THE REAL SEVEN PLAGUES
It is impossible to gain an understanding of prophecy without having a good understanding of history.
The book of Revelation is the prime example of this.
In Isa 46:9-10 God says "I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done".
This applies to the history of the Church as outlined mainly in Rev 2, 3, 7, 12 and 14. It applies to the history of Jerusalem and the Jews as outlined mainly in Rev 5 to 11. It also applies to the history of the powers that have opposed God's people, known collectively in Scripture as the "Beast", as found mainly in Rev 13 and 15 to 18.
The seven plagues were to be poured out on the Beast powers that ruled the "earth" of God's Holy Land (Rev 16:2), because of their crimes against Jerusalem and God's people. God is protective of His city and people, and He says "vengeance is mine" (Dt 32:35). The plagues, or curses, are called "last plagues" in Rev 15:1 because at the time of writing, five of the heads of the Beast had already come and gone (Rev 17:10). These previous five heads had obviously already suffered God's plagues at the time that they ruled over Jerusalem. It was the final powers that ruled Jerusalem that were to incur the last seven plagues.
Crucial to understanding the seven plagues, is having an understanding of the seven trumpets of the seventh seal, because they are directly related to each other. The first three trumpets involved the sixth head of the Beast, Rome, and so consequently the first three plagues were poured out on the Romans.
Later, Jerusalem was conquered by the seventh head of the Beast, Islam, and so in turn its people were hit with curses (the fourth plague). Islam's rule of Jerusalem was interrupted by the eighth head of the Beast, i.e. Roman Catholicism/Christianity, and likewise it was enormously plagued (the fifth plague).
The seven plagues concluded in the 20th century with the demise of the seventh head of the Beast (the sixth plague), and shortly afterwards, the demise of the eighth head of the Beast (the seventh plague), bringing "the times of the Gentiles" (Lk 21:24) to an end.
We will see that, just as the seven trumpets of the seventh seal have a logical progression through history, so do the seven plagues.
Let's look at Revelation 15 and 16.
Rev 15:1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God (on the Beast powers) is complete.
2 And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name (see "REVELATION 13 - THE BEAST" for an explanation of these terms), standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God (a vision of the yet future resurrected firstfruits, much like Rev 7 and 14).
3 They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!
4 Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.”
5 After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.
6 And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands.
7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.
8 The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed (no one will be resurrected and enter God's Kingdom until the seven plagues have been poured out).
Rev 16:1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth" (on those who occupy and defile the "earth" of Israel).
The First Plague - Rev 16:2
Curses on the pagan Roman Empire, the sixth head of the Beast
2 So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth (upon the Romans, who defiled the "earth" of Israel) and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark (i.e. transgressed God's law, specifically the Sabbath) of the beast (the pagan powers treading down Jerusalem) and those who worshiped his image (they loved the characteristics of Satan displayed in the empire, and worshipped the emperor).
The Romans, under (then) General Titus, destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple in 70AD. In 79AD Titus became Roman Emperor and ruled for just over two years. During this brief reign, a catastrophe occurred that is still spoken of and written about today. Only two months after Titus took charge, Mt Vesuvius, just south of Rome, erupted in one of the most violent and destructive volcano eruptions in history. Two cities, Pompeii and Herculaneum, were destroyed with great loss of life. Rome itself was covered in ash and darkness, and according to Roman historian Cassius Dio, the poisonous ash led to an outbreak of pestilence (Book 66:22-23). The following year, while Titus visited the devastated region around Pompeii, a fire broke out in Rome which burned for three days and destroyed many pagan temples and other significant structures. This event was also followed by pestilence, the whole disaster earning Cassius Dio's comment that it "seemed to be not of human but of divine origin" (Book 66:24).
Roman historian Suetonius also recorded these events in his account of Titus in "The Twelve Caesars": "There were some dreadful disasters during his reign, such as the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Campania, a fire at Rome which continued three days and as many nights, and a plague the like of which had hardly ever been known before" (Life of Titus 8:3).
