Frogs, France and False Philosophy – Part 3

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“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. 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.” (Revelation 16:13-14)

In a SYMBOLIC prophecy of chapter 16 of the Book of Revelation, a book of SIGNS (Rev. 1:1b) and SYMBOLS, it is mentioned that three “frogs” come out of the mouth of the Pagan dragon, the mouth of the Papal Beast and the mouth of the apostate Christian false prophet. Prior to the mid-19th century rise of dispensational futurism and let’s-sweep-under-the-rug-any-prophetic-reference-to-popery preterism, some God-fearing Bible-believing Protestant commentators of the past believed that the vial judgments were going to erode the political-ecclesiastical power of Popery and Islam. Some Bible interpreters of the 19th century saw in the French Revolution the beginning of the vial judgments of chapter 16. Some Protestant writers (e.g. Robert Fleming) who lived prior to the French Revolution had even predicted based on their understanding of the structure of Revelation that atheism (infidelity) would be used to inflict judgments upon Popery and some even pointed to France as being the main instrument in bringing it about.

“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.” (Revelation 16:2)

Since the “frogs” of Revelation chapter 16 are to be taken figuratively and since we are dealing with SPIRITUAL Egypt then the plague of the first vial mentioned in the same chapter must also be taken figuratively. I do not believe a literal disease is intended here. I will quote here some past commentators who interpreted the first vial “disease” figuratively:

Albert Barnes: “There is no reason to suppose that it is meant that this [grievous sores, boils] would be literally inflicted, anymore than it is in the next plague, where it is said that the “rivers and fountains became blood.” What is obviously meant is, that there would be some calamity which would be well represented or symbolized by such a fearful plague… In regard now to the application of this series of symbolical representations, it may be remarked, that most recent expositors – as [E.B.] Elliott, [William] Cunninghame, [Alexander] Keith, [George Stanley] Faber, Lord, and others – refer them to the events of the French revolution, as important events in the overthrow of the papal power; and this, I confess, although the application is attended with some considerable difficulties, has more plausibility than any other explanation proposed…. Now, this “noisome and grievous sore would well represent the moral corruption, the pollution, the infidelity, the atheism, the general dissolution of society, that preceded and accompanied the French revolution; for that was a universal breaking out of loathsome internal disease – of corruption at the center – and in its general features might be represented as a universal plague-spot on society, extending over the countries where the beast and his image were principally worshipped. The symbol would properly denote that “tremendous outbreak of social and moral evil, of democratic fury, atheism, and vice, which was specially seen to characterize the French revolution: that of which the ultimate source was in the long and deep-seated corruption and irreligion of the nation; the outward vent, expression, and organ of its Jacobin clubs, and seditious and atheistic publications; the result, the dissolution of all society, all morals, and all religion; with acts of atrocity and horror accompanying, scarce paralleled in the history of people; and suffering and anguish of correspondent intensity throbbing throughout the social mass and corroding it; what, from France as a center, spread like a plague throughout its affiliated societies to the other countries of papal Christendom, and was, wherever its poison was imbibed, as much the punishment as the symptoms of the corruption within.””

John Gill: “… or rather this may design something internal, either the remorse of their consciences, reflections on their past practices, and black despair and horror of mind; and their madness, wrath, and fury, their malice and envy at the success of the preachers of the Gospel, and of Protestant states and princes against them; see Deuteronomy 28:27. Moreover, their secret and wicked practices, both in political and ecclesiastical affairs, will be discovered, and they will appear with boils and blotches upon them all over, which will render them odious to the people, and be the means of a general reformation. Mr. Daubuz thinks the curse of wickedness in the ninth and tenth centuries, after the invocation of saints and angels, and the worship of images were settled, is meant.”

Joseph Benson: “Whence they are said to fall under a noisome and grievous ελκος, ulcer, or sore — Being by this means pained and vexed inwardly, and rendered contemptible to the whole world, which looked upon them as no better than the plagues of mankind.”

Matthew Henry: “The first angel who poured out his vial, Revelation 16:2. Observe, [1.] Where it fell–upon the earth that is, say some, upon the common people others upon the body of the Romish clergy, who were the basis of the papacy, and of an earthly spirit, all carrying on earthly designs. [2.] What it produced–noisome and grievous sores on all who had the mark of the beast. They had marked themselves by their sin now God marks them out by his judgments. This sore, some think, signifies some of the first appearances of Providence against their state and interest which gave them great uneasiness, as it discovered their inward distemper and was a token of further evil the plague–tokens appeared.”

Matthew Poole: “I must profess myself not to understand, but think Dr. More speaks very probably, interpreting it of trouble and vexation, which the popish party should have upon the first prospect of their kingdom’s going down; it being of the nature of sores to vex and disturb those that are affected with them, so as they are very uneasy so long as they are affected with them. And, indeed, I find many interpreters agree in this notion.”

William Burkitt: “the worshippers of the beast have noisome and grievous sores upon them; that is, great trouble and uneasiness of mind, upon the first prospect of the shaking of their kingdom, by discovering the vanity, blasphemy, hypocrisy, and tyranny, of their devised religion; even as sores and blains do vex and torture those that are troubled with them. Learn hence, That it is no small vexation and trouble to the wicked, when they have their sins detected and discovered; it is as great a torture to their minds as an ulcer or boil is to their bodies.”

