The temple here is in Heaven with no activity. The voice here is the voice of God the Father.
Go your ways – each angel had a different vial full of judgment, but each angel was to go a different way.
In ch. 5:2 and 7:2 we had the voice of angels, but here we have the voice of God.
The seven plagues are very similar. Some of them are like the plagues that were sent on Egypt in the time of Moses. The first plague on Egypt was a plague involving nature, when water was turned into blood. Here the second and third drinking cups turn water into blood.
The second plague of Egypt was the plague of frogs. Here in the sixth drinking cup, we have a plague like frogs.
The sixth plague in Egypt made sores break out on people and here we have something similar to that in the first plague.
The seventh plague in Egypt brought hail and the seventh plague here brings hail.
Darkness was one of the plagues of Egypt and here the fifth drinking cup brings darkness.
All the vials are poured out on unbelievers.
All the plagues are given to manifest the power of a perfect God.
1. ¶ And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.
This verse is the announcement which shows that the end is near, that God delayed His judgment to the final limits, that the harvest is ripe and the second coming of Christ is very near.
Vial – means drinking cup.
The voice here is the voice of God the Father.
The vials contain the wrath of God upon all Christ rejecters.
Apparently these seven judgments occur in rapid succession. Immediately the first angel leaves the heavens and proceeds to dump the wrath of God out of his bowl.
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 worshiped his image.
When the first bowl is emptied, a foul and painful sore comes to those who have received the mark of the Beast. This judgment is an evil or malignant sore, rotten and incurable, similar to the boils inflicted on the Egyptians in Exodus 9:9-11. The extent of this affliction is limited to those who have received the mark of the Beast or have bowed to his image. Those few who remain true to God are exempt (Ex. 9:8-12).
This first cup is poured out and is a picture of divine judgment on all those who were unbelievers and who followed the system of the dictator of the revived Roman empire.
Notice the words noisome sores, which means offensive to the smell and other senses.
Notice the words grievous sores, which means severe pain, suffering, sorrow and serious.
Notice this plague is poured out on those who received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. (Those who followed his system).
When Christ died on the cross, the figure used was the drinking of a cup, and Christ asked His disciples if they were able to drink of the cup and they said they were, but they didn’t understand what they were talking about, for no one was able to drink of that cup except Christ.
Christ did drink our cup on the cross and He did so for the whole human race. The principle here in this verse is that these have rejected the price Christ paid for their sins and now they are receiving the cup of God’s wrath poured out upon them and they can’t bear it.
These vials are judgment against religion and are right at the end of the seven year Tribulation.
The first cup represents the loss of health.
3. And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
Here we see the second angel pour out the second vial or cup. This cup is poured out on the sea.
Many people live by what comes out of the sea: shrimp, fish, lobster, oysters, etc.
The sea became as blood and all life died.
God is and has always been the provider of life in the sea and man must acknowledge it.
The analogy here is to the first of the ten plagues of Egypt (Ex. 7:20-25), in which the Nile River turned to blood, killing all the fish and making the water unfit to drink. The sea’s becoming as the blood of a dead man is a vivid picture of a man wallowing in his own blood.
One-third of the sea animals died under the second trumpet (8:9). Now the destruction is total and marine bodies as well as men will be wallowing in the blood of the sea.
4. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
Here the third angel pours out the third vial upon the rivers and fountains of water and they become as blood.
a. You can’t survive long without water.
b. The second plague is against salt water and the third is against fresh water.
The third bowl of God’s wrath is poured out upon the rivers and fountains of waters, and they too become blood. Rivers of blood pour from the ground, adding to the problem of obtaining fresh drinking water.
5. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.
Here the angel adds a brief footnote indicating God is righteous in causing the water and sources of water to become blood. This is the unchanging law of divine retribution.
Throughout the Tribulation Period the forces of Satan have been spilling the blood of the saints as if it were water. Now, because of these acts of infamy, they are getting their fill of blood.
Third angel is the high ranking angel in charge of the world’s water supply. It appears this is the guardian angel of water.
Every member of the human race must have water to survive and this makes water of universal importance.
After the flood in Noah’s day, God promised He would never destroy the world with water again. The water table of the earth is declining, but there will be enough water until the end of time.
Water is a gift of God and is an expression of God’s grace.
So here the plague is against water which is one of the most absolute essentials for survival.
AN EXPLANATION OF “THOU ART RIGHTEOUS”
1. When this angel says, “thou art righteous,” he means that these judgements are an expression of God’s perfect character. These judgments were perfect and not unfair in any way.
2. Mankind is prone to criticize God for His judgments because man never does have all the facts and does not understand the essence of God. Down through the ages man has been very critical of the judgments of God, but criticism is quite easy for all those who do not have all the facts.
