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The Seven Bowls Of Godís Wrath (ch. 16:1-21)

We now come to the seven bowl judgments. Those who believe all of what is written in Revelation is in chronological order believe that we now begin the last half of the last seven years of this age.  Many call the last seven years the Tribulation while they call the last half of the seven years the Great Tribulation because these last seven judgments are the most severe. 


For those who don't believe Revelation is in chronological order, but believe the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls take place simultaneously this isn't necessarily the last half of the last seven years.  


At the time of this writing my understanding of the chronology of Revelation is that the seven seals are an overview of the judgments, especially since the sixth seal predicts the end of the seven years.  The seven trumpets and the seven bowls are in chronological order.  That being said, the first six of the seven seals might well be the first three and a half years of the seven year tribulation.  I do believe that chapter 16 begins the last three and a half years of the tribulation.       


In verse 1 we hear a loud voice from the heavenly temple telling the seven angels to pour out their bowls of Godís judgment on the earth.  Some say this voice is God, and it might well be. 


Note again that this voice is loud.  As I've pointed out before, everything is loud in heaven when heard through our earthly ears. 


It is interesting to note that all of these plagues of judgments, except for the fourth one, are similar to the judgments God put on Egypt in Moses' day.  If you believe the judgments on Egypt were literal, to be consistent, you must believe these judgments are literal. 


In verse 2 the first angel pours out his bowl and everyone who had taken the mark of the beast and worshipped the anti-Christ broke out in horrible sores on their body.  The Septuagint, which is the Greek version of the Old Testament translated a couple centuries before Christ, translates the Hebrew word for boils with the same Greek word we see here for sores.  These might well be boils.


Once again, we can wonder how these sores or boils came about.  Did they miraculously come on people, or did they have a physical or natural element to them?  Maybe the mark of the beast did not respond to peopleís body as they thought it would and caused these painful sores.  Maybe it will be some kind of virus.  Whatever the case, sores will inflect those who had the mark of the beast and those who do not worship the anti-Christ.  These sores do not inflict any Christian who may still be alive at this time.    


In verse 3 we see the second bowl being poured out on the oceans and the seas.  They all became bloody.  This is a complete natural disaster.  Earlier we saw one third of the seas being destroyed, but now all of the seas are destroyed by blood.  All the oceans and seas are affected to such an extent that all living creatures in the oceans die.  This might tell you that these last plagues do not happen alongside the seals and the trumpets but were separate, because you canít have one third of the seas destroyed and all the seas destroyed at the same time.     


In verse 4 we see the third angel causing all the rivers and streams to become blood as well.  Once again, itís not just one third of the rivers, but all the rivers turn to blood.  These last seven judgments are totally devastating.  This means that all the water on earth is now polluted at this moment in time.  The very basic thing we need to live on earth has turned to blood.   


In verses 5 through 7 we see an angel who is in charge of the waters speak and give glory to God.  He says that the inhabitants of the earth deserve what they are getting.  That is to say, they deserve having bloody water to drink because they shed the blood of Godís people.  The angel says that this makes these judgments just. 


The New Testament teaches God's people not to retaliate for the injustice done to them.  The Bible makes it clear that God would avenge this evil, and here we see that taking place, as is implied by the angel.  


We also should note Genesis 9:5 where God made His covenant with Noah.  He said that both man and animal would give an account to Him for taking the life of a man.  This might well be the judgment for this sin as well.


The angel says that God ďis just in this judgmentĒ.  We need to understand that God is just, and whatever He does is just.  We also note that Godís justice will bring judgment and punishment.  Thereís no way around this. God's love is not so exclusive that it denies His sense of justice.


When man fell in the Garden of Eden, he took all creation with him.  Throughout these judgments in Revelation you see creation in great pain because it too is experiencing Godís judgment.  It's not that creation wanted to experience judgment; it's that Adam took creation down when he removed Himself from God's grace. 


In verse 7 we see the altar agree with this angel.  The altar, or perhaps the angel in charge of the altar, or perhaps the angels around the altar, concur that God is just in His judgment.  Maybe this is just an additional confirmation of Godís justice, just in case some think that God is not being just in these massive judgments.


