In Revelation Chapters 14 and 15 we have been told that the time has come for the wrath of God and the judgment of God to be poured out upon the earth. In Bible prophecy we find ourselves near the end of the Great Tribulation. In the last part of Revelation Chapter 15 we are given an interesting description that in reality tells us the reason that the wrath of God must be poured out upon the earth. The Bible says in Rev. 15:5-8, "And after that I looked, and behold the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony was opened; And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled."
Seven angels came out of the temple with seven vials full of the wrath of God. A couple of things that are mentioned in these verses help us understand why the wrath of God has to be poured out. Of course, we are talking about the wrath of God against the unsaved: the wrath of God against those who refuse His salvation. Revelation 15:5 mentions the temple thatís in heaven. We know about the temple that is described for us in the Old Testament. Evidently, there is also a temple in heaven. No doubt there are important similarities between the tabernacle and the temple that were built on the earth and the one that exists in heaven. One of the most significant characteristics of the tabernacle and the temple was the existence of an inner chamber called the holiest of the holies. It represented the presence of God. Only the high priest could enter this holy place, and he could only enter if sacrifices for sin were made.
God is holy. Man is sinful. When the seven angels came out of the temple, the Bible says that "they were clothed in pure and white linen." Unless you become clothed in the righteousness that only God can give, you are in a horrible condition. You are still in your sins. Human beings should not sin. Human beings should do the right thing: always. There is no excuse. Itís not okay to sin just because you are human. You should be honest and truthful and pure and good in everything that you say and do. God is not obligated to forgive sinful man. God will be just and true whenever He decides that itís time for judgment. God does not forgive us for nothing. He can only forgive us because there is a substitute who suffered in our place and who paid the righteous demands of the law so that we would not have to pay it. Itís amazing and wonderful that God thought of a plan whereby sinful human beings could be forgiven and allowed into heaven even though they deserve punishment. But once human beings have thoroughly and completely and finally rejected salvation through Jesus Christ, what is left for them but the just wrath of God? The wrath of God is described here as seven vials that will be poured out upon the earth.
Rev. 16:1-2 says, "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." God is wonderfully merciful and patient. He sent His own Son to suffer the cruel death of the cross so that we could have the opportunity to be saved from our sins. God is so very patient that he gives people chance after chance and opportunity after opportunity to repent of their sins. God gives some nations hundreds of years to repent, until finally His justice can wait no longer and His judgment falls upon them. The cycle has repeated itself over and over again in the history of the human race. Man sins, God gives opportunities to repent and find salvation; but when man does not repent judgment must finally fall from a holy God. The last of these judgments will be the most terrible of all.
The first of the seven vials is a grievous sore that falls upon all the unsaved inhabitants of the earth. Perhaps this will be some kind of excruciatingly painful boil that will break out upon the skin of people. One of the great sorrows that can sometimes happen to people is the loss of good health. In this case millions and millions of people will suffer the same agonizing torment. And then something else will happen. Rev. 16:3 says, "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." Three fourths of the earth is covered by ocean. Large quantities of food are harvested from the ocean every year. This second vial of the wrath of God results in some kind of poisoning of the oceans so that all creatures in the oceans die.
Human life cannot be sustained without pure, clean water. Itís always been a great calamity in any community if the water supply is damaged or ruined, and when the third vial of the wrath of God is poured out, the water supply of the entire world becomes polluted. Rev. 16:4-7 says, "And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, who are and was and shall be, because you have judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink, for they are worthy. And I heard another angel out of the altar say, Even so Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments." This is the reason that you should not take vengeance on those who mistreat you. "Vengeance is mine saith the Lord, I will repay." No one gets away with anything because there is a God who judges the earth. Believers in God have been tortured and killed in every century. Unbelievers have resisted God, they have shed the blood of Godís servants, and therefore, one day they will drink blood as a just payment for their evil deeds. They have desired blood, and therefore God will give them blood instead of water. And then God will give them another vial full of His wrath.
Rev. 16:8-9 says, "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, who has power over these plagues; and they repented not to give Him glory." In order to support life there is a very delicate balance to nature. Of the planets that we know about, none can support life because of the harsh conditions with the exception of planet earth. By the grace of God just the right balance of wind, rain, heat and cold makes life possible. Too much sun and you will suffer from it. The day will come when God will use the sun to chastise the wicked people of the earth. Even though these judgments are deserved by the wicked people of the earth, God is still hoping that human beings will wake up and understand that the reason for the judgments is their rebellion against God. But instead of repenting Rev. 16:9 tells us that the people of the earth do not learn and that they blaspheme "the name of God."
