"The Final Bowls of God's Wrath"
General idea: Now, the rest of the judgment bowls are poured out. The sixth angel pours his out upon the
The nations gather for war at Armageddon. Then, the seventh angel pours out his bowl into the air and shouting that it is all finished. Thunder and lightening, earthquakes, and a great hail storm rumble far greater than ever before in history. The city of
Vs. 12-21, Contexts: This passage closes the cycle of judgments, and the imagery tells how the world is set-up for the Second Coming of Christ (Is. 51:17-22; Jer. 25:15-29; Lam. 4:21; Ezek. 23:31-34; Hab. 2:16; 2 Pet. 3:9-15; 1 John 2:28; Rev. 3:1-6; 14:10; 15:1; 16:19)! In contrast, this is also about how God cares for His faithful and vindicates us from those who do evil and oppress us. These images are not meant to terrify us, but to show us how God works; then, we can beware and defend ourselves by exercising the precepts found in this letter as the early church did prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
God's is totally fair! His judgments are pure and righteous; there is no fault or wrong with Him or His plan. Those who sin do so willfully, and when they refuse His grace and redemption they get what they want-His judgment (Psalm 97:2). Humanity has no right or argument to accuse or fight against God. Yet, within His judgments are His love and promises for those who are faithful; His love even extends in Judgment by giving the wicked what they want-separation from Him and His goodness. This is a call for the wicked to take heed and repent-or else. This is also a call for us to be ready for His glorious and wondrous return!
Word and Phrase Meanings:
· Was dried up to prepare refers to no delay-easy passage for an army in contrast to the
· Kings from the East. Most assume this means invaders from anywhere east of
· Three evil spirits/devils gives an image from the apocalyptic book, 2 Baruch, and tells of demons that cause havoc prior to the end of days. It refers to demons and how they can be God's agents to do His bidding and judgment (James ).
· Frogs were images of evil or what is bad and wrong, as they are "unclean" animals, and also an allusion to the plagues of
· Miraculous signs refers to deception and false prophets (Deut. 13:1-3; Matt. 24:24; 2 Thess. 2:9; )
· Kings of the whole world. Perhaps a different set of people from kings of the east; these are the armies who seek to wage war even against God (1 Sam. 8:4-18; Rev. 6:15; -21).
· Great day of God means God's judgment will be complete and perfect and not have any social class or economic barriers to it. God vindicates us! It is judgment time for those people who are unjust and evil oppressors (Rev. 13:13; -21).
· Gather/assemble them for the battle. This was a metaphor for Judgment. The nations of earth actually think they can battle God! It is a scene for the evils of the world to fight against God metaphorically as we all do from time to time, or to the extreme of cursing God till you die. This is also an image of God confronting the forces of evil, the battle against of good versus evil, our personal battle of sin. This is also, in context to the Seven Churches, our personalities, ways, pride, and agendas converging and conflicting for the battle for the Church-His ways or ours in our lust for command and control of His Church. This, of course, is also the reference to a future, perhaps, actual eschatological battle, that is prepared for and staged just before Christ returns (Ex. 15:2; Is. 43:9; Joel 3:2-11; Zeph. 3:8; Ezek. Chaps 38-39; Rev. 2:10-13; 6:12-17; 17:13-14; 19:11-21; 20:7-10).
· Great day of God Almighty day of the Lord. Almighty refers to God's omnipotence and His "All," as in supremacy and preeminence. As a phrase, this was also a metaphor for Judgment (Amos 5:18-20; 2 Cor. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:2).
· Come like a thief. A popular image of the last days, this refers to being prepared because one does not know when such things will come about. What are we to prepare with? Philippians 1 tells us, by faith and maturity! It is not by infighting and speculation!
· Stays awake means that the guards, at their post, protected people, but could not if they fell asleep.
· Keeps his clothes with him means vigilance and preparedness, and a representation of shame. Most people in that culture slept in the nude when it was warm, but would be horrified to be seen that way in public; to run out of your house naked would be great shame, even if chasing a thief (Gen 3:7; Is. 47:3; Ezek. 16:37; Hab. 2:16; Eph. 6; Rev. 3:3, 18).
· They gathered. This theme is deeply rooted in Old Testament prophecy; God will gather them to judgment for their own self destruction. This is also a reinforcement that God is the head of the armies (1 Sam. 17:45; Is. 13:4; Jer. 50:29; Joel 3:2-11; Zeph. 3:8; Zech. 12:3; 14:2).
· Armageddon. This is the only place in scripture that this term occurs. Today, this is a popular image of a great climatic battle-WW III and the end of all things. It means extreme conflict and judgment, a representation of the overthrow of Satan and evil by God; thus, it is not necessarily a geographic reference. In the first century, it was a Hebrew transliteration (Har-Magedon) meaning "the gathering place of the crowd" for the "mount of
· Into the air. In context, this perhaps means a "theophany," an explicit manifestation of God, or, at the very least, a reference to God's Glory (Ex. ; Rev. 4:5).
