Revelation 16: 1 – 21
The Great Chapter
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.” 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 worshiped his image. 3 Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died. 4 Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 5 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, because You have judged these things. 6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.” 7 And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.” 8 Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. 9 And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory. 10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. 11 They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds. 12 Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. 13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. 15 “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” 16 And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. 17 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. 19 Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. 20 Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great
It is almost all over but the shouting. Revelation chapter 16 describes the final seven Vials of the wrath of God, representing the climax of God's punishment of sinners during the Tribulation period. No repentance is invited or shown. The judgments are somewhat parallel both to the 10 plaques on Egypt and to the trumpets of chapters 8 and 9.
The seals, the trumpets and the plagues make up the full total of the wrath of God. Many see the plagues as occurring right at the end of time as a final act before the judgment. But this does not tie in with the description of them, for they clearly parallel the seven trumpets. Pease take a look with be at both cases
1. The first produces pestilence (8.7 with 16.2)
2. The second makes the sea as blood (8.8 with 16.3),
3. The third affects the rivers and fountains of waters (8.10 with 16.4)
4. The fourth affects the sun (8.12 with 16.8)
5. The fifth causes great pain and anguish (9.5-6 with 16.10-11)
6. The sixth connects with the Euphrates (9.14 with 16.12)
7. The seventh is the final judgment, ‘the great hail’ (11.19 with 16.21).
So the seven plagues are the results of the seven trumpets to some extent repeated, but are made more specific or intensified.
It may be argued that these intensify what comes after the blowing of the trumpets as some of those only applied to specific fractions (a third), and this is true to some extent, but whether these plagues affect all mankind is not stated and it must seem unlikely. That is not the impression given in other descriptive passages of those times (11.10; 13.16-17; 17.4-6, 12-13) brief though they may be. What they do is bring out a particular aspect of the previous judgments. Thus we must see these plagues as to some extent in parallel with, although in some ways different from and more intense than, the effects of the trumpets, repeated in order to stress the certainty of what is to happen. As the angels blow their trumpets the other angels empty their bowls. Now we are made to see that all the happenings were the result of the wrath of God.
We cannot overemphasize that Revelation is split into sections; each of which leads up to the second coming of The Lord Jesus Christ and the judgment. At the sixth seal our Holy Master and King Jesus Christ comes on the day of wrath (6.17). The third Woe is again the coming of the Day of Judgment (11.15-18). Chapter 14 ends with the coming of our Holy Adoni Jesus Christ and the judgment. Chapter 16 ends with the judgment. Chapter 19 ends with The Second Coming of our Messiah Lord Jesus Christ and the judgment. Thus the sections in between are contemporary not consecutive. Chapter 20 ends with the Great White Throne.
‘And I heard a great voice out of the Temple, saying to the seven angels “Go, and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God into the earth”.’
The great voice I believe is the voice of God Himself. What is important is that it stresses that this is the will of God. Tribulations and disasters are one way by which God speaks to the world. There is emphasis now on the wrath of God. The world lies continually under His wrath as we read in the book of Romans 1.18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” In the end it has to be satisfied.
I think it is very apropos to find in the book of Isaiah 66: 6  this message, “The sound of noise from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of the LORD, Who fully repays His enemies! “
I do not know about you but I have been when the Psalmist is writing about in Psalm 69, See if you can see the persecution our Holy Lord and Master Jesus Christ went through in this Psalm.
“You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor; my adversaries are all before You.20 Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. 21 They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. 22 Let their table become a snare before them, and their well-being a trap. 23 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see; And make their loins shake continually. 24 Pour out Your indignation upon them, and let Your wrathful anger take hold of them. 25 Let their dwelling place be desolate; Let no one live in their tents. 26 For they persecute the ones You have struck, and talk of the grief of those You have wounded. 27 Add iniquity to their iniquity, and let them not come into Your righteousness. 28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.
‘And the first went and poured out his bowl into the earth, and there came a distressing and grievous sore on the men who had the mark of the beast and who worshipped his image.’
Those who have received the mark of the beast now receive another mark, the mark of judgment in the form of a grievous sore. The First Bowl Judgment is Foul and Loathsome Sores when men choose to worship Antichrist rather than Christ and demonstrate their allegiance by accepting the mark of the beast, God responds by sending on them a plague of "foul and loathsome" sores. John makes it clear that these awful sores afflict only those who worship the Antichrist and who have accepted the mark of the Beast; no Tribulation saint suffers from them.
