This sermon is number 16 in a series of 20
The Book Of The Revelation - Part 16
"The Seven Bowl Judgements"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2008 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Now do turn with me to chapter 14 of Revelation - we will be here next Monday night, as I said, but we have in total another four studies after this evening to get through the book, I think I'm correct in saying that. So do come and join us, and we take up our study tonight in chapters 14 through to 16 - but our chief consideration is really found in chapter 16, and that is our title this evening, the subject being 'The Seven Bowl', or as the Authorised Version puts it, 'Vial Judgements'. So we'll not read a passage in introduction tonight, due to the fact that there is so much to get through, but we will be looking closely at the Scriptures as we pass through verse by verse.
Now, if you look at the screen you will see a little cross-section of the chart that has been available right throughout this series, and if you haven't got one yet do get one on your way out. You will see where we have travelled from. Now, of course, the seven churches aren't included on this chart, nor the vision in chapter 4 of the Creator, or chapter 5 of the Lamb - we're starting here from chapter 6, what constitutes the tribulation period, which brings us through a period of seven years to the second coming of our Lord Jesus when He will return and set up His thousand year millennial kingdom upon the earth. So we have seen, in the first half of that seven-year period, the seven seals being opened - and as the seventh seal was opened we found that seven trumpet judgements, following the seven seals judgements, were further opened. That brought us really to the halfway period of the seven-year tribulation. We took a bit of a pause and found a parenthesis in chapters 12 and 13 last week, where we are given seven key figures, seven key characters in the book. We looked at those last Monday evening.
But tonight we are at just after the midpoint of the 3 1/2 years middle point of the seven-year tribulation period, where we find these seven bowl or vial judgements. As the seventh trumpet opens - the seventh seal opened up the seven trumpet judgements - and as the seventh trumpet judgement is opened, it opens up seven bowl judgements, or seven vial judgements that really go across the whole of the second 3 1/2 years of the seven-year tribulation period. Now the bowl judgements, as we will look at them tonight, when we compare them with the seal judgements and the trumpet judgements, they are quite similar - but they appear to be greater both in intensity and severity.
So these are the worst of the judgements to come upon the earth during the seven-year tribulation period. Now, you might be saying to me, if you were here in previous weeks: 'Well, it's hard to imagine anything getting worse than they have been already', but the fact of the matter is - it seems from reading this passage - that these bowls, these vials, have been gathering the judgemental wrath of God, so to speak, for as long as time has existed. Now when you put it in those terms, maybe you can imagine why things will be so difficult during this time of judgement when the seven bowls are poured out upon the earth. Now these bowls of God's wrath have been filled to the brim, to overflowing almost, and they are now ready to be poured out upon the earth. Now the seventh of these judgements, round about six or seven combined together of these bowl judgements, will actually in effect bring the Lord Jesus Christ back to the earth. So things don't get any worse than this, before Lord Jesus returns.
Indeed, the imagery, I feel, that is being used here regarding these bowl judgements is that the seven angels who administer them are pictured as turning these bowls upside down upon the earth to ensure that every drop of God's wrath descends upon this world. Nothing is held back! Now all that being said, whilst we are at the darkest hour in human history, and God's wrath is poured as never before: again, yet again, before judgement God displays His grace. Staggering this - and we have noticed this right throughout our study, even in the tribulation period, that always in wrath God remembers mercy. We found this in chapter 14 in the first angelic announcement that we are given - and in chapter 14 there are three angelic announcements that we want to concentrate on initially.
The first is found in chapter 14 verses 6 and 7: 'I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel', or the eternal Gospel, 'to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters'. Right to the very end, as God is exhausting His wrath against man's ungodliness and sin, right to the end God is a merciful God. Now, if you're unconverted, you're not a Christian, you're not a believer in Christ, you're not saved: you need to sit up and observe this. No one can shake their fist, or point their finger at God and say: 'God just wants to send everybody to hell. He's a sadistic God who wants to make people squirm in torment'. No, no, no: God is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish. Even here He is sending an angel to preach the everlasting eternal Gospel as a witness to His mercy and His grace. It is the last call of grace to mankind. It is the last opportunity of a message of hope, just before the Lord Jesus returns to the earth in judgement. Do remember that: when He's coming, He's coming in judgement.