· It is done. References John 19:30.
· Earthquake…. every island fled away. An image of the end of the age. But, those in Christ the ROCK will not be shaken (Matt. -25; Heb. -28; Rev. 6:12-14; ; ).
· God remembered
· Mountains could not be found. This means the incredible, vast devastation and the end of the world as we know it. These people deserved their just reward-extreme punishment (Ex. ; Rev. 16:9).
· Huge hailstones. Such a catastrophe causes total devastation like ordnance shells. This delays the plans of man and the battle of Armageddon has to wait for another time (Ex. 9:24-27; Is. 28:17; Ezek. 38:17-23; Rev. 6:12-17; 7:1-3; -21).
· Hundred pounds/talent refers to being very heavy, causing great upheaval and disaster.
Thoughts and Applications:
Have you ever considered that God suffers from our sins? And, in the midst of our sin, He is patient? Yet, one day, His patience will come to its fruition; His judgments, which will be honorable and blameless, will come about. Remember that God's wrath refers to the judgment that is coming; it will be a reality (Is. 65:2; Joel ; Mal. 3:2). This is something we Christians need not fear as Christ covers our sin for us (Zeph. 1:14-18; Nahum. 1:6; Mal. 3:2; Rom. 1:18; 3:9-23; 6:23; 2 Pet. 3:9-15; Rev.19:15). God loves holiness and love, and both produce justice. He hates sin and discord. Without love expressed in holiness, there can be no justice or hope for the righteous and faithful. There is hope and assurance when our trust is in Christ and His righteousness. He is our hope, even when the very foundations of the universe are collapsing around and under us. When our hope is in Christ, nothing can shake us (Luke 12:32-34; 1 Cor. 7:29-31; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Heb. 12:25-29; Rev. 6:16).
Remember this very important point: sin and wrong desires, factions, and immorality bring us only "darkness." Darkness refers to having no peace, contentment, or happiness; chasing evils and pleasure, even our wants, only leaves us destitute of what is really important. This can be in a family, in a nation, in the world, and even in the Church. Thus, a defiant heart will only bring pain, chaos, strife, disillusionment, dysfunction, discouragement, distress, and grief. So, who wants that? Remember, He will equip us with what He requires for us to live a triumphant, purpose-filled life (Is. 57:15-21; 59:1-21; 59:15-18; 65:1-15)!
The Four Prevailing Views
The Preterist view: They see this passage as the preparation of defeat for
The Futurist view: They see this passage as the antichrist causing World War III and the details to this battle of Armageddon which they see as taking place (even though Scripture may tell us otherwise). They see God removing the
The Idealist view: They see this passage as the fears of the Seven Churches for the pending Parthian invasion. Others see this as Nero's suicide and the upheavals that occurred for the early Church that led to the escalation of persecution until
The Historicist view: They see this passage as the Turks invading former
The Essential Inductive Questions (for more Inductive questions see Inductive Bible Study):
1. What does this passage say?
2. What does this passage mean?
3. What is God telling me?
4. How am I encouraged and strengthened?
5. Is there sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
6. How can I be changed, so I can learn and grow?
7. What is in the way of these precepts affecting me? What is in the way of my listening to God?
8. How does this apply to me? What will I do about it?
9. What can I model and teach?
10. What does God want me to share with someone?
1. Of all the plagues that have been listed, which ones do you fear the most: boils, drought, heat, hail, earthquakes, disease, darkness, or something else? How would you deal with them?
2. This passage testifies to the readiness of Christ's return. They question is, are you ready? What does it mean to be ready? What do you need to do to prepare for Him?
3. How have you or do you seek to battle God, by thought or inaction? What about factions in your church? When we come against one another, are we actually battling God?
4. What did you think Armageddon or I will come like a thief were about prior to studying Revelation? What do you think now?
5. Have you ever considered that God suffer because of our sins? And, in the midst of our sin that He is patient?
6. In your experience, how have you seen a defiant heart bring pain, chaos, strife, disillusionment, dysfunction, discouragement, distress, and grief? So, who wants that?
7. What have you done to receive Him and remain faithful?
8. Why do these people remain defiant and wicked instead of repenting? How do you think they will curse God?
9. What does it mean to not defile yourselves with the filth of sin or be exposed to evil and manipulators? How do Christians find themselves being ashamed of their faith in Christ?
10. This people who refuse to repent or seek Christ are in a battle of command and control! How do you think so?
11. How do you feel that these images are not meant to terrify us, but show us how God works so we can beware and defend ourselves? So, how can you defend yourself or prepare?
12. What can you do to better hold to your faith and watch for Christ without being sucked into the latest theories and fads of His return?
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
© 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org