(16.10) 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,
1. You might remember that the first of the vials was poured out upon Satan’s followers, those with the mark of the beast, because they, of course, accompanied him in his rebellion against God. But the second, third, and fourth vials were poured out upon the physical universe surrounding and on this earth. Why? Because God’s creation is cursed. This fifth vial is going to be poured out on the seat of the beast, or the throne of the antichrist.
2. By the way, what is “the throne of the antichrist”? Albert Barnes writes, “The phrase ‘the seat of the beast’-- ton yronon tou yhriou--means the seat or throne which the representative of that power occupied; the central point of the Antichristian dominion.” A. T. Robertson concludes, “That is Rome.” More on this in the future.
3. What is this darkness that covers the antichrist’s kingdom? Is it a spiritual darkness only? No, I think it is a physical darkness. Why so? Because the antichrist’s kingdom has always been in spiritual darkness.
4. Then how come the darkness? Well, if the sun turned from a yellow sun to an ultraviolet sun when the fourth vial was poured out on it, then the darkness is due to the fact that ultraviolet light cannot be seen by the naked human eye. That would make it dark in the visible spectrum of light. But if the sun flared into a nova of small proportions, as I mentioned previously, then there would be scorching that would burn very painfully, followed by darkness that resulted from the sun cooling off afterwards with an accompanying reduction of the amount of light given off. Either scenario would seem to fit John’s account here.
5. Whatever the actual reason for the darkness, there is considerable pain involved, and those exposed to all of this will actually gnaw their tongues for the pain. Think about it. Those who have, in the past, blasphemed God with their tongues will be afflicted on their tongues. Interesting how God repays men for their sins, is it not?
(16.11) And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
1. Does man change? Does man ever change? Not unless God does a saving work in his heart he does not. Amen? Throughout all of this mankind continues to blaspheme, to speak against, God. And the pain and the sores seem only to make things worse.
2. What a sad note to write of men who are dying from the wrathful judgments of God, “and repented not of their deeds.” What possible reason can men have for being so stubborn, except if mankind really is depraved and wicked of heart? Amen?
3. Turn in your Bible to First Samuel 15. I want you to notice something about king Saul, who had earlier prophesied and caused some to wonder if he had gotten right with God somehow. You see, in First Samuel 10.11 we read these words: “And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”
4. First Samuel 15.23 records the words of the prophet Samuel to king Saul, who did almost what God’s man told him to do: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”
5. Many decisionists these days are convinced that king Saul was a converted man, despite the fact that he exhibited this stubborn and rebellious streak after his supposed conversion. But listen to what Jonathan Edwards wrote about genuine conversion in his book, Religious Affections:
3. Every true Christian perseveres in this way of universal obedience, and diligent and earnest service of God, through all the various kinds of trials that he meets with, to the end of life. That all true saints, all those that obtain eternal life, do thus persevere in the practice of religion and the service of God, is a doctrine so abundantly taught in the Scripture, that particularly to rehearse all the texts which imply it would be endless; I shall content myself with referring to some given below.*
But that perseverance in obedience, which is chiefly insisted on in the Scripture as a special note of the truth of grace, is the continuance of professors in the practice of their duty, and being steadfast in a holy walk, through the various trials that they meet with.
By trials here, I mean those things that a professor meets with in his course, that especially render his continuance in his duty and faithfulness to God, difficult to nature. These things are from time to time called in Scripture by the name of trials, or temptations (which are words of the same signification). These are of various kinds: there are many things that render continuance in the way of duty difficult by their tendency to cherish and foment, or to stir up and provoke, their lusts and corruptions. Many things make it hard to continue in the way of duty, by their being of an alluring nature, and having a tendency to entice persons to sin, or by their tendency to take off restraints and embolden them in iniquity. Other things are trials of the soundness and steadfastness of professors, by their tendency to make their duty appear terrible to them, and so to affright and drive them from it; such as the sufferings which their duty will expose them to—pain, ill will, contempt, reproach and loss of
* Deut. v.29; Deut. xxxii.18, 19, 20; I Chron. xxviii.9; Psal. lxxviii. 7, 8, 10, 11, 35, 36, 37, 41, 42, 56, &c.; Psal. cvi. 3, 12-15; Psal. cxxv. 4.5; Prov. xxvi.11; Isa. lxiv.5; Jer. xvii.13; Ezek. iii.20; and xviii.24, and xxxiii.12, 13; Matt. x.22, and xiii. 4-8, with verses 19-23; and xxv.8, and xxxiii.12, 13; Luke ix.62, and xii.35, &c.; and xxii.28; and xvii.32; John viii.30, 31; and xv. 6, 7, 8, 10, 16; Rom. ii. 7; and xi.22; Col. i.22, 23; Heb. iii.6, 12, 14, and vi. 11, 12, and x.35, &c.; James i.25; Rev. ii.13, 26, and ii.10; 2 Tim. ii.15; 2 Tim. iv.4-8.
