Revelation 16 – The Bowls Of God’s Wrath

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I. Video Data. Sep 26, 2019. Chosen People Ministries. You are invited to our 125th Anniversary Gala at the Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn! Learn more here: https://www.chosenpeople.com/site/ann… Deuteronomy 14:2.

II. Text. Let us now consider the plight of the non-raptured Jews and Gentiles, of whom will find themselves in the tribulation. Up to this point in this study, all unbelievers that were left behind have been under the hand of persecution of the antichrist and the seal and trumpet judgments of God; the antichrist’s persecutions are included in the judgments of God. God is using the tribulation judgments to draw His chosen people, the Jews, to saving faith in Christ as Messiah. There is no such specific plan for Gentiles in the tribulation, but they also may come to saving faith in Christ. There are people who teach that the Judgments of God (seal, trumpet, bowl) took place in 70 A.D. But, as you read about the the Bowl judgments, as they are described in this 16th Chapter of Revelation, it will become very clear that none of these bowls of God’s wrath have yet been poured out on the earth. There are also people who teach that the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments will happen at the same time. But, that “opinion” of prophecy is incorrect, and can be verified by a comparison of judgments; e.g., one-fourth of mankind being killed in Rev 6:8, being killed at the same time as one-third of mankind being killed in Rev 9:15-18. The prophecies of Jeremiah, Daniel, and Christ in Matthew, clearly show that the time of tribulation relates to Israel, and not gentiles. The Ryrie Study Bible shows that Matt 24:4-14 refers to the first half of the tribulation, and 24:15-28 refers to the second half of the tribulation. The second half of the tribulation is also known as the Great Tribulation (Mt 24:21). Mt 24:29-31 refers to the second coming of Christ to earth from Heaven. Mt 24:32-25:46 refers to the judgments that will come at the hand of Christ on the survivors of the tribulation, whether for eternal death or eternal life. Unless otherwise indicated, all notes in this article come from the MacArthur Study Bible; dates come from the Scofield Study Bible. The Matthew and Revelation commentaries of Dr. John F. Walvoord shows the parallels that exist between Mt 24 and Rev 6-7.

A. Revelation 16 (NKJV) (Written 96 A.D.)

1. The Seven Bowls.

a. 1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”

b. Note. 6:1—19:21 This lengthy section details the judgments and events of the time of tribulation (see notes on 3:10) from its beginning with the opening of the first seal (vv. 1, 2) through the 7 seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments to the return of Christ to destroy the ungodly (19:11–21).

B. First Bowl: Loathsome Sores

a. 2 So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.

b. Note. first…bowl…a foul and loathsome sore. The Septuagint (LXX) uses the same Gr. word to describe the boils that plagued the Egyptians (Ex. 9:9–11) and afflicted Job (Job 2:7). In the NT, it describes the open sores that covered the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:21). All over the world, people will be afflicted with incurable, open, oozing sores. mark of the beast. Only the worshipers of Antichrist will be afflicted (see note on 13:16; cf. 14:9–11).

C. Second Bowl: The Sea Turns to Blood

a. 3 Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.

b. Note. second…bowl…every living creature in the sea died. This is reminiscent of the second trumpet (8:8, 9), and of the first plague against Egypt (Ex. 7:20–25). This plague, however, will be far more widespread. The water in the world’s oceans will become thick, dark, and coagulated, like the blood of a corpse. The death and decay of billions of sea creatures will only add to the misery of this judgment.

D. Third Bowl: The Waters Turn to Blood

a. 4 Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying: “You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things. 6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” 7 And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”

b. Note. 16:4. third…bowl…rivers and springs of water. Fresh water, already in short supply because of the prolonged drought (11:6), will now suffer the fate of the oceans (cf. Ex. 7:19ff.). In addition to suffering from thirst, the worshipers of Antichrist will have no clean water with which to wash their sores. 16:6 given them blood to drink. The thick, blood-like substance which the fresh waters have become is all that is available to drink (cf. v. 4).

