Thoughts and Applications for Revelation 21:9-27

Consider that these precious gemstones were the best of the best; there was nothing more valuable for an ancient person to conceive of or to pursue further. This combination of jewels, for the Hebrews, was reserved only for Aaron and then the high priests that followed. This splendor was beyond monetary worth; it represented a relationship and a duty that is now available for us all. God’s glory, referring to our intimacy with God, is what is most precious—not the stones that merely represent His preciousness!  

Reflect on the magnificent beauty of what is described. It is heaven or is it the Church? Literalists see it as heaven, and the non-literalists see it as the role of the Church; fights are waged over it. But, biblical imagery often has more than one point to convey and this is an example of that. It is both, in my humble opinion; it is heaven as best as mere human words can present it for us, and it is what God asks us to be, to show His splendor for His glory as we lead and manage His church. So, the real issue at stake here it this: do we reflect His glory and holiness or do we stay in the night and darkness? Be the light bearer! This is what our Lord and Savior, who has created heaven for us, asks us to be in the meantime.  

Questions to ponder: 

  1. How does your church reflect the glory and holiness of Christ? Or, does your church stay in the night of darkness? 
  1.  Chris is the light bearer (John 8:12); what does it mean for you to be the light bearer for Christ? What about your church? Why does the Church fail so significantly with that?
  1.  How does godly character result from endurance? What does our Lord and Savior, who has created heaven for us, ask us to do and be in the meantime?
  1.  Reflect on the magnificent beauty of what is described in this passage. Now, consider and pray about ways you and your church can display His splendor for His glory as you lead and manage His church. When and how will you do this?

© 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

The Two Prevailing Views of Revelation 21:9-27

 The Two Prevailing Views: (Chapters twenty-one and twenty-two deal with the literal versus the non-literal interpretation of Scripture)

 

The Literalist View: They see this passage as a very literal description of New Jerusalem which is Heaven being illustrated—the eternal home for Christians. This is about our inherence and hope, what is to come, about living in the glory of God for eternity. Some see this a wooden, literal description of heaven, and others as a best-as-can-be representation of it. Measure the city is seen as the proof text to this as referring to heaven.

 

The Non-Literalist View: They see this passage as obviously not literal, but rather symbolic as God dwells among us. They say much of this passage draws from Isaiah 60, and it was not meant to be literal then, thus probably is not meant to be literal for us now, either. How can a person breathe on a high mountain? Or, these dimensions of the city would be too small and/or impractical due to its architectural inconstancies to our understanding of natural laws and physics. This New Jerusalem is not a description of Heaven, but rather the role and purpose of the Church to be the light bearers of Christ. Since the Holy of Holies is the tabernacle of God as He met with humanity, now the Church is what God uses as the means of dispensing His sacraments and modeling His holiness that He calls us to model to others. The Church is God’s representation of His earthly presence as denoted by the statement the names of the twelve apostles (Eph. 2:2-21; Heb. 10:11).

 

The point in these views? Perhaps both views are what John had in mind and what the Spirit has for us. A description of heaven is something that words can’t convey, but we need this hope and wonder. If we try the best we can, we still may not be able to grasp its reality; however, we can grasp its hope to help us through our daily grind of life. Thus, John lays out heaven so we can see its wonders and perfection. Furthermore, this is also what the Church needs to do in the meantime—represent God on earth. Oh, how we fail so greatly with that!

Exegetical look into Revelation 21:15-27

• Measuring rod. This referred to a surveyor’s tool, usually made from the cane plant, a type of bamboo that grew beside the Jordan River, and grew to a consistent 20 feet, hence why it was used in this way. Here, it is gold, referring to the eminence and awe of God and His promises to us (Ezek. 40:2-4; 43:10-11; Zech. 2:1-2).

• Measure the city. This term refers to God’s omniscience (He is all knowing)—that He cares and is active and involved in our lives, both personally and collectively as a Church. This also refers to God’s power and ability, and that all things are under His control; thus, it also meant hope and staying power so we and John’s people can have endurance for the future. This meant a lot to a persecuted people (Isa. 54:2-3; Ezek. 41:7; 48:35).

