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and earth in view, and the angels, who are the actors passing between both. The present exhibition is preparatory. Such a general representation had preceded the seven seals and the seven trumpets; this precedes the seven vials. We are now in the midst of the warfare carried on by the Church of Christ, under his auspices, to resist the formidable efforts of the combined enemies. It is a silent warfare, operating chiefly in the human heart. But heaven is now seen interposing visibly to repress the pride and arrogance of the antichristian usurpers. And as seven angels, by sounding the alarm with trumpets, had foreshown the several shocks of battle which the Church should sustain from her enemies, so seven angels, by pouring forth seven vials, express the vengeance of the Almighty, poured out on the triumphant worldly powers, checking their career, embittering their success, and finally overwhelming them in destruction.
They are to be accounted, as the word Tinyn expresses, so many blows or strokes ; visitations of divine Providence on unrepentant sinners. Such fell on Pharaoh and the hardened Egyptians, who, persisting in their obstinate opposition, were overwhelmed in the Red Sea. The number seven implies a complete visitation. 1 “ When I begin, I will also make an end, saith the Lord.” (1 Sam. iii. 12.) So, with the last of these vials, " the wrath of God will be completed.” And it is in allusion to this completion, that they are called “ the last plagues;' for they do not seem to extend to the very last times of final judgment, but to end with the beast and false prophet finally and completely subdued; with whose continuance in action, therefore, they seem cotemporary
1 Note, ch. i. 4.
Ver. 2. A sea, glassy, mingled with fire, &c.] This glassy sea has been already displayed as standing before the throne of God, (ch. iv. 6.) where it was seen to represent the purifying blood of the Redeemer; the price of human redemption, in which alone the vestments can be washed white; by which alone the Christian can be presented pure before God. But the Redeemer has two characters, conformably to the offices assigned him on earth; the one of meekness, in which he came to suffer; the other of exaltation, in which he returns to reign, and to pour out vengeance on his enemies. now arrived at that point of the prophetic history, in which this vengeance begins to be poured out. We therefore see the glassy sea mingled with fire; its waves flashing flame; symbolically expressive of anger and vengeance. Here we see collected, as in an appropriate situation, those who, during the usurpation of antichrist, had contended for the faith; and suffering, had gained that victory, which is only to be acquired by the blood of the Lamb.” (Ch. xii. 11; vii. 13; 1 John v. 4, &c.) The purification of the priests for the service of the earthly temple, was in the brazen sea; these, who are to minister before the God of heaven, are purified by the heavenly sea; by the blood of the Redeemer. And many of them, having poured out their own blood in his cause, and after his example, now begin to enjoy the triumph which was promised them under the fifth seal. (Ch. vi. 9–13, where see the note.) They are nów to be “ avenged.”
lb. Of the beast.) ék tov Inprov, “not,” says Dr. S. Clarke, over the beast, but from out of the midst of the beast : for, by this expression is implied, not only their conquest, but the difficulty of it, by a few persons, adhering steadfastly to the true religion, in the midst of idolatrous and corrupt nations.
1 See note, ch. viii. 7.
Ver. 3. The Song of Moses.] These holy sufferers no longer cry under the altar for the delayed vengeance of their just God. (Ch. vi. 9, &c.) The promised time is come (Luke xviii. 8.): they now see, as they express in their song,—their triumphant song, like that of Moses after the destruction of Pharaoh, (Ex. xv.) the great and wonderful works of God, who has led them to victory by sufferings; subduing the proud arm of flesh, and bringing all nations to an acknowledgment of his just and wonderful power. The nations had been early invited to worship in the name of Christ; they had forsaken their ancient idolatry, and had come to his courts : but the temple was shut; there was none to teach them the truth as “it is in Jesus.” A great part of the nations, who have been turned from their idols, through the operation either of the Papal or Mahometan religions, do not even now worship in truth. But when the final vengeance upon the beast and false prophet, which is here promised, shall be completed, the temple will be opened, and the nations shall “worship in the beauty of holiness,” “ with an holy worship. This seems to be the reason, why the nations are introduced in this song, (v. 4); and for this cause I prefer the reading éovwv, before that of aw
in this verse. It seems supported also by the best authorities.
Ver. 5. The temple of the tabernacle of the testimony.] The holy place, the local habitation of the Almighty, was thus called. (Num. i. 50, 53.) There the cloud and the glory appeared, when the Lord was wroth with the congregation. (Num. xvii. 42.)
1 Compare Ps. lxxxvi. 8, 9, 10.
2 See also Jer. x. 7.
Ver. 6. Clothed in pure resplendent linen.] “ fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.” (Ch. xix. 8.) The external habit agrees with the internal purity; the angels have the same kind of raiment as their Lord. (Ch. i. 14.)
Ver. 7. One of the four living creatures.] See note, ch. iv. 6. The vials of the wrath of God are given to the angels by one of those ministering spirits nearest the throne ; by the cherubim ; which implies, that they come immediately from the divine presence.
Ver. 8. The temple was filled with smoke.] The presence of God, especially when he is wroth, is commonly represented as such. (Is. vi. 4; Ex. xix. 13, &c.) And at the dedication of the first temple, when the presence of the Lord, “as a cloud, had filled the house of God,” the priests could not stand to minister. (2 Chron. v. 13, 14.)
The seven Vials poured out.
Ch. xvi. ver. 2, to the end. 2 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.
3 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.
4 And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
5 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 :
6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink ; for they are worthy.
7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
8 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
9 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.
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.
11 And blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried
of the kings of the east might be prepared.
13 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.
14 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.
15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they shall see his shame.
16 And he gathered them together into a place, called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon.
17 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.
'18 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.
19 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.