Again, I want to start by saying that prophecies are not linear stories, but still the angels who hold the vials are called numerically, like the angels who blew the seven trumpets. This does not necessarily mean that the plagues follow one another in numerical order. If we look at the seven seals, we see that the 1st, 2nd and 5th seals start in the year 34, the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th seals end at Jesus’ return. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th seals follow each other successively.
The seven vials are opened once after the sealing is done, and the sealing took place before the fifth trumpet sounded. This means that the events we find under the seven vials are not the same as we find under the seven trumpets. Nevertheless, we will find certain similarities between the trumpets and the vials, such as that the second trumpet and the second vial affects the sea, the third trumpet and the third vial affects the water sources, the fourth trumpet and the fourth vial affects the celestial bodies, the fifth trumpet and the fifth vial gives pain and sickness, the sixth trumpet and the sixth vial tell something about the Euphrates. But the first trumpet and the first bowl and the seventh trumpet and the seventh vial are basically different. During the first trumpet, 1/3 of the people die due to the plagues, while no one dies as a result of the first vial. During the seventh trumpet, it is proclaimed that the kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ, while the seventh vial proclaims that it is done, and the restoration of the earth begins.
It is an impossible task to tell in detail what will happen under these vials that now follow. The text of each vial gives us clues, and we can compare this with the plagues that fell in Egypt, but something more certain we cannot come up with without being in danger of reading something into the text that is not there.
Chapter 16 of Revelation begins with John hearing a great voice out of the temple. This voice gives the command to initiate the last plagues. Since the seven angels with the seven vials had already left the temple (15,6) and no one was able to enter there (15,8), there can be nothing, but God’s own voice heard. The first five vials make up the last five torments, while the last two vials tell us about the final resolution of the cosmic conflict.
The first vial, Revelation 6,2
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.
There are many who claim that the numerical designation of each angel implies that the plagues follow each other successively. The question is whether this is correct, because as the nature of the contents of the vials is, it seems that they can overlap in the way that the plagues that fall under the first vial follow the people throughout the period.
As it appears from the text, the first vial is poured out upon the earth with serious consequences for those who have taken the mark of the beast. These are the ones who did not care about the warnings given in Revelation, respectively in 14,6-11 and 18,1-4. Time after time God has given mankind a new opportunity to stop their rebellion and turn to Him. God does not want any man to perish (Jeremiah 29,11), but as we can see through history, there comes a point when God cannot let it continue. God told Abraham that his followers would become slaves in a foreign land and that they would be allowed to return to Canaan, but not until certain conditions were met. The Amorites who lived in Canaan were idolaters, but God would allow them time to either repent or let the iniquity be full (Genesis 15,16). This is also the case in our time. The iniquity of the world must be full, and when we come to the last seven plagues under the trumpets and vials we have passed this point, and God’s judgments begin to fall upon the earth.
The first vial is a parallel to the sixth plague that struck Egypt, (Exodus 9,8-12).
The second vial, Revelation 6,3
The second angel poured out his bowl (vial) on (upon) the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died.. (NIV 1984)
Here we recognize the first plague that affected Egypt, (Exodus 7,14-25). This does not mean that water becomes blood in the literal sense, but something happens in the oceans that causes a total extinction of all life. Then we can always ask ourselves if it is a literal interpretation we are going to use, or if we have to read this in a figurative sense. Some argue that this may be a collapse in international trade as long as the sea is a kind of highway for the sea freight between countries. I believe, however, that we must look at a literal interpretation of this verse, because it says that every living thing in the sea died, so it can in no way be the people we are talking about who dies in this verse, because the mankind will live and see Jesus’ return. The word living thing is translated from the Greek word psykjê which is translated to, among other things, every living being, and in Revelation 8,9 this word is used about the creatures in the sea.
The third vial, Revelation 6,4-7
And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. 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. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous [are] thy judgments.
