The Beginning of the End
In chapter 15 verse 1, John gets back to describing the final judgments on the earth.
Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished. Then in verses 5-8;
After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.
The blowing of the seventh trumpet in chapter eleven, like the breaking of the seventh seal earlier, brings on the next set of judgments. Now in chapter fifteen, John describes the beginning of the final set of judgments. Seven angels are given the objects which will signify each judgments, this time it’s bowls of God’s wrath. Just as the trumpet judgments were more severe than the seal judgments, the bowl judgments are going to be more severe than the trumpet judgments. All people need to do to escape them is to accept God and His forgiveness. But many will get angry and oppose him. It’s their choice, God always leaves the choice to make up to us.
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.” 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. (Rev. 16:1-2)
The first of the bowl judgments brings sores on people, but we see here that it will only be on ones who have the mark of the beast and worship him. These people have already made their choice and oppose God. This will serve as a deterrent for those who haven’t chosen between accepting the mark or following God. All these judgments will be great witnessing tools for believers since they will be exempt from God’s judgments having his forgiveness. In others eyes, it will appear to balance out the persecution they will face. People will have to choose who to follow, they will choose who they think is more powerful. This is the purpose of the judgments, to force people to make a decision, Jesus will be returning soon and people have to decide who they will follow before He comes, now it’s decision time.
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. The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. (Rev.16:3-4)
The next two judgments will destroy all the water, only Christians, since they are exempt, will have water. These judgments aren’t unfair, in verses 5-7 the angels say that God’s judgments are just. The followers of Satan have been shedding the blood of God’s people and now are being given blood to drink. God is also showing all who haven’t decided that He is most powerful, Antichrist with all his power will be unable to stop or reverse these judgments.
The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 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. (Rev. 16:8-9)
The next judgment will bring freedom to God’s people here on earth. Because of persecution, they have had to go into hiding. Now all non-believers will have to go into hiding from the sun. Although the sun will be one third dimmer, people will not be able to go out in the sun without being scorched. At this time God’s people will be able to come out of the shadows and into the sun.
The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds. (Rev 16:10-11)
The meaning of the throne of the beast is uncertain, it could be the whole world or it could just be Babylon, his capital. Whichever the case, the darkness will be total. There will be no light at all. All people will be able to do is sit in darkness and agonize over their burns and sores. It will be a time for them to repent, but none will. Instead of coming to God in repentance and asking for forgiveness, people will harden their hearts to God. They will think that they are right and God is wrong and unjust. Today, people who are going through rough times will do the same thing. They will get angry at God instead of coming to Him for help. If you are angry at God for any reason, go to Him and ask for His forgiveness and His guidance in your life.