THE SEVEN VIALS OF WRATH

PMT 2014-012 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Bowls of wrathIn Revelation 15 we have a vision of the saints in heaven just preceding the outpouring of the vials of wrath. Again, God is answering the saints’ prayers for vengeance in Revelation 6.

These vials bring increasing woe upon Israel (Rev 16). The Roman armies come with ease from the Euphrates: “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east” (Rev 16:12).

Josephus notes that behind Titus “there followed also three thousand, drawn from those that guarded the river Euphrates” (J.W. 5:1:6). Josephus points out that in the initial imperial engagement of the war, Vespasian adds to his legions: “a considerable number of auxiliaries got together, that came from the kings Antiochus, and Agrippa, and Sohemus, each of them contributing one thousand footmen that were archers, and a thousand horsemen. Malchus also, the king of Arabia, sent a thousand horsemen, besides five thousand footmen, the greatest part of whom were archers” (J.W. 3:4:2).


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The same holds true for the final stages of the war under Titus, beside “whom marched those auxiliaries that came from the kings, being now more in number than before, together with a considerable number that came to his assistance from Syria” (J.W. 5:1:6). So then, not only does Titus draw troops from the Euphrates in the east (J.W. 5:1:6), but Antiochus IV is the king of Commagene, and “Samoseta, the capital of Commagene, lies upon Euphrates” (J.W. 7:7:1).

In addition, Titus calls the tenth legion through Jericho (J.W. 5:1:6; 5:2:3), east of Jerusalem (cf. Jos 13:32; 16:1; 20:8). With the convergence of so many trained soldiers, Jerusalem divides into three bickering factions: “the great city was split into three parts” (Rev 16:19). Josephus (J.W. 5:1:1) writes: “It so happened that the sedition at Jerusalem was revived, and parted into three factions, and that one faction fought against the other.” Elsewhere Josephus designates the leaders of the faction by the names John, Eleazar, and Simon.

The Roman legions pummel the city with talent-weight stones, which appear as an enormous hail storm. John (Rev 16:21) describes this siege apocalypticaly: “Huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.”

Josephus records the historical event: “The catapults, that all the legions had ready prepared for them, were admirably contrived; but still more extraordinary ones belonged to the tenth legion: those that threw darts and those that threw stones, were more forcible and larger than the rest. . . . Now, the stones that were cast, were of the weight of a talent, and were carried two furlongs and further. . . . As for the Jews, they at first watched the coming of the stone, for it was of a white colour.” (J.W. 5:6:3).


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One thought on “THE SEVEN VIALS OF WRATH

  1. Tim January 28, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I am quite sure that dispensationalists would cry foul and say that this type of analysis has no basis. BUT firstly it is necessary to consider that Josephus apparently had no knowledge of the writings of John and The Apocalypse. Yet in several places his writings hauntingly seem to correspond with the prophecies of John. A truly seeking exegete of the Word should probably not dismiss this too hastily.

    The second point is that if a dispensationalist feels qualified to assail this analysis they should also present some plausible arguments of their own about these vials. But when reading many of their commentaires (I have read a bunch) it seems as though the standard answer from them is, “yeah, that is bunch of stuff that will happen after the rapture.” So it seems that prophetical passages that present difficulites are simply tossed into the future tribulation or future millennium rather than being exegetically analyzed and explained.

    Just a few thoughts from a very weak mind. I still have a lot more questions than I do answers.

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