• Laid out like a square/furlongs means “symmetry,” and that God’s presence is always with us! God’s intimate dwelling place is absolute perfection; our Heaven is too! These dimensions are obviously not literal; rather it is a depiction of perfection, total excellence. The Temple’s inner sanctum—the holy of holies—was a perfect cube, which was a mere refection thereof (1 Kings 6:20; Ezek. chaps 40-41; 48:16, 32-34; Rev. 22:4).

• Each gate made of a single pearl. Here is a much-heard expression, the “pearly Gates,” which means “absolutely pure.”

• The city of pure gold… as glass. The Jewish mindset then believed that saying how vast and magnificent was the Temple was a way of praising God. This also refers to how the glory of God reflects through and through, and how people praise God. (Psalm 48:12-13; Ezek. 40:3-42:20; Zech 2:1-5).
 
• Precious stone also alludes to the twelve tribes, represented by the twelve jewels on Aaron’s breastplate; here it means God’s people. This is very astounding and elaborate in human terms, perhaps referring to His Throne; our heaven to be is more precious and elaborate than we could ever imagine. The twelve signifies the twelve tribes and God’s people. This also referred to righteousness and holiness displaying God’s glory (Ex. 28:17-21; Josh. 4:2-3; Isa. 54:11-12; Rev. 17:4).

• Street of the city was of pure gold. The language suggests that being well planned out is the theme of the great Roman cites. This also means holy and that nothing can mock God. This is also a character statement suggesting that godly character comes from endurance, as a path in our walk with God, and our way of life for the here and now too. It is interesting to note that if all impurities were remove from gold, it would be translucent (Prov. 4:18; Isa. 35:8; 54:11-12; Acts 14:22; Rev. 11:8; a similar description is found in Tobit 13).

• Temple. The Temple of God represented God’s presence on Earth and hope for His people. This is not where He lives, as He is omnipresent and thus cannot be confined; rather, it is His representative and a place where people God’s chosen people, can go for worship. The restoration of the Temple after the exile was extremely important and many confuse that with the Temple that needs to be restored now before Christ comes back. However, because He is our Temple, this is not the case now. Now we are in God’s home; there is no need for a temple as we are His temple now; when we die, we’ll be in the real thing (Zech. 14:21; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:21; Heb. 10:11; Rev. 4:1-5:14). 

• Sun or moon. This is a fulfillment of Isaiah 60:19-20 that so much of this passage draws from. Possibly means in context, the light of the world (Gen. 1:3; John 8:12; 2 Cor. 4:6).

• Glory. God’s is unchanged, always perfect. His light lights the world and universe. The city itself reflects God’s splendor and glory, and it both spiritually and physically illuminates, along with Temple, the wording signifying where the presence of God does dwell. This also denotes how the Church is supposed to be—glorifying God (Lev 26:11-13; Isa. 60:1-22; 66:12; Jer. 3:17; Zech. 14:16-19; Hag. 2:7-9; I Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6; Rev. 3:9; 4:6-8).

• The Nations refers to the cultural diversity of those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. God is inclusive; He loves all people (Isa. 60:3-12; Luke 13:29; Eph. 2:20).

• Bring their splendor. Refers to tribute—possibly praise and worship to God (Isa. 66:12; Jer. 3:17; Zech. 14:16-19).

• Gates will never be shut. This is also a depiction of God’s protection because gates were closed at night. There is no night or darkness either figuratively or literally. Instead of attackers, these gates receive the faithful, tributes, and blessings (Isa. 60:11, 19-20; Ezek. 46:1; Matt. 25:31-46).

• No night is associated not just with physical darkness, but with such darkness as sin, demons, thieves, sorcery, and wickedness that God shuts out and away from Him and His faithful, for He is Holy (Rev. 18:11-19).

• Nothing impure/defileth/unclean. There will be no abominations before God or His people. This refers back to that only those who purified themselves and sacrificed could enter God’s Temple, and only the High Priest—once a year—could enter the inner sanctum. Now, the real one is open to all who are His, as the whole city is His and in Him (Zech. 14:21; Joel 3:17; Matt. 7:2-5; Rom. 14:14; Heb. 10:29)!

