Revelation 16 – The Vials of God’s Wrath & Scientists Link Ancient Plagues To Future Outbreaks

Illustration of the Black Death from the Toggenburg Bible (1411)
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people and peaking in Europe in the years 1346–53.

Although there were several competing theories as to the etiology of the Black Death, analysis of DNA from victims in northern and southern Europe published in 2010 and 2011 indicates that the pathogen responsible was the Yersinia pestis bacterium, probably causing several forms of plague.

The Black Death is thought to have originated in the arid plains of central Asia, where it then traveled along the Silk Road, reaching the Crimea by 1343.

From there, it was most likely carried by Oriental rat fleas living on the black rats that were regular passengers on merchant ships.

Spreading throughout the Mediterranean and Europe, the Black Death is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe’s total population.

All in all, the plague reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million in the 14th century.

The aftermath of the plague created a series of religious, social, and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of European history.

It took 150 years for Europe’s population to recover.

The plague recurred occasionally in Europe until the 19th century.

Those plagues were bad, but they are nothing compared to what You are going to do in the very end.  I am so glad I won’t be here to see it, I”ll be with You and Jesus.

Revelation 16 mentions Amargeddon, so tomorrow we’ll look at…

Revelation 16The Vials of God’s Wrath

1 And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.

2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

“Vial” – a vial is similar to a chemistry beaker, a cereal bowl or a goblet. Each angel dips his goblet into the vial of God’s wrath and casts it forth on the earth.
Compare the first four vials (vv. 2-9) with the first four trumpets (8:7-12).

“Noisome and grievous sore” – cf. the boils and abscesses of the sixth Egyptian plague (Ex 9:9-11; see also Job 2:7-8, 13).

3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.

4 And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

5 And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.

6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

“Given them blood to drink” – punishment is tailored to fit the crime (see Lk 12:42-48; Is 49:26)

7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy Judgments.

8 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.

“Fire” – often connected with judgment in Scripture (see Deut 28:22; 1 Cor 3:13; 2 Pet 3:7).

9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.

“They repented not” – in 11:13 the nations were dazzled into homage by the earthquake. Here they curse the name of God.

10 And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,

“Seat of the beast” – cf. Satan’s throne in 2:13 “Throne” occurs 42 times in Revelation. The other 40 references are to the throne of God.

11 And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

Inspired by the Black Death, The Dance of Death or Danse Macabre, an allegory on the universality of death, is a common painting motif in the late medieval period.
There have been three major outbreaks of plague.
The Plague of Justinian in the 6th and 7th centuries is the first known attack on record, and marks the first firmly recorded pattern of bubonic plague.
From historical descriptions, as much as 40% of the population of Constantinople died from the plague.
Modern estimates suggest half of Europe’s population died as a result of the plague before it disappeared in the 700s.
After 750, major epidemic diseases did not appear again in Europe until the Black Death of the 14th century.
The Third Pandemic hit China in the 1890s and devastated India, but was confined to limited outbreaks in the west.

The Black Death originated in or near China and spread by way of the Silk Road or by ship.
It may have reduced world population from an estimated 450 million down to 350–375 million by the year 1400.

The plague is thought to have returned at intervals with varying virulence and mortality until the 18th century.

On its return in 1603, for example, the plague killed 38,000 Londoners.

Other notable 17th-century outbreaks were the Italian Plague (1629–31); the Great Plague of Seville (1647–52); the Great Plague of London (1665–66); and the Great Plague of Vienna (1679).

There is some controversy over the identity of the disease, but in its virulent form, after the Great Plague of Marseille in 1720–22, the Great Plague of 1738 (which hit Eastern Europe), and the Russian plague of 1770-1772, it seems to have gradually disappeared from Europe.

By the early 19th century, the threat of plague had diminished, but it was quickly replaced by a new disease.

The Asiatic cholera was the first of several cholera pandemics to sweep through Asia and Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries.

The 14th-century eruption of the Black Death had a drastic effect on Europe’s population, irrevocably changing the social structure, and resulted in widespread persecution of minorities such as Jews, foreigners, beggars, and lepers (see Persecutions).

The uncertainty of daily survival has been seen as creating a general mood of morbidity, influencing people to “live for the moment,” as illustrated by Giovanni Boccaccio in The Decameron (1353).

“God of heaven” – used in Dan 2:44 of the sovereign God, who destroys the kingdom of the world and establishes His universal and eternal reign.

12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.

“Kings of the east” – Evidently Parthian rulers (17:15-18:24), to be distinguished from the “kings of the earth” (v. 14), who wage the final war against Christ and the armies of heaven.

13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

“Frogs’ – Lev 11:10 classifies the frog as an unclean animal. The imagery suggests the deceptive propaganda that will, in the last days, lead people to accept and support that cause of evil.

14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

“Armageddon” – this probably stands for Har Mageddon, “the mountain of Megiddo”. Many see no specific geographical reference in the designation and take it to be a symbol of the final overthrow of evil by God.

