Revelation #27 Revelation 16:1-21 End Times: Bowls, The Days of Catastrophe


Revelation #27 Revelation 16:1-21 End Times:  Bowls, The Days of Catastrophe

During our study of John’s vision, we proposed that the Seal, Trumpet, and Bowl events happen simultaneously.  In the Seal event John sees things from a rough perspective, and then with the Trumpets an intense perspective, and now with the Bowls a catastrophic perspective.  It’s a difficult way to grasp what we are reading.  The key to understanding the decision to interpret in this fashion is the 7th event.  Each 7th event ends with God’s victory.  You would think that the story would end with the victory, but it continues.  One of the reasons that it continues is because it is a type of literature that follows a certain pattern of writing.  John has narrated his vision in 3’s and 7’s, Seals, Trumpets, and Bowls comprise the 3 and each series has 7 events.  Numbers are symbolic, with the numbers 3 and 7 combined mean perfection, completeness, and divine intervention. This is one reason why John doesn’t tell us of the 7 Thunders back in chapter 10, to reveal the message of the Thunders would not fit the 3 and 7 pattern.

Chapter 16 brings us to the catastrophic times of the Bowls. 

Revelation 16:1-4 (MSG)

1 I heard a shout of command from the Temple to the Seven Angels: "Begin! Pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on earth!"

2 The first Angel stepped up and poured his bowl out on earth: Loathsome, stinking sores erupted on all who had taken the mark of the Beast and worshiped its image.

3 The second Angel poured his bowl on the sea: The sea coagulated into blood, and everything in it died.

4 The third Angel poured his bowl on rivers and springs: The waters turned to blood.

We have come to see God’s wrath in a different light.  We tend to see God’s wrath as an angry, vengeful, and vindicative being smiting those who refused His love. Instead, we’ve chosen to think of God’s wrath more in line with a disinterested justice.  Disinterested means objective or impartial, detached from personal desires or biases. Disinterested justice brings fairness and neutrality to the situation.  There is a moral law in the universe God has woven in.  It is impersonal, not a respecter or despiser of people.  The speed limit on the road is 65 miles per hour. The limit is impersonal, and if you exceed the limit, there are consequences.  To say the speed limit is enraged, merciless, and malicious when it is exceeded resulting in a fine, would be a rather misplaced criticism.  A disinterested judgment doesn’t make the sentence any less severe; the person subject might consider it wrathful, but it is receiving a punishment that fits the crime. We get a picture of the punishment for the crime of sin from the passion and crucifixion of Jesus. The Apostle Paul writes to the congregation in Corinth: “In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God” (2 Cor 5:21 (MSG).  Jesus’ voluntary acceptance of the punishment for the crime of sin, He himself innocent of sin, created an atonement.  That atonement makes it possible for you to be acquitted of the crime of sin.  That forgiveness is gifted to you when you bend the knee to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. There is only one path to victory and you must follow Jesus to arrive in victory.

During the trumpets, there was limited destruction.  We read of a third being destroyed.  Intense times.  With the Bowls, the catastrophic times begin.  Recall Satan struck Job with painful boils, and now upon the followers of the Beast ulcerous sores break out.  The sea dies, and the rivers and springs turn to blood. All these catastrophes remind us of what happened in Egypt.

After the freshwater is turned to blood the Angel of the Water speaks

Revelation 16:5-7 (MSG)

I heard the Angel of Waters say,
Righteous you are, and your judgments are righteous, The Is, The Was, The Holy. They poured out the blood of saints and prophets so you've given them blood to drink— they've gotten what they deserve!

7 Just then I heard the Altar chime in,
Yes, O God, the Sovereign-Strong! Your judgments are true and just!


The Angel of the Waters calls our attention to the Jewish thought that every force in nature, the sun, the moon, the wind, the rain, the waters had an Angel.   As servants of God, these Angels looked after these forces of nature.  You would think that the Angel of the Waters would be angry, all those millennia taking care of the waters of the earth and then suddenly destroyed. Instead of an angry criticism, the Angel gives praise to God for God’s just acts. The “They” refers to the followers of the Beast. The Empire shed innocent blood, and now blood is what they will drink.

Back in chapter 6, the martyrs, comforted in a place called under the altar in the throne room of God ask “How long till we are avenged?” Those saints who died because they would not recant the faith agree with the Angel of the Waters, this horrible catastrophe is fitting the crime.

Rev 16:8-14 (MSG)

The fourth Angel poured his bowl on the sun: Fire blazed from the sun and scorched men and women. Burned and blistered, they cursed God's Name, the God behind these disasters. They refused to repent, refused to honor God.


10 The fifth Angel poured his bowl on the throne of the Beast: Its kingdom fell into sudden eclipse. Mad with pain, men and women bit and chewed their tongues, 11 cursed the God of Heaven for their torment and sores and refused to repent and change their ways.


The fourth bowl is climate change disaster, the fifth bowl is nuclear winter and the sixth is a remake of the 1972 movie Frogs.  Just checking to see if you are awake.

