The Sixth Bowl

Revelation 16:12-16
The End Times

In my last post, we considered Revelation 16:10-11 ~ The Fifth Bowl. In this post, we continue with Revelation 16:12-16 to explore The Sixth Bowl.

The War of Armageddon (Har Megiddo)

The War of Armageddon (Har Megiddo), the final earthly battle, is demonically inspired. It is called the war of the Great Day of Adonai-Tzva’ot (“the Lord of Heavenly Armies”). In this conflict the kings of the whole inhabited world come against God’s people; but God, through His Messiah Yeshua, wins the victory after Babylon the Great has been destroyed (compare Zechariah 12 & 14).

“The sixth one poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water dried up, in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east. 13 And I saw three unclean spirits that looked like frogs; they came from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet. 14 They are miracle-working demonic spirits which go out to the kings of the whole inhabited world to assemble them for the War of the Great Day of Adonai-Tzva’ot. 15 (“Look! I am coming like a thief! How blessed are those who stay alert and keep their clothes clean, so that they won’t be walking naked and be publicly put to shame!”) 16 And they gathered the kings to the place which in Hebrew is called Har Megiddo.” ~ Revelation 16:12-16 (CJB)

The sixth one poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water dried up, in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east. This bowl, like the sixth shofar, affects the River Euphrates. Under the sixth shofar, the demon army of 200 million riders was released from the Euphrates. Here the Euphrates is dried up to make way for the kings from the east and their vast army. This is in the area of present-day Iran, Iraq, and Syria. In years past, an army of 200 million men seemed inconceivable, but with current populations in China, Russia, India, and other eastern countries today, it is entirely feasible.

Because of its size (1,780 miles long; 300-1200 yards wide; ten to forty feet deep) the great river Euphrates is a natural boundary and an excellent buffer zone during times of war. History gives many examples of armies that were stopped because they could not forge the river.

This war is predicted in Psalm 2:2-4: The earth’s kings are taking positions, leaders conspiring together, against Adonai and his anointed.3 They cry, ‘Let’s break their fetters! Let’s throw off their chains!’ 4 He who sits in heaven laughs; Adonai looks at them in derision.”

And I saw three unclean spirits that looked like frogs; they came from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet. 14 They are miracle-working demonic spirits which go out to the kings of the whole inhabited world to assemble them for the War of the Great Day of Adonai-Tzva’ot. Gary Cohen shares these interesting thoughts: [1]

In verse 13 we see that from the Infernal Trinity there goes out a clamor for the armies of this world to gather together in northern Palestine, the approach valley-plain to Jerusalem, Armageddon (verse 16). Why? We do not yet know the Satanic reasons that these three will give to the world. Some have suggested that the western world will desire to have a showdown against the eastern armies marching to take Palestine. This may be it. Perhaps both east and west are coming as a United Nations force to once and for all settle the Middle East by totally annihilating Israel, and representative armies from all over the world are to participate in this necessary “for the good of mankind” genocide? This would certainly fit the circumstances of Joel 3 and Zechariah 12:14.

This is a revealing insight into the way God works among the nations of the world to bring to pass His will. It is amazing how the leaders of the world’s countries think they are in control of what happens when in reality they are controlled by unseen spiritual forces and moved along a course God has already laid out.

(“Look! I am coming like a thief! How blessed are those who stay alert and keep their clothes clean, so that they won’t be walking naked and be publicly put to shame!”) Right here in the middle of this prophecy concerning the most catastrophic events ever to afflict humanity, Yeshua makes an announcement! It’s like a wake-up call. Who is He speaking to? I believe He is speaking to two groups of Believers! First, He is speaking to those of us who are alive now. He is reminding us that His return is the theme of Revelation. The message here is for us to remain faithful; to live an exemplary life and reach out to those around us with the message of the Besorah.

The second group of Believers would be those who are alive in the closing months, weeks, days, and hours of the Tribulation period. They are to remain steadfast, knowing the end is close at hand. These are the ones who haven’t taken the mark of the beast; nor bowed down to him, nor given in to his commands. They probably are meeting under cover of night, knowing that to worship the Lord openly would cost them their lives. I thought the Left Behind series did an excellent job of portraying this group.

To all Believers of any age the message remains the same: remain faithful, keep your garments white, Yeshua is coming as a thief in the night.

And they gathered the kings to the place which in Hebrew is called Har Megiddo. In Zechariah 12:11, which also places Megiddo in the context of the Last Days, the Hebrew word is Megiddon: When that day comes, there will be great mourning in Yerushalayim, mourning like that for Hadad-Rimmon in the Megiddon Valley.”

Hadad-Rimmon was the place in the Valley of Yizre’el (Jezreel) near Megiddo where King Yoshiyahu (Josiah) fell at the hands of Pharaoh Nekhoh in 609 B.C.E. (2 Kings 23:29-30).

David Stern comments: [2]

The city of Megiddo, which overlooks the Yizre’el Valley and guards a major pass on the ancient Via Maris (“Way of the Sea”) connecting Egypt with Syria, has seen many battles and much mourning. The archeological remains, spanning a period from the Chalcolithic Age (4th millennium B.C.E.) to the Persian conquest (7th century C.E.), consist of twenty levels, indicating the city was destroyed and rebuilt many times. In this valley, Dvorah [Deborah] and Barak defeated the Canaanites (Judges 4-5; Megiddo is mentioned at Judges 5:19) and Gid’on the Midianites (Judges 6-8). In modern times both Napoleon (1799) and General Allenby (1918) defeated the Turks near Megiddo. The hundred square miles of the Yizre’el Valley would provide more than enough space for the conflict envisioned in the book of Revelation.

