The “Bowl” Judgments (Revelation 15–18)
John';s vision of God';s wrath and judgment continues in chapter 15, which begins, “Then I saw in heaven another marvelous event of great significance. Seven angels were holding the seven last plagues, which would bring God';s wrath to completion” (Revelation 15:1). Those last plagues were “bowls of the wrath of God” (Revelation 16:1), and He commanded them to go and pour them out on the earth. These bowls of wrath are:
terrible sores on those who received the “mark of the beast” (Revelation 16:2)
the sea turns to blood (16:3)
the waters turn to blood (16:4–7)
people are scorched by the sun (16:8–9)
darkness and pain for humanity (16:10–11)
the Euphrates River dries up and the battle of Armageddon takes shape (16:12–16)
the earth is terribly shaken with the worst earthquake in human history (16:17–21)
This obviously is a horrible time of suffering on earth, but it wouldn';t last forever. There would be a new heaven and a new earth, but only after the final conflict between good and evil, between God and Satan.
While there are other verses and passages of the Bible that imply a final conflict between good and evil, it is in Revelation 16:16 that we find the only mention in the Bible of Armageddon. Many other of Israel';s biggest military battles have taken place at that location, which is on the plain at the foot of Mount Megiddo.
When the seventh bowl is poured out, a loud shout came saying “It is finished!” The city of Babylon was split into three sections, and the cities of many nations were reduced to piles of rubble. This was the wrath of God falling on Babylon for its sins, and it included the disappearance of every island, the leveling of every mountain, and falling hailstones weighing seventy-five pounds each. Still, people continued to curse God (Revelation 16:17–21).
Another angel appeared, announcing the fall of Babylon and that all the world leaders who had “committed adultery” with her would cry and mourn when they saw her burning. Merchants would mourn because they would no longer have Babylon as a business partner. There would be absolutely no hope for the future of the city.
What would be your response if you were in the midst of everything described in Revelation 15–18?
How much of what you read in Revelation do you take absolutely literally and how much do you believe is meaningful symbolism?