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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 up, that the way 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.
20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
21 And there fell upon the 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.
To assist us in avoiding the errors of many commentators, in the investigation of this prophecy, it will be useful for us to consider :-First. The form and description of the vial, as collected from scriptural authority, with the action of pouring forth from it, and also its contents. Secondly. What description of persons are, in the instance now before us, the objects of this divine vengeance? Thirdly. At what time does the operation of the vials, as here described, begin; and at what period will it probably be closed?
1. The piaλn, or, as we write it, vial, was a basin, bowl, or cup, commonly used in the ancient Church to contain the offering of meal or of incense, standing before the altar of incense for that purpose. was also used to pour from, as in 1 Sam. x. 1.1 In these seven vials was deposited neither oil, meal, nor incense, but "the wrath of God." When delivered to the angels, they were "filled with the wrath of God." All conjecture, by Vitringa and others, whether fire, or any noxious liquor, was in the vials, is therefore needless: "they were full of the wrath of God."
When the terrible judgments of the offended God descend upon his enemies, they are said in scriptural language to be " poured out upon them." (See Zeph. iii. 8; and the same metaphor is thus applied
1 See Daubuz on Rev. v.; and Parkhurst's Greek Lexicon on the word φιαλη.
2 γέμουσας του θυμου του Θεου. xv. 7; xvi. 1.
by the three greater prophets in numerous instances, and in the book of Psalms throughout.)
2. The objects of the divine vengeance in the passage before us are the enemies of the Lamb and persecutors of his followers. Nothing can be more plain than this, though it has been so frequently mistaken. At the very first appearance of the seven angels, appointed to pour out the vials, songs of holy joy and thanksgiving break forth from the persecuted saints, whose perseverance in their faith and duty, supported by heavenly assistance, has gained to them the victory, knowing "to whom vengeance belongeth, and upon whom it will now fall." Under this assurance, that the time of retribution is come, they sing their EIVIKOV, their triumphant song of victory; and the pouring out of the vials confirms and fulfils, in every part of it, their well-founded expectations. The contents of every vial are seen to fall on the beast, his kingdom, and his followers, either by plain literal expression, or fair implication. It is not upon the race of men, much less upon the pure Christians, as some have imagined, but upon the antichristian men, that the vengeance of God is poured out. In the received translation, several instances occur, in which o Av0ρwо and rove Avoρwоvç are rendered in a general sense men, the article is unnoticed, which, being translated, shows that these are THE men of a particular description.
3. The pouring out of the vials cannot be dated from an earlier time than when the beast and his followers had succeeded in making war upon the saints, and in obtaining an extensive dominion in the world. It could not be before his rise from the sea in his renovated state, with his deadly wound cured, (ch. xiii. 1-3;) for it is under that reappearance
that he is permitted to make war upon the saints with success, (ch. xiii. 7;) and the vials being of an avenging character, retaliating upon the antichristian enemy the sufferings undergone by the faithful servants of Christ, this part of the warfare must necessarily be subsequent to the other. And it seems to begin with the voice of the seventh trumpet when it is declared, that the omnipotent "God has taken to himself his great power and dominion,— that the nations have been wrathful, but that now his wrath is come," (ch. xi. 15, ad fin.) From which account it seems probable that the vials, the executioners of this wrath, are to be dated from the time of the seventh trumpet which contains
Hence these two periods of the trumpets and the vials cannot synchronise in all their parts, as some commentators have imagined; much less can they relate to and predict the same events, as others have preposterously affirmed. In fact, though they both belong to the same antichristian warfare, yet the time for the operation of each is separate and distinct. The symbols under the trumpets represent the first period of the warfare, extending through many centuries, during which the beast and his followers, with his prime agent, the second beast or false prophet, made successful war upon the saints; those under the vials designate the latter period of this contest, when success is no longer permitted to the antichristians, and heavenly vengeance pursues them, through successive defeats and sufferings, to their final overthrow and destruction.
This separation of these two periods will be further confirmed by observing, that all the vials are comprehended in the little book of prophecy, (ch. x.) while all the trumpets, except the seventh and last,
are exhausted before the appearance of that book. The seventh trumpet does indeed appear to give birth to, and to comprehend, all the vials; for, at the sound of it, instantaneously the heavenly chorus proclaims that the success of the antichristian warfare is at an end, for "God has taken to himself his great power and dominion," (ch. xi. 15.) It is then that the vials of his wrath, hitherto withholden, begin to fall upon his enemies and these are said to be the seven last λnyai, or terrible visitations, on the beast and his followers, " for in them is filled up the wrath of God," (ch. xvi. 1.)
We may close these preliminary remarks by observing, that, as the symbols under the vials appear to be of a later date the greater part of them probably not yet fulfilled-we must hesitate in applying them to past events; and, when we acknowledge them to belong to times future, we should be diffident in foretelling the manner in which they shall be accomplished.
We may, under these restrictions, proceed to investigate the seven vials. And first, as they appear to have a strong resemblance or analogy to the seven trumpets, it may be useful to consider the following parallels :