Revelation 15 & 16
The Seven Last Plagues
Lorraine Day, M.D.
To finish up Revelation, Chapter 14, let’s look at verses 14-20.
The judgment vision of Rev. 14:14-20 serves as the dramatic confirmation of Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares. “The vision of the great vintage in Rev. 14:17-20 expands the portrayal of the grape harvest in Joel 3:13 and defines it as a Christ-centered judgment.” End-Time Prophecies of the Bible, Hans LaRondelle, pg 364
Read Joel, Chapter 3 to see the parallels with Revelation, Chapter 14.
“Important lessons can be learned from this progressive unfolding of Joel 3 and Revelation, 14, lessons which teach us HOW the gospel of Christ Jesus determines the end-time fulfillment of Joel.
“The faithful remnant of Israel, gathered on Mount Zion in the holy city is redefined by the apostles as believers in the Lord Jesus and as the followers of the Lamb, the faithful end-time church. The gospel of Christ has removed the national restrictions of the old-covenant people. The church of Jesus Christ is a universal community of faith, called by Paul “the offspring of Abraham” (Gal 3:26-29) and “the Israel of God” (Gal 6:16; compare Hebr. 12:22-24)
“The Valley of Jehoshaphat around Mount Zion in Joel 3:2,12,14 is now enlarged to the entire earth in Rev. 14.”
The “great winepress of God’s wrath” is explicitly located “outside the city” (Rev 14:19,20). Verse 20 states that the blood that flows out of the winepress will “rise as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.”
“Just as Rev 14 began with a number (144,000), so it ends with a number (1,600). Both passages (vss. 1 and 20) form symbolic counterparts, describing opposite destinies for the righteous and the wicked. The true Israel stands with the Lamb on Mount Zion inside the city of God, the wicked persecutors are all gathered outside the city of God. Just as the number 144,000 for the spiritual Israel reveals its theological significance through its key number 12, so does the symbolic number 1,600 disclose its meaning through its key number 4. “Four” symbolizes the four corners of the earth (Rev 7:1;20:8), the four quarters of the earth (Isa 11:12) or the four winds or directions of the compass (Matt 24:31). The multiplication of the number 4 in Rev 14:20 points comprehensively to the universal territory of the battle field, in harmony with Jeremiah’s prediction: ‘At that time those slain by the Lord will be everywhere -- from one end of the earth to the other “ (25:33). LaRondelle pg 368
Revelation 15 & 16
The Seven Last Plagues
1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues (calamities = literal translation); for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
The sanctuary vision of Rev. 15 explains their supernatural origins as they are ordered from the throne room in heaven. The plagues are not random natural catastrophes, but planned long ago as the finale of the events of this eon (age). But, as we have learned repeatedly before, these catastrophes are actually executed by mankind who believe that they have planned them (even though man’s “plans” get out of control and destroy the whole earth).
The plagues are called the “last” plagues in Rev 15:1 so they must therefore be compared with the earlier judgments of God in the seals and the trumpets (chapters 6,8,9). “The dramatic escalation over the preliminary judgments appears in their globalization, (they involve the whole earth). The theological difference is, however, the nature and purpose of the last plagues.” Understanding End-Time Prophecy, by Hans LaRondelle pg 375.
The vast majority of Christian scholars believe that the seals and the trumpets are calls to repentance, whereas the plagues are punitive in character. “Punitive” means for punishment only, without any salvific (leading to salvation) characteristic. In other words, most Christians believe that God will “punish” the wicked (even though they have NO HOPE at this point of being saved), then God will kill them, then God will resurrect them after the millennium for the Great White Throne Judgment, at which time He will severely punish them AGAIN (either by burning them forever or as long as “they deserve”), even though they “have NO CHANCE of being saved.”
This is the average Christian’s idea of a “loving God.”
But what does that say about God? Particularly since no one asked to be born, and certainly no one asked to be born a sinner!
Remember, that the “wrath” of God, as defined for us in Romans, Chapter 1, is nothing more than God allowing US to reap what WE have sown, to reap the results of the decisions WE have made. WE, humanity, will bring the plagues (calamities) on ourselves!
2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand of the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
“Sea of glass (glassy sea). . . “ The word “sea” can mean “peoples and multitudes” but it can also refer to “tumult” and “trouble.” This “sea” is of glass, showing that all trouble has ceased for those who have gotten the victory over the beast. They are sealed with God’s seal and now nothing can harm them.
