Revelation 16:1-21 Part 3

REVELATION 16:1-21 Part 3 

1)    Then I heard a great sound from the tabernacle to the seven messengers. ‘Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God into the land.’

2)    And the first went forth and poured out from its bowl into the land; and an evil and malignant sore came to be on the men having the mark of the beast and adoring its image.

3)    And the second poured out from its bowl into the sea, and blood as of a corpse came to be; and every being that was alive in the sea rotted.

4)    And the third poured out from its bowl into the rivers and their water sources, and there blood came to be;

5)    and I heard the waters messenger saying ‘just are You, the IS and the WAS, the Holy One; for You did judge thus

6)    because they did pour out the blood of the righteous and the prophets.  Therefore you have given them blood to drink.  Worthy they are!

7)    Then I heard saying from the incense altar, ‘Yes!  Kurie the Almighty God; true and righteous Your judgments’.

8)    And the fourth poured out its bowl on the sun; and it was given it to burn men in fire;

9)    fierce heat!  And the men were burned, and they blasphemed the God having the power of these plagues and did not turn to give Him glory.

10) And the fifth poured its bowl on the seat of the beast; and its kingdom became shrouded in darkness.  And they were gnawing their tongues from the misery,

11) and they blasphemed The God of the Heaven for their pains and their sores.  But they did not turn from their works.

12) And the sixth poured out its bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up so that the approach of the kings from the sun’s rising would be prepared.

13) Then I saw three unclean spirits as frogs from the mouth of the dragon and from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the pseudoprophet.

14) These are demon spirits which are going forth unto the kings of the whole world doing signs to gather them into the great war of the Day of Almighty God:

15) ‘Lo!  I come as a thief.  Blessed the one watching and guarding his garments that he may not be walking about uncovered and they observe his shame.’

16) And it gathered them in a place called in Hebrew ‘Armageddon’.

17) And the seventh poured out its bowl upon the air.  And there was a great sound from the Holy Place of the throne saying ‘IT IS COME’.

18) And lightnings and sounds and thunders came, and there was great shaking such as there never was since men came to be on the land,

19) and the great city was made into three parts; and the cities of the  people fell.  And ‘Babylon the Great’ was recalled before God, to give it the cup of the wine of the fury of His wrath.

20) And every island fled; and no mountains were found.

21) And great hail as talant-weight comes down from the heaven on the men; and from the plague of the hail the men blasphemed God, for its plague is exceedingly great.


As you reminded me during the second hour last Lord’s Day, there is a “shift in emphasis” in what John is shown in the tabernacle in the heaven.  It comes at the end of chapter eleven (which is also the completion of the Revelation of the seven trumpets).   It can be clearly shown that the substance of the first half of the book concerns the Person and work of Jesus (the One Who came to seek and to save the lost sheep of the house of Jacob; and, as John the baptizer said “… the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world”).  He is the “Overcomer”; and He’s the only One Who could open the seven seals revealing the great mystery of God.  And then, with the seven trumpets, the final warning from God had come to an end.

Then, as chapter twelve begins (and progresses through the rest of the letter) there is a “refocusing” of the emphasis of what is shown to John… not that the prominence of the Lord Jesus Christ is diminished in any way; that’s certainly not the case! 

And it has to be said once again that the exquisite perfection of God’s Revelation is evidenced by (what looks to us to be only) subtle nuances; but after further reflection they are actually intricate and precise and penetrating and intriguing profundities.

I myself had forgotten just how profound this shift in focus was at the beginning of chapter twelve.  But you picked up on the “finality” of what we’re hearing here in the later chapters, and you remembered that the emphasis was somehow “altered” after the first eleven chapters.

I’m very thankful that there is a congregation of astute and discerning hearers of the Word that have been called and assembled here (and, of course, doers of the Word as well).  And, of course, all of this can only be attributed to the sovereignty of God.  It is for us to be humbled by the marvelous gifts by which He’s gifted us.

But what other congregation is there that could listen to the linear, exegetical preaching of The Revelation, “get” the essence of it, and then remind the preacher that this was what he was talking about exactly forty nine sermons ago?  Remarkable!

And the essence of what you “got” is the “finality” of what’s being shown to John in chapters fifteen and sixteen.  It is that which is “about to be”.  After the first eleven chapters being about the Person and Work of Jesus the Lamb of God and Savior of the elect of God from the twelve tribes of Jacob (all prophesied in Moses, the Psalms and the prophets), the emphasis of the latter part of The Revelation to John (and the Churches) turns to consummation… finality… the full and final resolution… the day of reckoning. 

