Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bible Study - Revelation Chapter 16

Revelation Chapter 16

The Bowl Judgments

Rev 16:1  And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.
Rev 16:2  And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.
Rev 16:3  And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
Rev 16:4  And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
Rev 16:5  And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.
Rev 16:6  For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
Rev 16:7  And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
Rev 16:8  And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
Rev 16:9  And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
Rev 16:10  And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,
Rev 16:11  And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
Rev 16:12  And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
Rev 16:13  And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
Rev 16:14  For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Rev 16:15  Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
Rev 16:16  And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
Rev 16:17  And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.
Rev 16:18  And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
Rev 16:19  And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
Rev 16:20  And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
Rev 16:21  And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.


Introduction

·        In order to keep the chronological sequence and order of the Tribulation events in mind, let’s review several points about the seven seals, trumpets, and the seven bowls, which together make up the Tribulation judgments:
1.      Since there are no judgments described with the opening of the seventh seal as with the previous six, and since the seven trumpets judgment follow immediately (Rev 8:1-6), it seems evident that the seventh seal consists of the seven trumpets.
2.      The seventh and final trumpet judgment (Rev 11:15-19) does not describe one specific judgment as with the other six trumpets, but signifies that whole part of the Tribulation program of God’s wrath that will, at the end, bring in the kingdom through the return of Christ. However, it will also cause great anger and rebellion on the part of the unbelieving world. Only the results of the seventh trumpet are described in Rev 11:15-19. The judgments themselves, which make up the seventh trumpet and which accomplish the victory described in Rev 11:15-19 are the seven bowl judgments called the seven plagues, the last ones (rev 15:1-16:21). The seven bowls are the seventh trumpet and spell out what the seventh trumpet consists of by way of its judgments.
3.      Chapters 12-14 were parenthetic with chapter 15 being introductory to chapter 16 which now takes us to the specific judgments of the seventh trumpet.
4.      There is a great deal of similarity in the judgments of the trumpets and bowls. In both, the first series deals with the earth (cf. Rev 8:7 with Rev 16:2), the second series deals with the sea (cf. Rev 8:8-9 with Rev 16:3), the third series deals with the rivers and fountains of water (cf. Rev 8:10-11 with Rev 16:4), the fourth series deals with the sun (cf. Rev 8:12 with Rev 16:8), the fifth series deals with darkness (cf. Rev 8:12 with Rev 16:10), the sixth series deals with the Euphrates (cf. Rev 9:13-14 with Rev 16:12), and the seventh series deals with lightnings, thunders, and earthquakes (cf. Rev 11:19 b with Rev 16:17-21)
5.      However, a careful study of these two sections will reveal some striking differences: (a) The first four trumpets deal with only one-third of the earth while the bowl judgments are universal in scope. (b) The bowls are also much greater in intensity as well as in degree of coverage and effect. (c) They fall quickly as a liquid poured out of a bowl and in rapid succession—like trip hammer blows. It is best, therefore, to see the bowls as different from the trumpets judgments.
6.      These last seven judgments cause the further hardening of the hearts of men. Remember they are called plagues and have much the same result on the world as the plagues of Egypt had on Pharaoh. These plagues will show: (a) The total rebellion and independence of the creature to his Creator. Because of the callousness and hardening built up in the hearts of men, these judgments will result in anger and blasphemy from the heart and mouths of men rather than fear and reverence and trust. They are hardening plagues which God uses to His own glory (cf. vss. 9, 11, 21). (b) But these plagues (bowl judgments) will crush man’s rebellion and remove the rebellious from the earth. The completion of this will be accomplished by the return of Christ with His armies (Eze 20:38, Joel 3:2-17, Mat 13:40-43, Rev 19:11-21).

 

The First Bowl: Painful Sores (16:1-2)

Rev 16:1  And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.
Rev 16:2  And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

·        Verse 1: The seven angels are now commanded to pour out their bowl of judgment upon the earth. 

·        Verse 2: Immediately, in obedience to the voice from the temple, the first angel “poured out his bowl on the earth; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore on the men who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.”  Note that the beast is unable to help or heal the sore. “Sore” is helkos and refers to an ulcer-like sore. This is the word used in the Greek Septuagint to translate the Hebrew word for boils inflicted on the Egyptians in Exo 9:9-11.
·         

The Second Bowl: Seas Smitten  (16:3)

Rev 16:3  And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.

 

·        The Greek text here is very graphic. Literally it reads, “And it (sea) became blood as of a dead man,” i.e., like a dead man wallowing in his own blood. Every living thing (sea creature) in the sea will die.  This is global catastrophe. Under the second trumpet one-third was affected, but now, in keeping with the nature of this judgment, the rest of the sea and marine life is struck. It will wreck fishing and it is bound to affect ocean navigation, transportation and shipping.

