O God, the nations have come into Your inheritance; Your holy temple they have defiled; they have laid Jerusalem in heaps. The dead bodies of Your servants they have given as food for the birds of the heavens, the flesh of Your saints to the beasts of the earth. Their blood they have shed like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. We have become a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and derision to those who are around us. How long, LORD? Will You be angry forever? Will Your jealousy burn like fire? Pour out Your wrath on the nations that do not know You, and on the kingdoms that do not call on Your name. For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place. (Ps. 79:1-7) [emphasis added]“While Jerusalem more than once has experienced such desolations (under the Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans), these calamities in their prophetic aspect still point to that final and cataclysmic disaster that is yet to fall upon the city (Dan. 9:27+; Zec. 14:12; Mat. 24:15; 2Th. 2:4; Rev. 11:1-3+; 13:11-18+).”1 Jeremiah records a similar request:
Pour out Your fury on the Gentiles, who do not know You, and on the families who do not call on Your name; for they have eaten up Jacob, devoured him and consumed him, and made his dwelling place desolate. (Jer. 10:25) [emphasis added]As in the Babylonian and Roman desolations of Jerusalem in history past, so shall desolation occur at the time of the end, in the middle of Daniel’s 70th Week. The “desolating one,”2 the Antichrist, shall have judgment poured out upon him:3
Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate. (Dan. 9:27+) [emphasis added]Zephaniah spoke concerning Israel’s lack of fear of God indicating a future time when God would pour His indignation upon the nations—thus gaining Israel’s attention and respect at the time of the end.
“Therefore wait for Me,” says the Lord, “Until the day I rise up for plunder; My determination is to gather the nations to My assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them My indignation, all My fierce anger; all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy. For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord.” (Zep. 3:8-9) [emphasis added]bowls of the wrath of God
The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceeding fine, and the last of the grist is now to go through. The machinery of judgment has been set in motion, and the Creator Himself has said that it shall not be arrested until the last plagues of His wrath are finished.4Because the bowl judgments, representing the final outpouring of God’s wrath prior to the Millennial Kingdom, are so severe, many have been unwilling to take them as describing literal events. As we have observed elsewhere, when one cuts the tether of literal interpretation, all manner of strange understandings result and it is nearly impossible for the actual text to adequately constrain the imagination of the interpreter. Also, it becomes impossible for God to describe cataclysmic judgments even if He wanted to, for interpreters would be forever reinterpreting them as symbolism or allegory. We believe the details given in the descriptions of the judgments point strongly in the direction of a literal interpretation:
These seven Vials and their effects we take to be literal; . . . They belong to no figures of speech. The language is clear and precise. There is nothing beyond our faith, though there may be beyond our reason. True, they are supernatural, but not unnatural. In the plagues of Egypt, which all take to be literal, we have many judgments exactly similar. Indeed, six out of the seven Vials are just the same as the plagues of Egypt, and God has again and again declared that their final judgments should be like, yea, should be worse than those (Ex. 34:10). . . . In the face of this, is it not strange that these Vials should ever be taken to mean: The first, the French Revolution; and the “sores” its infidelity, etc. The second, the naval wars of the French Revolution; The third, Napoleon’s campaign in Italy; The fourth, Napoleon’s military tyranny, etc., etc.? It is a waste of precious time and space even to chronicle such interpretations.5
So far as the naval battles of the French Revolution affected the sea [at the pouring of the second bowl], they killed nothing of the living things therein, but fattened them, and scarcely stained a single wave; so far were they from turning all the ocean’s waters into bloody clots.6on the earth
Overly subtle interpretations in the interest of recapitulation overlook the distinct differences between the two series. Among the more important are: (1) the trumpet-plagues are partial in their effect (one-third of the earth is burned, Rev. 8:7+; one-third of the sea becomes blood, Rev. 8:8+; see also Rev. 8:9-12+) while the bowls are universal (“every living soul died,” Rev. 16:3+; “every island fled away,” Rev. 16:20+) and final; (2) the trumpets are to a certain extent a call to repentance while the bowls are the pouring out of divine wrath; and (3) man is affected indirectly by the first four trumpets but is directly attacked from the outset by the bowls. It should also be noticed that the bowls are poured out in rapid succession with the customary interlude between the sixth and seventh elements of the sequence missing.12See Literary Structure.There is a close similarity between this judgment and that which afflicted Egypt prior to the Exodus when the rivers and streams of Egypt were turned to blood (Ex. 7:20). See The Plagues of Egypt and the Tribulation.