It is the Revelation of the great mystery of the decreation of heaven-and-earth Israel, the inclusion of “all flesh” in the covenant, and the establishment of the new heavens and the new earth in Jesus Christ the Lord (this, too, all foreshadowed and prophesied in Moses, and the Psalms and the prophets).


You remembered while we were explaining the “sevens” here in chapters fifteen and sixteen; the sevens are, in God’s perception, indicative of completion and finality.  And that’s where you perspicuously picked up on the shift in emphasis beginning at chapter twelve.  Here are the things that are “about to be”… shown to John in signs.

As the sign continues here without a break from chapter fifteen, Almighty God views His Own creation and His Own history, and He reveals it in His Own language as the “fullness” of His Own Revelation.  We’ve observed it before; and it continues here.  And since John has already written that this is an “awesome” sign (chapter fifteen at verse one), and since it is the first time he’s used that term describing a sign in the heaven, then we have to consider that the use of all the “sevens” is great and awesome!  And it is.

And let me say this one more time (for it is most edifying), that our God reveals qualitative perfection, completion and finality in the “sevens”.  We’ll see that even more in this chapter (and beyond).  We saw a great example of that last Lord’s Day, didn’t we?

It was at Sinai, when Moses was in the glory cloud/tabernacle of YAHVEH up on the mount, he was given two stone tablets upon which were written the Ten Commandments (a “summary” of His Law-word).  The fourth Commandment has to do with the seventh day Sabbath.

Then in the seven feasts required by God of His nation Israel which was to celebrate and commemorate seven great covenantal events in the nation’s history, and which were prophetic of grace and redemption for all those of YAHVEH’S promise, YAHVEH required the EIGHTH day to be sanctified – holy, set apart – a Sabbath unto YAHVEH!  The eighth day of the feasts.  The eighth day was the prophetic foreshadowing of the completion of the sevens, and the foreshadowing of the coming redemption and newness of life!

The eighth day would be the first day of the new week, and the first day of the new heavens and the new earth brought to be in the Messianic Prophet, Priest and King.

The entire substance of the fourth Commandment is therefore poured into the celebration of life in Christ in the eighth day, for the “seven” is filled up and consummated in Him!  You see, there’s completeness and finality in the sevens; and in the eighth (the first day of the week) there is newness and light and life and joy and celebration with feasting and worship and praise… and there is rest IN HIM Who is the “fullness” of the seventh day… and of all the sevens!  He was raised up out of death on the eighth day!

And we also mentioned God’s requirement for Israel to observe the year of “Jubilee”; for in the jubilee year (the fiftieth year) God’s people are set free from the seven sevens (which is forty nine years).  The fiftieth year would come after the “completion”, or “fullness” of the sevens.


And you remember that Jesus had told His disciples that He must “go away”; and when He went away He would send Holy Spirit.  And He did.  (We’ll see more about that shortly)  But Holy Spirit baptized His entire Church into the body of the risen Jesus Christ on the fiftieth day after the crucifixion.  Seven weeks of seven days and seven Sabbaths… plus one!  The eighth day after the completion of seven sevens!

The “sevens”, you see, are indicative of completion, finality, fullness!  The first day of the week (the holiest of all the days) was prophesied from Moses to Pentecost!  And all of the sevens are about to be filled up and completed as John looks on here in this sign.

It’s the mind of God; it’s the decree of God; it’s how He perceives it all; it’s how He revealed it; it’s how He shows it to John in order that the Churches can hear it; and it is “perfect”.  And it’s exactly what triggered your remembrance of the sermon from a year ago.


There’s a mighty shout from the tabernacle as this fourth living creature (cherub) commands the seven messengers to GO and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God into the land.  It is the “full” wrath of God; and it is “final”!  There will be a complete end; and then, when the sevens are done, John will be shown the sign of the new day that’s about to be in Christ Jesus.  We have that to look forward to in the latter chapters.

Now, as you already know, I love the references and connections that exist via the language that God uses all through His Word.  They are required, of course… those connections.  Exegetical preaching can’t be done without them. 

We’ve noted before, though, that translators have this (seemingly) innate motivation to make the words and phrases found in the Bible more readable and understandable.  The reasoning is that the language of the older translations is anachronistic (meaning “way past its time”); and that folks will enjoy reading the Bible more if the language is more “modern” and easy to read.

