We now come to the end of the last interlude. Time is running out. The seven angels have been given the final bowls of God’s wrath. The earth is prepared. God has informed earth’s inhabitants of their two choices – Christ or Antichrist. They also have been informed of the consequences of those choices – salvation or wrath. There is no rest for the wicked but eternal rest for the saints. Nothing more can be done. Earth must be cleansed before the second coming. Again, if this were a movie the music would be telling us that something earth shaking and frightening is about to happen.
God is faithful to give humanity the choices and the consequences of their choices. God is always fair in His dealings with His beloved humanity. His grace has been extended to every human being, but He will not force man against his will. Our hearts bleed for those who will not submit to their beloved creator and enter into His glorious kingdom.
DAY ONE: SEVEN ANGELS HOLD LAST SEVEN PLAGUES.
READ: Revelation 15:1-8
A. GOD’S WRATH WILL SOON BE COMPLETED.
This is an extraordinary moment for all of history. It is a bittersweet time. God takes no delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23), but His righteousness demands justice. The overcomers are living proof that it was possible to resist the mark of the beast. Man is without excuse.
B. VICTORS SING THE SONG OF MOSES AND THE SONG OF THE LAMB.
God has given out harps for this celebration. The Song of Moses is an often-repeated song in Israel’s triumphal moments of history. It is a song of deliverance. When the Israelites were delivered out of Egypt, they stood by the sea and sang this song of thanksgiving. When Israel came back from Babylonian captivity and resumed their temple service, they sang parts of the song. Now martyrs are standing by the sea of glass, celebrating their own deliverance through their faith in Jesus Christ.
The 144,000 sang a song that was uniquely for them, but the Song of the Lamb is for all believers. This is a praise for the actions of God that are pure and holy. All of his ways will prove righteous and just.
C. ANGELS PREPARE FOR FINAL OUTPOURING OF WRATH.
The seven angels come out of the heavenly temple dressed for service. They are wearing clean linen with golden sashes. These priestly clothes are fitting for the holy work they are called to do. Each angel has a specific assignment and is given a special bowl.
The temple was filled with smoke from the power of God. These final judgments will change the earth.
- Read the Song of Moses in Exodus 15. List three things that impress you.
- Judgment is God’s role and responsibility. How easy is it for you to leave vengeance to God?
- What is our responsibility according to Romans 12:19-21?
- For what victory in your life could you compose a song of praise?
- It is a great honor to be a part of a heavenly choir. It is also an honor to worship in our churches today. Pay close attention to how heartfelt your worship is this week.
DAY TWO: BOWLS OF WRATH ARE POURED OUT.
READ: Revelation 16:1-7
A. FIRST BOWL: SORES BREAK OUT.
God is patient, but eventually He must judge the rebellious world. Previous judgments were less direct, but now the judgments score a direct hit on the places where man is most vulnerable.
The first bowl causes all men who wear the mark of the beast to break out in painful and ugly sores. There is no help or relief. Even after the fifth bowl is poured out, they are still suffering. Physical discomfort and pain hits us where we live and cannot be ignored. These people have brought physical suffering to the saints; now it comes back to them.
B. SECOND BOWL: SEA TURNED TO BLOOD.
The wicked on earth have enjoyed shedding the blood of saints. They wanted blood; now they have seas and oceans full of it. God’s punishment fits the crime. All sea life died.
C. THIRD BOWL: FRESH WATER IS TURNED TO BLOOD.
After their bowl is poured out, the angel makes a declaration:
- God is just in this kind of judgment. He is holy and qualified to judge.
- They have been given blood to drink as they deserve, because of their love for shedding the blood of God’s people.
- The martyrs around the altar confirm that God has avenged them properly. God can be trusted to judge fairly. It gives us great freedom to turn this task over to Him.
- Why do you think that it was important to give a strong testimony of God’s character during the outpouring of His wrath at this time?
- How do these first three bowls of wrath fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 59:18?
- Why do you think the martyrs have a right to “celebrate” these outpourings of God’s wrath?
- What comfort do you receive from God’s promise to punish the wicked in Romans 12:19?
- How would you make a defense for God’s actions to someone who questions the wrath of God during this period of time?
DAY THREE: BOWLS FOUR & FIVE ARE POURED OUT.
READ: Revelation 16:8-11
A. FOURTH BOWL: THE SUN SCORCHES MANKIND.
God turns up the heat on earth. People are forced to “pass through the furnace of fire.” This is fitting for the wicked that had put God’s saints through a fiery ordeal.
The wicked recognize that this is from God, but they refuse to repent and turn to God. They are hardened in their rebellion. We are reminded of the saints who would not revoke their faith even under intense heat of persecution. The rebels have shown no mercy, so God will show no mercy to them. With no fresh water to quench their thirst, there is much suffering in the sweltering temperature.
