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Great Tribulation Plagues Part 2

 

When the World Ends: (Part IV)

by Rev. Jerry Lepasana

 

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)
1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,
4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–
5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

One of the major signs predicted about the “last days” is that the world will experience “terrible times.” The Greek word used for terrible literally suggests difficult or dangerous. Does this word appropriately describe our time?

With the coming Presidential election on November 6, all of us have listened to several debates on how the presidential candidates will resolve the problems of our society. Frankly speaking, whoever wins the election will be facing greater challenges as we move closer and closer to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why do we say this? Well, when you examine 2 Timothy 3, the main cause of our society’s problems is man’s increasing tendency to move away from God and express his or her sinfulness. The reality is that our chief problem is not the economy, unemployment, the rising prices of oil, etc. It is man’s sinfulness being displayed without fear or shame. Notice how the apostle Paul described some of them – lovers of themselves, lovers of money . . . proud, abusive . . . disobedient to parents . . . without self- control . . . not lovers of the good. . . lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. . . You can keep reading 2 Timothy 3 until verse 9 and the list of sinful characteristics continues.

If you connect all these with the prophecies in Revelation, you will find that these terrible times will only get worse and will peak during the great tribulation period. We have already started looking at the first set of 7 plagues that will occur during the tribulation. Allow me to complete our studies on this period by explaining the 7 trumpets and the 7 bowls.

III        THE “WOES” OF SINNERS: (Continuation)

  1. A.     7 Seals
  2. B.     7 Trumpets

 

1.      1st Trumpet – 1/3 of earth on fire, 1/3 of trees on fire, 1/3 grass burned.

Revelation 8:6-7

6 Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
7 The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

The first trumpet is part of the judgment that affects nature. These judgments on the earth can be best taken in the literal sense. It is not clear how hail and fire could be mixed with blood, but in the supernatural event, this was possible. The result was that a third of the earth, of the trees, and the green grass were burned up. This has an enormous effect upon the quality of life and available food supply. Trees not only produce our food supply, they are also essential protection from violent storms and flooding. Notice also that a third of pasture lands are devastated. Therefore, meat and milk will also be affected.

2.      2nd Trumpet – 1/3 of sea becomes blood, 1/3 of ships sunk, 1/3 of fish dead.

Revelation 8:8-9

8 The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood,
9 a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

The turning of water into blood reminds us of the first Egyptian plague (Ex. 7:19-21). Please note that the text does not say that an actual burning mountain was cast out of heaven, but something that looked like a burning mountain in John’s eyes. Some commentators have suggested a giant meteor; others suggest nuclear explosions. As a result, a triple judgment will occur – a third of the saltwater turned to blood, a third part of the marine life died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. This will be an ecological and economic disaster of unprecedented proportions.

3.      3rd Trumpet – A falling star poisons 1/3 of rivers and 1/3 of fountains

Revelation 8:10-11

10 The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water–
11 the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.

Again, the best explanation for this is to take this in its literal sense. The star falling from heaven was undoubtedly a large object naturally blazing as it entered the atmosphere and apparently had chemicals that made water taste bitter like “Wormwood”  – which has a strong bitter taste (lamentation 3:15). Here the effects seem chemical and physical. The result is that many people died from the water supply that had become bitter.

4.      4th Trumpet – 1/3 of sun darkened, 1/3 of moon darkened, 1/3 of stars darkened.

Revelation 8:12-13

12 The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.
13 As I watched, I heard an eagle that was flying in midair call out in a loud voice: “Woe! Woe! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the trumpet blasts about to be sounded by the other three angels!”

At the sound of the fourth trumpet, the light sources of the universe were reduced by one third. God clearly shows that humanity is very much dependent upon His power. Now, without a third of the sun, a third of the day was lacking normal light, and a third of the night was without light from the moon and the stars.  Obviously, with one third less sunlight on the earth, there will one third less energy available to support the life systems of man and nature.

