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Revelation 16: The Seven Last Plagues

Rev 16:1-21. An overview of the seven last plagues in the Greek text.

Are the seven plagues literal or symbolic?

Rev 15:8. No one was able to enter the temple until the plagues were sealed. (The temple in heaven was not closed, but no one was able to enter it. Christ the High Priest was in the temple together with the angels having the bowls of plagues).

Rev 16:1. The seven bowls of God´s wrath are poured out on the earth. Why? Because the wicked have rejected the three angels’ messages in Rev 14:6-11.

Rev 16:2. 1st plague. This plague of bad and evil ulcers was poured upon the men having the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image in Rev 13:16.17. (This plague is literal).

Rev 16:3. 2nd plague. This plague was poured out into the sea. It became blood as of a dead man and every living creatures died in the sea. Why the sea? For the woman representing the church was being drunk of the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus in the future at the war of Armageddon. Rev 17:6. Rev 16:6. (If the sea was symbolic of people, then it will be already polluted at the Second Coming of Christ. It does not need to be polluted anymore. Therefore, this plague is literal).

Rev 16:4-7. 3rd plague. The rivers and springs of water turned to blood. Why? Verse 6. Because they have shed the blood of the saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. (The blood of the saints and prophets in not symbolic but literal. It will be literal just before the Second Coming of Christ. Rev 17:14. Rev 13:15.).

Rev 16:8.9. 4th plague. This was poured out on the sun and men. Why? The sun burned with great heat to burn men with fire resulting in that they blasphemed God. (This plague is literal and was poured out on all men who did not believe in God).

Rev 16:10.11. 5th plague. This was poured on the thrown of the beast. Who is the beast in the book of Revelation? Rev 13:1-10. The papacy in the Roman Catholic Church system. His kingdom became dark and the men gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed God and did not repent. (This plague is literal).

Rev 16:12-16. 6th plague. This was poured out on the river Euphrates, so its waters were dried up to prepare the way for the kings of the east. Who are these kings? Verse 14. The kings of the whole earth. The river Euphrates is symbolic of the borderline between God´s people and the kings of the whole earth with their armies. When this river is dried up, the kings attack the people of God at the war of Armageddon. Who are the major players amongst the kings of the whole earth? The dragon who represents Satan Rev 12:9. The false prophet who represents Protestantism especially from the USA. Rev 13:11-18. 19:20. The spirits of demons who are fallen angels, represent spiritualism which has entered most of the churches on earth. Rev 12:3.4. This war is called Armageddon in the Greek and Megiddo in Hebrew. (This war will be literal just before the Second Coming of Christ).

Rev 16:17-21. 7th plague. This was poured in the air resulting in lightnings, thunders, sounds, and great earthquakes on the earth. The great city Babylon is divided into three parts and cities of nations fell. Hail weighing a talent fell on men who blasphemed God. (This plague is literal).

Conclusion

All the seven plagues are literal plagues that will fall on the earth.

Was the temple in heaven closed during the seven plagues?

Rev 15:5. The temple was opened in heaven.

Rev 15:8. The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.

Rev 16:1. Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”

Rev 16:17. Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”

Lev 16:17. There shall be no man in the tabernacle of meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place, until he comes out.

Lev 16:20. And when he has made an end of atoning for the Most Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat.

Conclusion

The tabernacle or sanctuary in heaven was not closed if we compare it to the workings of the sanctuary on earth. No one was allowed to go into the sanctuary, because it was the day of atonement and the time of administering judgment and punishment. The one who says, “It is done!” It is Christ as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. Heb 4:14. This is when Christ has made an end of atoning for the Most Holy Place.

“When Christ shall cease his work as mediator in man´s behalf, then this time of trouble will begin! Then the case of every soul will have been decided, and there will be no atoning blood to cleanse from sin[1].”

A study of the seven last plagues in Rev 16:1-21.

Rev 16:1. Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”

The sanctuary in heaven (Heb 8:1.2.) is not closed, but no one was allowed to enter the sanctuary, until the seven plagues were completed. The voice from the sanctuary is the voice of our High Priest Jesus Christ. Heb 4:14.

Rev 16:2. So the first went and poured his bowl upon the earth, and a bad and evil ulcer came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.

