The Book of REVELATION
James J. Barker
THE FIFTH AND SIXTH VIALS
- We saw last
week that in Revelation chapter 16, the seven angels will pour out
their vials in rapid succession.
- Our Lord said in His Olivet Discourse,
"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).
- Daniel 12:1 says, "And there shall be a time of
trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time."
- Both our Lord's Olivet Discourse and Daniel's prophecies
teach that, though it will be a world-wide tribulation, Israel will be the focal
- It will be a terrible time of judgment, the most
intensive period of tribulation the world has ever seen. Several of the Old
Testament prophets called it "The Great and Terrible day of the
- Last week we
looked at the first vial, which will only affect those who receive the mark of
the beast (16:2). Apparently this
will be the majority of the world's population.
- Recently I read
an article about a School District in Texas that plans to track students using
technology implanted in their student identification cards in a trial that could
eventually include all 112 of its schools and all of its nearly 100,000
- School District
officials said the Radio Frequency Identification System (RFID) tags would
improve safety by allowing them to locate students — and count them more
accurately at the beginning of the school day to help offset cuts in state
funding, which is partly based on attendance.
- So the
technology for the mark of the beast is here, and there are many government
officials eager to use it. During
the tribulation period, the antichrist will demand that everyone submit to his
- The second vial will be poured out upon the sea, and the
sea will become "as the blood of a dead man" (16:3).
- The third vial will be poured out upon the rivers and
fountains of waters, and they also will become blood
- The fourth vial will be poured out upon the sun, and
sinners will be badly scorched, but they will still refuse to repent (16:8,
- Tonight, we will look at the fifth and sixth vial, as
well as a parenthetical section between the sixth and seventh vial.
THE FIFTH VIAL
- The fifth vial
will be poured out upon the seat of the beast, and we are told that his
kingdom will be "full of darkness," and his subjects will gnaw their tongues for
- By comparing
these different prophecies, we see that the beast here is the first beast of
Revelation 13, also known as "the antichrist."
- We have noted
the similarity between "the seven last plagues" (15:1), that is, the seven vial
judgments, and the plagues God afflicted upon Egypt.
- As in the ninth
plague of Egypt (Exodus 10:21-23), there will be darkness over the earth, but
this is only part of the divine judgment.
- As in both
trumpet and vial judgments, there is also severe pain and torment. The wicked in
their suffering will gnaw their tongues for pain, a description of severe
- The sores
inflicted in the first vial will be aggravated by the great scorching heat of
the fourth vial (16:2, 8, 9).
- But rather than
humbling themselves and repenting of their sin, they will blaspheme God and they
will continue in their defiance of God (16:9-11; cf.
THE SIXTH VIAL
- The sixth vial
will be poured out upon the great Euphrates River (16:12). As the result of this
judgment, the water of the river will be dried up, "that the way of the kings of
the East might be prepared."
are 21 references to the Euphrates River in Scripture. It is one of
the most prominent rivers of the world.
- In Genesis
15:18, Deuteronomy 1:7, and Joshua 1:4, it is called “the great river Euphrates”
and it is called that here also.
- In Genesis 2:10 we are told that a
river went out of the Garden of Eden to water the garden; "and from thence it
was parted, and became into four heads."
- One of those four rivers is the
great Euphrates River (Genesis 2:14).
- The Euphrates River is 1,780 miles
long and is a natural boundary between the Middle East and the Far
East. It formed the eastern boundary of the ancient Roman
Empire, as well as the eastern boundary of the promised land (Gen. 15:18; Deut.
1:7; 11:24; Joshua 1:4).
- The battle of Armageddon will take
place in Israel; therefore a way will be prepared for the huge Chinese army to
cross over and invade Israel (16:12).
- This prophecy should be compared
with Revelation 9:16, which describes 200 million horsemen crossing the Euphrates River; and
Daniel 11:44, which refers to "tidings out of the east" troubling the antichrist.
