The Seven Vials is a sequence of divine judgments upon the persecuting powers of this final period of prophetic history preceding the second coming of Christ. This epoch of 1260 years has already been rendered with three different representations in chapters 11-13, which paints a picture of the Remnant Church holding true to the Gospel while under persecution of Papal Rome. Rendered in prophesy style as the beast, and as Babylon, Papal Rome had not only violated the Gospel with the utmost abomination, but severely persecuted those few-but-true servants of God who resisted such corruption. Thus, the Seven Vials are the divinely orchestrated calamities of just retribution upon that Babylonian Beast.
We had already been given a preview of the return of Christ, after the Two Witnesses, at the end of Chapter 11; Then, another representation of Christ’s return to judge the Beast of Babylon is revealed in chapter 14. So far, these two different depictions of Christ’s return indicate the end of this 1260 year period. So, it seems to many interpreters that the Seven Vials are another representation of this same time of judgment yet to come.
However, there are certain things to consider which seem to suggest the Seven Vials may be judgments occurring in a progressive sequence throughout the 1260 year period, as opposed to being reserved for the very end of the age. One indication is found towards the end of the sixth vial, when Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming like a thief…” – this may be a clue to indicate these judgments are being executed before His coming. Many have interpreted this as merely an encouraging insert to remember while considering these seven last plagues yet to come; Though it may very well be showing us these vial judgments are retracing the same 1260 year period, before the coming of Christ, with the perspective of divinely orchestrated judgments throughout this duration.
If that is the case, it actually aligns better with the character of God, as well as the precedent of prophetic history. Remember how the Seven Seals were divine judgments against the persecuting powers executed throughout that early era of the Church, as the first six of the Seven Trumpets were judgments throughout the following era. God did not wait till the end of each era to judge the crimes against His Church; nor did He wait long to judge the opposing powers of the former dispensation of Israel.
By far, the longest amount of time God had delayed justice was with the Canaanites, for 400 years while Israel was captive in Egypt. Every other instance of God’s wrath came much sooner – after a generous period of time for repentance. This pattern reveals the attribute of a God who is patient to withhold justice for a season but will not allow corruption to continue unchecked for long.
Now if God has delayed justice throughout this lengthy era of 1260 years, it seems quite inconsistent from His character and historical precedent to have such a significant absence of justice during a very long period of time when His Faithful were being brutally persecuted. Moreover, it seems like quite a lack of equity to only judge the very last generation of this entire era.
For these reasons, I am inclined to consider the Seven Vials as a progressive series of divine retribution throughout the duration of the 1260 year period. Therefore, I will present each vial the way it corresponds with the progress of this era, which will give further credence to this proposition.
Now I must say – there has not been general consensus on whether or not the Seven Vials are progressively executed throughout this time, as most scholars have believed these judgments are reserved for the return of Christ yet to come. And even among those who had viewed the Seven Vials as a progressive sequence, there are still some interpretive variations of what each vial represents. This warrants a higher level of reservation when considering the lack of consensus & certainty compared to the prior series of prophecies.
Learned men like Charles Daubuz and Edward Elliot viewed the Seven Vials as a sequence of judgments throughout this era, but their interpretations are generally lacking the orderly pattern of an incremental chronology which was so consistent throughout the Seven Seals and Seven Trumpets. Moses Lowman was one of the very few who interpreted the Seven Vials within the parameters of the same orderly sequence as was evidenced in the prior series of prophesies.
This orderly principle of interpreting line upon line, precept upon precept, in incremental progress – serves as a guide to properly understand the chain of prophesies, and is so vital to follow this orderly principle that I do not recommend jumping into this part of the discourse without first starting from the beginning of this series, with the introduction – Remembering the Lost Art & Science of Interpreting Prophesy Language and Prophetic History.
Now, in the same orderly sequence of incremental progress, we will survey the Seven Vials.
Revelation 15 starts with the prelude to the Seven Vials: Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete. As Mr. Daubuz had cited, “Plagues are chastisements or warnings before a final judgment. So the ten plagues of Egypt are so called because warnings..” The point he makes here is – the progressive sequence of the ten plagues of Egypt served as chastisements & warnings to Egypt, which would culminate to their final destruction; So the seven last plagues, that is the seven vials, parallels the ten plagues of Egypt for the same purpose in chastising & warning Papal Rome of pending doom. Further allusion to the ten plagues of Egypt follow in the next verses.
Verse 2: And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name – standing in the sea of glass, having harps of God. There have been a variety of different views as to the exact meaning of a sea of glass mingled with fire, as there is some degree of uncertainty on the particulars. However, this vision follows the same theme as the ten plagues of Egypt which aids in guiding us to at least get the gist of this scene.
Clearly, the overall depiction of this passage displays a monumental victory of the saints over the beast and all the deceptive facets of such. Thus, the saints here are standing on the sea of glass in the same triumphal posture as when the Israelites stood upon the shore of the Red Sea watching the destruction of Pharaoh’s army. And the saints having harps of God like the Israelites who then sang their deliverance song to the LORD.
