THE VIALS OF THE WRATH OF GOD
REVELATION -- CHAPTERS 15 & 16
AIM: To show the terrible wrath of God upon the Christ-rejecting people of the last days of the tribulation.
POINT OF CONTACT: Do you think people would get right with God and go to church if the sun started moving closer and closer to the earth? Our lesson will teach us about people's reactions to such an event today.
INTRODUCTION: We have seen as we have studied this book, the wrath of God poured out upon the earth and its inhabitants. We have seen also some terrible things that Satan will do during this period. Our lesson today teaches us of the final stages of God's wrath which will be poured out upon the earth immediately prior to the Battle of Armageddon (Chapter 19). This wrath is pictured as being held in seven vials or bowls (15:7). These seven bowls are given to seven angels and in quite rapid succession they are poured out upon the earth.
I. Preparation for the Vials of God's Wrath - Ch. 15
Heavenly Tribulation Saints Worship God - Vs. 1-4
Vs. 1 -- The contents of the vials are here described as plagues.
Vs. 2 -- Here are the tribulation saints (the martyrs & the 144,000) standing on what appeared to be "a sea of glass mingled with fire", which speaks of divine judgement proceeding from God's Holiness.
Vs. 3 & 4 -- The Song of Moses. This song is recorded in Ex. 15:1-21. Just as God destroyed Israel's enemy Pharaoh, so God at this point in Revelation is about to destroy the Pharaoh of the tribulation and these tribulation saints can see that victory, so they rejoice & sing.
Although many may wonder & question the justice of God in bringing such wrath upon the people on the earth, these tribulation saints who have suffered from the wrath of Satan & the injustices of his followers state that God is just (justified) in His afflictions. Also, a heavenly angel similarly acclaims God's justness in His acts of wrath. CF. Rev. 16:5-7.
"All nations shall worship before the Lamb." CF. Rev. 21:24-26.
II. The Temple in Heaven Opened - Vs. 15:5 - 16:1
Vs. 5-7 -- The angels coming out of the Temple indicate that the judgements to be poured out stem from the holiness of God and are properly required of God who must do all things right.
The white linen here refers to righteousness in action. The Golden girdles and the Linen in place. Gold reflects the glory of God and perhaps this speaks of the fact that these angels pouring out righteous judgements on the earth thereby will bring Glory to God.
Vs. 8 -- As the angels emerge from the sanctuary it is filled with smoke proceeding from the Glory of God and His power, a pointed reminder of God's Holiness. CF. Ex. 40:34,35.
Access by man into the Temple is prevented by the smoke (the holiness of God) until the Righteous judgement and wrath of God is meted out. Note: No man is worthy to come into the presence of God because of His holiness. Only we who have accepted Christ & His atoning Blood as the payment for our sin can enter into the presence of God & that because God's righteous wrath was vented upon Him in our stead.
Chapter 16:1 -- This seems to be the voice & the command of God to these angels to pour out the plagues upon the earth.
III. The Vials of Gods Wrath - 16:2 - 21
1. The First Vial of God's Wrath - 16:2
This vial brought boils or ulcers upon the Anti-Christ followers. Imagine running boils and bloody ulcers upon the men who worship the beast. There is a remarkable similarity in these plagues with the plagues in Egypt. Ex. 7-10. The Egyptians had boils. Ex. 9:8-12
2. The Second Vial of God's Wrath - Vs. 3 (CF. 8:8,9)
Every living thing in the sea died. CF. Ex. 7:20-25. The salty sea is a great cleansing and purifying reservoir for the filth of the earth that runs down into the sea. But now the sea becomes the grave of death instead of the womb of life. The cool sea breeze becomes a stench from the carcasses floating on the surface of the water (that is now bloody) and lining the shore. Commerce is paralyzed. Note: We take so much for granted. Do we actually realize how much we are dependent on God today? The light company, the gas company, the water company send us bills -- but where did they get the light, the gas, the water? Has God ever sent you a bill for the sunshine, for the water you drink or the air you breathe? Have you paid Him? Do you give Him your tithe? Mal. 3:8-10; Mt. 23:23.
3. The Third Vial of God's Wrath - Vs. 4-7
This plague is similar to the third trumpet but more severe. Here the water supply of the earth becomes blood and unfit for human consumption. The "angel of the waters" or the Superintendent of God's Water Department says that God is righteous and just in doing this. People on the earth have shed the blood of God's saints and prophets, and so know they must drink blood; for they are worthy (deserving). CF. Gal. 6:6,7.
4. The Fourth Vial of God's Wrath - Vs. 8,9.
Men (no doubt those mentioned in Vs. 2 are referred to) are burned and scorched by this plague but they will not repent. Some think that all men would repent if they only knew the power and righteous judgement of God but this shows this is not so. Jere. 17:9 and Gen. 6:5.
