James J. Barker

Lesson 27

Text: REVELATION 16:1-9


  1. In Revelation 15:1, John saw a sign in heaven, "great and marvellous." He saw "seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God."
  2. And now here in Revelation chapter 16, we see that these seven angels to whom were given the seven plagues are commanded to "pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth" (16:1).
  3. The "great voice" John heard was undoubtedly the voice of God which is described as coming out of the temple in heaven (16:1; cf. 15:6; 11:19).
  4. The word "great" is found eleven times in this chapter:
  • "a great voice out of the temple" (16:1, 17)
  • "great heat" (16:9)
  • "the great river Euphrates" (16:12)
  • "that great day of God Almighty" (16:14)
  • "a great earthquake... so mighty an earthquake, and so great" (16:18)
  • "the great city...great Babylon" (16:19)
  • "a great hail out of heaven...exceeding great" (16:21)
  1. The seven vials have often been compared to the seven seals and to the seven trumpets. However, there are several important differences.
  2. The vial judgments are subsequent to the trumpet judgments, and constitute the seventh trumpet, just as the seven trumpets constitute the seventh seal.
  3. John Walvoord says, "The judgments described in the trumpet pronouncements and the vial pronouncements fall in rapid succession like trip-hammer blows, and they all will be consummated within a short period of time toward the close of the great tribulation. The vial judgments, the climax of God’s divine dealings with a blasphemous earth, lead up to the second coming of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).



  1. Revelation 16:5 says, "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."
  2. Revelation 16:7 says, "And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments."
  3. With the pouring out of the first vial, a terrible judgment will fall upon those who have taken the mark of the beast (16:2).
  4. In verse 2, the judgment is described as "a noisome and grievous sore" (an evil or malignant ulcer).
  5. This judgment will be in the form of a painful physical affliction of unusual severity, and it will bring widespread suffering.
  6. Some Bible teachers have compared this "noisome and grievous sore" to the boils inflicted on the Egyptians in Exodus 9:9-11.
  7. The only people who will escape this horrible judgment will be those who have refused to take the mark of the beast (16:2).
  8. Revelation 13:8 seems to indicate that only a small fraction of the earth’s population will refuse to worship the beast.  Therefore, many, many people will suffer this terrible affliction (16:2).
  9. Revelation 14:9-11 warns that those who take the mark of the beast will suffer for all eternity in the lake of fire.  Here in Revelation 16:2, we have a different warning. Those who submit to the antichrist will also suffer here on earth.   This is the first vial.
  10. When the second vial is poured out upon the sea, the sea will become as blood, and every living soul in the sea will die (16:3).
  11. This is similar to the first of the ten plagues in Egypt (Exodus 7:20-25) which killed all the fish in the Nile River and made the water unfit to drink.
  12. This is also very similar to the second trumpet in Revelation 8:8, when one-third of the sea will be turned to blood, and one-third of the creatures of the sea will die.
  13. The third vial judgment extends the turning of water into blood to rivers and fountains (16:4). At this point John hears from an angel described as “the angel of the waters,” and this angel declares that God is justified in sending this terrible judgment (16:5).
  14. "The angel of the waters” is apparently a holy angel who has some jurisdiction over water. Walvoord says, "There is a remarkable variety of ministries assigned to angels as recorded in Revelation" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
  15. Angels are mentioned 76 times in the book of Revelation.
  16. This "angel of the waters” declares that because men have shed the blood of saints and prophets, God is righteous in judging them and giving them blood to drink (16:6).
  17. The wicked beast-worshipers, who will persecute God's people, will deserve this divine chastening and judgment.
  18. The Old Testament prophets referred to this as "the great and the terrible day of the LORD" (cf. Joel 2:31).
  19. If we take Bible prophecy literally (as we should), we read that the bloodletting during the great tribulation will be far worse than World War I and World War II and Vietnam and all of the other wars put together.
  20. It will be without parallel in the history of the human race. Our Lord Himself said the trouble without precedent.  He said in Matthew 24:21, "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
  21. Daniel 12:1 says, "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."
  22. In this very important prophecy, Daniel said, "There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time."  This would include the Nazi holocaust, when millions of innocent people were killed by the Germans and their allies.
  23. As bad as the Nazis were, it has been estimated that the communists have killed far more people than the Nazis.
  • 65 million in the People’s Republic of China
  • 20 million in the Soviet Union
  • 2 million in Cambodia
  • 2 million in North Korea
  • 1.7 million in Africa
  • 1.5 million in Afghanistan
  • 1 million in the Communist states of Eastern Europe
  • 1 million in Vietnam
  1. When we consider the more than 100 million people who were slaughtered by the Nazis and the Communists, we should tremble when we read our Lord's words: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21).
  2. Hundreds of millions will be killed during the tribulation.  For example, Zechariah 13:8 and 9 says that during the tribulation, two-thirds of the people of Israel will be cut off and die.
  3. In verse 7, John hears the voice of yet another angel, declaring that God, who is almighty, true, and righteous, manifests these divine attributes in His judgments upon the wicked.



