Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Revelation 15 & 16 - The 7 Bowls of God's Wrath

In chapter 15-16 we will see the final outpouring of God’s wrath before Christ’s return.  Chapter 15 begins the preparation for the last 7 judgments of His wrath.  His wrath began in chapter 6 and will be finished with these last 7 judgments.  This chapter is an introduction to these last and final plagues on mankind.  This covers to last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation that is described in chapter 16.

Revelation 15 – Seven Angles with 7 Plagues

7 angels prepare to give out the last 7 Tribulation judgments.  These are called bowls that are full of God’s wrath.  No one can enter the temple until the 7 plagues are finished. (Rev. 15:8) 

John saw 7 angels with 7 last plagues.  “… the seven last plagues – last, because with them God’s wrath is completed.”Rev. 15:1b  Then he saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire.  Standing beside the sea where those who didn’t worship the image, but who had been faithful to God.  They are Tribulation Martyrs who refused to submit to the Antichrist and were beheaded.  God had given them harps and they sang the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.  “Great and marvelous are you deeds, Lord God Almighty.  Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.  Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name?  For you alone are holy.  All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”Rev. 15:3-4. 

They are celebrating God’s destruction of His enemies and the redemption of His people.  They praise Him for His excellent and perfect ways.  He is just and sovereign.  We are not to fear the world.  We are to fear God.  Fear is to show reverence to God.  “All nations will come and worship before you” is when Jesus returns and sits on the throne and rules the world.

How are you strengthened as you think about God’s perfect ways?

After this John saw the temple in heaven.  The tabernacle of the Testimony was opened.  Out of the temple came 7 angels with 7 plagues dressed in clean linen and golden sashes.  One of the four living creatures gave to the 7 angels 7 golden bowls filled with God’s wrath.  The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and His power.  No one could enter the temple until the 7 plagues were completed. (Rev. 15:5-8)  This shows that there is serious and severe judgment in progress.

Some people - even Christians think God is only a God of love, but these angels are operating under God’s orders - they are coming out of temple showing they are taking orders from God.  They are clothed in white indicating they are not demon angels, but God’s angels.  Seven shows the completeness of it all.  God will put an end to sin once and for all.  When these 7 plagues are over, Christ will return.

Revelation 16 – Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath

John heard a loud voice from the temple, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”Rev. 16:1  This was the voice of God.  These bowls contain the anger of God.

1st angel – his bowl is poured out on the land and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. (Rev. 16:2)  This shows God’s grace by not bringing judgment on believers.  He will protect them just as He did the Israelites during the plagues of Egypt.
2nd angel – his bowl was poured on the sea and it turned to blood and everything in the sea died. (Rev. 16:3)  Now everything in the sea is dead.  Can you image the stench and potential for disease?

3rd angel – his bowl is poured out on the rivers and springs of water and they became blood. (Rev. 16:4)  This may or may not be literal blood, but if Christ can turn water to wine, He can turn water to blood.  The important thing is the water will not be fit to drink and will breed disease.

Why would God do this?  The 3rd angel tells us that justice is served and that He is just in these judgments and He is the holy One.

4th angel – his bowl is poured out on the sun which scorched people with fire.  The people refused to repent. (Rev. 16:8-9)  Even with lack of water and this great heat people did not fall to their knees and repent.  Have you ever had a bad sunburn?  Well, I am sure it was nothing like this.  They probably were covered with painful sores and blisters.

5th angel – his bowl is poured out on the throne of the beast and his kingdom was plunged into darkness.  Men cursed God because of their pains and sores, but still refused to repent. (Rev. 16:10-11)  This will be world-wide.  The same thing happened during the plagues of Egypt.  This is an illustration of their spiritual darkness, too.  I am sure this brought depression, suicides and all sorts of evil attacks on the mind.  Jesus predicted this, “But in those days, following that distress, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light.”Mark 13:24  Where is their Antichrist now?

6th angel – his bowl is poured out on the great river Euphrates and its water dried up.  3 evil spirits came out of mouths of dragon, the beast, and the false prophet.  Spirits of demons will perform miraculous signs and go out to the kings of the world to gather them for a great battle against God called Armageddon. (Rev. 16:12-16)  These spirits will have power to do miracles just like the Egyptian magicians copied Moses’ miracles, but God has limited their power.  This river was a boundary between the east and the west.  The river was dried up so the kings of the east could cross for the “battle on the great day of God Almighty”.  They would join forces with armies all over the world to battle the King of Kings.  (We know who wins.)

Jesus Himself speaks in Rev. 16:15-16, “Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”  We as believers must be alert as we wait for Him to return.  Remain clothed means to remain true to Jesus.  We have been clothed with His righteousness and we are to continue to life a transformed life.  We are to remain clothes with His character.  We need to be ready by repenting of sin and believe in Jesus for salvation.

7th angel – his bowl is poured out into the air.  A voice came out of the temple, “It is done!”  This voice is probably God Himself.  Then lightning, thunder and earthquake occurred.  No earthquake like it has ever occurred.  The city split into 3 parts and the cities of the nations collapsed.  Islands and mountains disappeared.  Huge hailstone fell upon men.  They cursed God. (Rev. 16:17-21)  God’s final judgment will end with a great earthquake.

These judgments are like the 10 plagues in Egypt when God got rid of their false gods.  In this final judgment He will get rid of all untruths, all sin and all that is against Him.  These judgments are clearly supernatural and everyone will know they are from God.  Instead of falling down and repenting, they curse God.  They refuse to change their ways.  Their hearts are hard and stubborn.  They should have turned from their sin and praised God.  With all these plagues, deaths and sufferings the people did not repent.  Can you image?  What were they thinking?  Talk about being stubborn.  God gave them every chance to repent. 

How have you minimized your sin?  Satan wants you to minimize your sin.  He wants you to justify it and make it seem insignificant.
Have you repented of your sin or are you too stubborn?
Are you independent and think you don’t need God?
Do you plan to go to church and start reading your Bible someday, but not right now?
Are you just too busy to spend time with God?

Through the blood of Christ, Christians are victories despite circumstances experienced on earth.
Those who refuse God’s grace choose God’s inescapable judgment instead.
God’s final judgment will be devastating, purposeful, and complete.

We all deserve these judgments, but Jesus stood in our place so we don’t have to.  Jesus will return!  Will you be ready?  I hope this study will open your eyes before it’s too late.  God is patiently waiting for you to repent and surrender to Him.

 Next week we will study Revelation 17 which covers the specifics of when Babylon is destroyed.  Hope to see you here.

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