The Bible speaks of many plagues that will fall upon the earth in the last days before Jesus returns to redeem His faithful people. There should be no doubt that this will happen, the question is when the plagues begin to fall. Many say that the first plagues have already fallen upon the earth. But have any of the plagues already fallen upon the earth? Do we have any clues as to when this will happen?
In Egypt, a total of ten plagues fell, of which the first three also affected God’s people, Israel. This will also be the case in the end times. After the first plagues that will affect all people on earth, the Lord will make a difference between His faithful people and the wicked. God will seal his people, and in that way they are out of the devil’s reach and the last plagues will not touch them. Can we find something that indicates how long time this will take?
It is a rather hopeless exercise to try to time the start of these plagues, but we can clearly find some indications of where we are on the timeline when this happens, and in that way know roughly, where we are on the timeline in relation to the plagues.
In her book Early Writings, Ellen G. White says under the heading The Sealing: “At the commencement of the holy Sabbath, January 5, 1849, we engaged in prayer with Brother Belden’s family at Rocky Hill, Connecticut, and the Holy Ghost fell upon us. I was taken off in vision to the most holy place, where I saw Jesus still interceding for Israel. On the bottom of His garment was a bell and a pomegranate. Then I saw that Jesus would not leave the most holy place until every case was decided either for salvation or destruction, and that the wrath of God could not come until Jesus had finished His work in the most holy place, laid off His priestly attire, and clothed Himself with the garments of vengeance. Then Jesus will step out from between the Father and man, and God will keep silence no longer, but pour out His wrath on those who have rejected His truth. I saw that the anger of the nations, the wrath of God, and the time to judge the dead were separate and distinct, one following the other, also that Michael had not stood up, and that the time of trouble, such as never was, had not yet commenced. The nations are now getting angry, but when our High Priest has finished His work in the sanctuary, He will stand up, put on the garments of vengeance, and then the seven last plagues will be poured out. I saw that the four angels would hold the four winds until Jesus’ work was done in the sanctuary, and then will come the seven last plagues. These plagues enraged the wicked against the righteous; they thought that we had brought the judgments of God upon them, and that if they could rid the earth of us, the plagues would then be stayed. A decree went forth to slay the saints, which caused them to cry day and night for deliverance. This was the time of Jacob’s trouble. Then all the saints cried out with anguish of spirit, and were delivered by the voice of God. The 144,000 triumphed. Their faces were lighted up with the glory of God. Then I was shown a company who were howling in agony. On their garments was written in large characters, Thou art weighed in the balance, and found wanting. I asked who this company were. The angel said, These are they who have once kept the Sabbath and have given it up. I heard them cry with a loud voice, We have believed in Thy coming, and taught it with energy. And while they were speaking, their eyes would fall upon their garments and see the writing, and then they would wail aloud. I saw that they had drunk of the deep waters, and fouled the residue with their feet—trodden the Sabbath underfoot—and that was why they were weighed in the balance and found wanting”.
This is completely in harmony with what the Bible says. The last ten plagues are found in Revelation’s description of the seven trumpets and the seven vials. When we come to the fifth trumpet, we read in chapter 9, verses 1 to 4 this: “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.”
Verse 4 tells us with all the desired clarity that the sealing has been done, otherwise John would not have worded himself as he does here. Satan’s helpers, the fallen angels, harm all people, except those who are sealed with the seal of the living God.
If we read what Ellen G. White writes about the four winds “I saw that the four angels would hold the four winds until Jesus’ work was done in the sanctuary, and then will come the seven last plagues” together with the four verses mentioned in Revelation chapter 9, we see that the last seven plagues will not fall until the sealing is done. We now have a clue as to where we are on the timeline. The sealing takes place at a special point on the timeline, and that is after the third plague has fallen, but before the fourth plague falls. Then an important thing is missing, and that is whether the plagues fell one after the other so that the second replaced the first, the third replaced the second, etc. To find the answer to this, we must look at what happened in Egypt when Moses was to lead Israel out of captivity. That story is the type of what will happen in the end times, which then becomes the antitype. This is called typology, and the Bible is full of typology.
