christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

revelation 16, the fourth bowl of wrath

Read Revelation 16 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: revelation 16, the third bowl of wrath

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 they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. Rev 16:8-9

As we saw when the sixth seal was opened, with a result of the sun in total eclipse, the sun represents the ruler of the world — the LORD God created the sun and moon to rule (Gen 1:16). Now when the angel pours out his bowl on the sun, the sun is given power to scorch men with its heat. The picture is of a strengthening of the sun’s power, so we should look for a strengthening of the ruler’s power, which causes torment, hardship, destruction, for the men of the earth (the citizens of the kingdoms of this world).

Napoleon is the ruler, the sun, in the realm of the Roman beast. He is one of the ten horns. His increase in power did in fact cause untold suffering for millions throughout Europe and the lands of the former Roman empire as we have seen. As far as blaspheming the name of God, and not repenting or giving Him glory, let us look at Napoleon’s history with the Roman church and the papacy.

Napoleon as an officer in the French military, supported the Revolution. He himself was an atheist who approved of the secularization of France and the dissolution of church authority. He is reported to have said, “If I had to choose a religion I think I should become a worshiper of the sun. The sun gives all things life and fertility. It is the true god of the earth.”

Sun worship, as we know, is Nimrod’s religion, the religion sprung from the Tower of Babel rebellion, and as such it is appropriate that one of the ten horns of the beast should feel this way about it.

At the time of the Revolution, Italy was not the nation that it is today. It was formed of smaller holdings and states, as the rest of the Holy Roman Empire, with the kingdom of Naples at the southern end, the Papal states, or territories over which the pope ruled as political and temporal leader, more or less in the center, and various counties, duchies and states in the north. French kings and nobles had off and on owned some of these holdings. Thus we find, at the Revolution, when the nation of France confiscated the holdings of many of the French nobility and Roman church, a French army in Italy pursuing France’s wars with the other European powers.

So in 1796, the French army in Italy was under the command of General Napoleon Bonaparte. The papal troops, were of course, among those opposing the French. Napoleon defeated the papal troops and occupied some of the papal states. The pope at the time was Pius VI, who sued for peace, but a conflict between French and papal troops in the meantime so angered the French that one of their commanders marched on Rome and entered it unopposed. Napoleon declared Rome the seat of a new Roman Republic and demanded Pius VI relinquish his temporal power over the papal states and church lands throughout the Holy Roman Empire.

When the pope refused, he was taken prisoner, and Napoleon, it is said, stripped the Vatican to its bare walls. This was a blow to the authority and power of the beast of the land. The pope was escorted from the Vatican and from Rome, and kept prisoner in various locations, and died six weeks later. It is likely that he was not well treated.

The college of cardinals selected a new pope, Pius VII, who was inaugurated in 1800, wearing a papier mache crown as the French had taken the papal tiara with them when they left Rome. Thus the papal authority did not repent of being crowned as the substitute for Messiah Yeshua (Vicar of Christ), even though the sun had taken his crown from him. Napoleon’s Concordat was negotiated in 1801, which restored the Catholic religion for the people of France, but did not restore the papal authority in France that he had enjoyed before the Revolution. This was a second blow to the authority of the beast of the land.

Pius VII’s reign was continually caught up with Napoleon’s demands, with which he almost always complied. He, in return, demanded the return of the Papal states, which was not granted. So we see that the office of the papacy did not repent of wielding the temporal power and authority of the beast with seven heads and ten horns.

In 1804 the pope traveled to Paris to crown Napoleon emperor in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. For the past thousand years, emperors of the Holy Roman Empire had traveled to Rome to be crowned in St. Peter’s Basilica, which was an honor the lessor, the emperor, paid to the greater, the pope. That the pope traveled instead to Paris was his acknowledgement that the lessor was now the pope and the greater was now Napoleon, strengthened in his heat. Napoleon then took the imperial crown from the pope’s hands and crowned himself. This was a third blow to the authority of the beast of the land.

Relations between Napoleon and pope Pius VII continued to deteriorate. In 1808 a French army again occupied Rome, and in 1809 the remaining Papal states were annexed to the French empire. The pope then excommunicated Napoleon, and one of Napoleon’s officers then kidnapped the pope. While the pope was a prisoner of France, he was pressured to make the concessions that Napoleon demanded and sign a new Concordat with France, even further diminishing his power. This was a fourth blow to the authority of the beast of the land.

The pope remained in confinement for over six years. He was rescued by allied troops (Austrians and others) while they were in pursuit of French troops, during Napoleon’s second bid for power after his escape from Elba. At the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15, at the end of the Napoleonic wars, the allied powers restored the Papal states, the Jesuits, the Index (the list of banned books which were critical of papal decisions and authority) and even the Inquisition, or the church’s right to try heretics as criminals.

So we see that being scorched by the sun in its heat did not cause the beast of the land to repent of its blasphemies against God, or its authority, or its works.

To be continued …

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