Added Details: The Judgment of the Gentiles
Revelation 15 – 16
In the Book of Revelation, the Spirit of God goes over Parts of the prophetic week three or four times.
  1. Ch. 6-11 – the full seven years, focusing on the Beast’s empire (seal + Trumpet judgments).
  2. Ch. 12-14  – the last 3.5 years, focusing on Israel
  3. Ch. 15-16 – the last 3.5 years, focusing on the Gentile nations, not limited to the beast’s empire.
  4. Ch. 17-19 – the middle and end of the week, focusing on the judgement of religious and political babylon.
ch. 20-22 cover events after the prophetic week
In ch. 15-16 the bowl judgments are poured out on the prophetic earth, but the effects go beyond the Christianized part of the world to touch the outlying nations. Note the absence of the expression “the third part”. The bowl series is more universal. For example, you could design a bomb to drop on New York City that would only affect the City. That would be like the trumpet series. However, you could design a bomb to drop on the City that would have far reaching effects, even to reach Trenton, or Philadelphia. That is like the bowl series. The Lord is called “King of nations” in Rev. 15:3, denoting a wide sphere of influence. Note that the fifth Trumpet and fifth bowl break the pattern. The 5th Trumpet jumps from the revived Roman Empire to the apostate Jews, but the 5th Bowl jumps from the Gentile nations to the Beast’s kingdom.

The Gentile Martyrs, Preparation for Vials (Rev. 15)

And I saw another sign in the heaven, great and wonderful: seven angels having seven plagues, the last; for in them the fury of God is completed. v.1 The seven last plagues – some feel this is a hint that the seven bowls come chronologically after the trumpets. However, the verse goes on to say that they complete the wrath of God. It is not inconsistent with other prophetic scriptures that this series is going over the last 3.5 years giving added details which “complete” the wrath that God has for the earth. The wrath of the Lamb follows the wrath of God, beginning when the Lord appears. It seems that this is a different “seven Angels” from Rev. 8:2.
¶ 2 And I saw as a glass sea, mingled with fire, and those that had gained the victory over the beast, and over its image, and over the number of its name, standing upon the glass sea, having harps of God. v.2 The sea of glass – an allusion to the sea in solomon’s temple. not water now, because there is no more need of washing in heaven. they have reached a “fixed state of purity.” The sea of gentile nations is tumultuous on earth… but all is tranquil in heaven. “Mingled with fire,” indicative of the fiery tribulation out of which they had come, See 1 Peter 1:6-7. This is a martred portion of the remnant. Most likely gentiles because the context in ch.15-16 is gentiles. They got victory over the beast by giving up their lives rather than worship the beast. Heaven has a different evaluation of their death than the world does… victory. Having harps – shows that they are praising god.

The twofold song of the martyred remnant (vv.3-4)

3 And they sing the song of Moses bondman of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and wonderful are thy works, Lord God Almighty; righteous and true are thy ways, O King of nations.
  1. The song of Moses (v.3b – HIS WORKS) – earthly deliverance from their enemies. A reference to the song of Exodus 15, not Deut. 32. The works of “Jehovah Elohim Shaddai” – the God of the Old Testament.
  2. The song of the Lamb (vV.3c-4 – HIS WAYS) – the subject is the exaltation of the Lord, rejoicing that he will have His rightful place in the scene of His rejection. They rejoice that the Lord is about to be worshipped by all nations.
4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all nations shall come and do homage before thee; for thy righteousnesses have been made manifest. v.4 incredulous that someone wouldn’t fear him. The only thing that will bring about a change in the gentiles is the manifestation of God’s righteous acts of judgment. This is one of the great lessons from Dan. 4. See also Isa. 26:9. They see through the judgment to the coming blessing.
vv.3-4 The vial judgments are God’s answer to their song.

The preparations for the bowl judgments (vv.5-16:1)

¶ 5 And after these things I saw, and the temple of the tabernacle of witness in the heaven was opened; v.5 the Seal and trumpet judgments flow from the throne of God, whereas the vials flow from the temple of God, showing that they are more sever, as they flow from the holy character of god. See Rev. 11:19A.
6 and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, clothed in pure bright linen, and girded about the breasts with golden girdles. v.6 the temple has been opened for judgment, not for grace. The clothing of the angels speaks of the divine righteousness in which God will judge the world. Girded at the breasts – showing that natural affection (mercy) for the earth cannot be shown.
7 And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls, full of the fury of God, who lives to the ages of ages. v.7 The four living creatures are always found in an administrative capacity, facilitating God’s Judgments. The word “vials” in KJV, means bowls or cups, and is taken from the vessels used for pouring out drink-offerings, etc., before the Lord.” – w. Kelly. A vial is a narrow tube… a bowl can hold a lot of liquid. Also, They are full.
8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power: and no one could enter into the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. V.8 “FilleD with smoke” – God’s glory and power in judgment was now in full action. “No one could enter” – worship was not possible, Intercession was of no avail. incense and blood would be useless to prevent the coming storm of divine judgment. Smoke often pictures God’s offended majesty against sin – Psalm 18:8.
three distinct steps in preparation:
  1. v.6 the angels are commissioned and equipped in the sanctuary.
  2. v.7 the living creatures supply golden Bowls of God’s fury.
  3. Rev. 16:1 God himself gives the command to execute.
Correlation of trumpets and bowls. There is a high degree of correlation between the trumpets and bowls. The first of each series has to do with the earth, the second with the sea, the third with the rivers and fountains of water, and the fourth with the sun. The fifth trumpet is the delusion of apostate Jews, the fifth bowl is the delusion of the Beast’s empire. The sixth trumpet is a summary of the Assyrian’s influence on the beast’s empire, the sixth bowl gives the precise moment of the attack. The seventh in each series is the appearing of Christ. The seventh trumpet is a summary of the Day of the Lord. The seventh bowl is the specific event that will accompany his appearing, namely the destruction of Political Babylon (the Beast). Some have thought that the bowls are "under" the seventh trumpet just as the trumpets are "under" the seventh seal. However, the correlation between these bowls and trumpets would indicate that the bowls parallel the trumpets.
And I heard a great voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, Go and pour out the seven bowls of the fury of God upon the earth. v.1 The voice of God himself. these bowls are poured out upon the prophetic earth, yet we will see that their effects reach the outlying nations.

