Section: Chapter Fifteen - Prelude to Bowl Judgments
SIXTEEN - BOWL JUDGMENTS
(1) Then I heard a loud voice
from the temple, saying to the seven angels, (2) "Go and pour out
on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God."
1. Then I heard a loud
voice from the temple = seems to imply that God gives this command.
If no one could enter the temple, it would seem logical that no one
would be able to remain in the temple either. Therefore, the only
person in the temple is God Himself.
2. Go and pour out on the
earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God = is the instruction given
by the voice from the temple. This indicates that God strictly controls
the timing of the execution of the final phase of His wrath.
(1) So the first angel went
and poured out his bowl on the earth; and (2) it became a loathsome
and malignant sore (3) on the people who had the mark of the beast and
who worshiped his image.
1. So the first angel went
and poured out his bowl on the earth = signals the beginning of the
final phase of Gods wrath.
2. It became a loathsome
and malignant sore = indicates the impact of the first bowl. Similar
to the boils upon the Egyptians during the great exodus, God will
again send sores. The plague of sores on the Egyptians was the first
plague to actually threaten the life of the Egyptians. However, there
is no indication that life is threatened by the sores. The purpose
of the sores seems to be unparalleled suffering.
3. On the people who had
the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image = clearly indicates
who is the target of the first bowl judgment. The beast-marked worshipers
are the target of the first bowl judgment. The Greek says literally,
"upon the men." Clearly, "men" is used in a generic
sense. For women and children are not excluded from the punishment
of God for taking the mark.
(1) The second angel
poured out his bowl into the sea, and (2) it became blood like that
of a dead man; and (3) every living thing in the sea died.
1. The second angel
poured out his bowl into the sea = moves from man to nature. The whole
of salt-water sources is the object of the second bowl.
2. It became blood like
that of a dead man = is the impact of the second bowl. A figure
of speech is employed. The blood of a dead man is no longer capable
of supporting life. Blood is the aspect of the dead that cannot be
used for transplant or transfusion purposes.
3. Every living thing in
the sea died = is the outcome of the bowl.
(1) Then the third angel
poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters; and (2)
they became blood. (3) And I heard the angel of the waters saying, (4)
"Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, (5) because
You judged these things; (6) for they poured out the blood of saints
and prophets, and (7) You have given them blood to drink. (8) They deserve
it." (9) And I heard the altar saying, (10) "Yes, O Lord God,
the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments."
1. Then the third angel
poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters = constitutes
the third bowl judgment. All fresh-water sources are afflicted.
2. They became blood =
is outcome of the third bowl. As with salt-water sources, water becomes
blood. We are not told that all life died as in the case of the salt-water,
but that is the natural conclusion.
3. And I heard the angel
of the waters saying = indicates a commentary to follow concerning
Gods purpose in the second and third bowl judgment. What the
job description is of the angel of the waters is not detailed.
4. Righteous are You, who
are and who were, O Holy One = is a praise report of the angel of
the waters. Given the nature of the judgment falling on the earth,
the heavenly host (elders, living creatures and angels) are constantly
reminding us that Gods actions are righteous, just and holy.
5. Because You judged these
things = indicates the angelic attitude toward the actions of God.
In other words, if God had not judged these things, He would be in
contradiction of His own nature. "These things" in context
refers to the previous (bowls two and three) judgments.
6. For they poured out
the blood of saints and prophets = is important. For is better
translated because. The angelic being gives us the reason for
the previous bowl judgments. The subject of this clause must be "the
people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image."
These are the only people mentioned in the previous bowl judgments.
To shed blood means to murder. The beast-marked worshipers
who by association are a part of the beast of Revelation 13 are directly
responsible for the death of the saints. Saints and prophets
have been described as killed in the book of Revelation, particular
the prophetic witnesses of Revelation 11 and the martyrs of Revelation
7. You have given them
blood to drink = defines the audience of Gods wrath. "Them"
refers to the beast-marked worshipers who are responsible for the
death of Gods people addressed in Revelation 16:2. By turning
the waters of the earth to blood, the beast-marked worshipers will
drink blood since they have poured out the blood of Gods people.
Now people do drink blood, but never of the dead. Bowl 2 indicates
that the blood is "like that of a dead man."
The author obviously intends
a difference. Otherwise, there would no need to distinguish between
the blood of the living and the blood of the dead. The blood of the
living flows warm and oxygenated. The blood of the dead does not flow
and is not oxygenated.