Another aspect to what I have just said is: never ever, believer in Christ, underestimate the incredible blessing of being born into the age of grace - to be born into a time where God's gospel is freely preached. Now I know things aren't the way they used to be, but nevertheless: thank God you can still get saved very easily, in a relative sense, when we look at the circumstances of this particular moment in the history of mankind that is yet to be. We've got our Bibles, we've got our gospel meetings, we've got our tracts, we've got our evangelism - but one day God's final call will be heard. Imagine it!
The subject matter of this everlasting eternal Gospel is found in verse 7, this angel is crying with a loud voice: 'Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters'. Now of course, there's only one way of salvation, but the emphasis of the gospel at this particular time is to turn men and women away from worshipping the beast, and prepare them for the kingdom of Christ on the earth. So they have to turn from the worship of the antichrist, to Jesus Christ - because He's coming, very shortly, as we are here at this moment in the text, He's coming and they need to be ready for His return!
Now, incidentally, this seems to be a fulfilment of what we read in Matthew 24 and verse 14, which is often misunderstood in this day and age, particularly regarding its application to missionary endeavour, when the Lord Jesus said: 'And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come'. So this gospel is preached worldwide as a warning as announced by this angel, that's the first angelic announcement.
The second is found in verse 8 - the kingdom of man, Babylon the great, is fallen. We read in verse 8: 'And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication'. Now this anticipates what we're going to find next week, God willing, in chapters 17 and 18 - I'm not going to go into it in any detail, but in chapter 17 Babylon seems to represent the false apostate religious system that will exist during the tribulation period. In chapter 18 Babylon seems to represent more of a political, commercial, economic aspect to man's rule. What we see here in verse 8 is that all nations will, at this point in human history, have become drunk with the wine of the wrath of the fornication of Babylon - but the angel's announcement is: the kingdom of Babylon the great has fallen. Now what does that mean? Well, summing it up, generally speaking, this is declaring that man's day is over! The political rule of man right throughout human existence, and often characterised in the government of the nations of this world in rebellion against God, it will be over! Imagine what that will be like! Democracy rules most of the world - Western anyway - then there are other governmental systems: dictatorship, totalitarian regimes. All of them are inspired in some shape or form by the principalities and powers that rule this world, the emissaries and minions of Satan - but one day their day will be over. The kingdom of man, Babylon the great, is fallen.
Then a third angelic announcement is found in verses 9 to 13, and it declares that all who receive the mark of the beast are destined for the lake of fire. Let's read those verses: 'The third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them'.
It's awful to think that everyone during this period of human history who has taken the mark of the beast, 666, will be destined for the lake of fire. Yet, that is very awful, but when we turn to chapter 20 and verse 15 we find there, ultimately, that everyone - whosoever - was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. It is a very sobering, indeed a tragic consideration, but those who are not worshippers of the Lamb are doomed to Gehenna. Yet in verse 12 we read that believers who endure during this period, knowing God, will be vindicated in their righteousness. Now that is very important: these believers, Jewish believers and Gentile believers who are converted during this period after the church has been taken away, tribulation saints, because of their righteous stand, those who are still living at this moment who have endured to this point, they have only done it because they believe that God is going to vindicate them, God is going to avenge their suffering and their persecution. In other words, God is going to make amends! So the message to them is: keep going, don't give up! It's coming soon!