- The seven vials
will follow very rapidly after the trumpets, and the time sequence here may be a
matter of days rather than months or years.
THE UNHOLY TRINITY
- Verses 13-16, introduced by
the phrase “and I saw,” are parenthetical,
and are related to the sixth vial.
- In his vision
John saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon
and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet (the
- The unclean
spirits are specified in verse 14 as the spirits of devils, which work miracles
- These devils
are commissioned to gather the kings of the earth to “the battle of that great
day of God Almighty” (16:14).
- There are
several ways to understand this important prophecy. It predicts a conflict among the nations
in the latter portion of the great tribulation as the one-world government so
hastily put together by worldly men begins to
- John Walvoord
says, "The armies of the world contending for honors on the battlefield at the
very time of the second coming of Christ do all turn, however, and combine their
efforts against Christ and His army from heaven when the glory of the second
coming appears in the heavens. It will be the final challenge to divine
sovereignty and power as the military might of the world of that day will be
engaged in fighting on the very day that Christ returns (cf. Zech. 14:1-3). It
is significant that the battle itself bears the name of 'that great day of God
Almighty.' In the battle the omnipotence of God will be fully demonstrated"
(The Revelation of Jesus Christ).
- This prophecy
describes a gathering of armies coming to Armageddon in anticipation of the
second coming of Christ.
- In Zechariah
14:2, the LORD says, "For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to
battle." (Cf. Revelation 16:16 -- "And He gathered them
Lord's appearance will take the world by surprise (Rev. 16:15).
The expression, “Behold, I come as a thief” is used in
Scripture to describe a sudden,
unexpected coming which will result in judgment or loss on the part of the
person overtaken (cf. 3:3).
- In Matthew 24:43 and Luke 12:39 the second coming of
Christ is compared to the coming of a thief who will overtake those who do not
- In II Peter 3:10 and in I Thessalonians 5:2 and 4, the
day of the Lord is said to come as a thief in the night. "The unifying factor in
all these passages is that the coming in view results in loss for those who are
not ready" (John Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus
- There is a contrast between those who are overtaken by
the Lord at the second coming, and those who are prepared and are watching for
His return -- “Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he
walk naked, and they see his shame” (16:15).
- The picture of keeping one's garments probably
symbolizes the righteousness of the saints (cf. 19:8).
- In our Lord's parable of the marriage feast in Matthew
22, the man who was not wearing a wedding garment was cast into outer darkness; where "there shall be weeping
and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 22:1-14).
- “Armageddon" (16:16) is the most famous word in Bible
prophecy. The word "Armageddon" comes from the Hebrew Har-Megiddo which means
"Hill of Megiddo." Megiddo is the Hebrew word corresponding to the Greek word
- Megiddo is in the large fertile valley or plain of
Esdraelon in northern Israel. The valley of Esdraelon is fourteen miles
wide and twenty miles long, and it is an ideal place for large armies to gather for
- This area was the scene of many of the great battles of
the Old Testament such as that of Barak and the Canaanites in Judges 4, and the
victory of Gideon over the Midianites in Judges 7. Here also occurred the deaths
of King Saul and King Josiah.
- Bible prophecy indicates that this area will be the
central point for the series of military conflicts which will take
place during the tribulation period.
- According to
Revelation 14:20, the armies will be spread out over a 200-mile area up and down
from this central location. According to Zechariah 14:1-3, some of the fighting
will take place in the city of Jerusalem.
- Back in 1983,
President Ronald Reagan said to Tom Dine, the Executive Director of the American
Israel Public Affairs Committee, "I
turn back to your ancient prophets in the Old Testament and the signs
foretelling Armageddon, and I find myself wondering if we're the generation
that's going to see that come about. I don't know if you've noted any of those
prophecies lately, but believe me, they certainly describe the times we're going
- President Reagan did not live long enough to be part of
that generation, but we might!
believe we will be raptured before the battle of Armageddon begins, but we could
live long enough to see its shadow.