NT Prophecy – Revelation 16

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.
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
“Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.”
Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.

  • Revelation 16:1-21

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Revelation 16:1-2 ‘The first bowl of wrath’: “The ‘loud voice’ is not of an angel but appears to be the voice of God, as shown in 15:8, since no one—and that would include angels at this point—can enter the temple of the Lord. This is the same voice heard in 16:17. When the first bowl of wrath is poured out on the earth, ‘a loathsome and malignant sore’ comes upon all those who have aligned themselves with the beast by taking his mark and worshipping his image (verse 2). The sores are ulcers, cancerous lesions, or suppurated wounds that infect everyone on earth except the righteous. Such running, puss-like ailments seem similar to other sores described in Scripture (Exodus 9:9-11; Leviticus 13:18-27). The descriptions imply painful or agonizing ulcers that resist healing.”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Revelation 16:2 ‘first bowl … a foul and loathsome sore’: “The Septuagint (LXX) uses the same Greek word to describe the boils that plagued the Egyptians (Ex. 9:9-11) and afflicted Job (lob 2:7). In the NT, it describes the open sores that covered the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:21). All over the world, people will be afflicted with incurable, open, oozing sores. mark of the beast. Only the worshipers of Antichrist will be afflicted (see note on 13:16; cf. 14:9-11).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Revelation 16:3 ‘The second bowl of wrath’: “The second bowl is poured ‘into the sea,’ causing the water to become like the blood of a dead man—probably through pollutants of some kind. The waters will become foul, odorous, and loathsome, and all sea life will die from this worldwide ecological disaster. This is reminiscent of the first Egyptian plague (Exodus 7:17-21) and the other blood-like plagues in Revelation (8:8-9; 11:6).”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Revelation 16:3 ‘second bowl … every living creature in the sea died’: “This is reminiscent of the second trumpet (8:8, 9), and of the first plague against Egypt (Ex. 7:20—25). This plague, however, will be far more widespread. The water in the world’s oceans will become thick, dark, and coagulated, like the blood of a corpse. The death and decay of billions of sea creatures will add to the misery of this judgment.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Revelation 16:4-7 ‘The third bowl of wrath’: “Next the inland waters, such as rivers and springs of water, will become polluted (verse 4). The angel who pours out this bowl of judgment calls out, ‘Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things’ (verse 5). The God who exists now and existed in the past is the holy God who has a right to judge His creatures. The expression of His eternality and His righteousness is similar to what has been said of Him before (cf. 1:4 ,8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 19:2), and it is also a reminder of His everlasting nature as revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14. The judgments of the eternal and righteous God cannot be questioned.”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Revelation 16:4 ‘third bowl … rivers and springs of water’: “Fresh water, already in short supply because of the prolonged drought (11:6), will now suffer the fate of the oceans (cf. Ex. 7:19ff.). In addition to suffering from thirst, the worshipers of Antichrist will have no clean water with which to wash their sores.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Revelation 16:5 ‘who is and who was and who is to be’: “This phrase expresses God’s eternality (cf. 1:4, 8; 4:8; 11:17). Verse 6 says that the eternal God will judge justly because they have killed the believers and preachers of the gospel (6:9-11; 7:9-17; 11:18; 17:6; 18:20). This slaughter will have no parallel in history (Matt. 24:21) and neither will the vengeance of God (cf. Rom. 12:19-21).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Revelation 16:6 ‘given them blood to drink’: “The thick, blood-like substance which the fresh waters have become is all that is available to drink (cf. v. 4). For it is their just due. The angel exonerates God from any charge that His judgments are too harsh. The unspeakably wicked generation then alive will shed more blood than any before it, including that of saints (6:9; 17:6) and prophets (11:7-10). God’s judgment is fair and proper (cf. Ex. 21:25—27; Lev. 24:19, 20; Heb. 10:26-31).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Revelation 16:7 ‘Reflections’: “You’ll never find in heaven a group of holy beings finding fault with the way God conducts His foreign policy. God Almighty is conducting His world, and every moral creature says, ‘True and righteous are thy judgments. … Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne’ (Revelation 16:7, Psalm 89:14). When God sends a man to die, mercy and pity and compassion and wisdom and power concur— everything that’s intelligent in God concurs in the sentence.
“But oh, the mystery and wonder of the atonement! The soul that avails itself of that atonement, that throws itself out on that atonement, the moral situation has changed. God has not changed! Jesus Christ did not die to change God; Jesus Christ died to change a moral situation. When God’s justice confronts an unprotected sinner that justice sentences him to die. And all of God concurs in the sentence! But when Christ, who is God, went onto the tree and died there in infinite agony, in a plethora of suffering, this great God suffered more than they suffer in hell. He suffered all that they could suffer in hell. He suffered with the agony of God, for everything that God does, He does with all that He is. When God suffered for you, my friend, God suffered to change your moral situation.
“The man who throws himself on the mercy of God has had the moral situation changed. God doesn’t say, ‘Well, we’ll excuse this fellow. He’s made his decision, and we’ll forgive him. He‘s gone into the prayer room, so we’ll pardon him. He’s going to join the church; we’ll overlook his sin.’ No! When God looks at an atoned-for sinner He doesn’t see the same moral situation that He sees when He looks at a sinner who still loves his sin. When God looks at a sinner who still loves his sin and rejects the mystery of the atonement, justice condemns him to die. When God looks at a sinner who has accepted the blood of the everlasting covenant, justice sentences him to live. And God is just in doing both things.”

