This evening we’ll consider the fifth vertical column of the Seven Signs, namely the Seven Bowls of plagues, emptied out by Seven Angels. In all these weeks of discussing the Apocalypse I have not broached the topic of the very evident corollaries between the Book of Exodus and the Book of Revelation. The reason for this is that the theme of the Seven Sevens points to the great feast of Tabernacles, with its connection to the Day of Atonement, whereas the Exodus is connected to a different feast, namely Passover. Which feast are we supposed to focus on in the Apocalypse? The answer to that question is very profound: a transcendent triple feast, a new Passover, a new Pentecost, transforming the earth into a new Promised Land for the great feast of Tabernacles, God’s dwelling with mankind.
But we are celebrating the Passover of the Bride of Christ, her Sixth Day, her Good Friday. The head of the Bride-body is the Gebirah, the Woman in Labor of chapter 12, pursued by Satanic communism, the great red dragon who has been shedding blood all over the earth. The Church is in the process of a global martyrdom, to emulate her crucified Bridegroom and to fill up in her body his sufferings. Mary, the heavenly prophetess, has been appearing with the stigmata, sweating blood and weeping blood to show that She is uniting the recent generations of suffering into one offering, and joining that to the Blood of her Son to save souls who would otherwise be damned. [I’ve been unpacking these themes in the two corollary seminars on Mary’s Apparitions and “Beyond Consecration”].
When we look to the past at Calvary we can focus on one man, one event, one place, even though it is an infinite event that transcends time because the One who suffered was God. But when we look at the Calvary of the Bride of Christ, it’s a social body, moving through recent history, transcending borders, involving many persons, some holy, others less worthy. It’s a picture in motion that is necessarily blurred. We can only see it in Faith. But this Pasch of the Bride-Church will lead to a new Pentecost of blessings, a new coming of the Holy Spirit to convert entire nations. Only when these two feasts of the early and late spring have been accomplished by the Spirit and the Bride-Church, can all the nations finally celebrate the Feast of the Father, the greatest of the three solemn feasts of the Old Testament.
This evening we are going to examine the Seven Plagues in the context of the plagues of Egypt as the purification rite that had to be accomplished before the first Passover.
a) First Preparatory vision: The Tent of Meeting opens and vested angels emerge
And after these things I beheld, and the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened, and there came forth from the temple the seven angels who hold the seven plagues. They were clothed in linen pure and bright, and girt about the breasts with golden sashes. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls, full of the wrath of God, of Him who lives forever and ever.Rev Chapter 15 and following chapters
The Temple of stone is conflated with the tent tabernacle of the desert. In the heavenly liturgy it is the place where God dwells. Just before the Seven Signs John beheld:
God’s temple in heaven opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hailRev. 11:19
The lightening, voices and thunder have been the consistent “utterances” of the Three Persons of the Trinity, adored in the heavenly liturgy. Immediately before the Seven Plagues are poured out, John refers to the testimony. In the Old Testament one can find phrases like “tent of the testimony,” “ark of the testimony” and “tables of the testimony.” The “testimony” was the ten commandments carved by God and stored in the ark, and the ark was kept in the tent tabernacle [Ex 31:16-18]. The ten commandments had been given by Yahweh in the context of the ten plagues. Egypt had just been smitten for disobeying the natural moral laws carved in creation. As soon as the Israelites leave Egypt, Yahweh wants them to make a covenant, a solemn promise, to obey his laws.
In the preparatory first vision we see the angels of God emerging with plagues to smite the earth for its contempt of the laws of God. Who are these angels who emerge from the heavenly tabernacle? In the Old Testament liturgy laymen could enter certain courts, but only priests could enter the tabernacle. I would propose that these Seven Angels from the temple symbolize priests, even as the angels of the churches symbolized bishops of certain regions. We saw in chapter 4 that the twenty-four elders symbolized the whole body of priests. This group of seven seem to be priests, actively ministering in the heavenly temple, vested in gold and linen. In Revelation 1:13, John sees the Lord clothed in a long robe and ‘girt about the breasts with a golden sash.’ Likewise these angels are wearing linen robes like priests and ‘girt about the breasts with a golden sash.’ The sash of ordinary priests and that of the high-priest were girded there, and not round the loins (see Ezk 44:18). In point of fact, the sash was regarded as the most distinctive priestly vestment, worn only while ministering. This Old Testament garment may be said to correspond to the stole of the Catholic priesthood. The stole isn’t worn around the waist but it is the specific mark of holy orders, worn only while ministering, and during liturgies, with a long white robe. A gold stole is worn on solemnities. The sash-stoles are not purple, the color of mourning, or red, the color of blood.
