Chapters 12-14 included the picture of the woman (Israel), the dragon (Satan), the first beast (the anti- christ), the second beast or the false prophet (who promotes worship of the anti—christ), the 144,000 (the church), the three angels who announce God’s judgment to the world, and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who stands triumphantly in the midst of His people on Mount Zion. It is the time of the second coming , beginning with the final judgement and the great harvest. Revelation 15 serves as the introduction to chapter 16, the “7 bowl judgments or 7 plagues “ which are associated with that final harvest – the great wine press of the wrath of God (14:19). Revelation 15:1 indicates that with these seven plagues the wrath of God is completed. It will be the end of the world as we know it.
We have seen that the Revelation to John consists of a series of cycles of judgment that come with ever increasing intensity , beginning with the first cycle, the seal judgments (Rev. 6:1-8:1) bringing death and destruction upon one quarter (25 %) of the earth’s people. The second cycle of judgment, the trumpet judgments (Rev. 8:1 -11:19) is even more intense than the seal judgments , bringing death and destruction to one third (33%) of the earth’s people. The bowl judgments announced in Ch.15 and described in Ch. 16, bring complete destruction upon the entire world.  It will be the end of the world as we know it.
Each of the cycles of judgment (the seal, the trumpets and the bowls), begins from the vantage point of the heavenly throne. All of these three cycles (which cover the period between Christ’s ascension and His descension) speak about the same thing , but with ever increasing narrower focus .
Think about this – approximately 2000 years have passed since the ascension of the Lord Jesus. Do you think that we can be far from this event ? Let the text in Rev. 16:15 continuously remind you of this fact. A recent movie called “ 2012” (based on Mayan writings and calendar) shows us that even pagans have a foreboding that this world will end soon.
· In this chapter we will discover what will happen to the world’s unbelieving people at the time of Christ’s second coming.
· Note the similarity between this and the Exodus 7:14 – 12:32 judgments. In the Exodus judgments God made a distinction between the Egyptians and His people. So will it be at the end.
The judgment of the 7 bowls comes from the temple in heaven (16:1) “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go, pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” This indicates that everything about to happen will take place according to God’s plan. It is also the long awaited moment for those in Rev. 6:9-11, who had been slain for the Word of God, and who are waiting under the altar in heaven for justice to be done : “how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth ?” This is the time when God answers their prayer!
The Seven Bowl Judgments :
The first angel pours out God’s wrath on all those who have worshiped the beast and who bore His mark (16:2). Like the painful sores of the sixth plague which came upon Egypt (cf. Exodus 9:8-12), so too, this people will suffer the wrath of God.
The second bowl judgment (16:3) in which the sea becomes like blood and lifeless, borrows its imagery from the first plague upon Egypt, when the Nile turned into blood. This also corresponds with the second trumpet judgment in Rev 8:8 where a third of the sea had been turned to blood. But here in 16:3 everything dies – again an indication of the finality of God’s wrath upon all who have despised His Son.
The third bowl judgment (16:4-7) is similar to the second , except that the rivers and springs became bloody and lifeless, symbolic of the fact that God’s judgment now extends even to the sources of life. Note the response from the angel who executes this judgment (vv 5-7). This reminds us of Deut. 32:4,
Moses reminds Israel that Israel’s God , “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” Here , the fact that God’s people who have suffered greatly at the hands of the people of this world ( in the hands of Satan , the antichrist and the false prophet ) is not forgotten. The abusers of God’s people will now be forced to drink their own blood . This is the picture that we find in Isaiah 49:26 : “I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am the LORD your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
Now note the response from the altar (i.e. those in Rev. 6:9-11) as they respond in 16:7 : “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, true and just are your judgments.” Here is the assurance that God will avenge all those who have died for the cause of His name. The suffering and persecuted church is reminded that she is not forgotten by her God. The day of His terrible judgment is coming. Justice will be done!
The fourth bowl judgment (16: 8-9) continues the outpoured wrath of God as it reveals an intensification of the sun’s heat, scorching the enemies of God and the amazing thing is that these people that are so afflicted still dare to curse God, refusing to repent or to give God the glory due to His Name . In this they are as stubborn as the Egyptian Pharaoh at the time of the 10 plagues .
The fifth bowl judgment (16:10-11) reflects the 9th plague upon Egypt (darkness- while the people of Israel had light where they lived Ex 10:23) and yet, despite the agony which comes upon the people of the earth, who gnaw their tongues in anguish, they continue to curse God and refuse to repent.
The sixth bowl judgment (16:12-16) sets the scene for the final great battle of Armageddon. The symbolic barrier–the Euphrates River- the eastern border of the Roman empire is breached , allowing a massive army to invade the territory of Mt Zion from the east. [See the similarity with the 6th trumpet in 9:13ff in which a vast army crosses the Euphrates to kill a third of mankind]. God’s power to dry up waters has been shown on a number of occasions in Israel’s history - the Red sea ( Ex 14:21ff); the Jordan (Josh 3:14ff) cf. also Isa 44:27. With the symbolic barrier of the Euphrates removed, the enemies of God now rush to assault the church, only to find themselves totally defeated by the direct intervention of God.
