16:8-11 THE FOURTH AND FIFTH PLAGUES
“Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent to give Him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds” (Revelation 16:8-11).
As we saw in 8: Trumpets: Literal or Symbolic?, there is no reason to believe that the seven last plagues are not essentially literal. Real sores will cause real pain, the literal sun<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> will radiate scorching heat and there will be literal darkness. This is not to say that there are no symbolic elements (such as the great river Euphrates, kings from the east, and unclean spirits like frogs in verses 12 and 13), but in general chapter 16 does not use the highly symbolic language of, for example, chapter 17 with its beasts and horns.
The fourth and fifth plagues affect the sun; first it is too powerful, causing scorching heat, and then it is blotted out causing the beast kingdom to be in darkness. The Babylon form of worship of the beast kingdom is a continuation of the sun worship that has been one of the primary forms of false worship all through the ages. In chapter 13 we saw that one of the main issues, the mark of the beast, involves Sunday worship, and the plagues will be poured out “upon the men who [have] the mark of the beast,” in other words, on those who obey the Sunday law instituted by the image of the beast. The first Sunday law, instituted by the Emperor Constantine, referred to “the venerable day of the sun,” and in fact the beast religious system is a direct descendent of the Mithraic sun worship which was prominent in pagan Rome during the first centuries of the Christian era.<![if !supportFootnotes]><![endif]> During the plagues of Egypt, God used multitudes of frogs and water becoming blood to expose the powerlessness of the Nile River god which was worshiped by the Egyptians. Likewise the plagues involving the sun demonstrate the futility of modern sun worship.
This is not to say that there are cults of modern people somewhere who bow down to the rising sun. The essence of sun worship is the worship of that which is created rather than the Creator, and in the thousands of cultures which exist in the world there are that many variations of how people offer the best of their time, talents and energies on the altar of that which is created. In western societies today this manifests itself in the irreligious quest to earn and spend money on consumer items such as houses, cars, expensive toys and hobbies. These things will all be swept away during the time of trouble, but that will not be the end of “sun worship.” With the traumatic and supernatural events that will commence with the trumpet plagues, the whole world will become religious fanatics, desperately seeking for the right combination to make the painful chaos go away. Unfortunately, the majority will opt for creature worship, finding their answers in rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices, and painful, humiliating or difficult service, all held together by the glue of false doctrine that has its roots clear back to Babylonian sun worship. Before the close of probation a great multitude will come out of this false system, but those who remain will fully demonstrate their hopeless incorrigibility; they will “not repent and give Him glory” but rather will “blaspheme the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores” (Revelation 16: 9,11).
Continue to next section: 16:12 THE KINGS FROM THE EAST
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]> The King James and New King James versions use the pronoun "he" for the sun, as if it were a person rather than an inanimate object. However, the Greek word for sun (ilio), is masculine so the pronoun (autos) is also masculine. Most other versions recognize this and use "it" rather than "he," for example, "the fourth angel poured his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch them with fire" (New Revised Standard).
<![if !supportFootnotes]>  <![endif]> See Bacchiocchi, “From Sabbath to Sunday” chapter 8 Biblical Perspectives, Berrien Springs, MI. 1977