The “sea of glass” is mixed “with fire.” The purification process of fiery trials has resulted in the person being able to stand as an overcomer. Also, a fiery sea can appear “red” suggesting the symbolism of standing by the “Red Sea,” looking back to the deliverance from Egypt (deliverance from sin).
3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are your ways, thou King of saints.
Certainly the “song of Moses” re-enacts the theme of deliverance of the song of Moses in Exodus 15, a song that praises God’s dramatic intervention to save Israel. The end-time Israel the true believers in Jesus Christ - will sing a greater song that includes the “song of the Lamb” Jesus Christ - as well, denoting a much greater deliverance (the deliverance from sin) than the one led by Moses. “Christ will accomplish a global and eternal deliverance for the faithful remnant at the end of the Christian age. They will be supernaturally delivered from the attacking antichrist, of which Pharaoh was only a pale anticipation.” LaRondelle pg 379.
4 The Song of Moses and the Lamb: Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art holy; for all nations (unbelievers) SHALL come and worship before Thee; for your judgments (just awards) are made manifest.
Here again is the promise of Universal Restoration, “ALL nations (unbelievers) SHALL come and worship before Thee.” The word “nations,” often translated “heathen,” and even more frequently mistranslated “Gentiles” means Unbelievers, as opposed to the Judeans, meaning those who lived in the vicinity of Judea where the people worshiped the true God of heaven.
The word “Judean” was NOT an ethnic distinction, it was a spiritual distinction those who worshiped the God of heaven (they were “believers”) as opposed to the “nations” or “heathen” (unbelievers) who worshiped many pagan gods.
5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple (sanctuary) of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.”
Rev 11:19 reveals that the temple in heaven contains the ark of the covenant, with the Ten Commandments inside, again showing the importance of “worship,” particularly as designated in the Fourth Commandment the Seventh-day Sabbath as God’s holy day.
6 And the seven angels came out of the temple (sanctuary), having the seven plagues (calamities), clothed in pure and white linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands.
The Plagues are brought out of the temple (sanctuary) by the seven angels clothed as priests of the sanctuary. This suggests that the plagues are a definite results of “reaping what has been sown” by the unsaved, by a life of ignoring or persistently violating God’s Ten Commandments. Humans “do it to themselves.” They reap what they have sown. These are NOT arbitrary, punitive punishments from God. Instead, they are remedial disciplinary actions resulting solely from the person’s own choices and behavior.
7 And the four beasts (living creatures) gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials (bowls) full of the wrath of God, who lives for the eons of the eons.
8 And the temple was filled with smoke (fumes) from the glory of God, and from His power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, until the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
Here is the absolute proof that there will be NO pre-tribulation rapture!
“NO man was able to enter into the temple (symbolizing heaven), until the seven plagues. . . were fulfilled.”
The righteous will still be on the earth DURING the Seven Last Plagues. They will NOT escape the Tribulation, as so many churches teach. “The analogy of the plagues with the earlier plagues on Egypt shows that Israel remained in Goshen so that Pharaoh could see the “distinction between Egypt and Israel” (Ex 11:7; 8:22,23). Israel even participated in this distinction by applying the blood of the Passover Lamb as “a sign” on their houses; “when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt” (Ex 12:13).
“Just as ancient Israel was protected by the ‘sign’ of the blood (a physical sign) so end-time Israel will be protected by a special (SYMBOLIC) seal (they will have the character of Jesus - a spiritual sign) of the living God, that the angels of God will place on the foreheads (symbolizing their decision-making center - they will have the mind of Christ) of each chosen individual ( Rev. 7:3; 14:1). LaRondelle pg 376,377
(Remember: The First is physical - the Second is Spiritual - 1 Cor 15:46)
Stars cannot be seen during the daytime. They can only be seen when the night is very dark. God will keep His true followers on the earth through the darkest time of the end, so they can shine as bright lights for Him.
The purpose of the last plagues corresponds essentially to that of the ten plagues which fell on Egypt in Moses’ time: to reveal God’s righteousness in subduing and removing a persecutor for the ultimate result of delivering God’s people.
Like the first four trumpet plagues in Rev 8:7-12, the first bowl plagues are poured out equally on the earth (16:2), the sea (v 3), the rivers and springs (v 4) and the sun (v 8).
1 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials (bowls) of the wrath of God upon the earth.
What is God’s “wrath”? See Romans 1:18, 24, 26, 28. As mentioned above, it is God giving us up to our own desires, letting us reap what we have sown. God does not punish us. He just allows us to reap the consequences of our bad decisions.