 However, the final war may not take place at Har Megiddo at all, but in Jerusalem, at Har Megiddo, the “mount of his choice fruit,” i.e., the mountain of God’s blessing, Mount Zion. Mount Zion has already been mentioned at 14:1; moreover, the imagery resembles Joel’s picture of the Day of Adonai, when God’s power goes forth from Mount Zion against the forces of evil (Joel 2:1-11, 4:16-17 (3:16-17); compare also Isaiah 31:4-9). The next passage (vv. 17-21) resembles 14:14-20, which also draws on imagery from Joel 4 (see 14:14-20N). Strengthening the case further Zechariah 12:11, cited above, mentions Jerusalem along with Megiddon.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 16:10-11 [3]

Historicist Approach:

Since the Garden of Eden and later Babylon were both situated at the great river Euphrates, Historicists believe human history will come to an end where it began.  They also believe that the Euphrates points to the Turkish Empire.  Some believe that the three spirits are paganism, the papacy, and Islam. Many modern Historicists do see the War of the Great Day of Adonai-Tzva’ot as a real armed conflict of international proportions.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists point out that Cyrus the Persian did divert the Euphrates in 536 BCE in conquering the Babylonians. Again, they still see these events as relating to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE.

Futurist Approach:

Most Futurists believe the kings from the east may include Japan, China, India, as well as other lesser nations.  The involvement of every nation on earth is taken literally by many.  They raise an interesting conundrum: Since the countries of the whole world will be effectively under a single government during the Tribulation, how will it be possible for there to be a world war at the end of the Tribulation? One possibility is the conflict will be against the Messiah and His Heavenly Army.  The second option is that the final battle will be one of rebellion and insurrection on the part of many nations against the beast’s authority.

Idealist Approach:

There is no consensus among Idealists as to whether this passage describes spiritual or physical warfare.

In my next post, we continue to explore the plagues by examing Revelation 16:17-21 ~ The Seventh Bowl.         

                Click here for PDF version.                                                    

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[3] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Fifth Bowl

Revelation 16:10-11
The End Times

In my last post, we considered Revelation 16:8-9 ~ The Fourth Bowl. In this post, we continue with Revelation 16:10-11 to explore The Fifth Bowl.

“The fifth one poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom grew dark. People gnawed on their tongues from the pain, 11yet they cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and did not turn from their sinful deeds.”  ~ Revelation 16:10-11 (CJB)

The fifth bowl is poured onto the throne of the political beast, whose realm had suffered greatly from the first four bowls. Darkness ~ probably real darkness ~ fills his kingdom. Perhaps this is like the darkness that fell over the land of Egypt (Exodus 10:21-23). Humanity continues to blaspheme.

The fifth one poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom grew dark. People gnawed on their tongues from the pain, 11yet they cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and did not turn from their sinful deeds. On the surface this seems to imply a partial blackout covering only the place of the beast; however, looking back to Chapter Thirteen, where the beast rises up out of the sea, his dominion and power extend to every tribe, people, language and nation (Revelation 13:7). It would seem then that his kingdom covers the earth. If true, then this plague involves a total blackout of planet earth. How long it lasts is not known. However, it continues for a sufficient time to cause complete panic among the inhabitants of the earth.

The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast. This bowl was directed to the controller of the people of the earth ~ the beast, the Antichrist, who had been placed into power by Satan (see chapter 13). His throne was merely an imitation of God’s great throne in heaven (Revelation 4:2-11).

When the fifth bowl was poured out, the Antichrist’s kingdom grew dark. This was not like the partial darkness that had occurred during the fourth trumpet (Revelation 8:12). This was total and complete darkness ~ like the plague visited upon Egypt, which is described as so dark that “during that time people scarcely moved, for they could not see” (Exodus 10:23).

It’s interesting to note that at the same time people are still suffering from the sores of the first plague. G. E. Jones says: [1]

In the days of Moses and Aaron there came a plague of darkness on the land of Egypt so intense that it could be felt. See Ex.10:22-23. All who accept the Bible as being God’s Word believe that those plagues which came on Egypt were literal. The plagues about which we read in Revelation will be just as literal as were those on Egypt. In fact, we can see a striking similarity in those plagues. Those that will come on the Beast and his followers will be greatly intensified. Let us not try to explain away the word of God, but let us be willing to believe it.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 16:10-11 [2]

 Historicist Approach:

Historicists believe the throne of the beast is a reference to Rome. The darkness that fills the beast’s kingdom is symbolic of confusion, disorder, and the distress often the emblem of calamity during the French Revolution.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists agree with the Historicists concerning the throne of the beast being a reference to Rome. The darkness is symbolic in prophetic scripture representing political turmoil and the overthrow of a ruler.  This appears to have occurred in Rome after Nero committed suicide on 68 CE.

Futurist Approach:

Futurists again divide between a symbolic and a literal interpretation.  The darkness affects the political power of the beast.  Lindsey takes a literal approach stating: “I believe there’s a reason God’s blackout of this Revised Roman Empire: the darkness will allow the movement of 200 million Oriental soldiers into the area of the Middle East, the subject of the next judgment.” The pains and sores relate to ongoing effects of the first bowl judgment.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists seem to take a literal approach to this passage.

In my next post, we continue to explore the plagues by examining Revelation 16:12-16 ~ The Sixth Bowl.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Fourth Bowl

Revelation 16:8-9
The End Times

In my last post, we examined Sukkot. In this post, we come back to Revelation 16:8-9 to explore The Fourth Bowl

“The fourth one poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was permitted to burn people with fire. 9 People were burned by the intense heat; yet they cursed the name of God, who had the authority over these plagues, instead of turning from their sins to give him glory.” ~ Revelation 16:8-9 (CJB)

The fourth bowl, unlike the fourth shofar which darkened the sun, intensified the sun’s heat. Perhaps God’s darkening of the sun was to keep the intensity of the sun’s heat from getting so extreme that all would perish. There is also an interesting passage in Matthew where Yeshua, while describing the end of the age, says, Indeed, if the length of this time had not been limited, no one would survive; but for the sake of those who have been chosen, its length will be limited.” Matthew 24:22 (CJB) Even through the worst of days, God makes provision for His people.

Even as God pours out these final warnings to humanity, the people refuse to repent and continue to blaspheme Him.

