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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 16

Larkin's Study of the Prophetic Book of Holy ScripturesLarkin on Revelation

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Verses 1-2




Revelation 16:1-2.

“And I heard a great voice out of the Temple saying to the ’Seven Angels,’ Go your ways, and pour out the ’VIALS OF THE WRATH OF GOD’ upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his VIAL upon the earth: and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the ’MARK OF THE BEAST,’ and upon them which WORSHIPPED HIS IMAGE.”

These “VIALS” and their contents are LITERAL. One cannot imagine that such momentous things as are here described refer to historical events that are already past, as when some interpret the “First Vial” as the French Revolution in A. D. 1792, and the “sores” its infidelity; and the “Second Vial” as the naval wars of that Revolution; the “Third Vial” as the battles of Napoleon in Italy, and the rest of the Vials as historical events that happened in the Nineteenth Century. If this be true then we have been passing in the past 125 years through the period of the Great Tribulation without knowing it, and have been preaching “Grace” and not that “THE HOUR OF HIS JUDGMENT IS COME.” This is supposition and not EXPOSITION, and requires the reader of the Book of Revelation to be versed in all the historical events of the Christian Era. No, these “Vial Judgments” are yet future, and will be literally fulfilled as here described, and this gives us the “KEY” to the LITERALNESS of the whole Book of Revelation. That these “Vial Judgments” are not figurative is clear from the fact that 4 of the 7 have actually happened before. They are simply repetitions of the “PLAGUES OF EGYPT.” See the ““ and the “Egyptian Plagues” compared. This Plague of a “NOISOME AND GRIEVOUS SORE” that shall fall upon men, is a repetition of the “Plague of Boils” that fell upon the Egyptians at the time of the Exodus. Exodus 9:8-12. The “First Vial Judgment” then will be a repetition of the “Sixth Egyptian Plague.” That that Plague actually happened no believer in the Bible doubts, then why should we try to explain away the literalness of the Plagues that shall follow the pouring out of each of these Vials.

Boils are caused by bad blood, and reveal corruption in the system. These “grievous sores” which will come upon MEN ONLY, and not upon the beasts also as in the time of Moses, will not only reveal corruption in the body, but in the heart of those whose sins will cause corruption in their bodies. That these “sores” are reserved for those who have the “MARK OF THE BEAST,” and who worship his IMAGE is further proof that these “Vial Judgments” are still future. Here is the fulfillment of Revelation 14:9-11.

The effect of the Plague of Boils upon the Egyptians was to harden their hearts, and a like effect will be produced upon the followers of Antichrist by the Plagues that shall follow the pouring out of the “Vials,” for we read in

verse 9, that men will blaspheme God, and refuse to repent. From this we see that suffering alone does not lead to repentance.

The Seven Vials and the Egyptian Plagues Compared

Verse 3



(Blood On the Sea.)

Revelation 16:3.

“And the ’Second Angel’ poured out his Vial upon the sea: and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.”

We saw that at the sounding of the “Second Trumpet,” that the third part of the sea became blood, and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. Revelation 8:8-9. Here the whole of the sea is affected. This may mean only the Sea of Galilee, or the Mediterranean Sea, and not the oceans of the earth. It does not follow that this blood is that of men. It may be only of the living creatures that are in the sea. The Revised Version translates (in the margin) the word “soul” as the “soul of life,” and we know that the word “soul” implies “self conscious life,” and this is common to all animal life. The blood is certainly not the blood of sailors and marines caused by some great naval battle. The inference is that the creatures in the sea died, not because of the loss of their own blood, but because the waters of the sea became “AS the blood of a dead man”--that is, corrupt.

Verses 4-7



(Blood On the Rivers.)

Revelation 16:4-7.

“And the ’Third Angel’ poured out his Vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they BECAME BLOOD. And I heard the ’Angel of the Waters’ say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because Thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them BLOOD TO DRINK; for they are worthy. And I heard another out of the Altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Thy Judgments.”

This is a repetition of the “First Egyptian Plague.” Exodus 7:19-24. When the waters of Egypt were turned into blood all the fish died, but here nothing is said about the inhabitants of the rivers and ponds. Then John heard the “Angel of the Waters” say--“Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shall be, because Thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them BLOOD TO DRINK; for they are worthy,” or deserve it. As a confirmation of the saying of the “Angel of the Waters,” John heard another voice come from the Altar, saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Thy Judgments.” Those will be awful times when there will be nothing but BLOOD to quench the thirst. The expression “Angel of the Waters,” reveals the fact that even certain divisions of nature are controlled by angels.

Verses 8-9



(Great Heat.)

Revelation 16:8-9.

“And the ’Fourth Angel’ poured out his Vial UPON THE SUN; and power was given unto him (the Sun) to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with GREAT HEAT, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these Plagues; and they repented not to give Him glory.”

