Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Seven Plagues of Revelation 16 and the Catholic Church!
Years ago I read an amazing booklet entitled the Keys to the Book of Revelation, and found it eye-opening. But now YEHOVAH God Almighty, the Revealer of Secrets, has made plain, in much greater detail, the true TIME SEQUENCE of the mysterious prophecies of this spine-tingling book! The truth is so simple a child can understand it.
Mystery of mysteries! No book of the Bible has been more fraught with misunderstanding than the incredible prophecies of the Book of Revelation. When I first studied this book it baffled me and intrigued me at the same time. I prayed to YEHOVAH God for understanding, but I knew at that time I had a long way to go.
Then, a few short years later, I read a booklet written by Herbert Armstrong on the KEY to the Book of Revelation. For the first time, the book of Revelation seemed to make sense to me! I had never thought of "inset chapters" before, and Herbert Armstrong made plain the truth that the Bible interprets its own symbols. He showed there is a "story flow" through the book of Revelation, and my understanding increased immensely. It was a significant breakthrough in Biblical understanding, and I was very thankful to YEHOVAH God for it. However, problems still remained.
One major problem, which dogged at the back of my mind over the years, was the interpretation by Herbert Armstrong that the seven last plagues of Revelation 16 are all poured out in "one day," at the very day YEHOVAH God sets foot on the Mount of Olives! If you read through this chapter very carefully, you will find that very powerful, significant plagues are mentioned here. It seemed incongruous that they would all occur in one day -- including the "gathering" together of all the armies and kings to the battle of Armageddon!
Stop and think a moment! Let us read through this amazing chapter, and study these "seven last plagues" very carefully, and see what they do -- and do not -- represent!
The apostle John writes,
"I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary say to the SEVEN ANGELS, "Go, and pour out on the earth the SEVEN BOWLS [VIALS] OF GOD's FURY!" (Revelation 16:1, Jewish New Testament).
Notice, first of all, these vials contain the undiluted WRATH OF YEHOVAH GOD -- that is, they ARE, they CONSTITUTE, the wrath of YEHOVAH!
"So the first one went and poured his bowl [vial] onto the earth, and disgusting and painful sores appeared on all the people who had the mark of the beast and worshipped its image" (v.2, ibid.).
This is, of course, a mighty plague of YEHOVAH God. It is important to note, at this point, how these end-time plagues of YEHOVAH God parallel, and were typified, by the ancient plagues of YEHOVAH on Egypt, just prior to the Exodus of Israel!
In Exodus 9 we read of one of those ancient plagues:
"And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 'Take handfuls of ashes from the furnace, and have Moses toss it in the air in the sight of Pharaoh. And it shall become fine dust over the land of Egypt, and shall become BOILS BREAKING OUT WITH SORES UPON MAN and upon beast throughout all the land of Egypt.' And they took from the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a BOIL breaking out with sores upon man and upon beast. And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boils were on the magicians, and on ALL THE EGYPTIANS" (Exodus 9:8-11, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible).
Now notice! This plague upon ancient Egypt was not merely of a few hours duration. Undoubtedly, it lasted for several days, while the Egyptians suffered pain and torment from this noisome disease and its excruciating pain. Then, the next morning YEHOVAH told Moses to tell Pharaoh He would smite his people with additional pestilence (verses 13,14, and 15.) and plagues. Moses was to tell Pharoah, "Behold, TOMORROW about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail..." (v. 18). So, just from the time the plague of boils was sent, till the coming of the plague of hail, was at least three days duration! Yet, these plagues were TYPES or FORERUNNERS of the end-time plagues! Therefore, this implies that the end-time plagues will also cover a span of time lasting at least many days and weeks, and will not all be poured out in one single day, as Herbert Armstrong thought!
But there is much more evidence of this!
Let us proceed through the chapter of Revelation 16, and discern exactly what YEHOVAH God is telling us through His servant John. John writes,
"The second one [angel] poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died. And the third one [angel] poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they turned to blood" (Rev. 16:3-4, Jewish New Testament).
The first plague YEHOVAH God sent upon ancient Egypt was the plague of blood. We read:
"And the LORD said to Moses, 'Say unto Aaron, "Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, over their pools, and over all their ponds of water, that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone."' And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded, and he lifted up the rod, and struck the waters that were in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the Nile were turned to blood. And the fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, and the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile, and blood was throughout all the land of Egypt" (Exodus 7:19-21, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible).
How long did this particular plague last? "And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the river" (Exodus 7:25). For the effect of the plague to sink in, and to be appreciated, and properly felt, it had to last for many days -- an entire week! YEHOVAH wanted to give the people a chance to REPENT, before sending another plague!