8. They deserve it = expresses
the righteous attitude of the angelic being. The wicked are as worthy
of Gods wrath as the Sardisians are worthy to walk with God
in white (Rev 3:4).
9. And I heard the altar
saying = is a peculiar statement. One does not normally expect an
altar to speak. However, in apocalyptic literature anything is possible.
Yet, Revelation 15 seems to indicate that the temple of God is empty
at this moment.
10. "Yes, O Lord God,
the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments = affirms again
that a just God executes a just judgment.
(1) The fourth angel
poured out his bowl upon the sun, and (2) it was given to it to scorch
men with fire.
1. The fourth angel poured
out his bowl upon the sun = expresses the agent of Gods wrath.
The sun has been used twice before in Gods program of the end.
It was temporarily darkened at the sixth seal. A third of the sun
darkened by the fourth trumpet. This judgment with the aid of the
sun does not contradict the two previous references to the sun. The
heat of the sun is the issue at this point. Previously the issue had
been its light.
2. It was given to it to
scorch men with fire = is the purpose of the heat of the sun. Oi
anthropoi (the men) were burned. As in Revelation 16:2, a generic
reference is intended here. Men, women, and children all suffer at
(1) Men were scorched with
fierce heat; and (2) they blasphemed the name of God who has the power
over these plagues, and (3) they did not repent so as to give Him glory.
1. Men were scorched with
fierce heat = introduces a comment on the fourth bowl of wrath. The
idea here is not burned up, but scorched or caused to suffer because
of the heat. This coupled with the absence of water is suffering at
its best. Again, the suffers are identified as oi anthropoi,
a generic reference to men, women and children.
2. They blasphemed the
name of God = is not explicitly defined. This indicates that the third
commandment is broken. Gods name is taken in vain by men.
3. They did not repent
so as to give Him glory = is an editorial comment unparalleled in
the Revelation--unparalleled in the sense that the worst expression
of Gods wrath does not bring repentance of the wicked.
(1) Then the fifth angel
poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and (2) his kingdom
became darkened; and (3) they gnawed their tongues because of pain,
and (4) they blasphemed the God of heaven (5) because of their pains
and their sores and (6) they did not repent of their deeds.
1. Then the fifth angel
poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast = focuses the fifth
bowl. The throne of the beast was mentioned in Revelation 13:2.
The beast received it from the dragon. The throne of the beast
is a figure of speech. It represents the sovereignty of the beast
much as "the White House" represents the sovereignty of
the United States.
2. His kingdom became darkened
= is the second aspect of the goal of the fifth bowl. It is not clear,
whether this darkness is literal or figurative. Literal darkness or
judgment produces suffering for the living beast-marked earth-dwellers.
3. They gnawed their tongues
because of the pain = is the first indicated reaction of the beast
and all those who follow him. It is not explicitly indicated why or
how the darkness causes pain for the beast and his followers. The
biting of the tongue suggests great pain.
4. They blasphemed the
God of heaven = is the second response of the beast and his followers.
This is the second time the wicked take Gods name in vain.
5. Because of their pains
and their sores = indicates a cumulative impact to the bowl judgments.
The sores came about in connection with the first bowl and pain is
connected with the fifth bowl.
6. They did not repent
of their deeds = caps the fifth bowl judgment. At this point, the
reader is told that repentance is not an outcome of the judgment of
(1) The sixth angel
poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water
was dried up, (2) so that the way would be prepared for the kings from
1. The sixth angel
poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates = which is reminiscent
of the sixth trumpet judgment. A cruel army arose from the great river
region to kill a third of mankind. The Euphrates river is called "the
great river" in Genesis 15:18. The importance of the river becomes
apparent as the text unfolds. It dried up. Unparalleled in ancient
times was the drying up of the Euphrates River.
2. So that the way would
be prepared for the kings from the east = indicates the purpose of
the unparalleled event. God prepares the way for the kings
of the east. That there are kings and not a king suggests individual
nations still exist at this time. At what point these kings form their
coalition is not indicated. The important point to remember is that
God prepares the way for the kings.
Interestingly, at the beginning
of the twentieth Century, the majority of the nations of the world
were monarchies. However, by the end of the Century only a minority
of monarchies has survived. Several kings or their sons are in exile.
Russia, China, Iraq, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Laos, and Iran are or
were monarchies. The reversion to monarchies by many nations to the
East of Israel past the Euphrates River is a good sign to watch for
when looking for the final phase of human history as we know it.