The word angel in Hebrew means messenger, not necessarily a spirit-being. We identified the angels with trumpets as truly angelic beings, archangels. Each time a trumpet sounded the text mentioned the angel: “the first angel blew,” “the second angel blew,” but when emptying the golden bowls the angels are not mentioned, but only “the first poured”, “the second poured.” It seems odd that good, devout priests would be sent out to punish the people. But let’s look more closely. It is certainly the duty of a priest to deliver the word-message of God to the people. Faithful priests will warn the people from the pulpits of the impending wrath of God if they continue in their sinful ways.
The text says that the first living creature, whom we know corresponds to the whole body of saints in heaven, hands these angelic ministers ‘bowls of the wrath of God’. This purifying punishment and the destruction of evildoers, is actually a grace from heaven, an answer to the prayer of the saints. The bowls are golden and the sashes are golden. In the preparatory vision before the Seven Trumpets, we saw an angel offering the prayers of the saints in a golden censer, and then the coals of the censer were emptied on the earth as an answer to prayer. During the journey to the Promised Land, a group of rebels insisted that they had the right to minister at the altar, even though they were not of the lineage of Aaron. As the rebels were approaching his altar, censers in hand, Yahweh caused the earth to open up and swallow them. Amazingly, many of the people were not horrified at the pride of this group led by Dathan and Kor, but rather they were indignant that Yahweh had refused to acknowledge their so-called rights to approach his altar! The next thing that happened reminds one of these seven white robed ministers:
The congregation assembled against Moses and against Aaron. They turned toward the tent of testimony and behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of Yahweh appeared. . . . Yahweh said to Moses, “Get away from the midst of this congregation, that I may consume them.” . . . Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and fill it with fire from the altar, and lay incense on it, and carry it quickly through the congregation to make atonement for them; for wrath has gone forth from Yahweh; the plague has begun.” So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly; and behold, the plague had already begun among the people; . . . and behold he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stopped. Those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred.Num 16:42-49
Aaron did not empty out a plague on the people. Rather he was sent forth from the ark of the testimony with a bowl full of coals and incense to purify the people of their sin. Surely, even as the bowls of apocalyptic plagues are being emptied, there will be at least a remnant of faithful priests offering atonement to God, and ready to offer the sacrament of forgiveness to anyone who repents, so that as many as possible will be spared.
b) Second Preparatory vision: the Tent of meeting is closed because of the smoke
And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his might, and no one was able to enter into the temple, until the seven plagues of the seven angels should be completed. And I heard a loud voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels: “Go, and pour out upon the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God!”Rev 15:8-16:1
In the second vision we see the cloud descend on the tent tabernacle after the priestly angels leave. Now they can’t re-enter it until the plagues are finished. On the one hand, the inability to re-enter and pray as usual, is a sign that the time of mercy is passed. The decree can’t be revoked. The plague has started. Nothing can change it. When the cloud covered the tent of testimony in the desert it was a sign that the people could not go forward on their journey to the promised land until Yahweh decided[Num 9:15-22]. On the other hand, the cloud is a solemn sign of the presence of God. This is always a cause of comfort and celebration. When Solomon dedicated the first Temple, God descended upon it in a cloud. It proclaimed God’s renewed presence, as one who would gladly and permanently dwell with the people [2Ch 5:13; 1Ki 8:10]. Although the plagues are happening and will wreak havoc, God is in control. Believers should remain tranquil and confident.
The First Plague
And the first departed, and poured out his bowl upon the earth; and an evil and malignant sore came upon the men that bore the mark of the beast and adored its image.Rev 16:2
The Blessed Virgin identified only the first plague in her locution to Fr. Gobbi, Oct 13, 1989:
The Angel of the first plague cuts into the flesh of those who have allowed themselves to be signed with the mark of the beast, on the forehead and on the hand, and have adored his image—with a painful and malignant wound, which causes those who have been stricken by it to cry out in desperation. This wound represents the physical pain which strikes the body by means of grave and incurable maladies. The painful and malig nant wound is a plague for all humanity, today so perverted, which has built up an atheistic and materialistic civilization and has made the quest for pleasure the supreme aim of human life. Some of my poor children have been tricked by it–because of their sins of impurity and their disordered morals–and they carry within their own selves the weight of the evil they have done. Others, on the other hand, have been stricken, even though they are good and innocent; and so their suffering serves for the salvation of many of the wicked, in virtue of the solidarity which unites you all.