Maybe someone here tonight needs to hear those words. One way or another we are all struggling - maybe not necessarily for our faith, but that may well be the case. The message is always: don't give up, the best is yet to come! God's saints who are faithful will be vindicated. The ungodly man says: 'Blessed are the living', but God pronounces here 'Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord' - it's better to be a dead Christian than a living unbeliever, it certainly will be during this period of time. It says that those dead tribulation saints, their works shall follow them. Everything they have done for the Lord, especially in those most adverse circumstances, it will be rewarded! It will not be forgotten! It's the same for you, child of God - and remember, John is writing to a group of Christians in Asia Minor who are suffering for their faith under the iron heel of Roman emperors. The message is: God will ultimately prevail, God will ultimately vindicate you, especially in the hardest of times!
Now the Holy Spirit prepares John for the great harvesting of earth in judgement. He gives us, before we even enter chapter 15, a glimpse of the awful reaping that is about to take place on this planet. In verses 14 to 20 we read of it: 'And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe'. This is a tragic scene: 'And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs'.
Now verses 19 and 20 are a reference to Armageddon. Now we will see Armageddon in a few moments when we open the sixth bowl that is poured out upon the earth - it's found in chapter 16 verse 16, and later on we'll see it again when our Lord comes in chapter 19 verses 17 through to 19. But what is being seen here, as an anticipation of it, is that the Lord Jesus, as the Judge of this world, is being called to put in a sickle of judgement - and, like grapes that are being harvested and thrown into a winepress, God's wrath is going to be crushed upon all mankind. Now you would never have seen a winepress, I imagine. Recently I saw an authentic one in Israel itself, and it was just like a big barrel. The grapes would be thrown into a store, and they would ferment, and eventually the smell of their fermentation would come to the farmer, and they would take the grapes - all of them starting to rot - and they would throw them into this winepress. Now before that, those grapes had to be crushed; and little people, little children, the only ones who could fit through the door of the store of the grapes, would go in and they would have a great old time with bare feet just trodding down these grapes. After they were crushed, they were brought out and put into this barrel, this winepress, and there was a big screw on top of it; and when all the grapes were put in, it was screwed down to crush out the blood of the grape - the wine.
It's this exact same process that we have here, and John tells us in verse 20 that the blood from the slaughter of Armageddon will flow 180 miles, and be a depth of 4 1/2 feet - a horse bridle. I know that's very difficult to imagine, but you know: that distance - 180 miles, 1600 furlongs - is approximately the distance from Meggido, which you can see north just near Galilee there, Meggido right down to Edom in the south. As we will see later, that's the whole area where the final battle of the ages will take place. John is telling us that the blood will flow for 180 miles, 4 1/2 feet deep. Now that's only a glimpse of what's going to happen, and I only find in chapter 15 a prelude to the bowl judgements.
Now we find ourselves toward the end of the seven-year tribulation period, at the beginning of verse 3 we read that there is a great company of the redeemed, tribulation saints, faithful ones: 'And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb'. Now this is a great company of people in heaven who refused to worship the beast, and first of all we read that they are singing the song of Moses - now that was a song that celebrated God's redemption of His ancient people Israel out of Egypt from slavery. You can read that song in Exodus 15 verse 1. They are also singing the song of the Lamb, and it's found in the second half of verse 3: 'Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest'.
This is a song of praise concerning God's final deliverance from Satan and from all the foes of the spiritual life of all God's people right throughout time. So, as A.T. Pierson so aptly pointed out, these two songs - the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb - mark the two bounds of redemption history, and between them lies the whole history of God's ransomed people. Here, as God's story, history, is coming to an end as far as man's rule and reign is concerned, we see that is coming to a God-glorifying conclusion. God is being praised even in the midst of all His judgement, because every loose end is going to be wrapped up once and for all! Does that not give you comfort? It ought to!
