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Lowell Brueckner

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Revelation 16


Chapter 16

1.  Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”
2.  So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.
3.  The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.
4.  The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood.
5.  And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments.
6.  For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!”
7.  And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!”
8.  The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire.
9.  They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.
10. The firth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish.
11. and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.
12. 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.
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.
14. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.

Pouring out the bowls of wrath

The time has arrived for the seven angels to pour out the final bowls of wrath upon the earth. The time is easily dated in the last 3 ½ years of the Great Tribulation. The empire of the antichrist has been established and the entire population, except for the faithful servants of God, has received his mark and are worshipers of the antichrist image. The angels step out of the heavenly sanctuary (15:6), the throne room of God, at His command, to accomplish their task.

Bowl 1: The first angel directed the first bowl towards those, who had given their loyalty and trust to the beast, having been marked, as his possession, in order to function in his economic system. They had adopted the new religion of the antichrist and the false prophet, which involved worship to the world emperor himself, and also an image, constructed among and by the world population. It breathed and spoke, and demanded the death of all, who refused to worship it. The plague produced a severe, malignant sore.  

Bowl 2: The second angel directed his bowl towards the sea, which turned to blood, such as would come from a corpse. It would be thick, congealed and putrid. Every living thing – man, mammals, fish and lesser life - in the sea died. It effected the whole of the seas, worldwide and everything in them.

Bowl 3: The third angel poured his bowl into the springs and rivers, which in turn, flowed into all other bodies of fresh water. These also turned to blood. Again, it came upon the whole system of fresh water.

There is a heavenly angel that presides over the element of water and, although his element is wholly contaminated at this time, he sees it as a just sentence. I mentioned in the last chapter that society’s humanists, because they glorify men and belittle God, see His judgments as disproportionate and cruel. Heaven, holding a clearer and more perfect point of view, sees the justice of it all. F. B. Meyer says: “Our softer age shrinks from such conceptions of the divine judgments, but it is likely that our standards are weakened and warped by our daily contact with what is earthly and human. God’s love is not soft and emasculated, but strong, vigorous, and righteous. Only when we reach the land of light and glory, shall we understand the true horror of sin and the inveteracy of human apostasy.”

Warren Wiersbe points out: “In God’s government, the punishment fits the crime. Pharaoh tried to drown the Jewish boy babies, but it was his own army that eventually drowned in the Red Sea.” The angel says, “They have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is what they deserve!” They have manifested their hatred of God, by killing His saints and prophets.

Justice is ascribed to God, “Oh Holy One, who is and was.” His holy nature cannot tolerate sin, and all the sin that was and is on earth, will be brought to last-day judgment. The altar in heaven is personified in the Greek and confirms, “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments!” I can think of no other altar, which has won a place in heaven, outside the cross. It was upon that altar that sin was judged and the full wrath of God was poured out upon the Son who was made sin. The world has rejected the cross, where the beloved Son shed His blood, and now it drinks the blood, like the blood of a corpse.

                   Bowl 4: The fourth angel turned his bowl towards the sun and a heat wave reaches earth that was never experienced at any place or any time. The heat of the desert is not to be compared with the contents of this bowl. The friendly sun that warms and lights our lives, becomes an enemy. Around the world, human skin was scorched by the fierce rays unleashed upon it.

We want to learn and establish, in our hearts and minds, things that are not emphasized enough in churches in our times, as we move through this final book of revelation. It reveals to us the doctrine of the hardness of fallen human nature. As this plague falls upon mankind, the result is not a humble and tender submission to the punishment of God, as we might think should happen, but instead we see the raised fist of rebellion. Man curses his Creator for giving him, what he justly deserves. Though created for His glory they refuse to glorify Him.   

How hard is the human heart? Can any of us fathom it? From the time that Adam and Eve fell to the temptation of the serpent, we have witnessed its evil. Jeremiah expressed it well: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer.17:9). In the second generation from creation, Cain murdered his brother. Pharaoh enslaved a nation, commanded that their male babies be thrown in the Nile, and then again and again hardened his heart against the judgments of God. It would require a book to give even small evidence to prove the hard nature of man expressed in the Old Testament.

Let’s go to the New Testament. God sent His own beloved Son into the world in love, with the express purpose of saving mankind from his sin. He was rejected and maligned by His own people and in the name of the One, whom they claimed as their God, they condemned Him to death and turned Him over to the Romans for crucifixion. Once again, for the sake of time and space, I cannot go into more detail.

Megiddo on the map
For two thousand years, the millions and then billions of the earth’s population have turned thumbs down to the offers of the gospel, while they have approved abortion and the filthy, perverse “rights” of the homosexual and lesbian. Missionaries and preachers have been persecuted, imprisoned and laid down their lives. Paul taught us, through the words of the Psalmist, in our Christian doctrine: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Ro.3:10-12, quoting Ps.14:2-3; also 5:9; 140:3; 10:3).

