CHAPTER SIXTEEN



SEVEN BOWLS FILLED WITH GOD'S WRATH

1 "And I heard a loud voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, 'Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.'"

God wants to make it virtually impossible for us to be mistaken concerning the difference between tribulation and wrath. So, let's pull our comprehension-belts a little tighter. We need to know when and who receives God's wrath:

1. We already know that the anti-Christ will be in full power when the Bowls will be poured out. Therefore, obviously the first half of the final seven years will be over.

2. This also means the Church will have been raptured.

3. We know the 144,000 Israelites will have already brought multitudes to salvation-knowledge.

4. According to Revelation 15:8, we know no one can be saved during the dispensing of the Bowls.

5. The task of the 144,000 is finished (which we know lasts for exactly 3 1/2 years).

Considering these facts and by simple deduction, plus a little arithmetic, we are left with only one possible answer as to the timing of the Bowls: they will be emptied right AFTER the completion of the last half of the final seven year period.

As we shall see in this chapter, the Wrath of God is against the anti-Christ, the False Prophet and all wicked mankind. Thus, the Bowls of Wrath are against all who refuse God's grace, the "wicked" choosing instead to follow Satan's delusions. The exact timing may also somehow relate to Daniel 12, where the prophet refers to 1290 and 1335 days. It (could) be that the Bowls commence at the end of the 1260th day of the last half of the Great Tribulation, intensifies at 1290 days, then continues until the 1335th day, making a total time of 75 days for the dispensation of all seven Bowls. This passage in Daniel seems to remain somewhat unclear to all writers. (You know, of course, that throughout this book I defined a 'prophetic day' as one year. Therefore, the 1290 and 1335 days probably also have had a long-range application. But remember, one application doesn't preclude the reality of the other.)

Whatever is actually meant by the 1335 days, it must relate with Jesus' second coming because Daniel said, "BLESSED is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days" (1335 days). Dan 12:12. I believe this is talking about the point at which the earth will be prepared for the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to reign as Lord and King. Daniel's comment "Blessed is he..." refers to those who are chosen to begin the millennium with Christ.



THE FIRST BOWL: THE "MARK OF THE BEAST" BECOMES INFECTED

2 "And the first went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came on the men who had the mark of the beast and on those who worshiped his image."

God's Wrath seems to start at the bottom of the anti-Christ system and from there progresses upwards throughout the heirarchy. This first Bowl is against those who have given their allegiance to God's adversary, the satanically-energized anti-Christ. These are the ones who will have believed the "strong delusion" the apostle Paul spoke of in 2 Thessalonians 2:11. (This should be a strong stimulus for us to be bold in our testimony to the lost that Jesus is their only hope of deliverance --- today, and forever).

THE SECOND BOWL: THE "SEA" TO BLOOD

3 "And the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became like the blood of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died."

I find this verse hard to understand, whether viewed figuratively or literally. We have learned that "sea", allegorically speaking, refers to mass humanity. If we take it that way here, then it would appear that every human being would die. This can't be true as the ensuing verses will testify.

But, if we are to take it literally, then we have to ask the question, "Does the second angel kill every living thing in the oceans?" If so, this would mean there would be no living things in the seas during the millennium! I think that is equally false. Since the word John used is singular, "sea", one wonders if it refers only to one specific sea. However, I fail to see the value in that since what we are talking about here is God's Wrath against wickedness all over the world. ???

But let's look at another phrase in the above verse: The sea became..."as the blood of a dead man". What is the blood of a dead man like? Motionless, right? Blood in motion carries life to all parts of the body via an elaborate network of blood vessels. If the blood stops, so does the sustenance of body-life. With this thought in mind, perhaps the second Bowl is aimed at destroying the elaborate net-work the False Prophet and the anti-Christ will have in effect at that time.

This last postulation seems most acceptable in light of the fact that all the Bowls are specifically targeted, each one aimed at a particular aspect of Satan's earthly kingdom. It appears that God brings down the anti-Christ system in a "domino" fashion. Perhaps the outstretched-network of Opus Dei and similar satanic operations within the "sea" of humanity are part of the line-up.



THE THIRD BOWL: RIVERS AND SPRINGS BECOME BLOOD

4 "And the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.

5 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 come, Because You have judged these things.

6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, And You have given them blood to drink. For they are worthy of it.'

7 And I heard another out of the altar saying, 'Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments."

Using the same line of reasoning presented above (i.e., that Bowl # 2 represents God's Wrath against the peripheral aspect of the anti-Christ's system in the "sea"), then next up in the ladder of authority, the "rivers and springs", would logically signify THE LEADERS over Opus Dei and other mainline command-links.

To clarify, consider this: picture a sea --- a large body of water which receives it's nourishment from rivers and streams that flow into it. Since we know that "sea" symbolically refers to the general populace, where Opus Dei is designed to feed their 'wisdom' to the masses, then it seems reasonable to assume that "rivers and streams" would refer to the next step up in the chain-of-command of the anti-Christ's system.

But whatever is the actual meaning of "rivers and streams", we can certainly be sure that the term suggests human beings and not flowing bodies of ordinary water. I say this because verse 6 tells us that these particular waters will "shed the blood of saints and prophets". I think we can all agree that people are responsible for killing the saints and prophets, not literal waterways.

THE FOURTH BOWL: MEN ARE SCORCHED

8 "And the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire."

9 "And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent to give Him glory."

Talk about hard-headedness! In spite of everything that has already happened, ungodly men still refuse to repent of their sins! Even though much torment will have already been experienced and witnessed by lost mankind, he will, on the whole, still "blaspheme the name of God". I see no way of interpreting how this plague comes other than to assume that the intensity of the sun's rays are going to be greatly increased upon the earth. It appears this particular Bowl of God's Wrath is more general than we've seen in other Bowls, this one affecting all mankind. However, that's what we should expect to happen eventually.