What is most important for us to understand is the refusal to repent.  People are cursing God instead of crying out for deliverance.  We have hinted that the time of grace, God’s invitation to enter into a right relationship with Him was coming to an end.  That time would eventually be up and those who refused that invitation would not have another chance to do so. Have you bent your knee to the Lordship of Christ asking God to accept your faith and seal you as one of His own?  It is my prayer that you will be safe on the inside when the doors to life eternal are closed.

Revelation 16:12 is a tough verse to understand.

12 The sixth Angel poured his bowl on the great Euphrates River: It dried up to nothing. The dry riverbed became a fine roadbed for the kings from the East.


When the 6th Trumpet sounded the four angels bound at the Euphrates were loosed (Revelation 9:13-27). A demonic cavalry was sent rampaging, killing a third of humanity.  The 6th bowl is poured and again the Euphrates becomes a dry riverbed to make way for yet another more devastating invasion of the Empire. Only John and his original readers know what or who is meant by the kings from the east.  Our scholars today have not reached a consensus.  This is the only place in scripture that mentions “kings from the east,” and John gives no more information about them. Our previous understanding of the river Euphrates is that on the western side, there was order on the eastern side was chaos.  With the 6th trumpet, the demonic conquered a great portion of the Roman citizens, turning them beastly.  It might be best to use the same thought here.  This time though the entire culture has become a weapon of war against believers.


Revelation 16:13-14 (MSG)

From the mouths of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet I saw three foul demons crawl out—they looked like frogs. These are demon spirits performing signs. They're after the kings of the whole world to get them gathered for battle on the Great Day of God, the Sovereign-Strong.


The Beast from the earth, John now names the False Prophet. The frog-like demonic spirits seem to be keeping with the Egyptian plague theme.  That they come out of the mouth of the Dragon, the Anti-Christ, and the False Prophet indicates that its propaganda, lies, and deceit demonically empowered to persuade the people, and of course, particularly the rulers of the nations, who have not bent the knee to the Lordship of Christ to join together to battle and conquer the Messiah. 

John’s vision is now solidly focused on the end.  The end is different from the future.  If John were seeing the future, we would have a road map to getting there. The future lacks a defined endpoint.  The future is the time yet to come. The future is a temporal illusion.  John does not see the future because the future does not exist, only its probability.  John sees the end, the culmination of the ministry of Jesus. In keeping with the style of literature, an apocalypse requires an epic battle between good and evil and John is setting the stage.

Between the 6th and the 7th event John always tells us something about the people of God.  In verse 15 there is a word of warning and encouragement for believers.


Revelation 16:15 (MSG)

"Keep watch! I come unannounced, like a thief. You're blessed if, awake and dressed, you're ready for me. Too bad if you're found running through the streets, naked and ashamed."


The Apostle Paul wrote “you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). The one who is coming is Jesus.  John is telling his readers that when things are at their worst the second coming is about to happen.


Verse 16 heralds the success of the frog-like demons to gather the kings of the earth together. 

Revelation 16:16 (MSG)

The frog-demons gathered the kings together at the place called in Hebrew Armageddon.

John has set the stage for the great battle of Armageddon. The final confrontation between the arnion and the therion. The Beast’s army has gathered.  Jesus will arrive shortly.

John then completes his series of 7 with the pouring of the last bowl.

Revelation 16:17-21 (MSG)

The seventh Angel poured his bowl into the air: From the Throne in the Temple came a shout, "Done!" followed by lightning flashes and shouts, thunder crashes and a colossal earthquake—a huge and devastating earthquake, never an earthquake like it since time began. The Great City split three ways, the cities of the nations toppled to ruin. Great Babylon had to drink the wine of God's raging anger—God remembered to give her the cup! Every island fled and not a mountain was to be found. Hailstones weighing a ton plummeted, crushing and smashing men and women as they cursed God for the hail, the epic disaster of hail.


And this is where we will pick up next time in our study of the book of Revelation. I invite you to join me on our YouTube channel HBCC Life as I delve deeper into chapter 16.

Take with you from this teaching that God requires justice to be served.  There is no escape but there is an atonement found in the sacrifice of Jesus. Those who refuse this atonement will suffer, not because God is mean or angry, vengeful or spiteful, but simply because that’s the moral law of the universe.

The power of the enemy is propaganda.  Twisted truths, convincing lies, smoke screen deception, subtle manipulation, bait, and switch, illusion, and mirage, are all used to indoctrinate people into worshiping the dragon by just turning their back on God and His righteousness and then doing what they want.

The second coming will be unexpected and sudden.  You do not know when. A disciple stays awake by daily practicing the 7 habits of a disciple.  A disciple is prepared by growing a righteous character demonstrated by their good works. To be naked and ashamed in the streets is to be asleep in the light, most likely compromised with the world.  It means you were not ready for the Lord’s coming.

Friends be ready.  Right now avail yourself of God’s grace before that grace is no more.  Right now make your vows, and choose to live as a follower of Jesus.   


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