7 Bowls of the Final Judgment
Revelation 15:1 (NLT)
1 Then I saw in heaven another marvelous event of great significance. Seven angels were holding the seven last plagues, which would bring God’s wrath to completion…
The terrible time has now come; in the full fury of His indignation, the Holy God will pour out the final measure of His wrath. Revelation 14 well spoke of the Winepress of God’s Wrath; the cup is now full and the obstinately wicked will drink the full measure of judgment. For ages, man has said, “any god but YHWH,” and now, at last the Righteous One can no longer have His hand stayed. There is no more mercy, no more intercession. God, having finally had enough of wickedness and rebellion turns back His hand of mercy and will, essentially say, “have it your way.”
The sadness of judgment is that the wicked choose it and this, also, is the sadness of eternal Hell. Those who are there are there because they refuse to have God and instead will only have their sin in its momentary pleasure and then will be destroyed forever in Hell. Were there anything that should bring a tear to the eye, it is this. These last seven judgments are the most severe that man has ever seen.
The First Bowl: Malignant Sores
This would seem to be similar to the sores that affected the Egyptians (Exodus 9:9-11) and that afflicted Job (Job 2:27). Note that in Job’s case they were a test and in the Egyptians’ case, it was a judgment. In the case of the final boils it will be both, a test that proves men will not have God and the resultant judgment for that choice.
The 2nd Bowl: Death in the Seas
Hearkening back to the 2nd Trumpet Judgment, the 2nd bowl plagues the waters of the ocean. However, this time every living thing in the oceans will die. The waters will become thick as blood (probably mixed with the blood of the decaying former sea life.) The stench this causes will be almost unimaginable.
The 3rd Bowl: Death in the Rivers and the Lakes
If life for the wicked was not miserable enough, the 3rd bowl takes the 3rd trumpet to its total conclusion and now, just like what happened to the oceans, every living thing in the lakes and rivers dies.
Bowls 2 and 3 are commented upon in Revelation 16:6; the wicked have spilled the blood of the saints for centuries and now God gives them blood to drink. What is scary about this is the fact that there are still 4 bowls remaining and they get progressively more terrible. By the time the Kingdom comes, there will not be much left standing…
The 4th Bowl: The Sun and God’s fury
The sun, which was needful to sustain life on earth is now weaponized. That which was a source of comfort (heat, light, etc.) literally has its heat turned up and scorches the earth and the obstinately wicked who refuse God’s grace.
The 5th Bowl: Darkness and pain
This is much more than a solar eclipse. God, who is Himself the Light, has taken away the light of the sun. Many is no longer cursed because of living in the darkness but is now cursed to live in the darkness.
The gnawing at the tongue is doubtless to relieve, or rather attempt to relive, the relentless pain caused by the severe heat, drought, and, most probably, dying of thirst.
A human can live, without God depriving them of death, for between 3 and 8 days without water. Thus we are left to conclude that that 7 Bowls are either, incredibly rapid and span a time of no more than 8 days or that God continues to deprive the wicked of finding relief through death. Since I do not believe God to be cruel, I tend to presume the former.
The 6th Bowl: Euphrates Dries Up & the World takes sides for battle
God providentially dries up the river Euphrates as a confederation comes from the east. “the kings from the east. God providentially draws these kings and their armies in order to destroy them in the battle of Armageddon (v. 14). Their reason for coming may be to rebel against Antichrist, whose failure to alleviate the world’s suffering will no doubt erode his popularity. Or, this may be a final act of rabid anti-Semitism intent on destroying Israel, perhaps in retaliation for the plagues sent by her God. Since the sun may have melted the ice caps on Ararat, flooding the valley of the Euphrates as the river overflows its banks and bridges, the land will be swamped. God will have to dry it up miraculously for the eastern army to get to Armageddon.”
The MacArthur Study Bible.
Tetelestai: The Final Bowl and the Great Earthquake
This is the final shaking, literally, before Christ comes. All the world is gathered against God at Har-Megiddo for the final battle before Christ inaugurates the Kingdom. The worst earthquake the world has ever seen hits the planet as God, personally, declares it is done.