"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
THE REVELATION OF CHRIST
THE SEVEN VIALS
(THE FIRST SIX)
By Given O. Blakely
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth." So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died. Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying: "You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due." And I heard another from the altar saying, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments." Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds. Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame." And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. (Rev 16:1-16 NKJV).
Although I have said this frequently, it bears repetition. The book of Revelation contains Christ's message to the churches. With great solemnity, everyone who has "an ear" is admonished to "hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). Among other things, this confirms the relevancy of the message. This is not a novel story, a mere recording of history in advance, or a mystery that we are incapable of understanding. The message is critical to all saints of all ages. While John sent it to "the seven churches which are in Asia," it is not confined to them.
A UNIVERSAL MESSAGE
The message begins with an affirmation of the control of the exalted Lamb (Chapter 5). It unveils the aggression of the devil against the people of God (Chapter 12). The overthrow of the devil is heralded, together with all of his devices (20:10). The triumph of the righteous is announced (21:1-4; 22:3-5). The resurrection of the dead is declared (20:13-14), together with the universal judgment (20:11-15). Realities of decisive importance to all ages are mentioned: The Son of God (2:18), The devil (2:10; 12:9,12; 20:2,10), The testimony of Jesus (1:2,9 12:17; 19:10), The throne of God (7:15; 14;5; 22:1,3), The Word of God (1:2,9; 6:9; 19:13; ; 20:4), The lake of fire (19:20; 20:10,,14,15), The Spirit (1:10; 2;7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22; 11:11; 14:13; 22:17) , The bride (21:9; 22:17), The water of life (21:6; 22:1,17), The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (22:21), The coming of the Lord (3:11; 16:15; 22:7,12,20). These are only representative of the language used in this book-language that is common to all who are in Christ Jesus.
There is nothing about this type of language that can be confined to a historical period or period. It is universal language, and is found throughout the Apostolic writings. This nomenclature tells us the reference points of this book-the pillars, as it were, upon which it stands. The terms themselves are like building blocks, used to form a message for every child of God.
Different Views of One Purpose
Throughout the vision given to John, various things are underscored. The saints will ultimately survive all of the attacks against them. Their primary foe is the devil. Their secondary foes are all who are aligned with the "old serpent." All of the oppressions are hardships experienced by the faithful come from the wicked one and the hosts of darkness.
The wicked, however, experience neither opposition nor harm from the saints. This is essential to grasp, else our hearts will grow faint. The Lord Himself is the one Who punishes the wicked. The final demise of the wicked will now be affirmed. Wickedness will be overthrown in all of its aspects. Whether personal or corporate, it will be judged. The propagators of the lie and those who embrace it will be brought down together.
This is one of the fundamental things to grasp in the Revelation. The saints will experience opposition in this world, but ultimately overcome. The wicked will enjoy a measure of success in this world, but ultimately be brought down. The seven vials, or bowls, deal with the ultimate demise.
Men Are Still Responsible
It is true that Satan works in men-that the evil they do is prompted by the devil. Satan is called "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph 2:2). There are people who have "been taken captive by him to do his will" (2 Tim 2:26). Notwithstanding this situation, those in Satan's grasp will experience the wrath of God. They will not be able to plead innocence because Satan worked in them.
The reason for this is apparent. The devil cannot work in a person who does not initially allow him to do so. Eve had to listen to the serpent, consider his tempting words, and act as though they were the truth. Those "captured" by Satan have yielded so consistently to him that their wills and heart have become hardened.
When the Lord pours out His wrath upon the ungodly, it will not be without cause. It will be just in every sense of the word. The wicked ARE deserving of the wrath of God and that reality will be apparent to all.%%detect_both%%
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).