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Revelation 16: The Bowls

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The First Bowl: Loathsome Sores

VS. 1&2 —
This Loud Voice— Remember what John told us...
Revelation 15:8 NKJV
The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.
So it is easy for us to assume that for the first time, this Loud Voice is the Voice of God…the announcing and releasing of the last plagues is done by none less than God Himself.
Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary b. The First Bowl (16:1–2)

The result of the pouring out of the first bowl was that ugly and painful sores appeared on the beast’s adherents. We are reminded of the plague of boils in Egypt (Exod. 9:10–11; cf. Deut. 28:35).

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary b. The First Bowl (16:1–2)

The recipients are described as the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshipped his image.

The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Nine: Voices of Victory (Revelation 14–16)

Constant pain affects a person’s disposition so that he finds it difficult to get along with other people. Human relations during that period will certainly be at their worst.

The Second Bowl: The Sea Turns To Blood

vs. 3 —

When the second trumpet was blown, something like a mountain was hurled into the sea, a third of the waters became blood and a third of the creatures in and on the sea died (8:8–9). On this occasion there is no mention of one-third or of any other proportion. We are now face to face with finality. Everything in the sea died, and this is expressed in a full and unusual way, ‘every living soul … in the sea’.

As most of the earth’s surface is covered by the seas, this is a worldwide, tremendous judgment.
We can see the parallel to this & the 3rd bowl in Exodus:
Exodus 7:17–21 NKJV
Thus says the Lord: “By this you shall know that I am the Lord. Behold, I will strike the waters which are in the river with the rod that is in my hand, and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that are in the river shall die, the river shall stink, and the Egyptians will loathe to drink the water of the river.” ’ ” Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, over their rivers, over their ponds, and over all their pools of water, that they may become blood. And there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in buckets of wood and pitchers of stone.’ ” And Moses and Aaron did so, just as the Lord commanded. So he lifted up the rod and struck the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants. And all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. The fish that were in the river died, the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink the water of the river. So there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.

The Third Bowl: The Waters Turn to Blood

vs. 4-7 —

the third … bowl extends the judgment of the second bowl on the sea to rivers and springs and they became blood

John heard the angel in charge of the waters proclaim that God the Holy One is just in His judgments (v. 5).

Revelation 16:5 NKJV
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.

For God’s work in turning the waters to blood is in response to the shedding of the blood of … saints and prophets (v. 6).

“true and righteous are Your judgments” This is a helpful reminder in the midst of such terrible persecution toward Christians (cf. 15:4 and 19:2). God will set all things straight one day!

The Fourth Bowl: Men Are Scorched

vs. 8-9—

The purpose of God’s wrath is redemptive (cf. 9:20–21; 14:6–7; 16:9, 11), even though stubborn mankind refuses to repent.

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary e. The Fourth Bowl (16:8–9)

There is no independent power in the sun. If the sun is to scorch people it is because God gives it the power to do so.

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary e. The Fourth Bowl (16:8–9)

They simply cursed the name of God. They did not repent. They gave God no glory

The Fifth Bowl: Darkness & Pain

vs. 10-11—
Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary f. The Fifth Bowl (16:10–11)

There is a change. The first four bowls related to nature: land, sea, rivers and springs, the sun. But the last three are ‘more directly political’ (Swete). They take us to the operation of the powers of evil.

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary f. The Fifth Bowl (16:10–11)

The beast’s kingdom was plunged into darkness

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary f. The Fifth Bowl (16:10–11)

Just as there is no mention of what caused the darkness, so there is no mention of what brought about the pain (though possibly it is the result of the previous plagues, ulcers from the first plague and burns from the scorching heat of the fourth)

These unbelievers recognized the source and reason for their pain, but would not repent and turn to Christ! The plagues on Egypt were sent to expose the false gods of Egypt and cause the Egyptians to trust the God of Israel. The “curses” of Deut. 27–28 were sent to restore unbelieving Jews to faith and obedience. Judgment has a redemptive goal (except for the last one)!