Once again we see the first plague that affected Egypt. The water turns to blood, but the question remains whether it should be interpreted literally or whether the water is destroyed in some other way. Many will equate the third trumpet with the third vial, which I do not agree with. I believe that the third trumpet, which is blown before the sealing, shows us the false teachings that Satan has historically planted in the church, which he now uses with all his power because he knows that time is short, very short. The result will be that many will also be lost in the end times before the sealing. Here, under the third vial, we find ourselves in the time after the sealing and the door of grace are closed, and the torments of God fall upon the wicked, those who, among other things, did not take notice of the message of the third trumpet.
If we go into the text, we see that the angel of the waters says that the Lord is righteous because He gives them back what they have given to God’s saints throughout history. The judgments that are called righteous are the afflictions that afflict the wicked.
The fourth vial, Revelation 6,8-9
And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. 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.
In Greek, the first three vials are poured out eis, while the last four are poured out epi. Even though the English translations do not distinguish between eis and epi there is a distinct difference between these prepositions. Eis means to or into, while the meaning of epi is over or upon. We can then understand the fourth vial so that it is emptied out on or out over the sun.
This two prepositions are explained in this way (Strong´s) G1519 eis, a primitive preposition; to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time, or (figuratively) … … Often used in composition with the same general import, but only with verbs (etc.) expressing motion (literal or figurative). G1909 epi, a primitive preposition properly meaning superimposition (of time, place, order, etc.), as a relation of distribution [with the genitive as in this verse], over or upon (literal or figurative).
The ninth plague caused darkness over the whole land of Egypt, (Exodus 10,21-29). During the fourth trumpet and here in the fourth vial, the celestial bodies are also affected, the trumpet causes darkness, while here people are scorched with great heat of the sun.
And they repented not. Since the door of mercy is closed, the wicked can no longer repent of their sins, but they will continue on their wicked path to perdition. Whether or not they will realize their sins is irrelevant, and they increase their guilt by continuing to blame God for all misery.
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. Revelation 22,11
The fifth vial, Revelation 6,10-11
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 blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores and repented not of their deeds.
The seat of the beast is obviously the beast’s headquarters and represents the papacy as a religious-political world power and its dominance over all the nations of the world. The beast considers that the whole world is his kingdom, which it also is, with the exception of God’s faithful remnant. There is therefore reason to believe that the whole world, with the exception of this small strange group who would rather follow God than man, is shrouded in darkness. This will be a spiritual darkness – a spiritual night. The fifth vial is the last plague that falls on a world where all people suffer in one way or another. The wicked suffer the last seven plagues, while the faithful remnant of God suffer the greatest persecution that any human being has experienced, staged by the wicked who suffer the plagues that affects them with full force.
Even though we also have darkness here as it was during the fourth trumpet, we see that the people of the earth mock God. This is due to sores and pain. Here we see clear similarities both with the fourth trumpet (darkness) and to the fifth trumpet (pain), where people are inflicted great suffering by the locusts. Since the locusts in 9,3 are the devil’s angels, I think we must interpret the darkness here in Revelation 16,10 in the sense that God’s presence through the Holy Spirit is now totally absent on earth.
As in verse 9, the wicked continue their blasphemous behaviour because of their perverse hatred of God and his special people.
The sixth vial, Revelation 6,12-16
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 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. 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. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed [is] he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
The sixth vial is the very last preparation for Jesus’ return. He is now on his way to earth to redeem his faithful people, but before he becomes visible in the clouds of heaven, his faithful people will still suffer the threat of death and destruction, but they are sealed with the seal of the living God and are thus out of reach of the devil´s destruction.
Once again we meet the Euphrates, but here too there is a different meaning in the word than the obvious. The river was, as mentioned, seen as a symbolic bond of the evil forces. We are facing the final end of the spiritual battle that has been fought since Adam and Eve fell into sin in the Garden of Eden. However, the Euphrates has been explained in many ways.
One explanation is that the Euphrates represents the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and that the drought means that this empire disintegrates over time and then opens the way for the kings from the east. The nations in question are not known, but as usual there are many different opinions about who the kings from the east are, and both Turkey, Russia as well as China are mentioned as candidates for this title. It all seems to be determined from the contemporary of the various people who interpret these verses, and which nations they choose to place in history, and then any kingdom can qualify for the title of the kings from the east.
