The Bowls of Wrath, Pt. 2 (Rev. 16:10-16)

 

Last week we ended with the 4th bowl, which caused actual global warming.  

The sun scorched and seared people with its heat and with flames.  But the fifth bowl is a stark contrast.

 

The Fifth Bowl (v10-11)

Then, the fifth angel comes with the fifth bowl, read verses 10 and 11, “…”

 

God pours this bowl on the throne of the beast and his whole kingdom goes lights out.  Notice some contrasts here:  during the 4th Trumpet judgment only ⅓ of the light went dark, now all the light in the kingdom of the Beast goes out.  Secondly, notice the contrast with the previous judgment:  God injures mankind with a blazing sun and then injures man by removing the light of the sun.  

 

Notice specifically where the angel pours out his bowl:  the throne of the beast.  God is judging the beast and Satan who gave the beast his throne (13:2b).  He is attacking the head of the kingdom of darkness.  Notice that the whole world doesn’t go dark, it says the kingdom of the antichrist does.  This is just like with the Egyptians during the 9th plague, where God made darkness affect only His enemies.  The Israelites had light when the Egyptians were in darkness.  And with the 5th bowl the kingdom of the beast will be plunged into deep darkness where men will gnaw their tongues and curse God in their agony.  

 

The judgments overlap.  Previous judgments have continuing effects even when new judgments are issued.  “Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores…”  Those sores no doubt are the sores they still have from the first bowl judgment (v2).  They may have new sores and pain from literally being burned by the sun (v8-9).  

 

And they still don’t repent.  Instead, they still keep cursing God.  He turns up the heat – literally! – and their railing against Him gets even more nasty.  He casts them into darknesss and they curse Him.  I think the total darkness now correlates with the total corruption man has finally reached at the end of the Tribulation.

 

Darkness not only conveys the condition of the wicked, but, their destination.  Jesus said “outer darkness” awaits them, where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Jude 13 describes the destiny of the wicked, “They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.”  

 

And that’s just it:  this judgment parallels the moral condition of the world at that time:  dark.  Over and over Scripture tells us that this world is dark, and that it is without the light of God – the light of truth and holiness.  And over and over we are told that only through Jesus Christ may anyone find that light.  He is the light of the world (John 8:12).  He is the true light that gives light to every man (John 1:9).  He is the light that shines in the darkness that the darkness has not understood/overcome (John 1:5).

 

Is your life dark today?  Do you grope about in the darkness, hoping to touch something that is real?  Something to give you hope, meaning and life?  Then you must come and grab hold of Jesus Christ.  You have to turn your eyes to the one true light.  When He shines His light on you never again will you be in the darkness.  Come out of the dark now, today!

 

The 6th Bowl

The sixth bowl is different in that it is not actually afflicting mankind with a plague.  Instead, the 6th bowl sets the stage for an imminent event:  the battle of Armageddon.  Read verses 13-14 and 16.

 

Notice twice it says these demons went out to “gather” the nations for this great battle against the Almighty and in the location of Armageddon.  God is setting into motion the necessary events to get the nations into position for this famous apocalyptic battle.  The sixth seal naturally divides into two sections, and with it, we can see how God gets the world ready for Armegeddon in two ways.  First He makes the path to Armageddon, and second He persuades the nations to go to Armageddon.

 

First we see the path to Armegeddon  Vers.e 12 says, “….”  The kings of the east include nations like modern day Iran, Pakistan, India and China and others.  Now, in order for Armegeddon to happen these armies from the east have to actually make it to the location of this great battle.  Armageddon comes from the Hebrew word “Har-Meggido”, the mountain of Megiddo.  It isn’t actually a mountian, but, rather a plain with a hill.  The location is about 30 miles north of Jerusalem in a

 

They are obstructed by the natural barrier of the great river Euphrates.  This river is 1700 miles long, beginning in Turkey, cutting south through Syria,  and then running right down the middle of Iran before emptying into the Persian Gulf.  This river can be very wide at times, almost a mile across.  Getting huge armies across would be a great challenge.  Especially if the sun’s scorching heat from the previous bowl judgment caused massive melting of snow in the mountains where the Euphrates originates.  This would cause flood levels in the river making it harder to cross.  This logistical problem of getting the nations from the east to the battle site of Armegeddon is solved by the 6th bowl.  It gets dried up.  So, the way is now opened.  Now, its a matter of motivating the kings of the east to come.  The road has been built fo them to travel, now they must be beckoned.  