This is the last reference in Revelation to a failure to repent

The Sixth Bowl: Euphrates Dried Up

vs. 12-16—
Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary g. The Sixth Bowl (16:12–16)

More is said about the result of the pouring of the sixth bowl than that of any of the first five. It prepared the way for the End. It did not usher in the End, but prepared for it.

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary g. The Sixth Bowl (16:12–16)

The effect of the outpouring of the sixth bowl was the drying up of the Euphrates to make ready a way for the kings from the East

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary g. The Sixth Bowl (16:12–16)

In the Old Testament a mighty action of God is frequently associated with the drying up of waters, as the Red Sea (Exod. 14:21), the Jordan (Josh. 3:16–17), and several times in prophecy (Isa. 11:15; Jer. 51:36; Zech. 10:11).

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary g. The Sixth Bowl (16:12–16)

The Euphrates was the boundary of the Roman Empire and for John’s readers the land beyond it was a great unknown land. Who could tell what mighty kings lurked there?

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary g. The Sixth Bowl (16:12–16)

The dirty spirits are like frogs, which may be meant to remind us of the plague of frogs in Egypt (Exod. 8:3).

Listen to what one Theologian has to say about the frogs:
Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary g. The Sixth Bowl (16:12–16)

Love sees here ‘a devastating caricature of the failure of evil. That which men fear most because it appears to be mighty and eternally entrenched becomes at long last only a ridiculous spawning of sickly creatures of the night.’ Frogs have evil associations. They are slimy and ugly. They produce an incessant and meaningless croaking, but no solid achievement. Such thoughts are aroused by the symbolism. The main idea, however, is that these spirits are like the ‘lying spirit’ who was to entice Ahab into battle (1 Kgs 22:21ff.). But instead of enticing one man, these have the much greater task of enticing the whole world into battle.

Christ speaks words of truth, righteousness, and mercy to bring peace to the earth, but the demonic frog spirits speak lies and gathers the nations for war.

“which go out to the kings of the whole world”

Psalm 2:2 NKJV
The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,

“gather them together for the war of the great day of God”

16:15 This parenthetical phrase contains the words of Christ which are interjected to encourage and warn the people of God. This is one of the seven blessings to believers

The Seventh Bowl: The Earth Utterly Shaken

vs. 17-21—
Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary h. The Seventh Bowl (16:17–21)

The climax comes with the seventh bowl. This speaks of utter destruction. It does not say that all people will be killed; they must still face Almighty God for judgment.

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary h. The Seventh Bowl (16:17–21)

The seventh angel poured his bowl into the air

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary h. The Seventh Bowl (16:17–21)

The evil spirits are being attacked in their own element.

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary h. The Seventh Bowl (16:17–21)

It is done

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary h. The Seventh Bowl (16:17–21)

The announcement of the climax caused great excitement.

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary h. The Seventh Bowl (16:17–21)

The great city is a motif we have seen before (see note on 11:8). It stands for civilized man, man in organized community but man ordering his affairs apart from God. It symbolizes the pride of human achievement, the godlessness of those who put their trust in man. This great city is now shattered. It divides into three parts, which means complete break-up. And in the break-up of the great city the cities of the nations collapsed.

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary h. The Seventh Bowl (16:17–21)

Nowhere in this book is there an expression as emphatic as that rendered the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. John leaves us in no doubt that Babylon is to receive the most wholehearted opposition conceivable from an all-powerful and all-holy God.

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary h. The Seventh Bowl (16:17–21)

Now comes a great hailstorm.

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary h. The Seventh Bowl (16:17–21)

45 lb to 100 lb or even more.

Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary h. The Seventh Bowl (16:17–21)

And for the third time in this chapter we read that the effect of the disaster was that people blasphemed (cursed) God.

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