We continue to explore the wrath of God, moving onto chapter 16, which talks about the wrath of Satan, fornication, and sin. The beautiful hope is that we can be delivered from wrath as overcomers. We look at the first three bowls of wrath, what it means as they are poured out, and how we can overcome their dangers by remaining faithful to the gospel.
Last episode we did the grapes of wrath, and we saw God preparing his wrath. We prepared to have the seven bowls of God’s wrath poured out. We saw that the narrator says that in these bowls the wrath of God is complete. We saw that in 15:1. Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete. This word teleo, to finish, fulfill, bring to fruition.
Now this episode, we’re going to actually see the seven bowls poured out. Let’s just get into it here in chapter 16 verse 1. Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”
Now it’s interesting here he says, “Go pour it on the earth,” but, actually, as we go through the seven bowls, they’re going to be targeted at specific things relating to the earth. We’re going to see the first one is upon the earth, and then on the sea, and then on the rivers and springs of water, and then on the sun, then on the throne of the beast, then on the great river Euphrates, and then into the air.
These bowls are going to be all around, and they’re going to bring to fruition, completion, the wrath of God.
The wrath of God
This wrath of God is not a new introduction to Revelation. We’ve seen the term numerous times. Let’s just go through them.
Revelations 6:16 speaks of the wrath of God. And the people who are under the judgment of the seals say to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!”
When these plagues are happening, just as in Egypt—and we see parallels with the plagues and the exodus out of Egypt all through Revelation—just as in Egypt, there’s a complete recognition of where all this judgment is coming from. And this is the wrath of God.
Revelation 11:18. There’s a quote of an Old Testament passage, and it says, The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints—
It’s interesting, until God brings his wrath in, cleans up the place, he can’t really bring his servants who are overcomers to the place he wants them to be.
It’s like the old western movies, and the new sheriff comes to town. The first thing the new sheriff has to do is pour out his wrath on the town. And he cleans it up and gets all the bad guys. And usually, in the movies, he doesn’t put them in jail; he just shoots them in the street, right? That’s normally the way that works. And then the people in the town can have the town they always wished they could have. That’s sort of the idea.
The wrath of Satan
Revelation 12:12 is interesting because the wrath of God is not the only wrath we see in Revelation. Remember, Satan was thrown out of heaven. He’s got full access to heaven today. If you went to heaven, one of the things you could see was Satan, if you had access to wherever it is he comes.
And it says, “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Because Satan’s been thrown out! Yay! He finally got thrown out, him and his angels! But Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath—
We know the wages of sin is death. When the world promises you life, what they mean, actually, in reality, is death. When the world promises you safety and security, what it actually is promising you is death. And when the world promises you you can have it your way, and your happiness will totally be in your control, what it really means is death. Because that’s what the wages of sin is.
So the devil has wrath. So now we’re caught between these anvils. The world has God’s wrath coming from one side and Satan’s wrath coming from the other side. Not a happy time.
The wrath of fornication
Revelation 14:8 is very interesting. We saw this. And another angel followed, saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
We see this in the book of Romans. It’s really clear. Sin has its own internal consequences built in that constitutes the wrath of God for the wrath of God is poured against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who allow people to actually get what they want, and in doing so, they get addiction and then loss of mental faculties. They lose reality. As people embrace what the Bible calls fornication—which is a choice between a faithful husband (which is God) and this harlotry with the world, a picture that’s all through the Bible—what you get when you get that is wrath. Or when we lean into that, that’s what we get.
Go talk to an addict. Ask them what their life is like when they’re falling into their addiction. It’s full of wrath. That’s what the answer’s going to be.
You know, we’re delivered from that. We have the power to overcome it, but we have to choose to walk in that power because that’s kind of the point of Romans is, “You can have this wrath if you really want it, but why?” Would you still be a child of God if you drink that wrath? Yes. But you’re going to be a child of God that’s under wrath that doesn’t have to be. So, stop! Stop hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. That’s Romans in a nutshell.
So, Revelation 14:10. When the people take the mark of the beast, they get the wrath of God with it. So not only are they drinking the wrath of the world, they’re taking in the wrath of God. Again, the anvil.
And then last episode we saw the grapes of wrath which is going to end up with a massive battle with tons of blood in the streets so to speak.
So this is a very difficult time on the earth, but it’s the sheriff cleaning up the city. It’s necessary so that the world can be restored, and that is the part that’s exciting. The world will be restored. Justice will be brought on the earth—real justice, not fake justice.
