The seven angels have taken the seven bowls. Now it is time to pour out their content. We will watch as six of them pour today.
“Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God” (verse 1b). These are the last of God’s wrath on the earth. When these are empty Jesus will step onto the scene. We are not told how long each of these punishments/enticements lasts but I’m certain from our reading that they don’t all happen at the same time and they hang around for a bit.
The first angel pours out his bowl and it results in “harmful and painful sores … upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image” (verse 2). This punishment only lands on those who have already made their decision to follow the beast. Anyone bearing the mark of the Father is spared this experience. Also anyone who is somehow undecided at this point is spared. This is so close to the end, I don’t know how many of the undecided remain, but God is still calling out to them.
The next angel pours his bowl into the “sea”, turning it to blood. I’m thinking this probably means the oceans. I can’t be certain because larger bodies of water in bible times were called seas, as in the Sea of Galilee. It could honestly be either because of where Babylon is probably located. The original Babylon was in proximity to Israel and it makes sense that the resurrected Babylon would be near the old site. The fifth angel will pour its bowl directly on the beast’s throne area, so this one could be concentrated on that area too. Also the use of a singular “it” in this instance makes me wonder about the breadth of this judgement. However, it could also be a worldwide punishment/enticement. The worshipers of the beast will NOT be confined to the Middle East but worldwide. The beast will be ruler of the whole world so the impact of God’s judgement should also reach those farther than his front door.
One thing I was thinking about with this bowl’s impact is the difference between this event and Noah’s experience. When God sent the flood, none of the creatures of the sea were impacted. Only what required dry land to survive. This included the birds of the air and even the insects. The second bowl will kill “every living thing … that was in the sea” (verse 3b).
The third angel pours his bowl out on the rivers and springs of water. This judgement will impact ALL life on earth, unless God gives those NOT associated with the beast a miracle. The springs and rivers are where ALL life, including animals, receive their water. We NEED water to survive! We can’t go without it for more than three days. Depending on the conditions around us, that three days may be a generous estimate. I wonder again if this is a localized or worldwide event.
One reason for wondering about the scope of this judgement is who this judgement is directed at. The angel states that it was for the ones who “have shed the blood of the saints and prophets” (verse 6a). I can fully envision massive beheadings of those who refuse to take the mark of the beast near his power base but question the degree of zeal that would be taking place in the far reaching countries. Then again, if he has that much influence over the minds and hearts of the people, there could be zealous followers of him all over the globe. I can just see Satan’s glee at such a far reaching event.
The angel’s pronouncement and the altar’s response are SO appropriate. This punishment is just and “It is what they deserve!” (verse 6b). They poured out and continue to pour out the blood of those who follow Jesus. They deserve to choke on that blood!
The fourth angel steps up now and pours his bowl out on the sun. Talk about the ultimate sunburn! I wonder if this is a combination of the “hole in the ozone layer” and sun storms or just the latter. Whatever the source, people won’t be safe going outside. Not only will the rays of the sun be damaging to the skin but the heat of the sun will also be overpowering. That will be TRUE Global warming!
I am amazed at the response of the people. Maybe not really amazed by astonished instead. I know of several times in my country’s history where “acts of God” or acts of terror have struck one area or another and instead of cursing God, people actually seem to draw closer to Him, at least for a time. In the instance of this bowl’s judgement people “cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give Him glory” (verse 9b). I would say, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!” but we already know the answer to that question; they are blinded by Satan.
The fifth angel pours its bowl onto the “throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness” (verse 10a). I believe this plague is contained to the local people around the beast’s headquarters. This darkness is so deep that you literally can’t see your hand in front of your face. There is not a speck of light anywhere to be found in his kingdom. I would say that light switches and flashlights are probably useless too.
Another thing of interest here is that the other plagues have not abated by the time this one is poured out. The People “cursed the God of Heaven for their pain and sores” (verse 11a). This is in addition to gnawing their tongues in anguish because of the darkness. And the icing on this cake is that “they did not repent of their deeds” (verse 11b). WHY!?!? Because they are blind to the truth and refuse to accept it when it literally hits them in the face.
The sixth angel’s bowl actually readies the scene for the final battle; the battle of Armageddon. This judgement dries up the Euphrates river and its tributaries. It’s not even blood any longer, it’s DRY.
Something else that will be impacted by the bowl judgements on the water systems is commerce. We rely on our water to transport goods from one country to another. I can’t imagine a ship sailing through blood. It would foul their engines as sure as oil does. These judgements will impact every facet of life at that time. And STILL the people won’t repent.
I’m curious what would happen if they did repent. Would God forgive them even that late in the game? Would He remove the mark of the beast from their hand or forehead and apply His own? If there was no hope why not go straight to judgement? Will there be ANYONE who repents at this point?
Father God, Your judgements are just and rightly deserved. But Your mercy is even more AMAZING! Thank You for giving me Your mercy and forgiveness. Thank You for grace! I don’t deserve it but You gave it to me anyway. I honestly can’t imagine holding out on giving You praise with the evidence You have already provided. I can’t imagine the stubbornness required to curse You in the face of what is to come. I pray for those who will face that blindness and especially for those who hadn’t made a choice yet.