Revelation Chapter Sixteen Part II (vss.13-21)

Fiery Wrath

Fiery Wrath

Revelation 16:13-14 (repeated) “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. {14} For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”

In mythology, especially Egyptian and Zoroastrian mythology, there are several deities who appear as frogs or as men with frogs’ heads. Frogs increase dramatically in Egypt each year when the Nile floods, which is why they play an important part in Egyptian mythology. An overabundance of frogs was one of the ten plagues sent by God upon Egypt. In ancient Finnish mythology, frogs are household spirits. They are not good spirits but they bode good for the house they live in.

The Hebrew word for frog, tsephardea’ (צפרדּע), comes from a root word meaning “to skip about”. These spirits did skip about the land, bringing the kings to the mountain of Megiddo (Armageddon), which borders the Jezreel Valley. Keeping these thoughts in mind, it is easy to see why John chose frogs as his metaphor for the unclean spirits

These spirits go to the whole world to gather the leaders of earth to the area near Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley. The literal Greek reads this way: “for they are spirits of demons, that perform signs, which go forth to the kings of the inhabited whole [world], to gather them together unto the battle.”

In John’s day the inhabited whole world was basically the Roman empire, and its surrounding areas, like Arabia and Parthia. Parts of modern India and China were inhabited as well. However it is probable that the Roman Empire what John is alluding to.

John could not have even imagined the what the whole world would look like in the future. Only the world John lived in was then in view. But what about today? Do these words apply to the world today? The things written of in the Bible were written in the Middle East. Revelation certainly applies to the end of the age, which has not yet occurred. Yet it is very much centered around the Middle East.

The conflicts written about in the Old Testament, the prophetic books such as Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, The Olivet Discourse, and the Revelation were and are centered in the Middle East. All that happened in history, and all prophesied to happen in the future occurred and will occur in the middle east with Israel as the focal point.

God said that He placed Jerusalem in the center of the nations and countries surround her. Those countries, which are all in the Middle East around her are all enemies. The Battle of Armageddon will occur in Israel against the Israeli people. All the armies from those countries will gather in Israel, in the Jezreel Valley for the battle.

Today, Jerusalem is still the center of the world. Though it is not at the exact center of the land mass of the world, Jerusalem is most definitely at the political center of the world. The geographical center of the world is very near Jerusalem. Some calculations put that in Ankara, Turkey, others just west of Cairo, Egypt, and still others in the Mediterranean Sea near the Island of Crete. All are very close to Israel.

Even if Jerusalem is not in the exact center of the world, It is at the center of all the political controversies of the world. No matter what country one thinks of, they all have an eye on the Middle East, and especially on Israel. Israel is also one of the most hated nations of the world.

Because of that hatred for Israel, went the kings gather against Israel to crush her once and for all and completely annihilate her, troops from the world over will join that group. Unfortunately it is likely the United States will be involved as well, either as an ally or an enemy of Israel, depending on the circumstances in the American Government.

How can we know that is what will happen? Mainly because the Bible says all nations will be involved in that conflict (Zec 12:3). Let us remember World Wars One and Two. Both started as regional of Armageddon.

Revelation 16:15 “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”

This is an aside or a parenthetical statement. It is a reminder by John that Jesus will return and will come like a thief to those who are not expecting Him. As a thief comes unexpectedly, so Jesus will come to His enemies. Those who are expecting His coming will be happy about it. (See Rev 3:18 and the comments there)

There are two separate sections to this sentence. The first is “Blessed is he that watches.” In other words we are blessed if we know the time is near and will always be watching for His coming, yet we never know the exact time that He will come. We are to keep watching since we don’t know that exact time. In other words we should know the Scriptures surrounding His return, we should remain vigilant in His word and in our prayer life, we should be in fellowship with other believers, and we should be walking uprightly in His Spirit. As the Psalmist wrote,

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Psa 1:1).

“Keeping our garments” is not a good translation for contemporary English speaking folks. Some translations fall into an incorrect rendering of the Greek word behind the English. For example, several translations render it to keep, which is used as a synonym of the word remain. They depict it as “keeping on their clothes” or “remain clothed,” etc. Translations that do that totally miss the entire point of Jesus’ statement. It has nothing whatsoever to do with keeping on your clothes. Many modern translations make this mistake, but fortunately some do get it right.