Now closer examination to a sea of glass mingled with fire – This article is a composition of three different prophetic symbols: sea – symbolizes multitudes of people of many nations; glass – may be an emblem of clarity, serenity & purity, yet composed as a ‘sea of glass’ may refer to a tranquil state of the multitude of saints upon their victory over the beast; fire – typically a symbol of divine wrath, yet is also the refining agent to test & purify precious metals, which is a concept applied to the saints of God (Job 23:10, Zech 13:9, 1 Peter 1:17). Putting all three of these elements together seems to render a portrait of God’s tried & true saints standing triumphantly out of their fiery trials.
Verse 3-4: They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying:
“Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O king of the saints!
Who shall not fear You, O Lord,
and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.
For all the nations shall come
and worship before You,
For Your judgments have been manifested.”
Still making strong allusion to the ten plagues of Egypt and Red Sea victory, They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb – The same spirit of victory sung by Moses & the Israelites resonates with the victory celebration of the saints over the Beast as an abridgment from Moses to the Lamb. Just as the deliverance of Israel climaxed with them passing through the Red Sea, who then stood on the other side as their oppressors were destroyed, so the New Testament saints stood firm with the Gospel to pass through the fiery sea, coming out to the other side as purified & perfected.
Verse 5: After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. The vision advances to the next scene, which parallels the next phase of the Israelite nation upon receiving the explicit instructions & precepts of God through His servant Moses, which was represented by the tabernacle, being the same layout as the temple, modeled upon the heavenly temple. Yet the tabernacle & temple of the prior dispensation was a foreshadow of the New Testament Church, which bore testimony of God’s law – fulfilled through Christ and perpetuated through His faithful people.
– the testimony in heaven was opened – the same precepts & principles of the old covenant were not closed with the New Covenant, but rather opened. The very teachings and actions of Christ & the Apostles were premised upon the foundation of the Mosaic Law and the prophets, as the New Testament effectively opened the meaning and execution of the original code, not as abolished, but as fulfilled. Furthermore, this verse corresponds with the Two Witnesses, amidst the dark age when the gospel truth of the New Covenant was suppressed; The remnant Church, styled as the Two Witnesses in chapter 11, testified of the true gospel so the testimony in heaven was opened.
Verse 6: And out of the temple came seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands.
– out of the temple – that is the heavenly temple, the most holy place, from the very throne room of God came seven angels having the seven plagues – preparing for the appointed judgments clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands – in similar fashion as the high priests upon entering the most holy place to keep the testimony of God.
Here, the very cause of the seven angels with the seven plagues coming out of the heavenly temple is premised upon the circumstances of the earthly temple when the Church at large transgressed the New Testament. Breaking her covenant with God and running in a different direction, the light of the Gospel was darkened & closed. Yet during this darkness the testimony in heaven was opened by the few witnesses of God who bore testimony against the breaking of the covenant, just like the prophets of Israel who indicted their nation for breaking the covenant. Thus, the Remnant Church was a witness against the Apostate Church, which subjected them to these seven plagues which correspond to the plagues of the Two Witnesses.
Verse 7: Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.
– one of the four living creatures – a prominent heavenly being described earlier in John’s vision gave to the seven angels seven golden vials – vials, also translated as bowls, a vessel about the size of a small Chinese teacup full of the wrath of God – Small vessels full of devastating fury – like gun powder or snake venom, only a little can inflict massive impact. – who lives forever and ever; Yet not like anything of the created world, but wrath from the Almighty Creator from eternity.
Verse 8: The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. Just like when the Israelites violated the law of God, the smoke filled the tabernacle as a precursor to judgment (Numbers 14:10, 16:19); Here the New Testament church had broken the covenant by which judgment is poised.
Getting perspective of such circumstances gives further weight to the view of these seven vials commencing from the early part of this period of apostasy and passing throughout the progression of this history unto the return of Christ. Just as God had always dealt with His first covenant people, Israel, when playing the harlot, God would also chastise His New Covenant people with a series of judgments throughout this age of corruption.
Chapter 16 then proceeds with the execution of the seven vials: Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the vials of the wrath of God on the earth.” The command is given from the very throne of God to pour out His bowls of wrath, whereby the sequence of vial judgments will then commence.
Before considering the interpretations of each of the vials, let us consider the main subject for which these judgments are intended. We had already identified the apostate & persecuting power to be Papal Rome, which had been decreed to continue for a period of 1260 years. We had also considered the prophetic history leading up to this era and the foundational developments to Papal Rome becoming the dominant world power by 800 A.D. or so. From this point in time, from when the Roman Church became an empire, we shall consider the most significant events which had the most impact upon the Roman Church Empire:
- The chronic power struggles between the popes and imperial dynasty, which caused intrigues and bloody civil wars for centuries.
- The Crusades to the Holy Land, which resulted in catastrophic loss of lives for the Roman Kingdom.
- The dramatic clashes between the anti-popes, which caused much bloodshed.
- The Protestant Reformation, which had massive impact on Papal Power and dominion.
- The Napoleonic Wars, which brought an end to the Holy Roman Empire and demise of Papal Power.
- The rise and spread of communism, a rival power which threatened Papal Rome immensely.
