Sermon: The Seven Last Plagues

Bible talk by Steve Millay

The Seven Last Plagues
September 12th, 2013 7:14 pm     A+ | a-
Reading: Revelation Chapter 16

These words are not words to shout from the housetops. They are not words to preach to your neighbor. They are not words to publish in newspapers and magazines. Instead, these words are sobering and deal with a very tragic and serious situation. They describe the final plaques in which Gods wrath is to be completely poured out on the wicked. During the time of these plagues the temple of God in heaven is filled with smoke and no one is allowed to enter. These events are designed to cleanse the earth of the wicked prior to the return of Christ.

Even though the language of the chapter is filled with symbolism, there are many clues within the chapter to define what is being described and on whom the plagues will be poured out on.
In verse 2 we read of judgment being poured out on those who had the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image.
In verse 10 we read of judgment being poured out on the throne of the beast.
In verse 13 we read of evil spirits coming from the mouth of the dragon, the mouth of the beast and the mouth of the false prophet.
In verse 19 we read of the judgment on Babylon. We know from chapter 17 that that judgment on Babylon will be carried out by the beast. So it appears that whatever the beast is, it is a focal point of these plagues.
One of the most intriguing things that is spoken in this chapter is found in verse 3. The second bowl of God’s wrath is poured out on the sea and the sea turns to blood and every living thing in the sea died. Whatever this speaks of, unlike other judgments, this judgment is so complete that not even a remnant is left. Not only that, but the words go on to emphasize that the blood is like that of a dead man. There is absolutely no life whatsoever in this blood. The words go out of their way to emphasize that those who live in this sea are completely and utterly dead.
 We know from other scripture that the term beast was used to describe different nations that oppressed Israel. Daniel describes four different beasts. One like a lion, one like a bear, one like a leopard and one even more dreadful with 10 horns.  These beasts are the oppressors that came against Israel. They represent the Kingdoms of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.
The beast in the book of Revelation is given the same exact characteristics as these four beasts of Daniel. The beast has ten horns and the same number heads as the beasts that Daniel describes. The beast looks like a leopard, with the feat of a bear and the mouth of lion. What is different is that the beast described in the book of Revelation is assisted by a second beast (another oppressor of Israel) that is later referred to in the book as the false prophet. This is the system that causes men to worship the beast and to receive a mark in their right hand or forehead. He gives life to the image of the beast and kills those who do not worship it.
Putting these and many other clues together we are able to identify this last oppressor of the people of Israel, this last beast. And it is also fitting that the last plagues recorded would be poured out on the beast, the oppressor. Throughout history, the oppressors of Gods people have had a very important role in punishing and preparing the people of God. However, once the punishment is complete then it’s the oppressors who face punishment from God. In the same way the great nation of Babylon was destroyed after it fulfilled its place in history, this last oppressor of Gods people will also be destroyed.
Even so, the beast still has a very important role to perform. It will destroy the great harlot, the mystery system called Babylon.
There is only one entity that fits perfectly into the description of his last beast. That is the Moslem peoples assisted by the power of Islam.
The history of Islam centers around one person, Muhammad. He was born around 570 A.D. and was raised by his extended family after the death of his parents. As he grew he came to believe in one God who he called Allah. Allah was actually already known by the Moslems as the “Moon God”. While Moslems at that time believed in many Gods, they felt the Moon God was the greatest of them. In order to imitate the Jewish belief in one God, Muhammad taught that the Moon God, named Allah was the only God. He began to have religious visions and would memorize them and teach them to his followers. These visions are now recorded in the Qur’an (or Koran). Muhammad died in 632 A.D. At first, Muhammad was sympathetic to both Christians and Jews, but after their rejection of his teaching, he turned from Jerusalem as the center of worship for Islam to Mecca. Islam quickly spread throughout the area. Eventually a power struggle developed that split the religion and the main body of Islam became know as the Sunnis (followers of the prophet’s way).
During the “Golden Age” of Islamic civilization, the city of Baghdad became the capital of the Muslim world. It became a city of museums, hospitals, libraries and mosques. While Europe festered in the Dark Ages, Baghdad was at the heart of a vibrant and diverse civilization. It was known as the world’s riches and most intellectual city of the time. Islam produced advances in science, mathematics, literature, medicine, architecture and religion.
The city of Baghdad was trashed by the Mongols in 1258 A.D. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers reportedly ran red, with the blood of thousands of scholars (a reported 100,000 of Baghdad’s million residents were massacred). Many of the libraries, irrigation canals, and great historical treasures were looted and forever ruined.
10 And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, 11And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
The beast has an identification mark that one is required to believe and speak. One must say that “Allah is God and that Muhammad is his prophet”. In many countries of the world, unless you believe and speak these things, you take your life in your own hands.
It is interesting that even Saddam Hussein, who was an oppressor of the people of Israel and paid families of suicide bombers, when he was being hanged, began reciting the “Shahada”, which is a Muslim prayer that says there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger. Saddam made it midway through his second recitation of the verse. His last word that he spoke was “Muhammad” then the floor dropped out of the gallows.
Today the news continues to be filled with the expression of hatred this beast has for the people of Israel. The leader of Iran recently said in a speech that "Israel must be wiped off the map." The Iranian president called on Palestinians to take control of the land. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land." And there was no backing down from what he said even after the speech. He has continued to stand by his comments. He told the official Iranian news agency, "My words were the Iranian nation's words. Westerners are free to comment but their reactions are invalid." In an interview with state-run Iranian television, the Iranian Foreign Minister stated: "The comments expressed by the president is the declared and specific policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We don't recognize the Zionist regime and don't consider it legitimate.
