7 Bowls and Armagedon
7 BOWLS AND ARMAGEDDON
Rev. 15 – 16.
Here in chapter 15 we have the introduction to the 7 bowls…or 7 vials.
- We will see 6 of the bowls poured out in the next chapter.
But if you remember, back in chapter 6 we had the opening of the seals…and the seals revealed that Rome was about to collapse.
- After the seals came the trumpets…and trumpets are used to sound a warning…so the trumpets warned of Rome’s doom.
- And now, we are going to see the bowls…bowls are poured out…and so what you have in the bowls is pouring out of God’s wrath…or the forth telling of the actual destruction of Rome.
- No more warning…no more predicting…here it is.
- This marks the beginning of the end.
Now, as we have studied this book I hope you have picked up on one of the major themes that has been evident all the way through…and that is the SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD.
- Even if you do not understand the full meaning of the visions…even if you do not understand or agree with the idea that this book is about the coming judgment on Rome…
- One thing you can see all the way through is the sovereignty of God…that God is all powerful…that is going to bring judgment on the wicked…and that those who are faithful to God will be victorious with Him.
- The faithful may not have an easy existence…in fact, this book points out that they will suffer and be persecuted…
- But regardless, they are God’s people, they will be vindicated, and they are secure for eternity.
These Christians that the book is written to were tempted, because of Rome’s power, influence, and wealth, to think that Rome was all powerful.
- It was easy for them to see Rome as the sovereign power.
- Well, all the way through this book they are reassured that is not true…that Rome is subject to God and His sovereign will and rule.
With that said, lets start now in chapter 15…and as we go through this chapter I want you to imagine how this must have been read and heard by the people of the day…people who were and would suffer a severe persecution at the hands of the Romans.
And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished.
- He says “seven angels who had seven plagues, which are last…”
- They are not “last” because God is tired.
- They are “last” because that is all that is needed.
And here where he says that “in these seven plagues…the wrath of God is finished.”
- This is what the saints have been waiting for since they cried out from the altar back in chapter 6.
Vs. 2 And I saw, as it were, a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had come off victorious from the beast and from his image and from the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God.
Back in chapter 4 we saw the “sea of glass” and it’s purpose was to protect God’s holiness.
And notice the three things that “those who came off victorious” had over come…the beast, his image, and the number of his name.
- These people are standing on the sea of glass…they had come through the fire and were in the presence of God.
3 And they sang the song of Moses…
- The song of Moses back over in Exodus 15 was a song of deliverance and victory.
3 And they sang the song of Moses the bond-servant of God and the song of the Lamb…
- Remember back in chapter 5:9 and following the heavenly hosts sang: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain…”
3 And they sang the song of Moses the bond-servant of God and the song of the Lamb saying…
- Now, as we go through this, notice the 4 things that God did in the world.
“Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Thy ways, Thou King of the nations.
4 “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For all the nations will come and worship before Thee, For Thy righteous acts have been revealed.”
- Notice the 4 things: God worked these in the world and bought these victorious ones with the blood of Christ.
5 After these things I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened, 6 and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, clothed in linen, clean and bright, and girded around their breasts with golden girdles.
- Notice where these seven angels and seven plagues came from…the tabernacle of testimony in heaven.
- This is heaven’s judgment.
7 And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. 8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.
- You can read about a similar thing in Exodus 40: 34 and following.
- The fact that no one could enter the temple would indicate that this is not a joyous occasion…but a solemn occasion instead.
- And it would be…God is coming in judgment and pouring His wrath out on Rome.
Now, lets go into chapter 16 and the 6 Bowls of Wrath.
Rev 16:1 And I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God into the earth.”
- A lot of blasphemous things had come out of Rome…and they were all lies.
- This comes from heaven and you can count on it.
And notice, the voice says, “Go”. When God says “go”, angels and wise men “go.”
And I want you to notice the command, “Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God into the earth.”
- This is the 5th time that the “wrath of God” has been mentioned since chapter 14.
- The word “wrath” could be translated “fury.”
- This is intended to instill fear…this is going to be a terrifying thing.
- And this announcement is to inform us that what happens to Rome is no accident.
2 And the first angel went and poured out his bowl into the earth; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore upon the men who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.
- This bowl is poured out on the “earth”…this is a land judgment.
- And the description of “a loathsome and malignant sore” indicates a “painful…foul” experience.
- And notice the last part of the verse: this judgment is sent only to those who had chose not to follow God. It did not harm the faithful.
3 And the second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died.
- In chapter 8:8 the judgment was only on 1/3 of the sea…now it is on the whole sea.
- This would affect the commerce and economy of the empire.
- And notice the “blood is like that of a dead man.”
