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Revelation: Seven Bowls of Wrath

June 26, 2011

Rev 16:1  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.”

God had completed his warnings with the six trumpets. The enemy had not repented. Now God unleashed his full wrath on the enemies of the church, through seven bowls of wrath. The first four bowls are poured out on the land, the sea, the rivers and streams, and the sky. Compare this to Rev 8:7-13 where the first four trumpets brought forth destruction on one third of the land, the sea, the rivers and streams, and sky. That was the warning. This time, God’s full wrath was poured out on the land, the sea, the rivers and streams, and the sky. This was no warning shot over the bow. Judgment was coming upon the beast and Babylon the Great.

The fifth bowl brought darkness and intense painful suffering upon the beast. Compare this to the agony from scorpions at the fifth trumpet.

The sixth bowl dried up the Euphrates river, opening up the way for invaders from the east.  A fact or two from past history sheds light on the sixth bowl.   In 593 BC, Cyrus was about to invade Babylon.  The Euphrates river flowed through he center of the heavily fortified city of Babylon.  In a brilliant tactical move, the armies of Cyrus temporarily diverted the waters of the Euphrates river, leaving a clear path into the city where the river had been.  The sixth bowl of wrath brought to mind this now famous vulnerability that had led to the fall of the supposedly impenetrable ancient city.  The Euphrates was now the eastern boundary of the Roman Empire.  Like the literal Babylon, the figurative Babylon would fall to invaders pouring across its borders, despite its presumed invulnerability.

Meanwhile, the dragon and the two beasts were not idle.

Rev 16:13  Then I saw three evil 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.
Rev 16:14  They are spirits of demons performing miraculous 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.

The armies of the world gathered together for a great final battle at Armageddon. This battlefield, like the many strange creatures and places in this prophecy, is a symbol. The literal Armageddon was a site for many historic battles, and it represents the final epic battle between God and the beast. The battle’s outcome was never in doubt:

Rev 16:17 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!”
Rev 16:18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake.
Rev 16:19 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.
Rev 16:20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found.
Rev 16:21 From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.

So the enemy is utterly defeated. The angel announces the result at the beginning of chapter 18:

Rev 18:1 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor.
Rev 18:2 With a mighty voice he shouted: “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.
Rev 18:3 For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”

Indeed, Babylon had fallen, and the beast is defeated.  Now chapters 17 and 18 will tell of their fate.

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