The first plague is that of malignant tumors and every kind of cancer, against which science can do nothing notwithstanding its progress in every field, maladies which spread more and more and strike the human body, devastating it with most painful and malignant wounds. Beloved children think of the spread of these incurable maladies, throughout every part of the world, and of the millions of deaths which they are bringing about.
The first plague is the new malady of AIDS, which strikes above all my poor children who are victims of drugs, of vices and of impure sins against nature.
Your heavenly Mother wants to be a help, a support, a comfort and a source of hope for all, in these times when humanity is being stricken by this first plague. For this, I urge you all to walk along the road of fasting, of mortification and of penance. . .
To my poor children, stricken by the first plague . . . I ask that they offer their sufferings in a spirit of reparation, of purification and of sanctification. Then my Immaculate Heart becomes the most welcome refuge and the sure road that leads them to the God of salvation and of joy.MMP 412g-j, p
Mary’s commentary can probably extend to all the plagues. They can affect any person, good or bad, just as God sends rain on the just and the unjust [Mt 5:45]. This is very much a New Testament interpretation of suffering, whereas, in the days of Moses, only the Egyptians suffered from the plagues. No one is to be judged for a disease, which he might only be carrying to repair for sins that are not his own. But are we also to infer that, while most of the Apocalypse employs symbolic language, in the case of the Seven Plagues we should take them all literally? I believe so.
The Second Plague
And the second poured out his bowl upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man, and every living creature that was in the sea died.Rev 16:3
Looking at our chart we see that when the second trumpet was blown, a third of the sea turned to blood, and the second sign was the bloody red Dragon, and when the second seal was broken the red horse was released to go forth starting bloody wars. When we think of the Red Sea, we can think of it filled with corpses of the Egyptian army. The word “sea” occurs twenty-two times in the Apocalypse. The Greek word is in the singular, but it’s extremely generic. It can refer to any body of water from a very small lake to an ocean. Is the bowl being poured upon one particular body of water or does it symbolize something? Toward the end of the Apocalypse we find three groups of persons mourning the fall of Babylon because it meant the end of their livelihoods. The merchants were distinct from the seafaring men.
Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off . . . lamentingRev 18:17-18
The seafarers were carrying goods, travelers, merchants, but most importantly they were carrying news and information. The sea can stand for the great means of communication. When this is hacked or attacked we look at our monitors and say “it’s dead.” Imagine how deadly it would be if deliveries of food, medicine, fuel and military defense orders could not be communicated. Every organism, that is organization, in the sea would die. This plague could literally symbolize a crashed economy.
The Third Plague
And the third poured out his bowl upon the rivers and the fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say: “You are just, who are and who were, O Holy One, because of these your judgments. They shed the blood of saints and prophets, and blood You have given them to drink; such is their due.” And I heard the altar say: “Yes, O Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments!”Rev 16:4-7
How can one not see a corollary with the priest-like minister turning the river to blood, and Aaron turning the Nile to blood? That one river in Egypt, worshiped as a serpent, had been receiving the blood of baby boys for more than eighty years. Today infants are sacrificed all over the earth on the altars of convenience and on the altars of the occult. Moreover, literal rivers have also been filled with blood. Long in advance of the genocide in Rwanda, the young visionaries at Kibeho screamed with horror when the Virgin Mary showed them decapitated bodies and bloody rivers. Mary told them that the bloody horrors She predicted at Rwanda were intended as a warning for the whole world.
