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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 16

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verse 1

A loud voice calls to the seven angels from out of the temple, which may indicate God is speaking, and tells them to pour out the bowls filled with wrath upon the earth.

Verse 2

The first warning trumpet brought hail and fire mingled with blood upon earth and a third part of vegetation was killed as a warning. ( Rev_8:7 ) An evil, perhaps stinking, and painful open sore or ulcer fell upon the followers and worshipers of the beast. (Compare Exo_9:9-11 ) Sinful practices and the worship of false gods, such as pornography, humanism, materialism, atheism, etc., do fester as open sores upon all those who practice them. The highest crime areas in any city surround places peddling pornography and nudity, bars, and particularly I am told, gay bars. Notice, the warnings had been given previously, so this plague is not restricted, except in that it will not come upon the righteous.

Verse 3

The second trumpet brought harm to one-third of the sea and this bowl does, too. ( Rev_8:8 ) God's promise to Noah ( Gen_8:20-22 ) would not allow us to think these plagues actually are upon the literal sea, fresh water or sun. Instead, these figures are used to show mankind, in every facet of his being, is to be punished for wickedness. The sea likely represents the teeming masses of humanity. As it turns to wickedness, it begins to rot and stink like the blood of a dead man and all who join in this wickedness likewise die. ( Eph_2:1-3 )

Verses 4-6

Like the third trumpet ( Rev_8:11 ), this bowl affects the fresh water. Its result is similar to that of the first plague against Egypt except they could dig for fresh water, and this extends to the underground supply as well. ( Exo_7:17-25 ) The angel of the waters may be one God has appointed to watch over the waters or the one who poured out the bowl. The Lord is declared, by that angel, to have been just in turning the waters to blood because these had been blood thirsty in killing the saints and prophets. The Lord is identified as the one who is and was without saying he is to come. This may be because this is a picture of his coming.

Verse 7

Hendriksen writes, "Underneath the altar the souls of the martyrs had cried for vengeance (cf. Rev_6:9 ; Rev_8:3-5 ) So when this vengeance is rendered, it is the altar that replies: 'Yea, Lord God, the Almighty, genuine and righteous are thy judgments.'"

Verses 8-9

This may be a representation of the Lord's fiery judgment against his adversaries. ( Psa_97:1-3 ; 2Th_1:7-9 ) Coffman suggests Christ and his Word are the spiritual light of men as the sun is the physical light of the world. "When that which should be light is so polluted that it will only scorch and burn with fire, then the bowl of the wrath of God has been poured upon the son." Instead of repenting and giving God the glory, those scorched speak against God's name. How tragic the depths of sin can be. ( Heb_6:4-6 ; Heb_10:26-31 ) The fourth trumpet darkened the sun and moon. ( Rev_8:12 )

Verses 10-11

The fifth trumpet brought the darkening of the earth because of the black cloud from the bottomless pit. ( Rev_9:1-2 ; Compare Exo_10:22 ) In Rev_13:1-2 , we noted the beast gets his power from Satan. His throne would be the center of God-opposing forces. In John's day, that would have been Rome. Now, it might well be Russia. Darkness can represent the loss of understanding and wisdom. ( Psa_69:23 ; Isa_9:19 ) The wicked chewed on their tongues because of the pain caused by the sores (verse 2), yet spoke against God's name and refused to repent. These bowls must have come in quick succession as the pain is still felt from the first during the fifth.

Verse 12

The sixth trumpet released four angels who had been bound at the Euphrates and they destroyed one-third of mankind with a great army. ( Rev_9:13-16 ) Remember, during the reign of Solomon, this was the eastern border and represented a barrier to invading armies. Cyrus dried up the Euphrates to capture Babylon, which was prophesied by Isaiah. ( Isa_44:27-28 ; Isa_46:11 ) First century Christians should have been familiar with this and likely would have seen this as showing God's ultimate control and use of even the matters soon to be revealed.

Verses 13-14

The dragon is Satan. ( Rev_12:9 ) We have suggested the beast represents Godopposing forces. ( Rev_13:1-3 ) The false prophet seems to be the same as the second beast ( Rev_13:11-17 ) and stands for false religion. Frogs were used in the second plague against Egypt. ( Exo_8:1-15 ; Psa_78:45 ; Psa_105:30 ) Their incessant croaking can be a nuisance and they are often slimy and dirty. Under the law, such creatures were considered an abomination. ( Lev_11:9-12 ) They are "spirits of demons" (ASV) sent forth to deceive through what appears to be miracles and bring about an alliance of earth's kings against God. (Compare 2Th_2:8-12 ; 1Ti_4:1-2 )

Verse 15

While the forces of evil are assembling, Jesus warns he will come in a sudden, unannounced manner. (Compare 3:3; 2Pe_3:10 ; Mat_24:42-44 ) "Watcheth" and "keepeth" are words which denote continuous action. Coffman quotes F. F. Bruce who says the captains of the Jerusalem temple would burn the clothes of any guard found sleeping at his post. He would flee naked and ashamed.

Verse 16

"Armageddon," or Har-Magedon, means Mount of Megiddo. The city of Megiddo sat on a hill and this may be the place intended, but it is nowhere else called Mount of Megiddo in the Bible. The Bible speaks of Megiddo which "was at the Wadi Ara, guarding Aruna Pass, a vital connection between Africa and Asia," according to McCord. Joshua slaughtered the king of Megiddo. ( Jos_12:21 ) Deborah and Barak conquered Sisera there. ( Jdg_5:19-21 ; Jdg_4:13 ) Kings Ohaziah and Josiah died there. ( 2Ki_9:27 ; 2Ki_23:29-30 ; 2Ch_35:22 ) The latter instance came to symbolize a great nation wide grief. ( Zec_12:11 ) This fortress city was on a hill over looking the main road through the Plain of Jezreel, or Esdraelon. The Midianites assembled there when Gideon defeated them. ( Jdg_6:33-40 ; Jdg_7:1-25 ) The battle which led to Saul's death was also fought there. ( 1 Samuel 29:30 )

Verse 17

The earth, salt water and fresh water have previously been involved in the bowls. Now, the air is included. It should be remembered the devil is called the prince of the power of the air. ( Eph_2:2 ) God's wrath is now complete, as a voice from the throne tells us.

Verse 18

There are similarities between this and 4:5, 8:5 and 11:19. These seem to grow in intensity. The first had no earthquake. The second, at the end of the sevn seals, added the earthquakes and the third, at the end of the seven trumpets, added great hail. Here, we have an earthquake greater than man has seen before.

Verses 19-20

Babylon is shaken into three parts, islands fled, and mountains disappeared. Babylon and all the cities that joined in her wickedness fall. She is given the cup of God's wrath to drink. Never let it be said that God is not just. He only waits for man's sins to become ripe and then will punish.

Verse 21

Hail fell during the seventh plague ( Exo_8:18-26 ), but we have no indication it was this bad. A talent is thought to have weighed between 60 and 100 pounds. In the midst of a great display of God's wrath, wicked men show how rotten they are by speaking against God's name!

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 16". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/revelation-16.html. 2014.
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