That, then, which has always been the symbol of salvation in the midst of life, becomes the symbol of condemnation in the midst of death. But now, the seas are turned to blood; the fish die; the winds of God blow death over all the earth. They had refused the salvation that would have come to them from the blood of the One who is Life; they now receive condemnation from the blood that symbolizes death.13
The destruction of what is left of the earth’s fresh water will cause unthinkable hardship and suffering. There will be no water to drink; no clean water to wash the oozing sores caused by the first bowl judgment; no water to bring cooling relief from the scorching heat that the fourth bowl judgment will shortly bring. The scene is so unimaginably horrible that people will wonder how a God of compassion, mercy, and grace could send such a judgment. And so there is a brief interlude in the pouring out of the judgments while an angel speaks in God’s defense.14
I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine. All flesh shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. (Isa. 49:26) [emphasis added]For it is their just due
Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isa. 9:7)The righteous nature of God’s judgment is taken up by Paul in his argument defending the sovereignty of God in election (Rom. 9:14-24). In fact, God’s judgment is required by His righteousness (2Th. 1:6), for if He were to forever delay judgment, then He would be in violation of His own righteous nature. For God to forego judgment when it is due is as impossible as it is for the Holy One to lie.
Another serious consequence of the sun’s intense heat will be the melting of the polar ice caps. The resulting rise in the oceans’ water level will inundate coastal regions, flooding areas miles inland with the noxious waters of the dead oceans. Widespread damage and loss of life will accompany that flooding, adding further to the unspeakable misery of the devastated planet. Transportation by sea will become impossible.21
Behold, the LORD makes the earth empty and makes it waste, distorts its surface and scatters abroad its inhabitants. And it shall be: as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the creditor, so with the debtor. The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered, for the LORD has spoken this word. The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away; the haughty people of the earth languish. The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left. The new wine fails, the vine languishes, all the merry-hearted sigh. The mirth of the tambourine ceases, the noise of the jubilant ends, the joy of the harp ceases. They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink is bitter to those who drink it. The city of confusion is broken down; every house is shut up, so that none may go in. There is a cry for wine in the streets, all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone. In the city desolation is left, and the gate is stricken with destruction. When it shall be thus in the midst of the land among the people, it shall be like the shaking of an olive tree, Like the gleaning of grapes when the vintage is done. (Isa. 24:1-13 cf. Mal. 4:1) [emphasis added]The conditions experienced by those beneath the bowl judgments is uniform. Position and status will be no refuge from desolate conditions. Although “burned” in these passages may refer to God’s consuming wrath,22 given the context of the time of the end, it may also refer to the effects of the great heat upon agriculture: “The new wine fails, the vine languishes.”they blasphemed the name of God . . . and they did not repent
And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.” (Dan. 12:9-10+) [emphasis added]A similar theme is expressed to John by an angel at the end of this book. “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still” (Rev. 22:11+). God’s judgments will not result in repentance for these: “Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him” (Pr. 27:22).
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.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 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. (Ex. 10:21-23)“The transition from the fourth to the fifth bowls is most striking. The one had been the fiery, scorching, blinding brightness of the sun; the next is an impenetrable darkness.”25 Although the throne of the Beast is empowered by Lucifer,26 the shining one, the son of the dawn (הֵילֵל בֶּן־שַׁחַר [hêlēl ben–šaḥar] , Isa. 14:12), he is helpless to illumine the God-imposed darkness. See The Plagues of Egypt and the Tribulation.they gnawed their tongues because of the pain
Its flood plain was the site of the first human city (Babel) after the great Flood and it was the site of Nebuchadnezzar’s magnificent capital city Babylon in the days of Daniel the prophet. On its shores will apparently be erected the even more magnificent New Babylon to serve as the capital of the beast in his brief but unprecedented worldwide reign in the great tribulation.32See The Identity of Babylon.Isaiah saw this event:
He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. Also the envy of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not harass Ephraim. But they shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west; together they shall plunder the people of the East; they shall lay their hand on Edom and Moab; and the people of Ammon shall obey them. The LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt; with His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River, and strike it in the seven streams, and make men cross over dry-shod. There will be a highway for the remnant of His people who will be left from Assyria, as it was for Israel in the day that he came up from the land of Egypt. (Isa. 11:12-16)
The restoration from Babylon can scarcely be a fulfillment, because of four things: (1) There is the Kingdom-age context of this prophecy. (2) There is its accomplishment by direct, miraculous, and divine intervention—“the Lord shall set his hand” . . . like the Egyptian deliverance. . . . (3) There is the express inclusion of all the twelve tribes. At the return from Babylon, only Judah was restored with some few from the twelve tribes. (4) There is the fact that the regathering is the final one, eventuating in millennial Kingdom blessing.33Zechariah contains a similar passage (Zec. 10:8-12), which some attribute to the Nile,34 but may be more readily explained as the Euphrates.35 The parting of the Red Sea at the Exodus allowed God’s people to flee from destruction. Now, the waters of the Euphrates are dried so that God’s enemies can gather to their destruction. God dried up the Jordan for Israel to cross into her inheritance, the Promised Land (Jos. 3:15-17; 4:22). Now He dries up the Euphrates to gather the kings into His inheritance, for which they will be judged (Ps. 79:1). See The Plagues of Egypt and the Tribulation.kings from the east
The “two hundred million” [Rev. 9:16+] are in a Trumpet Judgment, whereas the kings of the east are in a Bowl judgment. Furthermore, . . . it was shown that the two hundred million are demons and not men. . . . Everywhere else in the Scriptures, the east always refers to Mesopotamia (Assyria and Babylonia). Consistency demands that this, too, would be a reference to Mesopotamia and not to China (e.g., Mat. 2:1).36Some suggest these to be kings from the Orient, but this is not required by the text. All that is indicated is that they are kings representing nations east of the Euphrates. “East and West are to be reckoned from the standpoint of the prophecy, and not from that of the reader. Here, that standpoint is God’s Land and City.”37 “Through the centuries, commentators particularly of the postmillennial and the historical schools have guessed at the identity of the kings of the East and as many as fifty different interpretations have been advanced. The very number of these interpretations is their refutation.”38
They are the elect agents to awaken the world to the attempt to abolish God from the earth; and they are frog-like in that they come forth out of the pestiferous quagmires of the universe, do their work amid the world’s evening shadows, and creep, and croak, and defile, and fill the ears of the nations with their noisy demonstrations, till they set all the kings and armies of the whole earth in enthusiastic commotion for the final crushing out of the Lamb and all His powers.39coming out of the mouth
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron. (1Ti. 4:1-2)This is seen in our own day in the abundance of earthly wisdom which elevates the fallen understanding of man above the inerrant revealed word of God. Such wisdom, according to James, is sensual and earthly—demonic in origin (Jas. 3:15).During the Millennial Kingdom, it appears that demons will be concentrated in the inhabitable wasteland which was at one time the city of Babylon. Then it will be “a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!” (Rev. 18:2+).performing signs
“I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen” . . . Thus says the Lord GOD: “On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan. . . . It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land.” (Eze. 38:4, 10, 16)The MT and NU texts omit of the earth.gather them to the battle of that great day of God
Somewhere about this time, then, Christ comes for this last band of children of the resurrection, whether dead or yet living. Of course, it is a coming of the same kind and character as his coming for those saints who were taken earlier; for it is the completion of that one coming for his people which is everywhere set forth. Here also, as in all other cases, nothing but a state of watchful readiness when the call comes can secure a share in the blessing.46In Seiss’ scenario, Christ comes for believers at a point in time prior to His actually setting foot on the earth in final judgment. He seems to suggest that a “mini-rapture” of sorts takes place at an unknown time prior to Christ’s physical coming. Perhaps this is to be connected with His promises to gather the elect by angels? One obstacle to this view is that the passages which stipulate the gathering of the elect follow immediately upon the global sign of the Son of Man’s return (Mat. 24:30-31; Mark 13:26-27).