The book of Revelation is now showing us the depths of human hardness under the extreme pressure of the Great Tribulation. We see men giving allegiance to God’s arch-enemy and taking the mark of loyalty towards a Satan-possessed dictator. I comment again on the fourth bowl, in which they did not repent and give Him glory. Instead they cursed His name. Again, under the fifth bowl, they “cursed the God of heaven… They did not repent of their deeds.” After the seventh bowl, “they curse God for the plague of the hail.” In chapters 17 and 18, we will see them weeping and wailing at the fall of that murderous, blasphemous prostitute, Babylon. But the worst is yet to come: After the thousand-year, literal reign of Christ upon the earth – a reign of peace and righteousness that will even effect the animal kingdom – the devil will be loosed from his prison. He has been bound in a pit during those 1000 years. The world’s population will turn from Christ’s reign to follow Satan, “their number is like the sand of the sea.” Do you understand now why God created hell? What else is He going to do with immortal souls, who refuse His kind reign and eternal salvation?

                   Bowl 5: This bowl is intended for the ruler of a final world government and depicts, in a physical way, the spiritual nature of his world empire… that is, total darkness. How powerful and painful is darkness! A world-wide depression will accentuate all the dark effects in the atmosphere of his evil power. It is a time when political deception reaches its apex, topping even Communism and Nazism. It is a realm completely governed by lies.

                   Bowl 6: For the sake of brevity, I have not drawn comparisons between the plagues upon Egypt and the bowls of wrath in this chapter. If you are familiar with those plagues, you will easily see that there are many comparisons. I will simply state that God judgments in Egypt are raised to a much higher power here, including the plague of frogs. Three powerful evil spirits, compared to frogs, will influence the nations of the world and a monstrous army will form. The spirits come from the mouths of the devil, the antichrist and the false prophet. They influence the earth’s governing forces, towards a final effort to fulfill the purposes of humanism.

One of the mightiest and most historically famous rivers has a part in the sixth bowl. The Euphrates’ waters dry under the bowl of God’s wrath and open the way for entrance into another unparalleled event in all the annals of history. The human race will give itself unreservedly to a colossal battle, which will only serve, in the end, to bring about what is termed here, “the great day of God the Almighty”. The armies of earth are irresistibly, even supernaturally, drawn to Armageddon.

Warren Wiersbe gives us a description of it: “The name Armageddon comes from two Hebrew words, har Megiddo, the hill of Megiddo. The word Megiddo means ‘place of troops’ or ‘place of slaughter’. The area is about fourteen miles wide and twenty miles long, and forms what Napoleon called ‘the most natural battlefield of the whole earth’. The Gentile nations will look on Armageddon as a battle, but to God, it will be only a ‘supper’ for the fowls of the air.” Several battles were fought here in the Old Testament… i.e. Jdg 5:19; Jdg.7:1-25; 1 S. 31:1-13. After the Bible canon was closed, Titus and the Roman army passed through this area, as did the Crusaders in the Middle Ages. In 1917, General Allenby used it to defeat the Turks.

15. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!”)
16. And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
17. The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
18. And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.
19. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.
20. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found.
21. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.

Multiple facets of the last bowl

At this point the Lord inserts a parenthetical sentence, as a challenge, concerning His coming. The characteristic of His return is as that of a thief. Because it is, His challenge is towards vigilance and proper spiritual attire, worthy of the event. Those who heed His warning will not be caught unawares, that is, His coming will not be as a thief to them. Those who are sleeping, will be shamed.

                   Bowl 7: The last bowl evoked a loud cry from the throne in the sanctuary. The sovereign voice of God can be heard over the deception of the three frogs, the false prophet, the antichrist, Satan and the fanatic proponents of a humanistic utopia: “It is done!” He says. I quote Peter on the Day of Pentecost: “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Ac.2:23). The worst intentions and efforts of men and devils, only bring about God’s sovereign purpose.

Acts of God’s omnipotence are unleashed upon the earth: Lightning, voices and thunder, followed by an earthquake that surpassed anything ever measured on the Richter Scale. Try to imagen it! Review the most devastating quakes in history, all the damage caused and the lives they claimed; this one will far surpass them all.  

I suppose that the ‘great city’ is Jerusalem, divided into three parts. Zechariah prophesied of an earthquake that would change its topography (Zech.14:4, 10). Around the world, cities are falling and Babylon, the one that most represented the earth’s system of religion, economy and politics, is brought to the center of God’s attention. John will describe its fall in the next two chapters Towards Babylon now, the wrath of God is expressed. She has raised “the wine of the fury of his wrath.” Under the powerful judgment of the final bowl, islands disappeared into the sea and mountains toppled, while hailstones, weighing a hundred pounds fell from the sky upon people below.


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