5.      5th Trumpet – Demonized locusts torture men for 5 months

Revelation 9:1-12

1 The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. The star was given the key to the shaft of the Abyss.
2 When he opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it like the smoke from a gigantic furnace. The sun and sky were darkened by the smoke from the Abyss.
3 And out of the smoke locusts came down upon the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth.
4 They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
5 They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man.
6 During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.
7 The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces.
8 Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth.
9 They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle.
10 They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months.
11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon.
12 The first woe is past; two other woes are yet to come.

As the fifth trumpet sounds, a further judgment, more terrible than anything they had experienced, came on the earth. For this trumpet, a star fell from heaven and was given the key to the Abyss, a place that is best described as a place of detention for the wicked angels or demon world. Satan will spend 1,000 years here during the millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:3). The star is probably Satan who has the power to open the shaft of the Abyss and, in effect, let loose the terrible judgment represented by the fifth trumpet. One of the names for Satan is Lucifer, which means brightness. He is also compared to the morning star (Isa. 14:12-14).

When the pit was opened, smoke emerged. From that smoke came out an army of demons compared to locusts. These are not literal locusts, because locusts do not have scorpion-like stings in their tails. These creatures will not devour green vegetation. Instead this demonic army is given the assignment of tormenting all who have not been protected by the seal of God. The torments will last for five months which is the normal lifespan of locusts.

6.      6th Trumpet – 1/3 of mankind killed by Satan’s army

Revelation 9:13-21

13 The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God.
14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”
15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.
16 The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number.
17 The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur.
18 A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths.
19 The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.
20 The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood–idols that cannot see or hear or walk.
21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts
, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

With the sounding of the sixth trumpet, the sixth angel was then instructed to release the four angels bound at the Euphrates River. These four angels are clearly demons, as holy angels are not bound. Each angel is in charge of a part of the vast army that follows them at their release, an army of 200 million. Are we to identify this as a literal army of men, moving in conquests across the globe? Most probably not! For one thing, the emphasis in this paragraph is not on the riders, but on the horses. The deadly power of these horses is in their mouths and tails, not in their legs. They can attack men from the front as well as the rear. I take this as another demonic army headed by four fallen angels. All of them are today bound by the Lord, unable to act until God gives them permission. The devastating effect is that a third of the human race will die. What is sad to hear is that though the judgment was devastating and obviously from God, it did not bring men to repentance.

7.      7th Trumpet – shocking combination of lightning, thundering, earthquake, and hail

Revelation 11:15-19

15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”
16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God,
17 saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.
18 The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great– and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”
19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm.

The seven trumpets will be concluded by three dramatic events. First is the announcement of victory in verse 15, then the acclamation of praise by the 24 elders in verse 16-18. Last is the assurance of God’s faithfulness in verse 19. The temple of God in heaven and the ark of covenant symbolizes the presence of God with his people. The message is clear – He is the faithful God who keeps His promises to His people. The corresponding results on earth, however, included lightning, thunder, an earthquake, and a great hailstorm. All of these set the stage for the third set of judgments which are soon to come.

C.     7 Bowls

1.      1st Bowl – Boils on the followers of Antichrist

Revelation 16:1-2 (NIV)
1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”
2 The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.

The target of this plague is the people on earth who have received the mark of the beast and worship his image. This judgment attacks the health of these people causing ugly and painful sores. In contrast to the first trumpet, which only affects the third of the earth’s population, this plague will affect all those who have chosen to worship the beast, the Antichrist.

2.      2nd Bowl – All sea becomes blood, all fish dead

Revelation 16:3 (NIV)
3 The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died.

If the second trumpet affected only a third of the sea, the second bowl will affect all the sea waters resulting in the death of all sea creatures. Without a doubt, this will be devastating to the food supply of the world. What an awesome display of God’s power and wrath! Imagine the stench alone that will come from these polluted waters. The phrase like that of a dead man underscores the horrible consequence of this judgment. It is not merely a different color of the sea that is being pictured; it is the death of millions of sea creatures.