The Greek underlying the word keep, keeps, keeping, etc. is τηρέω tereo, to guard, to shield, to protect, etc. If we read the verse so that we can correctly understand its meaning, it should read, ” Blessed is he that watches. Blessed is he that guards his garments, so that he will not walk naked, that others should see his shame.”

Bright, clean garments represent the righteous acts of the saints (Rev 19:8); guarding them means keeping them bright and clean. This is a reminder to guard our actions as Christians. It encourages us to continue doing the good works of the Lord even during trials and tribulation.

Nakedness is symbolic of being shamed. If one has no righteous acts, it is shame. For as James tells in his epistle, “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?” (Jas 2:15 NLT; the New Living Translation seems to get to the real meaning of James’ words better than any other translation).

In other words, without our good works, done in the righteousness Christ imputes to us, the world will not acknowledge our faith and therefore we will appear to them as naked as hypocrites without the cloak of our faith proven to them by our works. Guarding our garments is guarding our righteousness and our righteous acts from unrighteousness.

Revelation 16:16 “And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”

Even after the vials have been poured out, the Dragon is still able to gather the people into an army to fight against the Lord.

Armageddon is a transliteration of two Hebrew words הר המגידו, har and Megiddo, or the mountain of Megiddo. The two words mean “mountain” (or hill) and “gathering place” (or rendezvous), respectively and then are combined to make the one word, Armageddon in both English and in the Greek, (Αρμαγεδδων)1. The word is literally, “the mountain of the gathering place.”

Megiddo (or Megido) is a city at the southern end of the Carmel Mountain Range in northern Israel. It is in Galilee about twenty miles southeast of the port of Haifa, about twenty-five miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee, and about ten miles southwest of Nazareth. It is a small town situated on a hill or small mountain that is called Megiddo. The foot of the mountain rests on the large Jezreel Valley, which is also known as the Valley of Megiddo.

The Carmel Mountains border the Jezreel Valley. The valley begins thirty miles south of Tyre and runs from the coastal Plain of Acco near Galilee southeastward past the city of Megiddo, past the city of Jezreel, and on to the Jordan valley where it ends some fifty miles north of Jerusalem. It covers 141 square miles, or 365 square kilometers, or 90,000+ acres. A large portion of Israel’s agricultural products are produced there. It is widely known as the Breadbasket of Israel. The valley is very important to Israel’s economy and the feeding of the country’s population.

The Jezreel Valley or the Plain of Esdraelon (the Greek transliteration of Jezreel) is a place where many Biblical battles took place. It is a perfect place for armies to gather and prepare for war. This is the place of gathering where the enemies of God will assemble for the final battle. This is the place of the supper of the Great God (or the great supper of God; Rev 19:17), where the birds of heaven will feast on the flesh of kings, captains, mighty men, horses, and of the flesh of all men, both free and bond, small and great.

It is convenient for armies. It is centrally located, has modern highways, and is easily accessed from air, land, and sea. It is the perfect location for armies to amass their troops, supplies, and equipment, and to commence the battle. Even with all the modern military might of the nations gathered at that place, these armies will have no chance of victory over the One they are gathered against. He will speak2 and the armies will be destroyed (Rev 19:20,21).

Revelation 16:17 “And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.”

The seventh vial is the final victory of God over Satan. The vial is poured over Satan’s earthly domain; he is the prince of the power of the air, the leader of the principalities, the powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph 6:12). When this vial is poured out, this age is finished3. The old earth will end and a new one will take its place (Rev 21:1,2).

As Jesus last words on the cross were, “It is finished” (Psa 22:31; Joh 19:30) when His enemies seemingly defeated and killed Him, so His last words will echo from temple of heaven with a mighty voice, “It is done4” just before He ultimately defeats every single one of His enemies.

Revelation 16:18 “And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.”

