Useful Bible Studies > Revelation Commentary > chapter 16

The order and purpose of the 7 bowls judgements

Revelation 16:1

Everything was now ready for the final series of judgements to begin. Godís glory (his greatness) had become like a thick cloud of smoke, and it filled his temple (holy place) in heaven. Seven of his special servants, the angels, each held a shallow bowl. They stood ready to pour the contents over the earth. In those bowls was the anger of God; these 7 judgements would completely satisfy his anger against all that is evil in this world (15:1). Then Christís rule on earth would begin.

Still, John saw that the angels waited. They did not act until God gave his command. That command came as a loud voice from Godís temple in heaven. In other words, the voice came from the place of Godís glory.

Then each angel in turn poured out the contents of his bowl. There is a definite order to these judgements. It is the same order as the judgements when the angels sounded their trumpets (loud musical instruments) in Revelation chapter 8 to 11. Briefly, that order is the land, then the sea; then the supplies of water, then the sun. Then there is darkness and people feel great pain. Then a terrible war begins at the river Euphrates. Lastly, there is the declaration that Godís work is complete. All these things happen in the same order for both series of judgements, the 7 trumpets and the 7 bowls. However, John is not merely describing the same judgements again. There are many differences.

One of the most important differences is that, in the earlier series of judgements, only a part of everything suffers. Usually that part is a third, for example, a third of the sea or a third of the sun. However, in the judgements in chapter 16, the judgements are complete. These judgements affect the whole world.

Next part: The first bowl: judgement against the land (Revelation 16:2)

 

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© 2016, Keith Simons.