FINAL JUDGMENT COMMENCES Revelation 16
There is no denying the fact that the book of Revelation is a book of judgment. It was written to people in the first century who were smiting under the angry whip of Roman persecution. It was given to them to let them know that God has a plan for the judgment of all those who have rejected Him.
While there are passages that allow for rejoicing in the chapters of this book, it is, for the most part, a chronicle of God’s final judgment of sin, sinners and Satan. In Revelation there is a series of three judgments which are executed in seven stages each. There are the seven seal judgments, the seven trumpet judgments and finally the seven bowl judgments. As the judgments progress, the intensity and severity of the judgments increase.
We have arrived at the final set of judgments. In Rev. 15:7 shows one of the four beasts giving to seven angels seven bowls “full” of the wrath of God. Just as a reminder, the word “full” means “to swell”. It is the image of a dam, under pressure, nearing its bursting point. This is a good description of the wrath of God.
Ever since Adam sinned in Eden, the wrath of God against sin and sinners has been building. The grace and mercy of God have served as a powerful dam, which has held that wrath in check. In the judgments of the Revelation, the dam of God’s wrath bursts and a Christ rejecting world is swept away in the wave of judgment that issues forth.
Up to this point, God has always tempered His wrath. God has been faithful to honor the request of the prophet Habakkuk. In Hab. 3:2, the prophet prayed, “in wrath remember mercy.” But, now the time for judgment has come. There will be no mercy any longer. The wrath of God is about to be poured out. God is preparing to commence His final judgment of the earth.
In Rev. 14:10, John writes, “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation.” In these verses, the world is about to experience the undiluted wrath of an offended God.
In verse 1 God issues the command for the angels to begin pouring out the bowls filled with His wrath upon the earth.
PLAGUES IN THE SINNER vs 2
A. When the first bowl is poured out, all those who have worshiped the beast and who have received his mark are afflicted with sores in the bodies. The word “sore” literally means “an ulcer”. It has the idea of an open, running, ulcerated place on the skin. It probably refers to an oozing boil.
These sores are called “noisome”. This word means “of a bad nature, troublesome, injurious”. They are also described as “grievous”. This word refers to something that is “annoying, painful, or bad”. These two words reveal that these sores will be extremely painful, festering and incurable.
No doubt the greatest medical minds of the age will do their best to find a cure, but they will fail. There will be no cream, no poultice, or no drug that will bring relief to the people suffering from these boils.
These festering ulcers bring to mind the ancient plagues in Egypt. The sixth of those plagues is found in Ex. 9:8-12. In that plague, the people of Egypt suffered from incurable, painful boils all over their bodies. This seems to be the same kind of physical problem Job experienced, Job 2:7.
PLAGUES IN THE SEA vs 3
When the second bowl is poured out, the waters of earth’s oceans are corrupted and become like the putrid, fetid blood of a corpse. Back in Rev. 8:8-9, when the second trumpet judgment was administered, one-third of the ocean was affected. Here, the cataclysm is worldwide. This will greatly effect the world food supply fro the seas. Without this source of food, millions will face starvation.
PLAGUES IN THE STREAMS v. 4-7
When the third bowl is poured out, the fresh water sources of this world are stricken. Again, we saw this in miniature back in Rev. 8:10-11, when one-third of the world’s fresh water supplies were poisoned when a comet, a meteor, or some other heavenly body fell in to them.
Here, they are turned to blood. By the time this plague is poured out on the earth, the world has become absolutely blood thirsty. Millions of martyrs have been slain by the Antichrist and his forces. Millions of saints have had their blood shed by the enemies of God. He honors their desire for blood by giving them blood to drink. When Jesus was here, His first miracle was to turn water into wine. That miracle was designed to draw men to Him. Here He turns the water into blood to remind men of Him. One by one, the Lord is removing every prop, every comfort, everything mankind leans on for support and takes for granted.
PLAGUES IN THE SUN vs 8-9
The fourth plague touches the sun. Its heat is allowed to burn the bodies of men. The word “scorch” means “to be burned with heat; to be tortured with intense heat.” By some means, God will allow the heat of the sun to be intensified and the bodies of men will be burned.
This universe is an amazing place. God created everything and placed it exactly where it needed to be. The sun is some 93 million miles away from the earth. It sits at exactly the precise distance to allow life to exist on this planet. If the sun were any closer, we would be burned up. If the sun were any farther away, we would freeze to death. God placed it exactly where it needs to be.