• What is shameful refers to sin and the punishment of no entrance into Heaven. This is His divine judgment, and possibly refers to Sodom and Gomorrah (Deut. 32:22; Isa. 65:17; 66:15-22; Mal. 4:1; 1 Cor. 3:13; 2 Thess. 1:7-8; 2 Pet. 2:6; 3:7-13).

Exegetical look into Revelation 21:9-14

• Bride. There is a promise of deliverance and reward for being faithful as Christ takes the Church as His bride, and the dowry, which He paid on the cross. A bride would spare no expense to present herself in the best way possible; hence, we understand the way John uses the language here. This is not only an expression of God’s intimacy and agency with us, but also a contrast between the horror of evil and the joys of goodness. In Him, we are cleansed, saved, and redeemed. We belong to Him; thus, our church—His Church—must be sanctified to Him (Isa. 25:6-9; Matt. 22:2, 26-29; 24:21-27; 2 Cor. 11:2-3; Eph. 5:26; Col. 1:22; 1 Thess. 5:15-24; 1 Tim. 4:16; 1 John 3:3; Rev. 7:17; 19:1-10).

• Carried me away in the Spirit. This means “spiritual exaltation,” possibly as in charismatic worship. However, John did not solicit this vision; God gave it to him. The Holy Spirit provided John the visions and took him to places he could actually see. Thus, he is recording authentic images he saw in reality; this was no dream (1 Chron. 25:1-6; Psalm 48:2; Ezek. 2:2; 3:12-14, 24; 8:3; 11:1, 24; Acts 10:10; Rev. 1:10; 4:2; 17:1-3; 21:10).

• Mountain. This meant God meets man, and refers to a special meeting place between God and man exemplified by the burning bush and Moses. This also means the visibility and immenseness of God.  (Ex. 15:17; 19:1-25; Psalm 48:1; 68:15-16; Ezek. 28:14; 40:2; Joel. 2:1; Micah 4:1; Matt. 4:8; Rev. 14:1).

• Glory of God. This means God is Awesome! This is God’s majesty, beauty, eminence, power, and authority that figuratively and literally radiates from the universe. This is who God is and how He appears to man (Ex. 16:10; 24:16-17; 40:34; Isa. 6:3; 40:3; 60:1-22; Habakkuk 2:14; Zech. 2:5; John 1:14; Rev. 4:1-12; 15:8).

• Cubits…. Cubits refer to about 18 inches, the length of an average forearm in that time.

• Twelve. Twelve times twelve is also a depiction of perfection and alludes to the twelve tribes of Israel; twelve also refers to God’s people. This has nothing to do with the Zodiac (Ezek. 48:31-35; Acts 1:15-26; Eph. 2:20).

• Precious jewel indicates an image of the breastplate of Aaron’s priestly wardrobe that reflects God’s majesty and beauty. This is meant to show us the beauty and magnificence of heaven because it reflects the glory of God. This imagery can only give us a grasp of an eternal, astounding concept because our minds are not capable of understanding; thus, we associate Him with what we can know and comprehend with what precious and valuable substances that were known then. God is far more valuable and precious than any of these; He is beyond our comprehension. This imagery is not meant to express human wealth or extravagant living; this is about the glory of God and how He cares for and protects us. Even if we could pick up the jewels and put them in our pockets, there is nothing we can buy that has not already been given to us (Ex. 28:15-21; Rev. 4:3). 

• Twelve gates…foundations. This is also a depiction of God’s protection, glory, and inclusiveness. Ancient cities had walls and gates to protect its inhabitants from attack. It was security. Here, God is our security and nothing can harm us; we are protected in Him forever. This also harkens to the Promised Land, as there are no more wanderings. The twelve refers to the completeness, continuity, and community of God’s people in Christ (Ezek. 48:31-35; Rev. 7:4-8).

• City walls. This refers to protection from enemies. All the important cities had walls in the ancient world. It is not literal because God’s city has no confines (Isa. 60:18; Zech. 2:4-5).

• Names of the twelve apostles. This may signify that the city is a reflection of God as corresponding to the Church’s purpose to glorify God. This can also be an honor statement, or both (Eph. 2:20; Heb. 10:11).

Revelation 21:9-27: What are the Contexts?

