REVELATION 16

REVELATION 16

Introduction
We come now to the climax of God’s judgements upon the earth during the Great Tribulation, the second half of the seven-year period that remains of the 490 years spoken of in Daniel’s vision as detailed in Daniel 9.
We are taught in Revelation 6 that as the Lamb opens the first four seals, certain things take place which cause great distress and trouble on the earth.  A comparison with the prophecy the Lord Himself gave in Matthew 24 will show that these four seal-judgements take place during the first half of the last seven years of God’s judgements.  After He had spoken of these things in Matthew 24:1-14, He then gave a warning about the setting up of the abomination of desolation, (an image of antichrist), and this marks the half-way point of the period.
It is noteworthy that these judgements could all be nullified by the action of the beast, if he chose to.  He could stop the killing, prevent the consequent famine, and deal with the wild beasts that will roam the earth.  If he does do this, we may well envisage that he will present himself as the saviour of men, able to deliver them from the sufferings they are enduring.  It was one of the principles of gnosticism, (which is pantheism, the religion of the antichrist), that the God of the Bible was in fact evil, and that Lucifer is good.  Thus they come under the curse uttered by Isaiah when he said, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”  Having cut themselves off from the absolutes in God’s word, they have no moral compass, and reverse all that is normal.
The severe judgements brought in by the trumpets and the vials he cannot prevent, however, and God is showing His almighty power as He strikes at the empire of the beast and his adherents in a way that shows it is without a doubt God who is doing it.

Revelation 16 consists of interventions and judgements, as follows:

(a)    Intervention        Verse 1   
A voice summons the angels with the vials.

(b)    Judgements        Verses 2-4   
The first three angels.

(c)    Intervention        Verses 3-4   
The angel of the waters.

(d)    Intervention        Verse 7   
A voice out of the altar.

(e)    Judgements        Verses 8-14   
The next three angels.

(f)    Intervention        Verse 15   
Christ Himself speaks of His coming.

(g)    Judgements        Verses 16-21   
The preparation for the battle of Armageddon, the seventh angel, the Babylon comes into remembrance.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 16, VERSES 1 TO 14:

16:1  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.

16:2  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.

16:3  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.

16:4  And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

16:5  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.

16:6  For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

16:7  And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.

16:8  And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.

16:9  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.

16:10  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,

16:11  And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

16:12  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.

16:13  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.

16:14  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.

(a)    Intervention      Verse 1    A voice summons the angels with the vials

16:1  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 I heard a great voice out of the temple- in 15:5 the temple had been opened, and the seven angels had come out of the temple.  This shows that the judgements of God are holy judgements, for they proceed from the place of His holiness.  Judgement is God’s strange work, and when He judges He does so because His holiness demands it, and not out of spite.  He must assert His rights when men sin against Him, or else He would not be God, the Moral Governor of the universe.
Saying to the seven angels, go your ways- it seems that all seven angels are sent forth at once, each moving out in the way he has been directed.  The Lord Jesus likened the sufferings of the end times to the pains of a woman with child, Matthew 24:8, where “sorrows” has the idea of birth-pains.  See also 1 Thessalonians 5:3.  It is a characteristic of these pains that they increase in severity as the time to bring forth draws near, but they also come closer and closer together.  So it shall be with God’s judgements, and we have in chapter 16 the infliction of God’s wrath in a short space of time.
And pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth- these vials are bowls that are normally used for carrying incense, as 5:8 would indicate.  Now, however, instead of sweet fragrance ascending to God, the stench of earth’s sin comes into remembrance.  It is as if the worship of God must be suspended until the sins of men are dealt with. 
By the wrath of God is meant the expression of that wrath in specific terms at this particular time upon the earth.  The wrath of God will burn for ever against those who worship the beast, as is clear from 14:9-11, which reads, “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name'”. 
By contrast, the particular judgements inflicted by the angels in chapter 16, are temporal punishments, to see if even at this late stage men will repent.  Sadly, the refrain in the chapter is, “they repented not…and repented not”, verses 9 and 11.  Those who do not repent shall know God’s eternal wrath.  How glad believers should be that “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.  Wherefore, comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do”, 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11.

