Summary: What is life full of for you? John sees that for many life is a bowl full of wrath.
“The Great Unveiling: Life – Just A Bowl Full Of _________?”
There’s an old saying: “Life is just a bowl full of cherries.” But we know it’s really much more than that, and much more serious than that. We have been promised the “abundant life,” but that’s not the same as a cherry-filled life. Last week we tried to make a connection between life and death – the one influences the other. With that in mind, the best we can say is that “Life is just a bowl of ____________”, and let each individual fill in the blank. What John sees here in chapters 15-16 that life is just a bowl full of wrath.
We have come to the third woe that “those who dwell upon the earth” are supposed to fear. This woe concerns the ultimate delivery of God’s wrath. So this morning we will become more familiar with the wrath of God.
God’s wrath is, first of all, EQUITABLE. The accounts of the 7 bowls show us that WHAT A PERSON SOWS, HE ULTIMATELY REAPS. In verse 2 we see BOWL 1 – BOILS AND SORES over the body, ugly and offensive sores. It will be humiliating for those who “dwell upon the earth,” because they believe that sores are REFLECTIONS OF AN INNER CONDITION OF CORRUPTION. Leprosy, for example, was terrible not only because of its nature, but because in people’s minds it represented great sin. So how fitting for those who have the mark of the beast! They wanted a mark, and now they have it! Their evil sores represent their evil corruption!
Then, in verse 3, we see BOWL 2 – THE SEA TURNING TO BLOOD. We need to remember Leviticus 17:11 – “…for the life of any creature is in its blood. I have given you the blood so you can make atonement for your sins. It is the blood, representing life, that brings you atonement.” THE LIFE IS IN THE BLOOD! Blood represented life! Therefore, if a person was ill, it meant something was wrong in the blood so the blood was let. That’s why blood sacrifice was so appropriate – the blood – the life – was sacred. That’s why Christ shedding his blood was so symbolic – He gave the totality of life by shedding His blood and life.
Here in Revelation, blood, THE SYMBOL OF SALVATION IN THE MIDST OF LIFE, BECOMES THE SYMBOL OF DAMNATION IN THE MIDST OF DEATH. Those who would not accept the blood of the Lamb must receive the blood of death. The blood causes death, not life. To get a handle on the magnitude of this, imagine millions of dead sea creatures more than covering the tops of the oceans – with all the pollution, stench, and disease! God says, in effect, “You don’t want my blood? Then reap the blood of evil and death!” They reap what they sow.
Verses 4-7 show us another bowl of wrath. In BOWL NUMBER 3 WATER TURNS TO BLOOD. And the angel and the saints cry out that it is just and right and fitting! After all, those “who dwell upon the earth” shed the blood of saints and prophets, and now they RECEIVE BLOOD TO DRINK. God said (Gen. 9:6) – “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.” A person will receive what he deserves, will reap what he sows! It is God who ultimately gives an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth; He alone truly gives blood for blood and life for life! Vengeance is His. Such extremes of punishment are not ours to decide – they belong to the almighty God of life and death! People reap what they sow.
Consider one more example. Look at verse 10 – The people opposing God blasphemed God; now in BOWL NUMBER 5 they are GNAWING THEIR TONGUES RAW. What they thought was a life of freedom was really slavery – and they can’t stand it! We know there can be meaning in suffering and we search, with God’s help, to find it and accept it. But imagine suffering, knowing there’s no good in it and you have only yourself to blame! Such people have to carry it by themselves! The very TONGUE OF BLASPHEMY BECOMES A TONGUE OF PAIN AND TORMENT! What they sowed, they reaped!
The application of these accounts is clear. Paul said it in Galatians 6:7-8 – “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” How we live has a great deal to say about how we die; HOW WE SPEND THIS LIFE HAS MUCH TO SAY ABOUT HOW WE SEND THE NEXT. There will be suffering for those opposed to God. They will reap what they have sown. God’s people even pray for it, as in Ps. 79:12 – “Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors the taunts (reproach) with which they have taunted (reproached) Thee, O Lord!” And God will answer the prayers! People will get what they deserve!