This was only the beginning of a long, painful journey. As time went on, many more pestilences hit the pagan Roman Empire. Two of the most notable were the Antonine Plague (165-180AD) and the Cyprian Plague (251-266AD).
The Second Plague - Rev 16:3
The demise of the pagan Roman Empire
3 Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea (Rome, the "sea" (Rev 17:15) that ruled over the "earth" of Israel), and it became blood as of a dead man (its people and armies, weakened by repeated pestilences and continual warfare, were gradually defeated and overrun by foreign invaders); and every living creature in the sea died (when the Roman Empire officially became "Christian", paganism was outlawed and pagan Rome ceased to exist).
Pagan Rome destroyed Jerusalem. Over time, God destroyed pagan Rome. The demise was brought about in stages:
Firstly, in the early fourth century, Emperor Constantine moved the seat of government of the Roman Empire to Constantinople. This included the Senate and the entire bureaucracy. Rome had been the centre of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire for some 800 years. It had ruled Jerusalem for well over 300 years. Removing its place of leadership was a great humiliation. Rome didn't rule Jerusalem again until 1099, when the First Crusade, inspired by the independent Papacy in Rome, captured the city from the Muslims and made Roman Catholicism/Christianity the eighth head of the Beast (Rev 17:11).
Secondly, Constantine, who had adopted the "Christian" religion, initiated laws against paganism. Over time, successive emperors made more and more stringent edicts outlawing pagan practices, and in 380AD Emperor Theodosius made Christianity the state religion. The Wikipedia article "Persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire" states that "In the year 391, Valentinian II issued a law that prohibited sacrifices and that forbade anyone from visiting the temples. A later law of Valentinian II declared that pagan temples were to be closed; this was viewed as practically outlawing paganism". Making sacrifices to idols became punishable by death, and so the state religion that had for so long forced people to worship it and its emperors, itself became the target of persecution.
Thirdly, after a long and gradual decline, Rome as a city was captured in 410AD by the Visigoths. Over the course of centuries of intermittent warfare, the strength of the Roman armies had been steadily depleted, and its territorial possessions slowly diminished. Pestilences had also weakened the armed forces, as described below.
The following quote is from the website www.ancient.eu:
"The Antonine Plague, sometimes referred to as the Plague of Galen, erupted in 165 CE, at the height of Roman power throughout the Mediterranean world during the reign of the last of the Five Good Emperors, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (161-180 CE). The first phase of the outbreak would last until 180 CE affecting the entirety of the Roman Empire, while a second outbreak occurred in 251-266 CE, compounding the effects of the earlier outbreak. It has been suggested by some historians that the plague represents a useful starting point for understanding the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire in the West, but also the underpinning to its ultimate fall".
After centuries of decline and social breakdown, Rome was no longer able to repel the various tribes that opposed and surrounded it. Invaders included the Visigoths, the Ostrogoths, the Vandals, the Huns and the Franks. 476 AD is often quoted for the final fall of the Western Roman Empire.
In the middle of the sixth century, Emperor Justinian reincorporated Rome into the Roman Empire which, however, continued to be run from Constantinople in the East. Over time, Rome reared its head again and became the spiritual centre of Catholicism, but it never regained its position as the mighty pagan military power it had been for so many centuries.
The Third Plague - Rev 16:4-7
Curses on the Christian Roman Empire, based in Constantinople
4 Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water (polluted by false Christianity) and they became blood (those who caused the pollution were themselves cursed).
5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying: “You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have judged these things.
6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets (Jews and Christians), and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.”
7 And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”
Israel, the land of the "living waters", had been polluted by the bitter waters of false Christianity from the time of Constantine the Great, as described on the page "THE HISTORICAL SEVENTH SEAL". Jews and true Christians became targets of the false Christian empire. God returned the favour by cursing the Roman Empire with a litany of wars and pestilences.
