The Study of Last Things

by James T. Bartsch

"Then I heard a loud voice from the temple, saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” (Revelation 16:1)

The Seven Bowls of Wrath

The First Bowl. (Revelation 16:2)

So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.

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Commentary: God, through His angelic messenger, is deliberately targeting all people on the earth who have accepted the Mark of the Beast (the coming Global Dictator). Many will take this identifying mark out of economic necessity (Rev. 13:16-18). But accepting the mark amounts to a wholesale endorsement of this anti-God, anti-Christ, malevolent ruler. Earlier in the book of Revelation, an angel called out that anyone worshiping the Beast and his image, receiving a mark on his forehead or hand, would drink of the wine of the wrath of God, and would be tormented with fire and brimstone forever and ever (Rev. 14:9-11). This loathsome sore described in Rev. 16:2 is the first installment of the horrible future that awaits all who worship the Beast and partake of his identification system.

The Second Bowl. (Revelation 16:3)

The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood like that of a dead man; and every living thing in the sea died.

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Commentary: Environmentalists will howl at God's destruction of marine life in all the oceans of earth. They will be unwilling to admit that their own evil acts and those of the entire world are the reason for the devastation brought about by God Himself. Imagine the stench of all the oceans and beaches around the world. And think of all who make their living by fishing. There will be no tuna, no halibut, no cod, no mackerel, no lobster, and no anchovies for anyone to sell to restaurants and fish markets anywhere in the world. There will be loss of income from jobs and starvation in maritime districts. Along seashores and in bays and harbors a great stench will arise, not only from rotting fish, but from decomposing blood.

The Third Bowl. (Revelation 16:4-7)

4 Then the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of waters; and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things; 6 for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.” 7 And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”

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Commentary: This means that all fresh-water sources of drinking water will be contaminated with blood by the third messenger pouring out his bowl upon rivers and springs of water. This includes not only surface rivers, but subterranean springs of water, the source of the water of many streams and rivers. The messenger of the waters, the third messenger, specifically attributes this horrific judgment to the righteous judgment of God. The people of the earth had poured out the blood of set apart people and God's spokesmen all over the earth. Now these murderers were themselves being given blood to drink as a Divine judgment. No doubt many will die of thirst or disease all across the earth from this horrendous plague. But as the messenger stated, "They deserve it!" The altar up in heaven agreed with the  third messenger, stating, "Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments!" (For more references to the altar up in heaven, see the following: Rev. 6:9; 8:3, 5; 9:13; 14:18; 16:7.) As with the plague affecting the seas, this one will result in a great stench everywhere on land there is a body of water. Fish will rise to the surface and decompose. Anyone who has driven near a lagoon processing the run-off from the kill floor of a slaughter-house will know by experience the great stench that will rise anywhere near a pond or lake or river. The states and provinces bordering the Great Lakes, for example, will experience the almost strangling odor.

The Fourth Bowl. (Revelation 16:8-9)

8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun, and it was given to it to scorch men with fire. 9 Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory.

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Commentary: From 1940 - 1970 global cooling of the planet began to occur. In 1974, a Time Magazine article asked, "Another Ice Age?" 1988 seems to be the year during which "Global Warming Gets Real." Well before 2022, the vast majority of environmental activists had come to believe the religion of anthropogenic global warming. But they kept changing the terminology, which leads some people, I among them, to question their claims and their credibility. The term now is "Climate Change." That way, if it gets colder, human emissions are to blame. If it rains a lot, human emissions are to blame. If  it gets too dry, human emissions are to blame. And of course, if it gets warmer, again human emissions are to blame. This is hardly scientific.
    When the fourth messenger pours out his bowl upon the sun, people will no longer lecture about anthropogenic climate change. It will become so hot that people will actually be scorched by the heat of the sun. They will know that God, not man, is causing this heat. But that won't change their outlook one bit. They will reveal their bias by their deliberate and hateful blaspheming of the name of God, the one holding authority over these plagues. Moreover, they will refuse to repent so as to give God glory!
    This will be REAL Global Warming! And it will not be anthropogenic. It will be caused by God Himself. The tragedy is that most men will be too arrogant, too rebellious, and too disrespectful toward God to learn an appropriate lesson. Perhaps millions will die, but their death will serve no useful purpose other than to illustrate man's inherent rebellion against God.

The Fifth Bowl. (Revelation 16:10-11)

10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain, 11 and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.

