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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 16

Expositor's Dictionary of TextsExpositor's Dictionary

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Verses 1-21

Revelation 16:1

In the thirty-seventh chapter of Shirley, Charlotte Bronte applies this passage to Napoleon's final campaign in Russia, in 1812: 'This summer, Bonaparte is in the saddle: he and his host scour Russian deserts.... He marches on old Moscow: under old Moscow's walls, the rude Cossack waits him. Barbarian stoic! he waits without fear of the boundless ruin rolling on. He puts his trust in a Snow-cloud; the Wilderness, the Wind, and the Hail-storm are his refuge; his allies are the elements Air, Fire, Water. And what are these? Three terrible archangels ever stationed before the throne of Jehovah. They stand clothed in white, girdled with golden girdles; they uplift vials, brimming with the wrath of God. Their time is the day of vengeance; their signal the word of the Lord of hosts.'

Revelation 16:3

Hugh Miller, in the second chapter of My Schools and Schoolmasters, describes the tales told by his uncle Alexander, who had served in the navy under Nelson, Duncan, and Sir Ralph Abercromby. Late in life, when the old warrior had been reading Keith's Signs of the Times, and when 'he came to the chapter in which that excellent writer describes the time of hot naval warfare which immediately followed the breaking out of war, as the period in which the second vial was poured out on the sea, and in which the waters became as the blood of a dead man, so that every living soul died in the sea, I saw him bend his head in reverence as he remarked, "Prophecy, I find, gives to all our glories but a single verse, and it is a verse of judgment!"'

Revelation 16:6

The blood of man should never be shed but to redeem the blood of man. It is well shed for our family, for our friends, for our God, for our country, for our kind. The rest is vanity; the rest is crime.


Reference. XVI. 6. E. M. Geldart, Echoes of Truth, p. 283.

Revelation 16:7

Whiting to Sir Charles Bunbury in 1870 upon the Franco-Prussian war, Charles Kingsley declared: 'There can be no doubt that the French programme of this war was to disunite Germany once more, and to make her weak and at the mercy of France.... The emperor fancied that after deceiving the French people after governing them by men who were chosen because they could and dared deceive, that these minions of his, chosen for their untruthfulness, would be true, forsooth, to him alone; that they would exhibit, unknown, in a secret government, virtues of honesty, economy, fidelity, patriotism, which they were forbidden to exercise in public, where their only function was to nail up the hand of the weather-glass, in order to ensure fine weather, as they are doing to this day in every telegram. So he is justly punished, and God's judgments are, as always, righteous and true.'

Reference. XVI. 9. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiv. No. 2064.

Revelation 16:12

What was it that filled the ears of the prophets of old but the distant tread of foreign armies, coming to do the work of justice.

George Eliot, in Romola.


Revelation 16:16

It would be foreign to our purpose to enter into the controversy as to the precise location of Armageddon. Place is neither here nor there. The important point is, that there is to be ultimately somewhere a great decisive conflict between the powers of good and evil; the outcome of which will be the complete overthrow of the Prince of Darkness, and the undisputed reign of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It will be profitable to mark the manifestations of evil in these last days, and then on the other hand to observe some of the sure tokens of the triumph of Christ.

I. The Manifestations of Evil. (1) Let us note at the outset the aggravated forms of Avarice which prevail in these days. The scramble for wealth is universal with all its attending selfishness and brutality. (2) Observe also the defiant front of Intemperance in our time. It is the enemy of our home life, our social life, our political life. (3) As to sensuality. (4) Another of the current forms of malignant evil is Bibliophobia, or hatred of the Scriptures as the Word of God. This is the fashionable form of infidelity. (5) Sabbath desecration. (6) As to persecution. (7) War.

II. Observe Some of the Sure Tokens of the Triumph of Christ. (1) The Scriptures as Divine truth have a deeper hold than ever on the hearts of Christian people. The old Book is cherished as it never was cherished before; is studied more earnestly; is believed in more cordially. 'The Word of the Lord is tried.' It has been vindicated, triumphantly vindicated, as a true volume from beginning to end. (2) Christ is served in His Church more loyally and effectively than ever. We are approaching a realisation of the dream of Wesley. 'All at it, always at it, altogether at it' (3) The personality and power of the Holy Ghost are recognised in the Church as never before.

D. J. Burrell, The Gospel of Certainty, p. 217.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 16". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/revelation-16.html. 1910.
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