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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Writings

Revelation 16

Verses 1-21

(Rev 16:1; Rev 16:2) The wrath of God expressed by the first vial is poured out upon "the earth" which signifies people under a settled government. The reference to the beast suggests that this will be the sphere of the revived Roman Empire. This judgment afflicts the men who have the mark of the beast, and worship his image, with "a noisome and grievous sore." This would seem to symbolise some terrible fretting trouble that on the one hand will fill the minds of those who submit to the tyranny of the beast which takes away all liberty in buying or selling; and, on the other hand, will plunge them into misery through having thrown off all fear of God. Whether in the world, or amongst God's people, the principle remains true that to seek our own gratification, by doing our own will, only leads to sorrow. What we sow in the gratification of the flesh we reap in misery of mind.

(V. 3) In contrast to the first vial which is poured out upon the earth, the second vial is poured "upon the sea." Does this not represent the world in a state of unrest? May it not be that the bondage and tyranny of the beast will turn an orderly people into a restless people? This worship of the beast, and the restless condition involved, will lead to a judgment that signifies moral death or separation from God of "every living soul" who falls under this awful apostasy.Joh 7:38; Rev 22:1). The river becoming blood would seem to signify that all the springs of thought which form men's lives will become vitiated, and instead of leading to life and happiness, will lead to misery and moral death.

The angel justifies God in His righteous judgment. It is just, that those who have shed the blood of saints and prophets, who have testified to the truth, should themselves drink of the cup of death - and that in its most terrible form as everlasting separation from God - seeing they have poisoned men's minds with error. Men may be mighty and, for a time, be allowed to show the evil of their hearts in persecuting God's people, but the Lord God is Almighty and, in His own time, will avenge the blood of His people. The allusion to the martyrdom of saints would again show that these judgments are specially directed against the kingdom of the beast.Jdg 5:19; Jdg 5:20). When God sends out His "everlasting gospel" to every nation to gather a people for the kingdom of Christ, the dragon, the beast, and the Antichrist will combine to gather "the kings of the earth and the whole world" to fight against God the Almighty, only to meet overwhelming judgment at the hands of the Almighty.

(Vv. 17-21) With the outpouring of the seventh vial the judgment of the nations will reach its solemn climax, as we learn from the great voice from heaven and from the throne of judgment, which proclaims, "It is done."

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Revelation 16". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/revelation-16.html. 1832.