Bible Study Series: Revealing Jesus in Revelation
Revelation Chapter 16: The seven bowls of wrath
by I Gordon
- We saw that there is an Old Testament prescient for God increasing his judgment by seven upon those that will not repent after the initial judgment. (Lev 26:21)
- We saw the interesting and thought provoking sight of no one being able to enter the heavenly temple, except God alone, until the wrath in the bowls was complete. A closed temple likely suggests that the door for salvation is firmly closed during this time and mankind will instead reap what their sins and hardness of heart deserves.
- We'll start with an overview examining the bowl-trumpet-Egyptian-judgment connection. Try say that fast five times!
- We'll peek inside each of the bowls to see what they contain - while paying close attention to the last two which lead to the 2nd coming of Jesus
- We'll explore the mention of Armageddon. What is it? Where is it? And are you telling me it is more than just a movie?
- We'll speak about the spiritual deception prevalent in the coming day which will see all nations eventually come against Israel - and how we can guard against this growing deception today!
So get your shoes on. Let's go...
|Trumpet / Plague on Egypt
|1. Malignant sores on skin
6th plague upon Egypt - Boils came upon all Egyptians (Ex 9:8-12)
|2. Sea turns to blood
|2nd Trumpet: 1/3 of sea became blood (Rev 8:8)
1st plague upon Egypt: Nile becomes blood (Ex 7:14-25)
|3. River and springs turn to blood
|3rd Trumpet: 1/3 of the rivers and springs became bitter (Rev 8:10-11)
|4. Sun scorches mankind
|4th Trumpet: Disturbances in the heavens as 1/3 of the sun and moon will not give light (Rev 8:12)
|5. Antichrist's kingdom darkened
|5th Trumpet: Sun darkened as demonic beings arise from the abyss (Rev 9:1-2)
9th plague upon Egypt of darkness (Ex 10:21-27)
|6. Euphrates river dried up
|6th Trumpet: Fallen angels released from the Euphrates river
|7. Worldwide earthquake and hailstones
God's wrath is completed
|7th Trumpet: Completed! The Kingdom of this earth becomes the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ (Rev 11:15)
7th Plague upon Egypt of hailstones (Ex 9:13-26)
Blood is the token of life. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood …" (Lev_17:11). The sea is a great reservoir of life. It is teeming with life, and the salty water is a cathartic for the filth of the earth. However, in this plague, blood is the token of death; the sea becomes a grave of death instead of a womb of life. The cool sea breezes become a stench from the carcasses floating on the surface of the bloody water and lining the shore. Commerce is paralyzed. Human beings died like flies. The first plague in Egypt was the turning of the waters of the Nile River into blood (see Exo_7:20-25). There is a striking similarity here.
J. Vernon McGee
"The wishful thinking of some that men would repent if they only knew the power and righteous judgment of God is shattered by frequent mention in this chapter of the hardness of the human heart in the face of the most stringent and evident divine discipline."
"The sun that normally provides light, warmth, and energy will become a deadly killer. With no fresh water to drink, earth's inhabitants will face extreme heat. The scorching heat will melt the polar ice caps, which some estimate would raise the level of the world's oceans by two hundred feet, inundating many of the world's major cities and producing further catastrophic loss of life (cf. Amos 9:5-6). The resulting disruption of ocean transportation will make it difficult to distribute the dwindling resources of food and water."
Again we see that the darkness mentioned by Isaiah for this time is both physical and spiritual. It covers both the earth and the peoples. There is a darkness over the land and a darkness over men's hearts. But the Lord's glory and light will come! All of this brings us to the description of the events that take place leading up to the battle of Armageddon and the 2nd coming of Jesus as seen in the last two bowls. We'll concentrate on these in more detail.
As it was prominent in the first state of man on the earth, so it is featured in his last state—that of the Great Tribulation. It was the cradle of man's civilization and obviously will be the grave of man's civilization. It was a border between East and West, eighteen hundred miles long, over half of it navigable. It was wide and deep, which made it difficult for an army to pass over it.
J Vernon McGee
The Hebrew name for Mt. Megiddo, sixty miles north of Jerusalem. The battle will rage on the nearby plains, site of Barak's victory over the Canaanites (Judg. 4), and Gideon's victory over the Midianites (Judg. 7). Napoleon called this valley the greatest battlefield he had ever seen. But the battle of Armageddon will not be limited to the Megiddo plains; it will encompass the length of Israel
- Deborah had victory over Sisera in the days of the Judges (Jud 5:19)
- Gideon and his "army" of 300 had victory over the Midianites here (Judges 7)
- The defeat and death of Saul was at the eastern extremity of the plain of Megiddo (1Sa 31:1)
- King Josiah died on the same field against Pharaoh Neco II (2Ki 23:29)
- Zechariah makes reference to this region when speaking of the extreme mourning that Israel will experience in the future (Zech 12:11)
The 'mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo' is a reference to the national mourning of Judah when their godly King Josiah, the nation's last hope, fell in battle to the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco II. So Zechariah uses two images to describe the extent of Israel's future grief. There is a personal aspect like when one loses their only son... and the national when a nation loses its godly leader and king. Jesus was, and is, both of these and there will be both intense personal and national mourning. Jesus is both their Son and their King. Israel will one day see this. What makes their grief so much worse is that their Son and King wasn't killed by a foreign enemy. No - they killed Him. He was killed by His own people. But thankfully, because death could not hold Him down, they will get to see Him again! He came as the Son the first time. He comes as King the next!