- This is not fresh blood…this imagery is intended to promote horror.
4 And the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters; and they became blood.
- This would affect the commerce as well as the drinking supplies.
- This was another strike against Rome and its gods.
- What you have here in these bowls is God judging Rome from every angle.
5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “Righteous art Thou, who art and who wast, O Holy One, because Thou didst judge these things; 6 for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink. They deserve it. ” 7 And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Thy judgments.”
- In verse 4 the waters become blood…because they poured out the blood of the saints…and now they will drink blood…all because they deserve it.
- The punishment fits the crime.
8 And the fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun; and it was given to it to scorch men with fire.
- In chapter 8: 12 the sun was hit for 1/3 of day.
- Now the judgment is intensified.
- And in the past the Romans had been good with fire…let them try this.
9 And men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues; and they did not repent, so as to give Him glory.
- This just shows you how hard hearted people can get.
- How could any one under this kind of assault from God not repent?
- Well, those who know scripture know that these things are judgments of God.
- The ungodly do not know.
- Sometimes impenitence is due to a lack of conviction and knowledge.
10 And the fifth angel poured out his bowl upon the throne of the beast; and his kingdom became darkened(this is a term that speaks of it being so dark you cannot see to move) ; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain,
- Here in this verse the throne is hit.
- When the head is hit the body is confused.
- Confused leaders become more brutal…exacting God’s judgement on the people.
- Terrible thing when men of state are inept…they make foolish decision which affect millions.
11 and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.
- Natural disasters, economic hardships, inept leadership and all such things in the hands of the Lord become terrible swords…and still, the do not repent.
12 And the sixth angel poured out his bowl upon the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, that the way might be prepared for the kings from the east.
- The Euphrates River was always a natural barrier preventing armies from the east from attacking to the west.
- But here the waters dry up and the military powers are unrestricted.
- God will use these military powers to bring about the fall of Rome.
Now, in the next few verses we are going to see the battle of Har-Megedon.
- These verses are applied to all kinds of things…WW2, Vietnam, the war between Israel and Egypt, Iran/Iraq war, the cold war with Russia.
- What you find here in this passage is the things spoken of here have already taken place.
- And the thing to do is not try to apply these verses to some specific event, but instead, look for the obvious meaning.
13 And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs;
- Notice the terrible trio.
14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.
- Notice what these spirits do…they go out and deceive the nations into war with God.
- How foolish is that?
- Now, this is one side of the battle…the dragon, the beast, the false prophets with all their supporters…going up against the Lord and His loyal people.
15(“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his garments, lest he walk about naked and men see his shame.”)
- This coming here is a reference to chapter 1: 7 when the Lord says that He is coming in judgment on Rome and the ungodly.
- And we know this is speaking of the Lord because He is the one in scripture that comes “like a thief in the night.”
- And once again, we are reminded here of our need to always be vigilant…because if we are we will be blessed…unlike those who are not ready for His coming.
- This coming judgment will not catch His faithful people off guard.
So, here in verse 13-15 we are told that war is coming between the terrible trio…and the Lord.
16 And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.
- “Har-Magedon”…or Armegeddon.
- If you go back into your OT…to Judges 4-5 and 2 Chronicles 35:20-27 you find that this is a huge battlefield where those who did the will of God won victories there.
- Even the Egyptians won a battle there because they were doing the will of God.
- This was a huge area of battle…a great natural battlefield…a good scene to place the battle between the terrible trio and God.
- The people could visualize both armies gathered here.
- But the people could also remember that those doing the will of God always won here.
Now, remember, this is all a vision and it all takes place under the pouring out of a bowl.
- This is not a literal battle that takes place…but a vision that shows the complete defeat of the terrible trio and their allies.
17 And the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air; and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.”
- The whole realm of evil has been hit. Eph 2: 1ff.
- The whole ungodly world has been smitten and the power behind it will be smitten too.
- And here where he says, “It is done”, you can count on it…God has buried Rome.
Now, verse 18 and in this verse you have the epitome of horror.
18 And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty.
19 And the great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. (The fact that Rome was split by an earthquake stresses the utterness of its destruction…as well as its allies.
And Babylon(the symbolic name of Rome) the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.
20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
- They all run from the wrath of God…nothing wants to face His wrath.
21 And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; (surely the people would repent now…wouldn’t they?)
…and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.
- No, they still continue to blaspheme God.
- Some can become so hard they will not repent even in the face of death.
The seven bowls have been poured out. Judgment on Rome is complete. Rome is destroyed.
- The details are not given…but history shows that this proves to be true.
As we go into chapters 17-18 we will see the OBITUARY for the fallen empire.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2024