View Revelation 16 in the note window.
The first vial of wrath brought the utmost distress and shameful misery on
all who had taken the mark of the beast.
The second brought the power of moral death on the mass of peoples; all who
were among them within the limits of the prophetic earth, died-I apprehend,
gave up mere outward profession. We have here an example of the use of
symbols which it is well to note. All the vials are poured out on the
earth, that is, applied to the sphere of already formed relationship with
God. But in this there might be a specialrelationship in which men had to
do with God in this world-were inhabiters of earth, or the mass of people
within that sphere.
The third vial was poured out on all the sources of popular influence and
action; and they became positively deathful. It seems to me, that the
deadly influence in alienation from God, within the sphere of prophecy, is
strongly marked here. Death is used generally as the expression of the
power of Satan.
Then the supreme authority is made frightfully oppressive. This gave the
first four of direct judgment according to the usual division.
The fifth vial strikes the throne of the beast, the seat and stability of
his authority, which Satan had given him; and his kingdom became full of
darkness. All was confusion and wretchedness, and no resource: they gnawed
their tongues with anguish and blasphemed God.
The sixth angel pours out his vial on Euphrates- destroys, I apprehend, the
securing boundary of the Western prophetic powers-not the seat of its
power, but broke its frontier, that the way of the kings of the East might
be prepared. I look at this simply as the bringing in of the powers of Asia
into the conflict for the universal conflagration of powers. The sixth vial
sends forth three unclean spirits, the sum of all evil influences: that of
Satan's direct power as antagonistic of Christ; that of the power of the
last empire, the beast; and that of the second beast of chapter 13
henceforth known as the false prophet, Satan's influence as the Antichrist,
an idolatrous wonder-working power; and the kings of the world were
gathered together to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. The
allusion is to Judges 5:19-20.
At the seventh vial there is a general break-up and subversion, and Babylon
comes into judgment. And the hail of God, the judgment of God, came on men
from heaven. (Compare Is. 32, 33) All separate independent interests and
established powers disappeared. This was over the earth-God's judgment by
providence and instruments-but the Lamb was not come yet. The details of
Babylon's judgments are reserved for the following chapters.