 This passage is the other bookend to chapter four that shows us God’s heaven, holiness, glory, throne, power, and His purpose for all eternity! Ancient speakers would often give exaggerated, glorious praise to their city or their capital, such as Rome or Athens or Jerusalem. Here, John is using such wording to describe God’s place—heaven—that can’t be exaggerated (Isa. 60; Rev. 15:1).   

God’s purpose is also being revealed for His Church and a hope for us of things to come. All things are under Christ; His Rule is supreme in a glorified creation! He is the Deliverer and will deliver us! The climax of our eternal dwelling, New Jerusalem, unfolds before John in its lavish detail and splendor, the abode for the faithful, Heaven for all eternity, wonders surpassing wonders. This is a reflection of the Garden of Eden, our partnership and unstained relationship with God the Creator and Sustainer, and the central figure, Christ the Lamb as LORD—His radiant glory and the blessings He bestows upon us now as hope, and as reality when we are called home (Psalm 48; Ezek, chaps 40-48; Amos 9:13-15; Rom. 2:7, 5:2, 8:18-29, 11:36, 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 1:10-11; Phil. 3:21; Col. 1:15-20, 27; 1 Thess. 2:12; 2 Thess. 2:14; Heb. 2:10; 1 Pet. 5:1-10; 2 Pet. 1:19; 1 John 3:2; Rev. 11:15; and Tobit 13:9-18).  

How do righteousness and holiness display God’s glory? How do you reflect the majesty and beauty of God? How should you? 

Revelation 21:9-27

Introduction 

The Lord God Almighty is the Temple! 

God is Awesome! The angel who held the judgment bowls took John up in spirit on a tour of Heaven and showed him the wonder of wonders. It was vastly overwhelming and he had no words to express to us what he saw. He was shown the bride of the Lamb, and then taken to a great high mountain so he could see the vastness of the great city of Jerusalem descending from God. John saw God’s glory everywhere. The wonders that were seen sparkled like fine gold and twelve precious gemstones like clear jasper, sapphire, agate, emerald, onyx, carnelian, chrysalides, beryl, topaz, chrysoprase, jacinth, and amethyst. He saw its gates and walls, its foundations and all whose names are written into these structures that cannot be described. The angel measured everything for John, seeking to help him grasp all of this splendor so he can take it back as hope to his people and to us who would come later. The gates that never close were made up from one pearl, and the streets were paved with transparent gold. Yet, there was no temple as he expected; instead, it was God Himself, The Almighty, the Lamb, who was the Temple. He was so radiant by His glory that no natural or artificial light was needed—no sun or moon or lamp. Thus, the nations of earth and its leaders would come together and walk in His Light. Because of this, there was no evil, no shame, no doubt, and no dishonesty—only His true followers who see and claim Christ as LORD!  

What do you think heaven will be like? Do you like the literal or the non-literal view? Why? How is this passage about the expression of God’s intimacy? 

How would you explain your walk with God as a path? What would that path be like? How can you make that path better? How can your walk with God be your way of life for the here and now too?

What does Revelation 16:1-11 mean to us now?

 

Real repentance will demand our complete, authentic profession of faith and the turning away of our sin. This will show restitution, and the will to turn to Christ, not just as Savior, but also as Lord over all that we are and all that we want to be. To grow in our faith requires us to surrender our will and sin over to Him (Gal. 2:20-21). This means we surrender our ways of thinking, our desires, outlooks, pretences, agendas, and worldviews that are not based on His precepts and life so we can grasp His precepts and live the life He has for us that is wondrous and fulfilling. We give up what we think is worthy, that is ultimately unfulfilling for His worthiness; our sin is exchanged for His righteousness given to us. Then, we will be an offering to Christ and a showcase of His work to others. This process is ongoing and will last all the days we walk this earth; Christ will empower us with His Spirit to do so. So, what have you done to receive Him and remain faithful? Nothing of good can come from those who refuse Christ or repentance, and nothing will change a defiant heart, as this passage demonstrates. 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. How have you experienced that God indeed is patient and just? What would cause Christians not to heed responsibility and repentance? How would such people excuse themselves? What does God think? How does this affect your church?
  1. What does it mean to display trust in God when all that we have or are in charge of could be wiped out?
  1. Real repentance will demand our complete, authentic, profession of faith and the turning away from our sin. How can you do this? What can your church do to model and teach this? How can you demonstrate restitution? What does it mean to you that Christ will empower you with His Spirit to do so?
  1. How have you seen what is good as evil and what is evil as good displayed in your society and experiences? What about in the Church? What can your church do to combat these tendencies?