If the warning is an encouragement to the persecuted remnant under the beast, Christ’s promised coming is the one in Rev. 19:11-16+, which by the time of the sixth bowl follows almost immediately (Alford). If the warning is to people in the churches, it returns to the theme of chapters 2+-3+, the imminence of the hour of trial as an incentive for the book’s recipients to make their calling and election sure so they can escape this coming dreaded period. The close similarity to Rev. 3:3+, 18+ and the parenthetical nature of the announcement favor the latter alternative. . . . The other possibility of this being an encouragement to the faithful to persevere could serve no useful purpose at this point. . . . Therefore this announcement is a repetition of excerpts from the two earlier messages to Sardis and Laodicea: it is a call to genuineness of faith.47as a thief
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Mat. 24:42-44)
Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming-in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning- lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: “Watch!” (Mark 13:33-37)
Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Luke 12:35-40)Jesus indicated that a day was coming which would arrive unexpectedly as a snare to the earth dwellers, but by vigilance and prayer, the watchful believer could escape the things that were coming to pass:
But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:34-36)The day which He spoke of was The Day of the Lord which professing but unbelieving “Christians,” who miss the Rapture, will endure along with those dwelling upon the earth. For them, the beginning of the end comes as a surprise since they are not expecting it. It arrives, as a thief:
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Th. 5:1-9)Jesus comes for those who are watching in the Rapture of the Church prior to this time (Luke 21:34-36; John 14:1-3). He comes as a thief in the night in the judgments which usher in The Day of the Lord, culminating with His personal arrival in judgment at the Second Coming to conclude the Campaign of Armageddon. See When Does the Day of the Lord Dawn?blessed is he who watches
Har-Magedon would mean “the Mountain of Megiddo,” but here a difficulty arises: there is no Mount Megiddo. None of the solutions offered is especially persuasive. It is possible that Har-Magedon could be a reference to the hill country near Megiddo or perhaps a reference to Megiddo and Mount Carmel in the same breath (Farrer, p. 178). In John’s day the tell or mount upon which Megiddo was built was about seventy feet in height, hardly enough to justify the designation Mount. One frequent suggestion is that the Apocalyptist began with Ezekiel’s prophecy of a great eschatological slaughter of the nations on “the mountains of Israel” (Eze. 38:8-21; 39:2, 4, 17) and then made the reference more specific by adding the name Megiddo as the place where so often in Israel’s history the enemies of God were destroyed (Beckwith, p. 685). Still others interpret the term in reference to some ancient myth in which an army of demons assault the holy mountain of the gods. If one reads Armageddon (instead of Har-Magedon), the reference could be to the city of Megiddo rather than to a mountain. Others interpret Har-Magedon without reference to Megiddo. Bruce (p. 657), following C. C. Torrey, mentions har mōʿēd, the mount of assembly (Isa. 14:13). Or it could be a corruption in the Hebrew text for “his fruitful mountain” or the “desirable city” (i.e., Jerusalem). . . . Yet another suggestion is that Megiddo could be derived from a root meaning “to cut, attack, or maraud.” In this case Mount Megiddo would mean “the marauding mountain” (a variant to Jeremiah’s “destroying mountain,” Jer. 51:25) and indicate that John expected the battle not in northern Palestine but at Rome [Mounce takes Babylon to be Rome] (Caird, p. 207; cf. Kiddle, pp. 329-31). As in the case of the number of the beast (Rev. 13:18+), the cryptic nature of the reference has thus far defeated all attempts at a final answer.57It is our view that the phrase probably denotes the hill country near Megiddo, at the edge of the Jezreel Valley which is an optimum place to access the Promised Land by sea and to serve as a staging area for vast armies. The drying up of the Euphrates river, a real geographical location, so that kings from the east can be gathered to Armageddon argues that Armageddon itself is a real geographical location west of the Euphrates rather than to be taken as a spiritual concept. See Megiddo
The sound of noise from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of the LORD, Who fully repays His enemies! “Before she was in labor, she gave birth; before her pain came, she delivered a male child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children. Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the LORD. “Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” says your God. “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; that you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom, that you may drink deeply and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.” (Isa. 66:6-11)The voice of the LORD is heard. The context is the full repayment of His enemies, as here. The woman in labor is the same woman we saw in Revelation 12+. There, she struggled in a protracted labor. Here, she gives birth as soon as her labor pains began. There, her labor spoke of the age-long struggle to bring forth the promised Redeemer (Gen. 3:15). Here, her labor speaks of her time of Jacob’s Trouble which, although intense, is relatively short (7 years) in comparison with the thousands of years during which she labored to produce Messiah (Rev. 9:5+). Of those seven, the last half were especially difficult, the “time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished” (Dan. 12:7+). At this birth, those who love Jerusalem are to rejoice with her for the long standing promise of Isaiah 62 will have found fulfillment in the ushering in of the Millennial Kingdom. See commentary on Revelation 12:2.Even in the finality of the statement by God attending the pouring forth of the seventh bowl, the full effects of the judgment have yet to play out and will not be finally behind until we reach Revelation 20:4+. Even then, after the Millennial Kingdom, some cleanup operations remain. Satan will be loosed to lead the unfaithful in one last rebellion (Rev. 20:7-10+) which will be put down by God. The unbelieving dead will be resurrected, judged, and undergo the second death (Rev. 20:11-15+). The millennial heaven and earth will flee away (Rev. 20:11+) to be recreated (Rev. 21:1+) and then God will repeat this pronouncement in its absolute final sense—when death is no more and sin has been forever vanquished. “It is done!” (Rev. 21:6+). The eternal state has then begun.Some may object to the interpretation of a statement of such finality found here by God as being other than that which ushers in the eternal state. Yet Scripture is clear that there are numerous “finishings” of God, depending on the task at hand: “So when Jesus has received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit” (John 19:30).