Another explanation is that the Euphrates represents the peoples over whom the mysterious Babylon has power. When the Euphrates dries up, it is implicit that the people withdraw their support for Babylon.
A third explanation is found in the Medo-Persian king Cyrus’ conquest of Babylon as a type of an end-time event. Cyrus led the waters of the Euphrates away from the city, and the part of the Euphrates that flowed through the city of Babylon dried up more or less literally. When Jesus returns, it is the spiritual Euphrates – the evil forces – that dries up.
But what is right? What does the Bible itself say?
The word translated from the east is anatolēs (an-at-ol-ay’) literally means from the rising (as in the rising of the sun), see also Revelation 7,2 where it says: And I saw another angel ascending from the east … …
Another very important point we should include in this is the symbolism that lies in and around King Cyrus, and about him God says the following: My shepherd (Isaiah 44,28) and the Lord’s anointed (Isaiah 45,1). It was Cyrus who conquered Babylon so that God’s people could finally return home to a new and better future in the land that had been promised to them through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob so that they could begin the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple. We are also waiting to travel home to our promised land, heaven, where a new and better future awaits us.
The way Cyrus conquered Babylon is also very thought-provoking seen through Revelation 16,12 with the fact in mind that the final resolution of the great conflict between Jesus and Satan is precisely that it is Jesus who wins and leads his people home to the promised land. The prophecy in verse 12 tells us that before the kings from the east can come, the Euphrates must dry up! When Cyrus and his soldiers, which are the type of the kings of the east, conquered Babylon, he first dried up large parts of the Euphrates so that his soldiers could enter the impregnable city, and then send the Jewish people home to their own land.
We cannot leave Armageddon until we also have drawn a parallel to Daniel chapter 11 and the king of the north and the king of the south. We have explained the Euphrates River as a symbolic bond of evil forces, a bond that holds God’s people in a kind of captivity. The merism of chapter 11 requires that these two kings, who seem to be enemies who first fight a real war that eventually turns into a spiritual war, ally themselves in their fight against God’s faithful remnant in the end times when the king of the north defeats the king of the south. Before the two kings north and south unite, all religions have been united in the king of the north, and the political powers – which is a secular alliance that represents atheism, philosophy, evolution, secularism, humanism, existentialism, etc. are united in the king of the south.
We should also look at when the prophecy says that these kings from the east will come. Verses 12 – 16 in Revelation 16 constitute the sixth vial, and we see then that it is at this time that Christ returns. According to Ezekiel 43,2, Jesus comes from the east when he returns to earth: And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice [was] like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory.
There should be no doubt as to who the glory of the God of Israel is. The glory of the God of Israel is Christ. The kings of the east then become a picture of Christ and the heavenly angels who follow him.
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. Revelation 16,12
Verse 13 speaks of three unclean spirits, the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. The dragon and the beast are sizes we are well acquainted with, these two are the devil and the Roman Catholic Church. On the other hand, we have not seen much of the false prophet, but I think we can see from the context that the false prophet represents a religious system. When we know that the beast here in 16,13 calls herself the mother of harlots, we can safely conclude that the false prophet has his roots in the beast. We are therefore talking about the fallen Protestant Church.
Here, then, are three religious figures preaching a message. We know that the devil does not preach in the true sense of the word but is the one who stands behind and gives power and authority to the agents he uses. There is therefore every reason to believe that the dragon here represents itself. This constellation, the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, is the unholy trinity, and Satan’s copy of the triune God, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. If we look at the development that has taken place in recent decades, we see that a new phenomenon is emerging from the USA that is gaining ground in churches all over the world. It is a modern form of spiritualism that we can find in almost all Christian denominations, and especially the charismatic.
As mentioned earlier, I do not think there is a single superfluous word in the Bible. I therefore believe that there is a very special reason why frogs have been used in connection with the three unclean spirits. When these frogs come out of the mouths of the three unclean spirits, this also has to do with doctrine and preaching, and these have for a long time preached a different and false gospel. If we look at the text in Revelation 16,13, these unclean spirits are compared to frogs. That frogs are used as an illustration is probably no coincidence. To put it in its proper context, let us look at this phenomenon frogs:
- All frogs are poisonous, some are more poisonous while others are less poisonous. This seems to be related to the appearance of the frog, the more beautiful it is, the more poisonous it is. The most poisonous frog we know is also described as the most beautiful, and is called Phyllobater bicolor, and it is so poisonous that 0.0001 grams of its poison is enough to kill a human. Another fascinating thing, which we also should keep in mind is that frogs always catch their prey with their mouths! So we have with teachings and doctrines that are poisonous to do. In other words, the teachings behind these three, the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet are deadly.