The kings of the east–later identified in verse 14 as kings of the whole world, now advance against God’s people because they have been deceived by the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet (see 16:13) out of whose mouth came “three unclean (evil) spirits that looked like frogs “. V. 14 tells us that “they are demonic spirits of demons performing signs, who go around to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty” , which will be the same day and event which is spoken about in v. 15 “Behold I am coming like a thief!...” THE SUDDEN APPEARANCE OF OUR LORD JESUS as told in Matt 24:44 and 25:13 (see also 1 Thess. 5:2,4 ; 2 Peter 3:10; Rev 3:3)
The Lord Jesus has warned Christians to be alert to this happening. This exposes us to the real threat that many in the modern church are facing – namely that we are sleeping, just like the five foolish virgins in Matt. 25:1-13.
Given what follows in Revelation 17-18, where the great prostitute with her seductive ways is exposed, Christians are warned not to be caught naked and exposed (v.15) in bed with this prostitute .
The final battle of Armageddon:
Many commentators believe that Armageddon is a reference to the plains of Meggido, north-east of Jerusalem, the site of several important battles in Israel’s history (cf. Judges 5:19; 2 Kings 23:29). A very common interpretation is that at the end of the age, the armies of the world would gather on these plains to destroy the nation of Israel, or to fight against the armies of heaven, when Jesus Christ destroys them.
But many recent commentators think that the reference to Armageddon, has nothing to do with the plain of Meggido, and nothing to do with a war to get rid of the Jews etc. Rather, it is argued that Armageddon should be understood as Har-Magedon, or “the Mount of Gathering” . In Zechariah 12:3 and Ch.14, the prophet speaks of the final battle occurring at Jerusalem ( Mt Zion) , not at Meggido. Har-Magedon, (the Mount of Gathering) is therefore, much more likely a reference to Mount Zion, the earthly counterpart of the heavenly temple gathering. We have already seen this in Revelation 14, where the Lord Jesus stands triumphantly on Mount Zion among His people.
If this is true, then this is not a description of a literal military battle in which these armies fight against the armies of God . It is unlikely that the Christian church will ever have an army like this! What we have here is an image of the kings of the earth being gathered together by the dragon Satan to wage war against Mount Zion, which is symbolic of the church of Jesus Christ.
The big looser on this occasion will be Satan and his allies. It is the same event of which we shall read later in Rev. 19:19-21, where John sees the beast and the false prophet being thrown into the lake of fire. It is also described in Revelation 20:9-10, where those deceived by Satan, after he is released from the Abyss, “marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them,  and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
It is certainly correct to think of Armageddon as the final and ultimate battle between Christ and his enemies. But this battle has nothing to do with the plains of Meggido, the nation of Israel, or the armies of the world fighting against Christ and his physical army. John is giving us an apocalyptic vision of Satan’s final assault upon the church (also known as Mount Zion, Har Magedon, the Mount of Assembly), an assault which is crushed by Jesus Christ at his return to earth in judgment – simply with the breath of his mouth (2 Thess. 2:8). Martin Luther said in his hymn “ A Mighty Fortress is our God” … concerning Satan : “ one little word shall fell him!” And so it shall be that on that day, Satan and all his associates together with the kings and nations who serve them, will be thrown into the lake of fire.
This is judgment day, when God’s wrath is completed. It will be the end of the world as we know it.
The seventh bowl judgment (16:17-21) begins with these words : “The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple , from the throne, saying, `It is done!’ Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a great earthquake,” already mentioned in Rev. 6:12-14. (cf. Zechariah 14:3-5 ). It is an unequalled earthquake that causes the city of rebellious man, metaphorically called Babylon to split into three parts , along with the cities of the nations and indeed the whole world . From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell on people. And they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.
The seventh bowl describes the destruction of Babylon , and John will speak about this in greater detail in chapters 17 &18 .
The final outcome of this battle is clear – even though it is tense to begin with. Just when it appears
as if Satan will overcome the church with an overwhelming army , Jesus Christ will return and destroy the dragon and his allies , casting them all in the lake of fire where they will be tormented forever and ever. Satan’s ambitions will die where the Lord Jesus died - on Mt Zion - the Lamb of God , slain for our sins , will receive His accounting .
· God’s people, (the spiritual Zion) must remain alert , ever watching for the Lord’s return.
· We must avoid the seductive ways of the great prostitute , lest we be caught naked and be shamefully exposed on the day of Christ Jesus.
· Jesus Christ will return like a thief and crush all his enemies and deliver his people from Satan.
· With the saints in heaven, we will finally rejoice , “Yes, Lord God the Almighty, just and true are your judgments.”
WHAT YOU MUST DO IN THESE DAYS :
Jesus says : “Watch and pray” ( Matt 24,25). Keep your eyes in the Bible and be alert. Pray always . Make sure that your eyes are focused on the Lord Jesus and not on the world. Stay close to the Word. Make sure that you obey God’s precepts ; don’t compromise ; keep short accounts with sin ; use the protective network of the church ( Mt Zion) to stay encouraged . Don’t be distant from the church. Be a faithful worshipper. Learn from faithful Bible exposition and always pray with your brothers and sisters in the Lord that you may not fall into temptation, and that you may not fall asleep ( i.e. become apathetic / or fall away) at this time.
 This, of course, means that the return of Jesus Christ is the day of final judgment, a point which is very problematic for pre-millenialists, who believe that the final judgment does not occur until the thousand years (the millennium) are over.
 All those who have not believed in Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
 Israel’s enemies Assyria and Babylon had lived beyond the Euphrates. In the time of John, the Euphrates was regarded
the eastern border of the Roman empire, and therefore, the edge of civilization itself.