The fourth one poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was permitted to burn people with fire. 9 People were burned by the intense heat; yet they cursed the name of God, who had the authority over these plagues, instead of turning from their sins to give him glory. For the most part, we seem to take for granted the water, the sun, and all other God given blessings that enhance our lives. In the previous two plagues the waters of the earth are polluted, and now the sun is altered in such a way that the increased heat scorches people. It would be logical, in light of this, that humanity should repent and turn to God, but, as in the case of other such events, again with this plague there is no repentance, no godly sorrow; just a blaspheming of God. This seems to imply that they could have repented, that God in this fury of judgments was still extending His mercies, and yet God knew, as in the case of Pharaoh, their hearts were growing harder and they had lost the capacity for repentance. Oliver Greene has the following to add: [1]

In Revelation 8:12 the heavenly bodies were affected. “One third” were blacked out. But here it is altogether different. The power of the sun is increased until the terrific heat and blazes of fire from the sun scorch and burn the backs of men, roasting them. What a horrible thought! God takes His mighty hand, pushes the sun so near the earth that the sunrays scorch the backs of earth’s inhabitants! God created the sun, and it would be a small thing for Him to put it close enough to earth to scorch men. Both Moses and Malachi speak of a day in which it will “BURN AS AN OVEN,” when men shall be “DEVOURED WITH BURNING HEAT” (Deut. 32:24, Mal. 4:1). Hear this solemn declaration: “The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof: because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant… therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” (Isaiah 24:4-6).

David Stern comments on verse 9: [2]

Here is the New Testament’s most cogent description of the normal behavior of hardened sinners. They cursed the name of God… instead of turning from their sins, the result of which would have been to give him glory. Although God had the authority over these plagues, these unbelievers, in their irrationality, instead of entreating the only one who could help them, curse him. They recognize that God controls the plagues but blame him instead of themselves, since, being amoral and materialistic, they see no causal connection between their own sinful behavior and these events as judgment. They remain unrepentant throughout the chapter.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 16:8-9 [3]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists believe the time of this vision’s fulfillment overlaps the time of the second and third bowls during the French Revolution. All three are judgments focused upon papal Rome.

Preterist Approach: 

Preterists cannot take a literal interpretation of this vision as there is no record of such an event occurring with the fall of Jerusalem or Rome. Instead, they take the sun symbolically as representing an influential political or religious leader

Futurist Approach:

Futurists again look at this vision as either symbolic or literal.  Symbolically, it relates to a supreme, ruling authority.  Others take the vision literally.  As is his general approach, Hal Lindsey compares this to the result of full-scale nuclear exchange which radically upsets the universe.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists take this vision literally.

In my next post, we continue to explore the plagues by examing Revelation 16:10-11 ~ The Fifth Bowl.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[3] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Third Bowl

Revelation 16:4-7
The End Times

In my last post, we examined Yom Kippur. In this post, we come back to Revelation 16:4-7 to explore The Third Bowl.

“The third one poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they turned to blood. 5 Then I heard the angel of the waters say, “O HaKadosh, the One who is and was, you are just in these judgments of yours. 6 They poured out the blood of your people and your prophets, so you have made them drink blood. They deserve it!” 7 Then I heard the altar say,“Yes, Adonai, God of Heaven’s Armies, your judgments are true and just!” ~ Revelation 16:4-7 (CJB)

The rivers and springs of water on which the third bowl was poured became blood also. It was the blood of Yeshua that could have saved these people, and now it is blood that will kill all living creatures in the sea and probably many people, for there is no more water to drink.

The third one poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they turned to blood. This third bowl judgment is very similar to the second, except it affects the fresh water supplies rather than the seas of salt water. The magnitude of the chaos and hysteria that will develop due to this plague will be overwhelming. People will be hoarding all the liquid they can gather whether bottled water, soft drinks, or any other source that has not been affected by this plague. The frenzy surrounding the search for fresh water will continue to escalate, as no living being can live very long without water. These times are obviously what Yeshua was referring to when He said: Indeed, if the length of this time had not been limited, no one would survive; but for the sake of those who have been chosen, its length will be limited.” ~ Matthew 24:22 (CJB)

Then I heard the angel of the waters say, “O HaKadosh, the One who is and was, you are just in these judgments of yours. 6 They poured out the blood of your people and your prophets, so you have made them drink blood. They deserve it!” 7 Then I heard the altar say,“Yes, Adonai, God of Heaven’s Armies, your judgments are true and just!  Ray Stedman gives the following explanation:

After this third bowl of judgment is poured out, John hears the voice of the third angel. The angel affirms that God’s judgment is right and just. It is based on the principle we hear so often these days: “What goes around, comes around.” What you dish out, you will someday have to take. Those who shed the blood of the prophets and the saints of God will have to drink what they have spilled: a torrent of blood. Then something amazing takes place: the altar speaks! The altar is the symbol of redemption, of the substitute sacrifice, of the shedding of innocent blood that removes the penalty of sin from the guilty. In the day of judgment when it is too late to pray, even the altar, the symbol of God’s mercy and grace, will declare that God is just in meting out consequences and judgment to those who have earned it.

O HaKadosh means “O the Holy One.” Rabbinic writings often refer to God as HaKadosh, barukh hu, “the Holy One, blessed be He.” For example, in the well-known ‘Aleinu prayer recited near the end of each synagogue service: “We bend the knee, bow and acknowledge before the supreme King of kings, HaKadosh, barukh hu … that He is our God, there is none else.” Here too, the reference is to God the Father, but at Acts 2:27, 13:35, quoting Psalm 16:10, the term applies to the Messiah.

They poured out the blood of your people and your prophets, so you have made them drink blood. They deserve it! This verse and Revelation 17:6, 16 echo Isaiah 49:26, where God says to Israel, “I will feed your oppressors with their own flesh, and they will be drunk on their own blood.” The nations that fight against God’s people will shed each other’s blood in civil warfare. Compare Ezekiel 38:21-22, Haggai 2:21-22 and Zechariah 14:12-13 (which also suggests the first and fifth bowl judgments).

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 16:4-7 [1]

 Historicist Approach:

Historicists believe that the timing of the first four bowl judgments coincide with the beginning of the French Revolution.  Beginning in 1793, France launched invasions of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Northern Italy.  The subsequent wars produced much bloodshed, in particular on the river system of Italy.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists who see Jerusalem’s fall throughout the passage seem to have the advantage over those who believe it refers to the Roman Empire.  The pollution of the water sources did occur during the siege of Jerusalem and streams of actual blood flowed through the city. Verse six lends further credence to Jerusalem’s fall in 70 CE.