In the book of Deuteronomy 28.35 we see a similarity where it is to be one of a number of judgments on faithless Israel. Such sores were the mark of someone in a desperate state, like Lazarus at the gate of the rich man which is taught in the Gospel of Luke 16.21. This particular sore is directly related to the mark of the beast. It thus typifies the resulting sickness in heart and spirit that destroys men, a sore from which Christ’s own are protected. Reference to the mark of the Beast (see chapter 13) demonstrates that this commenced early on.
‘And the second poured out his bowl into the sea and it became blood as of a dead man, and every living soul died, even the things that were in the sea.’
A good question people ask is ‘Which Sea are we talking about? It does not say upon the oceans. So, is there something else referred to here? The blood of a dead man no longer has oxygen. Therefore the person is lifeless.
We have read that the sea represents peoples, tongues, and nations. In addition, we have been talking about all those people who have taken the ‘mark’ of the beast. So, when we read, ‘and every living soul died, even the things that were in the sea,’ I believe that this means that everyone who has sworn their allegiances to The Antichrist are dead. They may think they are living but their destiny is a sealed verdict. To a large degree they are truly the walking dead.
‘And the third poured out his bowl into the rivers and the fountains of the waters, and it became blood.’
The phrase ‘rivers and fountains of the waters’ is repeated from 8.10. There is clearly a parallel activity in mind. These blessings, which were intended to provide man with life-giving water and fruitfulness for his fields, will instead become a curse. In both cases there is possibly a deliberate contrast with the life-giving waters of 7.17 and 22.1. For the unbeliever there will be no soul refreshment.
16.5-7 ‘And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “You are righteous, you who are and were, you holy one, because you did thus judge. For they poured out the blood of God’s people (saints) and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. They are worthy”. And I heard the altar saying, “Yes Oh Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments”.’
All catastrophic events in nature, and all warfare, are to be seen as God’s judgments because the world is at enmity with God and attacks His people. These particular judgments are seen as like for like. They remind us that God is not only merciful but also holy and righteous. He is the Holy One. If men will not repent, then they will receive the consequence of their sin. ‘He is’ therefore He acts now. ‘He was’ and therefore He knows all that has been.
The constant references to wholesale bloodshed in Revelation are a vivid reminder that ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6.23). It is in total contrast with the water that the righteous are given to drink (7.17; 22.1-2)..
These things are declared by ‘the angel of the waters’ and his words are echoed by ‘the altar’. The latter idea looks back to the souls under the altar of 6.9-11. It is God’s people awaiting resurrection, and awaiting God’s the exercise of God’s justice, who speaks from the altar. The ‘angel of the waters’ is on the side of good, and is probably in contrast to the falling star or Satan of chapter 8.10 who defiles the waters. Satan has sent his ambassadors to pollute The Good News and thereby keeping in darkness. By the defiling of the waters a part of his sphere of responsibility has been under attack, but he recognizes that the fact that God has allowed it is just and right because the final consequence is justice.
John in his first epistle writes this in chapter 5, “6 This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one. 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
It is probable that behind all this blood John has in mind in the background the death of Christ. ‘Blood as of a dead man’ (verse 3), ‘you have given them blood to drink’ (verse 6). But whereas God’s people partake in Christ’s blood as a joyous thing through faith, here the unbelievers partake of blood because of the judgments coming on them. Contrast this with references to the slain Lamb and the blood of the Lamb that enhances the whiteness of the garments of God’s people (Revelation 1.5; 5.6; 7.14; 12.11; 19.13). Those who reject the offering of Christ on their behalf must themselves suffer as He suffered, for in their case there is none to bear it for them. Because they will not ‘drink His blood’ by responding to Him (John 6.53 on) they must drink blood in another way, through death.
16.8-9 ‘And the fourth poured out his bowl on the sun and it was given to it to scorch men with fire, and men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues and they did not repent to give him glory.’
This bowl is in deliberate contrast to what happens to the people of God of whom it was promised ‘the sun will not light on them or any heat’ (7.17). The people of God will enjoy God’s protection. But in contrast the enemies of God will not find any shelter from the sun. Rather they will endure the judgments of God. The scorching of the sun may thus be symbolic of judgment as a whole. Our Holy Father has given us His Precious ‘Son’, yet through His created being – Satan – and his cronies sinful mankind has taken up the worship of the ‘Sun’ and everything in the physical universe.