For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. (Hag. 2:6-7)as had not occurred since men were on the earth
Thus, the purpose of the earthquake as it relates to Jerusalem is not to judge the city, but to enhance it. Jerusalem was judged earlier in the Tribulation by an earthquake, which led to the salvation of those who were not killed (Rev. 11:13+). Thus, there is no need for further judgment on that city.62
Jerusalem alone, of all the great cities of the earth, is thus to be spared destruction by the earthquake at the end of the tribulation. It is the one eternal city, and will survive as long as the earth endures in its present form, finally being replaced as the new Jerusalem, in the new earth.63and the cities of the nations fell
Man has a proverb that God made the country and man made the town. Truly these great cites of the earth are heartless and cruel, and those who have lived close enough to their hearts to hear their poisonous beats, know how much evil is hid behind the great lights of the world’s great agglomerations. They are all to fall. . . . We believe, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that this prophecy covers Peking and Philadelphia, Moscow and Melbourne, Berlin and Buenos Aires, Cairo and the Cape, Bombay and Boston, Istanbul and Chicago, Naples and New York. In short, all the cities shall be destroyed. It cannot be otherwise.64And great Babylon was remembered before God
It should be noticed that there is a gradation in the judgments here meted out to the cities of the world. Just as the Lord announced that some would be beaten with few stripes and some with many, so there is a progress in the devastation that falls upon the habitations of men. Two parts of Jerusalem seem to be destroyed, all of the Gentile cities, but the greatest of all judgments is kept for Babylon, seat of Satan’s power.66the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath
Scientists cannot laugh at this idea because they, themselves, teach most earnestly that the mountains once rose to their present heights, and furnish us with abundance of geological data to prove their points. We agree, although we believe it was done, not by any slow process of evolution, but . . . just as God pours out his final wrath upon this earth.67Such geographic alteration of the earth’s surface would seem to be attended by massive loss of life. And so Scripture attests by Jeremiah:
I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; and the heavens, they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth. I beheld, and indeed there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens had fled. I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was a wilderness, and all its cities were broken down at the presence of the LORD, by His fierce anger. For thus says the LORD: “The whole land shall be desolate; yet I will not make a full end. For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black, because I have spoken. I have purposed and will not relent, nor will I turn back from it.” (Jer. 4:23-28)
The scope of the vision, like so many prophetic glimpses of Old Testament prophets, transcends the then-impending application [the destruction of Judah wrought by the Babylonian armies] and envisions the worldwide woe of Israel in the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:5-7) preceding Kingdom blessing (Rev. 6:1+-19:21+).68Those saints yet living on the earth during this time will understand Psalm 46 in a completely literal way: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea . . . The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved, He uttered His voice, the earth melted” (Ps. 46:1-2, 6).The earth is essentially a ruin by the Second Coming of Christ. All of man’s environmental efforts and their pagan foundations will be for naught. For appeal to mother earth (Gaia) for shelter and sustenance will be of no avail when she herself is judged by Father God Who created the earth.In a similar way to how God will create a new heavens and a new earth after the final judgment (Rev. 21:1+), He will regenerate the earth prior to the Millennial Kingdom. Jesus promised his disciples, “In the regeneration (παλιγγενεσίᾳ [palingenesia] , again Genesis), when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mat. 19:28). Isaiah also saw a “new heavens and a new earth,” but which is followed by childbirth, sin, and death (Isa. 65:17, 20, 23).69 It is by this regeneration that Jerusalem is lifted up above the surrounding lands (Zec. 14:10) to form the mountain of the Lord’s house from which will flow the river of life during the Millennium (Isa. 2:2; 27:13; 30:29; 56:7; Eze. 17:24; 20:40; 40:2; Mic. 4:1).Then Isaiah’s prophecy will become a literal reality:
The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isa. 40:3-5)
And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt. So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field. (Ex. 9:23b-25).In Joshua’s long day, God stoned the Amorites with huge hailstones. “There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword” (Jos. 10:11). This is the “treasury of hail which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war” (Job 38:22). In his time, Gog is to suffer a similar fate upon the mountains of Israel (Eze. 38:22).70 Bullinger mentions an interesting historical record which shows that large hail occurs even in the absence of God’s supernatural hand as in this time of the end:
“Hail is of frequent occurrence in these unhappy districts, and the dimensions of the hailstones are generally enormous. We have seen some that weighted twelve pounds. One moment sometimes suffices to exterminate whole flocks. In 1843, during one of these storms, there was heard in the air a sound as of a rushing wind, and therewith fell in a field near a house, a mass of ice larger than an ordinary millstone. It was broken to pieces with hatchets; yet though the sun burned fiercely, three days elapsed before these pieces entirely melted.” [Travels in Tartary, by M. Huc, vol. i., p. 12. “National Illustrated Library”]71The earth dwellers are being stoned for blasphemy and rebellion against the righteous commands of God, the “testimony” in the “tabernacle of the testimony,” from which the angels having the last seven plagues came forth (Rev. 15:6+). The “testimony” which witnesses against them is the tablets of stone stored within the ark of the covenant upon which God wrote the Ten Commandments in his own hand. Similar manifestations of judgment as these attended John’s vision of the ark following the sounding of the seventh trumpet prior to the pouring forth of the seven bowls of God’s wrath (Rev. 11:19+). These manifestations included lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail—all of which have now been delivered to the blasphemers in the pouring of the last bowl. See commentary on Revelation 11:19. See The Plagues of Egypt and the Tribulation.about the weight of a talent
Just as there are long and short tons of differing weights, so there are various talents. That with which the Jews weighed silver was about 120 pounds Troy, or 96 pounds avoirdupois. That for weighing other materials was about 135 pounds. The Babylonian talent was even heavier while the Greek talent was about 86 pounds. The lightest of all was the Attic talent which weighted 57.7 pounds. In biblical usage, it would be the silver talent of 96 pounds that would almost certainly be designated. However, even if we take the smaller Attic talent, we have a weight that is considerable.73These are no ordinary hailstones, but the supernatural work of God. “A point of similarity between Joshua 10:11 and Revelation 16:21+ is found in the fact that both passages describe the hailstones as large in size. . . . Clearly Joshua 10:11 describes a supernatural event.”74 True to form, the preterist interpreters attempt to find fulfillment of this obviously supernatural drama in the relatively puny machinations of Rome’s siege of Jerusalem (remember that for many preterists, “Babylon” = “Jerusalem”). They make much ado about a passage in Josephus which mentions the weight and color of the stones thrown by the Roman “engines” [catapults] in the siege of Jerusalem:
The engines, that all the legions had ready prepared for them, were admirably contrived; but still more extraordinary ones belonged to the tenth legion: those that threw darts and those that threw stones, were more forcible and larger than the rest, by which they not only repelled the excursions of the Jews, but drove those away that were upon the walls also. (270) Now, the stones that were cast were of the weight of a talent, and were carried two furlongs and farther. The blow they gave was no way to be sustained, not only by those that stood first in the way, but by those that were beyond them for a great space. (271) As for the Jews, they at first watched the coming of the stone, for it was of a white color, and could therefore not only be perceived by the great noise it made, but could be seen also before it came by its brightness. [emphasis added]75Notice the priority inversion typical of preterist interpretation.76 They attach great importance to small details which happen to match the text (e.g., the stones were white, they weighed a talent), but then ignore the many details from the wider context which completely preclude their conclusion. In the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem:
Take outside the camp him who has cursed; then let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. Then you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: ’Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. ’And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the LORD, he shall be put to death. (Lev. 24:14-16)
Since the law of God provided that blasphemers should be stoned with stones until they died, so we see in the last moments of earth’s civilization, God Himself upholds His law and stones blasphemers with hailstones.77By now there is no possibility of repentance, their doom is sealed: those that remain alive continue in their blasphemous cursing.that plague was exceedingly great
God’s eschatological and eternal wrath is inevitable; no one can prevent or hinder it from coming (Isa. 43:13). But there is a way to escape it, because “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Those who by faith trust in Christ alone for salvation will escape both God’s eschatological wrath (Rev. 3:10+) and His eternal wrath (1Th. 1:10). They will not face judgment, because their sins were judged when Jesus died in their place on the cross (2Cor. 5:21; 1Pe. 2:24). In light of the inevitable judgment to come, the warning to all unrepentant sinners is “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Heb. 4:7).79
Has your conscience never smitten you, and made your sleep uneasy, and tinged your thinking with bitterness, for the sort of life you have been leading? Is there not some conscious shame and sense of wretchedness going along with the indulgence even of those darling lusts and dislike of sacred things which you allow to have place in your heart? And what is all this but the premonitory drops of that wrath of God which must presently come in great deluging showers? O child of man, give heed, and turn, and fly, before the threatening avalanche of the Almighty’s judgments comes!80
1 Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), Ps. 78:2-3.
