Revelation 16:1-11: What are the Contexts?

 

This passage continues the theme of judgment and uses the imagery of the plagues God poured on Egypt, where Pharaoh was offered an easy way out and grace, but he hardened his heart and refused to repent just as the recipients of the bowls of wrath do. Then, God warns the Jews to be loyal; if they are not, He will inflict them of the boils and plagues He did to Egypt (Deut. 28: 25-29). In contrast, this is also about how God protected His people from the plagues and judgments; thus, this passage is also about great comfort to others in persecution. This is in relation to the love and forgiveness of God being offered but then refused by those who need it the most. They sought to deliver themselves but they failed; instead of reaching for God, they cursed Him instead. The contrasting aspect here is that God’s provision and grace can be received and He will protect the faithful from His wrath just as He demonstrated in Egypt. We can take comfort in God’s love and protection and not fear His Judgment when we are in Him. But, we need to also take heed; God will not tolerate disloyalty and being cursed! This is about “what goes around comes around;” what we sow, we will, in return, reap. Our attitudes and ideas will result in the application of our deeds and actions. In other words, as this Book has been saying, we bring judgment upon ourselves by what we do and refuse to do. So, do not sin; but if we do, we must repent, seek, and accept His love and forgiveness. If we do not repent, we will be in our own “darkness” where there is the absence of peace and contentment. These bowls of God’s wrath are brought upon those who are evil and who seek after those who are evil. We can be reassured that there is no need for a Christian to fear God’s wrath; if you are not evil and manipulative and are loyal to Christ, you have no qualms to bear or reason to fear (Is. 57:15-21; 59:1-21; Rev. 15:1-16:21).

Revelation 16:1-11

Introduction 

The First Bowls of God’s Wrath 

John continues to get his incredible glimpse of the hope and wonder we will get for eternity. Now he hears a shout to the seven angels to go and empty the bowls of God’s wrath, and they are being poured out. The first bowl gives horrible pain and sores upon the wicked who refused Christ and took the mark of the beast. They received what they deserved, as they showed their disloyalty and contempt for God and those who are faithful. Then, the second angel poured out his bowl and the sea became dead along with everything in it. The third angel had his turn and did the same to the rivers. Now, the angel who was in charge of the earth’s waters agreed and said these judgments were just displaying his trust in God when all that he was in charge of was wiped out. He further testifies that the evils and unfaithfulness of God’s people and His creation of humanity judged themselves and thus doomed themselves. God is only giving them what they wanted and deserved. 

The fourth angel pours out his bowl upon the sun and it becomes more intense and scorches the earth; what is left is not burned up. Under intense judgment, the people still refuse to repent and seek God’s love and grace; they become even more belligerent and curse His Holy name! Saying what is good is evil and what is evil is good seems to be the everlasting work of Satan and evil people. So, the fifth angel pours out God’s wrath upon the beast and his minion of evil and the anguishes and pains of judgment are felt. However, responsibility is not heeded and repentance is still not sought. Indeed, God is patient and just!  

How would you symbolize these Bowls? Have you ever been through a natural disaster?