In the first two centuries of the "Christian" Roman Empire, wars were fought with the Persians, Germans, Huns and Goths, amongst others, as well as numerous civil wars. From around 500AD, more than 200 (!) wars, battles and sieges were fought by the Empire, until Constantinople fell to the Muslims in 1453. See a list with links to all these conflicts here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Byzantine_battles.
One of the most zealous proponents and legislators of false Christian doctrine was Emperor Justinian (ruled 527-565AD). Not surprisingly, the pestilence which arose during his reign, the aptly named Justinian Plague, which first struck the Empire in 541AD, is regarded as one of the most devastating plagues of all time. It saw repeated outbreaks over the following two centuries, wiping out an estimated one third of Europe's population.
The Fourth Plague - Rev 16:8-9
Curses on Mecca/Medina, i.e. Islam, the seventh head of the Beast
8 Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men (judge them) with fire.
9 And men were scorched with great heat (various curses), and (because) they blasphemed the name of God (wilfully spoke against the true God) who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent (of their false religion) and give Him glory.
The seventh head of the Beast, Islam, conquered Jerusalem in 638AD causing the darkness of a totally false religion to shroud the Holy City for the duration of its reign (see "THE HISTORICAL SEVENTH SEAL").
As Islam blocked out the light that was meant to emanate from the city of God, symbolised by the sun, it in turn was on the receiving end of the burning wrath of God.
Continual warfare between the various adherents of Islam is implied by the way in which Scripture presents the seventh head of the Beast to us. In the statue of Daniel 2, the power that constitutes the fourth beast of Daniel 7 is portrayed as consisting of iron and clay. This shows a people who are in disharmony amongst themselves. In Daniel 7 this beast is also shown to have a head and ten horns. As history shows, warfare among the various ethnicities and factions within Islam lead to a steady rotation of ten ruling dynasties over Jerusalem. As we still see today, Islam spends more time at war with itself than it does with outsiders.
The first recorded occurrence of pestilence in Islamic records is the Plague of Amwas (Emmaus). In early 639AD this plague struck Muslim forces camped in the town of Emmaus, just outside of Jerusalem (Lk 24:13), killing about 25000 men. It struck only months after the Muslims had seized Jerusalem from the Roman Empire.
It is inescapable that the curse found in Zech 12:2-3 and elsewhere is administered by the living God: "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it".
Various forms of pestilence recurred all across the Islamic world for centuries, as detailed in this in-depth study: https://www.jstor.org/stable/600071?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents
Over time, the outbreaks only became worse. See this quote from Wikipedia: "Plague was present in at least one location in the Islamic world virtually every year between 1500 and 1850. Plague repeatedly struck the cities of North Africa. Algiers lost 30,000–50,000 inhabitants to it in 1620–1621, and again (was struck) in 1654–1657, 1665, 1691, and 1740–1742. Cairo suffered more than fifty plague epidemics within 150 years from the plague's first appearance, with the final outbreak of the second pandemic there in the 1840's. Plague remained a major event in Ottoman society until the second quarter of the 19th century. Between 1701 and 1750, thirty-seven larger and smaller epidemics were recorded in Constantinople (by this time in Ottoman hands), and an additional thirty-one between 1751 and 1800. Baghdad has suffered severely from visitations of the plague.... (article "Black Death")".
The statement in Rev 16:9 that reads "they blasphemed the name of God" and "did not repent" is worth elaboration. Abraham's son Ishmail was prophesied to be a "wild man"; no doubt his descendants, who began the religion of Islam, are included in this prophecy. Gen 16:12 says "He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him." This hotheaded temperament is a very fitting description of the Arabic peoples.
Islam sprang from a people aggrieved over their lot as stated in God's word. To counter this, the Scriptures were rejected and a new narrative was spun where the favoured line of descent from Abraham supposedly ran through Ishmail, not through Isaac as the Bible records. It is through this gross dishonesty that they blaspheme the name of God.