But as we’ve noted before, the danger looms large in that reasoning, because the connections disappear!  The more modern language often drops, or reinterprets, the very word or phrase that connects with all the other places in the Bible where it’s revealed!  A “disconnect” takes place; and when that happens, the continuity and perfection of “how God said it” disappears, and the “sense” of it all becomes “senseless”.  And when a reader loses the perfect continuity that exists in God’s Word, and when he descends into a senseless reading of it, then there occurs a huge “void” in his apprehension of all that our God has revealed!

I hope that’s clear this morning, for there’s a word here in the first verse of our text that carries great meaning all through Scripture.  And the depth of our understanding depends on whether we see it as God sees it and how He has revealed it.

The mighty living creature at the mercy seat directs the seven messengers with the thundering command of God: ‘Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God into the land.’  It is a Divine command; and the command is uttered in response to the prayers of the faithful and the cries for vengeance from the blood pooled around the altar.  The blood is that of our Lord’s people… those for whom He died of the house of Jacob.  As was the case for many of them, their blood had been poured out by judaists.

You remember, of course, that Jesus, just before His trial and crucifixion, was asked by His disciples “when shall these things be” and “what is the sign of Your Parousia”?  And the Lord’s extended answer to them (Matthew twenty three and twenty four and twenty five) included the fact that judaists would pursue and persecute the ones who He came to seek and to save; and that many of these for whom He had died would even be killed!  And for that, this generation (of judaists) would suffer the blood of all the righteous in Israel’s history!

Then listen to what we heard at the opening of the fifth seal back in chapter six:


9)    And when He did open the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the lives of those who had been slaughtered because of the Word of God and because of the testimony that they were holding.

10) And in a great sound they did cry out, saying “until when, holy and worthy Master, are You not judging and avenging our blood from those dwelling on the land?

11) And a white priestly garment was given to each one, and it was spoken to them that they should rest themselves yet a little time until also their fellow-servants and brothers who are about to be killed even as they, should be fulfilled.


So, right before His crucifixion Jesus had told His disciples that these things were about to be.  And forty years later John is shown their blood having been poured out under the incense altar; and their blood cries out to Almighty God for the vengeance that was promised by Jesus Christ upon this generation of judaists.

Of course the word I’m talking about here in the text is “poured out”.  And it’s repeated seven times!  And, yes, I know it’s two words!  It’s two words in English.  But the two English words translate one Greek word; and the one Greek word translates one Hebrew word in the older Scripture.

You’ll notice in that Revelation six passage, that each one whose blood cried out for vengeance from under the altar was given a white priestly garment just like those worn by the Levitical priesthood, as required by God at Sinai; for the blood of the sacrifices at the tabernacle in the desert was poured out under the altar.  Read it in Leviticus chapters four, eight and nine.  The blood poured out under the altar was a foreshadowing of the ONE coming Whose blood would be poured out for His people.  And these shown to John have had their blood poured out for holding His testimony; and they’re given the robes of the priesthood – they are priests before God in His holy tabernacle … in the body of the risen and ascended Lamb of God.

Their cries for vengeance (a vengeance prophesied all through the Scripture) are the prayers of priests whose High Priest is Jesus Christ their Lord, Who is at the Right of The Father.  And the seven bowls of the full wrath of God is the response to their prayers.

And as we’ll see as we proceed through the chapter, as each of the messengers “pours out” the final wrath of God upon the land, each “pouring out” is a direct reference (or references – plural) to what God said as written in the Law and the Prophets; and those older testament passages include the word “to pour out”.  It will be a great blessing for us to see all of them in their Biblical/covenantal context as they appear here – one by one.

But we’re not through yet with this word this morning.  Although the pouring out of the seven bowls will take us ranging throughout the written Word during the next weeks, there was that mighty event that took place on the fiftieth day after our Lord’s crucifixion (remember, that’s the first day after the seven sevens (forty nine days), and the eighth day after the last seven.

That fiftieth day (mentioned earlier) was prophesied through the prophet Joel in chapter two of his prophecy.   Listen to it:


28) And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

29) and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit.

30) And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke;

31) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of YAHVEH comes.

32) And it shall come to pass, that whoever shall call on the name of YAHVEH shall be delivered; for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as YAHVEH has said, and among those the remnant who YAHVEH has called.


There’s a lot there… the saving of the lost sheep of the house of Jacob (the remnant of Israel), and the decreation of the “heaven and earth” that God had created there.

But also there is our word: “I will pour out My Spirit….”  And here in (a part of) the preaching of the apostle Peter at Pentecost is the fullness of that Joel prophecy (Acts chapter two).  Peter says…


16) … this is that which was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17) And it shall be in the last days, says God, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh: And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

18) Yea and on my bondservants and handmaidens in those days I will pour out My Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

19) And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke:

20) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable ‘Day of the Lord’ comes.

