits on “seven mountains.” The Greek word can mean both “mountains” and “hills.”

Rome for thousands of years has been known as the city on seven hills and so this is a likely choice. Jerusalem doesn’t sit on seven hills, even though people have tried to fudge that into belief over the years. If the hills are literal, then the beast’s throne is Rome. However, elsewhere in the Bible, mountains are symbolic of governmental authority. Therefore, the “mountains” could be seven governments on which the harlot sits.

Based on an analysis of Daniel chapter 9, it does seem more likely that this is speaking of Rome and therefore the mountains are literal. Either way, the fifth angel’s bowl is poured out on the throne of the beast. When he does, the beast’s “kingdom became full of darkness.”

In the Bible, darkness is as much of a judgment as any of the other torments experienced. One might think that relief from the sun would be found, but the heat of the sun hasn’t gone away. Rather it is still there, but the darkness won’t even allow men to locate refuge. The darkness during the plague of Egypt was so intense that it could actually be felt –

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.’ 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” Exodus 10:21-23

Darkness is recorded for judgment elsewhere in the OT prophets such as Isaiah, Joel, and Nahum. It can represent calamity, chaos, confusion, and distress. Concerning judgment of sin, darkness came upon all the land at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion –

“Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” (Matthew 27:45-46).

The difference between the darkness at that time and the time of the tribulation is marked though. When Jesus died, sin was judged in Christ as a substitution for others’ sins. But during the tribulation, the judgment of darkness is poured out directly on the people for their own sins. It will be horrific and exacting. It will be so agonizing that “they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.”

The word translated as “gnawed” is found nowhere else. The expression itself is also unique. However, it is completely understandable. The grief of the affliction is so great that the people will chew on their tongues, looking for relief from the anguish they experience. This anguish, as noted above, certainly includes the heat of the sun. The darkness has not brought relief from that. Rather, the people are as if in an oven. They are being baked alive in the darkness along with other afflictions as well. The surprising lack of change in their attitudes will be revealed in the next verse.

Life application: The water has been affected, the sun’s heat is radiating down on the people, and the people are now doused in darkness as well. The gnawing of their tongues gives the sense of great distress from thirst. The terror of such a plight is actually highlighted at the cross of Christ.

Despite all of the afflictions He suffered, the one that is brought into the narrative by His own words is that of thirst –

 “After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!’ 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” John         19:28-30

In the end, all men are destined to die. During our lives, there is a spiritual thirst that exists. Most are not even aware of it. And yet, it is the greatest thirst of all. Without having it quenched, man will die apart from God and his thirst will continue on for all eternity. But if it is quenched, it will produce a fountain that will spring up for all eternity.

The choice is ours, and we must make it while we have the chance. Jesus spoke of it –

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’” John 4:13, 14

He refers to this elsewhere as well. What we as humans need is to be revivified by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our souls. When this happens, we receive the water that will last forever. The way to receive this is to receive what God has offered in the giving of His Christ. Let us be wise and let us receive it today. The offer is made; the offer is JESUS!

Oh God, the terrifying nature of the plagues of Revelation reveals our need to get the word out to others. The time is coming, and the world needs to be ready. Help us to be effective communicators of the gospel of salvation which will keep others from going through the terrible miseries that lie ahead for the unrepentant world. May we be faithful to this calling. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 16:9

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. Revelation 16:9

In the previous verse, the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun. In this, power was given to him to scorch men with fire. In response to that, it now says, “And men were scorched with great heat.”

As noted in the previous verse, this could be either an effect coming from the sun, or the sun could remain unchanged, but the state of the earth, such as the ozone layer being depleted, results in the sun’s heat being magnified. Either way, it is the sun that is the source of the heat that scorches man. The effects of this would go beyond man though. With such radiant heat, there would be the same effect on the animals and on the crops. The earth is going to go into a terrible tailspin of agony, pain, and deprivation. Despite this, it next says, “and they blasphemed the name of God.”

This is the opposite of what occurred in verse 11:13. There it said –

“In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.”

The people gave glory to God before. Now, however, there is no such thought. Instead, they blaspheme His name. The innate knowledge of God referred to by Paul in Romans 1:21 is completely ignored, exactly as Paul said there as well. It reflects the state of depravity that man will turn to. Instead of calling out to Him for healing, they instead curse Him for His righteous judgments. They fail to acknowledge that it is He “who has power over these plagues.”

As God is the Creator and Sustainer of creation, it is without a doubt that He has complete control over His creation. Nothing occurs apart from His power and knowledge, and all things occur in accord with His will. This includes the plagues of the end times. Man possesses this knowledge, but he willfully suppresses it in his unrighteousness. In this, John finishes the verse with, “and they did not repent and give Him glory.”

The judgments of God are just, and those who receive them are deserving of what occurs. God looks for the heart that is humble and will turn to him. This is seen throughout the Old Testament where kings would turn and repent, and the Lord would send tender mercies upon the people. But no such mercy is coming for those who face this fourth bowl judgment. Their hearts only grow harder, and the judgments upon them will continue to come because they fail to repent and give God the glory that He is due.

Life application: In today’s pre-Tribulation world, there has been a debate known as “climate change.” Before that, it was called “global warming.” Before that, was the scare of “acid rain.” Of course, in the 1970’s it was the scare of “global cooling.” Each previous scenario has been proven false, and so the terminology was slyly and subtly changed to “climate change” which, in fact, means nothing at all. And yet it means anything that the proponent so chooses.