3. Man minimizes sin and disobedience to the plan of God.
4. Mankind fails to see sin as man’s failure to meet the standard of God’s character.
5. The true character of sin can only be understood by the cross and what it cost Christ to go to the cross and die for our sins. God, as the judge, had to judge sin, and when Christ took our sin, then the judgment of God fell on His own Son. It cost the Father everything to judge His Son and what the Father did in judgment helps us realize just how significant was the death of Christ on that cross. On the cross salvation was wrought out for us without sacrificing the character of God. Every false doctrine insults the character of God, yet His righteousness never changes.
6. For those who reject Christ and accept religion instead of the essence of God judgment must express itself. Here it expresses itself in these seven drinking cups. These drinking cup judgments are designed to awaken the religious crowd and call them back to God.
7. The love of God is rejected when Christ is rejected. The alternative to the love of God is judgment.
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated (Rom. 9:13). The difference is that one would be a believer and the other would not. The word “thou art” is the verb eimi and means eternal existence. God is righteousness now, but He has always been righteous and He will always be righteous. He can’t be anything else for it is His character.
Who then is at fault here in the administration of these drinking cup judgments? Certainly not God. The whole human race is at fault and especially the religious crowd.
Saul of Tarsus was hit by catastrophe on the Damascus road and immediately he believed. This is the quickest salvation we have on record. His was conversion by catastrophe. He said “Lord” and used the same word as the dying thief used on the cross when he called on Christ to save him. When Christ said, “I am Jesus,” immediately Saul knew the whole plan of salvation. In less than a second he was converted.
What Stephen had said in his dying testimony came into focus in the mind of Paul and he was converted in a second. When this verse says of Christ “which art” it is referring to the eternal existence of Christ and refers to the truth of His resurrected humanity.
“And wast” refers back before He became human and tells us He had always existed before He was born. Now He is the God-man, the unique one of the universe. This angel realizes that Christ is going to place angels below men. He recognizes the fairness of Jesus Christ and that angels are going to be superseded by raised humanity.
“Because thou hast judged” is a purpose clause and means it is God’s purpose to turn men to himself by His judgments.
6. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
Again bear in mind that God is not now dealing in grace but in judgment.
These bloodthirsty inhabitants of the earth are getting just what they deserve, for they have consistently spilled the blood of the saints.
As the Tribulation draws to a close, God deals in harsh justice.
Shed the blood of saints and prophets – refers to the fact that millions have been killed in the name of religion.
Saints and prophets is the terminology of the Jewish age and the Tribulation is a part of the Jewish age. That is why the language is used.
So He gives them blood to drink since they have shed so much blood. He always makes the punishment fit the crime. This should teach us to keep our mouths shut about other people’s sins and leave judgment to God. Don’t try to help God discipline someone else. You get a double judgment when you judge others. You get judged for judging them.
7. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
This angel is the angel in charge of the golden altar of incense.
He is in charge of all prayers being made by the tribulational saints while they are being tormented.
Read Romans 12:19, 20.
8. ¶ And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
This is the fourth angel pouring out the fourth cup. This is the weather catastrophe.
All these things occur in a very short period of time just before Christ comes back.
Pouring out this plague on the sun has a vital connection with the weather.
The sun controls a great part of our weather patterns.
So here is extreme heat and cold and this causes great suffering on the earth.
Men are scorched.
9. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
When the temperature climbs into the 90’s today, we glibly exclaim, “It’s a real scorcher” and turn on the air conditioner. However, we know nothing of the scorching heat that will one day torture the ungodly inhabitants of this earth. With the shortages of energy due to rationing and the great judgments of God, there will be no air conditioners or any other forms of relief from the scorching heat of the sun which has been intensified by God.
Here men are scorched with heat. It is not hot enough to kill them, but hot enough to give them great physical pain.
Notice that through all this God never violates man’s volition.
They blaspheme the name of God. You see, blasphemy is only possible where truth is known and rejected.
Notice there is no brain damage here, they can still think and speak. They will not change their minds.
Repent here is the words meta noieo and they mean to change our minds.
To give him glory – a technical term meaning to believe in Christ.
So in the first judgments we have:
1. Loss of health.
2. Loss of food.
3. Loss of water.
4. Weather disasters.
10. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,
The fifth plague of judgment attacks the very throne of the Beast. As in the fifth trumpet judgment, and the ninth plague of Egypt (Ex. 10:21-23), there is darkness over the earth. It will be pitch black, so dark you can feel it. But this is only part of this bowl’s judgment.
Here is the fifth angel with the fifth vial.
This vial is poured out on the dictator of the revived Roman empire.