Since the dawn of time the sun has risen every morning and sat every evening. It has yielded life-giving, dependable heat and light for thousands of years. One day, mankind will awaken to a sun that will blaze down in flaming heat. It will scorch their bodies. But, it will be nothing compared to the pain they will feel when they are cast into Hell’s fire. This is just a warning of something far more terrible and final!
THE BEAST IS PLAGUED v. 10a
Up until now the Beast has been somewhat sheltered from direct attack. When this fifth bowl is poured out, it is directed at the very seat of his power. Like Pharaoh in ancient Egypt, the Antichrist, with all his power is helpless against the judgment of God Almighty. This plague begins at the very throne room of the Antichrist and then spreads to cover his entire kingdom. He may be a powerful ruler, energized and supported by Satan, but he is helpless to defend himself against the God of Heaven!
When the fifth bowl judgment is unleashed upon the world, the world is suddenly engulfed in darkness. This darkness is not the darkness we normally think of, it is absolute, inky blackness. The darkness will be so complete that nothing can penetrate it. Surely this darkness represents some change in the way light reaches the planet. It also suggests that the power grids that we use to light the earth will be done away with. Whatever causes this darkness, it will be severe and it will be complete.
This supernaturally imposed darkness is a tangible representation of the darkness that has already engulfed the world. The world has already rejected the Light of the World, the Lord Jesus, because they loved darkness rather than light, John 3:19. This world chose moral, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional darkness over the light that was available in the person of Jesus Christ and in the Word of God. They favored darkness over light and God gives them more darkness than they ever bargained for!
We are also told that when this darkness descends, men will literally chew their tongues because their pain is so great. The combined misery of the sores in their bodies; starvation from the ruined oceans; the lack of drinkable water and terrible burns they have suffered from the intense heat of the sun, all combine to cause the inhabitants of the earth to writhe in pain.
A BATTLE IS PLANNED v. 12-16
The sixth bowl is poured out on the earth and it sets the stage for the battle of Armageddon. When this angel pours out his bowl, we are told that the Euphrates River will dry up. The Euphrates begins in Turkey at Mount Ararat and flows south, through Iraq, and into the Persian Gulf. This river, which is over 1,700 miles long and 3,600 feet wide at places, has been for centuries, the dividing line between the east and the west. As we know, no river really poses a problem for a modern mechanized army, but God will remove every obstacle and prepare the way for a massive invasion of Middle East.
How will the river be dried up? Considering the fact that the oceans and all fresh waters have been turned to blood, the amount of rainfall the earth has received has been dramatically reduced; some have speculated that water levels would be far lower than normal anyway. Add to this the fact that many dams have been built along the river, it would be very easy for human engineers to cut off the water. However, the fourth bowl intensified the heat of the sun. This would cause the snow and the ice cap on Mount Ararat to melt, causing the Euphrates to overflow its banks. Either way, it will be the result of divine intervention. God will speak and the waters of the Euphrates will cease to flow so that a massive army can pass.
A. v. 12 An Army – We are told that an vast eastern army will use the highway created by the drying up of the Euphrates River to move toward Israel. The intention of this army is the total destruction of Israel. The phrase “kings of the east” literally means “the kings of the rising sun”. This reference has caused many to speculate that China and her allies will be the source of this army. Back in Rev. 9:16, the Bible speaks of an army that numbers some 200 million. Only one nation on earth could raise an army of that size: China.
However, I would like to propose a different interpretation. The way things are shaping up in our world, we are headed toward a showdown between the Islam and the Jews. Ever since the United Nations took Palestinian lands and gave it to the Jews, there has been conflict in that region, The Arab nations that surround Israel have repeatedly tried to oust the Jews from Palestine; they have failed in every attempt. Though outnumbered some seven to one, the Israelis have defeated their Arab enemies every time they met on the field of battle. This has created great hostility in the hearts of the Arab nations.
Imagine returning home to land that had been in your family for centuries only to find someone else living there and you and your family evicted with no place to go. The Arabs hate the Jews and they long for the total destruction of the nation of Israel. I think that is what we are seeing in these verses.