In this plague the sun is affected by its heat being intensified upon the earth.
5. The Fifth Vial of God's Wrath - Vs. 10-11
There is a remarkable similarity with the 9th plague in Egypt. Ex. 10:21,22. The Anti-Christ's kingdom will be darkened. It will be a frightening experience. The sun's heat will be increased but the light will be decreased. Joel 2:1,2,31. The sores inflicted from the first vial are still afflicting people and at this stage seem to become aggravated and the pain increases. Still, they will not repent. Some think wicked men will repent when faced with great catastrophes, but this refutes such thinking. The greatest motivating force for repentance is the knowledge of the Goodness of God. Rom.2:4.
6. The Sixth Vial of God's Wrath - Vs. 12-16
The great river Euphrates (the cradle of civilization) has kept back the hordes from the East but now it is dried up so that these hordes can come to Palestine for the Battle of Armageddon. CF. Dan. 11:44.
Three unclean spirits or demons come out of the mouths of the Satanic Trinity. "Like frogs" denoting that these three personalities, like a frog, come from quagmire and dark, evil places. These spirits will work miracles, will get the ear of the kings of the earth and the whole world, influencing them to send their armies to Palestine.
During the tribulation period, the Anti-Christ will rule the Revived Roman Empire or the United States of Europe. Sometime during the tribulation, after making a covenant with the Jews, the nations of the North (Persia, Turkey, etc.) will come against Palestine and also Southern Nations (Egypt, etc.) Dan. 11:40-43. The Anti-Christ will come forth and defeat them, driving them from Palestine. Then the Anti-Christ will die, be resurrected and the world will worship him. He will then break his covenant with the Jews and they will flee.
Rev. 12:13,14. The two witnesses and the 144,000 will be a constant problem to him during the last part of the tribulation.
Near the end of the tribulation, Russia, the Kings of the East, and the Kings of the South (Egypt, Ethiopia, etc.) and the Anti-Christ will come with their armies into Palestine to do battle, it appears, against the Anti-Christ.
Then something happens to unite them together to battle against God. Perhaps its the death, resurrection, and ascension of the two witnesses. At any rate, the armies of the world will be arrayed against Christ at the Battle of Armageddon.
Armageddon means that Mount of Slaughter, which is in the plain of Megiddo. This will be the central point although the armies will be arrayed for 100 miles north and south of this point. (14:20)
Vs. 15 -- Though the armies will be arrayed against Christ, He will come upon them unexpectedly. This is a warning to rebels and an encouragement to God's saints to watch and wait. CF. I Thess. 5:2; Mt.24:43.
7.The Seventh Vial of God's Wrath - Vs. 17-21
We are right at the end of the tribulation at this point. The Battle of Armageddon will follow. Ch. 19.
"It is done." This is in harmony with His cry upon the cross, "It is finished." At that point in history redemption was wrought and salvation finished for man. There is nothing man can contribute to his salvation; he must simply receive it by faith. For those who have refused God's salvation, there is nothing they can do to escape the judgement of God. It is done. Notice this voice came from within the Temple.
The Great City no doubt is Jerusalem. The cities of the nations probably means the buildings in the cities will crumble. Great Babylon is Rome.
A talent is approximately 100 pounds. What great destruction this will bring! There will be no place to hide. Men, instead of repenting, show their utter depravity by blaspheming God and thereby add to their punishment. It is hard for us to accept God's declaration of the human heart as being so corrupt and wicked and hard, yet history and prophecy confirm it. In order to save some God had to do a desperate thing. He gave His Son to die.
CONCLUSION: Thus God's longsuffering, waiting for men to repent, is past. Now the wrath of God has fallen -- all that remains is the Battle of Armageddon where He will defeat the Satanic Trinity in the most convincing manner. Then, He will set up a righteous government upon the earth. Are you sure you are saved? Will you escape this awful period?
1. Will the vials of wrath be poured out rapidly upon the earth?
2. What are the contents of the vials described as?
3. Why do the tribulation saints sing the "Song of Moses"?
4. What do the tribulation saints think about God's wrath being poured out upon the earth?
5. The White Linen clothing the angels wear refers to what?
6. Who gives the command to pour out the vials?
7. What is the first plague? Who is afflicted by it?
8. What is the second plague?
9. What is the third plague?
10. Why do we know men won't repent simply because they know the power of God?
11. Will wicked men repent when great catastrophes come upon them?
12. What is the greatest motivating force for bringing men to repentance?
13. Where will the Battle of Armageddon be fought?
14.How much does a talent weigh?