The judgments of Revelation 15 and 16 are  described as the “great and marvellous”  works of the Lord God Almighty, whose  ways are “just and true” (15:3). They come in answer to the persecution of saints, “for they have shed  the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy” (16:6).

The end result of these judgments is described  for us as “a sea of glass mingled with fire, and them  that had gotten the victory over the Beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of  his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb…” (15:2–3). The  sea represents the nations of Europe, interpreted as  “peoples, and multitudes, and nations and tongues”  (16:5). The “troubled sea” will be stilled by the  fiery judgments of God that are the subject matter of chapter 16. When these judgments are complete, those who struggled against the Beast system sing the victory song of Moses and the Lamb.

These judgments are delivered to the seven  angels by the hand of one of the “living creatures”  (15:7). They are the result of the prayers of the  saints (6:10–11), crying out to be avenged. Our  hearts should echo the words, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments”,  as we see the hand of the Deity pour out His wrath upon those who have “made war with the saints, and overcome them” (13:7).

The vials judgments are designed to bring “all  nations to come and worship before thee” (15:4). All  the nations who “make war with the Lamb” (Rev  17:14) and refuse to “kiss the son” (Psa 2:12) will be  destroyed. Those nations who do fall down before  him will “have their lives prolonged for a season and a time” (Dan 7:12) and will join the families of  the nations who will be blessed in Abraham (Gen  12:3), enjoying the “life of the age” (Matt 25:46).

The Vials Poured Out

The vials of the wrath of God are poured out “upon  the earth” (16:1). This is the arena of operations  of the “Beast of the earth” (13:11) that “deceiveth  them that dwell upon the earth”. These judgments  affect all levels of the earth-Beast’s society—from  commoner to king, from priest to Pope. The vials  are poured out concurrently and overlap in their  effects. They are directed at the Beast system of  the Holy Roman Empire. The effect of these vials  stretches from the French Revolution through to  the climax —the destruction of Babylon the Great.

Upon the Earth

The first vial is poured out upon the earth—and is  directed specifically against those who have been  involved in worshipping the image of the Beast,  and who carry his mark in their foreheads (16:2).  This terrible judgment is described as a “noisome  and grievous sore”. This running sore spreads destruction  throughout the body. The Catholic body  of Europe, specifically France, fell victim to the  French Revolution, which swept the country like  a weeping cancer. It infected all levels of Catholic  society with death and destruction. The end result  of this flesh-eating disease was the abolition of the  Monarchy, and removal of Church authority from  France. Priests were murdered, church property  expropriated and sold. Tithes for the church were  abolished. This sore brought the whole of France  into a civil war that would result in the destruction  of the worshippers of the image, and those who carried the mark of the Beast. The first vial  is directed against all those who were imprinted  in their minds with the Catholic thinking. The ripple effect of this vial swept across the countries of  Europe during Napoleon’s conquest of the nations who challenged France. After the momentum of the  French Revolution died down, the grievous sore continued to spread disease and destruction upon  the worshippers of the Beast during the First and Second World Wars, and again during the reign of  atheistic Communism.

Upon the Sea

The second vial affected the “sea” which became  “as the blood of a dead man” – coagulated and still.  This graphic description depicts the judgments  poured out on the waters surrounding Europe. The  vehicle that God used to fulfil His will was the  maritime power of England. The angels empowered  Britain to “rule the waves”. The purpose of this vial  was to contain God’s judgments within the Europe  vicinity. Whenever Napoleon ventured outside of  Europe (ie Egypt, Russia) he failed, because God  had determined to use him to pour out His wrath  upon Catholic Europe. Britain successfully blocked  Napoleon in Europe, concentrating the judgments upon the worshippers of the Beast. God has continued  to keep the vial judgments concentrated in Europe by using the merchants of Tarshish with her  young lions, during two subsequent world wars.

Upon the Rivers and Fountains of Waters

The third vial affected “the rivers and fountains  of waters” which became as “blood” (16:4). The  source of water in Europe is the Alps. Terrible  persecutions against the “saints and the martyrs of  Jesus” had been waged in these areas for centuries.  As Napoleon swept across Europe he determined to enter Italy. He passed through Sardinia and into the Austrian region of the Alps. The Austrians, defenders  of the faith, launched their armies against him  in an effort to stop the revolutionary terror from  affecting themselves or the Papacy. Six successive armies were launched against Napoleon, each decimated by the angel of the third vial at the hands  of Napoleon. Napoleon entered Italy and began to  wrestle the temporal kingdom of the Papacy away  from the Pope. The Pope sued for a peace treaty  and gained one at a very high price. Although he  managed to buy a temporary reprieve, God had  determined to pour out this vial and give “blood  to drink” to those who had persecuted His saints.