1st bowl: moral pain on the followers of the beast (16:2)

¶ 2 And the first went and poured out his bowl on the earth; and there came an evil and grievous sore upon the men that had the mark of the beast, and those who worshipped its image. v.2 apparently there will be those in the outlying nations who take the mark of the beast. They are included in this judgment. The “Earth” here is the organized nations, c.p. v.1. A “grievous sore” – similar to the sixth Egyptian plague (blisters – Ex. 9:10-11). A personal plague on the Egyptians… a disgusting and loathsome disease (see Deut. 28:27, 35). Predominantly in a moral sense here, although it may be physical as well. It is a moral sore which will cause intense mental suffering. They feel the evil they are under. Perhaps it will be the terrible affliction of a guilty conscience?

2nd bowl: apostacy of all nations who reject the gospel (16:3)

¶ 3 And the second poured out his bowl on the sea; and it became blood, as of a dead man; and every living soul died in the sea.v.3 The “sea” the masses in a state of turmoil give up the profession of religion. “AS of a dead man” – All pretense of moral life is gone. Souls will either believe the gospel of the Kingdom, or they will apostatize.

3rd Bowl: Natural Sources of Joy are turned to misery (16:4-7)

¶ 4 And the third poured out his bowl on the rivers, and on the fountains of waters; and they became blood. v.4 The “Rivers” – fixed channels of refreshment, the way of life, is All affected by the apostacy. The things that define culture become evil all through. Life will be marked by misery and frustration.

God’s righteousness aknowleged (vv.5-7)

5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying, Thou art righteous, who art and wast, the holy one, that thou hast judged so; Vv.5-6 the “angel of the waters” may be an angle that god has set to watch over the masses. This angel has seen the evil done by men down through the millennia, rejecting the prophets, rejecting the pleading of the Lord’s voice. Now these men are going to get what they have got coming. The angel speaks up as a solemn witness… the Lord is righteous for executing this judgment. The Lord has seemed to Slumber for a long time. But now he awakes to avenge the blood of the martyrs.
6 for they have poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; they are worthy. v.6 a solemn irony… Blood for blood, this is justice. “They are worthy” – the apostates have worked hard to earn their awful doom.
7 And I heard the altar saying, Yea, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments. v.7 The brazen altar (speaks of the righteous claims of God in judgment) which had witnessed the martyrs’ blood is said to cry out as a witnesses to the righteousness of god’s judgment. from the first book (Gen. 4:10) to the last book (Rev. 16:7) we hear the cry of the blood of the martyrs, connected with the altar (rev. 6:9), which speaks of the righteous judgment of god. See Psalm 19:9.

4th Bowl: Governmental Apostacy results in oppression (16:8-9)

¶ 8 And the fourth poured out his bowl on the sun; and it was given to it to burn men with fire. v.8 the “sun” – supreme government over the Gentiles. This government has already apostatized in the 4th Trumpet, and here we find the effect is the oppression of men with intolerable tyranny. 

9 And the men were burnt with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, who had authority over these plagues, and did not repent to give him glory. v.9 when these men are put under pressure from the apostate governments, The men lash out against God, whom they know is in control of these judgments.

5th bowl: Deep Spiritual Darkness Covers the Empire (16:10-11)

¶ 10 And the fifth poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast; and its kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues with distress, v.10 As with the Seals and Trumpets, it is evident that the fifth, sixth, and seventh vials are apart from the preceding four. The judgment falls upon the throne of the beast and upon his kingdom – not upon the beast himself, who is apparently untouched by these vials. He is reserved for the judgment of the Lord Jesus at his appearing. The darkness originates from the abyss (see rev. 9:2) but it is of God. Men will become decidedly against god… there will be no more agnostics.
11 and blasphemed the God of the heaven for their distresses and their sores, and did not repent of their works. v.11 Their hearts are hardened against God, rather than softened. In the 4th vial they blampheme the name of god, here it is the God of the heaven. they know who is responsible for these judgments. they still don’t own him as the god of the earth.