© 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 16:1-11

 

The Preterist view: Basically there are two views. One view is that all of Revelation deals with the early church and fall of Jerusalem. Others see the first half of the Book of Revelation as dealing with Jerusalem, and the last half as dealing with Rome. Chapters 15 and 16 are considered “half way.” Most in this camp see this passage as the judgments against Jerusalem for their sins of killing the faithful. Others in this camp see this having to do with the fall of Rome in the fifth century. Some see this as the results of the Trumpet judgments in chapter eight. The Mark of the beast are the loyal citizens of Rome or apostate Jews and God’s warning to them in Deut. 28 being fulfilled. Some see these as symbolic; others as literal past happenings. Others see this as the plagues that infested Jerusalem during and after the siege by the Romans, because of all the piled up dead bodies and resulting diseases, and the pollution of the water. Hence, the imagery of blood and plagues. Some see this as further details of the Trumpet plagues while others as a different judgment. The difference is the Trumpets were 1/3 and the bowls are full on. The altar refers to the saints calling out for vengeance. The sun’s heat is seen as symbolic for the persecutors of the sinful Jewish leaders. The throne of the beast is seen as Rome, and darkness is seen as the resulting political turmoil in Rome after Nero commits suicide. 

The Futurist view: They see this passage as judgments that come quickly in sequence, or all at once as the consummation of God’s judgment at the close of the tribulation period. These are different from the Trumpet judgments but follow a similar succession. Most see this as a literal depiction of these events while others see some of these events as symbolic. All see these as literal plagues just like the ones poured out on Egypt, except far more devastating or completely destroying the earth. Most see the first bowl as effects of nuclear war and natural catastrophes that God allows to come in their fruition for His purpose. The second bowl is seen as the sea representing the Gentiles and the judgment upon them or that the sea is literally wiped out. The third bowl is mostly seen as symbolic to how devastating it is, but literal as how blood-thirsty the evildoers are. Most do not see the blood as literal rather what it looked like or symbolic to how awful it is, but not to minimize the literal destruction. The fourth bowl is seen as the ruling secular authorities getting their judgment while others see this as literal “astrometric” disasters. The fifth bowl is seen as the end of the Beast’s political power and or influences. There is a lot of speculation concerning how Russia or China will attack Israel and/or the United States, or about a nuclear war. But, according to Scripture, these things, although they may occur, have no real bearing on the second coming of Christ or His timing. They just may mean “birth pains” to His coming. The failure to repent and apostasy are the reasons for these judgments. 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as God Himself ordering the angels and judgments that resemble the plagues of Egypt. The contrast is that Satan operates just like evil dictators, personified by Pharaoh’s oppressive regime and domination of the Israelites, and God’s subjacent judgments upon him and his rule.  The other contrast is over the Trumpet judgments that affect 1/3 of the earth; these plagues bring total devastation. Some see these as parallel and literal while others as symbolic that calamity is certain if you do not repent. Some see this as the fall of Rome; others to how God deals wit the apostate Church as well as individuals. In between these two sets of judgments, the Trumpet and Bowl judgments gave abundant opportunity for repentance, but the wicked refused and brought judgment upon themselves. The other aspect of this passage is that it brings comfort to the persecuting Christians to whom John was writing. The sea is seen as humanity and the possible total devastation this may mean—the finality of humanity. The altar is seen as the prayers of the saints crying out for vindication. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as the last judgment on the corrupt papacy prior and during the reformation. Others see this as the civil wars and calamities of mankind in the 18th century and/or today. The mark of the beast here is seen as those loyal to and helping the evil Popes in the 16th through the 18th centuries. Others just see this as describing the reign of Napoleon and then the French revolution of the late 18th century (24,000 priests were killed during this time and many churches were destroyed too! Such a view is perhaps a “micro” application of the passage but not necessarily an actuality or verbatim of what it teaches us or what John saw). The sea into blood is seen as the removal of the papacies navel power and/or the changing political and naval powers of Europe due to war during the 19th century. The rivers are seen as the changing political landscape as borders and countries changed rapidly during this time climaxing with WWI. Blood is a symbolic for the papal persecutions of the righteous and the Reforming Church. The throne of the Beast is seen as papal Rome and the various wars over and with the Vatican from 1797 to 1798. Others see it as from 1794 through 1848, and world history during this time.