It was during this period that Napoleon launched  an attack against Egypt, hoping to engage the  Turks in Palestine and wrestle the Holy Land from  them. Palestine’s liberation from Turkish rule was  reserved for the sixth vial under a different regime  than Napoleon’s. God intended to use Britain to roll  back the Turks and prepare the way for the kings of  the east and the return of Israel. Napoleon, successful  against Egypt, was defeated by the angel of the  Second Vial. The British destroyed his ships, and  forced him to return to France.

When Napoleon returned he learned that the  Austrians had launched another attack in the Alps  with the aid of a Russian contingent. All previous  treaties were off, and Napoleon returned to the  area with great vigour, putting to flight the armies  of Austria. The Austrian forces were decimated so  severely that they had made themselves vulnerable  to the angel of the fourth vial.

The fountains and rivers of waters ran thick  with blood. Those who had become drunk with the  blood of the saints and of the martyrs of Jesus had  now been judged according to their works. “Even  so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy  judgments”.

Upon the Sun

“And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the  sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give  Him glory” (16:8–9).

The “sun” of Europe was the target of this vial. King Louis 16th of France had already been  eclipsed by the guillotine. Napoleon was crowned  as emperor of France, by the Pope, with the crown  of Charlemagne, the first ruler of the Holy Roman  Empire, whose empire Napoleon was destined to  destroy. Shortly afterwards he was also crowned  with the iron crown of Italy.

The armies of Austria, Russia and England had  formed an alliance against Napoleon in an attempt  to keep the French influence penned in. Napoleon  crossed the Rhine and managed to cut off much of  the Austrian army. Napoleon marched on Vienna. The city had been evacuated, allowing Napoleon  to walk in. He pushed on, meeting the Russian  and Austrian armies on route to Moravia where  the Emperor of Austria had retreated. After a crippling  battle on the plain of Austerlitz, 22 December  1805, the Austrians asked for an armistice, while the Russians retreated. Napoleon wrestled much  territory from the Austrians. The end of the Holy  Roman Empire came when Frances II was reduced  to Emperor of Austria only.

When the French moved too close to Berlin  the Prussians engaged in war with Napoleon, 13  October, 1806. The result was total defeat of the  armies of Prussia and the resulting capture of Berlin.  The King of Prussia regrouped and joined forces  with the Russians. When they engaged the French,  they were “scorched with fire”. Prussia lost half  of its territory and the Russians retreated to their  own territories.

Napoleon now turned his attention to Spain and  Portugal. By deceit, he allied himself with the Spanish  for the defeat of Portugal. The end result was the  eclipse of both royal dynasties. The fire upon Spain and Portugal was especially severe in light of the  resistance made by the general populace. The heart  of the inquisition had resided in Spain, and now it  was scorched with divine judgment.

The scorching of the “sun” of Europe continued  in effect long after Napoleon. When we look  at Europe today we see a land bereft of kings and  emperors. Democracy and the principles of the  French Revolution have eroded away all remnants  of the structure of the Holy Roman Empire and the  two-horned Beast. The Russian sun fell victim to  doctrines of the French Revolution and the effects  of the fourth vial—it was darkened in the Revolution  of 1917 with the execution of Czar (Caesar)  Nicholas and his family under the communist Bolshevist  regime. The German Kaiser (Caesar) also  disappeared after unsuccessfully trying to re-erect  the Holy Roman Empire or Second Reich during  World War 1.

Upon the Throne of the Beast

The wrath of the Almighty was directed in full force  against the throne of the Beast in the fifth vial. His  kingdom had already been plunged into darkness  by the preceding four vials. The kings and emperors  of Europe were methodically being dethroned  or having their kingdoms drastically reduced. The  Holy Roman Empire had been dissolved, and thus  “his kingdom was full of darkness” because of the  work of the first four vials.

The Vatican had been pillaged in 1798 when the  Pope had been taken prisoner, but the Papacy had  remained a sovereign entity. She had been stripped of  lands and goods and was “made naked and desolate”  (17:16). Her sovereignty over her states had been  reinstated when Napoleon was in Egypt.

