Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.Revelation 16:1
In the thirty-seventh chapter of Shirley, Charlotte Bronte applies this passage to Napoleon's final campaign in Russia, in 1812:—'This summer, Bonaparte is in the saddle: he and his host scour Russian deserts.... He marches on old Moscow: under old Moscow's walls, the rude Cossack waits him. Barbarian stoic! he waits without fear of the boundless ruin rolling on. He puts his trust in a Snow-cloud; the Wilderness, the Wind, and the Hail-storm are his refuge; his allies are the elements—Air, Fire, Water. And what are these? Three terrible archangels ever stationed before the throne of Jehovah. They stand clothed in white, girdled with golden girdles; they uplift vials, brimming with the wrath of God. Their time is the day of vengeance; their signal the word of the Lord of hosts.'
Hugh Miller, in the second chapter of My Schools and Schoolmasters, describes the tales told by his uncle Alexander, who had served in the navy under Nelson, Duncan, and Sir Ralph Abercromby. Late in life, when the old warrior had been reading Keith's Signs of the Times, and when 'he came to the chapter in which that excellent writer describes the time of hot naval warfare which immediately followed the breaking out of war, as the period in which the second vial was poured out on the sea, and in which the waters became as the blood of a dead man, so that every living soul died in the sea, I saw him bend his head in reverence as he remarked, "Prophecy, I find, gives to all our glories but a single verse, and it is a verse of judgment!"'
The blood of man should never be shed but to redeem the blood of man. It is well shed for our family, for our friends, for our God, for our country, for our kind. The rest is vanity; the rest is crime.
Reference.—XVI. 6.—E. M. Geldart, Echoes of Truth, p. 283.
Whiting to Sir Charles Bunbury in 1870 upon the Franco-Prussian war, Charles Kingsley declared: 'There can be no doubt that the French programme of this war was to disunite Germany once more, and to make her weak and at the mercy of France.... The emperor fancied that after deceiving the French people—after governing them by men who were chosen because they could and dared deceive, that these minions of his, chosen for their untruthfulness, would be true, forsooth, to him alone; that they would exhibit, unknown, in a secret government, virtues of honesty, economy, fidelity, patriotism, which they were forbidden to exercise in public, where their only function was to nail up the hand of the weather-glass, in order to ensure fine weather, as they are doing to this day in every telegram. So he is justly punished, and God's judgments are, as always, righteous and true.'
Reference.—XVI. 9.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiv. No. 2064.
What was it that filled the ears of the prophets of old but the distant tread of foreign armies, coming to do the work of justice.
—George Eliot, in Romola.
It would be foreign to our purpose to enter into the controversy as to the precise location of Armageddon. Place is neither here nor there. The important point is, that there is to be ultimately somewhere a great decisive conflict between the powers of good and evil; the outcome of which will be the complete overthrow of the Prince of Darkness, and the undisputed reign of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It will be profitable to mark the manifestations of evil in these last days, and then on the other hand to observe some of the sure tokens of the triumph of Christ.
I. The Manifestations of Evil.—(1) Let us note at the outset the aggravated forms of Avarice which prevail in these days. The scramble for wealth is universal with all its attending selfishness and brutality. (2) Observe also the defiant front of Intemperance in our time. It is the enemy of our home life, our social life, our political life. (3) As to sensuality. (4) Another of the current forms of malignant evil is Bibliophobia, or hatred of the Scriptures as the Word of God. This is the fashionable form of infidelity. (5) Sabbath desecration. (6) As to persecution. (7) War.
II. Observe Some of the Sure Tokens of the Triumph of Christ.—(1) The Scriptures as Divine truth have a deeper hold than ever on the hearts of Christian people. The old Book is cherished as it never was cherished before; is studied more earnestly; is believed in more cordially. 'The Word of the Lord is tried.' It has been vindicated, triumphantly vindicated, as a true volume from beginning to end. (2) Christ is served in His Church more loyally and effectively than ever. We are approaching a realisation of the dream of Wesley. 'All at it, always at it, altogether at it' (3) The personality and power of the Holy Ghost are recognised in the Church as never before.
—D. J. Burrell, The Gospel of Certainty, p. 217.
And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.
And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.
For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
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.
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,
And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto 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 come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.
And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.