Week -29 The Seven Last Plagues Revelation 16:1-21
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
Authored by Jerry Marshall Introduction:
A while back, Bill Moyers hosted a program on PBS called; “Genesis: A Living Conversation.” The program featured several modern day theologians, (all of the liberal persuasion) who were discussing their insights into the person of God based upon the major events of the book of Genesis.
The participants agreed that there was development in God. In other words, God is progressing, getting better with time. God is becoming more understanding, compassionate, less demanding and harsh in the exercise of His judgment.
They saw the flood of Noah’s day as God overreacting in anger to the wickedness of mankind. “But then, like a child who builds a sandcastle only to destroy it in anger, God regretted what He had done, felt duly chastised, and so gave a rainbow with a promise to never do that again.” Most of the panelists agreed that the flood was evil; it had no redeemable value.
Keep in mind that this aberrant theology is born out of the premise that the Bible is only a record of what people throughout the centuries have thought about God. So as we evolve as people and become more tolerant, loving and compassionate, our perspective of God evolves in the same manner. Now we see God as being more tolerant, loving and merciful. In other words, we see God through the grid of our own image.
Others from a more liberal theological position see two God’s revealed in the Scriptures, “The angry wrathful God of the Old Testament and the more loving, tolerant, more inclusive God of the New Testament. This perspective is also based on the premise: as humanity changes, so our ideas must change about God. In primitive times men’s ideas of God were harsh and unrelenting; in more enlightened times, men’s conceptions of God are more tolerant and loving. And so, for people who hold to such a premise, the final arbiter of truth is the ever-evolving conceptions of God born in the flawed minds of fallen people.
But the Scriptures, which contain the revelation of the character of God, the deeds of God and the will of God, do not present Him as this ever evolving being who is getting better in time. The Scriptures reveal God as eternally perfect in His character and ways. Therefore, He is not subject to change. Otherwise, He would not be perfect! He is not subject to development or degeneration as our nature is.
The Psalmist stated in Psalm 102:25-27
25 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.
27 But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.
God reminded the people of Israel when their commitment level changed and they turned aside from obeying His commands, that God will still hold to His covenant promises, because God said. “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
James reminds us...
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
The notions of a “developing God” amounts to nothing more than idolatrous thoughts that flow not from the objective authority of God’s Word but from the flawed reasoning of those who see themselves as enlightened. The Attributes of God revealed in the Old Testament are affirmed in the New Testament.
One thing that should become clear to us from our study today is “there is no action that God takes in relation to man that violates any code of morality or justice.”
In Revelation sixteen, we read of the final expression of God’s wrath poured out upon the world during the time of the Great Tribulation in the form of bowl judgments. The sixth bowl judgment will result in the armies of the world being sovereignly drawn by God to the final battle field and the final battle of Armageddon, which will culminate in the Second Coming of Christ. And no matter the intensity or the severity of these judgments, the righteousness and justice of these expressions of God’s wrath will be affirmed.
I. The First Bowl: Ugly and Painful Sores (Revelation 16:1-2)
1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.” 2 The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.
Since Revelation 15:8 tells us that no one else is in the temple in heaven but God, we can be sure that loud voice from the temple is the voice of God commanding the angels to pour out the seven bowls of His wrath upon the earth.
And so the first angel in obedience to the voice of the Lord, begins the final expression of God’s wrath upon those who are the loyal followers of the Antichrist. He poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.
The recipients of this expression of God’s wrath are those who submitted to the political influence of the Antichrist and the religious influence of the false prophet. They bore the mark of the beast on their right hand or forehead and worshipped the image of the beast. “Those who once bore the mark of the beast are now visited by the ‘marks’ of God.”
The pouring out of this first bowl results in painful and ugly sores breaking out universally on every person who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image. The New American Standard Bible describes these sores as loathsome and malignant sores. Loathsome, is a translation of the Greek word, Kakos that is descriptive of something of a bad nature, something troublesome, injurious, pernicious, destructive and baneful.
While malignant or painful, translates from the Greek word poneros, which in the physical sense refers to a bad disease or a bad injury. And these are painful, loathsome and ugly sores. Helkos, which is the word translated sores, refers to a wound that produces a discharge - an ulcer. This is the same word used to describe the sores afflicted upon the Egyptians, (Exodus 9:9-11; Job 2:7) and those that covered the body of Lazarus the beggar (Luke 16:21).
These sores will be festering, painful and incurable. Perhaps these inflamed oozing sores will break out right at the place where they bore the mark of the beast. And these loathsome, painful, itching, oozing sores will be exclusively born by those who are the followers of the Antichrist.