Now considering these most significant & impactful events, let us observe how the chronological sequence of these historical events aligns with the sequence of the seven vials:
First Vial: A Foul and Loathsome Sore
The first went and poured out his vial upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. ~ Rev 16:2
Again, we must remember the symbolic & figurative nature of prophesy language, so we do not get hung-up on attempting a literal interpretation of a foul and loathsome sore as some terrible skin condition. Rather, a foul and loathsome sore is a figurative expression of a terrible condition upon the state of affairs of Papal Rome. At this early stage of the newly consolidated empire, the two key figures were the popes and emperors. Though it was Pope Leo III who facilitated the empirical status of the Church & State of Rome by crowning Charlemagne as emperor of what became known as the ‘Holy Roman Empire’, the popes then had the military backing they so desired but were not satisfied with shared power.
Such ambition for supremacy drove succeeding popes in sinister plots to weaken the imperial head and strengthen papal power. Consequently, such intrigues led to perpetual civil conflicts, which gave opportunity for outside invaders such as the Normans, Arab Muslims, and Hungarians to ravage the kingdom with great devastation. Such a condition may certainly be described as a foul and loathsome soar upon the lofty aspirations of the popes as well as the loyal subjects to that Papal Beast.
This expression of an affliction like a sore was the way King Solomon had expressed the affliction of God’s judgment for transgressing; yet forgiveness when every one shall know his own sore and his own grief (2 Chronicles 6:29). But when an obstinate spirit refuses to acknowledge ones own sin, then such a sore would naturally become foul and loathsome, so to cause a severe condition. Such was the case upon the state of affairs of Rome from this fiery lust for papal power.
Second Vial: The Sea Turns to Blood
Then the second angel poured out his vial on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died. ~ Rev 16:3
As already observed, the sea is an emblem of peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues (Rev 17:15), and beast signifies a great kingdom (Daniel 7:17), which reins over multiple kingdoms, nations, peoples and tongues, and blood is a symbol of death. The oracle says of the sea, “and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died”; So it is intended for the metropolitan world of Papal Rome to be inflicted with such a calamity that virtually all the inhabitants are killed.
This oracle, which characterizes such catastrophic bloodshed, would naturally bring us to the next colossal event which began during the early stages of this era of the Papal Beast. This next development started as a continuation of the same power struggle, between the popes and imperial dynasty, expanding into a much wider dimension. The popes were already dominating the world view of the Roman Kingdom so their most ambitious project in launching the Crusades were promoted and commenced with the highest level of enthusiasm. Such religious fervor of a “Holy War” swept across the empire with such pitch that no one questioned this mission they believed to be ordained by God. Cities and villages emptied out as every able-bodied soul from common to noble, including many women, rallied to the ranks of this great expedition.
At this time, near the end of the eleventh century, the people were so steeped in the superstitious ideas & practices of the Latin apostacy, and ignorance was so remarkable, that such a mass movement became quite feasible to manage. The pope was catapulted to supremacy by this grand endeavor, who then began asserting himself above all that is called God, to crown or depose kings and validate or condemn any soul he chose with such absolute authority and prerogatives which only God could possess.
The First Crusade was only partly successful, with temporary possession of Jerusalem, which costed the vast majority of over 300,000 troops and numerous cavalry. Successive waves with the same intensity were launched into this massive bloodbath lasting almost two centuries. The Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Crusade were not only failed and futile attempts to recapture Jerusalem, but costed great volume of blood. It’s been estimated that well over two million crusaders perished, as the Roman kingdom was left with so little men that widows and infants were about all who were left.
Third Vial: Rivers and Springs Turn to Blood
Then the third angel poured out his vial on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying:
“You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of the saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.”
And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments!” ~ Rev 16:4-7
We already observed how rivers and springs of water are common symbols of refreshing, renewal and vitality of life, especially spiritual life. Unfortunately for the apostate Church, such vitality is cut off with ensuing bloodshed. This oracle gives extra insight into the premise of this third vial judgment with the angel declaring, “…For they have shed the blood of the saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink…”.
Clearly, this third vial is a payback for persecuting the saints. Just as the subjects of the Papal beast had shed the blood of the saints and prophets, so it is that God has given them blood to drink. For it is their just due. Such poetic justice will be further examined in the next oracle.
The futile crusades to claim the ‘Holy Land’ had lost steam by the end of the twelfth century, but another challenger of Papal Rome was on the fore. The growing communities of the Albigenses and Waldensians were not submitting to the corruptions of the Roman Church. Their resistance was becoming a nuisance to the Catholic clergy as their testimony shined a light against the dark doctrines of Rome. Though the previous crusades had been ineffectual, the crusade spirit had not died, whereby Pope Innocent III leveraged this same ‘holy war enthusiasm’ to wage the same degree of war upon those deemed “heretics”.
The inquisition was then instituted to systematically sift out the remnant of those who survived the general assaults. There were no bounds for the level of cruelty invented in torturing and killing these poor people of God. At this time, during the thirteenth century, papal power was at its zenith, and capable of resorting to any means they wished to exterminate their opposers. We previously observed how Satan has been the spirit behind this Roman juggernaut, and history can testify to the unnatural cruelty of those notorious papal persecutions, which were so sadistic, diabolical, and inhumane that a driving satanic spirit is the most reasonable explanation.