The Third Bowl: Rivers Smitten  (16:4-7)

Rev 16:4  And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
Rev 16:5  And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.
Rev 16:6  For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
Rev 16:7  And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.

 

·        This judgment, as with the third trumpet, involves the fresh water supply. Again, there is no limit; it is global with great devastating effects. Though the results are not mentioned, they can be imagined. There will be no pure water except perhaps what will already be stored; none in the rivers and lakes.

·        “The angel of the waters” is literally, “the angel, the one of the waters.” This apparently refers to an angel who has jurisdiction over the waters of the earth as one of the varied ministries of angels. As the one in charge of this area he makes an important statement vindicating the holiness of God and setting forth the reason in this judgment (vss. 5-6).

·        These apostate and rebellious people have slain and shed the blood of believers, thus, just as the saints receive rest and reward for their faith, so these will receive punishment fitting the nature of their crimes. They have only blood to drink. They have been blood thirsty—now they get their fill. This gives us another indication that during the Tribulation the shedding of the blood of believers will be without parallel in history.

The Fourth Bowl: Scorching Heat  (16:8-9)

Rev 16:8  And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
Rev 16:9  And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.

 

·        Like the fourth trumpet, the heavens are again affected, especially the sun. In the fourth trumpet one-third of the sun, moon, and stars are affected diminishing their light by one-third (night and day). The earth will have been living under these conditions all these months between these judgments as a constant appeal to men to repent. Now, by contrast, only the sun is affected and its condition is here reversed. Rather than being diminished it is now increased in its intensity. All unbelievers get a suntan they won’t be bargaining for and all the sunscreen in the world will have no effect.

·        Whether this is caused by the earth and sun moving closer together or simply that God increases the heat of the sun we do not know. The point is, God will increase the intensity of the sun’s heat and light rays to such a degree that it will scorch and burn the skin of men. Some scientists claim we are not experiencing global warming while others maintain the earth is cooling off. Both are in for a surprise (1 Cor 1:25).

·        “And it was given to it (the sun) to burn men with fire” i.e., extreme heat rays from the sun as the next verse will show us.  (cf Psa 19:6)

·        Literally the Greek has “to scorch the men with fire.” The use of the article specifies a particular group of people, those mentioned in connection with the first bowl, unbelievers, worshipers of the beast. Evidently, believers will somehow be protected from this.

·        “And men were scorched with fierce heat and they blasphemed the name of God.” This again demonstrates two things: (a) men clearly recognize the source of the plagues, but (b) they will have become so hardened in their souls they refuse to repent. They will have reached the point of no return. This was clear when they took the mark of the beast.  This hardening of the soul (or heart) poses a warning for all of us. Anyone who becomes negative toward the Lord, grows indifferent to His Word, and ignores the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit, can begin to harden his heart and become more and more callused (cf. Heb 3:7, Eph 4:17-19). One way we can see such a condition developing in our lives is by the way we murmur and complain or look for “pity parties” among our friends. This is a sure indication that the heart has become somewhat hardened (cf. Heb 3:7-19 with 1 Cor 10:5-10. Note particularly verse 10.).

The Fifth Bowl: Darkness  (16:10-11)

Rev 16:10  And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,
Rev 16:11  And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

 

·        As with the fifth trumpet, this bowl judgment results in darkness, as also in the ninth plague of Egypt (Exo 10:21-23).

·        The Object of the Fifth Bowl—the throne of the Beast (10b)

·        First, we are told the bowl is poured out “upon the throne of the beast.” Regardless of his apparent power, the beast will not be able to escape God’s judgment.

·        Second, the beast refers to a person as well as to a political system, therefore, his throne is a definite place.

·        The Effects of the Fifth Bowl (10-11)

·        The first effect is seen in “his kingdom became darkened.” Since the beast rules practically the entire world, and since these are the last plagues of the Tribulation which complete the wrath of God to establish God’s rule on earth, this darkness is undoubtedly world-wide.

·        The second effect: “And they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.” We have in this an accumulated effect of the preceding bowls, the sores, the seas smitten, the fresh water turned into blood, the scorching of the sun, and now total darkness. Men are shut up in their quarters with their sores and pain and there is no alleviation, no hope—only constant torment.

·        The third and final effect: “And they blasphemed the God of heaven … and they did not repent of their deeds” (vs. 11). In these words we are clearly told that the world will be conscious that the “God of heaven” is the source of these judgments. There will, at this time, be no more atheists or agnostics. All men will know, like the demons, that God exists, but they remain stubborn in their rebellion.

The Sixth Bowl: The Euphrates Dried  (16:12-16)

Rev 16:12  And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
Rev 16:13  And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
Rev 16:14  For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Rev 16:15  Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
Rev 16:16  And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

 

·        In verse 12 the bowl is poured and we are told of its purpose; it prepares the way for the kings of the east. Then in verses 13-16 we are given a commentary on this judgment. First, there is divine activity followed up by increased demonic activity (vss. 12-14a). Then there is the effect of this on human activity (vs. 14); and finally again, divine activity (vss. 15-16).