In verses 8 and 9 we see the fourth angel pour out his bowl that causes the sun to scorch people on earth with its heat.  This might be the ultimate in global warming, or it might just be a miracle of God through this angel.  Whatever the case, people will realize that these judgments are from God but they still refuse to repent.  They harden their hearts even more.  Godís judgment and discipline does not always bring repentance. To be precise, I don't believe these people could repent if they even wanted to repent.  Once one takes the mark of the beast, I believe it's too late to repent.   


It's my thinking that by this time in the tribulation men on earth will know there is a God in charge of all things.  They'll know that what is taking place on earth is from Him.  The decision not to repent is clearly a decision of their wills which had already been determined when they received the mark of the beast.  


In verses 10 and 11 we see the fifth angel pour out his bowl.  At this time the throne of the beast, that is the anti-Christ and his kingdom, was destroyed, nullifying his control over the nations.  The demise of the anti-Christ has finally come.  People see him for what he really is, and that's an impostor, but once again, people don't repent.  This is a brief description of the fall of the anti-Christ and his kingdom.  In Revelation 17 and 18 we will see this explained further.


In verse 12 the sixth angel pours out his bowl so the Euphrates River dries up.  This makes it possible for the kings of the east to pass over into the Middle East .  The word "east" here is translated from a Greek word meaning "the rising sun".  So, the kings from the rising son and their armies will be able to cross the Euphrates River with no problem. 


The Euphrates River originates in Turkey and flows through
Syria and into Iraq and then into the Persian Gulf .  It's a very long river and is one of the most famous rivers, not only in the Bible, but in the world.       


There have been numerous attempts to revert the flow of rivers in the Middle East for various reasons.  Streams and rivers flowing into Lake Tiberius , for example, have been altered at time as a weapon against Israel .  This could be, and I say could be, what is happening with the Euphrates River here.        

It's debatable just whom these kings of the east are.  The most common view is that these kings are national leaders of far eastern countries who have formed some kind of alliance with each other.    


In verse 13 we see three evil spirits that looked like frogs.  One came from the mouth of the dragon (devil), another from the mouth of the beast, (anit-christ) and another came out of the mouth of the false prophet.  Here we see clearly that the second beast spoken of in chapter 13 is indeed the false prophet.


It might be debatable whether these demons really looked like weird frogs or they're just symbolized as weird frogs.  The text clearly states that they looked liked frogs. Did John see into the world of spirits?  Do spirits look like this?  I think that it could be entirely possible that if we could see into the spiritual world, we'd see a lot of weird things.  I think John actually saw these in their true form.    


If you read the book of Exodus you'll understand that the Old Testament tabernacle was an earthly image of the heavenly tabernacle.  This tells me that if as humans we could see into the heavenly realm right now, we'd see some kind of tabernacle.  Also, the Genesis account states that God made man in His likeness and image, or, in a shadowy earthly image of God Himself.  This tells me that if as humans we could see into the heavenly realm, we might be able to see God in some form that is absolutely beyond what we can presently know.  That being said, we know that God is spirit from John 4, but do spirits have some kind of form?  Maybe they do and we just can't see that form as humans.  I say all of that to suggest that these frogs that John saw really were demons that looked like frogs.  I don't think they symbolize frogs.              


This is pure speculation, but, I think it might well be possible that when a third of the angels fell when satan rebelled against God, their angelic likeness changed from what it once was.  The frog-like demons may not have looked liked frogs prior to their fall from God'.   


In verse 14 we see these demons go to every leader of every country on the earth to motivate them to fight against God.  Do these leaders actually know who they are fighting against or are they fighting for other reasons?  Whatever the case, in the end, they try to fight God in the Battle of Armageddon, as this battle has been called. 


Note the words "the Great Day of the Almighty".  This is one specific day.  It is the day that Jesus returns to earth and defeats the armies of the world.      


In verse 15 we see that Jesus returns to earth like a thief in the night.  He is not expected to come, but come He does.  For this reason some say that the nations preparing for battle donít really know theyíre preparing to fight Jesus, because they donít know He is coming, but once again, the battle is Jesus versus the world and the devil, whether they know it or not.  It might well be that the armies of the nation know they will fight Jesus but they just don't know the exact day He'll show up for the fight. 