While Islam paints itself in colors of peace and love, the religion also calls for the deaths of all Jews and Christians. Anyone who is not a Muslim is an infidel in their eyes, and infidels must either repent or die! Dr. Ken Trivette, in a sermon on these verses, shares the following quotations from the Qur’an.
· Qur’an 59:14 “The Jews are devoid of sense. There is a grievous punishment awaiting them. Satan tells them not to believe so they will end up in Hell.”
· Qur’an 4:55 “Sufficient for the Jew is the Flaming Fire!”
· Qur’an 88:1 “Has the narration reached you of the overwhelming (calamity)? Some faces (all disbelievers, Jews and Christians) that Day, will be humiliated, downcast, scorched by the burning fire, while they are made to drink from a boiling hot spring.”
It would be for radical Islam to field a massive army bent on the annihilation of the Jews and their state. It may be Islam that leads a final, fatal Jihad against the nation of Israel.
B. v. 13-14 The Antagonists – When this judgment is poured out, three frogs are seen coming out of the mouths of the dragon, the Beast and the false prophet. Frogs are unclean creatures and are used here to refer to evil spirits, or demons. The mouth is the source of influence. So, it seems that Satan will inspire the worlds of these hellish world leaders and they will whip their followers into a frenzy for a final assault against Israel. They are able to form a coalition between the world’s armies. This final war will be satanically inspired and energized.
C. v. 15 An Announcement – On the heels of this judgment a heavenly announcement is made. Ever since Jesus ascended back into Heaven, it has been prophesied that He would return, Acts 1:9-11. Seven years prior to these events, Christ did return and He received His bride into Heaven. That was the Rapture. This verse is referring to the Second Coming. Jesus is telling His precious people to hang on for just a little longer. His coming that has been imminent has become immediate! He is at the door! The saints of God are encouraged to keep the faith for a few more days, the Lord is coming! He is coming like a thief. The world will not see the signs, but He will come in an instant and bring judgment with Him. Jesus lets His people know, however, that their waiting is over.
D. v. 16 Armageddon – This army has been assembled by Satan to destroy the people of God. The devil still thinks that he is in control! A quick glance at the Scripture paints a different picture altogether. Verse 14 tells us that this army is being gathered “to the battle of that great day of God Almighty”. Then, verse 16 says, “He gathered them together…” Satan may think that he is in control of these events, but the real Ringmaster is God Himself. He gathers the nations of the world in the valley of Megiddo so that He might engage them and destroy them in one moment of time.
BABYLON IS PLUNDERED v. 17-21
The seventh bowl is poured out. When it is, the awful wrath of God and His judgments against the earth are ended. Also, in this final judgment, this world system is destroyed. Since the dawn of time man has moved in rebellion to God. He has rebelled in his personal life, his public life, his political life and his productive life. In these verses, that entire world system is brought crashing down and man is left with nothing! Let’s look in as Babylon is plundered.
A. v. 17 A Sentence Is Rendered – As this bowl is poured out, a voice from the throne says, “It is done!” This statement signals the fact that judgment has reached an end. The Lord Jesus is on His way. He is prepared to take back everything Adam lost in the fall. He is preparing to claim everything He purchased at the cross. Jesus is about to receive the glory He is due. When Jesus was on the cross, He cried, “It is finished!” There He announced His victory. Here, He cries, “It is done!” Here He announces His verdict. There He cried out in joy; here He cries out in judgment. He is letting us know that we have reached the end of judgment; glory is just around the corner.
B. v. 18-21a A System Is Ruined – God has been in the process of judging the earth all the way through the Tribulation. Wave after wave of divine wrath has washed over this world and its inhabitants and still this world system stands in continued defiance to the will of God in Heaven. Here, in one final stroke, God destroys the last vestiges of human power. In one final judgment, God removes the last of man’s props. God destroys everything that man has built and glories in. In a moment of time, the world is brought to its knees. Let’s take a minute to unpack these verses.
C. v. 21b All Sinners Are Revealed – Even after all they have been through, the inhabitants of the world refuse to repent. They continue to blaspheme God. It is hard to imagine that the human heart can be so hard. Yet, the condition of sinners under judgment proves that lost people are totally depraved and will not repent!
I praise the Lord that He came to me in grace and called me to Him! What love! What grace! What a Savior that would condescend to love sinners like me! He was good to me even when I was in rebellion to Him. It was goodness that won my heart and yours, Rom. 2:4. despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?