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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 16 - Verse 1

 

CHAPTER XVI

ANALYSIS OF THE CHAPTER

THE previous chapter had described the preparation for the last plagues that were to come upon that mighty Antichristian power to which this series of prophetic visions refers. All is now ready; and this chapter contains the description of those seven last "plagues" under which this power would reel and fall. These" plagues" are described as if they were a succession of physical calamities that would come upon this Antichristian power, and bring it to an end; though, perhaps, it is not necessary to look for a literal infliction of such calamities. The course of the exposition thus far will lead us to regard this chapter as a description of the successive blows by which the Papacy will fall. A part of this is still undoubtedly future, though perhaps not far distant; and, in reference to this, and to some portions of the remainder of the book, there may be more difficulty in satisfying the mind than in the portions Which pertain to past events. The chapter comprises statements on the following points:—

A command is issued from the temple to the seven angels, to go and execute the commission with which they were entrusted, Re 16:1.

The first angel pours out his vial upon the earth—followed by a plague upon those who had worshipped the beast and his image, Re 16:2.

The second angel pours out his vial upon the sea followed by the death of all that were in the sea, Re 16:3.

The third angel pours out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters, and they become blood. This is followed by an ascription of praise from the angel of the waters, because God had given to those who had shed the blood of the saints blood to drink, with a response from the altar that this was just, Re 16:4-7.

The fourth angel pours out his vial upon the sun, and an intenser heat is given to it to scorch men. The consequence is, that they blaspheme the name of God, but repent not of their sins, Re 16:8,9.

The fifth angel pours out his vial upon the very seat of the beast, and his kingdom is full of darkness. Men still blaspheme the name of God, and repent not of their sins, Re 16:10,11.

The sixth angel pours out his vial upon the great river Euphrates. The consequence is, that the waters of the river are dried up, so that the way of the kings of the East might be prepared. The writer sees also, in this connexion, 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, that go forth into all the earth to gather all nations to the great day of the battle of God Almighty, Re 16:12-16.

The seventh angel pours out his vial into the air, and a voice is heard answering that "it is done:" the time of the consummation has come—the formidable Antichristian power is to come to an end. The great city is divided into three parts; the cities of the nations fall; great Babylon thus comes up in remembrance before God to receive the punishment which is her due. This terrific scene is accompanied with voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake, and with great hail—a tempest of wrath beating upon that formidable power that had so long stood up against God, Re 16:17-21. The detail of the actual destruction of this power is carried forward in the subsequent chapters.

Verse 1. And I heard a great voice out of the temple. A loud voice out of the temple as seen in heaven, (Barnes on "Re 11:19,) and that came, therefore, from the very presence of God.

Saying to the seven angels. That had the seven vials of wrath. Barnes on "Re 15:1,7".

 

Go your ways. Your respective ways, to the fulfilment of the task assigned to each.

And pour out the vials of the wrath of God. Empty those vials; cause to come upon the earth the plagues indicated by their contents. The order in which this was to be done is not intimated. It seems to be supposed that that would be understood by each.

Upon the earth. The particular part of the earth is not here specified, but it should not be inferred that it was to be upon the earth in general, or that there were any calamities in consequence of this pouring out of the vials of wrath, to spread over the whole world. The subsequent statements show what parts of the earth were particularly to be affected.

{a} "angels" Re 15:1,7

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