The Fourth Plague
And the fourth poured out his bowl upon the sun, and it was given it to scorch men with fire; and men were scorched by the fierce heat, and they blasphemed the name of the God who has power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give Him glory.Rev 16:8-9
During the above-mentioned, approved apparitions at Rwanda, there was another important seer. Jesus appeared to teenage Segatashya while he was still a pagan, and made Him his messenger. He immediately understood the Catholic faith and begged the priests for baptism. Eventually Segatashya spent eight years preaching repentance and prophesying a chastisement. He was killed during the genocide. His messages are held in favor by African authorities, but have not yet received any official approval, which will be difficult because the militants turned the country upside down, destroying precious documents and killing tens of thousands of people who could testify to Segatashya who uttered prophecies like this:
In the last days, the sun will become very hot and many people will die from famine and other calamities that will follow this famine. There will be many temptations from the devil in those times, because there will be greater suffering on earth than the world has ever known before. . . . In many places, the sun will beat down so relentlessly that the earth will dry up, and crops will fail year after year. Winds will carry away all the soil, and never-ending rains will bring great flooding. Hunger will grip many nations. Many will fight each other for food, and scores will starve to death.
Other credible prophecies can be cited about a coming famine, including the Book of Revelation, when the Fourth Seal announced the pale colored horse which signified disease and famine. Now, here in the Fourth Plague, along with Jesus’ words to Segatashya, we are told that the sun will scorch the crops. Scientists have been talking about solar flares and sun spots for years, but they don’t know how to predict them precisely. Americans still have a living memory of the dustbowl in the 1930s. Lack of rain, led to the drying of the soil. Then great winds carried off the rich and precious topsoil. The result was hunger and the Great Depression. The text says that men will also feel scorched by the heat. Imagine first-world nations accustomed to climate-controlled air-conditioning, personal refrigerators, restaurants and grocery stores laden with food. If all this was disrupted, those who don’t know how to bear their cross in humility and patience, will vent their anger in curse and blasphemies.
The Fifth Plague
And the fifth poured out his bowl upon the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was thrown into darkness; men gnawed their tongues through pain, and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and of their sores, and they repented not of their works.Rev 16:10-11
In Egypt there was a literal darkness of three days:
Yahweh said to Moses: Extend your hand toward heaven. And may there be darkness upon the land of Egypt, so dense that it may be felt. And Moses extended his hand toward heaven. And a horrible darkness occurred in all the land of Egypt for three days.Ex 10:21-22
When our Savior, the Lamb of God was crucified for his Passover, there was a literal darkness of three hours:
Then from the sixth hour, there was darkness over the entire earth, until the ninth hourMt 27:45; Mk 15:33; Lk 23:44
Blessed Anna Maria Taigi (1769-1837) predicted a literal darkness of three days:
God will send two punishments: one will be in the form of wars, revolutions and other evils; it shall originate on earth. The other will be sent from heaven. There shall come over the whole earth an intense darkness lasting three days and three nights. Nothing can be seen, and the air will be laden with pestilence which will claim mainly, but not only, the enemies of religion [*] All the enemies of the Church, whether known or unknown, will perish over the whole earth during that universal darkness, with the exception of a few whom God will soon convert. The air shall be infected by demons who will appear under all sorts of hideous forms.” (She was beatified by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.)
But the righteous will literally enjoy light:
[*] It will be impossible to use any man-made lighting during this darkness, except blessed candles. He, who out of curiosity, opens his window to look out, or leaves his home, will fall dead on the spot. During these three days, people should remain in their homes, pray the Rosary and beg God for mercy.