The type: The Ten Plagues and Israel’s Exodus from Egypt.
Egypt’s 10 plagues.
The first three plagues.
The first thing Moses and Aaron did to free Israel from captivity was to visit Pharaoh and ask him to send Israel out of the land of Egypt. Pharaoh refused and asked for signs, and Aaron threw Moses’ rod on the floor and it became a serpent. This is day 1.
Then we come to the first plague in Exodus 7,14-25. (The first plague: The water turns to blood).
In verse 15 we read “get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning …” This is day 2. Now we come to verse 25, which says “and seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the river.” We have then come to day 9.
Then follows the second plague in Exodus 8,1-15. (The second plague: Frogs). In verse 10, it says that Pharaoh said «tomorrow«. We have then come to day 11.
The third plague is found in Exodus 8,16-19. (The third plague: Lice). No time indication has been given here, so we can assume that these two plagues occurred either on the same day or on two consecutive days. Let us say it was the following day. Then we have come to day 12.
The first three plagues affected all of Egypt, including God’s people. This was to be changed because God says to Pharaoh, through Moses in Exodus 8,23: And I will put a division* between my people and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be. * Literally, puts a ransom in between (see also Exodus 9,4; 11,7).
We see that after the third plague God says he will make a difference between His people and the people of Pharaoh. God will do the same in the end times. He will seal his people with His seal. Then God’s people are out of Satan’s reach, neither the plagues will not affect them.
The last seven plagues.
The fourth plague is found in Exodus 8,20-32. (The fourth plague: Flies). Here it says in verse 20, «early in the morning» and as we saw right in front of here, God will put a division betweenthe people. He gives his people a special protection, and further says in verse 23 that «tomorrow shall this sign”.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms [of flies] upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms [of flies], and also the ground whereon they [are]. And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms [of flies] shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I [am] the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be. Now Moses goes to Pharaoh and says that if he does not allow Israel to leave Egypt, there will be a new plague the next day. We have then come to day 14.
When we come to the fifth plague in Exodus 9,1-7, (The fifth plague: The cattle die), it says in verse 5: “… tomorrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land”. It has been 15 days since Aaron threw the rod of Moses, which became a serpent, on the floor in front of Pharaoh.
The sixth plague is found in Exodus 9,8-12 (The sixth plague: Boils). Like the third plague, no time indication is given. We can assume that this happened the following day. In other words, we have come to day 16.
Then follows the seventh plague in Exodus 9,13-35 (The seventh plague: Hail). Here it says in verse 13: 2 “… Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh …” … // … and in verse 18 we read: “Behold, tomorrow about this time …” Here we have two consecutive days, and we have reached day 18.
The eighth plague is found in Exodus 10,1-20 (The eighth plague: Locusts). In verse 4, God says this to Pharaoh: “… behold, tomorrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast”, and consequently we have come to day 19.
In Exodus 10,21-29 we find the ninth plague. (The Ninth Plague: Darkness). Here it says in verse 22 that «there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days.» It has now been 22 days since the first request to leave Egypt was given to Pharaoh.
Now follows a period of preparation in which the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are instituted. We find this in Exodus 12,1-28.
Verse 3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth [day] of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of [their] fathers, a lamb for an house:
Verse 6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
Verse 15 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
Verse 18 In the first [month], on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.
As we see, all the households of the house of Israel were to choose a lamb on the tenth day of the month. This was to be slaughtered four days later and eaten the same night. They were also to eat unleavened bread with the lamb and for the next seven days. This process takes a total of 11 days, from the tenth day to the 21st day.
Nothing is said about whether there is an interval between the ninth and tenth plague or not, and we can assume that they follow one another without any interval. The entire process of liberating Israel took a total of 30 days. However, it is not certain that it will go as fast as this in the end time.
The tenth plague is described in Exodus 12,29-42. (Tenth plague: The Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt). This happened on the 30th day and the people of Israel could leave Egypt and start going towards the promised land.
