THE FOURTH VIAL IS POURED OUT
Rev 16:8-9 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.
Since it was not possible in earthly understanding to pour out the vial upon the sun, we must look to the symbolism depicted in order to gain its true meaning. In New Testament scriptures, Christ Jesus was always compared to the sun, and was known as the great giver of light. However, the sun has also been the symbol of a supreme ruler, monarch, or king - one that has become pre-eminent, due to the earthly expanse over which he conquered and/or ruled. In a word, the ruler depicted as the sun was one which shown as a bright light, due to his worldly influence and power. Although not used here, when moon and stars are also symbolically used, they too indicate a light source, but are always inferior to the sun. Here, the wrath of God poured out of the fourth vial, was not to inflict punishment upon this great ruler, but rather power was given unto him to inflict punishment upon those that openly persecuted the followers of Christ, His church.
Often throughout biblical history, God has used ungodly, but powerful, men to influence, and carry out His will against people of the earth, whether it was either to reward or to punish them. The same is depicted here. The power God was to grant to this symbolic shining ruler wasto scorch men with fire. The words "scorch" and "fire" are often used, as it is here, to indicate the infliction of great pain, suffering, and destruction upon mankind, and the lands they inhabit. The second verse of the lesson text assures us that this divinely directed punishment was, indeed, to be carried out - men were scorched with great heat. And too, those on whom God's wrath was to be carried out were those that blasphemed the name of God. God, in previous symbolic events, clearly demonstrated His wrath against the apostate Roman Catholic Church, its papacy, and all whom religiously followed their leadership, that is, those who received, and proudly wore, the mark of the beast. Here, those upholding this apostate religious order are, no doubt, the ones destined to be scorched with great heat.
Now notice the predicted reaction to God's punishment, as envisioned by the apostle John in this future historical revelation, regarding the Catholic religious order, and specifically the Roman civil and spiritual leaders. Instead of recognizing their dissolute evil ways, and repenting of them, this vile irreligious nation of people blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues. That is, they openly blamed God for the punishing calamities that came upon them at the hands of the French invaders. These plagues were, not only given as punishment for the open disdain they demonstrated against God, His Son, Christ Jesus, and His church, but was also designed to bring them to repentance. However, due to their sin-calloused hearts, they failed miserably to recognize their persecuting, anti-Christian actions as disobedience toward God, and they repented not to give Him glory,by refusing to acknowlede their sins and continuing in disobedience to His truthful New Testament doctrine.
Again we must turn to recorded history in order to find the true application of this symbolic message from God, as it was recorded by the apostle John. Without any doubt, the brightest monarchal and military star within the known world, at this time in world history, was Napoleon Bonaparte. With his superior military leadership he not only took Italy by force, as noted in the revelation of previous lessons, but he also overpowered Spain, Belgium, Holland, and Austria as well, appointing personal rulers over these nations, which carried out his commands. Practically all biblical scholars agree that the scorching "sun" referred to in the lesson text refers to this emperor, Napoleon. It was he that was divinely given the power to destroy the once mighty power of the Roman Empire, and to put in subjection the popish rulers of the Roman Catholic order.
Beginning in 1796, Napoleon's conquest of European nations continued unrelentingly through the year 1815. Historians tell us that these intense, bloody battles, under his military leadership, blackened the skies and desolated the countryside of this continent. Over 2,000,000 men lost their lives in these warring conflicts. Rome was devastated, and the irreligious Roman papacy's power over all civil governments was lost. But of their blasphemous persecutions, they repented not to give Him (God) glory.