The Seven Plagues of Revelation 16
Summary: In the book of Revelation John describes seven plagues to come at the end of time—seven plagues typified by the plagues of Egypt in Moses' time.
In ancient times, God’s people the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. God wanted to take them out but Pharaoh hardened his heart. When Egypt’s pharaoh refused to let God’s people go and instead took away their right to a Sabbath rest, God struck Egypt with plagues (Exodus 5). These events symbolize what will happen in the final days. The circumstances will be similar, and the application will be universal.
Because Moses reestablished the Israelites’ Sabbath, Pharaoh increased their workload, making it impossible for the Israelites to keep the Sabbath. When this law was enacted and God's people could no longer worship according to their consciences, God intervened. The plagues came and Israel was freed from slavery and taken to the Promised Land.
In Revelation, John describes the seven last plagues that will fall at the end of the world’s probation. This close of probation, just like in Egypt, will come after the mark of the Beast is enforced, depriving God’s people of their freedom to worship Him according to the dictates of their conscience. In the end times, the Sabbath will once again be the issue.
I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God (Revelation 15:1).
In Revelation, John sees the heavenly temple fill with smoke.The heavenly temple service ends and probation is closed: “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” (Revelation 15:8).
Let’s have a look at the symbolism found in the seven plagues of Revelation 16. Once these plagues start falling, there will be those who will attempt to explain away each of these plagues as a coincidence or as a natural occurrence. But the wise will understand where the plagues are coming from.
The First Plague
Summary: The first plague of Revelation 16 falls on those who have the mark of Beast. God's people are present, but protected.
And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. 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 (Revelation 16:1-2).
In this text, the first plague falls on those who have the mark of the Beast; God's people are divinely protected. In Egypt, God separated the Egyptians and the Israelites so that His people were not affected by the last seven plagues.
Later in Revelation, before Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed, God warned His people about the coming destruction. He pointed them to the prophecies of Daniel and urged them to study and understand them. Those who listened to His counsel escaped with their lives, but those who did not perished. They suffered the consequences of their choice. God had pleaded long and it was only with aching heart that He gave them up.
Just as Pharaoh did not relent when the plagues fell, so the unrepentant will not cease in their endeavors to destroy God's people. The crisis will escalate until it climaxes in the death decree against those who refuse to honor the Antichrist. The promises of God are, however, sure:
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it will not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plagues come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways (Psalms 91:5-11).
What a comforting thought—angels will protect those who have the seal of God.
The Second Plague
Summary: Revelation 16's second plague is similar to the plague of the Egyptians in Exodus 7.
And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea (Revelation 16:3).
If we look closely at our planet today, we can see a foretaste of what this plague will be like. All around us, we can see the consequences of the toxic waste we have dumped into the delicate marine and fresh water systems of the world. Dangerous algal blooms in oceans and river systems are becoming more and more common. These blooms produce effects that are very similar to the second plague in Revelation.
Blood-red blooms of algae and microorganisms cause the death of millions of aquatic creatures by depriving them of the oxygen they need to survive. The algae and dead organisms then rot to form a blood -like sludge.
However, even though humanity is producing enough pollution to duplicate this plague, when the second angel pours out his vial, it will be much worse than anything that humanity has managed to achieve.
The Third Plague
Summary: Just as God took care of Elijah, so God will take care of His people during the third plague of Revelation 16.
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 (Revelation 16:4-7).
In this passage, while those who turned against God continue in their determination to shed the blood of those who love Him, the waters turn to blood. But the promise for the people of God is that “bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure” (Isaiah 33:16).
Just as Elijah was taken care of in his calamity, so God will take care of His children in their calamity. The prophet Elijah serves as a type of the end- time people of God. Elijah did not see death, but was translated and taken to heaven. Similarly, those that receive the seal of God will also be translated without seeing death.
Just as Elijah was persecuted by the church-state alliance of his day, so God's people will suffer a similar persecution at the end of time. God provided Elijah's needs, and God will also provide the needs of the faithful at the end of this great drama of rebellion against His government.
The Fourth Plague
Summary: The current holes in the ozone layer, allowing the sun to blaze through, seem to warn the people on Earth that the fourth plague of Revelation 16 is coming.
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 (Revelation 16:8-9).
During the fourth plague, the sun’s radiation will not only scorch the earth, but will also scorch people. As in the case of the aquatic disasters produced by the previous plagues, we also have present-day indicators of how this plague will affect humanity. With the destruction of the ozone layer, ultraviolet radiation has increased dramatically and some countries have introduced dress codes for school children to avoid exposure.
Weather patterns have changed dramatically over the last decades. Changing weather patterns have resulted in unprecedented droughts in some areas and massive floods in others. The droughts, often associated with the Él Niño phenomenon, have caused raging fires that have swallowed up millions of acres of forests and grazing.
What is being witnessed today is merely a foretaste of worse things to come. The prophet Joel foresaw this plague and had this to say:
How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate. O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and flames hath burned all the trees of the field (Joel 1:18-19).
In the same way that God protected the Israelites from the plagues that smote the Egyptians (Exodus 11:4-8), God's people will be protected from this plague. "The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night” (Psalm 121:6).
God protected the Israelites from the heat of the day by being a pillar of cloud for them, and protected them from the cold of the night by being a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21). He will also protect His people when this fourth plague comes to fruition.
The Fifth Plague
Summary: The fifth plague of Revelation 16 brings darkness against the Beast.
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 (Revelation 16:10-11).
This plague will strike at the throne of the Beast in particular. The Papacy has kept the people of the world in darkness, and so darkness will be their portion. With their tongues they deceived the nations, and they will gnaw their tongues in agony.
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).