(b)    Judgements        Verses 2-4    The first three angels

16:2  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.

And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth- earth in this context means the place where men dwell, as opposed to heaven where God dwells.  God is going to intervene in the affairs of “them that dwell upon the earth”, who have no interest in heaven. 
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- in Exodus 9:11 God inflicted blains upon the magicians of Egypt, thus preventing them from functioning as agents of the Devil.  So it is here, for these judgements are targetted, and are directed specifically towards those who are worshipping the beast.  Even yet they may come to their senses, like king Manasseh, who set up an idol in the temple, but who, after God allowed him to be taken into captivity by the king of Assyria, humbled himself, and God reinstated him to the throne, 2 Chronicles 33:7-20.  Sadly, as we shall see from verses 9 and 11, these repent not.

16:3  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 second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man- the water of the oceans becomes a heaving mass of semi-solid congealed blood.  Is this a potent and universal reminder of the fact that the world was not satisfied until God’s Son was a dead man upon the cross?  God raised Him from the dead, but men do not believe that. 
And every living soul died in the sea- even under the judgement of the flood the sea-life survived, no doubt, (see Genesis 7:21-23, with its mention of “earth…earth…dry land…face of the ground…earth”), but here it is different, for all living souls in the sea die.  Perhaps men have turned to the harvest of the sea, since the earth has been devastated by Divine judgements, but now this source of food is destroyed also.

16:4  And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters- with their de-salination plants rendered useless because the sea is as blood, men find that their only source of drinking water is now turned to blood.  Moses turned the Nile waters to blood, and now this happens on a world-wide scale.
And they became blood- men had rejected the Man who turned water into wine, and now they reap the consequences of their stubbornness.

(c)    Intervention        Verses 3-4    The angel of the waters

16:5  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.

And I heard the angel of the waters say- it seems as if different angels are allotted different aspects of life on earth to superintend and protect.  Since the waters of the sea, and the fountains and rivers have been affected by God’s judgements, the angel of those waters is allowed to give the explanation.
Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because Thou hast judged thus- the covenant-keeping God, who pledged to maintain His side of the Noachian Covenant of Genesis 9:9-17, is acting righteously when He moves to “destroy them which destroy the earth”, Revelation 11:18.  The waters of the earth have a profound affect on the balance of the atmosphere, so this is a severe judgement on men.  He is faithful to the terms of His covenant with the earth, and whether in the present, the past, or the future, He can be relied upon to be true to His word.  So why are the waters so affected, The reason is found in the next verse.

16:6  For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets- those who worship the beast will be hostile to the believers on earth at this time, and will kill them.  The saints refers to the main body of believers, the prophets refer to the two witnesses who were slain in the middle of the week, 11:7-11.
And thou hast given them blood to drink- they had acted in a blood-thirsty way, so the punishment fits the crime.  They were thirsty for the blood of the saints, not resting until those saints were dead, so they must slake their thirst with the blood of a dead man in recompence.
For they are worthy- the word translated worthy was originally used of the fulcrum of a balance, so that a worthy thing was one that balanced what was already on the pan on the other side of the scales.  What was on one side of the scales in this case was the death of God’s saints.  To make the scales balance those who murdered them must suffer.

(d)    Intervention    Verse 7    A voice out of the altar

16:7  And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Thy judgements.

And I heard another out of the altar say- just as there were voices from the altar calling for vengeance on those who had martyred them, in 6:9-11, so here.  One speaks for all the martyrs here, for those of chapter 6 were told that other believers would be killed.  And so it has come to pass.
Even so, Lord God Almighty- in chapter 6 it was their prayer, and now with the words “even so”, they add their Amen to the prayer, for it has been answered.  On this title for God see on 15:3.
True and righteous are Thy judgements- these martyrs had in all probability been falsely accused, and then unrighteously slain. Now God has intervened, and His judgement or assessment of the situation is the very opposite.  His assessment is true, because it corresponds to the reality of the situation.  The character of the martyred saints and prophets of verse 6 was known infallibly by God, in contrast to the false notions of those who had accused and executed them.  His assessment is also righteous, because God is Himself righteous, and judges in accordance with His own nature.  These saints are content that this is so, and their trust is in Him.

