The Revelation of John: Chapter 16 – Seven Plagues

10 Nov

I am continuing on with Revelation. In this series I have been comparing John’s vision with books with similar prophecies, such as Daniel, as well as section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, which gives interpretations to a selected portion of the images of the Revelation. I also rely heavily on the Joseph Smith Translation (JST – given in red).

See also chapter one,  two, three, four, five, first five seals, Sixth Seal I, Sixth Seal II, Seventh Seal Opens, First Four Trumpets, Fifth Trumpet, Sixth Trumpet, Ten, Witnesses, Seventh Trumpet, Twelve I, Twelve II, The Beast, The Mark, Three Angels, Two Harvests, Righteous

Chapter 16

As I said in the last post, this chapter is a review of what will happen to the wicked when they are harvested in the second harvest. As chapter fifteen showed the fate of the righteous to be glorious, this chapter shows how the wicked will suffer. This suffering comes in the form of seven plagues.

At the end of chapter 15 the angels were given the vials that hold the plagues. In the first verse of this chapter the angels are commanded to “Go your ways, and pour out the vials…upon the earth.”

 

First Plague (verse 2)

“…a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.”

We can get a better idea of this plague if we read in Exodus 9: 8-12, “…it shall become… a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast…” We can also read of such a plague in Zechariah 14: 12. “Their flesh shall consume away while they stand…and their eyes…in their holes, and their tongue…in their mouth.” Regardless of which verse we read, this plague is not pleasant.

 

Second Plague (verse 3)

“…the sea…became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.”

Third Plague (verse 4)

“…the rivers and fountains of waters…became blood.”

These plagues are very similar to Moses turning the Nile to Blood (Exodus 7: 19-21). The putrefying of the water is another very unpleasant experience.

 

God’s Justice (verses 5-7)

“…Thou art righteous, O Lord…because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink…true and righteous are thy judgments.”

Here we have angels proclaiming the justice of God. Because the wicked rejected the prophets and killed the saints of God they are plagued with blood. See also 2 Kings 9:7; Luke 11:50–51; Revelation 18:24; 2 Nephi 26:3; Alma 37:30; 3 Nephi 9:5–11; 3 Nephi 10:12; D&C 136:36.

 

Fourth Plague (verses 8-9)

“…power was given…to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat…”

Besides describing this plague verse 9 also speaks of the peoples’ reaction to the plagues thus far. They “blasphemed the name of God…and they repented not to give him glory.” So, even after the festering sores, the putrefying of the dead animals in the water, and then the scorching heat the people still refuse to repent and instead revile God.

 

Fifth Plague (verse 10-11)

“…and [the beast’s] kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain”

Again we see similarities to the plagues of Egypt, as God caused darkness to fill the land. This also happened in the America’s when Christ died. The pain that is described here could be a reference to the mental and emotional anguish that comes with such a complete darkness. It could also refer to actual physical pain that is to accompany the darkness.

In either case, verse 11 tells us that because of this pain they “blasphemed the God of heaven…and repented not of their deeds.”

 

Sixth Plague (verses 12-16)

“…the water [of the great river Euphrates] was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean…For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth…to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty…into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”

This plague is the preparation for the battle of Armageddon. This is very similar to the second woe mentioned in chapter nine. If we look at a map of the modern day this includes Iran, whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel. Also note that the armies are gathered together under the leadership and with the power of Satan.

For those who don’t know, Armageddon is derived from the Hebrew Har Megiddon, or mountain of Megiddo. The mountain and valley are about 50 miles north of Jerusalem, and this is where this last great battle will begin.

 

Watchfulness of the People (verse 15)

“…Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”

In a literal sense this is warning those in the area to always be ready so that when the time comes they can flee from the destruction of this army. To be naked at this time is to not be prepared. This also applies spiritually, to those who are not yet prepared through the ordinances and spirit of God for the second coming.

 

Seventh Plague (17-21)

“…And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth…and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon [drank] the cup of the wine of the fierceness of [God’s] wrath…And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent…”

Here we have a general upheaval of nature and a destruction of the wicked and corrupt governments and cultures.

Note also that even after all the great destructions that come the people still blaspheme God and refuse to repent (verse 21). Like the ancient Nephites at the time of Mormon, they are beyond reclamation.

 

Also note that in verse 20 we read “every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” This is in reference to the earth being restored to its original state (see D&C 133: 23-24). The natural upheaval we read of here is a result of the continents rejoining into a single land mass, and the water gathering in the North. For the continents to move that far that fast it will take a massive earthquake; and the change will mess with the magnetic fields causing weather changes. All this will be part of the last plague just before the second coming.

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