E. Fourth Bowl: Men Are Scorched

a. 8 Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. 9 And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.

b. Note. 16:8. fourth…bowl…scorch…with fire. 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 200 ft., 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. 16:9 they did not repent. Incredibly, sinners will still refuse to repent (cf. vv. 11, 21), and instead blaspheme God—the One they know has caused their afflictions.

F. Fifth Bowl: Darkness and Pain

a. 10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. 11 They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.

b. Note. 16:10. throne of the beast. This refers to either Antichrist’s actual throne, or his capital city, but extends to all his dominion. Regardless of where the darkness begins, it eventually covers Antichrist’s entire kingdom. full of darkness. Worldwide darkness is elsewhere associated with the judgment of God (cf. Is. 60:2; Joel 2:2; Mark 13:24, 25). gnawed their tongues. A futile attempt to alleviate the pain from their sores, the drought, and the fierce heat. 16:11 blasphemed the God of heaven. A sign of their continued loyalty to Antichrist and their anger at God for the cumulative miseries brought about by the first 5 bowls. “God of heaven,” a frequent OT title for God, appears in the NT only here and in 11:13. their sores. The lingering effects of the first bowl are the chief cause of their blasphemy.

G. Sixth Bowl: Euphrates Dried Up

a. 12 Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. 13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

b. Note. 16:12. Euphrates. With its flow already reduced by the prolonged drought and intensified heat, God supernaturally will dry it up to make way for the eastern confederacy to reach Palestine (Is. 11:15). the kings from the east. God will have to dry it up miraculously for the eastern army to get to Armageddon. God providentially draws these kings and their armies in order to destroy them in the battle of Armageddon (v. 14). 16:14. kings of the earth. No longer just the eastern confederacy, but now all the world begins to gather in Palestine for the final, climactic battle (Ps. 2:2, 3; Joel 3:2–4; Zech. 14:1–3). the battle of that great day of God Almighty. The Battle of Armageddon (v. 16). It is the great war with God and Christ (see notes on 2 Thess. 1:7–10; cf. Joel 2:11; 3:2, 4). The war will end when Christ arrives (19:17–20).

c. 15 “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.”
16 And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. 16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

d. Note. Armageddon. The Heb. name for Mt. Megiddo, 60 mi. N 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 Palestine (see note on 14:20).

H. Seventh Bowl: The Earth Utterly Shaken

a. 17 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. 19 Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. 20 Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.

b. Note. 16:17. seventh…bowl…“It is done!” This bowl will complete God’s wrath (except for final judgment on the rebellion at the end of the Millennium; 20:7–10) and immediately precedes the second coming of Christ. It will usher in the worst calamity in the history of the world. God will punctuate the completion of His wrath with a devastating earthquake—the most powerful in earth’s history (cf. vv. 19–21). 16:19 the great city. Cf. 11:13; 21:10; see notes on Zech 14:1–8. Jerusalem will be split into 3 parts (Zech. 14:4), not as a judgment (cf. 11:13), but as an improvement. The additional water supply (Zech. 14:8) and topographical changes (Zech. 14:4, 5) will prepare the city for its central place in the millennial kingdom. Jerusalem is the only city to be spared the judgment (cf. 1 Chr. 23:25; Ps. 125:1, 2; Mic. 4:7) and will be made more beautiful (Ps. 48:2), because of her repentance (see 11:13). cities of the nations. God’s purpose is very different for the rest of the world’s cities—they are to be destroyed. Babylon. The capital of the Antichrist’s empire will receive a special outpouring of God’s wrath as prophesied in Is. 13:6–13. Chapters 17, 18 give details of its destruction. 16:20 every island fled…mountains…not found. This powerful earthquake will radically alter all the earth’s topography, preparing it for the coming millennial kingdom. Cf. 6:12–14; Is. 40:4, 5; Jer. 4:23–27. 16:21 a talent. The heaviest weight a normal man could carry (about 75 lbs.). The huge size of the hailstones indicates unparalleled atmospheric convulsions. Such massive chunks of ice will cause unimaginable devastation and death.