However, the city of Megiddo strategically overlooks the Jezreel Valley where this final battle will be fought.

It takes its name from this city and the mound upon which it is built, thus providing the reader with a specific location for this conflict.

17 And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.

18 And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.

19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

21 And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.

Scientists Link Ancient Plagues
To Future Outbreaks

Tue, 01/28/2014

An international team of scientists has discovered that two of the world’s most devastating plagues — the plague of Justinian and the Black Death, each responsible for killing as many as half the people in Europe — were caused by distinct strains of the same pathogen, one that faded out on its own, the other leading to worldwide spread and re-emergence in the late 1800s.

These findings suggest a new strain of plague could emerge again in humans in the future.

“The research is both fascinating and perplexing, it generates new questions which need to be explored, for example why did this pandemic, which killed somewhere between 50 and 100 million people die out?”

The findings are dramatic because little has been known about the origins or cause of the Justinian Plague — which helped bring an end to the Roman Empire — and its relationship to the Black Death, some 800 years later.

Scientists hope this could lead to a better understanding of the dynamics of modern infectious disease, including a form of the plague that still kills thousands every year.
The Plague of Justinian struck in the 6th century and is estimated to have killed between 30 and 50 million people — virtually half the world’s population as it spread across Asia, North Africa, Arabia and Europe.

The Black Death would strike some 800 years later with similar force, killing 50 million Europeans between just 1347 and 1351 alone.

Using sophisticated methods, researchers from many universities including McMaster Univ., Northern Arizona Univ. and the Univ. of Sydney, isolated miniscule DNA fragments from the 1,500-year-old teeth of two victims of the Justinian plague, buried in Bavaria, Germany. These are the oldest pathogen genomes obtained to date.

A lime kiln built to produce lime disinfectant.
The remains have been dated to the third century A.D., which corresponds to a series of epidemics known as the Plague of Cyprian, which occurred roughly between 250 and 271 A.D.

The Plague of Cyprian, which may have been some form of smallpox or measles, ravaged the Roman Empire, which included Egypt at the time, and caused widespread manpower shortages in agriculture and the Roman army.

The epidemic was name after Saint Cyprian, a bishop of Carthage, who described the plague as signalling the end of the world.

Using these short fragments, they reconstructed the genome of the oldest Yersinia pestis, the bacterium responsible for the plague, and compared it to a database of genomes of more than a hundred contemporary strains.

The results are currently published in the online edition of The Lancet Infectious Disease. They show the strain responsible for the Justinian outbreak was an evolutionary “dead-end” and distinct from strains involved later in the Black Death and other plague pandemics that would follow.

The third pandemic, which spread from Hong Kong across the globe is likely a descendant of the Black Death strain and thus much more successful than the one responsible for the Justinian Plague.

“We know the bacterium Y. pestis has jumped from rodents into humans throughout history and rodent reservoirs of plague still exist today in many parts of the world.

If the Justinian plague could erupt in the human population, cause a massive pandemic, and then die out, it suggest it could happen again.

Fortunately we now have antibiotics that could be used to effectively treat plague, which lessens the chances of another large scale human pandemic”, says Dave Wagner.

The samples used in the latest research were taken from two victims of the Justinian plague, buried in a gravesite in a small cemetery in the German town of Aschheim.
Scientists believe the victims died in the latter stages of the epidemic when it had reached southern Bavaria, likely sometime between 541 and 543.

The Red Sea and the Port of Clysma. A Possible Gate of Justinian’s Plague.
Archaeologists in Egypt have uncovered the remains of victims of an ancient epidemic that occurred nearly two millennia ago, believed at the time to be the end of the world, according to a report in Live Science.

The discovery was made at the funerary complex of Harwa and Akhimenru in the ancient city of Thebes (modern-day Luxor), and includes a giant bonfire containing human remains, where victims of the ancient epidemic were incinerated, as well as bodies covered in a thick layer of lime, and three kilns where lime was produced.

In ancient times, lime was used to subdue the stench of rotting corpses and as a disinfectant.

The skeletal remains yielded important clues and raised more questions.  Researchers now believe the Justinian Y. pestis strain originated in Asia, not in Africa as originally thought. But they could not establish a “molecular clock” so its evolutionary time-scale remains elusive.

This suggests that earlier epidemics, such as the Plague of Athens (430 B.C.) and the Antonine Plague (165-180 A.D.), could also be separate, independent emergences of related Y. pestis strains into humans.

“The tick of the plague bacteria molecular clock is highly erratic. Determining why is an important goal for future research,” says Edward Holmes.

Our response to modern infectious diseases is a direct outcome of lessons learned from ancestral pandemics, say the researchers.

“This study raises intriguing questions about why a pathogen that was both so successful and so deadly died out. One testable possibility is that human populations evolved to become less susceptible,” says Holmes.

“Another possibility is that changes in the climate became less suitable for the plague bacterium to survive in the wild,” says Wagner.

…the Great Whore of Babylon.  Who or what is the Great Whore of  Babylon?