So it is that this progression of history matches up to the sequence of the vial judgments thus far, as we consider the great calamities which then fell upon the Roman Kingdom during this same time in which they had so ruthlessly persecuted the saints. The continuing power struggle between the popes and emperors persisted and escalated to a level which caused such intense and widespread civil conflict, chaos, and confusion that just reading the details of this history makes my head spin.
The condition of that foul and loathsome soar continued to ravage the kingdom, which then divided into two factions: The Guelphs were the papal party, and the Gibellines the imperial party. Such a degree of hostility between the two was so outrageous that reconciliation was out of the question. Instead, one was out to annihilate the other. So much bloodshed and mayhem ensued with this widespread conflict that such a calamitous condition may be quite fitting to this third vial judgment, whereby the rivers and springs of water became blood – in which the angel declares, “…For they have shed the blood of the saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink.”
Fourth Vial: Scorching Sun
Then the fourth angel poured out his vial on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. ~ Rev 16:8-9
Recalling the symbolic meaning of the sun provides some guidance for what is meant here. The sun, being the superior light of the natural world, has so often symbolized the supreme power of a kingdom. In other oracles, such as the Sixth Seal, the sun became black – as a way to illustrate the overthrow of the pagan Caesars of Rome. Then the Fourth Trumpet projects the sun as struck to signify the imperial head of Rome as struck down. Yet hear, with this Fourth Vial, the sun surges with intensity to scorch men with its fiery heat. Are we to interpret this as “Global Warming” – or is this saying something else?…
Once again, we refer to the former prophets who used this exact imagery of scorching power. Isaiah especially made use of this metaphor in several passages:
“By the wrath of the LORD of Hosts the land is scorched, and the people are fuel for the fire. Not one will spare his brother.” ~ Isaiah 9:19
“Therefore, a curse has consumed the earth, and its inhabitants must bear the guilt; the earth’s dwellers have been burned, and only a few survive.” ~ Isaiah 24:6
All these passages indicate God is the scorching power, Who’s burning anger is poured out upon His enemies. So far, this concept coincides with the fourth vial judgment of divine wrath, but there is still more to consider as to what the sun represents.
Considering the various applications of this cosmic symbol, the sun has been applied to supreme figures on earth such as kings, but also to chief pagan gods like Baal. Yet we know the most supreme being of all, the Most High God Almighty. I believe this oracle of the fourth vial is touching on all three of these applications:
- The popes, who were reigning supreme at this time.
- Idols, which were recycled pagan gods in the name of patron saints.
- God Almighty, who is judging this evil by their own devices.
When I say ‘judging them by their own devices’, I mean to highlight how God typically uses the same evil of the offenders to their own demise. Apparently, God is keen on such poetic justice. Consider how Pharaoh had first naturally hardened his heart repeatedly by his pre-existing propensity to rail against the will of God (Ex 7:13, 22, 8:19); Only after Pharaoh demonstrated such hardness, God then supernaturally increased the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart as a judgment unto his destruction (Ex 9:12, 10:1, 10:20, 11:10, 14:8).
Also, the way God often turned the swords of the Canaanites upon themselves (Judges 7:22, 1 Sam 14:20, 2 Chron 20:23); or Haman, who was hung by the very gallows he built in his plot against Mordecai (Ester 7); or the conspirators who plotted to have Daniel thrown into the lion’s den, who met that very same fate (Dan 6); More notable than these, is how God judged His own people, Israel, for their chronic obstinance, who continually turned a deaf ear, and a blind eye, and a hard heart away from the LORD so that God caused them to be all the more deaf, blind, and hard – that they would not even recognize their own Messiah on the day of salvation (Isaiah 6:9-10). And most notable of all is how God used the very evil that hung Christ upon the cross to defeat such evil, Who conquered the power of death by His own death.
So it was, that the burning ambition of the popes became their own destructive device, which ravaged their kingdom with devastating fury. As if God had poured an accelerant upon the fiery passions of the popes and their loyal subjects to be consumed by the wicked elements of their own doing. “For wickedness burns like a fire that consumes the thorns and briers and kindles the forest thickets which roll upward in columns of smoke.” ~ Isaiah 9:18
Another application of scorching sun is found in the parable of the Sower; In Mat 13:3-5, Jesus spoke of the seed that fell in the stony places, where there was not enough good soil for the seedlings to take root, so even when the seed quickly sprouted, they were scorched by the sun and withered away. Later, in verse 20, he explained the scorching sun to represent tribulation and persecution; Thus, we may understand the figurative expression of scorching sun to also represent troubles and afflictions.
Moreover, we may recall our own use of such figurative language as we often describe intense conditions as hot, or explosive; Sometimes a losing opponent is burned with a ‘scorching defeat’, or anger & passion is often described as heated or fiery hot.