Other nations East of Israel
that have or were monarchies will cease to exist. That is, Japan,
Indonesia, and other Island nations are destroyed at the seventh bowl
(1) 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;
(2) for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, (3) which go out
to the kings of the whole world, (4) to gather them together for the
war of the great day of God, the Almighty.
1. And I saw coming out
of the mouth
unclean spirits like frogs = suggests the role of the dragon, beast
and false prophet. They send demonic spirits to influence the kings
of the earth. We are not told in what way the unclean spirits resemble
2. For they are spirits
of demons, performing signs = clarifies what the "unclean spirits"
are. They are demons. These demons perform signs or do miracles. It
is clear that the demonic spirits must put forth an all out effort
to accomplish their objective.
3. Which go out to the
kings of the whole world = moves beyond the initial discussion in
Revelation 16:12. There, only the kings of the east are in focus.
Here, the kings of the whole world are mentioned. Whether two groups
of kings are intended is not clear. Why would God only prepare the
kings way from the east? What makes the kings from the east
special? These are questions not answered by the text.
4. To gather them together
for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty = explains the purpose
of the demonic activity. By the article the, we know that this
is the eschatological battle between God and the wicked. This battle
concludes the eschatological Day of the Lord.
(1) "Behold, I am coming
like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes,
so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame."
1. Behold, I am coming
like a thief = is often associated with the coming of the eschatological
Day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:10).
Given a literal interpretation
of the trumpet and bowl judgments, it is beyond comprehension that
any man on earth would continue to resist Gods rule and authority.
Revelation 16:14 indicates that Satan/Antichrist/False Prophet will
utilize demonic deception to gather "the kings of the whole world"
"for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty." It
is in this context that the Lord Jesus offers one of His clearest
warnings. He states, "Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed
is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will
not walk about naked and men will not see his shame." Incorrectly
some have taken the reference, "Behold, I am coming like a thief"
to refer to the Rapture. However, this conclusion fails to appreciate
not only the context, but also the historical usage of this phrase.
Jesus states in John 10:10,
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy
This is the purpose of a thief. However, there is another issue related
to the coming of a thief. This concerns his modus operandi
(how he operates). That is, a thief comes suddenly and unexpectedly.
The apostle Paul indicates "that the day of the Lord will come
just like a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:2)." Paul indicates
that in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 the point of the figure of speech is "suddenness."
Therefore, the question concerning Revelation 16:15 is this: is the
point that the Lord makes in Revelation 16:15 one of purpose or modus
operandi? On the other hand, it could be both. A closer examination
will reveal the correct answer.
The image of a man having
disrobed and fallen asleep who is then caught sleeping, awakened by
surprise and forced to parade about naked is clear. The question concerns
its meaning. Alfred Edersheim is helpful at this point. In his book
The Temple, Its Ministries and Service, he writes,
Perhaps one of the most
striking instances of this kind is afforded by the words quoted
at the head of this chapterBlessed is he that watcheth,
and keepeth his garments. They literally describe, as we learn
from the Rabbis, the punishment awarded to the Temple-guards if
found asleep at their posts; and the Rabbinical account of it is
curiously confirmed by the somewhat naive confession of one of their
number, that on a certain occasion his own maternal uncle had actually
undergone the punishment of having his clothes set on fire by the
captain of the Temple as he went his rounds at night
the night the captain of the Temple made his rounds.
On his approach the guards had to rise and salute him in a particular
manner. Any guard found asleep when on duty was beaten, or his garments
were set on firea punishment, as we know, actually awarded.
(A. Edersheim, The Temple, Its Ministries and Service)
The point is obvious: the
Lord will suddenly appear and the unprepared will suffer a great disaster.
In the context of the sixth bowl, which gathers "the kings of
the whole world" "for the war of the great day of God, the
Almighty" this is clearly a warningstay away. This is the
only way to prevent a disaster at Armageddon for "the kings of
the whole world." If they come to the battle, they will die.
(1) And they gathered them
together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.
1. The place of "the
war of great day of God, the Almighty" is called in Hebrew Har-Magedon.
This is the only place in the Bible where the word occurs. Johns
indication that the place bears a Hebrew name immediately sends us
to the Old Testament. Scholars, in no way, agree concerning the meaning
of or the place called Armageddon. The first step in arriving
at the correct meaning is to recognize that a literal geographical
location is intended. There is nothing in the grammar or context to
prove otherwise. The second step in arriving at the correct meaning
is to recognize that Johns audience was familiar with the term.
