The last angel pours out the last bowl. “It is done!” (verse 17b). That done changes the face of the earth completely.
This is the last of God’s wrath. Once this judgement is completed, Jesus will step down from Heaven. Anticipation!!!
When I was reading our section today I noticed some similarities to Jesus’ crucifixion. The angel’s words “It is done” reminded me of Jesus’ cry, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The second similarity is the earth’s response to the completed work; an earthquake.
When Jesus had finished all the work His Father had sent Him to do on earth, He cried out with a loud voice “It is finished”, and surrendered Himself to death. At THAT moment His sacrifice was complete and our sins were covered by His substitutive work. True forgiveness was purchased. But that was not the end of ALL His work. He spent three days tying up “loose ends” on the other side of the grave. These “loose ends” also included giving Heaven a thorough cleaning!
When the angel said “It is done”, not everything was accomplished. What was done though was the outpouring of God’s wrath. His anger at how His creation had behaved towards one another and towards Him. His anger is a righteous anger. We have rightly earned it. His anger has also always been tempered with mercy and grace. So MANY times He could have wiped the slate clean and started over with something else or somewhere else. But He didn’t. Over and over again, He gave us another chance.
Even Jonah knew this when he was sent to Nineveh. Jonah didn’t want to give them one more chance. I don’t know if it was because he wanted God to destroy them or if he didn’t want to “look like a fool” for predicting “doom and gloom” when he knew God would listen if they repented. Whatever his reasons, he was selfish and God dealt with his attitude a couple of times.
Not this time though. God has poured out His final wrathful judgement on the earth. There are no more chances. It is final judgement time.
The second similarity is the earthquakes that followed these two pronouncements. The earthquake at Jesus’ death is a SMALL taste of the one from the one following the bowl’s emptying. The one following Jesus’ death resulted in several things. The first was that the veil in the temple was torn in two. God didn’t have to send an earthquake to accomplish that task but He did. Also the graves were opened and many came out to testify of Jesus’ work. All these things were pointing to a NEW kind of chance for us; grace! The earthquake in today’s reading will FLATTEN EVERYTHING on earth. Buildings, bridges, homes, fences, MOUNTAINS, and even the sea bed. That is what it means when the islands disappear. Nothing will be left standing. Anyone in those structures or on those mountains will be flattened too. There will be no digging through the rubble and finding survivors. The Richter scale number hasn’t even been invented to correspond to this coming earthquake. This earthquake will bring in another change for those living at that time; judgement!
If the earthquake didn’t get you the next part will. ONE HUNDRED POUND HAILSTONES!!! There won’t be any buildings left to hide in. No caves. Not even bridges to crawl under. I’ve seen hail damage before but this will put ALL of that to shame. This hail won’t just damage roofs and dent cars, it will KILL people!
When we left our reading the last time, we ended with the sixth bowl being poured out. The Euphrates river was dried up by this bowl and it paved the way for the kings of the earth to gather in the valley of Armageddon. I would not be the least bit surprised to learn that the hail stones falling in our seventh bowl judgement were smashing and killing those gathered for the final battle. I would also not be surprised to learn that the mountains falling during this great earthquake were indeed falling on that group too. We aren’t told that specifically, but the fact that they began gathering at the end of the sixth bowl judgement leads me to think it may be so. No wonder they are cursing God. How can you concentrate of fighting your enemy when even the forces of the earth are in league with Him. No aiming, just running and ducking! Have you ever tried to avoid the rain drops or hail stones when they are falling? Impossible! Now imagine trying to avoid these ones. “Sitting ducks” doesn’t even come close to describing the fate of those gathered against Jesus that day!
Father God, I’m SO glad I have You as my Father. I’m MORE than grateful to call Jesus my Savior! I cannot imagine standing on the battlefield that day on the other side of Your grace. NO HOPE! ETERNALLY!!! I pray that no one I love is part of that detachment! But there will be those that You still love there. Your choice would be for ALL men to turn to You and to not even need that final battle. But You won’t force anyone to choose Your love, and therefore many won’t. My heart breaks for them and for You.
As a parent, I know it is NOT enjoyable to watch your children disobey when you have given them every incentive not to. Actions have consequences, even when they are unpleasant to enforce. I accept the justness of Your consequences, even if my heart breaks hearing about them being carried out. But ALL were warned beforehand and have NO ONE to blame but themselves when they suffer those consequences.
I have earned serious consequences from my behaviors throughout my life too. But You have granted me mercy on more than one occasion. THANK YOU Father for that mercy! I pray I have learned lasting lessons from my disobedience as well as Your mercy.
I’m looking forward to the final end but I sure don’t look forward to how we have to get there.