In our study of Revelation chapter sixteen, we look at the complete wrath of God that is poured out on those who reject him.
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I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary say to the seven angels, "Go, and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of God's fury!"
In chapter 15, we saw that God gave these seven bowls to the angels. It is interesting to note that they are contained in bowls which were used in temple worship. In the Old Testament time, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies once each year to make atonement for Israel. He carried a bowl of blood that was poured out on the atonement cover. Those that have rejected the bowl of atoning blood will now receive seven bowls of wrath.
So the first one went and poured his bowl onto the earth, and disgusting and painful sores appeared on all the people who had the mark of the beast and worshipped its image.
The first bowl is poured and it contained awful sores that broke out on those that had accepted the beast. This same type of plague was brought on Egypt, in Exodus 9, when God's people were enslaved there. Moses also prophesied that this plague would come upon God's people if they did not obey him (see Deuteronomy 28). Once again, the sores will not affect God's people but will only occur on those that have rejected him.
The second one poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died.
The seas are turned to blood. This is not the blood of life as a blood from a living creature has oxygen and is red while blood from a dead man lacks oxygen and is dark. Throughout the Bible, the seas are a symbol of the nations. The nations rejected Christ and the blood that offered them a new life. Not only did they reject him but they also killed his saints and they are being judged with that blood.
The third one poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they turned to blood. Then I heard the angel of the waters say, "O HaKadosh, the One who is and was, you are just in these judgments of yours.
This is now the third time that this has happened in the Bible. In Exodus 7, the Nile River in Egypt was turned to blood as a sign to Pharaoh. In Revelation 8, the seas were turned into blood at the sounding of the second trumpet. But, this is much worse than the other two as all of the sources of fresh water on the earth are affected. People cannot live very long without fresh water and so many will die very quickly. We also see that an angel was in charge of the waters. We are familiar with the idea of angels being messengers of God but here we see they are actually put in charge of parts of creation. The angel that is in charge of the waters affirms the goodness and righteousness of God in this judgment.
They poured out the blood of your people and your prophets, so you have made them drink blood. They deserve it!"
In Exodus 21, God prescribed the punishment for someone that wounded another person and it was to be "an eye for an eye". God is consistent in that the reason the waters were turned to blood was to avenge the shedding of the blood of his people. God had offered mercy and grace and it was rejected. Therefore, he is just and right in executing the prescribed punishment.
Then I heard the altar say, "Yes, ADONAI, God of heaven's armies, your judgments are true and just!"
It has become obvious to everyone that God is right in his judgment. Those that have been slain for their faith agree with the angel that is in charge of the waters.
The fourth one poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was permitted to burn people with fire. People were burned by the intense heat; yet they cursed the name of God, who had the authority over these plagues, instead of turning from their sins to give him glory.
There is much talk today about global warming and whether or not it is going to happen. This passage tells us that it is coming but it is brought about by God and not by accident of man. Even as their skin burns from the sun, the people do not repent and turn to God but instead curse his name.
The fifth one poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom grew dark. People gnawed on their tongues from the pain, yet they cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and did not turn from their sinful deeds.
The fifth judgment of God is poured out on the system and kingdom that was set up by Satan and the beast. God removes all light and they are plunged into total darkness. God is light and without him a darkness that is so complete that you can feel it descends on the earth. We are also reminded that each of these judgments builds on the other so not only are the people in complete darkness but they also continue to deal with the sores from the first angel's bowl. Even as the judgment builds, the people do not repent but instead curse God.
The sixth one poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water dried up, in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east.
You can almost feel things building as this sixth angel's bowl dries up the Euphrates river in what is now southern Iraq. We see here that this is to prepare the way for kings from the east. This will be necessary for the armies to quickly cross the river with their armies to attack Jerusalem.
And I saw three unclean spirits that looked like frogs; they came from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet.
As usual, John pauses between the sixth and seventh bowl to provide more details about an upcoming event. Here, he describes the evil spirits coming out of the unholy trinity (see Revelation 13).
They are miracle-working demonic spirits which go out to the kings of the whole inhabited world to assemble them for the War of the Great Day of ADONAI-Tzva'ot.
We see that the frogs are demon spirits with the power to perform miracles and that their purpose is to bring the kings of the world against God's city. The purpose of miracles throughout the Bible was to bring honor and glory to God. These counterfeit miracles are instead meant for deception and it is similar to the magicians in Egypt (see Exodus 7). The same thing is happening even more today and so we must be grounded in the Word of God and walking in the Spirit to be able to tell the difference.
("Look! I am coming like a thief! How blessed are those who stay alert and keep their clothes clean, so that they won't be walking naked and be publicly put to shame!")
As is the pattern throughout the book, there is a pause between telling us about the sixth bowl and the seventh bowl. In this pause, there is a reminder that Yeshua is coming back like a thief. Nobody wants to go running naked through the streets and that is the picture here of what will happen to those who are not prepared.
And they gathered the kings to the place which in Hebrew is called Har Megiddo.
The evil spirits caused the kings of the earth to gather at the Mount of Megiddo which is located in the plain of Jezreel just southwest of Nazareth and northwest of Jerusalem. This is the place that Hosea prophesied about.
The seventh one poured out his bowl on the air, and a loud voice came out of the Temple from the throne, saying, "It is done!"
The seventh bowl of wrath is poured into space and the sky is affected.
There were flashes of lightning, voices and peals of thunder; and there was a massive earthquake, such as has never occurred since mankind has been on earth, so violent was the earthquake.
The sky and the earth react to the coming wrath of God. The largest earthquake recorded was a 9.5 magnitude quake that happened in Chile in 1960. This quake killed 1655 people, injured another 3000, and left 2 million people without homes. We are told here in this verse that the quake in Chile does not even compare to the one that is coming. We can praise God that, as his children, we will not be around for this. We should also feel an urgency to tell others of what is to come.
The great city was split into three parts, the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Bavel the Great and made her drink the wine from the cup of his raging fury.
The "great city" refers to the city of Babylon which is located in the southern part of Iraq. Much of the city is still in ruins today so one might ask how the words of this verse could be true. The city is in the process of being rebuilt and the project (known as The Future of Babylon Project) was started under the late Saddam Hussein. The project did not end with his death but in fact has even been funded by the United States through the State Department in cooperation with the new Iraqi government.
Every island fled, and no mountains were to be found.
This is going to be a worldwide earthquake in that it affects every part of the earth. The mountains and islands will just disappear.
And huge seventy-pound hailstones fell on people from the sky. But the people cursed God for the plague of hail, that it was such a terrible plague.
The final bowl of wrath is completed with the huge hailstones raining down on the people of the earth. This is similar to what happened in the seventh plague in Egypt (see Exodus 9) except this time the hail is huge. Still the people curse God and so the final judgement is coming quickly.