16:10, note a
Light that is darkness
"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, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds." (Rev. 16:10, 11)
Like the ninth
"And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings." (Ex. 10:22, 23)
" . . . men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." (John 3:19, 20)
Darkness at beast
The word "seat" is translated from thronos which also means "throne." When the throne or source of authority of the beast (1301c) receives this plague, the lights go out. Perhaps God will strike the leadership of the false church with physical blindness as Paul (then known as Saul) was blinded while trying to persecute the Christians.
"And I persecuted . . . unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. . . . I received letters [arrest warrants] unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest." (Acts 22:4-8).
"But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matt. 6:23).
Physical darkness over the throne of the beast could represent the realization of the people that light from the system of worship was spiritual darkness, while the people whom supporters of the system hated, like the people of the land of Goshen, had light in their homes. Perhaps the darkness will surround the leaders or the places of worship. In the second and third plague on the sea and water sources, the wicked are rewarded blood for blood. Here it is darkness for darkness.
When studying chapter 13, I carefully identified the beast. We won't cover the reasoning again here. I would invite you to go our study of that chapter, rev13. Please understand that I intend no ill feelings against any followers or leaders in the "beast" organization. Many of these are precious, honest souls. God knows the hearts of all. But I cannot neglect to testify what I have seen and understood about this power. Jesus would do the same. He pointed to the religious leaders of His time who had misappropriated God's trust in them. Even His cleansings of the temple were not in anger, but in divine authority. He identified the leaders' corruption during encounters when they were trying to embarrass Him and thus prove to the watching crowds that He was an evil person. The people needed to understand.
The 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church recognizes God as the source of truth (item 2465) but declares the church to be ultimately responsible for interpretation of the Scriptures (item 119). The church here is claiming to be the only channel of light. But God has given each individual the responsibility to discern truth (Rev. 1:3; Luke 10:26). Is the light darkness? I'll let you decide. We must each read for ourselves. Even this commentary is true only as it accurately reflects the Word.
Might the credibility
of entrenched religion be an end time issue?
Paul thought he was doing the right thing. He was advancing the national religious system which he had been taught to respect. The Jewish leaders wanted to throw off the power of the Romans. That would make them the ruling power and the light to the world as they supposed God had wanted them to be (Isa. 42:6; 49:6; 60:3). Blind to the fact that their light had turned to darkness, they were willing to face impossible odds thinking that God was with them as He often had been with their ancestors.
Although blind to their weakness, they could clearly see a major obstacle to realizing their dreams and especially to their personal power with the people. How then could they rally the people to fight for a world kingdom on earth after Jesus of Nazareth had taught them that the important kingdom was in heaven?
The Jewish leaders had had this messiah candidate put out of the way and were hoping that their cover-up about the resurrection would convince the people, but his followers were still teaching his doctrines. The leaders must have reasoned that if only they could get rid of this hated sect of Jesus followers, things would be better.
Paul had picked up their zeal for the cause and was on his way to Damascus as he described in the passage we just read. There on the ground, helpless from being blinded by the bright light, he suddenly realized that his mission was not God's mission, that what he considered light was really darkness to be finally overcome by the true light of Christ (John 1:9), and that he had been an ambassador of the darkened Jewish leadership. You may wish to read all of this interesting story Beginning at Acts 8 in your Bible.
Real darkness that hurts
^ 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, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds. (Rev. 16:10, 11)
do not know how this will all be fulfilled, but pain could be associated
with physical blindness.
# Again we see the refusal to repent.
# The mention of sores identifies the people here as those who had the mark of the beast under the first plague, or it shows that those people are included here 1602.
might precipitate the falling of darkness?
This is another question which has not been directly answered in the Bible. We do have some clues, however, and I share them as possibilities to keep in mind. We will understand when the time comes.
Chapter 13 clarifies that the false religious system – the beast and its image – will represent the majority of humanity. The early Christians were hated by the Jews who saw them as obstacles to their pride and their goals. In a similar way, the end-time righteous will be pointed out as the reason why God sends the plagues. Speaking of Christ, the Jewish high priest advised, ". . . that it was expedient that one man should die for the people." (John 18:14). Of course He spoke correctly because our Lord died for the world. The intention of the priest's advice, however, was to get rid of this road block to the national interest.
Psalm 91 describes the people of God, especially, during the time of trouble. Let's read verses 5 to 10.
"Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling."
After the close of human probation, the death and torture of God's people will no longer draw honest souls to repentance. The beast people in our passage "blasphemed the God of heaven . . . and repented not of their deeds." Then the righteous may claim the promises in Psalm 91.
When the beast power tries to force the conscience, blaming the righteous for its own rebellion, it will find them protected and the darkness of the beast's authority or throne will be absolutely clear to both wicked and righteous.
"Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast." (Isa. 26:20)
They will exclaim, "It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law." (Ps. 119:126)
"and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds." (Rev. 16:11). A similar statement is in verse 9 v9.
Probation has closed. The decisions of the wicked are final.
This will be an awesome time. May God keep us each faithful.