So now we have considered the various figurative uses of scorching heat as a way of illustrating anger & passion, trials & tribulations, as well as curses & plagues from the wrath of God. We also considered the different powers represented by the sun: the heated earthly powers as well as the heated heavenly power. With all this considered, let us look at the next historical event which so happens to align with such an expression.
After the violent conflicts between the popes and emperors were finally settled, there was yet another great conflict which erupted in the latter half of the fourteenth century. Several contests for the papal throne had exploded into a most dramatic clash of anti-popes vying for dominance. This was not just the result of a few power-hungry individuals coveting the throne, but the people had largely sparked the flames and fueled the fire to this divisive conflict, each faction pushing for their preferred candidate for the papacy. Even when the conflict seemed to be settled by a general council of Pisa in 1409, the same fire reignited to set ablaze the kingdom for several more years with three anti-popes and their adherents battling it out. The Council of Constance seemed to finally put an end at last to the dramatic schism by 1417, but still the ambitions of the next popes were not content being subject to councils, but burned for the desire to be above all laws, so there would be nothing to keep them in check. Such power-mongering caused another wave of anti-popes and civil wars which carried-on for another century.
This same fiery zeal for power impacted the eastern part of the empire which widened the schism between the Latins and Greeks. Such mischief opened the window for the Turks to come in and overtake the Greek capital of Constantinople by 1543, which effectively ended the eastern empire. Moreover, the Council of Constance, which was mainly initiated to settle the contentions over the papacy, also included an order to put down the Hussites of Bohemia, launching another series of papal persecutions upon the saints.
Looking upon this dramatic episode of papal history displays every form of intense heat as figuratively expressed to signify passion, anger, ambition, trials, troubles, tribulations, persecutions, defeats, destructions, plagues, and curses – so fitting to this fourth vial of divine wrath poured out to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat. By all means and every particular use of the expression of scorching heat & fire – was so thoroughly fulfilled by this chapter of history that there may not be another event which so apply fits this oracle.
Furthermore, there was also a more literal fulfillment to this prophesy during the same time which became known as the Medieval Warm Period. Unseasonable weather with chronic heat waves persisted for several seasons, which destroyed crops so that famine and pestilence set in. A plague called the sweating sickness swept through England and continental Europe, which killed one quarter to one third of the populace. Historians like François Eudes de Mézeray had testified of this condition:
“From the end of the year 1528, to the beginning of the year 1534, heaven was so angry with France that there was a continual disorder of the seasons, or rather summer alone had taken all there places; so that for five years there was not two days of frost together. This intemperate heat enervated nature, if I may so express it, and made it impotent; it brought nothing to maturity, the trees blossomed immediately after the fruit, corn did not increase in the ground for want of water; there was such a quantity of vermin as eat up the young shoots; the harvest did not produce sufficient for next year’s seed. This scarcity caused a universal famine; after which there appeared a distemper called Troussegaland, and then a furious pestilence; by which three plagues, above a quarter part of mankind was carried away”
Global Warming? Yes, both figuratively and literally. How much better could this prophesy be fulfilled? Though I must remind the reader that there has been little consensus to the seven vials, this chain of events happens to perfectly fit each prophesy in both description and chronology.
Fifth Vial: The Throne and Kingdom of the Beast is Darkened
Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds. ~ Rev 16:10-11
Here we have a judgment which particularly affects the throne of the beast, and his kingdom so that it became full of darkness. The throne signifies the very power of the beast, and his kingdom denotes his dominion. The impact upon the power and dominion of the beast is described as becoming full of darkness, which indicates a loss of power. Similar imagery was used with the cosmic model of the sun – being darkened with the Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12), or the sun being struck by the Fourth Trumpet (Rev 8:12), as a figurative way to illustrate the overthrow of the supreme powers of Rome. By following the consistent meaning of these prophetic symbols & metaphors, we can be sure the meaning of this Fifth Vial judgment signifies a revolutionary event which results in the loss of power & dominion for the papal beast.
Now we may observe how well the next most significant event aligns with this prophetic description in just the right order of sequence of these prophesies and progression of history. The previous events of papal power mongering so conspicuously displayed such contemptible character of the popes that they no longer even maintained the appearance of Christianity. Their excesses in cruelty, immorality, and tyranny was becoming too much for the people to bear, and more sympathy was given to the persecuted saints than to the Catholic clergy. The merchandising of indulgences was literally ‘selling sin’ by capitalizing off the fear of purgatory. Martin Luther was the first to directly confront this as many more followed into what became known as the Protestant Reformation.
All those insolent acts of one scandalous pope after another sparked a fiery reaction which heated up into such a revolutionary event that so greatly impacted papal power by the 1500’s. Entire nations were breaking away from Rome and even those who remained loyal to the pope were no longer willing to support such a degree of unlimited power and supremacy the popes so aspired for.
A very important invention which enabled this movement was the printing press with movable type; Bibles could be printed faster than popes could burn them, so the scriptures and information in general was no longer monopolized by Rome. Additionally, the fall of Constantinople compelled Greeks to flee into Western Europe, bringing with them their language and manuscripts of the New Testament in its original language, which provided better sources for better translations, and widened the spectrum of greater learning.