  • A. W. Tozer, The Attributes of God I

Revelation 16:8-9 ‘The fourth bowl of wrath’: “The plague poured out of the fourth bowl seems to cause what would be called today a solar flare that bombards the earth with intense radiation. The heat of the sun increases ‘to scorch men with fire’ (verse 8) and with ‘fierce heat,’ which causes them to blaspheme and curse the name of God, ‘who has the power over these plagues’ (verse 9). The implication is that the Lord would remove this plague if people repented, but ‘they did not repent, so as to give Him glory.’  The judgment of God was right, yet sadly, judgment rarely brings people to repent and call out to the Lord. Thomas observes, ‘The human response is blasphemy against the God who is directly responsible for all this human misery’ (Revelation, 8-22, p. 257)”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Revelation 16:8-9 ‘the fourth bowl’: ”What great power has God to accomplish his purposes when a single angel can do as much as this? And the Lord has myriads of them waiting to obey his command. God’s right hand can find out his adversaries. No ivory throne can lift a monarch above Jehovah’s rod. No pillar of fame can place a mortal beyond his sword. Since none can fly from God, let them fly to him. As no one can resist the power of his justice, let him flee to the power of his mercy.
“One truth of God comes out of this passage more plainly than any other: Judgments, even the most terrible of them, do not in themselves produce a satisfactory repentance in the minds of people. The punishment drove them into still more furious rebellion. The terrors of the Lord produced blasphemy, but they did not produce repentance. The judgments of God may, through our hardness of heart, involve us in greater sin, apart from divine grace.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