·        The Object of the Bowl (12a)

·        “The great river, the River Euphrates.”  This is the largest river in western Asia and has figured largely in history and prophecy. The following are a number of important facts about this great river.
1.      It formed the Eastern boundary of ancient Rome and its conquests.  It forms the Eastern boundary of the land as promised to Abraham (cf. Gen 15:18, Deu 1:7, Deu 11:24, Jos 1:4).
2.      For a brief season David and Solomon extended their authority to the Euphrates (1 Kings 4:21, 1 Chron 18:3, 2 Chron 9:26).
3.      The river is 1,800 miles long and has always stood as a natural barrier separating the east from the west.
4.      The river forms in Armenia and 1,800 miles later empties into the Persian Gulf. About 90 miles from the Persian Gulf it is joined by the Tigris.

·        The Purpose of This Bowl (12b)

·        “And its water was dried up that the way might be prepared for the kings of the east.” Isa 11:15 b and Zec 10:11 are similar prophecies of the drying up of this river. The purpose? To facilitate the movements of the troops of the oriental kings or the eastern confederacy for the final Battle of Armageddon.

·        The Divine Commentary of This Judgment (13-16)

·        The Demonic Activity (13-14a).
·        The immediate source of this activity is the trinity from hell—the Dragon or Satan, the beast (the dictator of the revived Roman Empire in its final form), and the false prophet who works miracles on behalf of the first beast (Rev 12:3, Rev 12:9, Rev 12:13).  The means of accomplishing this are three demonic spirits who proceed from the trinity to go out into the nations working miraculous signs. This will somehow be used to act on the minds of the kings and people of the nations to move against Palestine. Exactly what these signs are we are not told. But undoubtedly they somehow stir up old desires and hostilities:
5.      Strong anti-Semitism (Zec 14:1-3, Rev 12:17). The Arabs have long hated the Jews and of course in our time this has taken on increased proportions. There appears even now growing sentiment against Israel among much of the world. The actions of these demons will somehow bring this to a climax at this time.
6.      Then there is the lust of the nations for control of Palestine and its warm water seaports which would enable the one controlling Palestine to control the oil of this part of the world (Eze 38:12).

·        The Divine Activity (14b-16)
·        The kings of the world will be gathered together for war with one another, but it is a war in which man is ultimately brought against God. The armies do not know this, they think they are coming to gain control of Palestine, but God uses this to accomplish this confluence of nations for his own divine purposes (Joel 3:1-3, Zec 14:1-3). The war is called “the war of the great day of God, the Almighty”(vs. 14) and the place it is fought is called “Har-Magedon” (vs. 16). Modern man often refers to this conflict as Armageddon, the final conflict that will be fought in the Valley of Megiddo.

·        The Warning to Believers (15)
·        This verse is a parenthesis written to the faithful remnant of the Tribulation to give them comfort, hope, as well as a warning lest they become discouraged and lose their testimony.

·        “As a thief” stresses the fact that while the general time of Christ’s return in the Tribulation can be known because of the signs and specific events of the Tribulation (like the drying up of the Euphrates), the exact moment cannot be known (Mat 24:36, Act 1:7). Therefore, Tribulation believers are warned to stay awake, producing righteousness for the Lord. They are to live with a view to His return.

·        Some would try to apply this to the church, but though there is some similarity to 1 Thess 4:13 in the fact that Christ will come silently for believers, take what is His, and leave the world in disarray, the primary picture of Christ’s coming for the church is that of a Bridegroom. The thief concept primarily deals with the Tribulation or the day of wrath (cf. 1 Thess 5:2-3).  

We can see events which are unfolding today that could very well be preparatory to the Tribulation—politically, spiritually, morally and in other ways. Since the Lord returns for the church before the Tribulation, this means His coming for us, though always imminent, must be drawing nearer every day. This along with the nature of our future with Him should likewise motivate us to putting on the Lord Jesus Christ that we might be fully clothed with His life and glorious character.

The Seventh Bowl: Widespread Destruction  (16:17-21)

Rev 16:17  And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.
Rev 16:18  And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
Rev 16:19  And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
Rev 16:20  And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
Rev 16:21  And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.

 

·        The seventh bowl, the final judgment of the Tribulation is actually a series of judgments that will be poured out upon the whole earth. As the Tribulation is a time of unprecedented trial or judgment, so the seventh bowl is the most severe and totally devastating judgment of the whole Tribulation, ending with the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth. His personal return is not mentioned in these verses or this chapter, but from the circumstances and the sixth plague, the return of Christ has to be a part of this judgment.