All these different facets providentially working together to put down the power of the popes while providing relief for the saints and society in general. Surely this must be what our Lord meant when saying, “…unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, those days will be shortened.” (Mat 24:22). Such divine intervention cut short the greatest tribulation ever, even amidst the time decreed for the papal beast to endure.
Thus, the tribulation was turned towards the popes who gnawed their tongues because of the pain. And just like the prior judgments had no positive effect on them reforming their evil ways, so even this great tribulation compelled them all the more to persist in their sins as they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds. The Council of Trent is a notorious testimony of such brazen obstinance which railed against any alteration of the wicked traditions of Rome. Furthermore, the Jesuit Order was commissioned to launch the Counter-Reformation, which employed the most cruel and wicked means unimaginable to combat the Protestant Reformation.
Yet the Reformation was not the only event to strike a blow to the throne and kingdom of the papal beast; The Napoleonic Wars literally knocked the pope right off his throne, bringing papal power to its demise and end to the Holy Roman Empire. Moreover, the Jesuits were exposed for their widespread mischiefs, and subsequently banned in nearly a hundred different countries, states and provinces. Just like the overthrow of Pagan Rome, then Papal Rome was struck down and the Jesuits were hounded into hiding by the end of the eighteenth century.
Sixth Vial: Preparing for Armageddon
Then the sixth angel poured out his vial on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. ~ Rev 16:12-16
Let us not forget these prophesies have been written in the language of the prophets of Israel, so considering the geographic perspective of Israel, the great river Euphrates signifies a protective barrier from the kings from the east, which is described as being dried up to make provision for invasion. Yet this judgment is not intended for Israel but for Papal Rome, as the Jewish perspective illustrates the vulnerability of her hedge of protection being removed. However, even in a weakened and vulnerable state, the three chief enemies of God, the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet mount up their strength to make another stand, principally employing deception, by spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
This Sixth Vial prophesy is essentially preparing the enemies of God to gather for a final showdown, which will take place upon the coming of Christ with the Seventh Vial. In the same way before, God declared through Moses to Pharaoh, “For by this time I could have stretched out My hand to strike you and your people with a plague to wipe you off the earth; But indeed I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I may display My power, that My name may be declared in all the earth!” (Ex 9:15-16). So, this Sixth Vial is basically a time of preparation for the Seventh Vial – to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. It seems God is allowing these powers to regain enough strength to stand for their final and fatal blow.
During the last two hundred years up to the present, there have been many remarkable developments which indicate this prophesy has been in process. The papacy has recovered, the Jesuits made their comeback, and their seductive and disarming strategy is now more insidious and more global than ever before.
It is difficult for most to recognize how deeply involved the Catholic Hierarchy is in virtually every geopolitical activity on earth beneath the multiple layers of insulation covering the ‘hidden hand’ of the Vatican in world politics and influence over diverse religious movements. This insulation comes in various fronts, such as the United Nations, European Union, Council on Foreign Relations, Banking Cartels, Multinational Intelligence Agencies (just to name a few), and many diverse religious systems such as Shriner Freemasons, Islam, National & World Council of Churches, and infiltration of the Protestant Church.
The unrelenting efforts of the Jesuit Counter-Reformation has blazed well-worn inroads to the very hearts and minds of their Protestant rivals. The Charismatic Movement, Word of Faith Movement, Ecumenical Movement and the Emergent Movement are all propagation’s of Jesuit exploits which have made remarkable success in bringing mainline Protestants back under the influence of Rome by such insidious means with spirits of demons, performing signs.
Moreover, Rome’s Ecumenical-Unity Movement pulls in every religion and people abroad to reorganize the ancient Tower of Babel Movement. This New Age Babylon is now developing on a global scale so the kings of the earth and the whole world are coming together with delusions of standing against God to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Thus, the complete fulfillment of the Sixth Vial, yet to come, will be when they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. This is the famous battle ground of many great slaughters (Judges 5:19, 2 Kings 23:29, 2 Chron 35:22); Armageddon, or Megiddo, meaning mountain of destruction, became the proverbial Jewish expression for destruction and mourning (Zech 12:11-12). Thus, Armageddon is most likely a figurative expression of the final and complete destruction of the antichrist system.
Yet, until that destruction, the build-up of this evil power, which is now approaching its critical mass, presents a dangerous time for God’s people. Therefore, it is most appropriate for Jesus to directly speak into this prophesy with an encouraging word, “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” This is both a warning and encouragement for His disciples to stay awake to allude the cunning and insidious deceptions which Christ had already given advanced warning about: “For false christs and false prophets will rise to show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See I have told you beforehand.” (Mat 24-25).
Now if such prevailing deception spreads abroad, this marks a perilous time for those of the Faith. “Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” Such a word of encouragement and warning implies there will be many who do not watch and keep their garments; In other words, there will be those who fail to be vigilant, who do not keep their faith in truth and purity, whereby their sins will not be covered. Thus, many will fall to the deception of counterfeits or abandon the Faith altogether, which happens to be the hallmark of our very day and age.