What is this evil ulcer?

The only text in the Bible that refers to an evil disease is in Psalm 41:8. “An evil disease,” they say, “clings to him. And now he lies down, he will rise up no more.” This is how the wicked saw King David in Israel. The Hebrew word for this evil disease is “belyyaal” and means a disease which is worthless and incurable, it cannot be healed. This ulcer will be a literal experience.

What is the mark of the beast?

Rev 13:16. He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads.

We will now do a word study from the Bible and see what it means to have a mark on the right hand and on the forehead in relation to the mark of God.

Ex 13:9. It shall be a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes (forehead), that the Lord´s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt. Verse 14. So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come saying, “What is this?” that you shall say to him, “By strength of the hand of the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Verse 16. It shall be a sign on your hand and as frontlets between your eyes (forehead), for by strength of the Lord brought us out of Egypt.

Ezek 3:7-9. But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard hearted. Behold I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their forehead. Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house. Context: Ezekiel’s forehead was made strong by God to condemn the Israelites of their sins. Hence, the forehead is related to spiritual strength.

Ezek 9:1-11. (The subject is, those who are worshipping idols in Jerusalem shall be slain). Verses 3-7. God said to an angel, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are alone within it.”  To the others he said in my hearing, “Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple. They went out and killed in the city. Verse 11. The man clothed with linen who had the inkhorn at his side, reported back and said, “I have done as you commanded me.”

The context is: A mark on the forehead means those who believe in God and his commandments who sigh and cry over abominations of Israel. Those who do not have God´s mark on their foreheads are those who do not believe in God and his commandments but worship idols, do iniquity, shed blood and indulge in perversity.

Deut 5:6-22. God wrote the Ten Commandments and gave them to Moses.

Deut 6:6-8. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. (These words refer to the previous chapter Deut 5:6-22, which are the Ten Commandments). Verses 7-8. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes (foreheads).

Deut 6:4.5. Hear O Israel: The lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. (Mk12:29-31. Math 22:36-40. Love to God, is the first commandment and how you do this is by observing the first of the four of the Ten Commandments. Love your neighbor is the second commandment and how you do this is by observing the last six commandments of the Ten Commandments).

Rev 7:3. Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads. Verse 4. And I heard the number of those were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed. Verse 9. After these things I looked and behold a great multitude, which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands. Verse 13. Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes and where did they come from?” Verse 14. And I said to him, “Sir, you know,” so he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Conclusion

The mark on the right hand and on the forehead is related to the following: God´s law, the hand of the Lord and his strength, spiritually strength, spiritual decisions, sigh and cry over all abominations, Gods commandments, worship God, the ten commandments, love to God, love to your neighbor, the seal of the Holy Spirit, white robes washed in the blood of the lamb. (The fore mentioned mark is related to God´s mark on the right hand and on the forehead.

The opposite to this mark for example the mark of the beast, are those who practice the opposite to worshipping God and his Ten Commandments, which includes the sabbath as a holy day on a Saturday).

Rev 16:3. Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.

This plague is similar to the one Moses was commanded by God to spread over Egypt. Ex 7:17.18. Thus says the Lord: By this you shall know that I am the Lord. Behold, I will strike the waters which are in the river with the rod that is in my hand, and they shall be turned into blood. And the fish that are in the river shall die, the rivers shall stink, and the Egyptians will loathe to drink the water of the river.

This plague was localized to Egypt only. If this plague was administered to all on this earth, then the ecological system will be affected, and all the people of this earth would die of thirst. Therefore, this plague in Rev 16:3 would by administered to only those parts of the earth were antichrist is most present.

Rev 16:4-7. Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because you have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments.”

This plague means that all drinking water will turn to blood. No one will want to drink blood, so there will be thirst in the land.

The One being and the one was and is to be in the Greek, is similar to the quote from Rev 1:4.5. which is referring to the heavenly Father. “The one is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ.”

Rev 16:6. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink.

When did the present population shed the blood of the saints and prophets? This will happen at the last world war called Armageddon. Rev 16:12-16. This happens when the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, together with spirits of demons, make war with Christ and those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ. Rev 12:17. 14:12.