And so it is in this context we come to the book of Revelation chapter 16. It must be noted that the seven plagues are carried out under direction of the cherubim (the protector of the tree of life), which gave the seven angels the bowls of wrath.
Similar to the other sections of the book of Revelation, the first 4 plagues describe conditions that would come upon the beast itself, rather than describing specific events.
The second condition is that within this sea of men, there is no life. The blood is dead.
Almost a billion people follow the Moslem religion. That sea of people covers a very large area. The words recorded in Revelation in essence state in very strong pictures that there is no life whatsoever in that religion. And those who hold to it are as good as dead.
On the surface, the religion looks good and it’s easy to see why many are drawn to it. The five pillars of the religion start by stressing faith in the moon God Allah and in the false prophet Mohammed. They pray five times a day and give two and half percent of their income to the needy. They purify themselves by fasting and abstaining from food and drink. They are in many ways strongly devoted to the religion.
However, from the stand point of one who believes in Christ there are some serious concerns with the Moslem system of belief. First they believe that Jesus was just another man and not the son of God. They also believe the Koran is better than the Bible. They deny that Jesus was crucified and sacrificed for sin and they denied he rose again. Islam also doesn’t have a clear teaching on how a man is saved and it stresses works rather than God’s grace as being a key to salvation.
Even so, our purpose here is not to put down another religion. But to learn from this information that God has given to us so that we ourselves don't oppress the people of God.
Any of us could have been born in another country, into another religion. And if we had been, our life would probably not be much different than theirs. We would probably think of the United States as our enemy, we would feel that the Jews are out to oppress us, we would probably hold the teachings of the Koran close to our heart. It would be the life we grow up in and learn to love.
There is one thing we need to always keep in mind. Not everyone is given an equal chance to be in the Kingdom of God. Contrary to the constitution of the country in which we live, all men are not created equal. Life is not always fair.
Some are born to be good looking; some are born not so good looking. Some are born strong and healthy; some are born weak and handicapped. Some are born with a prospect of a long life; others are born with serious diseases and never will live beyond the age of two. Some are born into families with good parents and plenty of money; others are born into poor families where they may end up abused or even murdered by their own parent. Some are born gifted or with a lot of intelligence, others are born with learning disabilities and lack of musical talents.
So as sad as it is to read about a false system of religion and the millions of followers who have no real hope and are without God in the world, it is even much sadder to know that there are many who have been given the opportunity for life, but then neglect it or reject it for a short season of pleasure.
The sixth bowl is poured out and the great river Euphrates is dried up. That the way may be ready for kings that come from the sun rising. Many people who study prophecy have identified the drying up of the Euphrates River as being the drying up of the once great Turkish Empire that once spread over the region. The main purpose is to make ready the way for the kings of the east. These are the same kings that will rise in strength and gather against Christ when he returns.
And what is interesting is that one of the kings of the east, modern day Persia known to us as Iran has actually become stronger as a direct result of the United States going to war against Iraq. Iraq and Iran were enemies and fought some horrible battles against each other. Now that Iraq has been dried up by the United States as an enemy against Iran, Iran now is making moves to become a major power throughout the whole region. The United States has recently noticed this and has great fear of this happening, so therefore there is a lot of tension building between this country and Iran, but it is now too late to stop the events that are bound to happen, the events that have been spoken of almost two thousand years ago.
Note what is recorded during the pouring out of the sixth bowl about the time we currently are living: “Behold I come as a thief”. This is a warning to us, that we are now at a time in the history of man when all is about to be accomplished. Christ will return without warning at any moment now. Therefore, this is the time to be getting our garments ready; this is the time to prepare and to watch. This is the time to lift up our heads for our redemption draws nigh.
Once the angel begins to pour the out the seventh vial it will be to late. For the very first thing that happens is the declaration that “It is done”. That’s it. Nothing else will matter at that point in time, even before the great earthquake, even before the cities of the nations fall, even before Babylon is punished, even before the great hailstones fall from the heavens, even before all these things, it is proclaimed that it is done! This means it is now too late to repent, it is now too late to buy oil, and it is now too late to wake up. Because at that point in time Gods purpose is complete and the line has been drawn. And that moment in time can happen any minute now.
These events described in Revelation 16 lead up to the battle that is described in the 19th chapter. It will be the day when the kings of the earth gather themselves against Christ himself. This battle, known in prophecy as the battle of Armageddon is described to take place in the valley of Jezreel. What is interesting about this location is the history behind it. It is in this same valley that many years ago at the brook Kidron, Elijah the prophet faced off against the false prophets of Bail. Here is where is slew 450 of them and their blood flowed down this brook and into the sea. This same fate awaits the multitude that decides to come against Israel.
Here in this beautiful valley they will know who is the true God who rains fire down on the earth.  
Seven angels will be entrusted to carry out these dreadful plagues. After these horrible events are carried out, John writes that “he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal. In the midst of the street and on either side of the river there was the tree of life.” It is interesting that the “he” here is actually one of the seven Angels who was entrusted to carry out the seven last plagues. This angel could see the purpose of God and therefore we have comfort in knowing that the judgments that are coming, as terrible as they are, they will be poured out by those who will be sure to protect the lives of those who will be blessed to reign for ever and ever with the Lord.
So as we now come together to partake once again of these emblems, hopefully the things that have been revealed to us will encourage us to not only remember the one who died for us, but to prepare to meet him in the near future. He gave us these words that we might hold them dearly in our hearts.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus. 

Steve Millay
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