outward possessions and comforts. If persons, after they have made a profession of religion, live any considerable time in this world, which is so full of changes and so full of evil, it cannot be otherwise than that they should meet with many trials of their sincerity and steadfastness. And besides, it is God’s manner in His providence, to bring trials on His professing friends and servants designedly, that He may manifest them, and may exhibit sufficient matter of conviction of the state which they are in, to their own consciences, and oftentimes to the world; as appears by innumerable Scriptures.
saints may be guilty of some kinds and degrees of backsliding, may be
foiled by particular temptations, and may fall into sin, yea great sins.
But they never can fall away so as to grow weary of religion and the
service of God, and habitually to dislike it and neglect it, either on its
own account, or on account of the difficulties that attend it; as is
evident by Gal. vi.9, Rom. ii. 7, Heb. x.36, Isa. xliii.22, Mal. i.13.
They can never backslide so as to continue no longer in a way of universal
obedience; or so that it shall cease to be their manner to observe all the
rules of Christianity, and do all duties required, even in the most
difficult circumstances. This is abundantly manifest by the things that
have been observed already. Nor can they ever fall away so as habitually
to be more engaged in other things than in the business of religion; or so
that it should become their way and manner to serve something else more
than God; or so as statedly to cease to serve God with such earnestness
and diligence, as still to be habitually devoted and given up to the
business of religion; unless those words of Christ can fall to the ground,
“Ye cannot serve two masters,” and those of the apostle, “He that
will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God;” and unless a saint
can change his God and yet be a true saint. Nor can a true saint ever fall
away so that it shall come to this, that ordinarily there shall be no
remarkable difference in his walk and behaviour since his conversion, from
what was before. They that are truly converted are new men, new creatures;
new not only within, but without; they are sanctified throughout, in
spirit, soul and body; old things are passed away, all things are become
new; they have new hearts, and new eyes, new ears, new tongues, new hands,
new feet; i.e., a new
conversation and practice; and they walk in newness of life, and continue
to do to the end of life. And they that fall away show visibly that they
never were risen with Christ. And especially when men’s opinion of their
being converted, and so in a safe estate, is the very cause of their
failure, it is a most evident sign of their hypocrisy. And this is the
case, whether their falling away be into their former sins or into some
new kind of wickedness, having the corruption of nature only turned into a
new channel instead of its being mortified. As when persons that think
themselves converted, though they do not return to former profaneness and
lewdness, yet from the high opinion they have of their experiences,
graces, and privileges, gradually settle more and more and more in a
self-righteous and spiritually proud temper of mind, and in such a manner
of behaviour as naturally arises therefrom. When it is thus with men,
however far they may seem to be from their former evil practices. this
alone is enough to condemn them, and may render their last state far worse
than the first. For this seems to be the very case of the Jews of that
generation that Christ speaks of, Matt. xii.43-45. They had been awakened
by John the Baptist’s preaching, and brought to a reformation of their
former licentious courses, whereby the unclean spirit was as it were
turned out, and the house swept and garnished; yet, being empty of God and
of grace, full of themselves, and exalted in an exceeding high opinion of
their own righteousness and eminent holiness, they became habituated to an
answerably self-exalting behaviour. They changed the sins of publicans and
harlots for those of the Pharisees; and in issue, had seven devils and
were worse than at the first.
6. Why have I read from Edwards? Because so many these days exhibit poor discernment concerning the true state of a man’s soul, oftentimes thinking themselves good judges of their own condition. The brilliant Edwards shows how easily and in what ways men are deceived by their own pride. King Saul was an obviously lost man, as exhibited by his rebellious spirit and his stubborn nature. During the Tribulation God will make it easy to discern who is lost and who is saved, far easier than it is now. He will manifest their stubbornness by pouring out his wrath on them. And will it cause them to repent of their sins? Of course not. The chief characteristic of a lost stubborn man is his stubbornness. No matter the pain, the lost will not repent.
7. Those who have been touched by the grace of God, however, are neither stubborn or rebellious. They are obedient. They can be led. And this makes sense, since they are sheep and not goats. After all, God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble; grace to submit, grace to obey, grace to follow spiritual leadership, grace to exhibit the sweet fruit of the Spirit.
Albert Barnes, Albert Barnes’ NT Commentary, (Bronson,
MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), firstname.lastname@example.org
 A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol VI, (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1930), page 422.
 Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, (Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), pages 312-314.