The previous two ministudies covered prophesied events leading up to and including the first six trumpet plagues of the "Day of the Lord." This concluding study of the most eventful year of earth's history focuses on the final punishments God must bring upon a world that refuses to heed the chastisement of its loving Creator.
1. After the six trumpet plagues of God have exacted their toll upon the earth, will most of rebellious, hard-to convince mankind remain unrepentant? Rev. 9:20-21.
2. But even during these plagues will God continue to plead with men to turn from their evil ways? Rev.11:3-6. Notice that the "two witnesses" are given spiritual protection as they deliver God's last warnings to all the earth.
3. Once the mission of the two witnesses accomplished, will God allow the "beast" (the government of the final resurrection of the Roman Empire) to kill them? Verse 7. Where will their dead bodies be displayed? Verse 8. What will be the reaction of the world, especially of the people in the nations that will then be united under the Beast, when God's two witnesses are finally put to death? Verses 9-10.
4. What will God, who has the power over life and death, do for the two dead witnesses? Verses 11-12. Do some at this time begin to acknowledge God and give glory to Him? Verse 13. Do these events clearly take place at the end of the second woe, or sixth trumpet? Verse 14.
5. What happens when the seventh trumpet sounds and the third woe begins? Verse 15. Is this clearly the time of Christ's Second Coming to take over the governments of the world and to establish the Kingdom of God on earth? Same verse.
We saw that, following hard on the heels of the first four trumpet plagues, warfare will rage. Hundreds of millions will die. Mankind will now be facing cosmocide — annihilation of the human race.
And so it is when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet that mankind will be saved from extinction by the return of Jesus Christ to intervene in the titanic war that will be raging on earth – the war that would otherwise lead to the destruction of all life.
6. But what is the reaction of rebellious mankind at this time? Verse 18, first five words.
Jesus Christ, the new ruler of the world, will not be meekly accepted by the power-crazed nations already engaged in an all-out struggle for world domination. Men have never wanted God's rule — even though it is the only way to peace, happiness and joy. And so the nations are found angry at Christ's return.
7. What else occurs at the blowing of the seventh and last trumpet? Verses 14, 18. Notice the words "Thy wrath is come" in verse 18.
The only thing described at the blowing of the seventh trumpet that could possibly be the third woe is the wrath of God. But all the trumpets have been plagues, pouring out the wrath of God — His punishments to bring this hell-bent world to its senses and to God. We will see that the seventh trumpet actually completes God's wrath.
8. Exactly what "fills up" or completes the wrath of God? Rev. 15:1. Are these plagues to be poured out in Christ's presence on earth? Rev. 11:15, 14:10.
All of the preceding six trumpets have heralded the unleashing of different types of grievous plagues upon this rebellious world. But notice that the seventh and last trumpet completes this wrath by ushering in the terrifying seven last plagues.
Just as the seventh seal is subdivided into the seven trumpets, so the seventh trumpet is divided into the seven last plagues, which are and constitute the seventh trumpet or third woe. Thus the seven last plagues are also a part of the seventh seal.
And the seven last plagues are poured out at Christ's coming — actually in the very presence of Jesus Christ and all the holy angels – immediately after He returns to save humanity from extinction in the warfare that constitutes the second woe.
9. Are these final plagues of wrath compared to "vials" about to be poured out? Rev. 15:7. On what are they poured out? Rev. 16:1. Read the rest of this chapter to get the story flow.
10. Will these plagues be poured out in one day? Rev. 18:8.
This scripture indicates that all seven vials will be poured out in one 24-hour day. This day is the climactic part of the much longer "Day of the Lord" that will have begun with the seventh seal (Rev. 8:1) ushering in the seven consecutive trumpet plagues.
And it will be during this one day that the great false church — " Babylon the Great" (Rev. 17:5) that directed the Beast's empire — will be utterly destroyed.
11. Upon whom does the first vial cause excruciating sores? Rev. 16:2.
It will be poured upon all who are participating in this world's pagan civil-religious system.
12. What will the second and third of these plagues do? Rev.16:3-4. How just and righteous are these punishments of God upon mankind? Verses 5-7.
13. What great plague is produced as the fourth angel pours out his vial? Rev. 16:8. Does the Bible indicate how intense God will cause the light of the sun to become for a short time? Isa. 30:26. Will many repent as a result of this grievous plague, or will men curse God and continue to defy Him? Rev. 16:9.
14. What cumulative effect will all the plagues of God have on the earth's population? Isa. 24:6. Will comparatively few people be left at the start of Christ's rule? Same verse.
Note particularly that not all people will die. Millions will still be left alive. The Bible indicates that one tenth of the earth's population will survive (Amos 5:3, Isa. 6:13). With these as His subjects, Christ will begin His rule on earth.
15. What is the reason God must punish mankind so severely? Isa. 24:5.
Sin — disobedience to God's laws (I John 3:4) — is the cause of all human suffering and woe. The world is in reality bringing this wrath upon itself by having lived in sin. And so, as pointed out before, our loving Creator will have to punish the world severely to bring it to its senses and to humble it so men will be teachable — to prepare them for repentance and obedience to God's government. Yet, in spite of the severity of the fourth plague, most still will not repent.
16. What happens throughout the kingdom of the Beast after the fifth angel empties his vial on the Beast's headquarters? Rev. 16:10. Will this plague finally compel people to repent of their evil deeds and submit to Christ? Rev. 16:11.
God's Word clearly shows that the earth's inhabitants will refuse to yield to Christ's authority when He returns. That is why Jesus Christ will have to powerfully subdue the world and force mankind, at first, to submit to His rule. It is amazing to see just how this world will react to the glorious Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
17. Will the pouring out of the sixth vial begin preparations for the greatest battle in all human history? Rev. 16:12-16. Will Christ righteously judge and make war against these defiant men? Rev. 19:11, Isa. 11:4.
In a previous study we learned about the gathering of earth's armies at Armageddon and their subsequent march upon Jerusalem to fight Jesus Christ, only to be utterly defeated by the King of kings and His angelic host.
18. Will the earth be violently shaken by the mightiest earthquake ever to occur when the seventh and last plague is poured out? Rev. 16:17-18. Will even the islands of the sea be moved? Verse 20.
Many islands, being dormant volcanic cones, will literally blow up and disappear as this final plague is unleashed.
The Day of the Lord is often described as a time of thick darkness and clouds (Zeph. 1:14-15). Just imagine what the smoke and ash from hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of erupting volcanoes can do to obscure the light of the sun.
19. Will part of God's final punishment of men be with gigantic hailstones? Rev. 16:21.
The weight of each hailstone will be about a talent — in excess of 100 pounds! Can you imagine the tremendous destruction this storm will cause on earth?
20. Will the nations of the earth finally begin to seek God and ask Him to teach them His ways? Isa. 2:1-4.
At last worldwide peace, security and happiness will be ushered in by the righteous rule of Jesus Christ, for the law of God will go out to all nations from Jerusalem during the Millennium.
In the meantime, the nations of this world have yet to suffer enormously and be humbled before they will finally acknowledge the true God, and before they will turn wholeheartedly to Him. But individually, each of us can receive God's divine protection during these prophesied worldwide catastrophes.
If we stay close to God and do our part in furthering the Work of God's Church in this end time, He promises to deliver us from this terrifying time (Rev. 3:10, 12:14-16).