THE FIFTH BOWL: THE "BEAST" GETS IT

10 "And the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain."

11 "And they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds."

As suggested earlier, it seems that God's Wrath started at the bottom of the anti-Christ system, affecting first those who were deceived into receiving the "mark of the beast", followed then by the next Bowls, going right on up through the ranks. Now, the Fifth Bowl reaches the upper echelons of Satan's earthly kingdom. This probably refers to the political leaders in power within the revived Roman Empire at that time. (Note the continued hard-heartedness. Men still refuse to acknowledge God's authority, preferring rather, in spite of their misery, to remain self-centered, self-sufficient and unrepentant.)

THE SIXTH BOWL: THE EUPHRATES DRIES UP

12 "And the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared."

Most apocalyptic-Scripture writers seem to be agreed that the "kings of the east" refer to the oriental countries, chief of which would probably be China. Recall that the Sixth Trumpet mentioned the Euphrates river in conjunction with a 200,000,000-man army. It is doubtful any group of nations other than the Eastern Orient could even conceivably amass such a large number of soldiers as this.

We noted earlier that in 1978 a road was completed, extending from China, through Pakistan, into the Middle East. This could actually pave the way for that 200,000,000-man army. Also, it is said the Euphrates River can now be shunted near its head, therefore making it possible for a literal "drying up" of its present course. This would make it quite conceivable that, in our day, the Euphrates could become a dry bed over which a broad band of foot soldiers could approach a battle field in the Middle East.

THE "UNHOLY TRINITY"

13 "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

14 For they are the spirits of demons, working signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.

15 "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."

16 And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon."

There is a real heavenly Father, a real Holy Spirit and a real Son of God --- Who together comprise the Godhead. Person-wise, all are distinctly different, yet Biblically presented as One. They are always in perfect agreement. Everything that is done by either is always respected and 'approved', if you will, by the others. I confess that I cannot fully understand this. However, a mere reading of the Scriptures shows that these conclusions are clearly and unquestionably taught. What one does with the teaching is either believed or rejected.

Satan has his own plans for perverting the real Godhead. Some have called the above passage a Biblical portrayal of his 'unholy trinity' --- the "dragon" being Satan, the "beast" is the anti-Christ and the "False Prophet" his forerunner. I don't know if this is correct or not. But it does serve the purpose of understanding the delusion God said He would send to those who believed NOT the truth. (See 2 Thes. 2.) In essence, God is saying, "Either believe Me or I have no other alternative than to allow you to follow the one who perverts my ways".

Today there are many false religions. But in the final analysis, there will be only two choices: one way leads to eternal life; one way leads to eternal destruction. The only way to be saved from the latter is to believe the former, which means to accept God's delivering Messiah --- the Lord Jesus Christ.

It seems Jesus deemed this passage so crucial He sent no angel but broke His personal silence by saying, "Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame." What does it mean to keep one's "garments"? The only apparel you or I can wear which hides our real nature (our spiritual nakedness) is the "righteousness of Christ". God imputes the righteousness of Jesus to those who trust Him as Lord and Savior. The very Perfection of Jesus spiritually clothes those who are "in Him".

Thus, when God looks upon a believer at Judgment Day, He sees His Own Son's perfection, not the guilty sinner. Jesus is the 'apparel' the heavenly Father sees. The sinful nature of a believer and the sins he commits are covered (actually removed) by Jesus' shed blood. That's what Jesus paid for at the Cross of Calvary. What a price has been paid for us sinners! How can one neglect so great a salvation? (See Hebrews 2:3.)

ARMAGEDDON

Notice verse 14 says demons are the ones behind the scenes inspiring and luring humanity into the battleground of Armageddon. They will do this through "great signs" which will effectively deceive the "kings of the earth". That battle will involve many kingdoms which Satan will have banded together, the kings of the east, the Arab nations, the revived Roman Empire, and others, presumably designed to attempt annihilation of Israel once and for all.

It is not altogether clear exactly who will be against who? in this last war. In any event, we know Christ ultimately intervenes and will begin the process of putting all nations under His feet. (This is another one of those places where identifications are very difficult, perhaps impossible, to make. In certain instances, I've come to rest in the assurance that God has reserved some facts which just won't be fully known until the time comes. If it is necessary for the Church to have the understanding, it'll come right on time.)

THE SEVENTH BOWL: THE EARTH UTTERLY SHAKEN

17 "And the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!"

18 And there were noises, thunderings, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, so mighty and so great an earthquake, such as had not been since men were on the earth.

19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.

20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

21 And great hail out of heaven fell on men, every stone about the weight of a talent. And men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great."

This is the final Bowl of God's Wrath. It will be a literal earth-shaking experience. When the Bible goes to the extent of saying something is so severe that "such as had not been since men were on the earth", you better believe this is going to be some tremendous event. Cities will fall; islands will flee away; mountains will not be found. Does it literally mean the islands and mountains in the world will be gone? Or could "islands" symbolically refer to small nations and "mountains" being indicative of large nations? Again, I just don't see enough information here to be sure. In any case, clearly, God will have intervened to take control in order to show forth His might which He has had in store for a long time.

This morning I just happened across a passage in Job which could be an Old Testament prophecy concerning these Bowls of God's wrath. Note the language: "...Hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?" (Job 38:22 & 23). Now compare this to Rev.16:21 above.

The next chapter spells out in greater detail that which is predicted here.