Although the content of the plagues is different, all this must happen in the same order in the end times as in Egypt. The time aspect may be somewhat different, but the plagues will come in the same way, and the first three plagues will affect all people on earth, but the last seven plagues will only affect the wicked. The principle of typology states that the antitype must reflect the type. Just as the lamb that was to be eaten in Egypt had to be flawless in every way because it pointed to Jesus’ death on the cross, so too the end-time afflictions, the antitype, must correctly reflect the plagues that fell in Egypt, the type.
We must also take into account what happened after Israel left Egypt, when Pharaoh persecuted them to destroy them, for the same thing will happen in the end times. The Lord has promised to bring end-time Israel, God’s faithful remnant, out of end-time Egypt, or Babylon, but Satan will try to prevent this so he continues to incite the end-time Pharaoh, the pope, to destroy God’s faithful remnant. The result is given in advance. God will conquer, and lead His people out of their «Egyptian» captivity, and into the Promised Land.
The Exodus from Egypt:
Israel’s exodus from Egypt and the slavery they had lived under there is a picture of what will happen on the very last day, or the very last few days, here on earth. We see in Exodus chapter 14, which follows just after the tenth plague has affected Egypt when the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt. Pharaoh hardened himself for the last time, and in fact issued a death decree on the children of Israel and set after them with all the chariots in Egypt and his army.
Exodus 14,1-31. (The people of Israel go through the Red Sea). In verses 5-9 it says: And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him. And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses [and] chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, before Baal-zephon.
When the Egyptians captured Israel, natural obstacles on three sides, and Pharaoh’s army on the fourth side trapped Israel. In front of Israel was the Red Sea, and they had no boats, so they could not escape Pharaoh that way. On the right and left side were high and impassable mountains, and behind them stood Pharaoh, thinking he had overcome the God of Israel, and was about to annihilate God’s people. It is at this point that God intervenes in the story, and we read in Exodus 14,13 what Moses said to the people: “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever”.
In verse 16, the Lord says to Moses: “But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry [ground] through the midst of the sea”.
In verses 24-28 we read what the Lord did to the Egyptians: “And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians. And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily, so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians. And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, [and] all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them”.
When Israel had safely crossed the Red Sea, we read in Exodus 15,1-19 that they sang a song to the Lord, and in verses 20-21 it is said that Miriam and all the women also sang.
This is the type. There were 10 plagues, 3 of which affected everyone, including God’s people. The purpose was to awaken people to make them turn to the Lord. Just after the third plague, but before the fourth, God does something that separates His people from the Gentiles. This will also happen in the end times, and it will follow the same pattern. Just after the third plague, that affects everyone, but before the fourth plague fell upon the earth, God will do something for His people so that they will be spared from these plagues. God will seal his faithful people. Then the last seven plagues will fall and affect the wicked. In addition, as we see above, Israel leaves Egypt after the 10th plague. This provokes Pharaoh, and he pursues them with his army to destroy them. This is not considered a plague in Exodus, and it is the story of the Exodus from Egypt that is the type of end-time events. Finally, God took a stand against those who opposed God and suppressed God’s faithful remnant in every possible way, and in the end times, the end-time Pharaoh and his entire army will be destroyed by God.
The antitype: The end-time plagues and the exodus of God’s people from end-time ‘Egypt’.
Most people expect seven plagues in the end times and say it is the seven vials, which are the last seven plagues. Is this according to how the type sets up the events? First, there were 10 plagues that fell over the type, Egypt. Consequently, there must also be 10 plagues that will fall over the antitype, the end-time ´Egypt´, neither more nor fewer. We must start with the seven trumpets, and see what plagues we find there, and then we must go on to the seven vial, to see what plagues we find there.
|The type: Egypt
|The antitype: The end-time
|The first three plagues affect everyone
|The first plague, Exodus 7,14-25: The water becomes blood
|The first trumpet, Revelation 8,7: The earth’s vegetation is affected
|The second plague, Exodus 8,1-15: Frogs
|The second trumpet, Revelation 8,8-9: Life in the sea is affected
|The third trumpet, Revelation 8,10-11: The rivers and the fountains of water are affected See part 2.