Mat 7:13-21 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it... Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them... Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
- Don't follow the masses. The masses in this world are wrong. They are deceived. Jesus said wide is the gate that leads to destruction and many are entering through it! (Matt 7:13)
- Look at a person's character and not just their words or appearance. Words are easily manipulated. Character is not. (Matt 7:16-18)
- Follow the will of God and don't just lip service to the name of Christ. (Matt 7:21) The will of God concerning truth and deception is:
- To love the truth (2 Thes 2:10-11) and show this by being a Berean, searching God's word daily to find the truth (Acts 17:11)
- Seek God's will and listen for His voice (John 10:27-28). Commit all things unto Him and lean not on your own understanding. Not doing this got even the great Joshua into trouble with the deception of the Gibeonites! (Josh 9:2-6, 14)
- Do not love the world (1 John 2:15-17) but realize that it is currently in the hands of the evil one (1 John 5:19) and will pass away.
"Satan, knowing that the second coming of Christ is near, will gather all the military might of the world into the Holy Land to resist the coming of the Son of Man who will return to the Mount of Olives (Zec_14:4). Though the nations may be deceived in entering into the war in hope of gaining world political power, the satanic purpose is to combat the armies from heaven (introduced in Rev_19:1-21) at the second coming of Christ."
Bible Knowledge Commentary
Looking at all the examples, it is fair to say that God Almighty is someone you want on your side. Well, to be more accurate, you want to be on His side. But the unbelieving world doesn't think like that. It thinks it can oppose, hate and even curse God. Ultimately it thinks it can even assemble together to destroy His people and fight God Almighty. 'Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army.' (Rev 19:19) Yes, they genuinely think they can fight the One who has power over everything. There is no greater deceived and reprobate mind than this. They will truly learn of their incredible folly the hard way... but by the time they do learn, it will be too late.
- The 6th seal: 'The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.' (Rev 6:14)
- The 7th trumpet: 'Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm.' (Rev 11:19)
- The 7th bowl: 'Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake... From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men.' (Rev 16:18,21)
The 6th seal shows every mountain and island removed from its place just as what occurs in the 7th bowl. People then hide in the rocks in tremendous fear at the wrath of the Lamb. The 7th trumpet speaks of lightning, thunder, an earthquake and great hail. Again, all the things that we see in the 7th bowl which has 'flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, a severe earthquake... huge hailstones...' Interestingly, we also see the temple in heaven opened at the 7th trumpet, which was closed at the announcement of the bowl judgments until the wrath was finished (Rev 15:8). This again suggests they finish together and that with the final bowl the wrath of God is complete and the heavenly temple is again reopened.
"We might say that Revelation 16 is a "great" chapter.
a. It describes great evil: a great city, great Babylon (Rev 16:19).
b. It describes great tools of judgment: great heat (Rev 16:9), a great river dried up (Rev 16:12), a great earthquake (Rev 16:18), great hail and great plagues (Rev 16:21).
c. It describes a great God: His great voice (loud is the same Greek word for great; verses 1; 17), and His great day of victory (Rev 16:14).
When the Septuagint was written, translating the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek, the Jewish scholars used the same Greek word, 'helkos', to translate the boils that are mentioned in Exo 9:9 and Job 2:7 - so there is a connection with what has been and what is to come.
"His kingdom was darkened" indicates a strange darkness which might be called black light. We are familiar with that in our day. It will be a frightening thing. As the sun's wattage is increased, it grows darker instead of lighter. The heat will be greater, but the light will be less. Note the similarity to the darkness of Egypt during the ninth plague (Exo_10:21-22).
Just as a note, it will also be dried up for the sons of Israel to return to the land at the start of the Millennium:
Isa 11:15-16 The LORD will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea; with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand over the Euphrates River. He will break it up into seven streams so that men can cross over in sandals. (16) There will be a highway for the remnant of his people that is left from Assyria, as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt.
God almighty examples in Revelation:
- Right from the first chapter, Jesus declares Himself to be God Almighty (Rev 1:8)
- We hear it spoken in heaven by the four living creatures (Rev 4:8) and the 24 elders as Jesus begins His reign on earth at the 7th Trumpet (Rev 11:16-17)
- It is proclaimed by the saints before the throne who worship and sing the song of the Lamb (Rev 15:3) and also by the martyrs at the altar as seen in this chapter (Rev 16:14)
- It will be proclaimed at the announcement of the marriage of the Lamb (Rev 19:6-7)
- The world will experience the fierce wrath of God Almighty at the second coming and the treading of the winepress (Rev 16:14, 19:15)
- Finally, the last mention is of God Almighty, the One who has power over everything, is when He dwells with His people and is the temple that fills the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:22)
The thunder, lightning and earthquake have earlier been seen in Rev 8:5 in connection with the prayers of the saints. They are getting their prayers answered on this day.
- God has used hailstones before of course:
- The 7th plague upon Egypt was hailstones (Ex 9:23)
- When Joshua fought the 5 kings of the Ammorites we read:
As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the LORD hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites. (Jos 10:11)
- In the God-Magog battle, hailstones will again be used to defeat Israel's enemies (Ezek 38:22)