n this chapter, the final seven bowls of the wrath of God are poured out on the beast and the kingdoms of this world, to bring about its fall. The wrath in the bowls, remember, comes from the harvest of the grapes of wrath which were harvested in chapter 14:
Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs. Revelation 14:17-20
Now the historicists see the completion of the trumpet judgments at the French Revolution, and the seven bowls of wrath, then, correspond to events from the French Revolution to the present. In their scheme, the plagues are as follows:
1. Dreadful sores – atheism and rejection of Roman Catholicism, which rose from the French Revolution and grew until it affected all the earth.
2. Death of naval supremacy of the beast — France, Spain, and other Roman countries at the hands of the Protestant British.
3. Battles fought in Europe during the Napoleonic wars which bloodied the same rivers struck by the 3rd trumpet judgment in Rev
4. Napoleon as the sun scorches the men of the earth with his great heat.
5. Plague on the throne of the beast, or the Vatican, which causes darkness and pain: during the wars for nationalism which followed the destruction of the Napoleonic empire, the temporal power of the papacy was removed when the Papal States were absorbed into the new nation of Italy (1848).
6. Euphrates drying up symbolizes the gradual drying up of the Turkish empire, which was released as a plague upon the earth in the 6th trumpet judgment.
The purpose of this loss of power was to prepare the way of the kings of the east: that is, kings east of the Euphrates (Iran? India? Afghanistan? China?) so that they can come to the battle of Armegeddon against God. Notice the sixth plague is not the actual battle, but it prepares the way for the battle, by removing the power of the Turks. The Turkish empire was fully defeated at the end of World War I in 1917.
The sixth judgment in any series of judgments is an interval period, in which spiritual events more than historical events unfold. The spiritual event of the sixth judgment is the letting loose of the three frog demons which go out to decieve the nations, so that they can be drawn to the battle of Armegeddon. The three frogs come from the dragon, which I believe is the spirit of atheism / naturalism / evolution; from the beast which looks like a lamb but which speaks the words of the dragon, which I believe is the spirit of false religion / paganism / new age pseudo spirituality and the like; and from him whom the Scriptures call the false prophet, but whom history calls the prophet, which I believe is the spirit of a resurgent virulent Islam. In fact, the battle of Armegeddon may very well be a spiritual battle which has been taking place since the mid 1800s, a battle which on one side is God and His truth, and on the other side are the enemies of God characterized by atheism, false religion, and Islam.
If the historicist interpretation is the correct one, we are in the midst of the 6th plague at the moment, and the releasing of the 7th bowl is coming quickly.
7. The plague in the air which culminates in the final fall of the enemies of God and the kingdoms of this world. There is a great earthquake, which one would expect if power was finally transferred to the triumphant Messiah after man has held sway for 6000 years. The great city was divided into three parts – Jerusalem? The cities of the nations fell, Babylon or the Babylonian worldview received wrath from the Lord, and every island and mountain fled away, or every nation and political boundary fled away, either because a one world central government arises, or the Lord Jesus begins reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords. We will not know what the plague of hail is until it happens.
However, I have some quibbles with the traditional historicist understanding of the final seven plagues …
To be continued …