This verse in a continuation of the narrative in verse 17, that expresses what occurred in the temple of heaven because of the conjunction, και, ‘and’ in English. Accordingly, the sounds listed here also came from the temple of heaven

In Scripture, the presence of Yahweh is usually accompanied with signs. Some of the very common signs of the presence of God are flashes of lightning, peals of thunder, thick clouds, fire, smoke, the sound of trumpets, various unnamed sounds, rumblings, voices of the wind, storm, hail, burning embers, brightness, many waters, etc., all accompanied by earthquakes (e.g. Eze 1:4, 25-28; Psa 18:10-13; Rev 4:5; Rev 11:19; Rev 16:18).

When Moses went up on Mount Sinai to speak with Yahweh, most of these things occurred and in addition the entire mountain shook. The people at the foot of the mountain were sorely afraid. This narrative depicting an actual earthquake describes the shaking an entire mountain. The earth shook in the physical presence of Almighty God. (Exo 19:16-19). This shaking proved to the children of Israel that God was powerful, and commanded their awe in His presence.

The seventh vial of the wrath of God is poured out signifying the very beginning of the Day of the Lord, which is expressed in many ways in the Scriptures, mostly in the Old Testament. A few of them are: The day of the Lord; The day of the Lord of hosts; The day of the Lord’s vengeance; The day of the Lord God of hosts; The day of the Lord’s anger; The day of the Lord is great and very terrible; The day of the Lord is darkness; The day of the Lord’s sacrifice; wrath and fierce anger, etc.

Jeremiah, wrote about that day: “But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation” (Jer 10:10). That is exactly what we are reading about in these verses. The sounds emanating from the temple of heaven in our verse are the sounds of the presence of God in His wrath.

Revelation 16:19 “And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.”

We have seen how often earthquakes accompany the presence of Yahweh. This earthquake is one of the, or perhaps is, the worst ever in the history of mankind. The great city is torn into three parts. The Great city is Babylon, which is referred to as the Great City in these verses: Rev 14:8 Rev 17:18 Rev 18:10, Rev 18:16.

Again, Babylon is the system of the beast and the false prophet, described in chapter thirteen. The great city of Babylon is city from which that the Beast or Antichrist will rule. It is a city where throngs of those that took the mark of the Beast will gather and worship him who claims to be god and his god, the dragon, which is Satan, who bestowed on the beast all his dominion and authority.

When John wrote this narrative, the original Babylon was past history and had no power in his time. It is true that the early church used the name, Babylon as a code word for the Roman Empire. Yet, we know that John was writing future prophecy from the words Jesus Himself spoke, recorded in Revelation 4:1, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” That was after the dictation of the letters to the churches, indicating John’s future.

Thus, it seems obvious that John modeled Mystery Babylon The Great after his knowledge of the Roman tyrants that persecuted the church such as Nero, Domitian, Trajan, and Hadrian. Of those four, there is a legend that Domitian actually promoted himself as Dominus et Deus, meaning, “Lord and God.” Roman historians Suetonius and Cassius Dio were the sources of that information. John’s Beast is likely modeled on persecutors Nero and Domitian. Trajan ruled after the writing of Revelation and Hadrian ruled after John’s demise.

Here we have the unholy trinity: Satan, the Beast, and False Prophet. This worship will be directed at the beast, and the dragon, to whom the whole earth (Rec 13:3) fell down and paid homage (Rec 13:4). In other words they worshipped the dragon. Thus they will worship the Beast and the Dragon. The False Prophet leads the people to worship the Beast and his idol or image.

In this unholy trinity, the dragon or Satan, stands in the place of Almighty God, the Great I Am, The Beast or Antichrist stands in the place of Christ, the Redeemer, and the False Prophet stands in the place of the Holy Spirit. John’s Babylon is the place all who take the mark will come to worship this unholy trinity.

In this verse we are shown the beginning time of Babylon’s end. This place of unholy worship will have come into remembrance before the One True God, Yahweh. The Day of the Lord finally comes against the Enemies of God.

The location of this Great City, Babylon, is unknown. There have been several theories in the past of the identity of this Babylon and its location. We learn something about its location in Rev17:3. John wrote that the Holy Spirit carried him away into the wilderness where saw the woman, Mystery Babylon sitting on a scarlet colored beast.