Under the “Fourth Trumpet” the third part of the Sun was smitten, and the third part of the Moon and of the Stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. Revelation 8:12. But it was only the light that was diminished, nothing is said about the heat of the Sun. This “Fourth Vial” is therefore not a recurrence of the “Fourth Trumpet.” Here the heat of the Sun is intensified, and so great is the heat that men are scorched by it. How this will be done it is useless to conjecture. It is the time spoken of by Malachi. “Behold, the day cometh that shall BURN AS AN OVEN; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch”; and the time is located as just before the “SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS” shall arise with healing in His wings. Malachi 4:1-2. The effect of this Plague will be not to make men repent, but to cause them to blaspheme the name of God. Blessed will those people be who do not live to see that day.

Verses 10-11




Revelation 16:10-11.

“And the ’Fifth Angel’ poured out his Vial upon the SEAT (Throne) OF THE BEAST: and his Kingdom was full of darkness; and they GNAWED THEIR TONGUES FOR PAIN, and blasphemed the God of Heaven because of their ’PAINS’ and their ’SORES,’ and repented not of their deeds.”

Here we have a repetition of the “Ninth Egyptian Plague,” that of DARKNESS. Exodus 10:21-23. This is the “day” spoken of by Joel. “A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness.” Joel 2:1-2. Christ speaks of it in Mark 13:24, as the time when “the Sun shall be darkened, and the Moon shall not give her light.”

Notice that this Plague immediately follows the Plague of “Scorching Heat,” as if God in mercy would hide the Sun whose rays had been so hard to bear. The effect of the darkness was to make men gnaw their tongues for PAIN and for their SORES, showing that these Plagues overlapped each other, or followed in such rapid order that they were not over the sufferings of one before they were suffering from another, and that they were limited to a short period of a few months, and not distributed over a period of years as the Historical School of interpretation claims.

The notable feature is, that their sufferings brought no repentance, but caused them to blaspheme the God of Heaven. Some talk of conversion in Hell, and of the ultimate restoration of the wicked, but it is not revealed here. If Hell’s torments will cause men to repent, why do not the torments of those under these plagues lead to repentance? No, it only causes them to blaspheme the more, and while sin and impenitence last, Hell lasts. This Plague extends over the whole Kingdom of the Beast.

Verse 12



(The Euphrates Dried Up.)

Revelation 16:12.

“And the ’Sixth Angel’ poured out his Vial upon the GREAT RIVER EUPHRATES; and the water thereof was DRIED UP, that the way of the ’Kings of the East’ might be prepared.”

This means the literal river Euphrates. The other Plagues will be real, and why does not this mean the drying up of the real Euphrates River. The opening up of a dry passage through the Red Sea that the Children of Israel might escape from Egypt, and the parting of the waters of the River Jordan that they might pass over into the Land of Canaan, are facts of history, why then shall not the River Euphrates be dried up that the Kings of the East and their armies may cross over and assemble for the Battle of Armageddon? The prophecy in Isaiah 11:15-16, where “the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian Sea (Red Sea), and . . . shake His hand over the River (Euphrates) and smite its seven streams, so men can go over ’DRY SHOD’,” refers to this time. The Kings shall journey East from Africa, and West from Asia that they may meet in Palestine for the “Battle of Armageddon.” The drying up of the Euphrates will serve a twofold purpose. It will permit the remnant of Israel from Assyria to return, and also allow the nations of the far East to be gathered for the “Judgment of Nations.” Matthew 25:31-46.

Verses 13-16




Revelation 16:13-16.

“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.’ For they are the ’SPIRITS OF DEVILS’ (Demons), 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’ (Armageddon). Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he (they R. V.) gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” (Har-Mageddon R. V.)

Here we are told how the “Kings of the Earth” and their armies are to be gathered for the “Battle of Armageddon.” “THREE UNCLEAN SPIRITS” like frogs, John does not say they were frogs, will come one out of the mouth of the “Dragon,” one out of the mouth of the “Beast,” and one out of the mouth of the “False Prophet.” That they are not real frogs is clear from their miracle working power. They are the “SPIRITS OF DEMONS,” 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.” They are the “Seducing Spirits” who go forth preaching the “DOCTRINE OF DEVILS” in the “latter times” of whom Paul warns Timothy. 1. Tim. 4:1. They are sent out by the “SATANIC TRINITY,” the “Dragon,” the “Beast,” and the “False Prophet,” on a miracle working ministry.

They are “frog-like” in that they come forth out of the pestiferous quagmires of darkness, do their devilish work in the evening shadows of “Man’s Day,” and creep, and croak, and defile, and fill the ears of the nations with their noisy demonstrations, until they set the kings and armies of the nations in enthusiastic commotion and movement toward the Holy Land to crush out the effort to establish the Kingdom of Christ on earth. We have an illustration of their method and purpose in the story of the destruction of King Ahab. 1. Kings 22:20-38.