Revelation 16:10-11 ‘The fifth bowl of wrath’: “When the fifth angel pours out his bowl, the worldwide kingdom of the beast will become ‘darkened,’ and people will ‘[gnaw] their tongues because of pain’ (verse 10). If this darkness is physical and atmospheric, there will have to be a sudden reversal of the intense heat and light caused by the fourth bowl of wrath—in other words, a rapid loss of sunlight. This is certainly not impossible because these plagues are from God and they are miraculous. However, the darkness here could also be spiritual and even emotional and oppressive darkness. Again, the people of earth blaspheme ‘the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they [do] not repent of their deeds’ (verse 11).”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Revelation 16:12-16 ‘The sixth bowl of wrath’: “The Euphrates River dries up in preparation for the final invasion of the ‘kings of the east.’ Some take verses 13-16 as a parenthetical pause in the narrative of the seven bowl judgments.  But more than likely these verses describe events connected to the sixth bowl, which is introduced in verse 12. The reason some say verses 13-16 are parenthetical is because they mention activities carried out by Satan (the dragon), the beast, and the false prophet. However, as Hindson observes, ‘Up until this bowl, the previous bowls have involved a direct outpouring of divine wrath. There is no mention of any specific human instrumentality. These judgments may well be the aftermath of the previous ones (seals and trumpets)’ (Revelation, p. 170).
“From the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet will come forth, as if from their mouths, increased demonic activity described as ‘unclean spirits like frogs’ (verse 13). The word ‘frogs’ speaks of something revulsive. These demons will perform signs and ‘go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty’ (verse 14). This war is Armageddon, which will be the last great battle before the coming oi the Lord Jesus to reign on earth (see 14:14-20; 19:11-21).
“Some scholars believe ‘Armageddon’ (‘hill of Megiddo’) is used here in a figurative sense and not a literal one. Some think the term is illustrative of all the hills that surround Israel. For example, Ezekiel prophesied about the ‘mountains of Israel’ that will figure prominently in the final wars of the last days (Ezekiel 30:1-9; 38:8-21; 39:1-4). However, Scripture gives a specific location for this battle. The Megiddo plain is where the final conflict will take place, or it will serve as the staging area for the invasion that will come against Jerusalem. The Lord will gather the nations to this place (Revelation 16:16), and the inhabitants of the entire earth will be involved.
“Christ then gives a warning and an invitation to those who will be reading this book when these events take place: ‘Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame’ (verse 15). When judgment is imminent, God often expresses mercy and grace to those who will listen to His warnings.”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Revelation 16:12 ‘Euphrates’: “Called ‘the great river’ five times in Scripture (cf. 9:14; Gen. 15:18; Deut. 1:7; Josh. 1:4), it flows some 1,800 miles from its source on the slopes of Mt. Ararat to the Persian Gulf … It forms the eastern boundary of the land God promised to Israel (Gen. 15:18; Deut. 1:7; 11:24; Josh. 1:4). With its flow already reduced by the prolonged drought and intensified heat, God supernaturally will dry it up to make way for the eastern confederacy to reach Israel (Is. 11:15). the kings from the east. God providentially draws these kings and their armies in order to destroy them in the battle of Armageddon (v. 14). Their reason for coming may be to rebel against Antichrist, whose failure to alleviate the world’s suffering will no doubt erode his popularity. Or, this may be a final act of rabid anti-Semitism intent on destroying Israel, perhaps in retaliation for the plagues sent by her God. Since the sun may have melted the ice caps on Mt. Ararat, flooding the valley of the Euphrates as the river overflows its banks and bridges, the land will be swamped. God will have to dry it up miraculously for the eastern army to get to Armageddon.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Revelation 16:13 ‘three unclean spirits’: “A common NT designation for demons (cf. Matt. 12:43; Mark 1:23; Luke 8:29). These are especially vile, powerful, and deceitful (v. 14). Like frogs. This figure further emphasizes their vileness (cf. Lev. 10:11, 41). Frogs were unclean animals according to OT dietary laws (Lev. 11:10, 11, 41). Persian mythology views them as plague-inducing creatures. The demons are thus described as slimy, coldblooded, loathsome beings. the dragon … the beast… the false prophet. The ‘unholy trinity,’ composed of Satan (the dragon; see 12:3), the Antichrist (the beast; see 11:7), and Antichrist’s associate (the false prophet; see 13:11), spew out this plague.