2 “This verse continues by saying the Lord has ‘decreed’ the following: (1) the atrocities will not go on forever (cf. Luke 21:24) but will have an end, and (2) ‘the desolating one’ (שֹׁמֵם [šōmēm] , a Qal active participle alluding to the antichrist) will be judged. ‘The desolating one’ or ‘one who makes desolate’ is preferred to ‘make [something] desolate’ because שֹׁמֵם [šōmēm] is intransitive.”—Charles H. Ray, “A Study of Daniel 9:24-17, Part IV,” in The Conservative Theological Journal, vol. 6 no. 18 (Fort Worth, TX: Tyndale Theological Seminary, August 2002), 212. Thus: “even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate” (NASB95).
3 “The choice of ‘is poured out’ (תִּתַּךְ [tittak] , a Qal imperfect) as the verb reminds the reader of ‘flood’ in v. 26. It can be used figuratively (Job 10:10) or literally (Ex. 9:33). Students of prophecy also look to Revelation 16+ where bowls of God’s wrath are poured out during the end times.”—Ray, A Study of Daniel 9:24-17, Part IV, 212.
4 Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 288.
5 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 16:1.
6 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 871.
7 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 144.
8 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 397.
9 Ibid., 690.
10 Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), Rev. 16:1.
11 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 16:3.
12 Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 291.
13 Barnhouse, Revelation, 291.
14 John MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2000), Rev. 16:4.
15 No reference is intended to the angel which “went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water” (John 5:4). Nor is this meant to indicate some sort of special angel: “He is undoubtedly a creature of the order of angels, and it is interesting to note that he has a title that would indicate that he had been placed in charge of the flowing waters of earth. Here we have an angel who is master of the waters.”—Barnhouse, Revelation, 292. We disagree—the most natural meaning is merely a reference to the angel in the previous verse who poured forth the bowl upon the water. “There is some merit in the suggestion that the ‘angel of the waters’ is simply the angel of the previous verse who poured out his bowl upon ‘the waters’ (Lenski, p. 469).”—Mounce, The Book of Revelation, Rev. 16:5.
16 Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 16:7.
17 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 425.
18 “This plague will apparently affect the whole of mankind, including the saints alive at the time (Rev. 7:16+).”—Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John, Rev. 16:8.
19 Concerning worship of heavenly bodies: Gen. 11:4; Deu. 4:19; 17:3; 2K. 17:16; 23:5, 11; 2Chr. 33:3; Job 31:26-28; Isa. 47:13; Jer. 8:2; 10:2; 19:13; Acts 7:42; Rom. 1:25; Rev. 8:12+.
20 Barnhouse, Revelation, 296.
21 MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 16:8.
22 Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament, Isa. 24:6.
23 Barnhouse, Revelation, 297.
24 William R. Newell, Revelation: Chapter by Chapter (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1994,c1935), Rev. 16:10.
25 Barnhouse, Revelation, 298.
26 From lux, “light,” and fero, “to bear, bring, carry.”
27 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 322.
28 A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 16:10.
29 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 374.
30 It is likely that its name is among the oldest names of rivers, but that its modern source and location probably do not match that of the pre-flood Euphrates due to the great changes in geography which almost certainly attended the break up of the fountains of the deep at the Flood.
31 Herodotus, History of the Persian Wars, 1:190-191 cited by [John F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation (Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1971), 129-130].
32 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 16:12.
33 Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament, Isa. 11:12.
34 “Only the floods of the Nile . . . are mentioned, because the allusion to the slavery of Israel in Egypt predominates, and the redemption of the Israelites out of all the lands of the nations is represented as bringing out of the slave-house of Egypt. The drying up of the flood-depths of the Nile is therefore a figure denoting the casting down of the imperial power in all its historical forms.”—Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), Zec. 10:11.
35 “Thus the Red Sea and the Euphrates in the former part of the verse answer to ‘Assyria’ and ‘Egypt’ in the latter.”—Fausset, The Revelation of St. John the Divine, Zec. 10:11.