16:8  And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.

And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun- these judgements are striking at the very heart of man’s life upon the earth.  God is showing that He is in control of life on earth, and not man.  There is no way that man can affect the temperature of the sun, but in this judgement God does it dramatically. 
And power was given unto him to scorch men with fire- when John and his brother James wanted fire from heaven in just a limited way, the Lord Jesus rebuked them with the words, “the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them”, Luke 9:51-56.  But such grace and mercy was despised and rejected, so judgement must fall. 
Notice that while the judgement is in the hand of the angel, the authority to so act was given to him by another.  We should not lose sight of the fact that the seventh seal, which the Lamb opened back in 8:1, contains the whole of the rest of the judgements, including this one.  So the angel is acting under authority.  The one by whom all things consist, Colossians 1:17, is interrupting the normal functioning of the sun to suit His Divine purpose.

16:9  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.

And men were scorched with great heat- when the psalmist was showing that God’s works in creation declare His glory, he spoke of the sun, that “there is nothing hid from the heat thereof”, Psalm 19:6.  In the context this reminds us of the beneficial effects of the sun that God has given to the men of earth so that they may be warmed and enlightened.  It is fitting that this symbol of God’s impartial goodness, (for “He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good”, Matthew 5:45), should be turned into a means of judgement, when God’s grace and goodness in Christ have been rejected.  Just as the demon-locusts of chapter 9 gave men warning of what it would be like in the Lake of Fire, so this judgement warns them too.  Sadly, to no avail.
And blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give Him glory- even at this late stage, and even by means of judgements, God is giving opportunity to men to repent and give Him glory.  The angel with the everlasting gospel had called to men with a loud voice that they should “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgement is come”, 14:7.  Sadly, men are not willing to acknowledge God as Creator.  Nor do they recognise Him as Moral Governor, with rights over men, for they repented not.  Every way in which He had revealed Himself, (His name), they spurned, for they blasphemed His name.

16:10  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 the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast- God is now openly at war with this agent of the Dragon, the beast.
And his kingdom was full of darkness- the final conflict is approaching, and the head-quarters of his operations is plunged into crippling darkness.  It is fitting that darkness should be a judgement, for men must be in gross darkness if they choose the beast rather than Christ.  They are shown in literal terms what they have chosen in moral terms.  Darkness was one of the plagues inflicted on the land of Egypt, Exodus 10:21,22. 

And they gnawed their tongues for pain- the grievous sore under the first angel, verse 2, has now been made much more painful under the scorching heat of verse 9, and the treatment, if there is any, has been halted because of the darkness and lack of water.

16:11  And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores- despite the fact that their tongues were raw with pain, such was their hatred of God that they still managed to use them to blaspheme God.  The pains came from the scorching of the sun, the sores were inflicted under the first angel.
And repented not of their deeds- in verse 9 they repented not to give God glory.  In other words, they refused to change their minds about their attitude to God.  Here they refuse to change their minds about their attitude to sin. 

16:12  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.

And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates- this is the river that flows through Babylon, and which the Medes and Persians diverted on the night they overcame the city and slew Belshazzar, Daniel 5:30,31; see also Isaiah 44:25-45:3.  This, then, is the signal from God that Antichrist’s reign is about to be ended.
The river Euphrates features in the Book of Genesis, where it is one of the four divisions of the river that flowed out of Eden.  Of course the flood intervened, and the original river disappeared, but the present river was clearly named after that original river.  What a commentary on the history of man, that what began as associated with God, at the end becomes associated with the Devil.
And the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared- the river is a barrier to the swift movement of troops, but now that barrier is gone, and the scene is being set for the last great battle, involving all the kings of the earth.

16:13  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.