Napoleon softened his treatment of the Papacy  by allowing the Catholic religion to remain in his  empire. This proved to be a mistake. The Pope remained a thorn in Napoleon’s side, constantly  siding with any rebellion that sprung up against him.

When the Pope refused to support Napoleon  in his endeavours against England, the scorching  flames of France licked at the papal slippers. While  Napoleon was in Egypt, and busy with the rebellions  in Spain, the Austrians and Prussians rose to  reinstate the Beast empire. Napoleon again defeated  their forces in the spring of 1809, first the Austrians,  then the Prussians as he marched on Vienna.

Napoleon sought to bring the Papacy under his  control by requesting their cooperation in his designs  against Britain. He took control over the Papal States to end their cooperation with the British. The Pope  responded by excommunicating Napoleon.

Powerless to resist, all “defenders of the faith” defeated, the Pope was taken prisoner by Napoleon  in 1809. He was brought to Avignon in Southern  France and a provisional government established  to replace him as ruler over the Papal States. The grip of the Papacy was released. The inquisition  was abolished and the power of the Papacy to  “make war with the saints, and to overcome them”  during the 1260 year period of persecution was irreversibly ended. In 1812 the Pope was removed  to Fontainebleau. The throne of the Beast was thus  judged, although it was not removed altogether.

Napoleon himself was blotted out after a  disastrous campaign against Russia, and then the  destruction of his armies at Waterloo. He had been  a ‘vehicle of God’s will’ as the agent by which the  vials of wrath were poured out. When his use was  expired, the Deity who “rules in the kingdom of  men” ended Napoleon’s reign.

They Blasphemed the God of Heaven

The testimony of the Deity predicts the incredible response of the Beast worshippers to the judgments  of Almighty God. They “repented not of their deed,  but blasphemed the God of heaven because of their  pains and of their sores”. When the Pope finally lost  all temporal power over the Papal States—about  25% of Italy’s land area—rather than acknowledge  the judgment of God and repent, he called the first  Vatican Council and arranged for a declaration of  Papal infallibility! From 1870 to the 1920’s, the  Vatican never rested from seeking great political  influence and power. The nations of Europe, despite  the incredible destruction of the Napoleonic  wars, the First War and the Second World War, still  seek to ally themselves with the Vatican. They are  unrepentant. During the past fifty years the Papacy  has been the moving force behind the EU, and the  nations of Europe have been eager to drink once  more the wine of her fornication.

Drying up the Euphrates

The sixth vial is split into two parts. The first is  the drying up of the river Euphrates in preparation  of the “way of the kings of the sun’s rising”. God  required the partial regathering of Israel to set the  stage for His Son’s return. Israel must be in the land  in order for the events of Armageddon (Ezekiel 38,  Joel 3, Zechariah 14, Daniel 11) to take place. The  Turkish power of the Euphrates had to be dried  up. God used the forces of Britain under General Allenby during World War 1 to accomplish this  act. The way for Israel to come back into the land  was cleared, and through a fifty-year struggle they  became an independent state. Today we see the remains  of the Turkish Empire as nothing more than a  series of Islamic ‘puddles’ scattered here and there.  Israel, supported by the West, has continued to dry  up ‘puddles’ surrounding it during the Six-Day  and Yom Kippur wars. The young lions have also  assisted campaigns such as ‘Desert Storm’, drying  up those nations that threaten Israel and that move  against the will of God.

Out of the Mouth of the Beast, Dragon, and False Prophet

In order to bring the nations down to the valley  of the judgments of Yah to thresh them (Joel 3:2),  the angel of the sixth vial has been preparing the  kings of the earth with the frog spirits (16:13–14).  These demonic spirits, or teachings, are come from  the mouth of the dragon, Beast and false prophet.  Following the French Revolution we have seen the  doctrines of liberty, equality and fraternity flow  freely from the mouth of the Beast. They have  infiltrated all elements of life under the banner of  “human rights”. We have seen doctrines such as  evolution sweep throughout the world—a doctrine  of madness.

These spirits are at work convincing the powers  of Europe to begin to “give their power to the Beast”  once more. The Vatican adopted the doctrines she couldn’t suppress in an attempt to control them.  What she stood firmly against in the French Revolution  she now calls ‘Catholic Social Doctrine’,  having put her own slant on it. It flows freely from  her mouth and deceives the kings of the earth.