It is interesting to find the definition of ‘scorch’. It means - ‘To burn superficially so as to discolor or damage the texture of’. Mankind has given their loyalty to the Antichrist.”’ Starting from the Garden and the sins of our ancestors Adam and Eve, we have be discolored. What does our Holy Master say to us through the prophet Isaiah chapter 1, ““Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Man’s reaction to this judgment reveals the state of their hearts. Instead of giving them cause to stop and think they do what? Do they curse and blaspheme God and blame Him for their suffering? It says this, ‘they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues and they did not repent to give him glory.’ Well, you might say, ‘yes, that is just what it is saying.’ I disagree. Let me ask you this, ‘what is blasphemy? The first time we come across this term is in the book of Leviticus chapter 24, [Please notice that cursing and blasphemy are two separate things] “And the Israelite woman's son blasphemed the name of the LORD and cursed; and so they brought him to Moses. (His mother's name was Shelomith the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.)
Let me give you some more scripture and see if you can figure out what blasphemy is?:
Luke 23, “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”
Matthew 12, ““Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men
John 10, “The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”
1 Peter 4, “you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
Still are not grasping what blasphemy is, then let me give you one more clue for the book of Exodus chapter 8, “And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. Now the magicians so worked with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not. So there were lice on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had said.
Our Holy God will not share His Glory with anyone. He said in the book of Numbers chapter 14, “because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice.’
Our Holy Father, Adoni Yahweh has sent His only Son to pay the ransom of mankind and people refuse to accept His Wonderful free gift. Instead they will try to give credit to any and all things physical and spiritual instead of giving the Holy Supreme El Shaddai the Glory due His Holy Name. This my friends is blasphemy,
And the fifth poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was darkened, and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and they blasphemed the God of Heaven because of their pains and their sores and they repented not of their works.’
We mentioned beginning in our study of the seven letters to the seven churches regarding -‘On the throne of the Beast.’ The throne of Satan is mentioned in the letter to Pergamum (2.13). It was the source of danger for God’s people. Then the throne was move to Rome itself, for the emperors had many thrones, and when persecution was in progress, they would all be seen as the throne of Satan. But in the end what is being referred to is any place which is central to anti-Christ, any place where Satan reigns. They stand up against God and will receive their due reward.
Here their work is centralized on the centre of godless rule. But the spiritual unrest and anguish they cause do not bring about repentance, rather they result in blasphemy. In the end whatever men sow they reap. What deed did they not repent of? The answer is in the Word of God! If you believe in the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, and believe the things they say are right, these are the deeds of which you have not repented, deeds such as blaspheming God, persecuting His people and His name, which is His Word, His Son, and all the other sins promulgated by the devil, his government, and his false prophet,
Have you ever been so angry you are tempted to curse? Have you ever heard of the term, ‘bite your tongue!’ So, you want to spew out your wrath but you gnaw at your tongue to hold it back. Sooner or later though it all comes spewing out, doesn’t it?
‘And the sixth poured out his bowl on the great river, the River Euphrates, and its water was dried up in order that the way may be made ready for the kings who come from the sunrising. And I saw coming out of the mouth of the monster and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits as it were frogs. For they are spirits of devils, working signs, which go forth to the kings of the whole world to gather them together to the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. (Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he who watches and has his garments ready lest he walk naked and they see his shame). And they gathered them together to the place which is called in Hebrew ‘Har-Magedon’.’
The sixth bowl, like the sixth seal and the sixth trumpet, has in mind the final days of the age (in contrast with the remainder). Here now things are coming to a head. It is noteworthy that the monster, the Beast and the False Prophet have continued on, as Satan has used both secular powers and religious powers to attack the people of God.
People are taught that the Chinese and all Asian nations are coming across the dried up Euphrates. I do not believe this is what happens.
We have seen that Babylon which was ‘Satan’s Headquarter’ moved to Pergamos and then ultimately to Rome. So did the actual Euphrates River also move to Rome? Did our Precious Holy Spirit then switch from Rome back to Iraq? No, the drying up of the mighty Euphrates may also symbolize the final destruction of the great powers that depended on the Euphrates for provision. We will read how they stand afar off and whine about its destruction.
Now that does the water represent? "The waters which thou sawest ... are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues." [ REV 17:15 ]. In this chapter Babylon the Great is pictured as sitting "upon many waters." [ REV 17:1 ] The waters are identified as people and nations who give support to the great Babylon harlot (false religion) who persecutes the true saints. [ REV 17:6 ] So the drying up of the waters would represent the withdrawing of support by those people who had been followers of the Babylon system. This is one of the final events that happen just before the coming of Christ. The people recognize that they have been duped, and in a rage they turn on each other.
