As we have been reading in Revelation, the time of God’s wrath has arrived in John’s prophetic vision. This is no longer what we think of as The Great Tribulation, now the saints have been gathered to Heaven and God is pouring out His judgements on the people of the earth who refused Him. They are paying the price for their sin, because all sin has a price (Romans 8:23). Verse 1 reads,
“Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”
The loud voice is the word of God who is the one filling the sanctuary where no one can enter until the plagues are poured out (Revelation 15:8). This wrath is from God Himself, it is the grape harvest when God will throw the grapes into the winepress of His wrath (Revelation 14:17-20). Verse 2 reads,
“So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.”
Whatever this plague is whether it is a horrific form of leprosy or something similar, it is directly and especially for those who not only rejected Christ but chose the beast over Him. As we’ve been reading these plagues, the Saint’s deliverance, and the pouring out of God’s wrath are all foreshadowed in the Exodus of Moses and Israel from Egypt and into the Wilderness and then Promised Land. In Numbers Chapter 12 we can read about Miriam and Aaron when they spoke out against Moses for marrying Zipporah. In that narrative God punished Miriam with a particularly bad kind of leprosy. Both Aaron and Moses begged for her healing and asked God not to let her die. They asked God to forgive her and lift her punishment. Numbers 12:11-15 records what happened,
“And Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, do not punish us because we have done foolishly and have sinned. 12 Let her not be as one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes out of his mother's womb.” 13 And Moses cried to the Lord, “O God, please heal her—please.” 14 But the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut outside the camp seven days, and after that she may be brought in again.” 15 So Miriam was shut outside the camp seven days, and the people did not set out on the march till Miriam was brought in again.”
Miriam had disregarded the special relationship God had with Moses. Moses was not just another prophet, God spoke to him face to face. He is a type of Christ, a symbol for Christ. When Miriam spoke against Moses and accused him of not speaking to God, she represented the spirit of rebellion and idolatry in Israel. It is that same spirit that made the people of Babylon the great reject Jesus and choose to worship the beast. The punishment they received just like Miriam’s punishment would not be repealed until the sin had been paid for.
The terrible and painful sores will probably make them seek comfort wherever they can. Maybe they will try bathing. Water especially sea water has numerous healing properties. (Read more here). But the next two bowls of God’s wrath will make that impossible. Verses 3-4 read,
“The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.
4 The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood.”
The oceans are poisoned by the dead animals and the fresh water turn to blood. There is no water for bathing or healing. There is no water to drink. There is no water for any purpose. Is that punishment too extreme? The people being punished went unpunished far too long. They were warned. They tortured and killed the saints without consequence until now. They rejected Christ. The time for payment to come due has come. Verses 5-7 read,
“And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,
“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,
for you brought these judgments.
6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
and you have given them blood to drink.
It is what they deserve!”
7 And I heard the altar saying,
“Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
true and just are your judgments!”
The angel proclaimed God’s Justice and Judgement and the martyrs whose blood had been spilled echoed his praise. The people being punished may disagree, but God has been so patient waiting for them to accept the gift of salvation and the time finally had to come. He warned them. They can read the words in Revelation. They can hear the saved tell them the Gospel. They will go through each of the trumpets. If they do not listen and repent they will justly suffer the condemnation The Lord promised them. They are choosing their cup. Verses 8-11 read,
“The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.
10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish11 and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.”
Each bowl builds on the suffering of the previous one. Imagine a sunburn worse than any you have suffered without water to drink or water to cool your damaged skin. Imagine that burn on top of open painful sores. Imagine everything going dark and no light, torch, or lamp working in it while you suffer in pain and dydration. We can’t imagine the pain as bad as it will be. They will not cry “Lord, forgive us, end this suffering!” Their rebellious and selfish natures will curse God instead. The sixth bowl increases the suffering by instilling some fear into the people. Verses 12-16 read,
“The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. 13 And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. 14 For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”) 16 And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.”
Preparations for the battle between the Satan and Jesus are made. The river disappears to make way for the armies of the beast. Satan, the antichrist, and the false prophet all speak and order demons to bring the nations together for the battle. The demons that come out of them do not infer that they are demon possessed, it means that they have the power to command demons to do their will.
Verse 15 is Jesus speaking reminding the listeners that He comes like a thief. While Satan gathers his army, Jesus is gathering His and has been since the creation. The battle will be unlike anything we can imagine. The blood that comes from the battle will be that of every person who ever lived and died without Jesus’ redemption. It will be a river of blood 183 miles long and five feet deep (Revelation 14:20). The armies of the Dragon will not have a chance against God’s great power. Verses 17-21 describe it,
“The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. 21 And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.”
The lightning, thunder and great earthquake are not the result of nature, but the effect of the battle. Heaven and Earth are being destroyed by the battle. God has not let the people die to escape punishment. Even with 100 pound hailstones hitting them they suffer instead of die. They cry out that it is too severe, but they don’t repent, they curse God.
I do not want this future for my loved ones. I do not want this future for anyone. Do you? What can we do? We can warn them. We can give them the chance to repent now. We can give them the Love of God. We can glorify Jesus. We can tell them the truth. If they do not listen, they will one day suffer as they deserve. If we do not tell them, they will one day suffer and it will be our fault. Ezekiel 3:18-21 says it like this,
“If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. 20 Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.”