Remember this prophecy is centered in the Middle East, which is mostly desert. The Greek word rendered ‘wilderness’ actually means desert. Thus this city of the beast is situated somewhere in a desert. Several locations of this Babylon have been suggested through the years. Several of them are Rome, Jerusalem, Ankara, Istanbul, Mecca, New York City, and many other locations. This can only lead to speculation and we must wait until the events occur to know for certain.

Why is the city split into three parts? One compelling reason is that this is the city of the unholy trinity of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False prophet. Other likely scenarios begin with the discussions of ‘thirds’ in the chapters 8, 9, and 12 of Revelation.

Old Testament explanations are relevant as well. In the first verses of Ezekiel Chapter 5, God tells Ezekiel to take a sharp knife, and use it as a Barber’s razor to shave the hair from his head and beard, which is a sign of shame. This occurred at the time when Judah and Jerusalem were being attacked by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian armies.

He was to divide the hair into three parts. He was to burn one-third of the hair inside the city of Jerusalem. Then he was to take another third of the hair and walk around the outside of the city while using the knife to cut up the hair into small pieces as he circles the city. Then he was to take the last third and scatter it to the wind.

The Lord explains that the hair represents the whole nation of Israel (Eze 5:4). Then God explains that the Israelites rejected His statutes (Eze 5:7). Because of their disobedience, God tells them, “A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them” (Eze 5:12); in other words God would chase them away and scatter them.

Zechariah 13:9 God, speaking of the ones scattered to the winds says He “will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.

As we saw in chapter eight, Zechariah has a similar prophecy. Zechariah 13:7-9 prophesies that because His Shepherd, the Messiah, would be crucified, two thirds of mankind will die. The remaining third will be tried and refined by fire and Yehovah will call them “My People” and they will say “Yehovah is my God.” This is apparently a yet future event. Yet, it may help explain why the city was divided into three parts. That would symbolize those opposed to God versus those loyal to Him.

The cities of the nations fell as well. A reminder is that a nation can be defined several ways. A nation can mean a specific ethnic group, family, or race. It can also denote a body of people using the same language, or a group of citizens living under a specific form of government. It can also apply to kingdoms, city-states, countries, etc. To a fellow Jew of John, that would mean Gentiles and their cities, states, or countries.

The Greek word for nations, εθνος, ethnos, is translated “gentiles” in Rev 11:2. There the word is the direct translation of the Hebrew word, גּוי, goy, or gentile. When the Septuagint translates גּוי, goy into Greek is uses the word εθνος, ethnos. English translation of the Septuagint reflect that by translating ethnos as Gentiles.

Therefore, to the Jews of John’s time the nations were known as Gentiles. In context, that means the cities of the Gentiles fell. The cities of the nations would therefore be any and all the cities of the world outside of Israel. Once again, we are seeing a world-wide event depicted in the eschatology of Revelation.

Babylon, which is the end-time empire of the Beast, and his False Prophet, encompasses all humanity. We see that in Rev 13:7-8, where we are told that the Beast will “make war with the saints,” and will have authority over “every tribe and people and language and nation, and all the inhabitants of the earth

Thus all living humans at that time, both saved and unsaved will be under the Beast’s power. Revelation chapter thirteen indicates this. As we read above, the Beast will be at war with the saints who will not recognize his authority, but will not be able to escape his power. Additionally, all the other inhabitants of the earth, all tribes, people, languages and nations will accept his authority and worship him. We are given glimpses of those things in the earlier chapters of this Revelation beginning with the seals in chapter six. Further indications of these things continue in the next few chapters.

Based on Ezekiel chapter five, especially Eze 5:12, the last three verses of Zechariah chapter thirteen, and in the Revelation, some commentators have proposed that since all people in the world will be under the authority of the Beast and his end-time empire, which is Babylon (Rev 13:7,8), all humanity at that time is divided into thirds. According to the Scriptures in Ezekiel and Zechariah, two thirds are evil (Zec 13:8) and one third are God’s people (Zec 13:9).

In this proposal, the earthquake in Rev 16:18 will be a, “great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” Then the great city, which Rev 16:19 identifies as Babylon, will split into three parts, 2 parts will refer to the two-thirds that will perish, and the remaining one part refers to the one-third that are God’s people who will be delivered.