Also in verse 15 those who keep watch for this day are called blessed, because though it will be shocking in one sense, it is something they are expecting.  This suggests to me that there are still believers left on earth at this stage in the tribulation. 


Note the reference to public nakedness as being shameful.  Throughout the Bible public nakedness is always seen as a shameful thing, something it isn't today.   


Note also the words "thief in the night".  These are popular words today.  To the uninformed and to the non-believer, this day will come like a thief in the night.  This will not be so with the believers.  These words are meant to encourage the believers who are still alive on earth to keep watch.  I can't see any believer on earth at this stage in the tribulation not keeping watch or not being informed.  They will all be educated in what's going on and they will be watching for the return of Jesus.      


In verse 16 we see where this battle will take place.  It takes place at Armageddon, thus the name of this last and final battle. Throughout history the area around Mount Megiddo has seen more wars than most other places in history.  It is located north of Jerusalem.


In verses 17 and following we see the seventh angel pour out his bowl into the air and a loud voice from the temple calls out, ďIt is doneĒ.  This reminds me when Jesus was on the cross and He called out ďIt is finishedĒ. (John 19:30)  In that case and in this case, the judgment of God was in the final stages of being completed. 


As these words were being uttered from the temple in heaven there was great lightning, thunder, and the most severe earthquake ever seen on earth.  Once again, this is similar to when Jesus died on the cross and experienced Godís judgment.  There was an earthquake then along with darkness, although the earthquake was not as severe.  This confirms the fact that if God was angry enough at our sin that He killed His own son to save us, how much more angry will He be at the end of this age towards those who reject His provision in Jesus.  You can see this by the severity of the judgments, especially these final judgments.


You will remember that when Jesus died on the cross there was also an earthquake then.  Earthquakes are often an outward and earthly expression of the wrath of God.  If a city or region experiences an earthquake, it might well be because of God's doing.  The same is true with extraordinary hail and thunderstorms.


Along with the earthquake, one hundred pound hail stones fell from the sky and the people of the earth cursed God once again for this judgment.  Once again, we see that mankind does not respond positively to the judgment of God.  They only curse Him, and at this point they know itís Him.  They donít suggest that this is a case of nature getting out of control.  They know it is God and they curse Him. 


John tells us that the Great City is demolished.  In context, this great city seems to be Babylon.  Depending on your view to what Babylon is, it will determine how you interpret this verse.  Some think it is a literal city that was flattened.  Some say it is the apostate church that comes falling down.  Others say it is the kingdom of the anti-christ.  Whatever it is, Babylon has always represented opposition to God, and so it is clear that at this point all Godís opposition has now been laid low.


At the moment I tend to believe that the city of  Babylon mentioned here is the literal city of Babylon.  I say this in order to be consistent in my interpreting of Revelation as being literal as possible.  There is still a city of Babylon in Iraq today, although it's more of a tourist site than anything else, but that does not mean it can't be the capital city of the anti-Christ's empire in the days to come.  It doesn't have to be a large city.  It just has to be a city.  That being said, the capital city of any nation represents the nation as a whole.  I, therefore, also see this Babylon as being the kingdom of the anti-Christ's world empire as well.              


Note also that all the cities of the world are devastated by this earthquake.  Just imagine all of the high-rise office and condo buildings crumbling to the ground in the most massive earthquake ever. I believe this earthquake is the same earthquake we see in the sixth seal, and for this reason, I believe that the first five seals of the seven seal judgments might be an overview of all the judgments, or, at possibly the first half of the tribulation period.  


We see that this last bowl judgment affects every aspect of the earth.  Islands, mountains, and oceans, are ripped out of their places.  This is a major geological disaster that affects every place in the world.  When this age ends and the thousand year rule of Christ begins, the earth will be a completely different earth.     


This chapter ends with those in the world still refusing to repent.  Again, at this point in the tribulation, I don't think repentance is possible.  One reason is that once you take the mark of the beast, it is too late to repent.  Also, this is the time of God's wrath.  This is not a time of punishment that is meant to lead one to repent.  This is the execution of judgment.



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