Futurist Approach:

Futurists again are divided between a symbolic and literal approach to this passage.  The gloomy assessment of the body count during the Tribulation period seems to justify the more literal interpretation. Without fresh water, the remaining population of the world would die within a matter of days.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists do not generally commit to any specific belief as to the fulfillment of a plague like this one.  It merely shows God’s ability to match the punishment with the crime.

In my next post, we again take a break from our study of Revelation to observe Sukkot.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Second Bowl

Revelation 16:3
The End Times

In my last post, we examined the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. In this post, we return to Revelation 16:3 to explore The Second Bowl.

“The second one poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died.”  ~ Revelation 16:3 (CJB)

The second bowl judgment was poured out upon the sea. This, too, is similar to the account where Moshe and Aharon turned the waters of Egypt to blood (Exodus 7:17-21). Also, you may recall that the Second Seal (Revelation 6:3-4) was an account of the Red Horse which caused a great war with much bloodshed. The sounding of the Second Shofar (Revelation 8:8-9) caused one-third of the sea to become blood.  This time all the seas of the whole earth are impacted.

It ‘s hard to imagine all the seas in the world turning to blood. This plague will involve all salt water bodies, and all living creatures in these seas will die. Because of the magnitude of this plague, there are some who refuse to believe that this could be a real plague that would afflict the oceans of our world. Gary Cohen writes: [1]

In 8:8-9 the second trumpet turned the sea one-third to blood, and one-third of the fish died. Here, however, the second bowl is not partial; it is universal in magnitude. It will sweep the sea, and the fish not in aquariums or otherwise separated from the sea will perish. Alas, sinful man denies God and boasts that he controls the oceans—that he is the master of his fate. God’s plagues will, as in the case of Pharaoh, show all that God alone rules the world! Since Exodus 7:20-25 shows that the turning of the Nile to blood at the touch of Moses’ rod was an event that actually occurred in the real world, I do not doubt for a moment that this second bowl judgment will also literally take place. Here we do not have a mere parabolic—fairy story that is intended to teach us the lesson that God will own the seas in the end; but one which will never actually happen. No, the second bowl will be poured forth, and the sea will become blood. It has been spoken; it will come to pass.

At the time of Yochanan’s writing, the Roman Empire lived by sea trade and most of their food came from the sea. Because travel by land was slow, Rome depended on the sea for most of its transport of goods. The key cities in the Roman Empire were the ports on the Mediterranean Sea. Rome’s Navy ensured the safety of travel on the Mediterranean. But they could do nothing against God’s judgment. This type of judgment would devastate a civilization. [2]

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 16:3 [3]

 Historicist Approach:

Historicists do not see this passage literally.  Recall they see these plagues as a judgment of the papacy. Fulfillment of this prophecy is found in a series of great naval disasters that swept away the fleets of France, Spain, and Portugal, all Papal nations that had a navy during the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.

Preterist Approach:

It doesn’t appear that Preterists have a unified view of this passage other than the similarities with the Second Shofar. For those who see the second half of Revelation as depicting the fall of Rome, the difference in the extent of the two sets of judgments would be explained regarding the shofars being upon Jerusalem, and the bowls more universally upon the Roman Empire at large.

Futurist Approach:

Futurists again allow for a more symbolic than literal interpretation.  This bowl represents the moral and spiritual death among the nations. Stedman points out that we have already observed the phenomenon of the “red tide” which scientists have seen in the Caribbean and elsewhere.  Microorganisms multiply precipitously turning the water a dark scarlet and killing all sea life in the affected area.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists like the Preterists are divided over the interpretation of this passage. The blood of a dead person brings into focus the utter putrefaction of a dead society.  God brings final punishment and death upon unrepentant sinners.

In my next post, we again take a break from our study of Revelation to observe Yom Kippur.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Life Application Bible Commentary – Revelation

[3] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The First Bowl

Revelation 16:1:1-2
The End Times

In my last post, we examined a Revelation 15:5-8 to consider The Angels Having the Seven Last Plagues. In this post, we move on to Revelation 16:1-2 to explore The First Bowl. We will be spending some time in Chapter 16 as it contains the description of all Seven Plagues.

The events that are presented in Chapter 16 are neither a record of historical occurrences that have happened in the past nor are they circumstances to be spiritualized and not taken literally, for the plagues that are depicted will indeed occur during the last half of the Tribulation as this catastrophic event happens here on earth. It is also interesting to note the striking similarity between the plagues that afflict the world during the Tribulation and the plagues that fell on the Egyptians preceding the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt during the days of Moshe. The difference is one of both scope and intensity. The plagues of Pharaoh’s time were limited to the country of Egypt; however, the plagues described in here will be worldwide in scope and much more intense.

The First Bowl

“I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary say to the seven angels, ‘Go, and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of God’s fury!’ 2 So the first one went and poured his bowl onto the earth, and disgusting and painful sores appeared on all the people who had the mark of the beast and worshipped its image.” ~ Revelation 16:1-2 (CJB)

Like the first four shofars, the judgment of the bowls is poured successively out on the earth, sea, rivers, and sun. God Himself is directing the angels to carry out these judgments. The first bowl judgment is poured out on the earth and causes those who have the mark of the beast to be covered with ulcerated sores.