In verse 5: 'After that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened' - now what's that? Well, that's the Holy of Holies in heaven. You see, you've got to remember that the heavenly tabernacle and Temple, the Holy of Holies, is what the earthly tabernacle and Temple was modelled on. What is in heaven, that was the blueprint for it all. But what is being signified here is that these seven bowls are coming directly from God Himself, from the Holiest place of all. This is righteous, true, and just judgement! In verses 6 and 7 we read: 'And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials', bowls, 'full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever'. Verse 8: 'And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power', now mark this please, 'and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled'. Now the fact that no man was able to enter into the Temple till the seven plagues are completed may mean that no priestly intercessor is allowed to delay God's wrath any more. It's going to happen! Nothing is going to stop it! Imagine: no saviour now! Think of it!
In chapter 16 and verse 1 it begins: 'And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth'. So we come to these seven bowl judgements here in chapter 16, let's follow them through one by one. Remember please: we've had seven seals, then seven trumpets - the seventh seal opened up the seven trumpets, the seventh trumpet now opens up the seven bowls. Ultimately, as you look at this chart, you will see that we are now in the second half of the tribulation period, and the end of these seven bowls is going to bring the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So the first is found in verse 2: 'The first went, and poured out his bowl upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image'. So the first bowl judgement was poured out into the earth, it became a loathsome and malignant sore upon those who had the mark of the beast and worshipped his image. That is the first judgement on the land - that signifies that it's aimed specifically at earth dwellers, those who have taken the mark of the beast. Now in some measure this is a fulfilment of one of those angelic pronouncements we heard in chapter 14, if you turn back to it just for a moment, verses 9 to 11. You remember it was said there that: 'If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture upon the earth'. Here we see it happening: an affliction, a grievous malignant sore upon the body. It literally translates that it's a 'foul, evil sore' - probably a plague of some ulcer of kinds.
That's the first bowl judgement, then we have the second in verse 3: 'The second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea'. This is a bowl poured out into the sea, blood like that of a dead man, everything in the sea died - that is the second bowl judgement. Now imagine this: turning the water so that every living thing that was left alive - remember a lot of living things have already died during this tribulation period, but whatever has been left from previous judgements is now killed. Just try and conceive the stench and disease that will result, it's unimaginable!
Then the third bowl judgement, this time verses 4 to 7: 'And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy', or they deserve it. 'And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments'. This bowl is poured into the rivers and the springs of water. In other words, the fresh water that remains is now being contaminated and turned into blood. This is a judgement that avenges the saints of God - not just the tribulation saints, but every saint of God, every martyr and every prophet that has ever lived - but it is a direct answer to the prayer of the tribulation saints in chapter 6 and verse 10. You remember that they called out for vengeance and said: 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?'. Verse 6 of chapter 15 says they are worthy of this, they deserve it because they shed the blood of Christ's saints and prophets.
In verses 8 and 9 we come to the fourth bowl judgement: 'And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory'. So this bowl is poured upon the sun, and there is an extraordinary heat that goes forth and it scorches people with fire - so it could be a severe sunburn or solar radiation - but we're told how the people respond from this bowl judgement. We read that the human response is: they blasphemed God's name and they did not repent, they did not give glory to God! Imagine this! Now remember, if you were to turn back to chapter 9 verse 21, when the sixth trumpet was blown, we saw the same reaction of men there. Chapter 9 verse 21, after that trumpet judgement: 'Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts'. Again we're going to see in chapter 16 verse 11, in just a moment or two, that from another of these bowls they 'blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds'. So these judgements do not bring mankind to repentance in any shape or manner, but in fact it settles men in their depraved hatred of Almighty God! God is showing us the depravity of man's heart, and that the judgement that is coming is only just.
The fifth bowl judgement is found in verses 10 and 11: 'And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven', there it is, as we read, 'because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds'. This bowl is poured upon the throne of the beast, and so the kingdom of the beast is becoming dark - but again the human response, what is it? They gnawed their tongues because of pain, they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores - no repentance, blasphemy! The whole domain of darkness is blacked out. Now that's a similar darkness to one of the plagues that came upon Egypt in Exodus 10, it's an abnormal darkness accompanied by some type of agony in mankind that causes people to gnaw their tongues because of pain - but once again the response is blasphemy.
