TEXT: Revelation 15-16
God’s judgment has been revealed to John in three major ways: seals on a scroll (ch. 4-7), trumpets being blown (ch. 8-11), and now in ch.15-16, we see the third picture – bowls being poured out. These are three separate perspectives of the same event – God’s final judgment upon sinful man. The bowls of God’s wrath are revealed in two different ways in these chapters: Ch. 15 – Seven Plagues (heaven’s perspective), and ch. 16 – Seven Bowls (earth’s perspective).
I. The Seven Plagues (Heaven’s Perspective) – Rev 15
There are many connections with these visions and Israel’s exodus from Egypt. For instance, when God freed ancient Israel from slavery in Egypt, God parted the Red Sea so Israel could get away from Pharaoh’s army. Here in Rev. 15:3, the Redeemed in heaven sing the song of Moses “and the Lamb”, praising God for His deliverance, His power, His holiness, and thanking God for His judgment upon their enemies. This connection is meant to remind us of the cohesiveness of all of God’s Word. God’s plan of redemption has been the same from the beginning, all fulfilled in Jesus.
Seven angels were identified in v. 1 as holding seven plagues. This now becomes seven bowls. Both pictures are meant to convey the same thing: God’s wrathful final judgment about to be poured out on the wicked.
II. The Seven Bowls (Earth’s Perspective) – Rev 16
John’s attention is turned from heaven to earth, and the plagues are seen as 7 bowls of God’s wrath being poured out His enemies. And like the 7 plagues, we see many connections to the Exodus.
– 1st Bowl (16:2) – painful sores (like the 6th plague of Egypt)
– 2nd & 3rd Bowl (16:3-4) – the waters become like blood (the 1st plague of Egypt)
At this point, in the midst of these first few bowls of judgment being poured out, we see another song – heaven praising God for His righteousness and justice (16:5-7). Then the bowls continue…
– 4th Bowl (16:8-9) – scorching heat from the sun (And the response of those on the earth was to curse God and refuse to repent.)
– 5th Bowl (16:10-11) – darkness (the 9th plague of Egypt). Again people respond by cursing God.
– 6th Bowl (16:12) – drying up of the Euphrates river (This was symbolic of removing the final barriers between God’s enemies and God’s people. The wicked run to the final battle, not realizing they were running to their own destruction.)
– 7th Bowl (16:17-21) – This final earthquake, like the one we saw with the 6th seal being broken, is the final act of God’s wrath, the result of the final bowl of His wrath poured out on those who reject Christ.
Let the Christian be encouraged that we will be spared from God’s wrath to come. We will be spared because Jesus already took that wrath for us.
And let this be an ongoing reminder, as we are see in these chapters God’s judgment to come, that it would encourage us to grow in holiness, and to grow in obedience to the call. Until Jesus returns, we are being equipped for a purpose, to take the truth of the gospel to the world.
We want to be obedient to the mission Jesus gave the Church, and that is to go into all the world and spread the gospel, to see others come to Christ, before the day of judgment comes.