|The third plague, Exodus 8,16-19: Lice
|The fourth trumpet, Revelation 8,12-13: The celestial bodies are affected
|The last seven plagues, affect only the wicked. God says, I will put a division between My people and thy people
|The fourth plague, Exodus 8,20-32: Flies
|The fifth trumpet, Revelation 9,1-12: The locusts from the bottomless pit
|The fifth plague, Exodus 9,1-7: The death of Egyptian cattle
|The sixth trumpet, Revelation 9,13-21: The angels from Euphrates
|The seventh trumpet, Revelation 11,15-19: The reign of Christ
|The sixth plague, Exodus 9,8-12: Boils and blains
|The first vial, Revelation 16,2: Grievous sores
|The seventh plague, Exodus 9,13-15: Hail
|The second vial, Revelation 16,3: The sea became as blood
|The eighth plague, Exodus 10,1-20: Locusts
|The third vial, Revelation 16,4-7: The rivers and the fountains of water became blood
|The ninth plague, Exodus 10,21-29: Darkness
|The fourth vial, Revelation 16,8-9: The sun scorch men with fire
|The tenth plague, Exodus 12,29-42: The firstborn killed
|The fifth vial, Revelation 16,10-11: The seat of the beast in darkness
|The Exodus from Egypt, Exodus 14,1-9: Pharaoh pursue Israel
|The sixth vial, Revelation 16,12-16: Gathering at Armageddon
|The redemption, Exodus 14,10-31: Israel cross the Red Sea,
|The seventh vial, Revelation 16,17-21: The earth is shaken
As we see, the same plagues will not fall upon the earth in the end times. The reason for this is that God wanted to show the Egyptians and the Israelites that the Almighty God, the Creator of the whole universe, is much stronger than all the gods of Egypt were, and therefore God used frogs and insects, which were Egyptian gods, to show that how powerless they were. What happened in Egypt must be read literally.
In the end times, not only will the plagues of God fall, God will allow Satan and his wicked angelic army to torment the people who have not been sealed with the seal of the living God. We can put it this way: These evil angels are allowed to torment all those who have actively chosen to take the mark of the beast. This is something that will intensify when the Spirit of God is completely withdrawn from the earth. The protection of God’s faithful remnant is then the seal of God. When God has withdrawn His Spirit from the earth, Satan and his fallen angels have been empowered to inflict torments and suffering on mankind in addition to the torments God will send over the earth through the trumpets and vials. We must also read this as the prophecy it is, not literally but figuratively, and then, for example, the locusts under the fifth trumpet will not be real locusts, but the devil’s evil angelic army.
The exodus from Egypt.
Let us unravel the threads from the seven bowls and the seven trumpets. Then we will look at Pharaoh’s persecution of Israel, and what happened at the Red Sea as a whole. In the same way, we must look at the sixth and the seventh vial together. I think it is right to start with the first plague that falls after God has sealed his faithful remnant. As we saw above, the sealing of God’s remnant will take place after the fourth trumpet, but before the fifth trumpet. We read in the text of the fifth trumpet this: “And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads”, Revelation 9,4.
In Egypt, God made a division between His people and the people of Pharaoh after the third plague but before the fourth plague, that is, before the last seven plagues fell upon Egypt. We read in Exodus 8,23 the following: “And I will put a division between my people and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be”.
The typology requires that the pattern that the type sets up the antitype must followed. We therefore know, because of this, that the sealing in the end time must take place before the last seven plagues fall upon the earth, and this means that the fifth trumpet contains the fourth plague.
The last seven plagues:
The fourth to the tenth plague.
The fourth plague of the end times, Revelation 9,1-12. (The fifth trumpet: The locusts from the bottomless pit). “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit …” We now see that Satan’s evil angelic army is allowed to torment all people who do not have the seal of the living God on their foreheads, over a period of five months. (See verses 4, and 5).