Zechariah describes what takes place under this seventh plague as Armageddon reaches its climax. "And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem (God's people); ... And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour." [ ZEC 14:12,13 ] John described the scene thus, "These shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire." [ REV 17:16 ] Just as literal Euphrates in ancient Babylon was
We see similarities between the physical and spiritual Babylon’s. As I have mentioned before Satan is a copy cat. So, he duplicates what the original Babylon was;
1. Both Babylon’s are most proud
Jeremiah 50, “31 Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord God of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee.
Revelation 18: 7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
2. Both Babylons Make All The Earth Drunk With Their Golden Cup Of Wine
Jeremiah 51: 7 Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord´s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.
Revelation 17: 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
3.Both Babylons Are Located Over Water (Euphrates River)
Jeremiah 51: 63 And it shall be, when thou hast made an end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates
Revelation 16, “12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared
4 The Water Of Both Babylons Would Be Dried Up
Isaiah 44: 27 That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers:
Revelation 16, “12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
5. God´s Judgments Would Come On Both Babylons
Isaiah 47: 1 COME down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate
Revelation 16, “19 And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
6. Both Babylons Would Fall
Jeremiah 51: 8 Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed.
Revelation 18: 2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
7.Both Babylon’s Are Conquered By A King That Comes From The East
A man (King Cyrus) was to come from the east against ancient Babylon. Cyrus was a type of Christ in that he freed God´s people from their bondage. Notice that he is referred to by God as "my shepherd" and "His anointed." Christ is also called a Shepherd and the Anointed One.
Isaiah 46: 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: 11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.
Matthew 24: 27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be
8. God´s People Called Out Of Both Babylon’s
Jeremiah 51: 44 And I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he hath swallowed up: and the nations shall not flow together any more unto him; yea, the wall of Babylon shall fall. 45 My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the Lord.
Revelation 18, “4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
The bringing up of ‘frogs’ by the unholy trinity, the three arch deceivers, compares with the production of frogs by the magicians of Egypt (Exodus 8.7). They were false signs but in the end they were futile and ineffective. And they were the production of lies and deceit. Similarly will these evil spirits use false and deceitful signs to achieve their purposes
Thus the deceived world will gather to battle with God, the Almighty. This battle must not be taken too literally. All pictures of it are highly symbolic. When Christ comes in His splendor the nations will cower before Him and seek to hide from his presence (6.15). None can stand before the power of the final Word of God (19.13). What the picture is saying is that the deceit of Satan and his minions has built up final resistance against God and His claims, but that the coming of Christ will shatter all resistance. Armageddon will not be so much a war as an abject surrender to His authority and power. The Judge will not really need to fight. Any warfare will be between the nations. The point is that the enemies of God are as it were ready to fight because they have not understood the power of the opposition, but find that they are totally deceived.
Har Magedon - the Mount of Megiddo. There was no specific Mount Megiddo that we know of but the city of Megiddo looked out over the valley of Esdraelon where many decisive battles were fought, for it was the way for the kings of the East, thus John may be referring to the mountain overlooking the plain. It may be paralleled with ‘the valley of Jeho-shaphat’, the ‘Valley of Yahweh Judges’. There Joel saw the final scene of judgment as the nations were gathered, the sickle was put in, the winepress was trodden and the multitudes were gathered in the valley of decision (Joel 3.11-14). Either way we have a vivid picture not to be taken too literally geographically. It is the idea that matters.
But in the midst of this powerful scenario a word from the Lord is slipped in, a word of warning. He is coming like a thief, suddenly and unexpectedly. Let each beware and ensure that they have their garments ready so that they will not be found naked. This has in mind the words spoken to the church of Sardis (3.3-4) and the words to Laodicea (3.17-18) and the parables describing servants waiting for the coming of their Lord, especially Luke 12.35 onwards. His people are to live in readiness for His coming.
2 Corinthians 4.1-6 is very apposite here. Paul did not want to be deceived by the god of this world and be found naked, rather He wanted to be clothed with his resurrection body, as a result of seeing the light of the good news of the glory of Christ Who is the image of God, and responding to Him. So those to whom John is writing must recognize in Him the glorious Savior and live in readiness so that they are not caught out by that day coming as a thief with the result that they are found naked.