I'm telling you, it really is astounding, isn't it? If there is a lesson for believers in Christ tonight, it is that we need to make the most of the time that is left, while we are in an age of grace, while it is easier for men and women to repent of sin and believe the gospel. The sixth bowl judgement, verses 12 to 16: 'And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon'.
This sixth bowl judgement is poured out upon the great river Euphrates. It dries up the river and prepares the approach of the kings of the East. There is delusion, or miracles of some kind, out of the mouth of the Satanic trinity - that is the dragon, Satan; the beast, the antichrist; and the false prophet, that false prophet who will try to deceive the world into worshipping the antichrist, and therefore worshipping the devil. These three unclean frogs come - spirit demons - performing these signs in order to gather the world for a judgement at Armageddon in Israel. So think about this: the great river Euphrates is being dried up to prepare the approach of the kings of the East, from the East - and literally the word there is 'the kings from the rising sun'. So the kings of the Orient are going to approach toward Israel, down a dried up river Euphrates, supernaturally dried up for their approach. Verses 13 and 14 tell us that these frog-like spirits are going to achieve this through a satanic deception - it might be through miracles, it might be through some kind of anti-Semitic propaganda that will bring the kings of the East against Israel, and deceive other world rulers to lure them into this battle of Armageddon. But the whole point of the phraseology here is to give us the impression that God, God is clearly bringing these things together, and baiting the antichrist, and drawing him into a trap - because this is not called the battle of Armageddon, it is called 'the battle of that great day of God Almighty', this is God's battle!
We read of it, what's happening here, in Joel 3 verses 9 to 12 - listen carefully to it: 'Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about'. Now, verse 16 is what we often speak of as the battle of Armageddon, but the Bible never - not once - speaks of the battle of Armageddon. You see, Armageddon as a name comes from two Hebrew words: 'Har' and 'meggedon', which speaks, 'Har' speaks in Hebrew of 'hill' or 'mountain', and 'meggido' or 'meggedon' is the place where there is this hill or mountain, and 'meggido' or 'meggedon' means 'place of troops', 'place of slaughter'.
It's the plain of Esdraelon, that's another name for it, or the Valley of Jezreel. It's an area 14 miles wide and 20 miles long. Napoleon Bonaparte said it's the most natural battlefield of the whole earth. It was the scene of many Old Testament battles, Barak defeated the Canaanites there, Gideon the Midianites, King Saul lost his life in 1 Samuel 31. History shows it has been a battlefield: Titus in the Roman army used it as a natural corridor, as did the Crusaders in the Middle Ages approaching Palestine. Latterly the British General Allenby used it to defeat the Turks when Britain took over Palestine in 1917. Now when you're standing on Mount Carmel, that's the Mount were Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal - and I've stood and looked exactly at that site - it is incredible. You can only see a certain distance, and it's not hard to imagine the armies of the world gathering there at Megiddo. Not for the battle of Armageddon - Meggido is only the place where they will gather - it's better to talk about 'the campaign of Armageddon', because there's going to be a whole lot of battles that will compass the whole length of Israel.
We saw, didn't we, that 1600 furlongs, about 184 miles, is approximately the distance from Armageddon to Edom just down here in the South, where the blood will flow from the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Verse 14 tells us: 'For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty'. It's His battle! Now that war will consist of several battles, and those several battles will usher in the second coming of our Lord Jesus. Now, it all starts - I want you to follow with me slowly, because a lot of people don't know these facts - it all starts when the nations of the world assembled at Megiddo, and that's what we read. They will be deceived to come against Israel, and all the armies of the world will descend upon Megiddo.