The first bowl judgment: sores
Verse 2. So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. Again this is reminiscent of the plagues of Egypt. In the plagues of Egypt they had boils. Probably the same sort of thing. And in the plagues of Egypt, it seems that the Egyptians got the plagues and the Israelites were spared. That seems to be the pattern.
Here, these terrible boils fall on those who had the mark of the beast. It’s possible that at this point in time, there’s not really any believers left because they’ve all been murdered because there are going to be large amounts of martyrs that come out of this time period. Either way, the sores are only upon those left on the earth.
Who’s left on the earth?
Now, who is left on the earth? We’ve seen seven seals that had judgments in them. In the seventh seal, we saw seven trumpets blow. Each of them had judgments in them. And in the seventh trumpet, now, we have these seven bowls poured out.
If we go back and look at this, we can actually compute whose left. Under the fourth seal, a fourth of humanity died. That was the first massive loss of human life.
There are other things, of course, that happened: Five months of tormenting, and there’s people who die in an earthquake. This doesn’t mean the other people couldn’t have died. But we just are counting up the mass reports. So a fourth die.
And then in the sixth trumpet, a third of humanity died.
If we started with 8 billion, and the first thing that happens is a fourth die, that gets you down to six. And then if a third of six dies, that’s two. So, at this point in time, no more than half of the world is left on the earth. It’s a gruesome time.
The second bowl judgment: seas turned to blood
The second bowl. Then the second angel, verse 3, poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.
This word sea is used to apply to the Sea of Galilee. It’s used to apply to the Mediterranean Sea, and it’s used to refer to the sea that God made—like God made the heaven and the sea, the oceans. So this could be something fairly local to only torment people that are on the earth; it could be everything.
Whichever it is, it’s much bigger than what happened in Egypt. Remember in Egypt we had water turned to blood, but it was just the Nile River. And now we have the oceans affected with mass death accompanying it.
The third bowl judgment: springs of water turned to blood
That’s not all. The third bowl, verse 4, Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water—So now we actually have the drinking source. We don’t drink ocean water in the main. But now we have the drinking sources turn to blood.
Of course, that’s going to have a hugely negative effect.
Whether this is something different or the same as wormwood that was poured out on the waters and they turned bitter, I don’t know. These judgments are not necessarily sequential. You know the scripture usually gives things more in cycles. But they could be.
In any event, we’re going to see here what the result of poisoning the drinking water’s going to be.
They poured out the bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying:
You are righteous, O Lord,
The One who is and who was and who is to be—
We’ve seen that all through Revelation: was, is, is to come. That’s the outline of Revelation.
We saw what was and is in the first three chapters with the letters to the seven churches, and we’ve been looking at what is to come from chapter four on. But all that is is just a reflection of God who is eternal. He was, he is, he is to come.
And we’re going to see this dragon-man, this false Jesus was, is not, and is to come. But our God always was, always is, always will be.
Because, verse 5, You have judged these things.
This is the right thing to do. Cleaning up the earth is the right thing to do.
Verse 6. For they—these people who took the mark of the beast—have shed the blood of the saints and prophets,
And You have given them blood to drink.
For it is their just due.
Three ways the wrath of God is poured out
There’s three main ways the wrath of God’s poured out on people: One is to give people what they want. If you look at Romans 1, it says the wrath of God is revealed against the unrighteousness and ungodliness of men. It goes through and tells you three ways God pours out his wrath.
The first is to give us over to our lusts. And then to give us over to our passions. And then to give us over to a debased mind. So it’s like God’s saying, “Nope, nope, nope, nope, you can’t do that! No, that will hurt you too much! No, that…OK, go ahead.”
And then we get to that phase and he says, “No, no, no, don’t do that! …OK, go ahead.:
And then he gets to the next one and says, “Well, no, no, no, don’t do that! …OK, go ahead.”
So giving us what we want. That’s the normal way that the wrath of God is poured out. But another way that the wrath of God is poured out is if he just comes in and initiates, like the flood. “I’m cleaning up this mess. The earth is full of violence. I’m starting over again. I’m starting over again because I do not want an earth full of violence.” And that’s part of what’s happening here.
Actually we see both of those kinds of wrath being poured out.
Their just due
And the third kind of wrath is to give people what they wished on others. You do this as parents. “Mine!” and I take it away from my brother. “Oh, you did that? I’m taking that away from you.” And that’s what we see here.
You have given them blood to drink because they shed blood. It is their just due.
This word just due is very interesting. It’s the word axios, the Greek word axios.
Let me show you where else it shows up in Revelation. I think you’ll find it very fascinating.