Referring to the Bible, the Koran frequently mentions "the book" and "the people of the book", so they know what they are arguing against. Honesty is central to God's perfect character; it is the only way that brings happiness. Societies that have thrived have been ones where honesty, both in word and deed, has been highly valued and applied. Alas, this is not the way with Islam, and this is reflected in its peoples and the wretchedness of the countries where this religion is widely practised.
The Fifth Plague - Rev 16:10-11
Curses on Catholic/Christian Rome, the "little horn" and eighth head of the Beast
10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast (Rome, where the Papacy, i.e. the "mouth" of Dan 7:8 and Rev 13:5, resided), and his kingdom became full of darkness (the "Dark Ages" filled with warfare and pestilence); and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.
11 They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
After Roman Catholicism/Christianity became an independent power in the seventh century, and later became the eighth head of the Beast, the curses of bloodshed and pestilence were poured out on it throughout some of the darkest years of mankind, from the endless wars fought on the Iberian Peninsula, and the Crusades fought over Jerusalem, to the bloody wars following on from the Reformation. Curse upon curse.
The Roman Empire, led from Constantinople rather than Rome since the time of Constantine, lost control of Jerusalem to the Muslims in 638AD. Rome however, stood back on its feet, this time as a spiritual empire, led by the Papacy. When the Crusaders, at the behest of the Papacy, conquered Jerusalem in 1099, Rome became the head of the Beast once again. This was the "eighth" head (Rev 17:11), which was in fact a continuation of the sixth head.
From here on the Papacy/false Christianity launched into the period of the Inquisitions, perhaps the bloodiest chapter in man's dark history.
Rev 18:6 however, states "Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her".
In the Church era message to Thyatira, "Jezebel" was warned that she would be thrown into a sick bed if she did not repent, as described on the page "THE TRUE CHURCH ERAS". As she did not repent, the greatest plague in man's history, the Black Death, was poured out on this power.
Below is a quote from Wikipedia:
"The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe's population. In total, the plague may have reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million to 350–375 million in the 14th century. It took 200 years for the world population to recover to its previous level. The plague recurred as outbreaks in Europe until the 19th century." (Article "Black Death")
The Encyclopaedia Britannica says:
The date 1351 for the completion of this devastation is very interesting. This plague was prophesied to strike the "seat" or "throne of the Beast" as stated in Rev 16:10. Southern Europe, where the Papacy resides, was struck the hardest. As outlined on the page "THE TWO WITNESSES", the Papacy gained its independence from Constantinople in 686AD, marking the first of its 1260 years of power as described in Dan 7:25 and Rev 13:5. This was the first year of the rule of a Pope (John V) who was chosen and installed without approval of the Emperor. It was at this point that the Papacy became the "little horn" of Dan 7:8 and 20. Rev 13:18 informs us that the number of the office of the "man of sin", the Papacy, is 666. If we count 666 inclusive years (counting the first and the last year) from 686AD, we come to 1351, the final year of the Black Death in Europe which left that continent devastated. I'm not saying, however, that this is the main explanation of the number 666. That explanation can be found on the page "REVELATION 13 - THE BEAST".
The Sixth Plague - Rev 16:12-16
World War I, ending the rule of the seventh head of the Beast over Jerusalem
12 Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates (on Ottoman Turkey, which at the time of WW1 ruled over the Holy Land. The Euphrates emanates from Turkey, and is symbolic of its power), and its water was dried up (the Ottoman Empire was defeated, and its rule over Jerusalem came to an end), so that the way of the kings from the east (the Russians) might be prepared (the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WW1 ended centuries of warfare between it and Russia, freeing the latter to focus its full attention on Germany in the subsequent war, i.e. WW2. The Russian Revolution in 1917 gave rise to the brutal dictatorships of Lenin and Stalin, and the formation of the Soviet Union. Stalin was instrumental in the defeat of Nazi Germany and the liberation of the Jews in 1945).