He is not only the political dictator, but he is the head of ecumenical religion in the earth.
His kingdom was full of darkness – means that darkness will protect the Jews in Palestine like it was when Christ died on the cross and caused their lives to be spared (Dan. 11).
They gnawed their tongues in pain – a figure showing the intense suffering.
11. And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
Here we have the reaction of the people to the first five judgments. Here is a description of their suffering.
The sores inflicted upon the worshipers of the Beast are still very painful, and the Beast will not be able to work his magic in curing them.
Terrible pain results in this intense darkness. So unbearable is the pain that men will gnaw their tongues in severe agony.
Apparently the darkness aggravates the pain and the results of judgment are compounded.
They blamed God and repented not.
Repented not – means a stepped up negative volition against God.
Read Daniel 11:36-45.
12. ¶ And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
Here is the sixth angel pouring out the sixth vial.
Poured out on the Euphrates River and it dried up. A path for the kings of the east is prepared.
The Euphrates River is the natural boundary between Palestine and the rest of the world.
Read Joshua 1:4; Genesis 15:18.
The Great Tribulation is fast coming to a climactic end. With the emptying of the sixth bowl the great Euphrates River is dried up. Flowing some 1,800 miles from the mountains to the Persian Gulf, this river is too deep to ford and too long to go around. Thus with the sixth bowl of God’s wrath emptied, the Euphrates ceased to be a barrier and opens the way for the kings of the East to march into the battle of Armageddon.
Verses 13-16 actually give parenthetic information about this great battle. That is how closely tied the sixth and seventh bowls of wrath are to the triumph of God’s judgment at Armageddon.
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 is Satan.
Beast is the dictator of the revived Roman empire.
False prophet is dictator of Palestine.
Three unclean spirits like frogs – Here is the trinity of the devil.
14. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
They will be miracle workers.
These dictators have an alliance and will be drawn into Palestine.
The battle lines for the last battle are being drawn. Things are shaping up in Palestine.
15. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
This is the second coming of Christ.
Blessed means happy.
Behold I come as a thief – a figure to emphasize that the coming of Christ is sudden.
Watcheth, and keepeth his garments – a phrase that means watch and be ready to fight.
16. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
This is the last great conflict.
This is the Battle of Armageddon.
Into a place – This is the Valley of Megiddo in the land of Israel.
The devil and his forces cannot withstand the God of glory.
17. ¶ And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.
With the emptying of the seventh bowl comes the cry from the heavenly throne, IT IS DONE.
This is the seventh and last angel to pour out his vial. This cup is poured out into the air.
Each of the vials is against religion.
The words it is done means that each of the cups has been poured out.
Great pain and suffering is the results of these judgments but no one is killed by them.
18. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
Judgment is soon to be completed. With this cry are the accompanying signs of voices, thunders, lightning’s, a great earthquake, the likes of which man has never seen before.
Here they face natural disturbances.
There have been many earthquakes in history, but none as severe as this.
These are terrible sights and sounds.
This is the final warning before the end.
19. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
Here we have disasters that occur in the cities. The great city is Jerusalem.
Jerusalem will be divided into three parts.
The capitols of great nations will fall.
Great Babylon in this verse refers to Rome.
The judgment of God will fall upon Rome because God remembers.
Cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath – means that God has finally judged ecumenical religion and the dictator of the revived Roman empire.
20. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
Jerusalem is upended and divided into three parts, Babylon is destroyed, islands of the sea disappear, mountains vanish, and hail of the weight of a talent falls out of heaven.
Here we begin to see the results of God’s judgment.
There will be a great change in the topography of the earth in the latter part of the Tribulation.
God will physically shake the whole world.
21. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.
Here we see the hailstones and each one weighing a talent. Men responded by blasphemy.
Today we talk about hail the size of a golf ball or grapefruit. But when God’s righteous judgment is poured out, the hail will weigh nearly 125 pounds. The destruction will be indescribable.
We have seen God’s righteousness in judgment and in His wrath. But what is man’s response?
Does he fall on his knees and repent for worshiping the Beast? Not at all.
In the final illustration of the hardness of man’s heart, no one repents or gives glory to God.
Instead they blasphemed the name of God (vs. 9) and blasphemed the God of heaven, and repented not of their deeds (vs. 11).
Even in judgment, when the righteousness of God is fully revealed through His wrath on sin, men and women will continue to harden their hearts, blaspheme His holy name, and choose to worship sin and the Beast.
Clark, Neal. Survey of the Book of Revelation. Pensacola, Florida: Thee WFBI Press, 1999. Print.
Falwell, Jerry. Liberty Commentary on the New Testament. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty Press, 1978. Print.