Exegetical look into Revelation 16:7-11

 

  • The altar respond means “personified” as the witness of the altar of God’s temple, as a means to make oaths and swear by. Also means the witness and integrity of people who are righteous or how they were sacrificed as being an altar to God (Deut. 29:19-21; Rev. 6:9). The altar itself refers to the blood from the slaughtered animals of the Old Testament sacrificial ritual, as the blood is drained out from the base of the altar (Ex. 29:12; Lev. 4:7-25, 24; 5:9; 8:15; 9:9; Matt. 5:33-36; Luke 1:11).
  • God Almighty is a name for God, and refers that He, as God, is strong and mighty and rules all things, meaning His supremacy and preeminence over all the universe (2 Cor. 6:18).
  • Sun was given power to scorch… fire. Heat and fire were feared by the ancients. This was also a terrifying image of judgment, from the suffering of heat of the fire the laborers felt to especially the “siroccos,” the hot, east winds that destroyed crops and sometimes people too. Interestingly, this was not one of the plagues of Egypt (Ex. 13:21; Deut. 28:22; Psalm 121:6; 1 Cor. 3:13; Heb. 12:29; 2 Pet. 3:7).
  • Refused to repent. Just as with the Trumpet plagues, these people are “stupid” and have no excuse. They had some warning, either by prophets, by the clear teaching of the Word, or by some supernatural pronouncement. They knew their deeds were wrong, yet they refused to acknowledge Christ or repent of their ways even in the face of catastrophes. In addition, they cursed the name of God. However, if they repented, they would be spared their calamities, yet they refused… talk about being hardheaded (Ex. 7:22-23; 8:10; 9:14-29; 10:2; 14:4; Amos 4:6-11; Rev. 2:14; 9:21 chaps 10-11; 16:9-11)!
  • Bowl on the throne of the beast may be referring to Satan’s throne. Throne appears 42 times in Revelation. The other 40 references are to the throne of God (Rev. 2:13; 6:15-17; 16:10).
  • Plunged into darkness. This is reminiscent of the ninth plague of Egypt that was more than a lack of light; it was “felt.” This “darkness” also refers to having no peace, contentment, or happiness, as chasing evils and pleasure even when our wants and agendas only leave us destitute of what is really important—His presence (Ex. 10:21-23; Is. 59:1-15)!
  • Cursed the God of heaven refers that people will replace evil for good and visa versa, as in praising Satan and cursing God. This is an aspect of hedonism—to manipulate a sin into a right. This is the very core of irreverence and blasphemy. God is Sovereign; He loves, gives grace and mercy, and yet will destroy wicked kingdoms. He who created and established His universal and eternal reign will not be cursed. God takes false worship and contempt very severely and seriously (Dan. 2:44; Rom 1:28-32; James 1:12-18; 4:1-4; Rev. 16:11)!

Exegetical look into Revelation 16:1-6

 

