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48. Revelation 16: “Seven Vials of God’s Wrath Poured Out”
Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 9/18/2014
(edited August 2020)
Tonight, we return to the Book of Revelation. Not so much as a message planned specifically for you, but because it is, more or less at random, my personal Bible study for this week. And, as with other studies in this Book of the Bible, there are some difficult topics here.
In chapter 15 verse 8, the Apostle John has indicated that before worship by those being saved from the Earth can fully get going in Heaven, the Earth (that is to say, the world we currently live in) MUST be judged with seven plagues carried in seven vials by seven angels. And that is exactly where our chapter, Revelation 16, begins:
Verses 1-2: “ And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.”
I want to digress for a moment to try to make a point. Some of you may remember my Mother who, before her passing, lived here as a resident. Ministering to her as I am attempting to do with you tonight was a great pleasure for me and for her, as she often would let me know. I think, after knowing me longer than anybody else, my mother was VERY pleasantly surprised that I had taken up a ministry. Not that I was or am doing anything all that great, but knowing many of the more sorted details of my life story, my mother was just DELIGHTED that I had stumbled into any kind ministry at all! And truthfully, she and I had a grand time in here in regard to God and His Word!
But there was another side to it. She wasn’t assigned here as a vacation. She was also quite ill. And it was difficult, as I’m sure many of you can understand, it was difficult for her of course, and even for me, it was difficult to watch her go through some of those things. And maybe I shouldn’t admit it, but there were times when I questioned God about it. Of course, spiritually, I KNEW she was in the Lord’s hands, and that she was saved. But had He really heard our prayers for her? Was her illness some kind of crazy punishment directed at her or our family? These are some of the questions that may linger whenever anyone is afflicted with a serious illness or trouble.
But, after Mother’s passing, I got many of my questions answered through the Holy Spirit. My mom is a better place tonight! And sure, I do wish she was sitting right here in the front row with us now! But you know what, I think she really is here. But not in a way so she that has to suffer any more. And until I can get to Heaven and get all my questions answered, I can live with that. I even rejoice in it! And I know that whatever happened to Mother, and even her death, whatever it all was, they were not punishments from God.
What I’m trying to say is, here in Revelation 16, here at the End of the World, there’s nothing vague about what the Apostle John is describing. The disease mentioned in verse 2 is Divine punishment by design. All the why’s and how’s and the total picture here are beyond me. But I can say this, a day is coming when God will punish mankind for not receiving the gift of faith in Him that He is offering to ALL of us. And in that day, it will be the appropriate thing for God to do. This should be a great motivator for us all to want to be saved judgement. Shouldn’t it also motivate us to want to witness and evangelize to whomever will listen? There’s more:
Vials Two and Three
Verses 3-4: “And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.”
Does this remind you at all of the Exodus of God’s People from Ancient Egypt? It’s like those plagues, but now it’s on a world-wide scale. How could a Holy God be releasing so much darkness upon men? Well, here’s one theory: it’s not HIS darkness. What He’s doing, finally, is withdrawing His ever-present protection from people on Earth. And so the chaos of this fallen world, that was there all along, will be fully exposed and have to be experienced. We know that Old Pharaoh in Egypt was absolutely terrified when some things like this happened to him! And yet, we also are told, that despite everything, he never did truly repent! You know, it is a miracle that ANYBODY EVER gets saved. And yet, I believe that EVERYBODY who really means business with Christ today, can and WILL be saved. Praise the Lord!
Verses 5-6: “And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.”
The Lord’s ways and thoughts are beyond ours. None of us could ever be in a position in our lives to unleash what is being described here and still be righteous. But God will be. Why? Well, as hard as it is to imagine right now, it will just be time for the Final Judgement. And timing means everything, they say. The World will have reached a point where allowing it to continue unjudged and uncleansed would be actually the unrighteous thing to do.
None of this will be done for sport or for bored people to watch on their screens over and over again for a diminishing thrill. No, it will all be essential business. God created this present world, and then that world, including you and I, broke His heart. Now, finally, with no other option left that could make any sense at all, and after ages of offering mercy and grace to everyone, God must finally and forcefully respond in judgement.