36 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 316.
37 Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 16:12.
38 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1966), Rev. 16:12.
39 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 378.
40 Mounce, The Book of Revelation, Rev. 16:13.
41 The spirit provided a rumor, an untruth. Hence we can conclude that it was not the spirit of an elect angel. Moreover, elect angels are not portrayed as disembodied spirits.
42 Concerning demons as unclean spirits: Mat. 8:16; 10:1; 12:43; Mark 1:23, 26, 27; 5:2, 8, 13; 6:7. 7:25. 9:25; Luke 4:33, 36; 6:18; 8:29; 9:42; 11:24; Acts 5:16; 8:7; Rev. 16:13+; 18:2+.
43 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 561.
44 Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), 337.
45 Alan F. Johnson, Revelation: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), Rev. 16:15.
46 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 379.
47 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 16:15.
48 The Gregorian chant is named after St. Gregory, the watching one.
49 Concerning the need for watchfulness: Mat. 24:42; 25:13; Mark 13:33, 35, 37; Luke 12:36-40; 21:36; 1Cor. 1:7; 16:13; Php. 3:20; 1Th. 1:10; 5:6; 2Ti. 4:8; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 9:28; 2Pe. 3:12; Rev. 3:2-3+; Rev. 16:15+.
50 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 80.
51 The scenarios which involve one will be taken and the other left (e.g., Mat. 24:40-44; Luke 17:34-37) appear to speak of being taken in judgment at the time of His second advent.
52 Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 74.
53 Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 16:16.
54 James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996), H4023.
55 Copyright © 2003 www.BiblePlaces.com. This image appears by special permission and may not be duplicated for use in derivative works.
56 MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 16:18.
57 Mounce, The Book of Revelation, Rev. 16:16.
58 At the sounding of the seventh trumpet, declaration is made of the eventual result of the completion of judgments, but the final judgments themselves remain future.
59 Several interpreters take “great city” here to refer to Babylon: [Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation], [Fausset, The Revelation of St. John the Divine].
60 Preterist interpreters see mention of three parts as an application of the judgment to befall Jerusalem in the days of Ezekiel. “It is an echo of Ezekiel 5:1-12, where the prophet was required to shave his hair from his head, divide it into three parts, and conduct a symbolic action upon each part. He was told by God ‘This is Jerusalem’ (Eze. 5:5). One third of the hair was burned, another third was to be chopped up with a sword, and the remaining third was to be scattered into the wind. This symbolized the fate of the inhabitants of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.: some were to be burned inside the city, some would be slain by the swords of the Babylonians, and the rest would be scattered among the nations. That which happened in 586 B.C. happened again in A.D. 70. The dividing of the city into three parts symbolizes that fact.”—Steve Gregg, Revelation Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 392. No statistics from the A.D. 70 destruction are given in support of this claim.
61 Barnhouse, Revelation, 307.
62 MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 16:19.
63 Morris, The Revelation Record, Rev. 16:19.
64 Barnhouse, Revelation, 308.
65 As we noted elsewhere, a striking parallel to the 70th Week of Daniel during which another Beast prevails.
66 Barnhouse, Revelation, 308-309.
67 Ibid., 309.
68 Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament, Jer. 4:23.
69 Either Isaiah saw the regeneration prior to the Millennium, or the text of Isaiah 65 is not strictly sequential—a characteristic not unknown in prophetic passages.
70 Concerning hailstones from God: Ex. 9:23-25; Jos. 10:11; Job 38:22; Ps. 18:12; 78:47; 105:32; 147:17; 148:8; Isa. 28:2, 17; 30:30; 32:19; Eze. 13:11; 38:22; Hag. 2:17; Rev. 8:7+; 11:19+; 16:21+.
71 Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation, Rev. 16:21.
72 Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 803.
73 Barnhouse, Revelation, 309.
74 Larry Spargimino, “How Preterists Misuse History to Advance their View of Prophecy,” in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 217.
75 Flavius Josephus, The Complete Works of Josephus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1981), s.v. “Wars V, vi, 3.”
76 [Gregg, Revelation Four Views: A Parallel Commentary, 394], [David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance (Tyler, TX: Dominion Press, 1987), 417].
77 Barnhouse, Revelation, 310.
78 The terminal velocity of ice. [Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John, Rev. 16:18]
79 MacArthur, Revelation 12-22 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Rev. 16:21.
80 Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation, 375.