B. Daniel 12:1 (NKJV) (534 B.C.)

a. “At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.

b. Note. that time. This points back to 11:36–45, the time of the ascendancy of Antichrist during the final tribulation period. During that period, Michael the archangel (cf. Jude 9) of 10:13, 21 ministers with special attention to protecting Israel during that Gentile time (cf. Is. 26:20, 21; Jer. 30:7; Matt. 24:21). “Your people” means Daniel’s Israelite people, who can have hope, even in the distress of an unprecedented kind set for the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21; cf. Rev. 12:12–17; 13:7). The book is the book of the saved (Mal. 3:16—4:3; Luke 10:20; Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27).

C. Jeremiah 30:7 (NKJV) (606 B.C.)

a. 7. Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.

b. Note. time of Jacob’s trouble. This period of unprecedented difficulty for Israel, as the verse defines, is set in a context of Israel’s final restoration. It is best equated with the time of tribulation (cf. vv. 8, 9) just before Christ’s Second Advent, mentioned elsewhere (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21, 22) and described in detail by Rev. 6–19.

D. Matthew 24:21 (NKJV) (33 A.D.)

a. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.

b. Note. great tribulation. The words “has not been” and “nor ever shall be”—along with the description that follows—identify this as the yet-future time in which God’s wrath shall be poured out upon the earth (see note on Rev. 7:14). Jesus’ descriptions of the cataclysms that follow closely resemble the outpouring of divine wrath described in the bowl judgments of Rev. 16 and His subsequent appearing in Rev. 19 (see note on v. 30).

c. My note. Concerning those who teach that the tribulation occurred in 70 A.D., the truth of the matter is that there has not yet been such tribulation poured out on earth by God, as is described in Matt 24:21. For those who teach that all judgments will take place at the same time, the effects of Matt 24:21-31 can only take place in the last half of the tribulation, “in the great tribulation,” in the form of bowl judgments. Those bowl tribulation judgments can not be poured out on the earth concurrently with the seal and/or trumpet judgments. Go back to Dan 12:1 for Mt 24:21 parallel.

d. My note. There are those who teach that Matt 24:40-41 discusses the rapture.

(1) NKJV. “40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.”

(2) The rapture (John 14:2,3,6; 1 Cor 15:50-54; 1 Thes 4:13-18) teaches that “those taken” will be taken by Christ to Heaven, and that “those left” will be left on earth to endure the following tribulation. The teaching of Matt 24:40-41 is that at the second coming of Christ, “at the end of the tribulation:”

(a) those Jews that “have not accepted Christ” during the tribulation “will be taken,” in death, to judgment (Great White Throne Judgment, Rev 20:10-15).

(b) those Jews that “have accepted Christ” during the tribulation “will be left,” in life, to enter the Kingdom Age of the millennium on earth.

e. Ryrie Study Bible note. Mt 24:40-41: “The ones “taken” will be taken to judgment and death. The ones “left” will be left to enter the blessings of the millennial kingdom.

f. My note. There are those who teach that Mat 25:31-46 discusses “Judgment Day,” where all of mankind, of all time, will face God and learn if they will go to heaven or hell. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matt+25%3A31-46&version=NKJV

g. Ryrie Study Bible note. Mt 25:32: “All the nations.” Lit., All the Gentiles. This is a judgment of those Gentiles “who survive the tribulation” and whose heart-relation to God is evidenced by their treatment of the Jews (Christ’s brethren, v 40), especially during that time. Surviving Jews will also be judged at this time. See Ezek 20:33-44. (See Mt 24:40-41, mine).
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=ezek+20%3A33-44&version=NKJV

III. Summary. The rapture has not yet taken place; neither has the tribulation. The rapture will precede the tribulation. The judgments of the tribulation will not be mixed, as to their being poured out on the earth by God. Only those whom have been born again will be taken to heaven in the rapture.

IV. Closing Video. A testimony.

How I Became a Jew for Jesus!Jun 11, 2013. Jews for Jesus.

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