  • Seven angels. This comes from an ancient Jewish belief system, not from Scripture. They believed that angels had control over elements and were assigned positions by God. This may be true or not, an image John uses to make his point, or a metaphor for the elements and behavior of nature that God controls and directs (Psalm 148:1-12; Zech. 6:5; Rev. 7:1).
  • Pour out….God’s wrath. The Bowls, in conjunction with God’s wrath, may be symbolic referring to God’s judgment and not necessarily a specific attack plan although God can do as He pleases so this could be literal. This theme is used heavily in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Far more important than the specifics or theories of how God will do this is the point that God will have His reckoning, that judgment is coming, and that it will be a reality. However, as Christians who trust in Him, we have hope and assurance through Christ and His righteousness (Is. 59:15-18; Joel 2:11; Mal. 3:2-10).
  • On the earth/land is a contrast of the first four bowls with the first four trumpets, referring to death (Rev. 8:7-12; 11:6; 17:15).
  • Bowl is an image of God’s action and His holiness in so doing, which simply means as this passage says, “God is pouring out.” These bowls are nothing esoteric or cryptic; they symbolize God’s wrath. It is not necessary to take this to mean literal, giant basins. It is a Jewish image of the Temple and the precious instruments and utensils used for worship. The point is, just as God delivered the Israelites from oppression using the plagues against Egypt, so will He deliver those who are His! This is also a call for us to be fragrant and poured out to our Lord, for that is what pleases Him. What does not please Him is our disobedience and refusal of His love (Deut 33:10; Psalm 141:1-3; Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 3:1-14; Rev. 8:3-4). 
  • Ugly and painful/Noisome and grievous/loathsome. Obviously something painful, it also means bad, evil (from context, not that God is doing evil), and harmful, and then serious and painful, from whence we get our word “malignant.”
  • Sores/boils broke out. Means “ulcer;” this is reminiscent of the sixth plague of Egypt (Ex. 9:8-12; Job 2:7-8, 13; Luke 16:21).
  • Bowl on the sea…Rivers and springs. This is reminiscent of the first plague of Egypt (Ex. 7:20-21; Rev. 8:8). The term used means the ultimate destiny of mankind as being judged and the preparation for the Second Coming and/or the Last Judgment, similar or the same as the “Trumpet” judgments in Rev. 8:6-13. This is called “eschatological;” it is from God and His judgment, not necessary from the pollution from man’s industrial machine. Volcanic upheavals can also produce this effect from God’s direction. (see Revelation chap 6 notes; Is. 15:9; Psalm 78:44; 2 Pet. 3:10-12; Rev. 6:13; 8:10-11; 9:1).
  • Every living thing/souls. This is where we get “psych,” the Greek concept of mind and body and soul and/or the vital, living force of a person from which come our personality and expressions. Hence, the word is used for “psychology.” Thus, everything in the sea died—complete destruction.
  • Holy One/Lord. “Greek “kyrios” is the word used and usually translated as Lord; however, here it is “hosios” meaning “holy,” thus holy is the correct translation.
  • You are just means God’s ways are pure and without fault of any sort. God is never vindictive for reason of spite, but to defend His faithful, He seeks “payment” to remove sin. This is a Hebrew call of the oppressed seeking God’s mercy and judgment upon the oppressor. It is a plea for vindication by also praising God for Who He is. This is seen in the Psalms, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. Thus, this angel/theme agrees with God; His ways are best, regardless of personal cost (Ex. 3:14; Rev. 15:3; 19:2-11).
  • Have shed the blood of your saints. Jewish tradition says that God turned the Nile into blood as punishment for shedding the blood of the children from which Moses escaped. This also refers to those who have been martyred because they remained faithful to Christ. It denotes suffering, injustice, and persecution, but the application is that they remained true to the faith, regardless of circumstances. In context, this image indicates that the martyrs are like sacrifices, just as Christ was when he represented the Passover Lamb, innocent and undeserving, whose blood was shed. In Christ’s case, it was for our redemption; in the case of the martyrs, it was seemingly in vain, but in reality, it glorified God (Pseudepigrapha book, Wisdom of Solomon chaps.16-17; Phil. 2:6-11).
  • Given them blood to drink. This is also reminiscent of the first plague of Egypt (Ex. 7: 14-24; 9:10) and is a metaphor for shedding blood and the blood crying out for justice and vengeance. (Apocrypha book, Tobit 3; Rev. 6:9).
  • As they deserve/worthy means “befitting.” It is not a commendation (praise) but rather a condemnation (a sentence to punishment) as “they deserve it.” This is also a saying that the wicked will fall by their own hand and means, or God will just wait and let the wicked destroy themselves. It also means “the punishment fits the crime.” God has the right to destroy what He created and does not need or is obligated to save; what He does anyway for us is offer Grace to us all who do not deserve it. However, the grace must be received and repentance must come forth. If no repentance, judgment is more than just and completely and totally appropriate (Isa. 49:26; Matt. 23:31-36).