So as with the sixth seal and the sixth trumpet, the sixth bowl brings things to a close and is followed by the final judgment. This may raise the interesting question as to whether the number of the beast, 666, has partly in mind these three sixes, the six seals, the six trumpets and the six bowls, each of which leads up to the seventh. Over each series of six the Beast carries on his activities, only to be brought to a sudden halt in each case by the judgment of God. The seventh in each case signals the triumph of God. In each series Satan fails in the end.
And the seventh poured out his bowl on the air, and a great voice came out of the Temple from the throne saying, “It is done”.’
The seventh bowl brings all to conclusion. The voice from the throne declares that ‘It is done’. This bowl is poured out on the air. It produces the great hail which speaks of the final judgment of God (11.19), and the final great earthquake beyond all earthquakes (verse 18). For in that bowl all is completed. “It is done”. The voice from the throne declares the end of all things. This compares with the strong angel who declared that time was no longer to be (10.6). The voice from the throne is the voice of the One Who sits on the throne. Either way it is final.
‘And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and there was a vast earthquake such as there was not since there were men on the earth, so great the earthquake, and so mighty. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and Babylon the Great was remembered in the sight of God to give to her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found, and great hail, about the weight of a talent comes down from heaven on men, and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, for the plague of it is immensely great.’
Herein we have another solemn picture of the final judgment of God. The whole world is caught up in it. ‘The great city’ collapses, every city is destroyed, Babylon the Great receives its final judgment. She who has the golden cup (17.4) will find it replaced at the last with the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.
‘There were lightnings, and voices, and thunders and a vast earthquake.’ Similar descriptions are found elsewhere, gradually increasing in intensity. In 4.5 ‘lightnings, voices and thunders’ proceed from the throne after the description of the One on the throne accompanied by the twenty four elders on their thrones. In 8.5 ‘lightnings, and voices, and thunders and an earthquake’ follow the appearance of the angel at the altar of incense as he offers up prayers which went up before God, and then casts them down on the earth. ‘An earthquake’ is added to demonstrate that it is now connected with earth. In 11.19 ‘lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake and great hail’ follow the opening of the Temple of God to reveal the Ark of His covenant. God’s final judgment has come on the world. And now lightnings, and voices, and thunders and the greatest of all earthquakes, accompanied later by the great hail (v.21) accompany the voice from the Temple and from the throne. All is now over.
‘The great earthquake.’ This destroys ‘the great city’ and it destroys the cities of the nations. It is seemingly worldwide. These are clearly aspects of the great final day of judgment.
‘The great city was divided into three parts’. But which is ‘the great city’? In 11.13 ‘the great city’ is Jerusalem and one tenth of ‘the great city’ of Jerusalem (11.8) falls in an earthquake, a symbol of God taking His first fruits prior to the whole, thus this earthquake following immediately after could then be seen as Jerusalem partaking of the final harvest. That ‘great city’ is described as Sodom and Egypt (11.8) rather than as Babylon, so we should not link the great city directly with Babylon the Great. It is the earthly Jerusalem which in spite of its great claim to be the centre of religiousness has turned out to be, like Sodom, the centre of wickedness and worldliness.
Please note the statement, ‘Into three parts.’ Compare Deuteronomy 19.3 where the land was to be divided into three parts, each to have a city as a refuge for the manslayer. Is this seen as an ironic division of the city in a similar way? Israel having failed in its ministry to provide places of refuge for the world, is now divided into three as a commentary on its failure? Or is it ironically seen as divided between the monster, the beast and the false prophet, mentioned as a trio in 16.13, to whom it has given its obedience (11.2)? Alternately there may be behind it the idea that just as ‘three’ is a symbol of completeness, this division into three parts is a rending of that previous completeness. It is no longer whole.
‘And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found, and great hail, about the weight of a talent (a hundredweight) comes down from heaven on men.’ This description is similar to that in Revelation 6.14. Here the islands disappear and the mountains become level. This is not just a great earthquake, it is a huge cataclysm. The great hail is reminiscent of huge hailstorms which have been known in the Mediterranean region where hailstones weighing more than twelve pounds have been known to fall, but these are huge even by that comparison, weighing a hundredweight (twelve times as much), hailstones such as have never been known before. This vast shaking of the earth and the huge hailstones can only signify the end of time, which is what we saw in 11.19.