As the prevailing counterfeit forms of Christianity spread abroad in such robust mega-church fashion with the notion that human hands will bring on the Kingdom of God, we must remember what prophesy actually says about the true people of God at the close of the age; That there will be a devastating blow to the power of God’s people which signals the completion of this period – when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, these things shall be finished. (Daniel 12:7).
Yet, as daunting as that may be, that end marks a new beginning upon the pouring out of the Seventh Vial, when Jesus Christ comes to strike down the worldly powers of the Devil and establish His Kingdom on the earth for a thousand years! And not by human hands, but by the Rock who is Christ (Dan 2:34, 2:44-45).
Now, there are still certain details in this prophesy which need to be examined as we consider the historical events from about 1800 till now. From the Jewish perspective, the kings from the east, were known as Assyria, Babylon, and Persia; Yet, this Jewish expression to this prophesy concerning the beast, the kings from the east signify a formidable power encroaching upon the beast (Papal Rome), and not necessarily those ancient kingdoms of the east. As already observed, we considered, the great river Euphrates as an emblem representing a protective barrier from the kings from the east, which is described as dried up, to illustrate the vulnerability for invasion, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. Hence, the prophesy language here may be interpreted as a formidable power which has been given a great opening to advance towards the Papal Beast.
However, the prophesy does not speak of this formidable power overtaking the beast, but then details another movement with the rising up of the antichrist powers to summon the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Now let us consider the formidable power which made its advance towards the papal beast after the comeback of the Jesuits and recovery of papal power. The rise of Soviet Russia became a most daunting reality by the end of World War II. Interestingly, it was the Jesuits who plotted the Bolshevik Revolution to overthrow the Russian Tsar, making way for its communist regime. And it was Pope Pius XII who’s collusion with Hitler had backfired as Russia pushed back Nazi forces and subsequently occupied all the territories Hitler had conquered.
Such a power vacuum presented a massive opportunity for Russia, as Stalin wasted no time in setting up shop for his communist empire. By the time the better half of Europe was being gobbled up by this communist movement, the pope and his U.S. counterpart were extremely concerned, and began countermoves known as the Cold War. Most people only recognize Russia and the U.S. as the principle players in the Cold War, but Pope Pius XII was the main instigator.
Such a fear-driven anti-communist obsession of Pius XII compelled him to act out in the most scandalous ways. The Fatima Cult was one of his manipulating tactics he used to promote World War III, as the alleged apparitions of Mary concerning Russia gave the pope strong leverage to arouse his anti-communist agenda; Russia would either be converted or blown off the map. Therefore, it should be no surprise that the Vatican was allied with the U.S. in the Vietnam conflict against Communism, as the same Fatima Cult was then leveraged to compel the Catholics of North Vietnam to migrate to Southern Vietnam. Deeply disappointing to Pope Pius XII, the Fatima prophesies did not come to pass; Russia was not converted, nor was blown off the map; but became more powerful than ever. Yet the many shrewd and radical moves of Pius XII positioned the Vatican back on the globe as a key player in world politics.
The Fatima Cult represents an era of Marian Apparitions which have manifested abroad. Such a multitude of signs and wonders is a distinguishing characteristic of the false prophet of this Sixth Vial oracle as well as the second beast of Revelation 13. Remember the vision of chapter 13, there was the first beast distinct from the second beast in that the first beast represents the Roman Kingdom, in general, as the second beast represents the supreme ruling power of Rome – the papacy. It may be that the second beast of Revelation 13 and the false prophet of this Sixth Vial oracle are one in the same. The papacy has been standing behind these false signs and wonders to gather the world together for its grand agenda.
This leads us to consider the next detail: And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
Now we consider these unclean spirits which were like frogs, likely signifying the pagan nature of those many amphibian gods. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world. Then the same spirit of deception spreads abroad not only within the Fatima Cult but within the Charismatic Movement among the Protestant Churches. And Rome’s Ecumenical Movement, in the name of peace & unity, serves to gather all people of all religions and walks of life to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Now is this to be an actual battle in a literal sense? I think not. But a stand against God on a paramount level – yes. Such developments to this end are well on the way as the world at large is being incrementally initiated into the Babylonian Mysteries with the socio-religious New Age Movement and its political-economic counterpart of the New World Order. See the relation between The New Age Movement and New World Order.
Today’s mass propagation of the Babylonian System is generally evident in Hollywood movies like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter; and rising trends such as Yoga, Hypnosis, Martial Arts, Tatoos & Piercings, etc.; And politically with globalist movements like neo-progressivism, global banking cartels, the U.N. Agenda 21; And religiously evident with the various movements within mainline Christianity poised on mysticism, humanism, signs and wonders, social justice, etc. which contrives solidarity with Rome and all other religions; And medically so to be pharmaceutically driven; And sexually so to be androgynous; And scientifically & technologically with such astonishing advancements to become exceedingly independent from and indifferent to the Creator, so to presume to be God unto themselves.
All such movements are mounting up in a concerted solidarity to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Just as well as Psalm 2 was applied to the time of Messiah’s first visit, the same may very well be applied to His next visit:
Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take council together, against the LORD, and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us!”
He who sits in the heavens shall laugh: The LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.”
“I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.'”