Commentary: This plague, instigated by the fifth messenger, will amount to a direct assault by God on the capital city and the seat of power of the Beast, the evil World Dictator also known as the Antichrist. Where is this capital city? We are not told. One is tempted to think that Babylon might be his capital, but that seems to be the capital of the world-wide false religion (Rev. 17:1-6). The Beast will head up a Revived Roman Empire, so one would think that his capital city will be somewhere in Europe, perhaps Rome itself. But we are not given this information. Regardless, we are told that the fifth messenger will pour out his bowl upon the throne of the Beast, and that his whole kingdom will be darkened. Since his kingdom will be world wide, the darkness will pervade the entire earth. Some interpret this passage metaphorically, as they do almost everything else in Revelation. But there is no reason to do so. The ninth plague in Egypt was literal, not metaphorical (Exod. 10:21-22), so why would this plague not be literal? We are told that great pain will accompany this darkness, so much so that victims will gnaw their tongues because of the pain. That sounds literal to me. Because of the great pains and sores inflicted on the followers of the Beast, they will blaspheme the God of heaven. Moreover they will refuse to repent of their evil deeds. Just as the darkness of the ninth Egyptian plague did not affect the Israelis (Exod. 10:23), so this darkness and pain will likely not affect believers in Christ who somehow survive to the closing days of the Tribulation.

The Sixth Bowl. (Revelation 16:12-16)

12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east. 13 And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; 14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. 15 “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.” 16 And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.

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Commentary: There is a lot of symbolism here, but the Apostle John is able to give us fairly clear indicators as to what will happen. When the sixth messenger pours out his bowl on the Euphrates River, it will be dried up in order to prepare a way for the arrival of the "kings from the east." But why would the Euphrates River be an impediment for modern armies? It wouldn't unless a bizarre turn of events made modern warfare impossible. What could that be? A couple of things come to mind. With its mindless insistence on anthropogenic global warming, the environmental movement is doing its best to wage a war of "cancel culture" against internal combusion engines powered by carbon fuels. Instead, the movement has placed a premium on electric vehicles. If the world goes largely to electric vehicles, a few well-placed bombs will destroy the power grid over large areas of the globe. Electric vehicles will be useless if drivers are unable to recharge their batteries. However, there will always be portions of the world that will refuse to give up gasoline-powered cars and trucks. But there appear to be indicators in Rev. 18 that some allied forces will sabotage the oil infrastructure of the Middle East. What if the world is largely immobilized except for equestrian transportation? Then the drying up of the Euphrates will be truly significant, removing a barrier to transporting millions of troops from Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, India, China, Mongolia, and SE Asia to the Middle East. Three evil spirits will deceive the kings of the world to gather together "for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty." They will gather the kings of the world together to Israel to the Valley of Jezreel, measuring 14 by 20 miles. This whole valley is surrounded by mountains, one of them being Megiddo. The term "Har-Magedon" means "Mountain of Megiddo," in Greek, Harmagedon, often transliterated to Armageddon. Satan and his demons will gather the world's armies to defeat Israel. But it is a Divinely-induced trap. It is the world's armies who will be destroyed by Christ at His return (Zech. 12:1-5; 14:12-15)!

The Seventh Bowl. (Revelation 16:17-21)

17 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.” 18 And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.

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Commentary: The occasion for this concluding 7th judgment of this series is the seventh messenger's pouring out his bowl upon the air. Here is what the Apostle John witnessed: A loud voice came forth from the throne inside the temple. It announced, "It is done!" At that point there were flashes of lightning and peals of thunder. Simultaneously a world-record earthquake staggered the earth. The "great city," probably Jerusalem, was divided into three parts. Cities among the nations all over the world crumbled with the violence of the quake and its aftershocks. The earthquake was especially devastating to the city of Babylon, headquarters of the Great Prostitute. Islands all over the seas were submerged by vast tidal waves. Mountains shook so violently that the heights of all were diminished and a great many simply disintegrated. The loss of life will be catastrophic! Accompanying the lightning and peals of thunder were enormous hailstones raining down from heaven all over the globe. These were monstrous stones, weighing a hundred pounds each! The reaction of men all over the world will be telling. They will not submit to God or repent of their sins. They will reveal their character by blaspheming God. All mankind will know and admit that this is not anthropogenic climate change. It is the wrath of God against man's unbridled evil. But that will not turn them from their evil. They will curse God to His face!

Epilogue: This judgment ends the series of three types of judgments, the Seven Seal Judgments, the Seven Trumpet Judgments, and the Seven Bowl Judgments. Revelation 17:1-18:24 describes the diabolical, seductive influence of The Great Prostitute, Babylon, representing a final form of a global false religion with enormous political power. At first the Prostitute, Babylon, is seen to be riding the terrible Beast, the End-Time manifestation of the Revived Roman Empire. So for a time, the religion will dictate to the government. But in the end, the Revived Roman Empire will turn on Babylon the Prostitute and will burn her with fire (Rev. 17:16-17; 18:8-10). There will follow great economic loss to the Kings of the Earth, the Merchants of the Earth, and even the Mariners of the Earth (Rev. 18:1-24).

Then in Revelation 19, the Lamb's Bride will have made herself pure. Announcement will be made of the impending great Wedding Feast celebrating the marriage of the Lamb to His Bride, the Church (Rev. 19:7-9). Christ will return to earth in power and great glory, and He will conquer all his adversaries (Rev. 19:11-21). Then He will commence His 1000-year reign (Rev. 20:1-6)!

(Scripture quotation taken from the NASB.)

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Updated February 1, 2022