The power of a delusive and enthusiastic sentiment, however engendered, to lead to destruction great hosts of men is seen in the Crusades to recover the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. If a religious could, at 9 different times, cause hundreds of thousands of religious devotees to undergo unspeakable hardships for a religious purpose, what will not the miracle working wonders of the “FROG-LIKE DEMONS” of the last days of this Dispensation not be able to do in arousing whole nations, and creating vast armies to march in all directions from all countries, headed by their Kings, for the purpose of preventing the establishment of the Kingdom of the King of Kings in His own Land of Palestine?

Verses 17-21



(Great Hail.)

Revelation 16:17-21.

“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. 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. And the Great City (Jerusalem) 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. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found (they will be leveled). 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.”

It is worthy of note that at the breaking of the “Seventh SEAL,” and the sounding of the “Seventh TRUMPET,” and the pouring out of the “Seventh VIAL,” that the same things occur. That is, voices and thunderings are heard, great lightning is seen, and there is a GREAT EARTHQUAKE. And at the sounding of the “Seventh TRUMPET,” and the pouring out of the “Seventh VIAL” there is a GREAT HAIL STORM. This only confirms what has been already stated that the “SEVENTH SEAL” includes the ’Trumpets” and “Vials,” and that the “SEVENTH TRUMPET” includes the “Vials,” and that what happens during the “Seventh SEAL,” and the “Seventh TRUMPET,” and the “Seventh VIAL,” all refers to the same period, the “END OF THE WEEK.” In other words, the opening of the “Seventh SEAL” reveals the events that are about to happen; the blast of the “Seventh TRUMPET” announces the events as forth-coming, and the outpouring of the “Seventh VIAL” executes them.

When the “Seventh SEAL” was broken there was “SILENCE” in Heaven, but when the “Seventh TRUMPET” sounded, and the “Seventh VIAL” was poured out there were “GREAT VOICES” in Heaven. The “Great Voice” at the pouring out of the “Seventh Vial” was from the Throne, and cried--“IT IS DONE.” When Christ expired on the Cross He cried--“IT IS FINISHED,” that is, the way and plan of Salvation was complete, and this voice from the Throne that cries “IT IS DONE” may be His voice, announcing that the pouring out of the “Seventh Vial” finishes the wrath of God.

The “Great Earthquake” that follows will be the greatest that this world has ever seen. It is foretold in Zechariah 14:4-5. So great will it be, that it will level the mountains, and destroy islands, and so change the contour and shape of the Land of Palestine and the surrounding countries and seas, as to make new maps of that part of the world necessary; and it will raise the Dead Sea so that its waters shall flow again into the Red Sea. Ezekiel 47:1-12. It will divide the “Great City” (Jerusalem) into 3 parts, and the cities of the Nations (the “Ten Federated Nations”), and “GREAT BABYLON,” whose destruction is described in chapter eighteen, will be destroyed in that “Great Earthquake.” This reference to the “City of Babylon” is further incidental proof that the City of Babylon is to be rebuilt. Among the cities destroyed in that Earthquake will be Rome, Naples, London, Paris, and Constantinople.

At that time there will fall upon men a “GREAT HAIL.” Each stone will weigh about a Talent, or 100 pounds. Here we have a repetition of the “SEVENTH EGYPTIAN PLAGUE.” Exodus 9:13-35. Hail has been one of God’s engines of destruction. He used it to discomfit the enemies of Israel at Beth-horon in the days of Joshua. Joshua 10:11. The “Law” required that the “Blasphemer” should be “STONED TO DEATH” (Leviticus 24:16), and here these Blasphemers of the “End Time” shall be STONED FROM HEAVEN.

It must not be forgotten that the “Seventh Vial” covers the whole period from the time the “Seventh Angel” pours out its contents until Christ returns to the Mount of Olives. For the earthquake that splits the Mount of Olives, upheaves the land of Palestine, levels mountains, submerges islands, and destroys the cities of the Nations, along with the City of Babylon, is caused by the touch of Christ’s feet on the Mount of Olives at the Revelation stage of His Second Coming (Zechariah 14:4), and the “Great Hail” in all probability will not fall until the time comes in the crisis of the Battle of Armageddon for the destruction of the Allied armies of Antichrist. Hailstones will be the missiles used by the Armies of Heaven.

In Revelation 19:15, we are told that out of the mouth of Christ, at His return, will go a “SHARP SWORD,” that with it He should smite the nations, and in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, we are told that Antichrist (that WICKED), shall be consumed by the “SPIRIT OF THE LORD’S MOUTH.” Whether we take these statements as literal or not, it is clear that they stand for some supernatural means of destruction, and refer more to the followers of Antichrist, than to Antichrist himself, for he personally is not to be destroyed, but is to be cast ALIVE into the “Lake of Fire.” Revelation 19:20.

As the pouring out of the “Seventh Vial” finishes the “Wrath of God,” it is in harmony with the purposes of the Book of Revelation to foretell at this point what will then happen to the enemies of God. These we will now examine under the heading the “Seven Dooms.”

Bibliographical Information
Larkin, Clarence. "Commentary on Revelation 16". A Study of the Prophetic Book of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/clr/revelation-16.html.
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