2 The First Plague: “And an evil and MALIGNANT ulcer came on those of mankind who have the mark of the beast, and worship its image.” Literal Concordant version.
Contrast this word “malignant” here with the literal phrase, “O Benign One” (“O Lord”) in verse 5.
This could certainly refer to literal malignant ulcers (the raging epidemic of cancer now occurring) as well as spiritual sickness.
3 The Second Plague: And the second angel poured out his vial (bowl) upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man; and every soul (living creature) died in the sea.
The blood of a “dead” man differs from the blood of a “live” man because the blood of a “dead” man contains NO oxygen. “And every living soul died which is in the sea.” Notice again that sea creatures are referred to as “souls” because they have the five senses.
Oxygen (physical breath) keeps human beings, animals, fish and birds alive physically. God gives us His “breath (spirit) of holiness” (mistranslated “Holy Spirit”) to keep us alive spiritually. At the time of the plagues, there will be reduced oxygen in the atmosphere from pollution (caused by “man”) and there will be a scarcity of the real Truth of the Word, because the ‘Organized Churches” will be, and even now are, teaching numerous False doctrines!
4 The Third Plague: And the third angel poured out his vial (bowl) upon the rivers and fountains (springs) of waters; and they became as blood.
5 And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou are just (righteous), Who art, and Who was, Benign One, seeing that Thou judgest these.
6 For they shed the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou dost give them blood to drink, even what they are deserving!
7 And I heard another out of the altar saying, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Thy judgments.
Now the drinking water of all men is turned into a curse. The “seas” and oceans in the second plague represent the salt-water supply, whereas the rivers and springs of water in the third plague represent the fresh-water supply, the water supply necessary to sustain life.
“The third plague is a fitting answer to those who have ignored God as the source and sustainer of human life.” Ibid. Also the harlot’s cup contains the “blood of the saints” so now EVERYONE who has taken the “mark” of the beast, EVERYONE who follows after these persecutors and murderers of true Christians will have NO water to drink, they will have to drink (symbolic?) blood. “Thou dost give them blood to drink, for they are deserving!” “Yea, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgings!”
There will also be a dearth of the “living water” the spiritual truth of Jesus Christ.
It is apparent that these plagues follow quickly after each other in a very short time, or no one would survive the first three plagues.
8 And the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun. And it was given to him to scorch mankind with fire.
9 And mankind is scorched with great heat, and they blaspheme the name of God, Who has the jurisdiction over these plagues (calamities), and they do not repent, to give Him glory.
The Fourth Plague: “Mankind is scorched with great heat.” The fourth plague parallels the fourth trumpet in that the sun is affected, “a third of the sun was struck” (8:12). “A scorching heat will cause the people to curse the name of God, because ‘they refused to repent and glorify Him’ (16:9). The contrast becomes evident. While heavenly voices praise God for His final judgments (16:5-7), earthly voices curse Him for His judgments.” LaRondelle, pg 383.
The Sun, which in the end will be worshiped as part of the worship of the pagan god Gaia Mother Earth (Earth Worship = Environmentalism), will turn on those who have worshiped it and “scorch them with great heat!”
10 And the fifth angel pours out his bowl on the throne of the wild beast. And its kingdom became dark; and they gnawed their tongues for misery
11 And blaspheme the God of heaven for their miseries and for their ulcers; and they do not repent of their acts.
The Fifth Plague: “ poured out upon the throne of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain. “ This plague is similar to the ninth plague of Moses, when Egypt was covered with total darkness for three days. (But all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.) (Ex 10:23).
During the fifth plague the “kingdom” of the beast will be paralyzed by a supernatural and impenetrable darkness (certainly Spiritual darkness and most probably physical darkness, as well) because they have refused Christ as the Light of the world and have “loved darkness instead of Light” (John 3:19).
Verse 11: “And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains, and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.” Notice that by the time the Fifth Plague is poured out, the sores of the First Plague are still present. So this is probably within a fairly short time period.
Plagues 1-5 are similar to the plagues that delivered the people of God from Egypt.
Plagues 6 and 7 look back to the deliverance of God’s people from Babylon.
12 The Sixth Plague: And the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates. And its water is dried up that the road of the kings from the orient (east) may be made ready.
“Water” means peoples and multitudes in Revelation. The great River Euphrates was in Babylon. This passage reveals that the great multitudes of people (symbolized by “water”) that support the One World Government power of Babylon, (the great enemy of Christ and His people) will WITHDRAW their support, which will “dry up” the river bed, to make “way for the Kings of the East.”