Do you think YEHOVAH God has changed? Is He any different, today? Do you think He will send one plague right after the other, all within one 24-hour period, in the end-time? Of course not! Each plague will be a measured punishment from a loving God, followed up by a chance or opportunity for those people to repent who are willing to do so -- even if the vast majority do not decide to repent, but become further hardened, as Pharaoh himself did (Exodus 7:22-23).
The Next Plagues
"The fourth one [angel] poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was permitted to burn people with fire. People were burned by the intense heat; yet they cursed the name of God, who had the authority over these plagues, instead of turning from their sins to give him glory" (Revelation 16:8-9, Jewish New Testament).
This verse implies plainly that the purpose of these plagues is, in part, to bring men to repentance -- to give them an opportunity to repent. This would be impossible if all the plagues were poured out in one day! The people would still be numb, reeling, and bewildered by the preceeding plagues -- they would hardly be able to even think, let alone repent, if all these plagues were poured out within a 24-hour period. They would be dazed -- stunned -- stupefied -- too numb to even think. They would be in a catatonic state of mind, the full impact of what was happening unable to register in their febrile minds. No, time is required for repentance, and for the full meaning and import of each plague to sink in to its intended victim!
The plague of the scorching sun may parallel the plague of "very grievous hail" which YEHOVAH God sent upon Egypt. We read,
"And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven, and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and FIRE RAN DOWN TO THE EARTH; and the LORD brought hail upon the land of Egypt" (Exodus 9:23, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible).
"So there was HAIL, AND FIRE MINGLED WITH THE HAIL, VERY SEVERE, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation" (v. 24).
What was this fire, mingled with hail-stones? As explained in the article Who Was the Pharoah of the Exodus?, this was very likely a terrific meteor bombardment, a meteor shower, which fell upon the land of Egypt. It may well have been accompanied with great heat, causing fire to even run along upon the ground -- something never before seen in the earth! This was certainly not your normal, every-day thunderstorm with hail!
This coming plague of scorching heat from the sun is also prophesied in the book of Isaiah. The prophet declares,
"Moreover, the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be SEVENFOLD, like the light of seven days, on the day when the LORD binds up the hurt of his people, and heals the wound he has inflicted. See, the name of the LORD comes from afar, BURNING with his anger, and in thick rising smoke. His lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a DEVOURING FIRE, and his breath is like an overflowing stream; and it reaches even to the neck, to winnow the nations with the sieve of destruction; and a bridle that causes people to err will be in the mouths of the peoples" (Isaiah 30:26-28, ibid.).
The Plague of Darkness
"The fifth one [angel] poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom grew DARK. People gnawed on their tongues from the pain, yet they cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and did not turn from their sinful deeds" (Revelation 16:10-11, Jewish New Testament).
This plague, also, was paralleled by the plagues upon ancient Egypt:
"And the LORD spoke to Moses, 'Stretch out your hand toward heaven that there may be DARKNESS over the land of Egypt.' And Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven and there was a THICK DARKNESS in all the land of Egypt for three days; they could not see one another, no one rose any from his place for three days; but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings" (Exodus10:21-23, Dead Sea Scrolls Bible).
Again, this plague is more fully discussed in the article, Who Was the Pharoah of the Exodus? In that article we quote ancient Egyptian sources which were eyewitnesses to the plagues upon ancient Egypt! Suffice it to say that this "thick" darkness lasted three days, but other sources show that the entire period of darkness was seven days in duration. Regardless of the total length of darkness, however, the plague of darkness which will be poured out in the future will also last several days. Of what point would a plague of darkness be if it were only a few hours in duration? Yet, if all seven of these plagues in Revelation 16 were poured out in one 24-hour period of time, obviously these severe plagues would be telescoped and ameliorated in power and severity.
It makes no sense whatsoever for the rivers and water to be turned to blood for only a few hours; and the sun to scorch men for only a few hours; to be followed by a plague of darkness for only a few hours! It should be obvious, by now, that each of these plagues is of several days or even weeks duration, or even longer!
The Sixth Plague
An expanse of time is obviously indicated by the sixth plague of Revelation 16. Notice!
"The sixth one [angel] poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water dried up, in order to prepare the way for the KINGS OF THE EAST. And I saw three unclean spirits that looked like frogs; they came from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet. They are miracle-working demonic spirits which GO OUT TO THE KINGS OF THE WHOLE INHABITED WORLD to assemble them for the War of the Great Day of Adonai-Tzva'ot [the LORD (YEHOVAH) of Hosts]....And they gathered the kings to the place which in Hebrew is called Har Megiddo" (Revelation 16:12-16, ibid.).