And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs- one of the plagues upon Egypt was that of frogs, which made their way into the houses of the Egyptians and occupied dry places like beds, where they would not normally go, being lovers of the water.  This plague is of far greater effect, however, for the frogs in this case are a manifestation of evil spirits.  The Egyptians worshipped the frog, for it was linked to the Nile, the source of life for the country. But behind the frog-idol was a demon.  God is now allowing the frog-demon to be exposed, and do its wicked work. Whether is was only John who saw the spirits like frogs, or whether men will be able to see this, we are not told.
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- it now becomes very clear that these three are in league with one another, for the voice of one is the voice of all three.  The beast already had power from the dragon to speak against God and His saints, 13:5,6; now he is given power to summon to the final battle against God.

16:14  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.

For they are the spirits of devils- the word “for” indicates that John expects his readers to be looking for an explanation of these strange sights.  “Spirits of devils” is a difficult expression, since devils are spirits, and have no body.  Sometimes in Scripture, however, the word spirit is used to denote “essential feature”.  For example, the apostle Paul writes about not receiving “the spirit of the world”, 1 Corinthians 2:12.  He does not mean Satan, the prince of this world, for no-one is suggesting that believers have received him.  The context of 1 Corinthians 1-3 is about the wisdom of this world, and Paul is insisting that those who made known New Testament doctrine, (the subject of 1 Corinthians 2), were not energised or informed by the prevailing opinions of the wise of this world.  He compresses that idea into the phrase “the spirit of the world”, the sum total of the notions and attitudes of the worldly-wise.

Other instances of the use of the word “spirit” in this way are as follows:
“And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias”, Luke 1:17.  The essential features found in Elijah would also be found in John the Baptist.
“”And in the synagogue there was a man, that had the spirit of an unclean devil”, Luke 4:33.  The man seems to have taken character from the unclean devil.
“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind”, Ephesians 4:23.  Let the mind of the believer concentrate on the essential features found in Christ.
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without spot to God”, Hebrews 9:14.  There are many who believe this to be a reference to the Holy Spirit of God, but the contrast seems to be with the carnal ordinances of verse 10. So the eternal spirit is the sum total of God’s purposes in regard to the death of Christ.  He complied with all of those purposes.
“for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”, Revelation 19:10.  Prophecy’s main characteristic is that it bears testimony to Jesus.

So the expression “spirits of devils”, could be thought of as meaning “the characteristic and essential features of devils”.  Satan is coming out into open rebellion against God, and is showing what he is like.  He is now allowed to marshal his forces for the final onslaught. 
Working miracles- the apostle Paul warned that the coming of Antichrist would be “after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders”, 2 Thessalonians 2:9.  We should not be surprised that Satan and his agents can work miracles, for he has tremendous power even though he is fallen.  The magicians of Egypt were able to work miracles to some extent, to seek to counteract the effect of those Moses and Aaron were able to perform.  Whereas the miracles of Christ and his apostles were performed to confirm the truth, the miracles of Satan are to promote error, for they are lying wonders.  The lie in this instance being that the armies of men can defeat the Christ of God. it will need miracles to nerve the men of war to fight against God.
Which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world- the expression “kings of the earth” contrasts them with the King of kings, who is about to emerge from heaven.  The phrase “and of the whole world” would refer to the same kings, but in relation to the nations of the world. 
To gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty- there are three expressions which are to be distinguished when considering prophetic matters. 
1.    There is “the Day of the Lord”, which in fact lasts more than 1000 years, since it includes the Millenial reign of Christ, involving as it does the dissolution of all things at the end of that reign, 2 Peter 3:10. 
2.    Then there is “the great and the terrible Day of the Lord”, Joel 2:31, (which Peter calls “the great and notable Day of the Lord”, Acts 2:20), which is a  day of twenty-four hours.
3.    Then there is the “Day of God”, the eternal day when righteousness dwells in a new heaven and a new earth, 2 Peter 3:12,13.
The great day of God Almighty is the second of these days, and is the day chosen for Christ to come to the earth to judge. 
David wrote, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us’.  He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.  Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure.  ‘Yet have I set my king upon My holy hill of Zion’.  ‘I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee.  Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession’.  ‘Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel’.  ‘Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.  Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little.  Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him'”.  Psalm 2.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CCHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION CHAPTER 16, VERSES 15 TO 21:

16:15  Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

16:16  And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

16:17  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.