No one saw his brother, nor moved himself from the place where he was. But wherever the sons of Israel lived, there was lightEx 10:23
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon you, and his glory shall be seen upon youIsa 60:2
The Book of Wisdom devotes the entire seventeenth chapter to a meditation on what was happening during those three days in Egypt. The commentator amuses himself at the cowardly fear of the darkness, saying that their chief fear was their bad consciences. The Apocalyptic darkness will be far more sinister. Here are excerpts from the Book of Wisdom
When lawless men supposed that they held the holy nation in their power, they themselves lay as captives of darkness and prisoners of a long night, shut in under their roofs, exiles from eternal Providence. For thinking that in their secret sins they had been unobserved behind a dark curtain of forgetfulness, now they felt terribly alarmed, appalled by specters. . . . terrifying sounds rang out around them, and dismal phantoms with somber faces appeared. No power of fire was able to give them light, nor did the brilliant flames of the stars avail to illumine that hateful night. Nothing was shining through to them except a dreadful, self-kindled fire [that is, the light shining on their sins]
For wickedness is a cowardly thing, condemned by its own testimony; distressed by conscience . . . throughout the night . . . they were driven by monstrous specters, and paralyzed by their souls’ surrender, for sudden and unexpected fear overwhelmed them [and they were] shut up in a prison not made of iron; for whether he was a farmer or a shepherd or a workman who toiled in the wilderness, he was seized, and endured the inescapable fate; for with one chain of darkness they all were bound. Whether it was only whistling wind, or a melodious sound of birds in wide-spreading branches, or the rhythm of violently rushing water, or the harsh crash of rocks hurled down, or the unseen running of leaping animals, or the sound of the most savage roaring beasts, or an echo thrown back from a hollow of the mountains, it paralyzed them with terror. Although the whole world was illumined with brilliant light, and was engaged in unhindered work, over those people alone heavy night was spread . . . But for your holy ones there was very great light. Their enemies heard their voices but did not see their forms, and counted them blessed for not having to suffer [the darkness].Wisdom 17
The darkness was the ninth plague. Pharaoh was almost ready to throw in the towel:
Then Pharaoh called Moses, and said, “Go, serve Yahweh; your children also may go with you; but let your flocks and your herds remain behind.” But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to Yahweh our God. . . Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me; take heed to yourself; never see my face again; for in the day you see my face you shall die.”[Ex 10: 24, 28
No, that was too much. Pharaoh, representing all the unrepentant sinners, could not endure the thought of anyone bowing down to the true God, the God of truth. At all costs, worship had to be squelched, no many how many plagues God might send. This is what the Book of Revelation is all about. This is the reason for prophecy. The prophets may seem to fail because so many fail to convert. But there is a record for posterity that God was long-suffering and merciful. He gave the people many signs, miracles, warnings and opportunities to repent. Finally, their hardness of heart is incontestable. No one can deny it. There is nothing to be done but eliminate the wicked. Before God assembles Pharaoh’s army for battle so He can drown them in the Red Sea, Yahweh assembles Israel to celebrate the Passover. Those who participate in this act of sacrificial worship will be spared the angel of death. The angel will pass over that household.
The strange darkness is also symbolic of the primordial chaos. Earth is being reborn, cleansed, a new creation! Remember the seven-day theme that pervades the Apocalypse [“Seven Trumpets” conference]. “Behold, I make all things new!” [Rev 21:5] During the chaotic times of the apocalyptic era we must be like pilots flying through rough weather and dark clouds. At times like these we trust in our instruments, our faith in the Word of God. Regarding the apocalyptic pain during the darkness, causing people “to gnaw their tongues in anguish,” it could be that they want to form lying excuses for their sins, but are unable. The pain may also refer to a simultaneous “fifth event,” namely the torturous sting of the locust-army. (cf “Seven Trumpets” conference).
I’d like to pause before the Sixth Plague to consider the “final Passover” theme that runs through the Apocalypse. The first Passover took place in the context of natural law. The Israelites had not yet received the ten commandments. Ten is a natural number in the human body, ten toes, ten fingers, so we tend to count in digits. The Apocalyptic Passover takes place in the context of revealed law. Seven is the number of completion, the seven days of creation, the sabbath rest. Seven is a sacred number because the same Hebrew consonants mean to take an oath, an act that calls God as witness. God is Himself faithful to his oaths.
So in Egypt there are ten plagues. In the Apocalypse there are Seven Plagues. Although the seven do not precisely correspond to seven of the ten, similarities are found throughout the book.
1st Egyptian plague: The Bloody River
This corresponds to the third plague bowl causing the rivers to turn to blood, as discussed above in this conference.
2nd Egyptian plague: The Frogs
This corresponds to the sixth plague, the three unclean spirits like frogs. We’ll get to this later in this conference.
3rd Egyptian plague: The Small Insects that attach themselves to the skin
Mosquitoes and other small insects carry disease to men and animals. This might correspond to the fourth Seal, as discussed above in the conference on the Seven Seals.
4th Egyptian plague: The Flies or Flees
Yahweh explained that the purpose of this plague was to distinguish between those who worship the true God and those who do not. This actually happens in many of the Exodus plagues, which spare the land of Goshen where the Israelites lived. But, as Mary explained in the first plague bowl, the lovers of God are not spared in the apocalyptic tribulation so that they can unite their sufferings to Christ to help bring about the conversion and salvation of sinners.
5th Egyptian plague: The Pestilence
This corresponds to the fourth seal, as the pale horse as discussed above in the conference on the Seven Seals.