Jeremiah 49:13-14 tells us of something else that is going to happen. Now follow with me: all the armies come to Megiddo, right? They start to move down towards Jerusalem, because - as we saw from chapter 12 last week - the devil's aim and objective has always been to wipe out the Jewish nation, and antichrist will want to bring a final solution to the Jewish problem, a bit like Adolf Hitler in the Second World War. So he wants to annihilate all the Jews, and we saw last week that two thirds of them will be annihilated during this period, and so he heads from Megiddo down to Jerusalem to that end: to destroy the Jews. But remember, we saw last week that a remnant would be saved - look at chapter 12 verse 16: 'And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth', and verse 14 of chapter 12, 'And to the woman were given two wings', this remnant of Israel, believing Israel, 'were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent'. Now we saw last week - and if you want to know more about it, get the tape - that many scholars believe that that place is called Bozrah. Whilst antichrist and the armies of the world are coming down from Megiddo to Jerusalem to wipe out the Jews, that remnant will flee to Bozrah - which may well be modern-day Petra - and they will be there for refuge. What will happen is: antichrist, after he sacks and destroys fallen Jerusalem, will then move from Jerusalem and chase them to Bozrah.
Now this is where we come to Jeremiah 49:13: 'For I have sworn by myself, saith the LORD, that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes. I have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent unto the heathen, saying, Gather ye together, and come against her, and rise up to the battle'. So the armies of antichrist and the world will come to Bozrah to wipe out the Jews once and for all - remember, he's doing that because he doesn't want Messiah to come, because He will come to the Jews - but at that point, that remnant of Jews will be regenerated spiritually, they will realise that the Christ who they crucified is their Saviour. They will call unto the Lord - and, as Zechariah 12:10 says: 'I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn'. At that point, in Bozrah now, when Israel the remnant believes, Christ returns - and watch this, Micah 2:12-13: 'I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men. The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate' - watch - 'and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the LORD on the head of them'.
What that is saying is that when they cry upon the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah, as antichrist is coming from a destroyed Jerusalem toward them to wipe them out, the Saviour will come to them there! Isaiah 34 teaches that, Isaiah 63 teaches it - look at it: 'Who is this that cometh from Edom', that's modern-day Jordan, 'with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden', there's the imagery again, 'the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment', a picture of Christ coming in judgement to Bozrah. It teaches that He will deliver them in Bozrah, He will travel down the valley of Jehoshaphat and there He will defeat all the armies of the world - Joel 3:2: 'I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land', Joel 3:12, 'Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about'.
Then, after all that, the Lord's victory ascent of the Mount of Olives will take place, only then. We read of it in Zechariah 14: 'His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south'. We read of it here in our chapter, Revelation 16 - now I trust you'll give me the time to look at all this, we've only a few things to cover yet, but just let me deal with it with a bit of leisure. Verse 17 through to the end, and at the very end there is a great earthquake - a great earthquake, now we'll look at that in a moment - but that great earthquake splits Jerusalem in three, and we believe that this is happening in sequence with the return of the Lord Jesus.
Now, follow the progression - I know I'm blinding you with a lot of stuff here, but I imagine it's probably new to you, or some of you anyway. You see the progression: first of all the armies of antichrist and the world gather together at Megiddo, Armageddon. They then travel from Armageddon to Jerusalem to wipe out the Jews - but a remnant are not there, they have fled to Bozrah, Petra perhaps, Edom in Jordan. So he begins to follow them there, and when they realise that he's coming, they realise that all the nations of the world are about to exterminate them. They cry out to their Messiah: 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord', they are regenerated, and at that moment of faith and life the Lord appears to them there, delivers them. Then He travels down the valley of Jehoshaphat, back to Jerusalem, where His victory ascent goes up the Mount of Olives - and as His feet land there, the city is split in three.
Now I know it's a lot to take in, but it's important to realise, I think, that the Lord is going to first appear in Bozrah to His remnant believing people. But here's the point: all history, all military, political, spiritual history is moving toward Armageddon, moving toward this moment.