3.      3rd Bowl – All rivers turn into blood

Revelation 16:4-7 (NIV)
4 The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
5 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged;
6 for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.”
7 And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”

With this plague, all of the world’s springs and rivers are affected. This judgment will pollute all sources of drinking water, which will cause a lot of health problems and increase the agony of life. Certainly, these judgments are all supernatural catastrophes which truly reveal the awesome power and wrath of the Almighty God. Reading verses 5-7; you will find that this judgment is a just response to those who have killed the saints and the prophets. If you compare this with Revelation 6:9-11, it is clear that this is an answer to the prayers of the martyred saints.

4.      4th Bowl – Sun scorches all mankind

Revelation 16:8-9 (NIV)
8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire.
9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.

In contrast with the 4th trumpet that lessened the light of the sun by 1/3, the fourth bowl will increase the heat of the sun. Anyone who has been in the desert knows how merciless the sun’s heat can be. Now, with the water supply being polluted and undrinkable, you can imagine how people will suffer from thirst. And then, if you notice the next verses (16:10-11), they imply that the sores from the first bowl have not yet disappeared. All these will only heighten their pain.

5.      5th Bowl – Total darkness on earth

Revelation 16:10-11 (NIV)
10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony
11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

This judgment apparently increased the severity of the affliction of those who belong to the kingdom of the antichrist. The familiar theme of failure to repent is repeated here. When wicked men are confronted with the power of God, they do not easily come to the place of repentance, but instead enlarge their rebellion against God. William R. Newell used to say,

“If men are not won by grace, they will never be won.”

6.      6th Bowl – Euphrates dries up

Revelation 16:12-16 (NIV)
12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.
13 Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
14 They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
15 “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”
16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

When the sixth bowl is poured out, chronologically, the time of the second coming (Revelation of Christ) is very near. One of the major features of the period just before the second coming is the battle of Armageddon. The 6th bowl judgment is the drying up of the Euphrates in order to make it possible for the army of the “kings of the East” to come to Palestine and invade the Holy Land.

The name Armageddon comes from two Hebrew words, har Megiddo, the hill of Megiddo. The word Megiddo means “place of troops” or “place of slaughter.” The area is about 14 miles wide and 20 miles long, and forms what Napoleon called “the most natural battlefield of the whole the earth.” This is why it would be used for the gathering of armies of the nations. John makes it very clear in the passage that the military movement is in accordance to God’s plan. The Satanic trinity (Satan, Antichrist, and false prophet) will influence the nations through the work of miracles. These nations will assemble their armies and forge an alliances to fight against Jesus Christ. But all these will merely accomplish the will of God.

Revelation 17:17

17) For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled.

The outcome of the “battle” is recorded in Revelation 19: 11-21 – the Lord Jesus returns and defeats His enemies.

7.      7th Bowl – Strongest earthquake and Battle of Armageddon

Revelation 16:17-21 (NIV)
17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake.
19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.
20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.
21 From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.

The 7th bowl will be poured into the air. Since the devil is “the prince and power of the air (Eph. 2:2), perhaps this seventh judgment has a special effect on his dominion. The result will be a devastating earthquake. John comments that this will be the greatest earthquake of all time, and the resulting description indicates that it will affect the whole earth.

The “great city” is probably Jerusalem (see Rev. 11:8). In Zech 14:4, the prophet Zechariah prophesied an earthquake that will change the topography of Jerusalem. The key here is that Babylon will fall. The great economic system of Antichrist, which suppressed the people of the world, will be completely destroyed by God.

Added to the earthquake will be hailstones weighing about a hundred pounds. If there are buildings still standing after the huge earthquake, all of them will be completely crushed by these huge blocks of ice. As in the previous judgments of God, this plague will not bring repentance to sinful men. Instead, recognizing that the judgments came from God, they will curse God because of it. Now, the world is set for the second coming of Jesus Christ.

With all of this information, I believe the exhortation in verse 15 applies to us all, “”Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.” Jesus Christ may return at any time, and it behooves us to keep our lives clean, always watching and living faithfully.