The Seven Last Plagues

Book of Revelation – a series presented by pastor Michael Walker

Lesson #19 – Revelation, chapters 15-16

God’s Last call of mercy is given from His great heart of love for fallen humanity. He offers forgiveness and eternal life to all who accept His gracious gift. Those who choose to reject His mercy will inevitably reap the dreadful consequences. When the door of mercy finally closes, they will no longer experience God’s protection as they drink down to the last dregs of that bitter cup. When the seven last plagues are released, God will make a clear, undeniable distinction between those who accept His mercy and those who do not: between those who are His true and faithful people and those who are not.

Chapter 15

Before Christ returns in glory, the Christian Gospel will have been proclaimed in all the world (Matthew 24:14) and God’s Last Warning Message will have been heard throughout the nations. Those who choose to reject God’s warning and call of mercy will drink the wine of the wrath of God without mercy (Revelation 14:9-11).

vs. 5-7  

The scene changes once more as the prophet now sees into the Most Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary, – i.e. “the tabernacle of the testimony” or “the tabernacle of witness” (Numbers 17:4,7). The tabernacle in the wilderness was a type of the one in heaven, which the Lord pitched and not man (Hebrews 8:2). That Most Holy Place where access was once restricted is now opened, which indicates that the Investigative Judgement has ended, and the seven angels depart from there bearing the seven last plagues that are full of the wrath of God.

v. 8

This verse reflects what happened historically at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple. It was filled with cloud, concealing the glory of God and the priests could not enter there (1 Kings 8:10,11; 2 Chronicles 5:13,14). Moses had the same experience (Exodus 40:34,35). In addition to “cloud”, the Bible also mentions “smoke” to shelter the onlookers from the glory of God (Exodus 19:17,18; Isaiah 6:4; c.f. Leviticus 16:2).

The empty Temple indicates that heavenly intercession has now come to an end. Human Probation has finally closed. The Temple (Sanctuary) is filled with smoke from the glory of God; and so no one could enter it until the Seven Last Plagues had been carried out. No one has access any longer before the Mercy Seat because the opportunity to do so has passed and the door of mercy is finally closed. The time has now come for the outpouring of the wrath of God.

Chapter 16

v. 1

“Loud voice” – no doubt the Voice of God as “no one” was able to enter the Temple and the angels bearing the plagues had departed from it. The plagues will fall in one day (Revelation18:8) – i.e. a prophetic day = 1 yr. The numerical order of the plagues implies that they are successive; and people will be suffering from previous plagues as the next ones follow. It seems logical to believe the plagues will be literal, but each will be a judgement upon one of the particular issues of apostate Christendom.

The false doctrine of Universalism claims that everyone will eventually be saved. Some teach that the wicked will be subjected to the Seven Last Plagues during the Millennium to bring them to repentance. It needs to be understood that God’s goodness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4) rather than by fear and force; He respects our freedom of choice. As already noted above, these plagues will be poured out after the Close of Probation. Their purpose however, will expose the rebellious nature of the wicked because they continue to blaspheme God even though it becomes obvious that they have been deceived and are fighting against Him. At this stage of God’s h and ling of the sin problem, the universe will then see a further revelation:

“As willingness to die for another is the supreme manifestation of love (John 15:13), so the intent to take another’s life marks the ultimate degree of hatred. During the last two plagues a situation develops that makes this distinction fully apparent, even to the participants themselves, and the justice of God in terminating human history is thus made evident to men as well as angels. (See Rom.14:11; Phil.2:10; GC 638-640; c.f. PP 260; c.f. on Revelation16:13, 14, 16, 17). It will then be demonstrated before the universe that, to a man, the remnant people would rather die than disobey God, and that those who have chosen the service of Satan would, if permitted, slay all who stand in the way of their purpose to control the earth. Caught in the very act of attempting to execute the death decree, they stand without excuse before God” – Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol.7, p 839.

In contrast during the Time of Trouble, the faithful remnant will pass through trials and persecution that will realize the perfecting of their characters as their faith and confidence in Christ continues to increase.

There will only be 2 classes of people at this time – namely:

[1] those who have the Seal of God; and

[2] those who have the mark of the beast.

NB. The Seven Last Plagues will not fall upon those who have the seal of God: Psalms 91. Just as He did in Egypt, God will once again make a distinction between His people and the wicked (c.f. Exodus 8:22,23; 9:4,6,26; 10:23; 11:7).

“These plagues are not universal, or the inhabitants of the earth would be wholly cut off. Yet they will be the most awful scourges that have ever been known to mortals. All the judgments upon men, prior to the close of probation, have been mingled with mercy . . . but in the final judgment, wrath is poured out unmixed with mercy” – E.G. White, The Great Controversy, pp.628,629.         