We still await the dragon, Russia, to spew this doctrine out of his mouth. We saw her transformed  by a frog spirit during the communist revolution.  The teachings of Karl Marx came out from the  atheistic philosophies of the French Revolution. With the fall of communism we await changes in  Russia that will eventually align her with the Beast  and the false prophet. As Europe unites we will see a standardisation of political thought answering to  the frog spirits.

Behold, I come as a Thief…

Right in the middle of this political earthquake a  warning cries out. Revelation 16:15 is the verse  addressed specifically to the Christadelphian community of our day. We live in the period between  the drying up of the Euphrates, the going forth of  the frog spirits and the battle of Armageddon. We  will not witness Armageddon through the media as  we did the Gulf War. Christ tells us specifically that  he is coming as a thief. The exhortation to us is to  watch and keep our garments: “But ye, brethren,  are not in darkness that that day should overtake  you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light and  the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor  of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others,  but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess 5:4–6).

The prophecies of the book of Revelation should  be much more than a lesson in revealed history—  they should motivate us to action! We live on the  pivot of destiny, the climax of the kingdom of men and the dawn of the “sun of righteousness” (Mal  4:2). Now is the time for us to fill our lamps with oil  and prepare to meet our Lord with joy. We should  allow prophecy to affect our day-to-day lives, and  shake us from the Laodicean complacency that our  age is steeped in. We must “buy gold tried in the  fire, and be rich; and white raiment, that we might  be clothed and that the shame of our nakedness does  not appear, and anoint our eyes with eye salve, that  we might see” what our Lord is doing around us,  preparing the world for that Great Day.

Armageddon

The end result of the frog spirits is the “gathering”  of the nations into a place called in the Hebrew  tongue Armageddon. Armageddon is a composite  word made up of three Hebrew words—arema—a  heap, ge—a valley, and don—to judge. This is a  composite Hebrew phrase rooted in an Old Testament  passage. This is exactly what we find in Joel  3:2. Here we read: “I will also gather all nations, and bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat  [the judgments of Yah], and will plead [judge] with  them there for my people…”. The chapter continues  later, “Let the nations be wakened, and come up  to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to  judge all the nations round about” (v12). The end  result is described as “multitudes in the valley of  threshing” (v14).

Armageddon is therefore the gathering of the  nations for judgment. The nations are separated,  or threshed, wheat from chaff. This apocalyptic  theme is seen throughout the Old Testament. Micah  4:11–13 describes “many nations gathered against  thee…” and tells us that Yahweh will “gather them  as sheaves into the floor”, and empowers Israel to  “arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion… thou shalt  beat in pieces many people…”. Habakkuk describes  how the cherubim “march through the land in indignation”  to “thresh the nations in anger” (3:12). The  prophet continues to describe the “wounding of the  head” (Heb rosh) out of the house of the wicked.  This great climax will result in the destruction of  the Gogian forces in the land of Israel. From here  Yahweh will “send a fire on Magog” (Ezek 39:6)  as the seven thunders are poured out. Yahweh tells  us the end result: “I will set my glory among the  nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment  that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid  upon them. So the house of Israel shall know that  I am Yahweh their God, from that day forward”  (Ezek 39:21–22).

The Seven Thunders and the Great  Earthquake

The battle of Armageddon will destroy the armies of  flesh in the land of Israel, bring the Jews back into  covenant relationship with God, establish Christ  upon the throne of His glory in Jerusalem and serve  as the basis of operations for “the little stone” to  grind the image of Daniel 2 to powder. This grinding  will be done by the work of the seven thunders. The  great city of Europe is separated into three parts—  the Dragon third (Greek Orthodox—Russia and its  company); the Beast third; the False prophet third.  The cities of the nations fall first, and then attention  is turned upon the “great city of Babylon (v19). The  exact detail of the thunders is not revealed at the  request of the angel (Rev 10:4). The basic events  are described in chapters 17 and 18.

These thunders will be accompanied by a great  earthquake—the greatest of all political upheavals  ever to shake the earth. Society as we know it today  will cease to exist.

Peter describes the end of the Jewish aeon in  similar terms to the end of the Gentile aeon: “The  heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and  the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth  also and the works that are therein shall be burned  up” (2 Peter 3:10). The exhortation for us as we  consider the great earthquake that is to come is the  same that Peter gave… “Seeing then that all these  things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons  ought ye to be in all holy conversation [lifestyle]  and godliness, looking unto and earnestly desiring  the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:11–12).