B. FIFTH BOWL: DARKNESS COMES ON THE BEAST’S THRONE.
This judgment is quite specifically directed at Antichrist’s throne. From his control room, the kingdom is faced with thick darkness. The beast (Antichrist) loved darkness instead of light, so now he has a taste of the eternal darkness he will endure with his people. This demoralizes his leadership.
Total darkness is terrifying. Men were in agony, and the darkness added to their physical pain from the sores. Yet they refused to repent for trying to extinguish the light of truth from God’s saints.
- How does God use this same kind of judgment in Egypt? (Exodus 10:21)
- How does the reaction of the people compare to Pharaoh’s reaction to plagues in Exodus 8:15, 32; 9:34-35?
- What does John say about love of darkness in John 3:19-20?
- What does scripture tell us about our choices to “dabble” in the darkness of sin? (Galatians 6:7)
- What is a great promise from God about walking in the light? (1 John 1:7)
- Name one area where you need to move from darkness to light so that you can enjoy the blessing of God more fully.
DAY FOUR: SIXTH BOWL IS POURED OUT.
READ: Revelation 16:12-16
A. SIXTH BOWL: EUPHRATES RIVER IS DRIED UP.
The end is near. God makes way for Antichrist’s forces to launch their final campaign against the Jews.
The Euphrates River was the eastern boundary of the land God gave to His chosen people. It forms a natural barrier of protection from attacks by nations to the east. With a dried up river, a huge army could move easily into Israel. A coalition of kings will be gathered for this last great battle.
B. DRAGON, BEAST, AND FALSE PROPHET GATHER NATIONS.
Three evil spirits coming out of the mouths of the counterfeit trinity will help assemble the kings who will be involved in this campaign.
From the human viewpoint, it seems that the armies are gathering for their own purposes, but God will use this great gathering for His purposes. The end has been prophesied in Zechariah 12 and 14. We will also read of the outcome in Revelation 19.
C. SAINTS ARE WARNED TO STAY ALERT.
The Lord’s coming will be very soon. The true believers who remain alert and prepared will be blessed. The nations are being assembled in Armageddon. The last great battle is near.
- Read Zechariah 12. What is the outcome of the last great battle? (Zechariah 12:9)
- What will happen to the Jewish remnant? (Zechariah 12:10-13)
- Read Zechariah 14. Who will actually fight the last great battle?
- What encourages or impresses you personally in Zechariah 14:16-21?
- Choose one or two facts from the description of the last great battle to share with someone who needs to know the final chapter of God’s story.
DAY FIVE: THE WHOLE EARTH IS HIT WITH A GREAT EARTHQUAKE.
READ: Revelation 16:17-21
A. SEVENTH BOWL: AN EARTHQUAKE RESHAPES THE EARTH.
The seventh bowl is the last judgment to be poured out. A voice from the throne confirmed – “It is done.” Flashes of lightning and thunder precede a great earthquake. This judgment will affect all of the cities of the enemy nations.
This bowl of wrath will be poured into the atmosphere surrounding the earth. This severe judgment will collapse Satan’s world system. The topography of the earth will be changed, and the economic system (Babylon) will fall.
B. HAILSTONES FALL ON MAN.
The final part of the seventh bowl is completed with 100 pound hailstones falling on man. The blasphemers will be “stoned” for their sin of blaspheming God, but they will not repent.
The great city probably refers to Jerusalem as the city’s topography is changed to prepare for Christ’s reign.
C. WICKED MEN CONTUNUED TO CURSE GOD.
Earth’s evil inhabitants are stiff-necked and resistant to the very end. Their refusal to repent seals their eternal fate. The fact that they curse God shows that they are fully aware of the power and actions of the living God.
- Describe the crime and punishment given in Leviticus 24:15-16.
- What attribute of God demands this punishment?
- What attributes of God have delayed this severe judgment until the last moment of time?
- The cleansing of the earth was a necessary event to bring about great blessing. What needs to be cleansed from my life?
- We are left with a feeling of gratitude that we have been saved from God’s wrath. (1 Thessalonians 5:9) Offer praises for that salvation this week in your quiet time.
John gave us a quick overview of the final bowls of wrath or final judgments to fall on the enemies of God. We are stunned. Judgment is horrible. Yet judgment on evil is inevitable:
- God’s judgment is in kind. The people earned it and chose it. It is fully justified.
- God’s judgment has not been swift. There has been time and opportunity for repentance.
- God’s judgment is accompanied with mercy. He provides a way of escape if men will choose it.
Yet many refused the mercy of God and chose to remain linked to the world system of Satan. For them all hope is gone. For us today our hope will always be in our commitment to Jesus Christ as savior and Lord.
PRINCIPLE FOR THE WEEK
God’s story of judgment tells us that our daily life choices matter to God.
Repent from anything that is not in line with the teachings of Jesus and his law of love. Be a strong light that will attract others in this world of darkness.
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