Saturday, January 14, 2017
Day of the Lord
1 Then I (John) heard a mighty (great, loud) voice from the Temple (sanctuary) say to the seven angels, “Go your ways and pour out on the earth the seven bowls (vials) containing God’s wrath.” 2 So the first angel left the Temple and poured out his bowl (vial) on the earth, and horrible, malignant sores (ulcers) broke out on everyone who had the mark of the beast and who worshipped his statue (image). 3 Then the second angel poured out his bowl (vial) on the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse (dead man). And everything (living) in the sea died. 4 Then the third angel poured out his bowl (vial) on the rivers and springs, and they became blood. 5 And I heard the angel who had authority (charge) over all water saying, “You are just (righteous), O Holy One, who is and who always was, because You have sent these judgments (judged). 6 Since they shed the blood of Your holy people (saints) and Your prophets, You have given them blood to drink. It is their just reward.” 7 And I heard a voice from the altar, saying, “Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, Your judgments are true and just.” 8 Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl (vial) on the sun, causing it to scorch (burn) everyone with its fire (heat). 9 Everyone was burned (scorched) by this blast of heat, and they cursed (blasphemed) the Name of God, who had control over all these plagues. They did not repent of their sins and turn to God and give Him glory. 10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl (vial) on the throne (seat) of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. His subjects (people) ground (bite) their teeth in anguish, 11 and they cursed (blasphemed) the God of Heaven for their pains and sores (ulcers). But they did not repent of their evil deeds (works) and turn to God. 12 Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl (vial) on the great Euphrates River, and it dried up so that the kings from the east could march their armies toward the west without hindrance. 13 And I saw three evil (unclean, loathsome) spirits that looked like frogs leap from the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. 14 They are demonic spirits who work miracles and go out to all the rulers of the world to gather them for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God the Almighty. 15 “Look (said Jesus), I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for Me, who keep their clothing ready so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” 16 And the demonic spirits gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place with the Hebrew name Armageddon. 17 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl (vial) into the air. And a mighty (great, loud) shout came from the throne in the Temple, saying, “It is finished!” 18 Then the thunder crashed and rolled, and lightning flashed. And a great earthquake struck—the worst since people were placed on the earth. 19 The great city of Babylon split into three sections, and the cities of many nations fell into heaps of rubble. So God remembered all of Babylon’s sins, and He made her drink the cup that was filled with the wine of His fierce wrath. 20 And every island disappeared, and all the mountains were leveled. 21 There was a terrible (huge) hailstorm, and hailstones weighing seventy-five pounds fell from the sky onto the people below. They cursed (blasphemed) God because of the terrible plague of the hailstorm. Revelation 16:1-21 (NLT)
Revelation 16 is God’s third and final judgment against sinful and disobedient humanity. The end has come! On this day, the sovereign God repays evildoers and the unrighteous for their sins and injustices (Revelation 16:5-7; see also Isaiah 49:26; Galatians 6:7). God has given everyone an opportunity to repent and turn to Him with the seal judgments (Revelation 6) and then with the trumpet judgment (Revelation 8-9). Sadly, some people decided to accept the mark of the beast and worship the evil forces of this world (see Revelation 13:16-18).
Revelation 16 reveals that the Lord God Almighty is clearly in control and will take His vengeance upon evil! Similar to the trumpet judgments, the final bowl judgments draw heavily for their symbolism on the ten Egyptian plagues from the Old Testament. God’s judgments are neither vengeful nor impulsive, but an expression of His righteous and holy nature (see Psalm 119:137). God will bring judgment upon individuals and nations that violate His moral commands (e.g., see Deuteronomy 28:15-68).
Revelation chapter 16 opens with John, the human author, hearing a mighty voice from the Temple to seven angels saying, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God” (Revelation 16:1, ESV). So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores or ulcers came upon everyone people who had the mark of the beast and worshipped his image (Revelation 16:2; see also Exodus 9:9-11; Deuteronomy 28:27, 35; Revelation 13:16). The first bowl judgment is God’s justice against those who give allegiance and worship to sinfulness and evil (Revelation 16:2; see also Revelation 14:9-10). Then, the second angel poured out his bowl upon the oceans, and the oceans became like the watery blood of a dead man. Everything in all the oceans died (Revelation 16:3 see also Exodus 7:19-21). Afterwards, the third angel poured out his bowl upon the rivers and springs and they became blood (Revelation 16:4 see also Psalm 78:44).
Then, John heard the angel of the waters proclaiming:
“Holy One, You are the One who is and who was. You are right to decide to punish these evil people. They have poured out the blood of Your holy people and Your prophets. So now You have given them blood to drink as they deserve. . . . Yes, Lord God Almighty, the way You punish evil people is right and fair.” Revelation 16:5-7 (NCV)
At that point, the fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun causing the sun to scorch and burn everyone with its fire (Revelation 16:8). The Holy Scriptures often connect fire with God’s judgment (e.g., see Deuteronomy 28:22; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 2 Peter 3:7). The people burned by this blast of heat do not responded by repenting and giving glory to God. Instead, these heathens resorted to blasphemy and cursed the Name of the living God (Revelation 16:9). Then, the fifth angel poured out his bowl on beast’s throne and his kingdom was plunged into supernatural darkness (Revelation 16:10; see also Exodus 10:21-29). People bearing the beast’s mark gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of Heaven for their pain and sores. Once again, these evil followers refused to repent of all their wicked deeds revealing their depravity (Revelation 16:10-11). Instead, these heathens gave faithful allegiance to their evil master, who continually blasphemes God and His faithful followers (see Revelation 13:1, 5-6; Revelation 17:3).