13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon (Satan), out of the mouth of the beast (the nations that Satan raised up to fight over, and conquer, Jerusalem and the Jews. At this particular time, the final "horn" (the Ottoman Empire) of the seventh head of the Beast (Islam) controlled Jerusalem), and out of the mouth of the false prophet (the leadership of false Christianity, i.e. the Papacy).
14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty ("the Great War", i.e. WWI. The total number of casualties exceeded 20 million).
15 “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (This verse reveals the timing of these events. Its language is similar to that found in the final Church era message, showing it to be during the Laodicean era. It also shows that as late as the time of this sixth plague, Christ has not yet returned).
16 And they (the demons) gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon (in September 1918 the decisive Battle of Megiddo was fought, which resulted in the comprehensive defeat of the Ottoman Empire by the British and their allies. As a note of interest, many of the Ottoman forces were led by German generals).
This period ended with the Spanish Influenza outbreak in 1918, which killed at least another 20 million people globally, mainly in Christian countries. So we see that the fifth plague, which had brought curses on the eighth head of the Beast, Roman Catholicism/false Christianity, resumed, as this power seized control of Jerusalem one last time.
The Seventh Plague - Rev 16:17-21
World War II, destroying the Beast powers, leading to the end of the rule of the eighth head of the Beast over Jerusalem
17 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
18 And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake (earth shattering event), such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men (Gentiles, the men incurring the seven plagues) were on the earth (World War II, the worst disaster ever on the Beast powers that occupied Jerusalem).
19 Now (at this time) the great city (Jerusalem) was divided into three parts (British, Jewish and Arab). And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath (the forces and many of the cities of the "Christian" nations, the eighth head of the Beast, were decimated, leading to a death toll that can still not be accurately determined, but is estimated at somewhere around 80 million people. The amount of pain and suffering endured by those who went through WWII is of such magnitude, it is beyond imagination).
20 Then every island (earth in the midst of the sea) fled away (Jews fled from living among Gentiles), and the mountains were not found (powers that once were, disappeared).
21 And great hail from heaven fell upon men (millions of tonnes of bombs were dropped from planes, ravaging the cities of Europe during WWII), each hailstone about the weight of a talent (the talent is said to be about 100 pound in weight. Industrial and strategic targets were bombed with much heavier bombs than that, but residential areas were targeted with lighter varieties, starting from 100 pounds. See chart: http://www.303rdbg.com/bombs.html). Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.
The devastation caused by World War II is beyond measure. The British, who occupied the Holy Land at that time, emerged technically as the victors, but for them it was somewhat of a Pyrrhic victory: their strength was spent, their empire was no more, their world standing was rapidly eroding, and their economy was all but destroyed. It has often been noted that Germany, the loser, recovered from WWII better and faster than Britain, the winner. This loss of power and status affected British overseas territories as well, and it was no surprise that Palestine was rapidly abandoned by them soon after the war. This of course was all according to God's plan, as fully covered on the page "THE TWO WITNESSES".
It must be noted that the entire "Christian" world was cursed by WWII. Germany, Italy, and the Allied countries that fought them, including Britain, the USA, Canada, Russia, Australia and New Zealand, were all nominally Christian. Almost an entire generation of young men was lost in this, the most severe of all the seven plagues poured out on the Beast powers.
As stated at the outset, God says that He declares the end from the beginning, and He has been true to His word. The Beast powers no longer rule Jerusalem, nor do they trample down the Jews. The statue of Daniel 2 has been crushed, but the curses on the final head of the Beast continue, as described on the page "BABYLON IS FALLEN". As I write, lawlessness, crime, and migration crises wrack the Western world. This is perfectly in line with the curses predicted to fall on the "Christian" nations in the latter days, as described in Rev 18.