Verse 7: “ And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.”
Are you getting this, beloved? Everything He is doing, even in His wrath, is done right. And this is all planned out ahead of time. John shows us here that not one voice in Heaven can or will rise to accuse the Lord of being petty or cruel. This will be the time for EVERYONE to face the TRUTH, whether they are spiritually prepared for it or not. But NOW, in our time, is the time to get prepared. How much longer will our Age of God’s Grace last? We don’t know. So, there is a true urgency to the Gospel message today and to the study of the Scriptures!
Verses 8-9: “And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.”
As Angels, and saints, and martyrs, are praising God in Heaven, those walking the Earth in unbelieve begin to curse His name. This is one of the few things that I’ve noticed in this chapter that you can clearly see happening right now in the world. And we, as believers, must never join in the blasphemies we hear and see acted out all around us. But in the times John is describing, blasphemy will totally dominate the Earth. It’s terrible to think of, but it will be true.
Verses 10-11: “And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.”
Hatred and fear of God is, I think, a “Mark of the Beast.” And it is one that can be seen already among us. John hints at this, in my opinion, in his letters to the Church (see I John 2:18 for an example).
Verse 12: “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.”
When Moses stood with the People of God at the Red Sea it was parted for them as a miracle of deliverance. That is NOT what’s happening here. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Verses 13-14: “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
Christ, from Heaven, is so horrified by the message He is sharing with John that He interjected a direct appeal to everyone who will read or hear the words of John’s prophesy:
Verse 15: “ Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
The decision to not trust in and serve God leaves a person wide open to serving Satan and sin. Some don’t believe in that type of thing in our time, but no one will doubt it as the Battle of Armageddon takes shape before them. Just look at verse 16:
Verse 16: “And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”
This is why the Euphrates River was parted back in verse 12. To bring the parties together, to bring this ultimate conflict to a head at Armageddon. Could this situation get any worse? We’re near the end of the chapter, so let’s see a little further:
Verses 17-20: “And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”
No one will be singing “For the Beauty of the Earth” in that day! The manifold blessings of God on nature which men had been ascribing to chance or evolution or maybe just plain ignoring, those blessings will be GONE forever!
EVERYONE on the Earth at this time will be absolutely reeling. Surely they will. And then, the planet we call our home today will literally burst at the seams! But the seventh vial will continue to pour out wrath until the very last drop is out:
Verse 21: “And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”
These hailstones weigh over 50 lbs. a piece by modern measurement if my research is accurate. This will be misfortune of supernatural proportions. As I said earlier, I think God will completely remove His hand of protection from the world at this time. And that has to be done only once at the end for that event would constitute the End of the World. The terror will be unimaginable and yet, the faithless are STILL blaming and blaspheming the Lord.
Our God is shielding us today (believers and non-believers alike) from the largely unseen darkest evils of this life. Many of you are suffering today, I know that. Most of us do or will, And at some point, all of us will. But we should still continue to thank the Lord daily for His protections over us all. You know, the Apocalypse could already be here right now. It is only His hand that holds it back. Sometimes we speak of “all Hell breaking loose” in some situation. But we REALLY don’t know what that means, what will mean in the end.
In light of this, we should NEVER speak ill of the Lord because some glimpse of evils has gotten through and affected our lives today. Now don’t get me wrong, suffering is very real today. And, by the way, it is OK to ask “Why” when you must go through it. Jesus did on Mt. Calvary. He wept. He asked “Why,” but he never stopped loving and trusting His Father. He knew where evil comes from. And it isn’t from God!
Thank you for listening and your patience with me tonight. I’ll close with this thought about a good thing that can come from evil and hard times today. Not that I would ever wish them on myself or any of you. Far from it. I wish you all nothing but the very best! But when they come trials often will bring out, for better or worse, a person’s true colors. Let’s agree, as believers right now, to follow Christ’s example ALL THE WAY through the circumstances of this life, good or bad. Let’s pray, right now, for His strength, help, and grace.