Seventh Vial: The Overthrow of the World System
Then the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.
Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.
Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great. ~ Rev 16:17-21
Here, the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air – indicating the demise of the satanic empowerment of the beast. For the Devil is described as the prince of the power of the air, so this judgment strikes the very source of the antichrist system, the spirit who is now at work in the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 2:2).
Then, a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” From the very throne of the heavenly temple, this great declaration, ‘It is done!’ – is the distinguishing mark of God’s coming. The same was expressed in the rendering of the Seventh Trumpet, “…in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, the mystery of God will be finished” (Rev 10:7). Also, in Rev 11:19, the same event is rendered as the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple – indicating the mystery of God will be finished as the most holy place is revealed. The same verse relating to the Seventh Trumpet then reads, And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. – The same exact language used in this Seventh Vial oracle.
These are all indications that this Seventh Vial is the same event as the Seventh Trumpet, and if that is so, then the Seven Vials could not have commenced after the return of Christ, but before. Hence, one more piece of evidence which supports the Seven Vials as judgments occurring throughout the 1260 year time frame of the antichrist era unto the coming of Christ.
Verse 18: And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings (prophetic expressions of the wrath of God, as already observed); and there was a great earthquake (in prophesy language, a great earthquake, is a figurative expression of a great revolutionary event, as already covered), such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Certainly, the return of Christ will be the greatest revolution of all time, as He overthrows the entire world system of antichrist. And I bet the earth will then also literally shake with violent convulsions.
Verse 19: Now the great city (Babylon-Papal Rome) was divided into three parts (it is uncertain to know exactly what is meant by this since it has not yet happened), and the cities of the nations fell (the whole global system collapsed). And great Babylon (the great city) was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. This same expression, the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath, used in the rendering of chapter 14 of Christ’s return.
Verse 20: Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found (There will be no sanctuary on earth to escape to).
Concluding with verse 21: And great hail from heaven fell upon men (another symbol of God’s wrath we’ve already observed), each hailstone about the weight of a talent (emphasizing the extraordinarily heavy weight of God’s wrath). Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great. Again, the people are so entrenched in their wickedness that no amount of calamity would turn their hearts to God, but rather cause them to blaspheme all the more, all the way to their graves.
Now that we have examined the Seven Vials, it may be more evident to the reader that this sequence of Vial Judgments may be properly understood as being fulfilled throughout the 1260 year period of time when the tyrannical power of Papal Rome blasphemed God and persecuted the saints. In summary to this point, we had observed the following evidence for the Seven Vials executed throughout this antichrist era:
- The character of God, being swift to execute judgment without much delay.
- The same swift judgment demonstrated with the precedent of prophetic and redemptive history.
- The announcement of Christ during the Sixth Vial, “Behold, I am coming…” indicating He has not yet come.
- The particular detail of each prophesy perfectly aligning with the most impactful events of this history in matching chronology.
- The distinguishing marks and descriptions of the Seventh Trumpet and the Seventh Vial, which indicate they are the same event.
Though there has not ever been general consensus on the interpretation of the Seven Vials like there had been on the previous prophesies, we must remember that truth does not depend on consensus. And though it is wise to be reserved on this segment of prophesy that the great theologians of the past had not so much agreed on, the Spirit of God may have intended to keep this hidden until this time. Moreover, having advanced to the point of time which we live today gives a greater perspective on these matters. The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law. – Deuteronomy 29:29
The next section of prophesy happens to have more consensus than all the prior prophesies of The Revelation. Even many modern-day scholars agree with the traditional view of the next section of chapters 17-18; For one of the angels explains the meaning of the blasphemous power of Rome, which we will examine in the next part – The Great Mother of Harlots.
– Word & Spirit of God, Who Was and Is and Is to come
– Moses Lowman – “Paraphrases and Notes on the Revelation of St. John“
– John Clark Ridpath – ‘Ridpath’s Universal History’
– Charles Daubuz – “A Perpetual Commentary on the Revelation of St. John“
– E H Broadbent – “The Pilgrim Church”
– John Gill – “Gill’s Exposition of the Bible“
– Thomas Newton – “Dissertations of the Prophesies” – Volumes 1-3
– Henry Fliedner – ‘The Martyrdom of a People’ or ‘The Vaudois of Piedmont and Their History‘
– Albert Barnes – “Barnes’ Notes on the Entire Bible
– Theodor Griesinger – ‘The Jesuits: Their Complete History’
– Peter DeRosa – ‘Vicars of Christ: ‘The Dark Side of The Papacy’
– Avro Manhattan – ‘The Vatican Holocaust‘
– Charles Spurgeon – Spurgeon Archive
– Adam Clark – “Clark’s Commentary on the Bible“
– E. Boyd Barrett – ‘The Jesuit Enigma’
– John Cornwall – ‘Hitler’s Pope’
– Ian Paisley – ‘The Pope is the Antichrist‘
– Augustus Toplady – ‘The Road To Rome’
– John Foxe – ‘Foxes Book of Martyrs’
– Joseph Benson – “Benson’s Commentary on Revelation”
– Kenneth Scott Latourette – ‘A History of Christianity’