  1. When the fourth vial is poured out upon the sun, it will increase the sun’s intensity with the result that men will be scorched with fire (16:8).
  2. This divine judgment will be inflicted upon the entire earth, but yet it will not bring men to repentance.
  3. In fact, it will only increase their blasphemy and their defiance. They will recognize that the judgments are from the God whom they have rejected, and this will increase their hatred of God (16:9, 11, 21).
  4. John Walvoord says, "The wishful thinking of some that men would repent if they only knew the power and righteous judgment of God is shattered by frequent mention in this chapter of the hardness of the human heart in the face of the most stringent and evident divine discipline (cf. vss. 11, 21)" (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
  5. We saw this back in Revelation 9:20, 21 (the sixth trumpet judgment), and we see it again here in Revelation 16:8-11, 21 (the fourth, fifth, and seventh vial judgments).
  6. You will remember that the rich man in hell said to Abraham, "I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment." (Luke 16:27, 28).
  7. "Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them" (Luke 16:29).
  8. In other words, they have the Word of God, and that will show them the way to avoid the wrath of God.
  9. But the rich man said to Abraham, "Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent" (Luke 16:30).
  10. To this, Abraham said, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:31).
  11. God allowed the Muslim terrorists to attack us on September 11, 2001, but America did not repent.
  12. What could be next?  We need to pray that America will repent and turn back to God!



  1. Revelation 15:1 says, "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God."
  2. Revelation 15:7 says, "And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God."
  3. Revelation 16:1 says, "Pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth."
  4. Revelation 16:19 refers to "the fierceness of his wrath."
  5. As a preacher, I feel I cannot find the words to describe this terrible judgment.  But the Bible is clear enough!
  6. We should apply these prophecies to our day, and remember that they could be fulfilled at any time.
  7. In the meantime, John 3:36 says, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."



  1. The Bible teaches the principle of divine retribution.  Galatians 6:7 and 8 says, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
  2. This doctrine of divine retribution is emphasized in the book of Revelation (cf. 16:5, 6; 18:6).
  3. The other day I read that the rock singer Robin Gibb (Bee Gees) died at the age of 62.
  4. Robin's twin brother, Maurice, died in 2003, and his younger brother Andy Gibb died in 1988.
  5. Before he died, Robin Gibb said he thinks he and his brothers all died young because of "bad karma."   Karma is the Hindu version of divine retribution.
  6. Mr. Gibb said, "I sometimes wonder if the tragedies my family has suffered are a karmic price for all the fame and fortune the Bee Gees have had."
  7. Fame and fortune are not necessarily bad, if a person gives glory to God.  For example, the football player Tim Tebow is presently enjoying fame and fortune, but he is careful to put God first in his life.
  8. But what about Robin Gibb?   Did he live for God or did he live for self?
  9. Mr. and Mrs. Gibb had what is referred to as "an open relationship."  This means they both were involved in adulterous relationships. Mrs. Gibb told a news reporter, "We have an open relationship. Robin has had flings in the past with friends of mine and he talks about them."
  10. One of Mr. Gibb's so-called "flings" was with their live-in housekeeper, who gave birth three years ago to Gibb's child.
  11. Gibb's wife Dwina is a bisexual and a former Druid (demon-worshipper) priestess.  I could say much more about the wicked lives of Mr. and Mrs. Gibb, but it is too disgusting, and you get the idea.
  12. It is not "bad karma" that brought disease and death to the Gibb family, but sin.
  13. We as Christians do not need to know all the details about the filthy and wicked lives of rock singers and Hollywood movie stars.  Romans 16:19 says we should be "wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil."
  14. However, we should be aware that the wickedness of Hollywood and the rock music industry is destroying the moral fabric of our nation.
  15. The Bible says, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Gal. 6:7; cf. Rev. 16:1).

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