A Series on Divine Judgment
Since the fourth trumpet, there was considerable foreboding of the last three trumpets, because each caused the
eagle to express a "woe" (Rev 8:13). Generating this expression of
sorrow for those remaining on earth are the coming serious judgments of God. And as each trumpet sounds, a countdown
of woes ensues.
After the fourth trumpet:
Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe,
woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who
are about to sound!" (Rev 8:13)
After the fifth trumpet:
The first woe is past; behold, two woes are still coming after these things.
The first woe was a response to the implication of opening the bottomless pit and the subsequent
stinging torment of all human beings without the seal of God on their foreheads
After the sixth trumpet:
The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly.
The second woe was a response to the implication of releasing the four angels bound at the
Euphrates River and the subsequent killing of one third of mankind
After the seventh trumpet:
Because the eagle's woe is for "those who dwell on the earth," the third and last woe pertains
to the only remaining judgments against those left on earth, which is the "reaping" by the angel
The reaping figuratively speaks of gathering the "ripe" grapes and throwing them into the great
wine press of God's wrath "outside the city" (Rev 14:18-19), which
is a reference to the bowl judgments that follow (Rev 16:1-21).
This period of reaping includes the angelic assistance of carrying out Jesus Christ's judgment at Armageddon, because
it is Jesus who treads upon the grapes in the great wine press of God's wrath
When the Temple of God opens, revealing the Ark of the Covenant
(Rev 11:19; 15:5;
Ex 40:1-3), the apostle John perceives the appearance of the seven
angels with the seven plagues as a "sign in heaven" that was "great and marvelous," because "in them, the wrath of
God is finished" (Rev 15:1). These plagues were significant, because
no one could enter the Temple of God until the seven plagues were finished
The appearance of these seven angels, inside the Temple of God, and what they represented caused
the tribulation saints to sing praises to God.
The first song was the Song of Moses (Rev 15:3;
Ex 15:1-18). The Song of Moses memorialized the deliverance of Israel
from Egypt and the spectacular nature of the Exodus. Celebrating God's victory over Egypt was public acknowledgment
of God's sovereign rule over the universe. In like manner, when Satan appears to be in control at this time as Pharaoh
was in his time, the tribulation saints and 144,000 bond servants of God know otherwise as they sing in acknowledgment
of God's sovereign rule and judgment of evil.
Amid the harps, the second song of praise was the song only the 144,000 sealed bond servants of
God could sing (Rev 15:3;
The third song of praise (Rev 15:3-4) places an
emphasis on "the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever
and ever" (Rev 11:15-18).
When the seven angels who had the seven plagues come out from the Temple of God, they receive from
one of the four living creatures a bowl of God's wrath (Rev 15:6-7),
and it appears that each plague is mixed with each corresponding bowl
When examining the first six bowl judgments, a chart is helpful to categorize observations of the text:
||Effect On Earth
|Plague 1 (Rev 16:2)
||Poured on the earth
Loathsome and malignant sores on people who had the mark of the beast and
worshiped his image
|Plague 2 (Rev 16:3)
||Poured into the sea
The seas became blood and killed all living creatures in it
|Plague 3 (Rev 16:4-7)
||Poured into the rivers and springs of water
All fresh water became blood which implied that all
living creatures in it died
|With the poisoning of all fresh water, the angel of the waters said, "Righteous are You, who are and who were,
O Holy One, because You judged these things; for they poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and You have
given them blood to drink. They deserve it."
The angel at the altar said, "Yes, O Lord God, the
Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments."
|Plague 4 (Rev 16:8-9)
||Poured onto the sun
The sun scorched with fierce heat
|People blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to
give Him glory.
|Plague 5 (Rev 16:10-11)
||Poured on the throne of the beast
The beast’s kingdom darkened and people were in pain
|People blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their
|Plague 6 (Rev 16:12)
||Poured onto the Euphrates River
The Euphrates River dries up
The bowls of God's wrath and plagues are significant for the judgments they render:
1. Because the surviving human beings are non-Believers
13:8, 16-17), most, if not all, human beings are tormented
with disfiguring and painful sores.
2. With the poisoning of all salt and fresh water, governments will be severely tested and societies
could quickly collapse. Among numerous issues: drinking water is confined to limited supplies of packaged goods,
personal hygiene is curtailed, and cooking is restricted.
3. Increasing the heat of the sun to "scorching" critically exacerbates the problem of scarce safe
water for any use as well as providing any relief from the painful sores.
4. As people blasphemed God because of their pains and their sores, it was reminiscent of the
Exodus, when the plagues hardened Pharaoh's heart so much so that he sought revenge:
"Thus I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored
through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord." And they did so. When the king
of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and
they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?" So he made his chariot ready
and took his people with him; and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with
officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of
Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly. (Ex 14:4-8)
5. The drying of the Euphrates River sets in motion the conflict at Armageddon by enabling the
kings from the east to mobilize their troops over land.
Instead of repenting, amidst this great suffering, the people did not fear God, blasphemed His name and failed to
recognize that He was Lord of all. People preferred to follow the "great men of earth" and would be unable to hear
the gospel (Rev 18:23).
With the drying of the Euphrates River, a demonic spirit comes out of Satan, the Antichrist and the False Prophet
(Rev 16:13). A literal reading of the text suggests that the
demonic spirits were indwelling; but, a figure of speech is possible indicating that these demonic spirits were called
forth. Regardless, these demonic spirits influenced human kings such that they would gather their armies at Armageddon
(Rev 16:14-16). And then the seventh bowl is poured out…