These doomsayers don’t want to correct their belief when it is found to be wrong, even though they know what they are proposing isn’t true. What they want is two-fold –

1) To shut God out and hint His word isn’t true. When He said after the flood of Noah that there will never be another worldwide flood, He meant it. But scare tactics of climatology want to refute this and thus demonstrate that the God of the Bible isn’t really in control of His creation.
2) Control over the masses. If God cannot be trusted, then humans must take the initiative in “saving the world from itself.”

In order to do this, a select few that are more “enlightened” than the rest will come up with the solutions for the general population. But such solutions come at the high price of giving up personal freedom. The world is already drinking the Kool-Aid of “climate change,” and it is willingly being steered into such bondage. Not surprisingly, at the head of this deception is the pope who sits in the Vatican, acting as an authority on climate matters when he should be reading his Bible.

What he, and those world leaders associated with him, do not understand is that the proposed solutions will certainly lead to the plagues which they are supposedly fixing. God will not be mocked, and the rejection of Him and His word of truth will wind up resulting in the punishments that He has already stated will come. Is global warming a reality? The answer is no and yes.

In today’s world, no. It is a lie and the utterance of liars. But in the tribulation to come, it is a certainty. Global warming will scorch the world with heat. This is not because the pope and the others with him in this agenda are right, but because in man’s actions toward God we “did not repent and give Him glory.”

Instead, when the time of heat and misery comes, they will only further blaspheme His name. They will know He has control over the plagues, but they will continue to try to fix things apart from Him. Their actions will merely compound the misery and bring the world to a terrifying state of agony.

How just and right are the judgments of God that are coming upon the whole world! They have turned from Him to false gods of power, control, and profit. They have rejected the only Source of light, life, and peace with Him. They have rejected JESUS.

One thing we know, O God, is that Your word is true. When You speak, it comes with the complete assurance that what You say will come to pass. When You warn, it is for our own good, and when You direct, it is to keep us from harm. Thank You for Your word of truth which is certain to keep us on the right path. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 16:8

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. Revelation 16:8

John’s vision now turns to the plague of the fourth bowl, beginning with, “Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl.” It is the pouring out of God’s wrath upon the world that has rejected Him. In the pouring out, it says, “on the sun.”

The first three, in order, were poured out on the earth, the seas, and then the rivers and springs of water. Each of these was a directed action on the planet in which we live. This one is on the sun, an extraterrestrial body. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the sun is affected, although it could be so – such as in increased sunspots, increased electromagnetic radiation, or some other solar occurrence.

However, it could be that the effects of the sun are simply more pronounced here on earth; maybe the ozone layer has been adversely affected. Whatever occurs, the result will be catastrophic, and it will be agonizing for those who failed to give God the glory He is due. In this judgment upon the sun, John then says, “and power was given to him.”

The word “power” is inserted. A more correct reading is, “and there was given to him.” In other words, the power, ability, or authority to take action according to the pouring out of the bowl on the sun belongs to him. It speaks of the result of the pouring out, which is “to scorch men with fire.”

Again, the Greek is more precise, saying, “in fire.” Fire is the condition or state in which the scorching takes place. Whether the sun is directly affected (as noted above), or whether it is the earth that is affected because of the lack of its normal protection (ozone or etc.), the heat will be so intense on earth that fires will become more pronounced due to the extremely dry conditions that permeate the land.

If this is what is being prophesied, then it means that not only will the earth be physically affected by the fire, but many secondary issues will arise as well. Without protection from the sun and cooling from the rains, crops will fail, lakes will dry up, and so on.

One of the terrible afflictions that people face on earth is that of famine. When it comes, everything dries up and dies. The effects are then multiplied because there is no place to hide from the heat. When one is left in the heat for too long, only misery is to be expected. Eventually, if no relief comes, death is the result. Such is the state that will come to pass when the fourth bowl is poured out.

Life application: Death from heat and no water (as is already the case from the third bowl) is exceptionally bitter. The book of Lamentations gives a vivid description of this –

“The tongue of the infant clings
To the roof of its mouth for thirst;
The young children ask for bread,
But no one breaks it for them.
Those who ate delicacies
Are desolate in the streets;
Those who were brought up in scarlet
Embrace ash heaps.
The punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people
Is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom,
Which was overthrown in a moment,
With no hand to help her!
Her Nazirites were brighter than snow
And whiter than milk;
They were more ruddy in body than rubies,
Like sapphire in their appearance.
Now their appearance is blacker than soot;
They go unrecognized in the streets;
Their skin clings to their bones,
It has become as dry as wood.
Those slain by the sword are better off
Than those who die of hunger;
For these pine away,
Stricken for lack of the fruits of the field.” Lamentations 4:4-9

Ancient Israel was punished for disobedience and the suffering was immense. Throughout the ages, such suffering has been recorded time and again. The difference with the Tribulation Period though is that the calamity will be global in nature. How much better to call out to God now through His offer of peace, instead of having to face the suffering which lies ahead. God has lovingly and graciously made this offer through the giving of His Son. He is our hope, our place of rest, and our hiding place from what lies ahead. He is JESUS!

Heavenly Father, Your word tells us that it is Your desire that none perish. However, You give us the freedom to choose. In the end, the misery of the coming Tribulation is self-inflicted, and the people will pay for their decision to reject Your gracious offer. Help us, Lord, to be faithful witnesses of Your gospel now before that time comes. Amen.