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Revelation 16:14 ‘signs’: “These are supernatural wonders (cf. 13:12-15) designed to deceive (cf. 19:20; 1 Kin. 22:20-23; Mark 13:22) the kings into invading Israel. Their impact will be so great that the unclean spirits are able to induce the kings to make the journey in spite of their sores, the intense heat, drought, and darkness. kings of the earth. No longer just the eastern confederacy but now all the world begins to gather in Israel for the final, climactic battle (Ps. 2:2, 3; Joel 3:2—4; Zech. 14:1-3). the battle of that great day of God Almighty. The battle of Armageddon (v. 16). It is the great war with God and Christ (see 2 Thess. 1:7-10; cf. Joel 2:11; 3:2, 4). The war will end when Christ arrives (19:17-20).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Revelation 16:17-21 ‘The seventh bowl of wrath’: “When the seventh bowl is poured out into the air, the Lord will shout with a loud voice, ‘It is done’ (verse 17), meaning the final outpourings of wrath are finished. Great atmospheric storms and a powerful earthquake will herald the end. The shaking of the earth will be ‘such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty’ (verse 18). While it’s tempting to say that the ‘great city’ that is split apart in verse 19 is Babylon, Revelation 11:8 has already identified the ‘great city’ as apostate Jerusalem, and 11:13 tells of a previous earthquake that causes a tenth of the city to fall and 7000 people to die. Here in chapter 16 the city will be split ‘into three parts’ (verse 19), and ‘the cities of the nations’ will also fall. With this earthquake God will give ‘Babylon the great … the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath’ (verse 19).
“As a result of the earthquakes and storms, every island (or coast line) will flee away and the mountains will ‘not [be] found’ (verse 20). Monstrous hailstones (about 100 pounds each) will pummel the earth, and yet again, people will blaspheme God ‘because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe’ (verse 21). The mention of Babylon (verse 19) in the narrative establishes a parenthetical pause (chapters 17—18) in which we read about what will happen toward the end of the tribulation to ‘Babylon the great, the mother of harlots’ (17:5).”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Revelation 16:16 ‘Armageddon’: “The Hebrew name for Mt. Megiddo, sixty miles north of Jerusalem. The battle will rage on the nearby plains, site of Barak’s victory over the Canaanites (Judg. 4), and Gideon’s victory over the Midianites (Judg. 7). Napoleon called this valley the greatest battlefield he had ever seen. But the battle of Armageddon will not be limited to the Megiddo plains; it will encompass the length of Israel (see note on 14:20).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Revelation 16:17 ‘seventh bowl … It is done!’: “This bowl will complete God’s wrath (except for final judgment on the rebellion at the end of the Millennium; 20:7-10) and immediately precedes the Second Coming of Christ. It will usher in the worst calamity in the history of the world. The voice from the temple in heaven is undoubtedly that of God Himself. ‘It is done!’ is best translated, ‘It has been and will remain done’ (cf. John 19:30). God will punctuate the completion of His wrath with a devastating earthquake—the most powerful in earth’s history (cf. vv. 19-21).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Revelation 16:20 ‘every island fled … mountains not found’: “This powerful earthquake will radically alter all the earth’s topography, preparing it for the coming millennial kingdom. Cf. 6:12-14; Isaiah 40:4, 5; Jeremiah 4:23-27.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Revelation 16:21 ‘a talent’: “The heaviest weight a normal man could carry (about 75 lbs.). The huge size of the hailstones indicates unparalleled atmospheric convulsions. Such massive chunks of ice will cause unimaginable devastation and death.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Coffee and Revelation – Introduction
In going to the website of the Wee Flea, you can search for any episodes of “Coffee and Revelation” that may have been uploaded pertaining to these chapters.   At the time this post was published, Rev. Robertson had not finished his video series.