After that, the sixth angel poured out his bowl upon the great Euphrates River and the Euphrates River dried up so that the kings from the east (rising of the sun) could march their armies westward without hindrance (Revelation 16:12). The “kings from the east” have been widely interpreted, yet no one knows with certainty the identity of these kings. More importantly, the sixth bowl prepares for the battle on “the great day of God the Almighty,” commonly called “the battle of Armageddon” (Revelation 16:14, 16). In preparation of the battle, John saw three evil or foul spirits disguised as frogs leap from the mouths of the unholy trinity – the dragon, the evil beast, and the false prophet (Revelation 16:13; see also Exodus 8:2-14). These diabolical and evil spirits performed signs and miracles (Revelation 16:14; see also Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12), and they gathered the kings of the whole world for the battle (Revelation 16:14, 16). Then Jesus declared, “Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for Me, who keep their clothing ready so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed” (Revelation 16:15, NLT; see also Matthew 24:42-44; 1 Thessalonians 5:2). God’s people are encouraged to be spiritually prepared and ready!
The evil forces and spirits gathered all the rulers and their armies to a place with the Hebrew name Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). Revelation 16:16 is one of the most puzzling and difficult verse of Revelation. No one knows what the name Armageddon means. In some Greek manuscripts of Revelation Armageddon can also be translated Harmagedon which means “the Mountain of Megiddo.” Megiddo is one of history’s famous battlefields, having witnessed major conflicts by Tuthmosis III in 1468 B.C to that of Lord Allenby of Megiddo in 1917. In biblical history, Megiddo is a city with famous biblical battles such as where Deborah and Barak crushed the Canaanites and where Judah’s good King Josiah died in battle against Pharaoh Neco III (see Judges 5:19-21; 2 Kings 23:29). However, “the Mountain of Megiddo” does not exist on the world’s map. Thus, some biblical scholars have concluded that Armageddon represents the battle site on “the great day of the Lord God Almighty” where the forces of good and the forces of evil battle. Yet, the book of Revelation never describes a battle. When evil and their forces gathered a mighty army for battle against God’s people, the true and living God sent fire from heaven down on the attacking armies and consumed them. The Lord God Almighty defeated all the evil forces (Revelation 20:9-10; see also Deuteronomy 28:7; Romans 8:31; Hebrews 13:5-6). If you faithfully follow and obey God, you will experience victory!
Then, the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air and a mighty shout came from the throne in the Temple, saying, “It is finished!” (Revelation 16:17; see also Revelation 21:6). These are the same last words Jesus said on Calvary’s Cross (see John 19:30). God’s final judgment falls upon the entire earth. At that moment, God’s divine proclamation is accompanied by thunder crashing, lightning flashing, and a great earthquake of a magnitude first time in human history (Revelation 16:18; see also Exodus 19:16-18). Then, the great city of “Babylon” split into three sections, and cities around the world fell in heaps of rubble (Revelation 16:19). “Babylon” is representative of satanic power and oppression against God’s people. God remembered all of “Babylon’s” sins, and He made her drink the cup that was filled with the wine of His fierce wrath (Revelation 16:19).
Afterwards, islands vanished and mountains flattened out and there was an incredible hailstorm from heaven (Revelation 16:20-21). God’s divine wrath reaches its climax with a bombardment of massive hailstones weighing a hundred pounds falls from the sky onto the people (Revelation 16:21). In the Old Testament, God repeatedly punished His enemies with hail (see e.g., Exodus 9:18; Joshua 10:11; Ezekiel 13:11-13). Hail is part of God’s arsenal of divine retaliation. However, the plague of hail produced no change of evil heathens, and they continued to curse and blaspheme the sovereign God of Heaven (Revelation 16:21).
Many people may wonder and doubt if the predictions of Revelation will happen and if Jesus will return (see 2 Peter 3:4). John wrote the book of Revelation approximately AD 90. In writing the book of Revelation, John was describing things that “must soon take place” (Revelation 1:1). However, some 2,000 years have happen and the “end” has yet to come.
The Holy Scriptures remind all people that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and question if Jesus will return (2 Peter 3:3-4). We must not forget that “a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day” (2 Peter 3:8, NLT; see also Psalm 90:4). The true and living God is not slow about His promises (2 Peter 3:8). Instead, God is being patient because He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to reach repentance and be saved (see 2 Peter 3:9, 15). As Jesus promised, the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief (Revelation 16:15; see also 2 Peter 3:10). The Day of the Lord is surely coming (see 2 Peter 3:10-12)!
After the “Day of the Lord,” God promises to usher in a new heaven and a new earth with a world filled with God’s righteousness (Revelation 21:1-5, 27; see 2 Peter 3:13). As we await the Lord’s Day, believers must continue to live holy, faithful, peaceful, blameless, and godly lives (e.g., love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) (2 Peter 3:11, 14; see also Exodus 34:6-7; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Peter 1:15-16). Jesus’ second return can happen anytime!
ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008).
Zondervan NIV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008).
Loyd, Melton, Ph.D., Senior Professor of New Testament (Due West, SC: Erskine Theological Seminary, 2016).
Metzger, Bruce. Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1993).
Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998).