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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Spring Edition, 2015

Understanding The Seven Vials Of Wrath (Part 4)

The Fourth Vial Of Wrath Out Poured (Revelation 16:8-9)

“And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given 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.”

1. This fourth vial of wrath in Revelation 16:8-9 stands in marked contrast to the event of the fourth trumpet sounding in 8:12, which reads: “And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.”

2. The contrast here is between night and day. The fourth trumpet sounding of Revelation 8:12 is describing the apocalyptic end of the old covenant economy at the beginning of the Christian era 2,000 years ago. The “third part” which is being affected here is the nation of Israel, whose creation and sustenance was dispensationally-tied to the covenant of Mt. Sinai---the “‘old covenant” that was forever done away with in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

3. For the significance of Israel as “the third part” in Old Testament prophecy, and how that was fulfilled in the new covenant age, please read Isaiah 19:24-25 (cf. with Rom. 11:32; 15:8-12; Gal. 3:26-29; Eph. 2:11-22); Ezekiel 5:1-2, 12; and Zechariah 13:8-9 (cf.with Matt. 3:7-12). The third part of Israel was sifted by Jesus Christ at the time of His First Advent; those who did not endure this sifting were consigned to the unquenchable fire of outer darkness according to Matthew 3:12 and 8:12.

4. Thus, in Revelation 8:12 the old covenant nation of Israel is seen vanishing completely away with the final abolition of the Jewish commonwealth by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 135 A.D. What has forever remained to the Jews since then has been spiritual darkness, symbolized by the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars in this text.

5. By contrast, in Revelation 16:8-9 we see Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness who has risen with healing in His wings as now universal judge of all mankind (Malachi 4:2). He now holds in His all-powerful hand the keys to all the issues of life and death, of light and darkness, and of all things past, present, and yet to come (Rev. 1:18).

6. Malachi 4:1 is background for this fourth vial of universal and abiding wrath on fallen mankind described in Revelation 16:8:9. Listen to what the last of the Old Testament writers said: “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of host, that it shall leave then neither root nor branch.”

7. The “day” that Malachi spoke of is now residual in the Living Christ. Jesus, Light of the World, can never sunset. That Sun now heals or burns us, the outcome is ours.

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Understanding The Fifth Vial Of Wrath