Various supernatural manifestations will constitute the means that Satan, through his agents, will use to seduce the faithful in the end times. The kings of the earth are political powers that will unite with the unholy trinity, the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, in an attempt to destroy God’s people. This universal religious-political union has ambitions to rule the whole world and is the result of the dissolution of the war between the king of the north and the king of the south in Daniel 11. This war finally unites all religions, who are united in the king of the north, and all the political powers – which is a secular alliance that represents atheism, philosophy, evolution, secularism, humanism, existentialism, etc. which are united in the king of the south. In that way, there will be only two parties in the end times, God’s faithful remnant and the king of the north. The religious pusher is and will be the beast from the sea, or the papacy, and the political pusher will be the beast coming up out of the earth in Revelation 13,11, which is the United States. What these three unclean spirits are now trying to do is one last attempt to make God’s faithful remnant fall from the faith. This is what is called the greatest tribulation that has been in human history, and now the death decree for those who do not keep Sunday as a day of rest will be implemented. God’s faithful remnant have been sealed with the seal of the living God, yet they will be in constant prayer for deliverance from a world that has gone completely off its hinges in its rage against this little strange group that will not submit to human laws.
Armageddon (verse 16) is the place where the last great battle between Christ and Satan takes place. What matters is where Armageddon is or what Armageddon is. Armageddon has been explained in many ways, and the most common explanation is that it is a physical location in today’s Israel where the last great war is to be fought. But is there a place called Armageddon, and is this place large enough to accommodate two armies, one of which has 200 million soldiers?
He in verse 16 refers directly back to the dragon in verse 13. Another interesting word in this verse is the place. The Greek word for the place is to´pos. This word is translated with; a spot (generally in space, but limited by occupancy; whereas chôra (G5561) is a larger but particular locality), i. e. location (as a position, home, tract, etc.); figuratively condition, opportunity; specifically a scabbard:- coast, licence, place, x plain, quarter, + rock, room, where. If we choose to translate with a geographical location, it is most likely that we are referring to the Megiddo Valley or the Jezreel Valley, or the Esdraelon Plain that stretches from the Carmel Heights and Mount Carmel in the west and to the Jordan Valley in the east. This was Israel’s largest battlefield since ancient times, and the place where the British and Turks met in a major battle during World War I. This is the literal translation, but the word can also be understood in a transferred meaning, opportunity, and then in the form of setting up a mindset. We then have a situation where the wicked eventually set up a mindset that is to blame God’s faithful people for all the misery that afflicts them through these afflictions, because they see that the afflictions do not afflict God’s faithful remnant, and therefore they will try to kill them. It is good that the Bible itself gives us comfort: A thousand shall fall at thy side, And ten thousand at thy right hand; [But] it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold And see the reward of the wicked. For thou, O Jehovah, art my refuge! Thou hast made the Most High thy habitation; Psalm 91,7-9
Armageddon has been explained in many ways, but we must all accept that the battle between Christ and Satan is a battle that takes place on the spiritual plane, and that this must always be the backdrop for the understanding of the Bible. The question is: Who will receive your worship?
As far as we know, there is no geographical place that has been called Armageddon. We must therefore find out what the meaning of the word is.
Firstly, it is important to understand that the word Armageddon is composed of two Hebrew words, har meaning mountain, and mo´ed (mageddón), mo´ed is used in the Old Testament to describe an assembly or a congregation. The symbolism here then becomes mountain – mount, which is the place where God has revealed himself throughout history, and assembly or congregation, which describes God’s people. We can then read it so that the three unclean spirits gather the people of the world on the mount of the assembly. In Isaiah 14,13 (NIV 1984), where Har-moʻed has been translated into the mount of the assembly, refers to Solomon’s temple which in Solomon’s time was north of ancient Jerusalem. It has always been Satan’s desire and goal ever since he was cast out of heaven to take God’s place.