My Thoughts

I copied a quote from Rev. Ray C. Stedman in the Bible Study on Daniel 9-10.  He said that we are living in the Great Parenthesis, that period between Jesus’ Coming and Jesus’ Return.  But then in the book of Revelation, there are a number of parenthetical expressions to traverse.  There are six seals broken, but we took a detour to learn what else was happening before the seventh seal.  Then we had seven trumpets, but there was another break between the sixth and seventh trumpet.  But now, without delay it is a series of plagues that are relentless.

These plagues are very reminiscent of the plagues of Egypt.  It is not that God is a one-trick pony, or ten-trick pony (ten Egyptian plagues).  It is that anyone that knows anything of their Bible Stories would know this was coming from only one source.  We might question something like “Climate Change”, but then boils should remind us of the sixth plague of Egypt.  Then the first plague of Egypt is repeated worldwide, water to blood in the oceans and then water to blood in the small streams.  Yet, in Egypt, they dug wells to reach fresh water.  Here, there is none.

Then, the sun burns the skin of those on earth, just before the lights go out.  In being sick with COVID recently, it was worst at night.  First, you tried to sleep, and sleep was impossible.  Lying down made it difficult to breathe and sitting up, sleeping was difficult, reminding me of trying to sleep on a long airflight.  But when I have been very sick, especially with difficulty breathing, being in the dark left me with nothing other than the thought of being sick.  To modify something that C. S. Lewis wrote, it is not the injury as much as it is the shadow of being injured that seems to hurt more.  In the unrelenting darkness, there is nothing but shadow.

When I have CPAP issues at night, I turn on the lights, just to lessen the chances of panic, leading to hyperventilating while wearing a mask designed for a constant pressure of air.  The CPAP does not care when your panic says that we want more air.

Thus, it is no haphazard sequence to start with boils, then eliminate all potable water sources, then give everyone a sunburn before you turn off the lights.  Everything hurts and the panic mounts.  There are still two bowls remaining.  Yet, everyone refuses to repent.  Everyone curses and blasphemes God.

Then the River Euphrates dries up.  This provides the means for the coalition of nations from the east to advance toward Jerusalem.  I once had a wartime mission of blowing up supply locations that could be used to bridge the Rhein River.  I never had to do so, but rivers throughout time have been strategic barriers for advancing armies.  Obtaining a bridge that had not been destroyed shortened World War II in Europe, but before that, destroying bridges thwarted Hitler’s advance in the Battle of the Bulge.  One Nazi commander, Obersturmbahnfuehrer (LTC) Peiper, raced toward one of the bridges.  He arrived to see that it had just been destroyed.  He was stuck, and he screamed, “The damned engineers!  The damned engineers!”  Peiper would later be placed on trial for killing POWs.

Soggy ground and raging rivers can stop armies, but God supernaturally dried the ground so that the final battle would take place.

Then with the sixth bowl, God says, “It is done.”  Jesus placed His finishing touch on the payment for sin by saying “It is finished.”  Now to complete the Stedman Great Parenthesis, we are at the end, the closing parenthesis.

But before Jesus appears, there will be the greatest earthquake known to the planet and then hailstorms with hail as large as one hundred pounds.  The largest hailstone ever measured was less than two pounds and the updraft was well over 150 miles per hour to produce it.  But after all the other things that have happened, after the islands have vanished and the mountains are no more, it seems that nothing could hold back the weather in being the herald for the return of Jesus.

But we have another parenthetical expression, a woman riding on a beast.  God must deal with the global concept of Babylon the Great.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

Revelation 16: “1. What has God done in your life to help you repent? How receptive are you to admitting your guilt and repenting when you sin?
“2. If ‘war is hell’ (says Hawkeye on M*A*S*H), could John be envisioning that ‘heIl is war’? What does this passage tell you about God’s judgment?
“3. What are the ‘frogs’ that are battling with you? How is the battle going?
“4. How is the book of Revelation making you feel? Why? What has surprised you about God or about this book? How would you explain the necessity of these plagues to someone who is not a Christian?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There is one set of questions for this chapter.

Substitute whatever group for any reference to a small group or ask who could come to your aid.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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