“Rev 16:12-16. By condemning the people of God to death, they have as truly incurred the guilt of their blood as if it had been shed by their hands. In like manner Christ declared the Jews of his time guilty of all the blood of holy men which had been shed since the days of Abel; for they possessed the same spirit and were seeking to do the same work with these murderers of the prophets.” Matt 23:31-35[2].

Rev 16:8.9. Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give him glory.

What happens to this earth when the heat of the sun is increases to more than occurs in the Sahara Desert in North Afrika? The result is forest fires in many places all over the earth. The people and livestock become thirsty for water, but there is no water. Why? Because it has turned to blood. The farmers cannot grow fruit, vegetables and wheat, because there is no water and the climate is too hot and becomes like the arable desert all over the earth.

The prophet Joel describes it this way in Joel 1:10-12. The field is wasted, the land mourns; for the grain is ruined, the new wine is dried up, the oil fails. Be ashamed, you farmers, wail, you vinedressers, for the wheat and the barley; because the harvest of the field has perished. The vine has dried up, and the fig tree has withered; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree – all the trees of the field are withered; surely joy has withered away from the sons of men.

Joel 1:17-20. The seed shrivels under the clods, the storehouses are in shambles; barns are broken down, for the grain has withered. How the animals groan? The herds of cattle are restless, because they have no pasture; even the flocks of sheep suffer punishment. O Lord, to you I cry out; for fire has devoured the open pastures, and a flame has burned all trees of the field. The beasts of the filed also cry out to you, for the water brooks are dried up, and fire has devoured the open pastures.

Rev 16:10.11. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.

This plague is similar to the ninth plague on Egypt in Exodus 10:22.23. So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

Where is the thrown of the beast?

The beast in question is the papacy in the Roman Catholic Church system. Rev 13:1-10. The throne of the beast is situated in the Vatican City surrounded by Italy. The kingdom of the papacy is the Roman Catholic Church system all over the world. It includes the pope, cardinals, bishops, priests and all the devoted members who support this church.

God creates a special phenomenon here and that is he creates darkness with no sunlight to come upon all the members of this church. This darkness results in pain and ulcers on their bodies, which is different from the plague of darkness in Egypt. Maybe it is due to the cold and frost due to the lack of the warm sun rays from the sun. These members who receive this plague from the Roman Catholic church system are not believers in God, because the text says they blasphemed God as a result of the darkness and pain.

Rev 16:17. Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”

Rev 16:19. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

What does Babylon mean in the New Testament?

The word Babylon, in Hebrew and in the Greek means confusion. We first meet the word in Genesis 11: when the unbelieving offspring of Noah built a city and a tower reaching up to the heavens. God saw that nothing was virtually impossible for them to do, so he confused their language, so as to stop building the tower. Gen 11:9. Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

Mat 1:17. So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations. (Babylon here refers to the city of Babylon governed by King Nebuchadnezzar who took the people from Jerusalem to Babylon in Chaldea before the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.).

Acts 7:43. You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your God Remphan, images which you made to worship; and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. (This text is referring to the house of Israel in verse 42. They were carried away into the Babylonian captivity).

1 Pet 5:13. She who is in Babylon, elect together with you. Greets you; and so does Mark my son. (Peter is sending greetings to the elect or church in Babylon. Babylon was a term used for the city of Rome to avoid political reprisals).

Rev 14:8. And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” (This is spiritual Babylon with false worship of God and refers to Rev 16:19, Rev 17:5 and Rev 18:).

Rev 16:19. Now that great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. (Babylon is related to all the people, which the plagues will fall upon in Rev 16: and this includes those who belong to the sea beast, the dragon and the false prophet in Rev 16:13).

Rev 16:13.14. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. (Babylon includes the combination of: the dragon representing Satan, the beast representing the Roman Catholic Church system including the papacy, the false prophet representing the Protestants in the USA, the kings of the earth who are political leaders, and the demons who represent spiritualism; they gather them all together to fight against Christ at the battle of Armageddon).

Rev 17:5. And on her forehead a name was written: Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth. (Babylon refers to the harlot, which represents the worldwide fallen church both Roman Catholic and Protestant, and the rest of the seven worldwide churches; it also incorporates the 10 horns representing the political nations, which support these churches).