Secondly, we must look at the second part of Armageddon – <Mageddon>, which has two different explanations. The first explanation is that <Mageddon> is derived from a place mentioned in 1 Kings 9,15 and Zechariah 12,11, Meggido. The second explanation is that Mageddon, is derived from the Hebrew word mo´ed which is used throughout the Old Testament to describe when the congregation should hold a sacred assembly.
The first option places Armageddon as a geographical location – Mageddon, and the second option suggests a connection with the great conflict between Jesus and Satan. Since it is this conflict that is the backdrop for most of the Bible, and the fact that the symbolism in the use of the word points to mountain – mount, which is the place where God has revealed himself through all time, I think we should consider the second option as the right explanation.
In Isaiah 14,13, where Har-moʻed has been translated into the mount of assembly, refers to Solomon’s temple, which in Solomon’s time was north of ancient Jerusalem. Joel the prophet calls the place the Valley of Jehoshaphat: … I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat*. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. Joel 3,7 (the peoples here are the Gentiles). * NIV 1984 adds: <Jehoshaphat> means <the LORD judges>.
We can then read it so that the three unclean spirits gather the people of the world on the mount of assembly, to take God’s place. There may seem to be a contradiction here, but the explanation is that the Bible here describes a typology. The valley of Jehoshaphat was the place where God intervened and fought for his people. Jerusalem is an image of God’s people. So what the Bible tells us here is that God will intervene and fight for his people again.
But what does this have to do with the kings of the east?
We now have a backdrop, and then it is easier to catch the thread. Northwest of the valley of Jehoshaphat (the valley of Jezreel), or the valley of Megiddo as it is also called, is a mountain called Carmel. It was here on Carmel that Elijah put the people to an election. Who will you serve, the Lord God or Baal? The valley of Jehoshaphat, the valley of Megiddo and Armageddon describe the same thing, it is the same place, and we can call it the valley of choice, precisely because we all have to make a choice, we all have to choose who we want to follow, God or Satan.
The battle between Jesus and Satan is, in short, about who will receive your worship. This battle takes place in a place that the Bible calls Armageddon, which is really inside your and my mind. This battle will intensify even after the door of mercy is closed and the remnant of God is sealed, for the afflictions of God’s people are still not over. This battle will continue until we see the Saviour come on the clouds of sky to redeem His bride
The seventh vial, Revelation 6,17-21
The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, It is done! Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. Every island fled away, and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail because the plague was so terrible.
When the seventh vial is poured out into the air, it means that this event is universal. A loud voice refers to the voice of God, (Revelation 1,10). Out of the temple … from the throne states that this is an official proclamation from the Ruler of the universe.
It is done! We find the same expression after the earth has been recreated, (Revelation 21,6). This statement ends the time of the trials of the people of God, and Christ redeems the saints.
When God appeared at Sinai, it was always accompanied by lightning and thunder. Earthquakes, thunder and lightning are all signs of the awesome power of God Almighty and his majesty, (see also Revelation 4,5; 8,5). A severe earthquake. Literal earthquake see verse 20, figurative earthquake see verse 19. A literal earthquake will destroy cities and lay them in ruins and will move islands and mountains. What destroys the great Babylon is a figurative earthquake
The great city is the great Babylon and is thus a union consisting of the three unclean spirits that make up the unholy trinity – Satan, the papacy, the fallen Protestant church that has absorbed modern spiritualism. Due to God’s voice, a loud voice, which causes the spiritual earthquake, this constellation of power is now falling apart. The unity disappears and the earthly powers lose the ability to exercise their power, both together and separately.
The city and the cities are apparently the same word but have different meanings. The city refers to the centre of the fallen coalition. The cities refer to political organizations in the form of the kings of the world´s nations. The cities of the nations collapsed means that the political authorities, who have collaborated with the great Babylon, suffer the same fate as their allies, and the cooperation they had with the great Babylon ceases, (see Revelation 17,16).