I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary say to the seven angels, ‘Go, and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of God’s fury!’ 2 So the first one went and poured his bowl onto the earth, and disgusting and painful sores appeared on all the people who had the mark of the beast and worshipped its image. This first angel empties his bowl upon the earth, and all the inhabitants of the earth who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped him were stricken with sores. This plague parallels the sixth plague in Egypt as recorded in Exodus Chapter 9:8-11. Tim LaHaye shares that this judgment delineates two essential points: [1]

  1. The time ~ when Antichrist is worshiped. Further confirmation that the three judgments, the seals, the shofars, and the bowls, are sequential, not concurrent, as some Bible teachers suggest, is clarified at the time of this judgment. Antichrist will not be set up as the object of worship until the middle of the Tribulation Period. This judgment will fall on humanity because of their worship of Antichrist, which could only occur in the midst of the Tribulation Period as we saw in chapter 13. The time of this judgment, then, will probably commence within the first one to three months of the last half of the Tribulation Period.
  2. The recipients ~ the beast worshippers. The selection from among the peoples of the earth is seen in this passage: only those containing the mark of the beast and worshiping his image will be selected for those awful sores. This would indicate that God in His marvelous grace will not bring judgment on Believers during this latter half of the Tribulation, but will protect them as He did the children of Israel during the plagues of Egypt.

According to Revelation 16:11, despite the pain of these sores, their hearts, like Pharaoh’s, remain hard – they never turn from their sins to glorify God (v. 9) but curse him to the end (v. 21).

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 16:1-2 [2]

 Historicist Approach:

The majority of Historicists relate this vision to the French Revolution, seen as one of the major blows in modern history weakening the papal power, but not yet eradicating it entirely. As a result of the Revolution, the power of the popes in France was shattered.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists are divided concerning the recipient of these plagues.  Some believe they are associated with Jerusalem; while others see the second half of the book deal with the fall of Rome.  So, those who take the mark of the beast are either loyal citizens of the Roman Empire or Jews who have rejected Yeshua as the Messiah.

Futurist Approach:

At this point in the narrative, some Futurists allow for both a literal and a symbolic interpretation.  The sores can either be the result of nuclear fallout or internal corruption that is outwardly manifested.  In either case, they are apparently incurable.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists believe, as do the others, that the loud voice from the sanctuary is God Himself signifying that the time for repentance has passed.

In my next post, we will take a short break from our study of Revelation to learn about Rosh Hashanah.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Angels Having the Seven Last Plagues

Revelation 15:5-8
The End Times

In my last post, we examined a Revelation 15:1-4 to consider The Song of Moshe and The Lamb. In this post, we move on the Revelation 15:5-8 to explore The Angels Having the Seven Last Plagues. This chapter is the shortest one in the book of Revelation; however, its brevity should not take away from the importance of its message, as it sets the stage for the final seven angels to pour out the bowls of the wrath of God upon the earth.

After this I looked, and the sanctuary (that is, the Tent of Witness in heaven) was opened, 6 and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean bright linen and had gold belts around their chests. 7 One of the four living beings gave to the seven angels seven gold bowls filled with the fury of God, who lives forever and ever. 8 Then the sanctuary was filled with smoke from God’s Sh’khinah, that is, from his power; and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels had accomplished their purpose.” ~ Revelation 15:5-8 (CJB)

After this I looked, and the sanctuary (that is, the Tent of Witness in heaven) was opened. David Stern opines: [1]

The word “tent” appears only here in Revelation. If there was a Hebrew original underlying our Greek text, this phrase, unique in ancient literature, could be explained as a corruption of “the Temple of God in heaven,” which appears with the same verb (was opened) at 11:19. If the phrase stands as translated, the “sanctuary” is the Holy of Holies, which was also the location (or tent) of the ark of the Covenant (Messianic Jews [Hebrews] 9:4), called the ark of the Testimony throughout Exodus 25-40. Verse 8 supports this rendering, for we read that the smoke from God’s Sh’khinah filled the sanctuary; in Exodus and Ezekiel God’s glory inhabited the sanctuary. These final “bowl” plagues come from God’s ultimate holiness.

William Newell writes: [2]

There is a literal temple of God in heaven. Unless this is clearly seen and believed, much will be obscure. Was not Moses commanded when he was to make the tabernacle, “see that thou make them after their pattern, which hath been showed thee in the mount” (Exodus 25:40)? Now these tabernacle things are distinctly called, in Hebrews 9:23, “copies of the things in the heavens.” We saw in Revelation 11:19, that there was opened the temple of God that is in heaven; and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant”

And out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean bright linen and had gold belts around their chests. 7 One of the four living beings gave to the seven angels seven gold bowls filled with the fury of God, who lives forever and ever. The fact that the seven angels  were dressed in clean bright linen and had gold belts around their chests (part of the attire of priests), would indicate that these are angel-priests. They also came out of the sanctuary. We know there are different ranks or levels of responsibility given to angels; therefore, it would seem that these seven angel-priests are of an extremely high order. Oliver Greene comments on these bowl (veil) judgments: [3]

The vials of God’s wrath are in a group all to themselves. Two things about the vial judgments differ from the seal and the trumpet judgments:

  1. The throne in Heaven is the source of the seal and trumpet judgments. But the temple is the source of the vials. The temple takes the place of the throne in the vial judgments, introducing therefore an even more violent judgment than ever before witnessed on this earth. These vials, filled with judgment, come from God in His holy and righteous character.
  2. These vials contain the wrath of God against the organized systems of evil, which are in power here upon the earth at that time; and the pouring out of these vials of God’s wrath will mean the consummation of all evil power here upon earth. God’s judgments upon evil men and their systems are being completed in order that the Millennium can begin, and there will then be peace on earth and good will toward men for the space of one thousand glorious years of peace.

Then the sanctuary was filled with smoke from God’s Sh’khinah, that is, from his power; and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels had accomplished their purpose. Messianic Jews [Heberews] 9:5 understands “the k’ruvim…, casting their shadow on the lid of the Ark,” as “representing the Sh’khinah,” in the earthly Holy of Holies. Thus it is no surprise to find that in heaven the sanctuary was filled with smoke from God’s Sh’khinah. At 13:6, the beast insulted God’s “name and his Sh’khinah, and those living in heaven” and “was allowed to make war on God’s holy people and to defeat them.” Now the tables are turned, with God’s people victorious, and God’s fury about to be poured out on those who follow the beast.

No one could enter the sanctuary may mean that none can enter His presence to intercede to avert the judgments. The day for intercession is past. The sanctuary is filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power – perhaps no created being could survive being in the presence of such extreme glory and power

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 15:5-8 [4]

The seven last plagues are contained within the seventh shofar of Chapter 8.  The bowls given to the angels are to be poured out in Chapter 16.