Notice! This sixth plague is essentially human in that it is not supernatural devastation from heaven, but rather signifies WAR and the convergence of armies to do BATTLE. It involves the gathering of nations, their mobilization, and marching across hundreds of miles, to come together at Armageddon, or Har Megiddo, to the north of Jerusalem. This plague alone would very likely involve several weeks of time -- not just a few hours!
These "kings of the east" are found described in Psalm 83 -- notice!
"And those who hate You [YEHOVAH God] have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people [Israel], and consulted together against Your shelted ones. They have said, 'Come, and LET US CUT THEM OFF FROM BEING A NATION, that the NAME OF ISRAEL MAY BE REMEMBERED NO MORE.' For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a CONFEDERACY against You: The tents of EDOM and the ISHMAELITES; MOAB and the HAGARITES; GEBAL, AMMON, and AMALEK; PHILISTIA with the inhabitants of TYRE; ASSYRIA also has joined with them; they have helped the children of LOT" (verses 2-8).
We don't need to find modern-day descendants of the Amalekites; we need to identify who occupies the territory which the Amalekites occupied at the time Psalm 83 was written. We won't find any Philistines living anywhere today, but we do find a hybridized group of Egyptians/Syrians/Jordanians living in the territory of Philistia and calling themselves by the Latinized/Anglicized name for Philistia (Palestine).
The territories occupied by the nations/tribes named in Psalm 83 are roughly as follows: Edom in modern Jordan: Ishmaelites in modern Saudi Arabia; Moab in modern Jordan; Hagarites -- the territory bordering modern Jordan and Saudi Arabia; Gebal -- probably modern Golan Heights and nearby in Syria; Ammon in modern Jordan; Amalek in the modern Sinai peninsula and the Negev; Philistia -- modern Gaza Strip, part of the Palestinian authority; Tyre in modern Lebanon; Assyria -- modern Syria and Iraq.
Historically, it is very interesting that after the supernatural plagues which YEHOVAH God showered on the ancient Egyptians, destroying their country and devastating their crops, leading up to the EXODUS of Israel from that ruined land, the "kings of the east" -- the Hyksos, who were the infamous Amalekites of the Bible -- cruel and savage nomads -- invaded the land of Egypt, which after the destruction of Pharaoh's armies at the Red Sea lay prostrate and helpless before them!
Therefore, even the sixth plague of Revelation had its counterpart in the plagues which befell ancient Egypt., which was a type of modern "Babylon"!
The Seventh Plague
"The seventh one [angel] poured out his bowl on the air, and a loud voice came out of the Temple from the throne, saying, 'It is done!' There were flashes of lightning, voices and peals of thunder, and there was a MASSIVE EARTHQUAKE, such as has never occurred since mankind has been on earth, so violent was the earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the Great and made her drink the wine from the cup of his raging fury. Every island fled, and no mountains were to be found. And huge seventy-pound hailstones fell on people from the sky. But the people cursed God for the plague of the hail, that it was such a terrible plague." (Revelation 16:17-21, Jewish New Testament).
As in the case of ancient Egypt, these hail stones could also refer to meteorite showers peppering the earth at the time when YEHOVAH god returns! An example of such a meteorite shower, which destroyed an army fighting against YEHOVAH's people in the days of Joshua, is given in the Bible. We read:
"The LORD threw them into a panic before Israel who inflicted a crushing defeat on them at Gibeon and pursued them on the road up to Beth-horon, and attacked them all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. Then, as they were fleeing from Israel, while they were going down from Beth-horon, the LORD CAST STONES FROM THE SKY ON THEM all the way to Azekah, and they DIED. More of them died from the HAILSTONES than the Israelites killed with the sword" (Joshua 10:10-11, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible).
A portion of this final mind-defying plague will be a parallel phenomenon -- a massive, earth-wrenching orogeny -- an incredible earthquake that will cause the entire planet to ring like a bell, and shake like a house in a hurricane. Mountain ranges will be leveled; islands will sink beneath the waves of the sea; new islands will rise up. Volcanoes will outflow lava on massive scales.
Just as in the days when YEHOVAH God led Israel out of Egypt and descended to Mount Sinai, to speak with Moses and to give the Ten Commandments, and the mountains melted, so it will be when YEHOVAH God the Father returns to the Mount of Olives. Notice these two parallel accounts:
"LORD [YEHOVAH], when You went out from Seir, when You marched from the field of Edom, the EARTH TREMBLED and the heavens poured (meteor showers?), the clouds also dropped water; The MOUNTAINS GUSHED [MELTED] before the LORD, this Sinai, before the LORD [YEHOVAH] God of Israel" (Judges 5:4-5, NKJV).