Inevitably, the last two plagues will definitely be universal.

v. 2

1st Plague

“Sore” – Greek: helkos – ‘ulcer’, ‘suppurating wound’, ‘open sores’. The LXX uses helkos for the boils that fell upon the Egyptians: Exodus 9:9,10. The demons who performed miracles to deceive men into making the image to the beast (Revelation13:14), will be unable to heal the sores!

This plague falls upon those who failed to heed the 3rd Angel’s Message (Revelation14:9,10) and to come out of Babylon (Revelation18:4).

v. 3

2nd Plague

The oceans provide substantial amounts of food for the human race; but under this plague every creature in the sea will die. Under the heat of the sun, the blood will become a sickening stench! International trade depends to a large degree upon the sea routes; trade will thereby become greatly affected and this in turn will help bring the world economy down to its knees! To a large degree, the futility of Satan’s design to unite all the nations together under his own control will become evident.

v. 4

3rd Plague

Rivers and water springs turned into blood. This will have a debilitating effect as water is needed for many things, such as drinking, hygiene, laundering, industry, etc. God has promised to provide for His faithful people: Isaiah 33:16,17; 41:17,18.

vs 5-7

The acclamation of the Lord’s righteous judgment is the acknowledgement that God is right in how He has judged all things.

vs. 8-9

4th Plague

The sun now emits excessive heat that it becomes unbearable and painful. Since the Beast claims Sunday, the pagan day of the sun, to be observed as the mark of her authority as opposed to God’s sign of authority in the keeping of the Sabbath, she is now left to the mercy of its scorching flames! With such heat, crops would be scorched and destroyed, resulting in severe famine conditions; and the excessive heat would give rise to vast areas being destroyed by massive wild fires! They did not repent but continued to blaspheme the God of heaven.

vs 10, 11

5th Plague

The “seat” or “throne” of the beast will be the papacy’s HQ – i.e. the Vatican. Whether this plague will just fall on the Vatican kingdom or upon the entire world, since the world by that time will be paying homage to the beast, remains to be seen. Its kingdom is now plunged into dense darkness, no doubt similar to Egypt’s plague of darkness – so dense that it could be felt (Exodus 10:21). The Greek literally reads: “his kingdom became full of darkness”. It suggests it remains so for a period of time. If this is so, then prolonged darkness would cause extremely cold conditions. After that severe heat of the scorching sun, their festering sores, their thirst from the shortage of fresh water, the lack of food, and the smell of death, as well as the severe cold, no wonder “they gnawed their tongues because of the pain”. Considering all that has been affected during these plagues, the various utilities in towns and cities would be drastically reduced. Babylon the fallen had deprived the world of spiritual light and truth, so now God brings total darkness to bear upon her! God will no doubt ensure His saints will still have light to see, just as He did for Israel when Egypt suffered a similar plague (Exodus 10:23).

v. 12

The drying up of the Euphrates harks back to when the ancient city of Babylon fell to Cyrus. The typology is fitting because support of the political powers upon which spiritual Babylon stands will be dried up. “The kings of the east” is a reference to Christ’s return with the armies of heaven (Revelation19:11-16). When Jesus comes, He will return from the eastern sky (Matthew 24:27,30; c.f. The Great Controversy, p.640, 641; Early Writings, pp. 15,35).

vs 13, 14

“Unclean spirits like frogs” – three black frogs were a symbol of the ancient Egyptian pagan deities. These are a fitting symbol of Satanic control of the triumvirate union of Satan in the “image to the beast” who now in the last great deception gathers the subjects of his kingdom to overthrow the Kingdom of God in the battle of Armageddon.

v. 15

Just before the battle, Christ sends assuring words to His faithful saints.

“God’s chosen people will stand unmoved. Satan and his host cannot destroy them, for angels that excel in strength will protect them” – E.G. White, Testimonies to the Church, Vol.9, p.17.

v. 17

7th Plague

The Battle gathers under the 6th plague but it takes place under the 7th. It is swift. At that decisive hour, when the death decree is to be carried out, Christ intervenes: the announcement comes from the Temple in Heaven, “It is Done!”.

vs 18-21

The plague is poured into the air and nature takes a turn that holds the wicked spellbound and fearful amidst the most violent storm ever experienced: thunder and lightning, a mighty earthquake and islands and mountains disappear under the convulsions of nature! Great hailstones about 60-80lbs in weight crash around them (c.f. Revelation 6:12-16).

Amidst this natural violence, Jesus calls His sleeping saints to life (The Great Controversy, p.644) and they along with the living saints are caught up to be with Jesus in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

v. 19

Meanwhile the three-fold union falls apart and spiritual Babylon meets its nemesis. As the voice declared from the Temple, “It is done!” – so will it be!

The full video presentation is available below:

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