Light emanates from God, and in Him there is no darkness. The Papacy replaced Jesus, the Light of the world, with its own systems. Papal Rome slights Christ’s role as Mediator and crucifies Him again and again in the mass. Instead of the Word, Rome feeds the people on liturgies and earthly commandments.
The Word of God, which had been withheld and distorted by the Papacy, could have cured Rome’s malady, had it been willing to listen. “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130).
But instead of heeding God’s Word, Rome tampered with God’s law and changed His ordinances:
The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant (Isaiah 24:5).
If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever (Jeremiah 31:36).
God does not change. Rather, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).
The fifth plague will bring about a turning point. The inhabitants of the earth, already reeling under the effects of the previous plagues, will witness the agony of the Beast (the papal system) and begin to doubt its credentials. Just as Egypt’s support for Pharaoh waned when the plagues hit (Exodus 10:7), so support for the papal system will begin to wane, opening the way for the sixth plague.
The Sixth Plague
Summary: Revelation 16's sixth plague has a connection to literal history, but means much more for us today than a simple ancient story.
The sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and its water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared (Revelation 16:12).
Two issues are brought forward in this passage: the Euphrates river dries up and this prepares the way for the kings of the East. The Euphrates was the river that fed into Babylon. This verse reminds us of this city's ancient fall when the river dried up to prepare the way for the conquerors to enter the city. One hundred fifty years before Cyrus, the conqueror of Babylon, was born, the prophet Isaiah mentioned his name:
Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates, and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron (Isaiah 45:1-2).
This is an amazing prophecy. Cyrus is here a type of Christ who will one day come and rescue His children from mystic Babylon and take them to the heavenly Jerusalem.
That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers: That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid (Isaiah 44:27-28).
Isaiah 44:27 says that God Himself will dry up the waters of the Euphrates and this will cause Babylon’s fall by opening the way for Cyrus to enter the city. History reveals that Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon in 539 BC because the waters of the Euphrates stopped flowing. Cyrus is called a shepherd, and in Isaiah 45:1 he was called the Lord's anointed. Just as Cyrus set Israel free without price, Jesus will set His people free without price.
Just as the waters of literal Babylon dried up, so the waters of spiritual Babylon will dry up. The waters, according to Revelation 17, are the nations that support Rome. This support will begin to crumble.
And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues (Revelation 17:15).
Cyrus and his father-in-law Darius, a type of father and son, were the kings of the East who conquered Babylon in 539 BC when the waters of the Euphrates dried up. Who are the kings that will come to our rescue once the antitypical Euphrates dries up? If Cyrus was a type of Christ, then the antitypical kings of the East must be Christ and His Father. The prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel speak about Christ’s Second Coming:
Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow (Isaiah 41:2).
Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the east: 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 (Ezekiel 43:1-2).
Jesus will come in His glory, His Father's glory, and the glory of all the holy angels:
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels (Mark 8:38).
The Seventh Plague
Summary: Hail, the seventh plague of Revelation 16, will end the rebellion against God.
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. 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.
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. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 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 (Revelation 16:17-21).
The final plague of hail will destroy the nations of the earth. Babylon will disintegrate into its three components. The greatest earthquake in history will destroy the last life on earth. Huge blocks of hail weighing over 100 pounds will end the rebellion. No one will be left. In the midst of this confusion, Christ’s people will be taken away.
In Job 38:22-23, we have a reference to this war of hail:
Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?
Christ is the victor in this conflict:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:11-16).
The redeemed will shout for joy when their conflict ends, because they will be taken to the heavenly Canaan.
And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation (Isaiah 25:9).
Misinterpreting the Plagues
Summary: Satan knows that the truth of the seven last plagues means the end of his kingdom.
The last plagues fall after probation has closed. This is important to know because the last plagues could be misinterpreted. Probation closes after Jesus completes judging every soul, dead or alive.
As soon as Christ is done this great work, He throws down His censer and says, "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" (Revevelation 22:11). Then the seven last plagues begin to fall, and Jesus begins preparations to go get His people.
There will no longer be any need for delay. All those that have chosen God have made their decision and been sealed (Ezekiel 9:4-6). All those who have chosen Satan have made their decision. No matter how much time they would be given, they would not change their minds. They have become joined to what they have chosen—for some it is God's ways, and for others it is sin and Satan's way. There is no more hope of change, and therefore, no more need for God's people to live in this world full of sin and sorrow any longer.
During the sixth plague there is silence in heaven, while Jesus and his entourage of angels comes to redeem the saints from the earth. But prior to this plague, the first five plagues will be falling on earth, and many will be tempted to misinterpret what is happening. Satan is aware of the prophecies of the Scriptures, and knows that God will eventually overthrow his counterfeit system. Satan knows that the last plagues are intended to punish his system, but the plagues will be a golden opportunity for him to heap the blame upon those that have resisted his system. He will have to devise a prophetic interpretation to explain why these plagues are falling.
Through miracles and signs, the world is already being led to believe that the Roman Catholic Church truly is the representative of God on the earth. Even Jews and Muslims are capitulating. More signs and wonders will be used to bring the world to its knees believing that God is with the Papacy. The global disasters that will increase as we near the final moments of Earth's history will be blamed on those who refuse to bow before the Papal power. The disasters will be considered a result of the moral decline and departure from the teachings of the Church, and this will lead the world leaders to cooperate even more with the Church to restore "peace."
Legislation to control the consciences of people will be easily passed when disasters are mounting, and the Papal power is calling for moral revival. Supposedly, the chastisements are meant to cleanse the world of wrong influences so that the way will be prepared for the coming of the Christ. But in reality, the plagues are a punishment upon those that have aligned themselves with Satan's government in deceiving the world.
Because the close of probation is such a serious event, now is the time to turn to God and align our lives with His will, if we want to be among the ones redeemed when He comes to take His people home (2 Corinthians 6:2).