Cyrus, of Medo-Persia, was the conqueror of ancient Babylon. He came from the “East” and his men gained access to the City of Babylon by diverting the Euphrates River, and coming in through a dry river bed.
Jesus will come as the King from the “East” to deliver His end-time people as Cyrus delivered God’s people during the time of Babylon. It was Cyrus who allowed the Israelites to return to Israel to rebuild their temple.
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.
(Dragon = Satan; beast = Satanic Political power; false prophet = Satanic religious power.)
14 (For they are the spirits of demons, doing signs) which are going out to the kings of the whole inhabited earth, to be mobilizing them for the battle of the great day of God Almighty.
This false religio-political power will perform dazzling signs and wonders which will enchant the whole world. This has already started with Mary apparitions, speaking in tongues, statues that bleed and cry tears, etc.
15 (‘Lo! I am coming as a thief! Happy is he who is watching and keeping his garments (righteousness), that he may not be walking naked (without garments = without the righteousness of Christ) that they may be observing his indecency!’)
16 And they mobilized them at the placed called in Hebrew, “Armageddon.”
“Coming as a thief” means NOT silently and unnoticed, but coming when virtually NO ONE will be expecting Him.
“This interlude vision is not a part of the Sixth Plague. Rather it explains the background forces involved in the final plagues. No war between nations is in view here. The climax of Revelation is far more serious evil in God’s sight: apostate religious forces will lead ALL political and religious powers on earth to unite in one common cause, waging war against God’s people!” LaRondelle, pg 389.
War against God is war against God’s people. If God’s people are still on earth, obviously the righteous have not yet been raptured to heaven.
“In summary, the prophetic perspective of the last plagues in Rev 15-16 intends to reveal God’s pre-ordained plan for the triumph of His faithful ones. The God of Israel will intervene through His most spectacular Messianic deliverance in all history. He will overrule the Babylonian determination to exterminate the Israel of God by His dramatic intervention of the Fifth Plague. This judgment will suddenly enshroud the attacking multitudes with an impenetrable, supernatural darkness (Rev 16:10). This sign will not only bring the persecutors to a grinding halt, but also will awaken the deceived multitudes to their rebellion against the Creator Himself! It causes them to withdraw their support from Babylon. Such an abrupt withdrawal of the allegiance of all peoples and nations from Babylon is signified by the sudden “drying up of the waters” of Babylon, The Euphrates, as the sixth plague (Rev 16:12). This abrupt reversion of their loyalty to their destruction of Babylon is explained by the angel in the subsequent chapters 17-19.” LaRondelle, pg 390.
17 And the seventh angel pours out his bowl on the air. And a loud voice came out of the temple of God, saying, “It is done!”
18 And lightnings and voices and thunders occurred. And a great earthquake occurred, such as did not occur since mankind came to be on the earth; of such proportions was the quake and so great.
19 And the great city came to be divided into three parts; and the cities of the nations fell. And Babylon the great is brought to remembrance in the sight of God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fury of God’s indignation.
20 And every island fled, and the mountains were not found.
21 And hail, large as a talent in weight, fell out of heaven on mankind. And men blasphemed God as a result of the plague (calamity) of hail, the great is its calamity tremendous!
The Seventh Plague: The final plague is introduced by cosmic signs, which traditionally accompanied God’s holy war against the oppressors of His people: lightning, peals of thunder, and “a severe earthquake” (v. 18).
A universal earthquake is part of God’s holy war (Isa 13:13; 24:18-23; 34:4; Joel 2:10). John mentioned this cosmic quake in his sixth seal (6:12) and in the seventh trumpet (11:10). While John added “a great hailstorm” in the last trumpet (11:19) now he elaborates on the “huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each” that will fall upon men during the last plague (16:21). This final characteristic connects the Seventh plague with Ezekiel’s end-time judgment on Gog, when he attacks the Israel of God. Ezekiel likewise stated that God’s judgment on Gog would be a manifestation of divine “wrath” (38:18). He also portrayed Yahweh’s war with features of a storm theme, earthquake and hail, which all correspond to Rev 16:17-21. LaRondelle, pg 392
Read Ezekiel 38:18,19,22 AND Revelation 16:18,21
In Revelation 16:20, God sweeps the entire old creation away, Babylon collapses, in preparation for God’s rescue of His people.
© Lorraine Day, M.D. 2007. All Rights Reserved.
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