Revelation 3:4. Let’s look at it. Now we’re back in the letters to the churches. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are axios. They’re worthy. Everyone’s going to get their just due for rewards, for deeds done in the flesh, whether good or bad. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?
We tend to lean into the reality and the truth that we don’t have to worry about our sins because Jesus is worthy, and he bore those sins on the cross. And we should lean into that because it’s worth leaning into. That’s the happiest news ever that we can count on just the worthiness of Jesus for our entrance into the family of God and our eternal destiny as one of his children.
But you know, children have parents who want them to grow up, if they have good parents. And good parents give their children their just due. They don’t have them inherit the family business if they’re a heroin addict. And what’s at stake here with our rewards is whether we are going to inherit the family business or not.
If we have our garments spotless, then we’re worthy.
Look at Revelation 4:11.
You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
for You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.
There’s a reason why the notion of a creator is under attack by the world because if there’s a creator, then the creator has authority. And if the creator has authority, then we’re accountable. And that means we can’t just do whatever we want to with no consequences.
So what we do is we jump off of buildings and curse God because he broke our leg when we fell down because he didn’t suspend gravity for us.
No, God is worthy because he created the earth.
We don’t have a magicianless magic act for the earth to be created, which is what many people claim. Magic without a magician.
Chapter 5 verse 2. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?”
This was at the very beginning of the judgments. We saw seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls that we’re in today, and these have to happen for the world to come to fruition, for justice to be brought in.
And we saw it’s time for it to happen and nobody was worthy. Nobody was axios. It was nobody’s just due. No one was deserving to open these seals. And John cried, like, “How’s the cavalry going to come in and save us from the Comanches if this doesn’t happen. An angel comes up and says, “Ah! We found one who is! It’s the Lamb of God, slain, from the foundation of the world. Jesus is deserving so he gets to open the seals. He’s the one that gets to bring all things to completion.
Revelation 5:12. They’re singing. This is again from Handel’s Messiah. I’m not sure how they got Handel’s Messiah in the Bible since it was written so far later. But somehow it happened.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom…
I wish I could sing that. I just can’t do it. I’m a kind of bluegrass voice. What can I do?
Deserving. He’s deserving because he learned obedience even to death on the cross and became the king of humanity through his testimony. He had a faithful testimony and did not fear death. So he is worthy.
And then, of course, we come to Revelation 16:6. They’re worthy to get blood because that’s what their life is about. They shed the blood of the saints. It’s their just due. Have that in mind when you read 2 Corinthians 5:10. For we shall all receive rewards for deeds done in the flesh whether good or bad. We’re going to get our just due. Not for whether we’re children or not, but as children. That’s why we want to watch and live faithfully as witnesses, not afraid for any kind of death, especially rejection from the world.
The period between week 69 and week 70
Verse 7. And I heard another voice from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”
Here’s the altar speaking again. I just love this image. I just think the new earth is going to be the coolest place ever. I just think you’re going to set down your glass, and the furniture’s going to say, “Ouch! Move it over a little!”
In this case, he’s making a declarative statement. Previously, it was actually giving an instruction, the altar was. True and righteous are Your judgments. This is really important because this ties back to Daniel 9:24. Let’s look at it. Remember this.
Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city—
This is what we’re doing here. We’re bringing unto completion this 70 weeks prophecy.
Remember there were 69 weeks of years that started with a declaration to rebuild the city and ends with the anointed one, the Messiah, being cut off. That’s Jesus dying and not being put in as king. That was the first 69 weeks of years.
And we’re in a holding pattern today waiting for that seventieth week of years, that seven-year period that we call the tribulation to begin when there’s a treaty between the antichrist and the nation of Israel. And in the middle of that time, there’ll be the abomination of desolations, and at the end of that time, the kingdom’s going to come into reality on earth.
And we’re in this time period. But look at this prophecy:
The 70th week
Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city—for Israel and for Jerusalem. And what’s going to happen in those seventy weeks?
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins—That’s already happened. How many sins did Jesus die for? All of them. The sins of the whole world: past, present, future. That’s happened.
To make reconciliation for iniquity—That’s already happened.
To bring in everlasting righteousness—Has that happened? All you have to do is pick up a newspaper to know that hasn’t happened.
You know what’s happening right now in the book of Revelation that we’re in? Everlasting righteousness is being brought in. This prophecy is being fulfilled. Jesus came in the first 69 weeks to take care of sin and iniquity. And now in the seventieth week, it’s actually being brought to earth in reality. The sheriff is coming in and cleaning up the town.