Historicist Approach:

Historicists believe that the bowls are poured out over a period of two or more centuries, beginning with the French Revolution in the eighteenth century.  They are designed for the punishment and destruction of the beast, papal Rome. They concur with my comment above on no one being permitted to enter the sanctuary.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists concur that the smoke from God’s Sh’khinah harkens back to the dedication of the Tabernacle in Exodus 40:34-35 and to Solomon’s Temple in 1 Kings 8:10-11.

Futurist Approach:

Futurists harken back to Revelation 5:8 where the bowls were full of the prayers of the saints and are now filled with divine retribution.  This is the third woe of the seventh shofar.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists basically agree with what I have provided above.

In my next post, we will explore a Revelation 16:1-2 to examine The First Bowl.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[2] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones

[3] Ibid.

[4] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Song of Moshe and The Lamb

Revelation 15:1-4
The End Times

In my last post, we examined a Revelation 14:14-20 to consider The Harvest of the Earth. In this post, we move on the Revelation 15:1-4 to explore The Song of Moshe and The Lamb.

“Then I saw another sign in heaven, a great and wonderful one — seven angels with the seven plagues that are the final ones; because, with them, God’s fury is finished. 2 I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire. Those defeating the beast, its image and the number of its name were standing by the sea of glass, holding harps which God had given them. 3 They were singing the song of Moshe, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Great and wonderful are the things you have done, Adonai, God of heaven’s armies! Just and true are your ways, King of the nations! 4 Adonai, who will not fear and glorify your name? Because you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.” ~ Revelation 15:1-4 (CJB)

The Wrath of God

The seven plagues are contained in seven bowls which we will encounter in Chapter 16.  These bowls are called the bowls of the Wrath of God: because with them, God’s fury is finished. It is His wrath at the wickedness of Bavel. God is a God of love and mercy, but those who spurn His mercy once too often will one day learn, to their regret, that the greater His mercy has been, the greater will be His wrath.

Then I saw another sign in heaven, a great and wonderful one. The word sign is not difficult to understand as it appears numerous times throughout the Brit Hadashah. It always announces a great truth that God wants the reader to pay attention to and is represented by a symbol or picture to illustrate that truth. Oliver Greene states:

In Revelation 12:1 Yochanan saw a great sign in heaven… a woman. In Revelation 12:3 he saw another sign… a red dragon. Now in Revelation 15:1 there is another sign… this one being “great and marvelous.” What makes this third sign so great and marvelous is that the “full wrath of God” is about to be poured out upon the persecutors of the woman (Israel).

Seven angels with the seven plagues that are the final ones; because, with them, God’s fury is finished. The word seven appears eight times in this chapter. Seven symbolizes completeness, or as in this instance, finality because this is the final judgment of God being poured out upon this earth.

Roy Hilton sheds further light on this subject: [1]

Preparation is being made to empty these seven vials of wrath upon the earth. Note that the word for “last” plagues is “eschatas.” The word “eschatology,” doctrine of last things, comes from this word. The wrath of God is finished, or filled up, in these seven last plagues. First were the seven seals—then came the seven trumpets—and now comes these seven vials of wrath. After these vials are poured out upon the earth, judgment is completed, and the kingdom of Christ is come.

I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire. Those defeating the beast, its image and the number of its name were standing by the sea of glass, holding harps which God had given them. The sea of glass is mentioned for the second time in the book of Revelation. The first time it is spoken of is in Revelation 4:6 and it is unoccupied and represents that which is off limits. It also appears a third time, in Revelation 21:1, where it is no more. But in this text, it is not only mentioned; it is occupied. Yochanan describes a great host of martyrs, men, and women, who have given their lives for the cause of Yeshua during the reign of the Antichrist. Warren Wiersbe shares the following: [2]

John saw the believers from the Tribulation who had overcome “the beast” and his system. These are the people who “loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev. 12:11). Since they did not cooperate with the satanic system and receive the mark of “the beast,” they were unable to buy or sell (Rev. 13:17). They were totally dependent on the Lord for their daily bread. Some of them were put into prison, and some were slain (Rev. 13:10); but all of them practiced faith and patience.

Verse two closes with the phrase holding harps which God had given them. This seems to indicate they are prepared and eager to sing the song of Moshe… and the song of the Lamb. This is one of three groups in the Book of Revelation that is spoken of as having harps. Revelation 5:8 speaks of “the twenty-four elders fell down in front of the Lamb. Each one held a harp and gold bowls filled with pieces of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.” And then in Revelation 14:1, the 144,000 are gathered on Mount Tzyion, and they all have harps.

They were singing the song of Moshe, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: “Great and wonderful are the things You have done, Adonai, God of Heaven’s Armies! Just and true are Your ways, King of the nations! Adonai, who will not fear and glorify Your name? Because You alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous deeds have been revealed. Two different songs are described in this Scripture passage. When God delivered the children of Israel from the hand of the Egyptians, they sang a song of deliverance which is recorded in Exodus 15:1-21. In fact, it is such a part of the Jewish culture that they continue to sing this same song even today.

By the same token, we Believers sing many hymns that speak of God’s deliverance of His people of all ages. Perhaps, these two great songs of praise become one! These saints sing of God’s mighty works and His ways and continue to sing a verse about the work of Yeshua on the cross and how He provided the only way of salvation. They now realize that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is none other than the Lord Yeshua, the Messiah. Tim LaHaye says: [3]

These tribulation saints sing “the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (v. 3). This does not mean that they are Israelites; instead, it signifies that they are singing the song of victory over their enemy, which is the song of Moses in Exodus 15:1-21. They couple this with the song of praise to the Lamb of God. In a day when men have been deceived about the true nature of Jesus Christ, it behooves us to remember that heaven is not one iota confused about His identity. Understood in the light of Exodus 15 and the song of Moses, this verse makes plain that the God Moses and the children of Israel addressed in the face of their great earthly victory was none other than Jesus Christ.