II. The Second Bowl: The Sea Turned to Blood
3 The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died.
One of the reasons why the bowl judgments will be so devastating is that they will be inflicted upon the beast worshippers in a rapid-fire succession. It will be cumulative. While the inhabitants of the earth are writhing in pain from these ugly and malignant sores, the next bowl judgment will be poured out inflicting even more misery. In other words, there is no chance to recover from the devastating impact of the first bowl judgment before another is poured upon the beast worshippers.
This particular plague is like the one inflicted upon the Egyptians (Exodus 7:20-24). It is also similar to the second trumpet judgment, in which something like a huge blazing mountain was thrown into the sea turning the third of the sea into blood.
But instead of being localized to the Nile River, or affecting only a third of the sea, this plague will impact all of the seawaters, which covers over 70% of the earth surface. The sea will turn blood red. Not like the fluid blood that runs through the veins of a living person. But like the blood of a dead man. It will no longer be fluid. It will be thick, dark coagulated, rotting and unable to support life so that everything that lives in the sea will die. This will further pollute all the shores of the sea with the dead and rotting sea creatures that wash up on shore. I can’t imagine the stench that will fill the air worldwide. All sea travel will come to an abrupt halt.
III. The Third Bowl: The Waters Turned to Blood (Revelation 16:4-7)
The air at this time will be thick with the stench of the rotting sea and all the sea creatures decaying bodies washed ashore. The inhabitants of the earth will be suffering from their painful and malignant sores. Then suddenly, the next angel comes and pours out the third bowl judgment destroying all the world’s fresh water supplies.
4 The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
It’s important to keep in mind, that the earth’s fresh water is at this time in short supply because of the impact of the third Trumpet judgment (8:10-11), which left one third of the earth’s fresh water poisoned.
But now this bowl judgment contaminates the remaining water, leaving the beast worshippers with no drinking water. All that is left is rivers and streams of blood.
“The destruction that is left of the earth’s water will cause unthinkable hardship and suffering. There will be no water to drink; no clean water to wash the oozing sores caused by the first bowl judgment; no water to bring cooling relief from the scorching heat that the fourth bowl judgment will shortly bring. The scene is so unimaginably horrible that people will wonder how a God of compassion, mercy and grace could send such judgment.” MacArthur page 142 Commentary of Revelation.
And yet, the Angel in charge of the waters, states that this is fitting and appropriate because these beast worshippers shed the blood of the tribulation saints and the prophets (the two witnesses). The Angel is declaring in no uncertain terms that they deserved it.
5 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say:
“You are just in these judgments,
you who are and who were, the Holy One,
because you have so judged;
6 for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets,
and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.”
7 And I heard the altar respond:
“Yes, Lord God Almighty,
true and just are your judgments.”
God graciously will reach out to the people of the world in the future with His servants presenting the Gospel message. The future world will witness the greatest harvest of souls in all history. Yet there will be those who have given their love and loyalty to the Antichrist and who refuse to repent of their sins and trust in Christ for the salvation of their souls. These same impenitent people will shed the blood of God’s servants during this time. But now, as a just reward for their actions, they will drink blood.
What this angel and the altar affirm has been continuously confirmed in the Scriptures. God’s judgments are true and just and God is always right in the execution of His judgment.
IV. The Fourth Bowl: Scorched By the Sun (Revelation 16:8-9)
While the inhabitants of the world are yet in the agony of the painful sores, and the polluted waters, yet another plague is poured out on them.
8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. 9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.
The preceding bowls were poured out upon the earth - but this bowl is poured upon the sun. What God created on the fourth day of creation to bring the world light, warmth, health and energy has now become a source of great misery, the Beast worshippers will be scorched by the sun.
MacArthur, in his commentary speaks of another consequence of the sun scorching heat and that is the melting of the polar ice caps.
“The resulting rise in the ocean water level will inundate coastal regions, flooding areas miles inland with the noxious waters of the dead oceans. Widespread damage and loss of life will accompany that flooding, adding further to the unspeakable misery of the devastated planet.”
One would think that one’s reaction to these first four bowl judgments would be speedy repentance and a cry for the mercy of God. However that is not the case (16:9b).
They fully acknowledged that what they were experiencing is the judgment of God and yet, they refused to repent and glorify God. Neither grace nor wrath moved their wicked hearts toward repentance and faith.
V. The fifth Bowl: Darkness Engulfs the World (Revelation 16:10-11)
10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony 11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.