6th Egyptian plague: The Boils
This corresponds to the first plague bowl, as discussed above in this conference.
7th Egyptian plague: The Hail and Lightening
This corresponds to the seventh plague bowl at the end of this conference.
8th Egyptian plague: The Locusts
This corresponds to the fifth trumpet calling forth the army of locusts, as discussed in the conference on the Seven Trumpets.
9th: The Darkness
This corresponds to the fifth plague bowl, as we just discussed above in this conference.
10th Egyptian plague: The Death of the Firstborn
This corresponds to the fifth trumpet calling for the four angels to kill a third of mankind, as discussed in the conference on the Seven Trumpets.
The Sixth Plague
And the sixth poured out his bowl upon the great river Euphrates, and its water dried up, in order to prepare the way for the kings that come from the rising of the sun [or, from the east].
Taking Mary’s cue that the Seven Plagues are real and not symbolic, one need only do a search online regarding Euphrates water problems to see how the people in that part of the world not only depend on the river for agriculture, as in ancient times, but today this great river has multiple hydroelectric dams. The Euphrates passes through multiple countries. Each nation can use their dams to control the flow downriver to other nations waiting for their share of the water. When longterm drought conditions, and a shrinking water table add to the mix, water disputes can escalate dramatically. Earlier this year it was in the news:
“Turkey violated the international conventions of water and rivers energy by cutting off Euphrates water.”
Syria had to shut down their Tishrin Dam for lack of sufficient water, which stopped hydro-power for Aleppo City. This recent event in February is one of many such incidents, in one of many Middle Eastern countries. It would go far beyond the scope of this conference to attempt to evaluate the various political situations. What we can understand however, is that the abuse of the Euphrates water-flow, could lead to an alliance of world powers. Kings, that is, heads of state, would rise up and assemble for war. Very similar conflicts are happening along the Nile, the world’s longest river. It is a vital life support to several countries in northeast Africa, yet there is less and less water to share so the strife becomes more volatile. The great Aswan dam built by Egypt in the 1960’s was calculated to bank up exactly so many gallons of water and provide exactly so much power, but they did not calculate that the weight of the water would seep into the porous river bottom and leak away.
The dam never quite fills up as predicted. Moreover, they didn’t calculate that the river is always washing rich silt toward the ocean, fertilizing the cropland during the overflow season and keeping the delta filled up as the Nile empties into the Mediterranean. The various dams prevent the flow of the silt. Now the farmers have to buy fertilizer, but it’s manufactured with hydro-electricity. But the dam doesn’t really generate enough electricity. And now the delta is lacking silt so it’s ebbing away into the Mediterranean. There is so little waterflow that enters the delta that the prophecy of Isaiah is coming true that the Nile will dry up and can be crossed in sandals [cf Isa 11:5].
The double vision of the Sixth Plague comes after it, instead of before it, as if by way of explanation.
a) Vision of three unclean spirits like frogs
And I beheld issuing from the mouth of the dragon, and from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits, like frogs. For they are spirits of devils, which work signs, and they go forth to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.Rev 16:13
Unlike the Seven Plagues, the Blessed Mother does not suggest that we take the subsidiary visions literally. In previous conferences we’ve already seen her interpretation of the Dragon-Communism, the Black Beast-Masonry, and the false prophet representative of the False Lamb, which is a Masonic-infiltrated clergy. One of the plagues of Egypt was the multiplication of frogs and then the stench of their rotting corpses. The Egyptians worshiped a frog deity named Heqet as a goddess of fertility, related to the annual flooding of the Nile. She was associated also with the final stages of childbirth and Egyptian midwives often called themselves the Servants of Heqet, and her priestesses were trained in midwifery. The Egyptian midwives were trained to take Hebrew boys at childbirth and drown them in the Nile. For Moses to kill so many frogs, was a sign that Yahweh was greater than Heqet. These ancient deities often performed real signs and that’s what convinced the people to worship them. Obviously Heqet was a demon.