16:18  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.

16:19  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.

16:20  And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

16:21  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.

(f)    Intervention      Verse 15    Christ Himself speaks of His coming

16:15  Behold, I come as a thief.  Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

Behold, I come as a thief- just as a thief comes upon men unawares, when they are least expecting him, so Christ will come to execute Divine wrath upon men. 
Blessed is he that watcheth- the disciples asked the Lord three questions in Matthew 24:3.  He answered the third, “what shall be the sign…of the end of the world?” in verses 4-14.  He answered the second, “What shall be the sign of Thy coming?” in verses 15-31.  He answered the first, “When shall these things be?” in 24:32-25:30. In that latter section, answering the question “When”, there are seven illustrations, showing the need to be watchful, as follows:

Chapter 24
1.    Verses 32-35      The parable of the fig-tree.
When Israel has re-emerged as a nation.

2.    Verses 36-42    The days of Noah.
When men are careless even though they have been warned.

3.    Verses 43-44    The goodman and the thief.
When He is least expected, and the believer is not watching.

4.    Verses 45-47    The faithful and wise servants.
When faithful servants are active.

5.    Verses 48-51    The evil servant.
When wicked servants think the coming is delayed.

Chapter 25
6.    Verses 1-13        The ten virgins.
When foolish professors realise they have no oil.

7.    Verses 14-30    Those given talents to trade with.
When ample opportunity has been given to trade.

There are seven blessings in the Book of Revelation. 
1.    In 1:3 there is a blessing for those who read the book, and hear and keep its sayings. 
2.    In 14:13 a blessing is pronounced on those of a future day who die in the Lord. 
3.    In 16:15 there is a blessing for the one who is watchful. 
4.    In 19:9 there is a blessing pronounced on those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. 
5.    In 20:6 those who have part in the first resurrection are blessed. 
6.    In 22:7 there is again a blessing for keeping the sayings of the book.
7.    In 22:14 a blessing for those who do His commandments.

And keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame- the Lord Jesus warned that “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold, Matthew 24:12.  There will be great pressure on those who believe in those days, and the temptation to compromise will be strong.  There is a blessing pronounced, however, on those who remain steadfast, and endure in faith to the end, (whether that end be the end of their life, or the end of the age).  The coming of Christ will be a great incentive to do this.  It would be a shameful thing to allow the enemies of Christ to strip away the garment of practical righteousness.

(g)    Judgements        Verses 16-21
The preparation for the battle of Armageddon, the seventh angel, the Babylon comes into remembrance.

16:16  And He gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

And He gathered them together- whilst it is the spirits of demons that gather the kings together, verse 14, behind it all God Almighty is working to fulfil His purpose.  They are constrained by God to summon earth’s kings for their own destruction.  After all, it is “the great day of God Almighty”, verse 14, when He will show Himself supreme and all-powerful, and His enemies shall be utterly defeated.
Into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon- the mention of the Hebrew language points us back to the Old Testament, reminding us that God’s controversy with evil is a long-standing one, and it is about to be forever settled.
The word Armageddon is made up of two words, “har”, which means a hill, and “megiddo”, which means “to assemble by troops”.  It is located near the Plain of Jezreel, (otherwise known as the Plain of Esdraelon), north east of the Carmel range.  The fortified town controlled the pass on the road from Egypt through the mountains.  The Plain of Jezreeel is extensive, but would not be able to contain the armies of the world.  But it does not need to, for it is very possible that successive waves of troops are dealt with by Christ when He comes to judge the earth.  This is why the day will be extended, as Joel foretold in words quoted above.  The battleground will be 200 miles long, but may possibly be controlled from Megiddo by the Antichrist.  The expression often used, “The battle of Armageddon”, does not occur in Scripture.  The centre of the battle is in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, outside the walls of Jerusalem. 