We come finally to the seventh bowl judgement, verses 17 to 21. The last bowl, if you look at it, verses 17 to 21 quickly, it's poured out upon the air. There is a voice from the heavenly Temple that says: 'It is done'. The end of verse 17, look at it: 'out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done'. There is a global earthquake - that earthquake we were talking about that shakes - Jerusalem is split into three parts. The cities of the nations, including Babylon, are destroyed. Every island is removed and mountain. One hundred pound hailstones fall from heaven upon men. Now Satan is called, in Ephesians 2, the prince of the power of the air, so this bowl is being poured upon the air with flashes of lightning, sounds of thunder, peals of thunder - and it is announcing the greatest earthquake in all of human history, Satan's domain is being defeated in the air, on the earth! All the cities of the earth destroyed, his system, his world system is being eradicated.
I believe this happens at the very moment our Lord appears in His second advent. This earthquake, as we will see when we look at the millennium in a few weeks time, will cause Jerusalem to split - that great city spoken of here as Jerusalem - into three sections, preparing the way for millennial changes that will happen in the second coming. We'll read about those in Zechariah 14 - but imagine it: global judgement that is taking place. Now listen: 100 pound hailstones falling on this world from heaven - it's reminiscent of Exodus 9, the seventh plague that came upon Egypt. Just as Pharaoh and the Egyptian leaders did not repent, once again the response of unbelievers is in verse 21: the people blasphemed God, imagine it!
Incidentally, do you know what the penalty of blasphemy is in the Old Testament law? Leviticus 24, it is to be stoned, stoned to death. Here God is stoning, with hundred pound hailstones from heaven, blasphemers to death. There is a voice, and it's the voice of God, verse 17, coming out of heaven itself, saying: 'It is done'. That could be best translated: 'It has been, and will remain, done'. Do you know what it's the same as? John 19:30: 'It is finished'. God's wrath being poured out upon His only begotten Son, and here we have God's wrath being poured out on an unbelieving world - and God will punctuate the completion of His wrath in this devastating earthquake; and then, think of it, it will all be over! All the injustice, all the wickedness, all man's rebelliousness - over!
Now, I've got to apply this in a couple of seconds - if I haven't done already - but here's three P's for you to think on your way home. One: what does this mean for us? We've got to preach! We have got to preach, knowing the terror of the Lord we need to persuade men, while repentance and faith is still possible - do you agree? Preach, secondly: persevere. Even in the most adverse suffering, even in persecution for our faith, there has always been a beast to oppress God's people throughout church history, there has always been a false prophet trying to lead God's people away and astray to worship others - but there is a day coming, as the Psalmist says, 'Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision'.
Persevere, this shows us the devil can be overcome - but more, will be overcome! Hallelujah! The Lord can come to us in crisis even now by His Spirit, the way He will come to His remnant people at the very end. Preach, persevere, but thirdly and finally: be pure. Now I believe the church will not be on the earth at this point of time, but there will be Jewish and Gentile believers here who will have had to endure antichrist's rule. The admonition in verse 15 of chapter 16 to them also has an application to us: 'Behold, I come as a thief', they're not waiting for anything more to happen here at this moment, we're not now as the church, 'Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame'. Be pure, because the Lord could come for us at any time, and it behoves us to keep our lives clean: to watch, to wait, and to be faithful. Preach, persevere, be pure. Why? For the end draweth nigh.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Evangelical Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the sixteenth recording in his 'The Book Of The Revelation' series, entitled "The Seven Bowl Judgements" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
All material by David Legge is copyrighted. However, these materials may be freely copied and distributed unaltered for the purpose of study and teaching, so long as they are made available to others free of charge, and this copyright is included. This does not include hosting or broadcasting the materials on another website, however linking to the resources on preachtheword.com is permitted. These materials may not, in any manner, be sold or used to solicit 'donations' from others, nor may they be included in anything you intend to copyright, sell, or offer for a fee. This copyright is exercised to keep these materials freely available to all. Any exceptions to these conditions must be explicitly approved by Preach The Word. [Read guidelines...]