Rev. 16:10-11 says, "And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds." God is in control of the world. There is a contest going on between good and evil, but in the end God will manifest Himself as the winner. The time will come when God will decide to bring to light the truth and to put down all falsehood. Those who align themselves with the works of darkness do so to their own destruction. We are told that the kingdom of the antichrist is "full of darkness," and the real reason that people come under the wrath of God is again given in Rev. 16:11 when it says that they "repented not of their deeds." This is the second time in just a few verses that we are told that the people "repented not." To repent means to change your mind about the attitude that you have had in regards to your own sinful actions. If you repent and ask God to forgive you, then you can escape the judgment; but if not you will surely fall under the wrath of God. Jesus said, "Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish."
The Bible says in Rev. 16:12-16, "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. 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. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and that keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." In the five vials that came before this one there was some kind of pestilence that resulted in sufferings for the wicked people of the earth. This vial is a little different. It dries up the river Euphrates, but the significance of it is not so much the loss of water for the people of the Middle East who rely upon the river. But because the river is dried up, it makes it much easier for a large army to cross over and then to enter into Palestine.
Evidently this army is one of the armies of the antichrist. We know that many of the events of the Great Tribulation will take place in the Holy Land, and the last of the great battles will take place there also. This army comes to fight against the people of Israel and against the Lord. The final result of this battle is made very clear to us. We were already told that the blood will flow up to the horses bridles, and now we are being told whose blood it is: that of the army of the east that comes from the other side of the River Euphrates. We are given another clue about this great battle when Rev. 16:15 says, "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches." This is always the language that the Bible uses when it refers to the return of Christ. There will be a wicked army of millions on one side, and there will be Jesus the King of kings on the other. The victory over the wicked ones will be quick and complete, and all Israel will be saved, and the army from the east will die there in the valley of Armageddon.
Notice in Rev. 16:13 the three who are mentioned: the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. The dragon is the devil. The beast is the antichrist, and the false prophet is the spokesman for the antichrist in the final one-world government that will oppose God and will oppose the truth. What is mentioned about the devil, the antichrist, and the false prophet is their mouth. Of all the evil that they will do, the worst will be the things that they say, because they will lie and deceive. Lies are the most damaging of all words. Jesus said that the devil was a liar. The lies of the devil are being broadcast in the world today. Many lives have been destroyed because people accepted philosophies and ideas that were not true. But in the end-time, the time of the Great Tribulation, lies will be believed by the masses of people in a way that has never before happened. Jesus spoke about false Christs and false prophets that would come in the last days, and he said in Mat. 24:24, "For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." Itís no wonder that the unsaved are so easily deceived even in our day and age, and it magnifies the importance of another statement made by Jesus, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free."
In Rev. 16:17-21 the Bible says, "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 her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great." In these verses is mentioned the city of Babylon. Remember that this is the time of Godís judgment upon the earth. If God is going to do a thorough judgment of the earth, then He must also judge what is here called the city of Babylon because the sins of this city are so great. Itís probably the city of Rome that is being spoken about, and much more detail will be given about the destruction of this city in Revelation Chapter 17.
But before we look at the destruction of the city that is called Babylon, we must look at a couple more things mentioned here in the last part of Revelation Chapter 16. When the seventh vial is poured out, the suffering of humans on the earth will be increased because of a great earthquake. It will be the greatest earthquake that the world has ever known, and obviously the destruction will be tremendous. Then there will be large hail the size of a talent. A talent is an ancient measurement that was probably close to a hundred pounds. The response made by most humans when these sorrows befall them is given in Rev. 16:21 that says, "and men blasphemed God." Obviously, God is giving mankind one last chance to turn to Him. One reason for the judgments that fall against the earth is to wake men up to the greatness of their sins that would have brought on such judgments from a holy God. But instead of a spiritual awakening and instead of sorrow and repentance concerning their sins, we find that people blaspheme God. To blaspheme means to speak against. We have already heard that the devil and the antichrist and the false prophet will sin with their mouths, and now we hear that human beings will sin because they will blaspheme God.
The words that you say to God and about Him can result in your destruction or they can result in your salvation. If you say the right words to the Lord Jesus Christ with the right attitude, then you can escape the wrath of God. Rom. 10:13 says, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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