With all the destruction look at what men do, ‘And men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail.’ It is surely significant that the only place where the final hour causes men to give glory to the God of Heaven is in Jerusalem (11.13). That supremely religious city is depicted as seeing things differently from the remainder. But its end is the same, for the great Day of Judgment has arrived, and its religiosity is not sufficient. It too has rejected Christ. That this is one more vivid way of describing the final judgment is clear once we consider what is stated.
We read this, ‘And Babylon the Great was remembered in the sight of God to give to her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.’ Babylon the Great is singled out because of the idea she represents. It is not said that she is destroyed as such in the earthquake. Indeed God has already dealt with her (chapters 17-18). And yet she is involved in the earthquake for she in reality sums up all those cities.
But what is meant by Babylon the Great? It is an idea that has come from the mists of time, the symbol of all that is worst in the cities of the world. When Cain left the presence of the Lord and went to live in the desert regions he ‘built a city’. It was only a tent encampment, but it contained the seed of an idea. It was the beginnings of men gathering to live together to produce ‘civilization’, and a multiple society for belligerence and protection, away from the presence of God .
The next growth we learn of is when Nimrod, the mighty warrior, so great that even God saw him as great (‘before the Lord’) founded his empire in the land of Shinar. It is significant that an element of that empire was Babel (Genesis 10.9-10). This then resulted at some stage in the building of the tower in the city of Babel, probably a religious ziggurat, in order that men may ‘make a name for themselves’ (Genesis 11.4 with 9). In other words they established idolatry as against the worship of the One true God, they began to expand by conquest in order to build up an empire, and they wanted to prevent others doing the same. They wanted ‘world-wide’ control. So from the beginning Babel (possibly ‘babilu’, the gate of god) signifies empire building, idolatry, and rebellion against, and replacement of, the living God.
When later Babylon, its namesake, came into the picture it took over this image in the minds of the prophets. It was prominent through the centuries, but it came into its greatest prominence when it defeated the Assyrian empire and subjugated Jerusalem. Of all nations it alone conquered Jerusalem and took its inhabitants into captivity, destroying the Temple in the process (2 Kings 25.9). For this alone it would be remembered for ever and was seen as finally doomed to be destroyed by God (Psalm 137.8; Isaiah 13.19; 14.22; 21.9; Jeremiah 51.24, 29; 51.64). We can also consider Nebuchadnezzar’s cry, ‘Is not this great Babylon that I have built?’ It was the perfect example of the pride and arrogance that made Babylon a symbol of such pride (Daniel 4.30), compare ‘Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride’ which will be made like Sodom and Gomorrah (Isaiah 13.19).
Babylon was also the first of the four wild beast empires in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the ‘head of gold’, the supreme empire (Daniel 2.38-39) which along with the other empires would be destroyed by the stone without hands (2.45) which represented the setting up of God’s kingdom. And its king was famed as the one who had himself set up a golden image, representing either himself or Babylon (compare the golden head of the great image - Daniel 2.32), and demanded that all nations should worship it (Daniel 3.1, 4-5). Indeed the king of Babylon was the one who declared that he would ascend to the throne of God and be like the most High (Isaiah 14.13).
Thus Babylon had become synonymous with overweening pride, with arrogance, with rebellion and blasphemy, with idolatry, with ambitions of empire, above all with setting itself against God. It had became a symbol of all such empires. Any similar empire which arose, filled with pride at itself, could thus be looked on as the continuation of ‘Babylon’, without being the whole of it. So John in Revelation sees the last great world empire in terms of Babylon. It must be so, for all that Babel and Babylon stood for has to be destroyed.
No doubt, looking from his standpoint, if asked, John would have thought in terms of Rome as probably representing that empire (how could he not?), but he says enough to demonstrate that he did not limit it to Rome, as we shall see. The very idea and nature of Babylon has to be destroyed, and it is nowhere stated to be only Rome.
In the next chapter the destruction of Babylon comes slightly before the end. But that is due to the symbolism. ‘Babylon’ has first to be dealt with, destroyed by those it sought to nurture, and then comes the final day of Judgment. The central feature in that final day is to be the defeat of Satan himself, and thus the destruction of Babylon the Great is first to be seen as accomplished at his hands. First Babylon, then Satan. Ironically He who raised her, destroys her, and then moves on to his own defeat. Satan is self-destructing
Our title for Revelation 16 was called a "great" chapter. It describes great evil: a great city, great Babylon, great tools of judgment: great heat, a great river dried up, a great earthquake, great hail and great plagues. It describes a Great God: His Great voice (loud is the same Greek word for great; and His Great day of victory.
I would say then that all this makes it pretty great.