IV. The fourth vial

And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. 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.” This vial is poured out on the sun. If you are looking for global warming in the scriptures, here you go! Our text describes what the angel did and then it described what the angel had the power to continue to do afterward. One cannot help to notice that the God of all creation is judging mankind in the order in which He created the heavens and the earth. The seas, the rivers, the earth and now that which occurred on day four of creation is effected by the angel with the fourth vial; the sun. It is also the polar opposite of the fourth trumpet that sounded in this book. The fourth trumpet caused the sun to be darkened but the fourth vial caused men to be scorched with fire. The sun was meant to be a blessing to mankind. It gave man the concept of time. It gave man its seasons from the blessed renewing of spring to the growth of summer to the riches of the winter freeze. It is the activity of the sun that gives us not only our warmth and the photosynthesis which provides our food but also gives the rain and wind that blesses mankind. A study of ancient paganism tells us that it was to the sun and the rest of the heavenly bodies that man first turned to worship when they chose to worship the creature instead of the creator. The ancient Persians worshipped the sun god Mithra. The ancient Egyptians worshipped Ra. The Greeks worshipped Helios and later Apollo. Ezekiel even described the Israelites turning to the ancient worship of Babylonian Tammuz which involved sun worship (Ezek. 8:14-17). Symbols of sun worship still survive in Roman Catholicism (the Eucharist for instance) and is prevalent in modern studies of witchcraft. God truly is our sun and shield and Christ truly is the sun of righteousness but is never to be worshipped as a creature (Ps. 84:11, Mal. 4:2). The Bible summarily condemns the worship of the heavenly host (Deut. 4:19, 7:13). As seen in the text in Ezekiel we just sited, the worship of anything other than God, including the sun which God uses to bless us is an abomination. God is a Spirit and He can only be worshipped in spirit and truth. God is not to be equated with created things.

God will not have any other gods before Him. The sun, which is a thing which man worships is now a thing that God uses to judge mankind. The gods men choose will be the means of their own judgment. This angel, like the last has power given or delegated to him. He had power to scorch men with fire. God turns the false deity that men chose into a foretaste of hell. So god does with whatever god men choose. If you choose Bacchus to worship then it will become hell to you, just ask any alcoholic. If you choose to worship Aphrodite to worship you will morn at last when your flesh is consumed. Here the word scorch is used. The word is used only in one other instance in the scriptures and that it to describe the seed that fell on rocky ground but was scorched by the sun when it arose because it had no root (Matt. 13:6). The idea is that the sun with its beams and heat burned and dried out the sap. It is to painfully burn something like having your feet burned when walking across hot sands. It changes the color and dries things out quickly. Such will be the miseries of mankind. They will be unable to walk outside in the sunshine without being burned. They will be made to blister in the heat.

Thus we see the twofold effect of this plagues: “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.” Men were scorched with fire in the eighth verse and that is described as being scorched with great heat in the ninth verse. God will cause men to suffer unbearable temperatures. What is the first response of mankind? Mankind will consider the power that God has in all the plagues and will blaspheme God. They will know that this is God’s judgement and not some natural or man-made occurrence like climate change. They will know that they are under judgment and they will choose to blaspheme or to speak against our great God. What is their chief response? They will not give him the glory that is due to Him. They will not repent. This does not speak of their ability to repent for I believe at this point that men will not repent. This verse bears that out. The idea here is that they considered and knew that they should repent but would not do so. They had already sold themselves to do evil and would not turn to God no matter what. They would not have God rule over them. No king but Caesar!!! Like the Pharisees and Sadducees of old, they saw the power of God and they blasphemed and would not repent that they might have life. The Pulpit Commentary added this thought: “As with Pharaoh and the Egyptians, the judgments of God, instead of awakening them to repentance, only serve to harden their hearts.” We will see this as a re-occurring theme as the rest of the vials are poured out. Men will hate God and cling to their sin. Isaiah may have well captured this very vial when he said this: “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left (Isa. 24:5, 6).