Please take note that every pronoun in the song refers to God. The people are not talking about their achievements or their good deeds, or things about them; they have focused altogether on the only one who deserves our praise, the God of this universe.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 15:1-4 [4]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists again see this vision as the final destruction of the anti-Christian power ~ the papacy.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists again believe that these plagues occur at the end of the Jewish War in 70 CE.  They interpret the Song of Moshe as the one recorded in Deuteronomy 32, which is a song of destruction.

Futurist Approach:

Futurists view the sea of glass mixed with fire as the divine judgment proceeding from God’s holiness or referring to the fiery persecution which these people have suffered under the beast. Those defeating the beast are the Tribulation saints.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists see these plagues as occurring at the end of time OR the end of an un-Believers death. All nations will come and worship before You implies that in the end, the whole universe will acknowledge the righteousness of all God’s acts and verdicts [Amen!].

In my next post, we will explore a Revelation 15:5-8 to examine The Angels Having the Seven Last Plagues.

Click here for PDF version.

 

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Harvest of the Earth

Revelation 14:14-20
The End Times

In my last post, we examined a Revelation 14:13 to consider Blessed Are the Dead. In this post, we move on the Revelation 14:14-20 to explore The Harvest of the Earth.

“Then I looked, and there before me was a white cloud. Sitting on the cloud was someone like a Son of Man with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 Another angel came out of the Temple and shouted to the one sitting on the cloud, ‘Start using your sickle to reap, because the time to reap has come — the earth’s harvest is ripe!’ 16 The one sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. 17 Another angel came out of the Temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 Then out from the altar went yet another angel, who was in charge of the fire; and he called in a loud voice to the one with the sharp sickle, ‘Use your sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because they are ripe!’ 19 The angel swung his sickle down onto the earth, gathered the earth’s grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s fury. 20 The winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress as high as the horses’ bridles for two hundred miles!” ~ Revelation 14:14-20 (CJB)

The Harvest of the Earth

As a whole, the passage echoes Joel 3:9-13, in which grape harvesting and wine pressing are a metaphor for judgment in the context of the eschatological war. It also echoes Isaiah 63:1-6, in which God treads the winepress in His fury, pressing out the lifeblood of the peoples. The same metaphor is in Jeremiah 25:15, 28-31.

The harvest also symbolizes judgment at Jeremiah 51:33 and Hosea 6:11. Yeshua’s parable of the wheat and the weeds, especially Mark 4:29 and Matthew 13:39-42 depict the Father’s judgment. Both there and here the Messiah is the reaper at the final judgment, using angels as his instruments. Moreover, here it is the Messiah who treads the winepress (see Revelation 19:15).

This chapter began with a vision of the firstfruits (v. 4) and closes with images of the final harvest, with an era of preaching the Besorah in between. The seals and shofars had carried the panorama to the end of chapter 11. Chapters 12-14, returning to the start, contain another series that runs to the end: the development of the beast, ending in his defeat at the hands of the Lamb.

Then I looked, and there before me was a white cloud. Sitting on the cloud was someone like a Son of Man with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 Another angel came out of the Temple and shouted to the one sitting on the cloud, ‘Start using your sickle to reap, because the time to reap has come — the earth’s harvest is ripe!’ 16 The one sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.

On the cloud was someone like a Son of Man. The identity of the one described in verse 14 is unquestionably the Lord Yeshua HaMashiach. We are told in Acts 1:9-11 that He will return, in the clouds, as we have seen Him go. In Luke 21:27 it states, “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with tremendous power and glory.”  Do not confuse this with the rapture, which has already occurred (Revelation 4:1-3). What is depicted is the second phase of His Second Coming. Don’t forget, the Second Coming of Yeshua is in two stages: in the first stage He comes for His saints (the rapture), and in the second stage He comes with His saints (the revelation). These two phases are separated by seven years, which is Daniel’s seventieth week. The prophecy of Daniel 7:13-14 is made to refer to Yeshua.

The angels in this chapter are working in concert with one another, to give an overview of the Battle of Armageddon. Do not confuse this battle with the battle of Gog and Magog described in Revelation 20:8-9. The Battle of Armageddon will come at the close of the tribulation period, whereas the battle of God and Magog will come at the end of the millennial reign of Yeshua. The campaign described here is a battle of blood, whereas the battle of Revelation 20:8-9 is a battle of fire. Fire will come down from God out of heaven and consume the armies of Gog.

Yochanan has given a fore view of the Battle of Armageddon that will take place in Revelation 19:11-21. However, the Lord wants to show a little more descriptive view of the battle, so Yochanan continues to write. Have you ever had someone say, “Tell me what happened, but spare me the bloody details?” God has chosen not to spare the gory details but wants to portray the full impact of what’s going to happen.

The earth’s harvest is ripe (v. 15) has a bearing on the reason the Lord delays His coming: He is waiting for the crop to ripen. The harvest of the human race had been spoken of long before in the Old Testament, in Joel 3:13-14: “Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; come, and tread, for the winepress is full. The vats are overflowing, for their wickedness is great…For the Day of Adonai is upon us  in the Valley of Decision!”

The Grapes from the Earth’s Vine

 This vision refers to the wicked, for the winepress is the great winepress of God’s fury. It is another representation of the doom of the wicked, as Jesus said: “They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where people will wail and grind their teeth.” ~  Matthew 13:42 (CJB) and “they will go off to eternal punishment, but those who have done what God wants will go to eternal life.” ~ Matthew 25:46 (CJB)

Another angel came out of the Temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Then out from the altar went yet another angel, who was in charge of the fire; and he called in a loud voice to the one with the sharp sickle, ‘Use your sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because they are ripe!’  Warren Wiersbe writes concerning the earth’s vine: [1]

The grape harvest is often a picture of judgment (see Joel 3:13, which anticipates the Day of the Lord). In actuality, Scripture portrays three different “vines.Israel was God’s vine, planted in the land to bear fruit for God’s glory; but the nation failed God and had to be cut down (Ps. 80:8-16; Isa. 5:1-7; see also Matt. 21:33-46). Today, Christ is the Vine and believers are branches in Him (John 15). But the world system is also a vine, “the vine of the earth” in contrast to Christ, the heavenly Vine; and it is ripening for judgment. The wicked system—Babylon—that intoxicates people and controls them will one day be cut down and destroyed in “the winepress of the wrath of God. (Emphasis added.)