16:17  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 the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air- this is the sphere of the operation of Satan himself, the prince of the power of the air, Ephesians 2:2, and the pouring out of the vial of wrath there may well be God’s formal challenge to Satan, in view of the last great battle that is about to be fought.  If this is the case, it is a contrast to the challenge issued by Goliath to the armies of Israel in David’s day, 1 Samuel 17:8-10.  Now the tables are turned, and the death of Christ having laid the basis for the casting out of the prince of this world, John 12:31, the time has come for it to happen.
There is no mention of any effect from this judgement, suggesting that even if it were given we would not understand it. 
And there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done- since this is a voice from the throne, and since the Lord Jesus has spoken in verse 15, and this voice is not stated to be His, then the word is from Him that sits upon the throne.  This expression is used by God in 21:6, when the new heaven and the new earth have been brought into being.  So God says “It is done” when the judgement of Adam’s world is about to be accomplished, and He says it again after Christ has recovered everything for God, and a new heaven and earth can be brought in. 

16:18  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 there were voices- there are still demands from the righteous throne of God to be met, and they are about to be addressed.
And thunders, and lightnings- the final storm of judgement is about to break upon the earth.
And there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great- judging from the effects of this earthquake, as detailed in the next verse, it seems this earthquake will be world-wide, as is fitting, given the character of the times, and the world-wide rebellion of men against God.  It was mighty as to its magnitude and great in its impact and extent. 

16:19  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 the great city was divided into three parts- both Jerusalem and Babylon are described in the book of Revelation as being a great city, in 11:8 and 17:18, but since Babylon is mentioned separately later in this verse, it seems this is a reference to Jerusalem.  Zechariah tells us that when the Lord returns to the mount of Olives, the mountain will be divided, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall flee “to the valley of the mountains”, (no doubt meaning the newly formed valley that the moving of the two parts of the mount of Olives has formed), which shall reach to Azal.  Now the word Azal means “a slope”, and it is possible that there will be a slope formed which will enable the believing Jews who still remain in Jerusalem to join their fellow believers in the place prepared by God for their preservation in the desert, as spoken of in chapter 12.  If this place is in underground caverns, as we suggested in comments on chapter 12, it is clear why their needs to be a slope for their rapid escape.  Interestingly, Zechariah compares the way they shall flee in the future to the way men had fled from an earthquake in the days of Uzziah, Zechariah 12:5.
And the cities of the nations fell- those control centres which had ordered their troops to march upon Jerusalem, are now disrupted, and the cities of the world are ruined by the force of the earthquake.  The cities fell, to leave only Babylon standing, so that its fall might be all the more notable.
And great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath- so first the city of the great King Himself is affected, then the cities of the kings of the earth, and now, finally, the capital city of the Antichrist himself.  Details of this judgement are given in the next two chapters.

16:20  And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

And every island fled away- such was the force of the earthquake that islands were moved out of their accustomed places.  Many islands are simply the tips of underwater mountains.  The verb fled can have the idea of vanish, so perhaps in some cases a rise in sea level caused by the earthquake and the tsunamis that may result, may cause them to disappear altogether.
And the mountains were not found- that is, presumably they move to such an extent that they are not in their usual place.  Such is the violence of the shaking of the earth at this time. 

16:21  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. 
 
And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent- we read that God asked Job, “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?  Or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?” Job 38:22 
So it is that when Joshua was fighting the Amorites, that “the Lord cast down great stones upon them unto Aphekah, and they died”, Joshua 10:11. 
A talent weighs 112 pounds, and will be a formidable judgement.  Not only so, each stone, when it melts, will yield over 10 gallons of water, so men will be soaked with freezing water, to add to their misery. In particular, the armies assembling on the Plain of Jezreel find themselves bombarded from heaven, a foretaste of what is about to happen to them.
And men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great- instead of coming to their sense as these judgements fall upon them, men persist in their blaspheming of God’s name.  There is no mention even of the idea of them not repenting, for that is far from their minds.  They have reached the point of no return, and nothing is left for them but the final and severe judgement of God.

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