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A Study of
The Last Prophetic Book
of Holy Scripture
by Clarence Larkin

The Seven Last Plagues or Vial Judgments.


Revelation 15:1.

"And I saw another SIGN in Heaven, great and marvellous, SEVEN ANGELS having the 'SEVEN LAST PLAGUES'; for in them is filled up the WRATH OF GOD."

This is another "SIGN" or "Wonder." It was great and marvellous, because it "FILLED UP THE WRATH OF GOD," that is, it completed the pouring out of the accumulated "WRATH OF GOD."



Revelation 15:2-4.

"And I saw as it were a 'SEA OF GLASS' MINGLED WITH FIRE: and them that had gotten the victory over the Beast, and over his Image, and over his Mark, and over the NUMBER OF HIS NAME, stand on the SEA OF GLASS, having the Harps of God. And they sing the SONG OF MOSES the servant of God, and the SONG OF THE LAMB, saying, Great and Marvellous are Thy Works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy Ways, Thou King of Saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for thou only art holy! for all nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy judgments are made manifest."

This "SEA OF GLASS" is the same "Sea of Glass" that we saw before the Throne in chapter 4:6. Then it was unoccupied, now it is occupied. Then its surface was crystal clear and plain, now its surface is of a "fiery" aspect, symbolizing the "fiery trials" of its occupants. The occupants of this "Sea of Glass" come out of the Great Tribulation, for they have gotten the victory over the "Beast," and over his "Image," and over his Mark, and over the "Number of His Name," and they have harps, and they sing the "SONG OF MOSES" and the "SONG OF THE LAMB." They are the "Harpers" of chapter 14:2, whose song only the 144,000 "Sealed Ones" could sing. John only heard them then, now he sees them.

That they could sing both the "Song of Moses" and the "Song of the Lamb" implies that they were all or in part Israelites. Some think that the "Song of Moses" that they sung was the song the Children of Israel sang on the shore of the Red Sea after their escape from Egypt, as given in Ex. 15:1-22, while others think it is Moses' "SWAN SONG" as found in Deu. 31:19, 22; 31:30; 32:43. They sang the "Song of the Lamb" because as Israelites they had been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.


Revelation 15:5-8.

"And after that I looked, and behold, the Temple of the 'TABERNACLE OF TESTIMONY' in Heaven was opened: and the 'Seven Angels' came out of the Temple, having the 'SEVEN PLAGUES,' clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with Golden Girdles. And one of the 'Four Beasts' gave unto the 'Seven Angels' 'SEVEN GOLDEN VIALS' full of the 'WRATH OF GOD,' who liveth for ever and ever. And the Temple was filled with smoke from the Glory of God, and from His Power: and no man was able to enter into the Temple, till the 'SEVEN PLAGUES' of the 'Seven Angels' were fulfilled."

Here again we see the Heavenly Temple. The "Seven Angels" that come out of it are clothed in priestly garments, and the "Golden Vials" that they carry were given them by one of the "Beasts" or Living Creatures, which one is not mentioned, and when he gave them to them the Heavenly Temple was filled with smoke. When the Tabernacle was finished by Moses, and the Temple by Solomon, there was a "cloud," the "Shekinah Glory," but no smoke. Ex. 40:34-36. 1. Kings 8:10-11. The "cloud" means GRACE, the "smoke" means JUDGMENT. Isa. 6:14. Ex. 19:18.


Revelation 16:1-2.

"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. 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."

These "VIALS" and their contents are LITERAL. One cannot imagine that such momentous things as are here described refer to historical events that are already past, as when some interpret the "First Vial" as the French Revolution in A. D. 1792, and the "sores" its infidelity; and the "Second Vial" as the naval wars of that Revolution; the "Third Vial" as the battles of Napoleon in Italy, and the rest of the Vials as historical events that happened in the Nineteenth Century. If this be true then we have been passing in the past 125 years through the period of the Great Tribulation without knowing it, and have been preaching "Grace" and not that "THE HOUR OF HIS JUDGMENT IS COME."

This is supposition and not EXPOSITION, and requires the reader of the Book of Revelation to be versed in all the historical events of the Christian Era. No, these "Vial Judgments" are yet future, and will be literally fulfilled as here described, and this gives us the "KEY" to the LITERALNESS of the whole Book of Revelation. That these "Vial Judgments" are not figurative is clear from the fact that 4 of the 7 have actually happened before. They are simply repetitions of the "PLAGUES OF EGYPT." See the "Chart on the " and the "Egyptian Plagues" compared. This Plague of a "NOISOME AND GRIEVOUS SORE" that shall fall upon men, is a repetition of the "Plague of Boils" that fell upon the Egyptians at the time of the Exodus. Ex. 9:8-12. The "First Vial Judgment" then will be a repetition of the "Sixth Egyptian Plague." That that Plague actually happened no believer in the Bible doubts, then why should we try to explain away the literalness of the Plagues that shall follow the pouring out of each of these Vials.