·        The Greek word megas is repeated seven times in these verses. This emphasizes the unprecedented nature and finality of this series of judgments. It also stresses how this series of judgments perfectly (the emphasis of the number seven) accomplishes and brings to an end God’s program of judgment. Of the eleven times the Greek word megas is used in this chapter, seven are in relation to this last bowl.

·        The Great Voice (l7)

·        First, note that this bowl is aimed or poured out upon the air. “Air” is the Greek aer which refers to our atmosphere, the air we breathe.

 “it is done.” This is "to come into being", "come to pass", "take place", "done") that refers to action as not merely ended, but which was brought to its appropriate end and with results that continue.   If you recall, there was another moment in history when our Lord made a similar statement. When on the cross, in those final hours of darkness, he cried out tetelesqai “it is done” or “it is finished.”

·        The Great Earthquake (18, 20)

·        Before the mention of the great earthquake, John sees “flashes of lightning” and hears “sounds and peals of thunder” (vs. 18a). As it has been throughout the Book, this is preparatory and a warning of the extreme judgment that is about to fall.

·        Then we read “and there was a great earthquake.” Several things are important here:
1.      This earthquake is unprecedented in history.
2.      Worldwide devastation.
3.      “Every island fled away,” i.e., they disappeared into the ocean. Imagine the tidal waves this will cause.
4.      “And the mountains were not found” is literally, “and mountains were not found.” The word “mountains” does not have the article which implies not all the mountains will be removed. Perhaps as a result of the great faults in the earth breaking open and shifting about, the mountains will break up and fall into the cracks of the earth. Zec 14:4 tells us that at Christ’s return to earth the Mount of Olives will split or crack open and form a great valley. Perhaps it is at this point, at Christ’s return to earth, that this great earthquake occurs.

·        This mind stretching phenomena points to three important facts:
5.      The world will be left in shambles. All man’s monuments and his great buildings will literally crumble before his very eyes.
6.      This judgment will drastically change the topography of the earth.
7.      Finally, these events will cause a tremendous loss of life on a worldwide scale that is impossible to calculate.

·        The Great Cities (19)

·        “And the great city was split into three parts.” Some see this as a reference to Jerusalem because Jerusalem is called “the great city” in Rev 11:8. Also, the following two statements seem to indicate three different areas are in view: “the great city,” “the cities of the nations,” and “Babylon, the great.”

·        But John could just as easily have had something else in mind, i.e., the great city Babylon and those cities that come under Babylon’s yoke. The fall of these cities will break the yoke of Gentile world dominion referred to by the Lord as “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). This is “the period of Gentile domination of Jerusalem, which probably began under Nebuchadnezzar (587 B.C.), was certainly in effect in A.D. 70 and continues into the Tribulation (cf. Rev 11:2).”197 This should not be confused with what Paul spoke of as “the fullness of the Gentiles” in Rom 11:25. The fullness of the Gentiles refers to the completion of God’s purpose in the church age during which time God is calling out from among the Gentiles a people for His name, namely the church (Act 15:14, Eph 1:22-23, Rom 11:7-32). The fall of these cities mentioned in Revelation 16 will bring to an end the Gentile domination as it now exists over the nation Israel.

·        The Great Plague of Hail (21)

·        We are told these hail stones are about 100 pounds each.  This judgment that might be compared to that of Sodom and Gomorrah or to that on the king of the north or Magog mentioned in Eze 38:1, only this will extend to the whole earth.

·        This judgment is so severe that it is called a plague, extremely severe (another use of megas). The amazing thing is that at this point, all of man’s dreams will crumble—houses, fortunes, kingdoms, mountains—everything.

·        Chronologically, the next event will be the return of the Lord to earth as King of kings (chapter 19). The next two chapters, however, halt the sequence and give us a parenthetical look at Babylon because of her prominence historically and in the future kingdom of the system of the beast. Though from the contemporary point of view all the details of these dramatic judgments are not immediately understood, the unmistakable impression of the Scriptures is that the whole world is being brought to the bar of justice before Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. There is no escape from divine judgment except for those who avail themselves of the grace of God in that day by faith in Jesus Christ. The utter perversity of human nature, which will reject the sovereignty of God in the face of such overwhelming evidence, confirms that even the lake of fire will not produce repentance on the part of those who have hardened their hearts against the grace of God.198


195 Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Translated by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, University of Chicago Press, electronic version.
196 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press, Chicago, 1966, p. 238.
197 Charles C. Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible, Expanded Edition, Moody Press, Chicago, 1995, p. 1665.
198 Walvoord, p. 242.

References and Credits
·         Revelation 16 Study - Stan Feldsine
·         The basis for this study came from:
http://bible.org/seriespage/bowl-judgments-rev-161-21
·         Credit to: J. Hampton Keathley III


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