The Apocalypse tells us that the three frogs in the modern plague Passover context symbolize the spirits of devils. We have surely explained somewhere (but I can’t remember where) that the three beasts: Dragon, Black Beast and False Lamb, form a parody of the Holy Trinity, and since the family is the natural, earthly image of the Trinity, these beasts are particularly intent on destroying the natural family. I don’t think I’ve commented on the phrase Lord God Almighty which we run into often in the Book of Revelation. The Old Testament was translated into Greek over a century before Christ, guided by a council of seventy rabbis, hence the name Septuagint. In the Septuagint, the same Greek compound word was employed for two separate Hebraisms: Yahweh Sabaoth (Lord of Hosts) and El Shaddai (God Almighty). Literally, the Greek word means All-Ruler, since Yahweh rules hosts, that is everything. In English Bibles, “Almighty” is the usual translation, and in the Book of Revelation it is never an equivalent name for Jesus. Rather it refers to the Trinity: the three-jewelled one seated on the throne, who is, who was and who is to come.
But lets say another word about these three frogs. I would like to recall a famous vision of the great doctor of prayer, St. Teresa of Avila. As a young nun, she liked to have spiritual conversations with holy persons, whether lay or religious. She was particularly fond of one person and spent a great deal of time in the visiting room. God had warned her several times in prayer about this so-called holy person, as someone displeasing to Him, but St. Teresa dismissed these inspirations as silly since everyone regarded this person so highly. God, in his mercy, sent her a visible warning:
At another time, when I was with that person, we saw, both of us–and others who were present also saw–something like a great toad crawling towards us, more rapidly than such a creature is in the habit of crawling. I cannot understand how a reptile of that kind could, in the middle of the day, have come forth from that place; it never had done so before, but the impression it made on me was such, that I think it must have had a meaning; neither have I ever forgotten it. Oh, the greatness of God! with what care and tenderness did You warn me in every way! and how little I profited by those warnings!Life of Saint Teresa of Jesus Ch 22:6-7,14
b) Vision of kings assembling at Armageddon
“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches and keeps his garments, that he may not walk naked and let men see his shame.” And they gathered them together to the place which is called in Hebrew ‘Armageddon’.Rev 16:15-16
Magiddon, as it is known in Zechariah 12:11, was a valley in Israel that was the scene of numerous military conflicts. Solomon’s cavalry stood stationed there, ready to be dispatched to defend Israel from invaders at any time. In reality, the whole land of Israel was a connecting route between Europe, Africa and Asia. The Hebrew word for “road” has the same root as the word “conquer”. Armageddon could be hyphenated. It’s two Hebrew words combined into one Greek word (har and magido). Har is mountain or hill; magido carries a basic meaning of “invasion”. The double word Har-Magedon only appears once in the Bible, right here, in connection with the sixth plague.
Harmegeddon is the symbol of God’s ever-recurring judgment against hostile governments, and his defense of his faithful ones (e.g., Barak and Deborah, and in favor of King Jehu against Ahaziah and Jezebel); but not all the battles here were good for Israel. Of all the battles fought there in Israel, no Jew could forget the place where good King Josiah was slain [2 Chr 23:29; cf. Zach 2:1] In the spring of 609 bc, Pharaoh Necho II led a sizable army up the Euphrates River to aid the Assyrians against the Babylonians. Josiah had no business getting involved in this war. By trying to block Necho’s path through Israel, he angered Necho and also inadvertently allowed Babylon to be strengthened. After slaying King Josiah, Necho punished Israel by levying an enormous tax and deposing Josiah’s son, taking him to Egypt as prisoner. Not long afterwards, Babylon arrived in Israel and burned down the temple. Josiah’s defeat at Megiddo essentially represents the end of the kingdom of Israel, which would never have a son of David on a throne, or enjoy the status of an independent nation until the twentieth century.
What are we to make of this Apocalyptic conflict battle? Armageddon seems to be a mixed symbol of blessings and punishments. I would like to quote a passage from a magnificent sermon by Bl. Cardinal Newman when he was still an Anglican clergyman. After praising King Josiah’s extraordinary humility and zeal for the Law of Yahweh, he who came to the throne very young having been raised badly by a father who was one of the most wicked kings, Reverend Newman dwells on the text of the prophet Hulda.