Since the kingdom of the Antichrist was worldwide in its scope, the darkness of his kingdom will be worldwide in its impact. Darkness will engulf the entire world that is now in subjection to the rule of the Antichrist. And this pitch-black condition that covers all the earth will cause the Beast worshippers to gnaw their tongues.
The imperfect tense in the original language conveys the idea that they will continuously chew their tongues as an expression of their agony.
The Prophet Zephaniah declared that the final day of the Lord would be characterized as a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness (Zephaniah 1:15).
Jesus declared in the Olivet discourse that after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light (Mark 13:24).
The first five bowl judgments are the final call of God for repentance. But the hardened heart of the inhabitants of the earth respond by following in the footsteps of their true master - like the Antichrist, they curse God and refuse to repent of what they have done.
“What they had done” (see Rev 9:20-21; 13:8; 16:6) - Perhaps the greatest thing they had done was to refuse to repent of their sins and place their trust in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
V. The Sixth Bowl: Preparation for the Final Battle
12 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.
The great river Euphrates is first mentioned in Genesis 2:10-14. There we see it located near the Garden of Eden. The water source of this river is the snowfields and ice caps on the slopes of Mount Ararat (the final resting place of the Ark). This river flows some 1800 miles before emptying into the Persian Gulf.
By the time of the pouring out of this bowl, the impact of the third and forth bowl judgments will leave the Euphrates river banks overflowing with blood red water. Because of the increased volume of water, caused by the blazing heat of the sun, melting the snow and ice caps atop Mount Ararat, there will be wide spread flooding and destruction along the river banks.
This gets to the purpose for the sixth bowl judgment. Suddenly and miraculously, this powerful overflowing river is dried up in order to allow the kings of the east to reach their destiny, the final battle field - Armageddon in the land of Palestine.
The drying up of this great river is not an act of kindness - it is an act of judgment. It will open the way for the kings of the east to enter into a deadly trap. Just as the parting of the Red sea opened the way for the total destruction of Pharaoh’s army, so this river will dry up, opening the way to doom for the kings of the east.
But in addition to this supernatural phenomenon, there will a spiritual dynamic involved as well.
13 Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
Three evil spirits (demons) will be released from the mouths of the unholy trinity made up of the Dragon, (Satan), the Beast, (Antichrist) and the False Prophet (the dominant prompter of worship and devotion for the Antichrist).
By means of convincing miraculous signs, these “frog like” demons influenced all of the world leaders to bring their armies to a place that will lead to their ultimate destruction, the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.
3 Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle.
15 “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”
Christ’s return is often compared to the coming of a thief. He will come suddenly and quickly. Not like a thief in the sense of taking what does not belong to him - but rather coming suddenly to gather what does belong to him. Just as Christians are not to be surprised by the Rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 5:4), so believers, at the time of the Second Coming, will be anticipating His return. Blessing is promised to the one who is prepared for the coming of the Lord.
16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
Armageddon is a transliterated word from the Hebrew word, Har-Magedon. It literally refers to “Mount Megiddo. Since there is no mountain in Palestine with that name and since the Hebrew word “Har” can refer to hill country. It is probably a reference to the hill country surrounding the plain of Megiddo, some 60 miles north of Jerusalem and a site of many battles throughout the centuries.
VI. The Seventh Bowl: The finale Revelation 16:17-21
17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, (the atmosphere that surrounds the earth), and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. (It is preferable to view “Babylon” as the rebuilt city of Babylon located on the Euphrates River, which will be the capital of the final world government (cf. Walvoord, Revelation, pp. 240-41).
20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. 21 From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.
1. God’s perfect nature will not change in order to accommodate our concepts of Him born out of the fertile field of our creative imaginations. The issue is not what you think and imagine God to be. It is what God has revealed Himself to be in His Word.
2. The final wrath of God will be expressed not only against the principle of sin, but also against those who practice sin as a lifestyle.
3. The judgments of God are in accordance with His holiness, righteousness, and justice. They are also reflective of His omniscient understanding of the sinful heart of those who are the recipients of His punishment.
4. Defiant and hardened sinners will remain steadfastly unrepentant, even in the face of experiencing the full fury of God’s wrath.
“This truth should give pause to those who think that signs and wonders will convince people to believe the gospel. Those who reject the wonder, glory and majesty of the Son of God, who spurn the gracious free gift of salvation, will not be convinced by any miracles that they behold.”
5. Never assume divine patience with sinners to mean divine tolerance of their sin.
6. The assembly of the armies of the world for the battle of Armageddon is by divine design.
7. The perception of a miracle does not mean that it comes from God as a source.