Boils are caused by bad blood, and reveal corruption in the system. These "grievous sores" which will come upon MEN ONLY, and not upon the beasts also as in the time of Moses, will not only reveal corruption in the body, but in the heart of those whose sins will cause corruption in their bodies. That these "sores" are reserved for those who have the "MARK OF THE BEAST," and who worship his IMAGE is further proof that these "Vial Judgments" are still future. Here is the fulfillment of Rev. 14:9-11.

The effect of the Plague of Boils upon the Egyptians was to harden their hearts, and a like effect will be produced upon the followers of Antichrist by the Plagues that shall follow the pouring out of the "Vials," for we read in verse 9, that men will blaspheme God, and refuse to repent. From this we see that suffering alone does not lead to repentance.

The Seven Vials and the Egyptian Plagues Compared
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(Blood On the Sea.)

Revelation 16:3.

"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."

We saw that at the sounding of the "Second Trumpet," that the third part of the sea became blood, and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. Rev. 8:8-9. Here the whole of the sea is affected. This may mean only the Sea of Galilee, or the Mediterranean Sea, and not the oceans of the earth. It does not follow that this blood is that of men. It may be only of the living creatures that are in the sea. We know that the word "soul" implies "self conscious life," and this is common to all animal life. The blood is certainly not the blood of sailors and marines caused by some great naval battle. The inference is that the creatures in the sea died, not because of the loss of their own blood, but because the waters of the sea became "AS the blood of a dead man"– that is, corrupt.

(Blood On the Rivers.)

Revelation 16:4-7.

"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."

This is a repetition of the "First Egyptian Plague." Ex. 7:19-24. When the waters of Egypt were turned into blood all the fish died, but here nothing is said about the inhabitants of the rivers and ponds. Then John heard the "Angel of the Waters" say--"Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shall 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," or deserve it. As a confirmation of the saying of the "Angel of the Waters," John heard another voice come from the Altar, saying, "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Thy Judgments." Those will be awful times when there will be nothing but BLOOD to quench the thirst. The expression "Angel of the Waters," reveals the fact that even certain divisions of nature are controlled by angels.

(Great Heat.)

Revelation 16:8-9.

"And the 'Fourth Angel' poured out his Vial UPON THE SUN; and power was given unto him (the Sun) 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."

Under the "Fourth Trumpet" the third part of the Sun was smitten, and the third part of the Moon and 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. Rev. 8:12. But it was only the light that was diminished, nothing is said about the heat of the Sun. This "Fourth Vial" is therefore not a recurrence of the "Fourth Trumpet." Here the heat of the Sun is intensified, and so great is the heat that men are scorched by it. How this will be done it is useless to conjecture. It is the time spoken of by Malachi. "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 Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch"; and the time is located as just before the "SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS" shall arise with healing in His wings. Mal. 4:1-2. The effect of this Plague will be not to make men repent, but to cause them to blaspheme the name of God. Blessed will those people be who do not live to see that day.


Revelation 16:10-11.

"And the 'Fifth Angel' poured out his Vial upon the SEAT (Throne) 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."

Here we have a repetition of the "Ninth Egyptian Plague," that of DARKNESS. Ex. 10:21-23. This is the "day" spoken of by Joel. "A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness." Joel 2:1-2. Christ speaks of it in Mark 13:24, as the time when "the Sun shall be darkened, and the Moon shall not give her light."

Notice that this Plague immediately follows the Plague of "Scorching Heat," as if God in mercy would hide the Sun whose rays had been so hard to bear. The effect of the darkness was to make men gnaw their tongues for PAIN and for their SORES, showing that these Plagues overlapped each other, or followed in such rapid order that they were not over the sufferings of one before they were suffering from another, and that they were limited to a short period of a few months, and not distributed over a period of years as the Historical School of interpretation claims.

The notable feature is, that their sufferings brought no repentance, but caused them to blaspheme the God of Heaven. Some talk of conversion in Hell, and of the ultimate restoration of the wicked, but it is not revealed here. If Hell's torments will cause men to repent, why do not the torments of those under these plagues lead to repentance? No, it only causes them to blaspheme the more, and while sin and impenitence last, Hell lasts. This Plague extends over the whole Kingdom of the Beast.

(The Euphrates Dried Up.)

Revelation 16:12.

"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."

This means the literal river Euphrates. The other Plagues will be real, and why does not this mean the drying up of the real Euphrates River. The opening up of a dry passage through the Red Sea that the Children of Israel might escape from Egypt, and the parting of the waters of the River Jordan that they might pass over into the Land of Canaan, are facts of history, why then shall not the River Euphrates be dried up that the Kings of the East and their armies may cross over and assemble for the Battle of Armageddon? The prophecy in Isa. 11:15-16, where "the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian Sea (Red Sea), and . . . shake His hand over the River (Euphrates) and smite its seven streams, so men can go over 'DRY SHOD'," refers to this time. The Kings shall journey East from Africa, and West from Asia that they may meet in Palestine for the "Battle of Armageddon." The drying up of the Euphrates will serve a twofold purpose. It will permit the remnant of Israel from Assyria to return, and also allow the nations of the far East to be gathered for the "Judgment of Nations." Matt. 25:31-46.



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