Let us come to the fulfillment of the promise made to him by Huldah, as the reward of his obedience. “Behold therefore, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place.” His reward was an early death; the event proved that it was a violent one also. The king of Egypt came up against the king of Assyria through the land of Judah; Josiah, bound perhaps by an alliance to the king of Assyria, or for some strong reason unknown, opposed the king of Egypt; a battle followed; Josiah disguised himself that he might not be marked out for death; but his hour was come — the promise of release was to be accomplished. “And the archers shot at King Josiah; and the king said to his servants, “Take me away; for I am sore wounded.” His servants, therefore . . . brought him to Jerusalem; and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers.” Thus the best king of Judah died like Ahab, the worst king of Israel; so little may we judge of God’s love or displeasure by outward appearances. “The righteous man perishes, but no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, but no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity, he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness.” [Isa 57:1]
[Newman continues quoting the accounting about Josiah] “And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah; and all the singing men and the singing women speak of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel:” probably alluding to a yearly commemoration of his death. So great was the mourning at the time, that we find it referred to in the Prophet Zechariah [12:11] almost as a proverb. So fell the last sovereign of the house of David. . . . the last king of the favored family was forcibly and prematurely cut off . . . He was taken out of the way; they were carried off to Babylon. “Weep ye not for the dead,” says the prophet, “neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country [Jer 22:10].” As for Josiah, as it is elsewhere written of him [in the book of Sirach 49:1-4], “His remembrance . . . is sweet as honey in all mouths, and as music at a banquet of wine. He behaved himself uprightly in the conversion of the people, and took away the abominations of iniquity. He directed his heart to the Lord, and in the time of the ungodly he established the worship of God. All [the rulers], except David, and Hezekiah, and Josiah, were defective; for they forsook the law of the Most High.
You can find the rest of this classic and beautiful sermon online. But I think in this extract the Blessed Cardinal has confirmed that we need to read this second vision of the sixth plague with the second vision connected with the sixth sign. Just before the sickle reaped the good harvest of wheat, St. John heard:
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”Rev 14:12-13
Babylon and Egypt and world-wickedness may appear to prevail at this great battle of Armageddon, but the throne of David is not destroyed. The Messiah will have his day, his great day, which will last forever. As for the next phrase “I come as a thief, keep watch and keep your garments” I would like to make a connection to the Passover theme, this time not of Egypt but of Jesus’ Passover as he died for our sins and passed over to the next life to open heaven for us.
Before Jesus’ Passover, there were miracles of healing and mercy and many calls to repentance, but were there any plagues? At the beginning of Holy Week Jesus wept over Jerusalem referring to Jeremiah who had railed against Judah and predicted the city’s destruction. Then all three synoptic Gospels relate the dramatic way that Jesus cleansed the temple in Holy Week, very shortly before he died. All three Gospels quote the “robber’s den” which is another reference to Jeremiah [Jer. 7:11].
And he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you make it a den of robbers.Mt 21:13
I dealt with the passage “I come as a thief ” in the conference on the Letter to Sardis. That church was rich and attached to money, and Jesus said He was coming to take their money away from them, to make them poor for their own good. Here we have the same idea. Jesus is, as it were, despoiling the moneychangers who are worshiping mammon in the very house of God.
Finally the 7th Plague
And the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air; and a loud voice came forth from the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done.” And there followed lightnings and voices and thunder-peals; and there was a great earthquake, such as never befell since man appeared on earth, so great an earthquake was it. The great city was rent into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell; and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drink the wine of his fierce wrath. Every island fled away, and the mountains were not to be found. And great hail stones, the size of a talent, dropped from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because the plague was exceedingly great.Rev 16:17-20
This plague seems to be rich in symbols, while all the other plagues have been literal. We know from St. Paul that the air or earth’s atmosphere is the dwelling place of demons who are not confined to hell [Eph 2:2]. They infect our lives by harassing us with temptations. The last priestly angel destroys the dwelling place of demons. They have to go back to hell. This final judgment is more fully explained in the sixth vertical column, the Seven Judgments of Babylon, where the just can sing Alleluia!
This plague necessarily isn’t very material since it concerns especially the reign of demons. However, the hail gets a very special mention and it is one of the important plagues of Egypt, so I am inclined to think that perhaps the hailstones might not be symbolic. The hailstones weigh a talent, the Biblical measurement of large quantities of gold and silver. Shall we assume that this ultra-natural disaster will demolish important structures of rich global rulers? I should like to think so.
I would like to develop much more the very rich Passover symbolism of the Book of the Apocalypse, and also the Pentecost feast that permeates it, but this conferences is already almost an hour long, so let us say with the loud voice: “It is done.”