6th bowl: The kings of the east invade the Beast’s Empire (16:12-16)

¶ 12 And the sixth poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates; and its water was dried up, that the way of the kings from the rising of the sun might be prepared. v.12 the Euprates was the eastern border of the old roman empire. The Euphrates is an ancient geographical barrier, a natural separation between the west and the east. The way is now opened for the king of the North to sweep down through israel. Perhaps The barrier is also removed for the Russian confederacy to come down 75 days later.

13 And I saw 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, as frogs; v.13 three unclean spirits, the sum of all evil influences:
  1. Satan’s direct power as antagonistic of Christ
  2. the power of the last empire, the beast
  3. The power of the false prophet, the Antichrist
like frogs” – they live in the mud, loathsome creatures. They come “out of the mouth” of the false triad, showing that they are the source of these influences.
14 for they are the spirits of demons, doing signs; which go out to the kings of the whole habitable world to gather them together to the war of that great day of God the Almighty. v.14 The nations will not be aware that they are being gathered together to the great war, but that is god’s purpose. This confirms that Armageddon is a general collision of the kings of “the whole habitable world”. Not only are the western powers arrayed for the war, but the eastern also:
  1. The Beast and his Western Confederacy
  2. The King of the North and his Arab Confederacy
  3. Gog and his Atheistic Russian Confederacy

vv.13-14 It is not the gospel, but evil that will unite the world.

(Voice of the Lord “Behold I Come as a Thief!”) (v.15)

15 (Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches and keeps his garments, that he may not walk naked, and that they may not see his shame.) v.15 The fact of the Lord’s coming “as a thief” is mentioned five times in scripture, and it always refers to the appearing (Matt. 24:43; 1 Thess. 5:2-4; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 3:3; Rev. 16:15). The idea of coming as a thief involves unwanted surprise. The Lord will not come for His saints as a thief, but rather as a bridegroom. He will come upon a world morally asleep, but gathered together against god. “blessed” – A word to the believer. The Lord’s appearing Will begin “the day of manifestation”… those who are watchful will be blessed.
16 And he gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armagedon. v.16 “Meggido” (hebrew form of Armageddon) was a place in the old testament where god came forth to fight against those who raised themselves against him, see Jud. 5:19-20 (see 2 Chrn. 35:22, Zech. 12:11). It is the area in Israel called the valley of Jezreel, or the Plain of Esdraelon, where the Lord will first appear, Isa. 9:1-2. Armageddon is not a single battle, but a series of battles, a “war“, that will be fought during “the indignation.” Note: “he gathered” – it is God’s hand at work.

7th bowl: Appearing of Christ, Beast’s Navy Destroyed (16:17-21)

¶ 17 And the seventh poured out his bowl on the air; and there came out a great voice from the temple of the heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. v.17 the air is the moral atmosphere of the world, The realm of Satan (Eph. 2:2). The 7th bowl is the consummation of judgment on the organised systems of evil. “the temple and the throne” – uniting the series of judgments up to this points: Rev. 6-11 are judgments from the throne connected with creation, Rev. 12-16 are from the temple connected with the holy Character of god. “It is done” – we have reached the climax, the very moment of the Lord’s appearing.
18a And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders; v.18A Symbols of the judgment of god. See Rev. 4:5; Rev. 8:5; Rev. 11:19.
18b and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, such an earthquake, so great. v.18b There will be an abundance of earthquakes at this time (Mark 13:8) but this is “a greate earthquake“, vast and unparalleled violent disruption of all government. This will be the same time that the beast and anti-christ will be taken and cast into the lake of fire by the lord. Also, at this time the angels will go out and gather the tares to be burned.
19 And the great city was divided into three parts; v.19a referring to the fall of the revived roman empire – a “great city” compared to the nations’ cities. Also, three parts indicates the roman earth is in view. See rev. 17:18.
19b and the cities of the nations fell: v.19b These would be the other power allied with the beast or opposed to him. All comes crashing down.
19c and great Babylon was remembered before God to give her the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. v.19c We might wonder, wasn’t babylon already fallen (Rev. 14:8)? Chapter 17-18 will next be brought in to explain the two aspects of bablyon. The false church has already fallen (Rev. 14:8) in an organizational way, but the persons continue within the EMPIRE (Rev. 17:18) UNTIL the appearing of Christ (Rev. 18:20-24). God “remembers” to give her the cup of judgment that he had promised her. A.C. Brown called this “the most perplexing problem of the book.”
20 And (1) every island fled, and (2) mountains were not found; v.20 All earthly refuges will fail to hide men from the storm of judgment; (1) financial refuges, and (2) governmental refuges.
21 and a great hail, as of a talent weight, comes down out of the heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of hail, for the plague of it is exceeding great. v.21 Sharp, sudden, and crushing judgment from heaven. The Jewish talent was 125 lbs. This may not be literal hail. But after all this direct judgment from God because of their sins, men still twist it around and blaspheme God because of the plague.
From the end of chapter 16, the Book of Revelation picks up chronologically with Rev. 19:11.
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