 

This leads us into the second way Armageddon is prepared:  persuading the nations to actually go to the battle.  Persuading them to join Antichrist in the battle against the Lamb.  Notice verses 13-14 and verse 16, “…..”

 

What we have here is these demonic spirits, that look like frogs in this vision, coming out of the mouths of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet.  Here’s what it means:  these demonic spirits are real spirits and the image of them coming from the mouths of the dragon, beast and false prophet simply means they are sent out by the authority of these three evil characters.  This unholy trinity – Satan, Antichrist and the false prophet – will send the call out to all nations to join forces with them in the great battle against the Lamb and against the Almighty.   Human delegates will be dispatched.  But the spiritual power behind the message they give and the miracles they perform will be these 3 frog demons.  

 

Question:  What on earth would make these kings think they can overpower God?  What would persuade them to align themselves with Satan against God?  Psalm 2 says one reason is their rebellious attitude towards God’s authority:  they don’t want God to rule them.  Read Psalm 2:1-4.  

 

Another reason is that they actually believe the power of Satan, the power of the Antichrist are greater than anyone and anything else.  Revelation 13:4 says, “Men worshipped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast [Antichrist], and they also worshipped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast?  Who can make war against him?”  They are convinced that Antichrist, with Satan behind him, is invincible.  Even against the Almighty One of heaven!

 

This superhuman power is going to be displayed over and over again, only strengthening even more the confidence the world has in Antichrist.  He will apparently be resurrected, showing he has power over death (Revelation 13:3, 12), he will kill the two witnesses of God earning the fear and adoration of the world (11:7), and the false prophet will do miracles to astonish the world and cause everyone to worship the Antichrist (13:13-14).  Second Thessalonians 2:9-12 says the coming of the Antichrist will be accompanied by great signs and wonders done in the power of Satan, and everyone who hates truth and loves lies will fall for the delusion that the Antichrist is the true Christ, that with him they can defeat Jesus Christ.

 

Bonus point:  How believers in Jesus during the Tribulation prepare for Armageddon:  Do not be deceived.  Read verse 15, “….”

 

I asked myself this past week why this warning from Jesus is plopped right here.  Why does the Holy Spirit insert this message from Jesus to the saints at this moment?  Then it dawned on me:  the 3 demon frogs are going to deceive the world into gathering at Armageddon and getting destroyed by the Lamb at His coming.  But Jesus’ warning is a statement to be vigilant – vigilantly listening and discerning the things they hear.  Remember in Matthew 24, Jesus warned believers that mass deception in the final days would occur and not to fall for it: “At that time if anyone says to you ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.  For false Christ’s and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible.  See I have told you ahead of time.”  (Matthew 24:23-25).  So Jesus’ words here in Revelation 16 have that same essence to them:  be on guard.  Thus the military analogy.  A soldier on guard duty who was caught sleeping would have his clothes taken from him and he would be left butt-naked to shame him for failing his duty.  Jesus is saying don’t end up naked, stay awake, alert, keeping your eyes peeled for the enemy.  He’s coming.  But so is Jesus!  Turn to 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 with me, ….

 

This same John who wrote Revelation wrote another letter urging Christians to carefully watch for deception in their own day.  He said in 1 John 4:1, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  We do not believe everything we hear, and miracles performed by false prophets aren’t going to convince us either.  But, they will convince the kings of the world when Armegeddon approaches.  They will see miraculous displays that are beyond human ability and they will be persuaded to join the Antichrist.  They will join because they will fear him, because he has supernatural power at his disposal.  But, they will join him also because that power they witnessed will convince them that by those powers they can defeat the Lamb.  

 

Revelation 17:12-15 describes this alliance with Antichrist that the kings of the world make for the battle of Armegeddon, “….”  Their loyalty and alliance they are promised will be rewarded greatly after they destroy God.  Daniel 11:39, speaking of this, says, “He will attack the mightiest fortresses with the help of a foreign god and will greatly honor those who acknowledge him.  He will make them rulers over many people and will distribute the land at a price.”  In other words, for their loyalty they will get land.  Their reward will be they get to rule their own kingdom, given to them by Antichrist.  But the authority he gives them as kings, they will turn around for this great battle and submit to his wish to enlist all of them into this great apocalyptic battle.  

 

And so, the preparations for Armageddon are made with the 6th Bowl.  The path to get to Armageddon is cleared, and, the nations participating have been persuaded to attend.  

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