The angel swung his sickle down onto the earth, gathered the earth’s grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s fury. 20 The winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress as high as the horses’ bridles for two hundred miles!” Gary Cohen and Salem Kirban write: [2]

Here the portrait is essentially the same as that found in those two remarkable prophecies, Isaiah 63:1-6 and Joel 3. Zechariah 12 and 14:1-7 also speak of this. The wicked armies of the end-time are depicted as ripe grapes. The winepress of God—the place where He will smash the armies—is the great Armageddon Pass (which is the great Plain of Esdraelon and the Jezreel ~Jordan Valleys). This is the 10 by 40 mile northwest-to-southeast gateway to Jerusalem through the mountains, and it will be the latter-day wine press of God. The red juice of the ancient Palestinian grape well represents visually the blood of the wicked which will here be shed.

The devastation of Armageddon is so extensive that it is probably best viewed as a war which destroys most of the earth, so great, that most of the earth’s population will be annihilated. As this is understood, it is easier to understand the development of events in Revelation fifteen through nineteen.

Outside the city of Jerusalem, in the valley of Y’hoshafat (the name means “God judges”), mentioned in Joel 4:2, 12(3:2, 12). Jewish authorities understand this as Kidron Valley (Yochanan 18:1) or the Hinnom Valley.

Two hundred milesSeveral translations use 1,600 stadia is about 180 miles, which is approximately the length of Israel from north to south. The blood of those fallen covered this area and reached as high as the bridles on the horses. It is thought to mean the complete destruction of the Holy Land or perhaps of the whole world. Joel prophesies about this war (Joel 3:2, 10-14), and the comparison is striking. It is likely a description of the Battle of Armageddon (16:16). Also see Zechariah 14:2, which refers to the gathering of all the nations to fight against Jerusalem.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 14:14-20 [3]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists again see these verses as describing the destruction of Rome.  Yet, in Israel, the wheat is harvested in the spring and the fruit in late summer.  Here at the end of the world, the picture shows the destruction of the wicked on the last day.  Some take the two hundred miles as the breadth of Italy; others as symbolic of the universality of the judgment.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists again see these verses as describing the fall of Jerusalem.  There is some question whether the harvests symbolize different events or are two ways of describing the same event.  Many see the first harvest as the salvation of Believers and the second as a judgment on the wicked.

Futurist Approach:

Futurists all agree that the second harvest is a terrible judgment upon the wicked.  They are divided on the meaning of the first harvest.  Some believe that it is an ingathering of the Tribulation saints, while others see it as a judgment of the wicked.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists seem to agree with the Preterists as to the two harvests and the Historicists as to the meaning of the two hundred miles.

In my next post, we will explore a Revelation 15:1-4 to examine The Song of Moshe and The Lamb.

Click here for PDF version.

 

 

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

Blessed Are the Dead

Revelation 14:13
The End Times

In my last post, we examined a Revelation 14:9-12 to consider Fire and Brimstone for the Beast’s Worshipers. In this post, we move on the Revelation 14:13 to explore Blessed Are the DeadNow, that is a can be a real depressing title.

“Next I heard a voice from heaven saying,“Write: ‘How blessed are the dead who die united with the Lord, from now on!’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘now they may rest from their efforts, for the things they have accomplished follow along with them.’” ~ Revelation 14:13 (CJB)

Well, maybe it’s not so depressing after all; since the voice is apparently referring to Believers. This is in contrast to the torment of the wicked mentioned in Revelation 14:11. The suffering of the martyrs, at long last, is over. Their prayer for vengeance in Revelation 6:9-11 is answered.

The identity of the speaker is not clear at this time. Perhaps, it is angel number four in this series of seven angels who speak in this chapter. However, the message, not the speaker is the focus of these verses. This passage has particular application to those who die in the Lord during the Tribulation. The words from now on mean from that point forward. It would be better to die and get out of the world than to remain in it during those final months (42 months) of the Antichrist.

Yochanan was commanded to write, emphasizing its importance to the readers. The voice pronounced the second of seven beatitudes in Revelation: How blessed are the dead who die united with the Lord, from now on! (The first beatitude is in Revelation1:3.) Believers would face persecution and death at the hands of the Antichrist and his global power and influence. The phrase probably means that they are blessed from the moment of their death because they immediately go to be with Yeshua. As persecution increases, such blessing is just as sure for those who remain faithful.

To die united with the Lord does not necessarily refer to martyrdom; all believers die “in the Lord” and go to heaven to be with Yeshua.  Believers who go to be with Yeshua will have rest. This rest does not mean that heaven will be one big comfortable chair. Their efforts refer to the difficulties of remaining steadfast in the faith in the evil world. Their rest is the cessation of persecution. The unbelievers may have done some “good deeds” during their time on earth, but those deeds will not save them. In the end, those good deeds will be destroyed. But God remembers Believers’ good deeds; indeed, they are the basis for the rewards he will give (see 1 Corinthians 3:13-15; Ephesians 6:8).

Yochanan’s Jewish audience would have understood the meaning of the phrase:  For the things they have accomplished follows along with them. The Mishna puts it this way:

“In the hour of a person’s departure, neither silver nor gold nor precious stones nor pearls accompany him, only Torah and good works.” (Avot 6:9 ~ emphasis added) [1]

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 14:13 [2]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists rightly point out that all Believers throughout the ages will be blessed upon their death, not just these Tribulation saints.  Perhaps unknowingly, the also agree with the Mishna.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists seem to have a difficult time understanding the phrase from now on given their belief that all this occurred during the Jewish War.

Futurist Approach:

Futurists take the literal view of this passage as they do most of the Revelation as reiterated above.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists believe that those who die faithful to Yeshua, especially in martyrdom, are “overcomers” or “conquerors” commented at the end of each of the seven letters in Chapters 2 & 3.

In my next post, we will explore a Revelation 14:14-20 to examine The Harvest of the Earth.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.