21) And it shall be that whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

22) You men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, even as you yourselves know;

23) Him, being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay,

24) Who God raised up, having loosed the pangs of death: because it was not possible that he should be held in it.

25) For David said concerning him, ‘I beheld the Lord always before my face; for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

26) Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh also shall dwell in hope:

27) Because You will not leave my soul in Hades; neither will you give Your Holy One to see corruption.

28) You made known unto me the ways of life; You shall make me full of gladness by Your countenance.’

29) Brethren (Peter continues), I may say unto you freely of the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

30) Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins he would set one upon his throne;

31) he foreseeing this spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he left in Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

32) This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we all are witnesses.

33) Being therefore at the right of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear.

34) For David ascended not into the heavens: but he himself said, ‘The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit at my right,

35) Till I make Your enemies the footstool of Your feet.’

36) Let all the house of Israel therefore know for a certainty, that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus Who you crucified.


“…He has poured out this which you see and hear.”  By Holy Spirit and the powerful preaching and confrontation with the Word of God, thousands of Israelites from all over the Roman empire were added to the Church of Jesus Christ that first day.


Now, it’s more than obvious that this oft-repeated word bears great significance.  The pouring out of our Lord’s blood at His crucifixion was prophesied and foreshadowed in the original instructions at Sinai as the priests were to pour out the blood of the sacrifice below the altar.

Not only did Israel pour out the blood of the Christ Himself (Who the sacrifices foreshadowed), but they poured out the blood of those who He came to seek and to save… for which, Jesus proclaimed, they would suffer the blood of all the righteous in history!

And the blood of those who they pursued and persecuted and killed cried out to Almighty God for His vengeance, for Holy Spirit had been poured out at Pentecost, rebirthing them into the body of the Christ Whose blood had been poured out.

Their prayers are answered here in our text as the wrath of God is poured out on all who remain in the land in sevens… indicating a full and final “pouring out”.

Seven messengers, emissaries of the Lamb of God and clothed in the garb of the Levitical priesthood are instructed to pour out the bowls of the wrath of God; and the pouring out is repeated seven times here in John’s text.  The sevens make a complete end.  And they’re done!

It is final; and it is full.  It is the recompense – the justice – the vengeance of God upon a people that has poured out the blood of the righteous throughout its history.  What’s left at the completion of the sevens is… nothing.  Then there’s the dawning of a new day – the eighth!


Jesus the Christ poured out His blood at Passover – the sixth day of the week.  As He descended into Hades – death – He completed all of the requirements of the seventh day (Sabbath).  And He was raised up out of death on the eighth day!  We call it Sunday – the first day of the week.

But we see once again, here in the crucifixion and resurrection of our Savior, the completion and finality of the sevens.  In the Revelation of God, from Moses to John’s Revelation of Jesus Christ, the sevens revealed the end.  The fullness of the sevens has been completed IN HIM; and the eighth day is the day of worship and rest from all our labors.

It is a day of joy and celebration and feasting, for the Savior of the World arose out of death on the eighth day (as prophesied).  It’s the celebration of a new day… the dawn of a new day; for the old has passed away.  And, LO, all things are made new!

There’s nothing particularly important in God’s written word about twelve months, or fifty-two weeks, or three hundred and sixty five days; but the eighth day is revealed in His Word; and it is confirmed in the resurrection of the Christ.  It occurs fifty two times every year!  So easter Sunday which is celebrated every twelve months commands little interest for us… except for the fact that it falls on the eighth day – the first day of the week.

But there’s certainly nothing “super-holy” about that one Sunday per year.  Every Sunday is a Sabbath unto the Lord because it’s the one that’s revealed in His Word.  Every Sunday is resurrection Sunday.

His people “gather” on this eighth day In Christ our new Holy Tabernacle; we “fellowship” in Him; we lift up our voices in prayer and praise; we faithfully keep His Commandments and we hold His testimony; we hear his Word and confess our complete dependence on His grace and His mercy.  And we rejoice in having been set free; and that we now have access to Almighty God through rebirth into our Royal High Priest.

And as we finish this morning, here’s the part that I’m leading up to with all of this.  In our eighth-day public worship as a congregation, we are a manifestation to the world to the glory of the Father that all the sevens are done; the old has been decreated and discontinued; and that all things are made new in His faithful Servant Jesus the Christ.