Rev 17:1. Babylon the harlot sits on many waters, meaning (Rev 17:15). Peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues. This represents the worldwide fallen church singing and praising God through false worship and teachings they have received from the scarlet beast. These teachings represent the wine of her fornication in Rev 17:2.3. These teachings are opposite to the Ten Commandments of God and the true faith in Jesus Christ. i.e. their holy day which is on a Sunday.

Rev 17:2. The kings of the earth have committed fornication with the harlot Babylon.

Rev 17:2. The inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of Babylon’s teachings.

Rev 17:3. Babylon is related to the scarlet beast representing Satan, and the seven heads representing the worldwide fallen churches, and the ten horns representing the political nations of the earth.

Rev 17:6. The harlot Babylon was drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus.

Rev 17:16. The ten horns representing the political nations of Europe and their offspring will hate the harlot Babylon and destroy her.

Rev 17:18. The woman (the harlot Babylon) you saw is that great city. (The city is the one referred to in Rev 16:19 under the seventh plague).

Rev 14:8. (The second angel’s message). Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. (This city is the one referred to in Rev 16:19 under the seventh plague. This city includes all those who support the sea beast in Rev 13:1-10, the false prophet in Rev 13:11-18, and the dragon in Rev 12:9).

Rev 14:9.10. (The third angel’s message). If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God – – – . He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone – – -.

Rev 14:12. (The people of God who are in opposition to Babylon) they are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

Rev 18:2. Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen and has become a dwelling place of demons – – -. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her and the merchants of the world have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.

Rev 18:4. Come out of her my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. (Some of God´s people are still worshipping in the churches of Babylon and God is calling them to come out).

Rev 18:24. And in her was found the blood of the prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on earth. (Babylon is related to all false worship in opposition to God and those who have slain his prophets and saints).

Rev 19:19. And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him who sat on the horse and against his army. (Babylon includes the beast being the Roman Catholic Church system along with the papacy, and the kings of the earth, making war against Christ who sits on the horse at the war of Armageddon. This is in the future).

Rev 19:20. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Babylon includes the beast her in this text, which is the Roman Catholic Church system including the papacy Rev 13:12.14. and the false prophet who are the Protestants in the USA).

Conclusion of Babylon in the New Testament

Babylon means the following: city, captivity in Babylon, used as another word for the city of Rome in the first century. Babylon is related to a combination of spiritualism, the Roman Catholic Church system, the papacy, Protestants in the USA, Satan, the political leaders of the earth, the worldwide fallen Christian churches, the political nations of Europe and multitudes, nations and languages of the world. These will all unite in the future.

Babylon was drunk with the blood of the saints, which means there will come a time in the future where she will try to kill all the saints and true believers at the war of Armageddon. Babylon will receive the seven plagues and wrath of God. The people who are in Babylon do not keep the commandments of God or the faith of Jesus Christ. Babylon will become a place for demons. God is calling his people out of the Babylonian worldwide fallen churches. Babylon is referring to all those who have slain the prophets and saints through all ages.

Babylon includes the beast representing the Roman Catholic Church system along with the papacy, and the false prophet representing the Protestants in the USA. All this will happen in the future, when there will come a time when Protestants will unite with the Roman Catholic Church.

Rev 16:21. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.

How much is one talent? 34 kilograms or 75 lbs. in weight. Now if one talent of hail stones fell on my house, it would do considerable damage. If it fell on me, it would kill me outright. So this storm of hailstones would cause severe damage around the world and many cities fell in Rev 16:19.

Why did men blaspheme God?

Because the Holy Spirit was not there to convict them of their sins John 16:8. The heavenly sanctuary was not open for the forgiving of sins. The time was for the judgment to take place during the day of Atonement. Christ our High Priest is the one who will administer judgment and punishment upon a wicked race who have rejected him.

Two promises for the future

Psalm 91:7-11. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Because you have made the Lord who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor any plague shall come near your dwelling; for he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.

Ex 8:22. And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the land. I will make a difference between my people and your people.


[1] Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Pub., 1958), 201.

[2] Ellen G. White, Confrontation (Grantham, Lincolnshire: The Stanborough Press, 1978), 628.

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