Those prophesies have already come to pass as Israel and Judah were taken captive by Assyria and Babylon respectively. They occurred again during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. And again when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans under general Titus. In each of these situations a remnant was saved.

Though this proposal is not without merit, it is also not certain, It is, however, a plausible suggestion.

Revelation 16:20 “And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

Typically, Islands in Scripture refer that the coastland and island communities around the Mediterranean Sea. This was expanded to include all the inhabited areas on the islands and coastlands around the oceans to the west of the greater Mediterranean sea (which actually encompasses the lesser Aegean, Ionian, Adriatic, Tyrrhenian, Balearic, and Alboran Seas). Since the Atlantic ocean to the west it is also included.

The actual Hebrew word translated islands, coastlands, etc. is אי, ‘iy (Strongs’ H339). It is translated several different ways in different translations. For example, coastlands, isles, islands of the sea, coasts of the sea, coastlands of the sea, people who live along the sea, coasts and islands of the west, maritime countries, sea-lands, and others.

The word not only refers to literal islands and coastlands, but its lexical definition is simply habitable, dry land. The scriptures use it both literally and figuratively. We have already stated that the islands of the sea or the coastlands describe the area around and west of the Mediterranean Sea. The Scriptures also use it to refer to peoples and nations living on the islands and coastlands around and west of the Mediterranean. We see that in several Scriptures (e.g. Isa 41:1; 51:5; 59:18).

When Scripture mentions mountains being made flat, or fleeing, or melting, it of often indicates that the wrath of God causes these earth-shattering events. We see examples of that in Isa 2:14; Jer 4:23,24,25; and Mic 1:4. It may also refer to God’s destruction of His enemies (Isa 30:25; Psa 110:5,6). Mountains may also mean kingdoms (Psa 2:6, Isa 66:20). They may also mean the kingdoms of God’s enemies (Jer 51:25; Zec 4:7). We can read of a great earthquake in Rev 6:14, where the mountains and island were moved out of their place.

The verbiage of our verse is similar to that of Rev 6:14: “And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” This occurred after the opening of the sixth seal, which was followed by a great earthquake. We observe that this is an even greater earthquake. It is a worldwide physical quake combined with an earthquake in men’s institutions and endeavors. God’s wrath has arrived.

In our verse, the occurrence of the islands that fled away refers not only to physical destruction caused by the earthquake, the physical upheavals of the earth, as well as God’s wrath and judgment, but also includes dissolution of the communities and peoples the islands represent. Likewise the mountains that were not found suffered the same fate. They were destroyed by the shaking of earth’s foundations and since they also represent kings, kingdoms, and peoples; those societies were in confusion.

Revelation 16:21 “And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”

Hail is always associated with the wrath of God. Men still will shake their fists at God after witnessing His terrible power. God’s wrath is exceedingly great.

What we see here after the seventh vial was poured into the air in verse 17, is a cataclysm of worldwide consequence. Every man-made establishment, arrangement, pattern, organization, structure, establishment, constituency, scheme, enterprise, desire, etc., etc. is thrown into chaos. Natural disasters also abound. Pandemonium reigns, humanity is thrown into wild anarchy. Nothing tangible is any longer perceived.

In other words, nature is upset by storm, earthquake, hail, lightning and thunder and humanity is completely undone. The islands, that is the worldwide communities of humans, are all distorted and in conflict. Communication is cut off. The world no longer seems to exist in reality. All endeavors of humanity are in disarray. Horror and terror are constant. In the midst of all this unprecedented turmoil, humans still refuse to repent of their sins and they figuratively shake their fists in the face of God, blaspheming Him. There is no escape. The end is nearing.

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).

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Mark Oaks,  December 7, 2021

 

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Footnotes

  1. This is the spelling taken from the Textus Receptus. In other manuscripts, e.g. Majority, Critical, etc. it is spelled Αρμαγεδον, with a single deltα (δ).
  2. The sword that proceeds from the mouth of Jesus (Rev 19:15) symbolizes the Word of God. Thus He will speak and His Word will destroy the armies.
  3. It is finished, John 19:30, τετελεσται (tetelestai)
  4. It is done, γεγονεν (gegonen)
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