Philip Schaff : “The idea of the plague is taken from that of Egypt in Exodus 9:8-12, but it cannot be literally understood, for literal interpretation is wholly inapplicable to the sixth bowl, and all the bowls must be interpreted on the same principles.”

Geneva Bible Notes: “The history of the first angel, whose plague on the earth is described almost in the same words with that sixth plague of the Egyptians in (Exodus 9:9). But it does signify a spiritual vicar, and that torture or butchery of conscience seared with a hot iron, which accuses the ungodly within, and both by truth of the word (the light of which God has now so long shown forth) and by bitterness stirs up and forces out the sword of God’s wrath. {(3)} See (Revelation 13:16)”

Note : I would also add that Arno Gaebelein allowed for a double fulfillment : both a figurative and a literal fulfillment of the “grievous sore”

Here are some commentators who interpret SPIRITUAL Egypt as a symbol for Popery:

Albert Barnes: “In inquiring what “city” is here [Revelation 11:8] referred to, it would be necessary to find in it such abominations as characterized Sodom, or so much wickedness that it would be proper to call it Sodom. If it shall be found that this was designed to refer to papal Rome, no one can doubt that the abominations which prevailed there would justify such an appellation… it must be admitted that it [the “Egypt” of Revelation 11:8] would be most natural to refer it to Rome.”

John Gill: “… it is called Egypt, because of its tyranny and oppression; as the Egyptians kept the Israelites in bondage, and made them to serve with rigour, and embittered their lives, so the pope, and his Gentiles, or Egyptians, have in a most oppressive and rigorous manner tyrannised over the souls, bodies, and estates of men; and also because of its great idolatry, Egypt being very remarkable for the number of its deities, and the meanness of them; by which the idols and idolatries of the church of Rome…”

Matthew Poole: “Most judicious interpreters, by the great city here, understand Rome, which is seven or eight times (under the name of Babylon) so called in this hook, Revelation 14:8 Revelation 16:19 18:10,16,18,19,21; nor is any other city but that so called. This great city is here said, in a spiritual sense, to be Sodom and Egypt; Sodom, for whoredom and filthiness; Egypt, for oppression of the Lord’s Israel.”

If as shown previously the symbol of “three frogs” together point to Infidel France and if SPIRITUAL Egypt (plagued by symbolic “frogs” just as it was plagued by symbolic “locusts”) points to the Roman Catholic Church then the era of the vials most likely began with the Enlightenment Era or with the beginning of the French Revolution. I personally believe that the “Vials of Judgment Era” began with the French Revolution and will continue until the Visible, Judgmental Return of the Lord Jesus Christ (2nd Thessalonians chapter 1). Where are we specifically in this Vials Era? I personally believe we are in the “gathering stage” of it (16:14) but I don’t make the mistake of the dispensationalist futurists and of the let-us-be-focused-on-70AD preterists of confining such a “gathering” of the enemies of the Church (the “Israel of God”, Galatians chapter 6) to a few days or weeks or months or years. I believe the “gathering” will be a relatively long process but will become faster and faster as we get closer to the Return of Christ. One could point to different events or groups in the last hundred years (e.g. United Nations, United Religions Initiative, Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation, G20, European Union, World Day of Prayer for Peace organized by Pope John Paul II in 1986, etc…) as attempts or “baby steps” toward a one-world religion (or at least peace and cooperation between all anti-Christian religions*). As past Protestants and Baptists I believe the Book of Revelation deals with the prophesied History of the Church on earth from the end of the 1st century AD (about the time the Book of Revelation was written) until the Restoration of All Things.  If the Roman empire lasted for centuries and if its divided form (10 main Western European kingdoms) lasted for centuries then why would we expect the Book of Revelation to merely deal with a very short period of time?

* I do not believe we have to see the development of an Orwellian “Big Brother” type one world government in order to see the fulfillment of the prophecy of chapter 19 (the kings of the world gathered together)… the Herodians and Pharisees, enemies of one another, united briefly in order to oppose Christ… Herod and Pilate, enemies of one another, united briefly in order to oppose Christ… Roman Catholicism, Islam, atheism, New Age-ism, Hinduism, Buddhism and the other false religions out there are all opposed to true Christianity so inevitably at the proper time they will unite together in purpose (if not in a common religious identity) against Christ and His Church

Please note that many of the 19th century Bible commentators because of their historical perspective rightly viewed the first vial as being associated with the French Revolution which began near the end of the 18th century but wrongly thought that all of the vials would be poured out in the 19th century.  I believe the era of the “gathering frogs” (16:13-14) is the time in which we are living. How long will it last? Only the Lord knows.

I will not comment here on what the “miracles” associated with the “frogs” could refer to. These “miracles” may still be future after the initial rise of the atheist/humanist “frogs” of France (end of the 18th century). History will guide us. I think there is enough historical information in conjunction with the fulfillment of earlier Revelation prophecies to point to atheist/humanist France as fulfilling portions of Revelation 16’s prophecies.

See also:

Frogs, France and False Philosophy – Part 1

Frogs, France and False Philosophy – Part 2

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