Summary: The Seventh Bowl Judgment
Revelation 16: 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!" 18And 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. 19Now 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. 20Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21And 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.”
The seventh bowl is the final outpouring of God’s wrath on sinners in this present age. After this Jesus will come and establish His millennial kingdom reign. At the end of the thousand year period, there will be one final act of rebellion, which will then be quickly crushed (20:7-10). Yet that judgment then will not take place as we know it, for the earth will be changed dramatically before the kingdom arrives. Following the seventh trumpet loud voices in heaven proclaimed the realization of the kingdom of God (11:15), the twenty four elders announced the arrival of the time of judgment (11:18), the temple of God in heaven was opened (11:19), and there were flashes of lightening, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a great hailstorm (11:19-21). Likewise here the seventh bowl is followed by a loud voice from the heavenly temple declaring God’s purpose accomplished (16:17), judgment falls upon the entire earth (16:19-20), and there are flashes of lightening, rumblings, and peals of thunder, along with the greatest of all the earthquakes and tremendous hailstones (16:18,21).
This will be then the final judgment in the present age upon the earth when “the mystery of God is finished (1:7). It is the last of the “seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished” (15:1). The seventh bowl will be the worst calamity in the world’s history, the most complete of them all. Its effects are to carry it all the way to the establishment of the earthly kingdom of Christ. That the angel poured out his bowl into the air is important, for its effects were on the earth’s atmosphere, as if God were then cleansing the former domain of Satan and his demon hosts (12:9). The earth (v2), the sea (v.3), the waters (v.4), the sun (v.8), and finally the air are the targets of judgment.
And a mighty shout came from the throne of the Temple in heaven, saying, "It is finished!" would could only possibly refer to God the Father the Most High, the creator of all heaven and earth. That He then says that “It is finished” announces the climax of the Day of the Lord that will spread doom over the entire globe. The perfect tense verb gegonen (it is finished) describes completed action with ongoing results. It is similar to Jesus’ final words from the cross where He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). God the Father is then declaring that it is finished which Jesus-God the Son declared on the Cross after His death on the Cross, which then leads us here to see that salvation provided for repentant sinners; judgment of the seventh bowl would then lead us to see that judgment of the seventh bowl brings doom to unrepentant sinners.
Revelation 16: 18Then the thunder crashed and rolled, and lightning flashed. And there was an earthquake greater than ever before in human history.”
As with the seventh seal (8:5) and the seventh trumpet (11:19), the seventh bowl is introduced with the imagery of a violent thunderstorm. Yet these earlier storms are only mere previews of the mighty wrath that now bursts upon the earth. The seventh bowl then revealed the devastating effects upon the earth that God will then punctuate His judgment against sinners with an earthquake (Isaiah 24:19-20; Hag 2:6), just as He His judgment of sin at Calvary (Matthew 27:51-54). This earthquake will then be the most powerful to strike the earth as an earthquake greater than ever before in human history. Mounce points out, “The severity of the earthquake is emphasized by the statement, “No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth or human history. This would have a vivid impact upon people living in a century that had experienced a great number of severe quakes.”
There always will be local earthquakes (Matthew 24:7) but this earthquake will be unique in that God will shake the globe, as prophesied in Haggai 2:6 and Hebrews 12:26-27. This shaking then will reconfigure the earth in preparation for the millennial kingdom, restoring it to something like its Pre-Flood condition (v.20).