The fifth plague of the end times, Revelation 9,13-21. (The Sixth Trumpet: The Angels of the Euphrates). “And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God”. After Satan’s evil angels have tormented the wicked for five months, some of the most dramatic things in history follow. Once upon a time, God placed four angels by the great river to hold back the four winds of the earth, (see Revelation 7,1). Winds in prophecy means war and / or political unrest. Now these angels will be unleashed, and we understand from the text that a great war will break out, with great human suffering, and a third of the world’s population will be killed because of this war (verse 15). Fortunately, we do not know how long time this war will last, but we know that this war will be the war that will claim most human lives in history. Today, there are about 8 billion people in the world. When a third of these will be killed, it means more than 2.5 billion people.
Before we get to the last five plagues of the end times, we see the second interlude in Revelation, which is actually a five-part interlude, which extends from Revelation chapter 10 verse 1 to chapter 11 verse 14. This interlude gives us some insight into history, including we get to see the emergence of the Advent movement in chapter 10, and we get to see what happens to God’s two witnesses – the old and the new testament in chapter 11, and consists mainly of:
Revelation 10,1-7: God’s counsel, interlude 2a)
Revelation 10,8-11: John eats the little book, 2b)
Revelation 11,1-6: The Two Witnesses, 2c)
Revelation 11,7-10: The two witnesses are killed, 2d)
Revelation 11,11-14: The two witnesses rise from the dead, 2e)
This is followed by the seventh trumpet, which concludes this sequence and shows us that the kingdom again belongs to Christ. Revelation 11,15 (The seventh trumpet: The kingdom belongs to Christ). “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail”, Revelation 11,15-19.
I do not see how this should be a plague. It tells us that God and Christ have regained control over the entire universe, and we are shown the Ark of the Covenant that contains God’s Standard by which all are to be judged, which is the same as God’s Ten Commandments. Notice the little phrase ‘is come … the time‘ which points to the time when the dead will be judged. I would argue that this is not a plague. We then have a total of five plagues under the seven trumpets.
When it is proclaimed to the whole universe that the kingdoms of this world belong to our Lord, who is God the Father, and His Christ, who is God the Son, we are shown the story in brief from the fall of Lucifer into heaven, the birth of Jesus and the persecution of the church in chapters 12 to 15. I think this is inserted here so that we do not forget what it is all about, and what forces we as followers of Jesus have to fight against.
Chapter 12 shows us the birth of Jesus, then the fall of Lucifer, and finally the persecution of the Church. Here it is implicit in the text that the church at some point will be divided into two, a fallen church and a faithful church. We read this from the dragon’s actions in verse 17: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ”.
In chapter 14, we are shown the 144,000 sealed and what characterizes them, (verses 1-5.12). I am of the opinion that this was given to John to remind him that God will provide for his people no matter what atrocities Satan and his allies throw at God’s faithful people. We know that chapter 6 of Revelation shows us what will happen to the church under the seven seals, before the chapter ends with the question: “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6,17. It must have been horrible for John to see all the misery that will befall the church he helped found on Pentecost in the year 31, and therefore he was shown the 144,000 from all 12 tribes of all the children of Israel who were to be sealed with the seal of God. It is as God says to both John and to us: «Yes, I care for you and will take care of you, and when it is really needed I will give you the ultimate protection, I will forever make you My property with My seal”.
Then follows the recent mission of the Church – the three angels’ message (verses 6-11), which contains the eternal gospel, tells of an impending judgment, and of the consequences of not worshiping God. When this message was preached first time, we were at the transition from prophetic time to end time, and the world saw something they had never seen before, is the inter-church movement that proclaimed Jesus’ imminent return. This was truly an inter churchly movement as sincere believers flocked from all denominations and united around William Miller, and the Advent movement was established as a response to the prophecies of Revelation chapter 10. The chapter concludes with a glimpse of the coming judgment through the ‘harvest of the crop of the earth’ (verses 14-20).
In chapter 15 we are given the prelude to the judgment with the bowls in chapter 16. Chapter 15 ends as follows in verse 8. “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled”. This means that Christ has finished his high priestly act in the most holy place in the heavenly temple, God’s faithful remnant has been sealed, and Christ has left the heavenly temple and is ready to return to earth. But, before He returns, the last five plagues must fall upon the earth and the wicked.