"Who is this coming FROM EDOM, from Bozrah with His garments STAINED CRIMSON? Who is this robed in such splendor, marching in His great strength? It is I, announcing vindication, mighty to save. Why are your robes red, and your garments like theirs who tread the winepress? I have trodden the winepress alone, and from My people no one was with me, and I have stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year for my redeeming work had come" (Isaiah 63:1-4).
A parallel to this is found in Revelation 19:11-16, which depicts the return of YEHOVAH God to this earth -- NOT the return of Yeshua the Messiah as millions believe!
YEHOVAH God Almighty Himself will return in glory, and punish the rebellious nations gathered against Him, who will be assembled at Armageddon and then march toward Jerusalem! YEHOVAH says through Zechariah,
"Behold, the day of the LORD [YEHOVAH] is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD [YEHOVAH] will go forth and FIGHT against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle" (Zechariah 14:1-3).
"And in that day His [YEHOVAH's] feet will stand ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES . . . and the mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall remove toward the north and half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley. . . yes, you shall flee as you fled from the EARTHQUAKE in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD [YEHOVAH] my God will come, and all the saints with You" (vs.4-5).
Again, it should be obvious that this final plague -- which includes meteor showers, massive tectonic upheavals around the globe, disappearing islands, enormous tsunamies or tidal waves, and tremendous warfare between the armies of the earth and the returning YEHOVAH God -- also describes events which will last much more than merely a few hours duration. Days, weeks, even a month could well be described here! How long will it require for the armies of the LORD to march through the land, and punish the wicked?
The wicked will be cast "into the great winepress of God's fury. The winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress as high as the horses' bridles for two hundred miles!" (Revelation 14:19-20, Jewish New Testament)
A New Understanding
First of all, then, we now know of a certainty that the seven last plagues are not all poured out in one 24-hour day. In fact, a careful study of these Plagues, and the plagues on ancient Egypt which were types and forerunners, reveals that these plagues, taken together, from the first to the last, undoubtedly last several months.
When, then, do they occur?
It has been assumed, in the past, that the seventh trumpet sounds, and THEN the seven last plagues are poured out as YEHOVAH God descends from heaven. However, that assumption is invalid. If that were the case, then the seven last plagues are poured out in one literal day, and we have just seen how impossible and self-contradictory such an interpretation really is.
Therefore, Herbert Armstrong's theory that the seven last plagues CONSTITUTE the seventh trumpet is proved to be erroneous and invalid. We must go back to the ''drawing board," as it were, and reanalyze this matter in the light of the new knowledge we have received from YEHOVAH God.
The Decline and Fall of the Papacy
Now that we have determined the seven last plagues occur over an extended period of time, three major questions remain: How long? When? and to whom? Solving the mystery of the seven last plagues (also called seven vials or bowls) of YEHOVAH's anger requires a few preconditions:
1). We need to know WHEN the seventh trumpet sounded (or is to sound). Since the seven trumpets are the elements comprising the seventh seal, similarly the seven bowls or vials are the elements comprising the seventh trumpet. The sounding of the seventh trumpet will occur (or has) at the SAME TIME the first bowl of YEHOVAH's anger is unleashed.
2). The identification of the BEAST and those who have his MARK is mandatory if we are to correctly determine the meaning of the seven last plagues. Revelation 16 is the culminating information about the DOWNFALL of the beast introduced in Revelation 13. This beast is threefold in nature: (1) It has seven heads and ten horns; (2) it looks like Yeshua the Messiah but talks like Satan and has the power of the first beast; and (3) it makes an IMAGE of the first beast for all the world to worship. As well as this, the NUMBER and NAME of the beast need to be understood. The plagues of Revelation 16 bring about (by degrees) the destructive results predicted in Revelation 14 of a complete and violent overthrow of this threefold entity.
3). The method followed in understanding the symbols in the rest of the Book of Revelation should be the same. In other words, it is understood that all the symbols in the Book of Revelation are CONDENSATIONS of an historical epoch -- each following the last SEQUENTIALLY in time. The first four symbols are related to one continuing theme, just as the four horsemen of Revelation 6, and as the four winds of the first four trumpets covered a related period of time.
4). Certain symbols are already used and identified in earlier chapters of Revelation: the BEAST and those who have his MARK, the LAND AREA associated with the beast, the sun, islands, mountains, thunder, lightnings, voices, the river EUPHRATES, and the seat of the beast itself are symbols already described and identified in earlier chapters of Revelation.
5). The end of the interval of the trumpets is coincident with the beginning of the pouring out of the bowls (vials) which comprise the seventh trumpet.
-- Edited By John D. Keyser.
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