Summary: When the final punishment for evil begins it will be too late to turn. No repentance, no hope, no out. Followers of the Lamb are given glory, while all others are condemned to the lake of fire.
The Grand Finale of God’s Word
Evil is Rewarded in Holy Wrath
Fast and furious! These words describe the seven bowls of wrath well. Once they begin, no one can interfere or enter the presence of God in the temple. There is no coming to the mercy seat, no offering of any sacrifice for forgiveness, and no repentance. It is too late. Those who endure these punishments curse God for the pain. Those who follow the Lamb were harvested from the earth in chapter 14:14-16, those that are left on earth are followers of the beast. They are all punished and we will see that none repent.
This is an interesting picture in Revelation. Those who have been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name are standing together celebrating and singing in the presence of God. Then, when the saints are there together before the temple of God, the bowls of wrath are poured out on the earth, that is, on those who follow the beast. This initiates a great day of battle and the fall of Babylon (which seems to represent a cosmic spiritual center of evil power in chapter 17 and 18, and has been interpreted to be Jerusalem, Rome, or some other political power). The center of Satanic control begins to crumble as his brief period of power comes to an end. But the enemy will not give up without a last burst of struggle that ends in his being thrown into the lake of fire forever.
One of the clear messages in the book of Revelation is that there are only two sides. One is either with the Lamb and his followers, or the Dragon, (or beast), and his followers. These two are mortal enemies with no peace possible between them. The battle between them takes place on the earth and what are at stake are the souls of men. The Lamb and his followers will ultimately rule everything, everywhere, and the Dragon and his followers will ultimately be defeated and destroyed forever. This is what Revelation tells us. Now, this is either true or false. To the degree that we believe in the words of this book and Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, to that degree we will stand with the Lamb and be rewarded with eternal life and spared from the wrath of God against his enemies. The wrath described here involves going to war. This is a war in which you and I must fight. We are on either one side or the other. Let us stand with the Lamb!
Read chapter 14 and 15.
Both of these chapters begin with a scene that helps us understand what follows.
Those who have the name of the Lamb and His Father written on their foreheads, where are they and what are they doing? (14:1-5)
Those who have been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, where are they and what are they doing? (15:2-4)
Now go back and read chapter 7. Those in white robes with palm branches in their hands, where are they and what are they doing?
Who are they? (7:13-17)
Dear student, God is telling us something here about our future. He wants us to know that we will be in glory some day with all the heavenly hosts and all who walk faithfully with the Lamb. All of the wrath of God is poured out on those who are not among the faithful followers of the Lamb. God has your name! He’s written it down. God wants you to overcome the beast, his name and his number. Do you need help? Are you winning the battle against the beast? Call on the Lamb! Why not stop right now and write a prayer to the One who knows you best and loves you the most. Tell him how the battle is going and let him supply your need.
Read chapter 15 again.
The word for sign here in verse 1 is saymeion, a sign:-- distinguishing mark(1), miracle(m)(2), sign(35), signs(39). This word occurs seven times, (are you surprised?), in the book of Revelation. Those places are: 12:1,3; 13:13,14; 15:1; 16:14; 19:20.
Seven signs follow the seven trumpets and include the seven bowls of wrath. Not that knowing this helps understand the details, but it reminds us that this book is filled with symbolism even in the patterns of its structure. This is verbal art.
Another word that is very important in Revelation is translated “I saw.” This word occurs 62 times in this book. John is telling us over and over and over what he “saw.” The images are described and sometimes they are explained, but often we are left to discover the meaning as best we can.