John instructs the reader that Har-Magedon is a Hebrew name. As such,
it is composed of two words. The Hebrew word can be translated either
a hill or mountain. Megiddon "was an ancient city located on
a plain in the southwest portion of the Valley of Jezreel (Jewish
name) or Esdraelon (Greek name)." (Aune, Revelation 6-16,
Two great mountains stand
to the northeast and southeast of the hill of Megiddo: Mt. Tabor and
Mt. Gilboa. Between these two mountains run the valley of Jezreel,
which is fifteen miles wide at its widest point. It will be the place
of Gods great slaughter of the nations depicted in Revelation
(1) Then the seventh angel
poured out his bowl upon the air, and (2) a loud voice came out of the
temple from the throne, saying, "It is done."
1. Then the seventh angel
poured out his bowl upon the air = introduces the final bowl judgment.
The seventh and final bowl-carrying angel punishes the air. The earth
(land), water, fire and air are the four elements that are the objects
of Gods wrath.
2. A loud voice came out
of the temple from the throne, saying, "It is done." = repeats
an often heard motifa loud voice. Since the temple is empty,
this voice must be God, Himself. That God would pronounce, "It
is done," at this point in the narrative is confusing to some.
However, it must be kept in mind that bowls six and seven are given
in summary fashion. They will be expanded in great detail in Revelation
17-19 where the destruction of the city and kingdom of the beast will
be presented in detail.
(1) And there were flashes
of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and (2) there was a great
earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the
earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty.
1. And there were flashes
of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder = begins a listing of
the outcome of the seventh angels bowl. Having poured his bowl
upon the air, lightning and thunder rock the air.
2. There was a great earthquake
= is the third great outcome of the seventh angels bowla
great earthquake. However, unlike the previous earthquakes, this one
is unparalleled in all of human history. This earthquake cannot be
compared or thought to be one of the other earthquakes that has occurred
in the Revelation. Those who attempt to make this point ignore the
textual details. The author makes clear with the intensive nature
of this earthquake that it is unparalleled.
(1) The great city was split
into three parts, and (2) the cities of the nations fell. (3) Babylon
the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine
of His fierce wrath.
1. The great city was split
into three parts = signals the first effect of the unparalleled earthquake.
Scholars do not agree on the identity of "the great city."
However, the context is clear. Jerusalem is "the great city."
Jerusalem is explicitly identified in Revelation 11:8 as "the
great city." Why the city is split into three parts is not stated.
However, Zechariah 13:8 declares, "It will come about in all
the land [of Israel], declares the Lord, that two parts in it will
be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it." This
accords with the destruction of "the great city" indicated
in Revelation 16:19. Also, Zechariah 14:2 indicates that God will
leave a segment of His people in Jerusalem when the nations gather
to destroy it. Zechariah 14:5 states that God will empty Jerusalem
of his people just prior to His arrival with His angels for the battle
of Armageddon. The destruction of Jerusalem will be highlighted in
2. The cities of the nations
fell = is the second proof that "the great city" refers
to Jerusalem. "The cities of the nations" (Gentiles) is
in contrast to "the great city (Jews)." The punishment of
Jerusalem is not as severe as the punishment of the cities of the
3. Babylon the great was
remembered before God = is the third entity to suffer as result of
the unparalleled earthquake. Who or what "Babylon the great"
refers to has not been explicitly defined. This is the second reference
to it in the Revelation. Whatever it is, God will pour out the worst
expression of His wrath the world will ever know upon it.
(1) And every island fled
away, and (2) the mountains were not found.
1. And every island fled
away = continues the impact of the seventh bowl. To flee away
in the NASB suggests more than merely "moved out of their places."
Exactly what happens to the islands cannot be dogmatically stated
at this point. That the islands cease to exist is perhaps the sense.
2. The mountains were not
found = makes an opposite conclusion possible with regards to the
mountains. The Greek literally says that the mountains "were
not found." That is, they disappeared. John uses two different
verbs to describe what happens to the islands and what happens to
the mountains. If the same thing happens to the islands that happens
to the mountains we would expect John to have said, "the island
and mountains fled or were not found."
And huge hailstones, about
one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed
God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely
Section: Chapter Seventeen - The Great Harlot