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.”
The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly, festering sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.
The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died.
The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say:
“You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, you who are and who were; for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.”
And I heard the altar respond:
“Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”
The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. 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 fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.
– Revelation 16:1-11
A question came up a few weeks ago in our Sunday school class regarding the remnant that is left on earth at the end times. Since these people haven’t died, can they be saved?
The more important question might be ‘will they be saved?’
Some people have read one verse in the Bible, and that’s it. Okay, they didn’t read that verse in the Bible. They read it in the church bulletin when they became members. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) They think, okay I said the words once, now let’s move on to what my blessings and rewards will be.
Some people that are members of churches haven’t read that much. They think that in the end, God will save everybody. They always modify the words of Jesus, who said, (Matthew 20:25b-28) “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This passage has a lot. There are a lot of elders that read Matthew 20:25 and think, “I’m a Gentile. I’m an elder. Jesus is telling me that I MUST lord it over the non-elders.” If you are a church that has elders and deacons, ask a deacon and they’ll admit, when they are sure of no recriminations, that the elders come up with the ideas and they do all the work. Yes, some elders pitch in, but every church seems to have those that think that their only skill is to supervise others. But my reason for quoting Jesus here was the last word “many.”
He did not ransom all, He ransomed many. The difference in these two numbers is those that did not repent. If God was going to ransom all, He would have come up with a different method in doing it. He would not have suffered and died.
Here in the first part of Revelation 16, God tells the angels to pour out God’s wrath on the earth. As someone said in class, quoting Popeye the sailorman, “I’ve had all I can stands. I can’t stands no more!”
In this passage we see five of the seven bowls poured out. Festering, ugly sores on the people with the mark of the beast came with the first bowl. The second bowl turned the seas into blood and every living thing in the seas dies. It didn’t say fish. Every living thing includes shell fish, seaweed (and other plant life in the sea), aquatic mammals, and fish. And don’t think that the rivers can resupply fresh water to the sea. The third bowl repeats the plague of the second bowl to include all bodies of water.
But the interesting part of these three bowls of God’s wrath. Bowl number one affected the people directly, but bowls 2 and 3 affected water. The people will have to use milk to bathe and cook. They didn’t like fish and shrimp anyway. There is nothing written about their grumbling.
Then when the fourth bowl causes the sun to burn so hot that the people are scorched with fire, now we hear some grumbling. The people cursed God. They refused to repent. They refused to glorify God. Thinking logically, do you want to bow down to someone who has just turned your milky smooth skin into leather that hurts? No, you complain. You curse. But looking at history, how often do people bow down to earthly leaders who torment them. The logic there is that if we are good to the leader, he’ll quit tormenting us. Why is it that we never turn back to God? Why is our reaction with God to blame Him for everything that we have done wrong?
The fourth bowl is something that scientist have seen in outer space. It’s called a supernova. A star has some kind of internal explosion that releases a large chunk of its mass. The remaining mass of the star burns intensely bright until it burns itself out. This takes a week or two.
That’s when the fifth bowl is poured out. That’s when everything goes dark. Okay, some people will quibble over the bowl only being poured on the kingdom of the beast. This may not be a supernova, but it may be similar to one. At this point in God’s wrath, I think that natural law has little to do with what is going on.
Let’s settle on a very hot sun, followed by darkness. Have you ever had a pain that only affects you when you go to bed? Ask someone that has neuropathy due to diabetes. The pain in their feet and hands may be fine during the day, but then they go to bed and all they can think about is the pain. With the fifth bowl, it’s dark. There is no TV or radio to keep your mind off the pain from the sores that you received from the first bowl.
What is their reaction? It is more cursing God. It is more refusing to repent. In verse 11, it is clear that they are not repenting of what they did. It reminds me of the sports stars and celebrities who apologize for being caught and they swear that they won’t get caught next time. Aren’t we all like that when we fail to repent?
Now we go to the starting question. Can these people become saved? Do they want to be saved? These people have been shown the wonders of God. They are no longer denying that God exists. Yet, they are refusing to truly accept Jesus as Lord.
What does it really take to become saved? We need to get to the root of Romans 10:13 before quoting it. When we call upon Jesus as Lord, we are giving up rights to our will and accepting God’s will. Our Lord means our supreme ruler over everything in our lives.
Revelation 16 is a lot of negative thoughts all at once. After all, God is the God of Love. Yes, Jesus came to earth and died for many. You can be one of that many by accepting Him as your savior and calling Jesus Lord of your life.
It beats the alternative, and the result is a loving heavenly Father who will be faithful to you – beyond the end.