Revelation 16:1-21 Part 7

Revelation 16:1-21 Part 7


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 out 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.


All through her history, Israel sacrificed to dumb idols… pouring out blood on God’s heaven and earth paradise on all the high places and in the groves and under the great green trees of the land… just like the pagans all around them – even to the point of pouring out the blood of their own sons and daughters! 

The blood is the life!  And pouring out blood to wood and stone and silver and gold idols is giving life to them!  And trying to give life to an idol is to despise the one true God of heaven and earth.  And the land – the paradise of God - was fouled by the idolatry.

And as we’ve seen before, Israel is not only guilty of pouring out blood to idols, but it has poured out the blood of all the righteous in history; it has poured out the blood of the prophets; it has poured out the blood of the Christ; and it has poured out the blood of many who Jesus came to seek and to save.

The land that YAHVEH created for this people; the paradise on earth where He chose to make His Presence known; the heaven and earth with its tabernacle – all of which was the image of His heavenly tabernacle – was fouled by the pouring out of blood in all the pagan high places and groves and under the great trees.  It was fouled by the pouring out of the blood of the prophets.  It was fouled by an unclean people approaching YAHVEH in His holy place and hypocritically pouring out the blood of the sacrifice.

And the sign shown to John is about the blood.  The blood is the life!  And Israel has poured out the blood to idols of wood and stone and silver and gold.  It has poured out “life” to them.

And having seen now Israel’s whole-Bible history of pouring out blood to idols all over the land; and having seen Israel’s whole-Bible history of pouring out the blood of the righteous, we have a better understanding of “why”… why John is shown the blood.


And as we worked through the texts of Scripture we observed the many implications of God’s intent as He shows John the two bowls of His wrath bringing blood to be as He proceeds in the full and final decreation of His paradise heaven-and-earth – Israel.

Jesus promised them blood.  The people asked for His blood.

Forty years later (as John looks on) YAHVEH is about to give them blood… just as they asked of Pilate (let his blood be on us and on our children). 

The sea becomes the putrefied blood of a corpse, and all things in it are rotted.  The rivers and water sources of Israel become blood, and there is only blood to drink; for our Lord prophesied that the land would suffer the blood of all the righteous in history.

And in verse seven of the text, John hears a great shout of affirmation from the incense table (the place of prayer) in the tabernacle of God.  It comes from all of the remnant of Jacob whose blood has been poured out; for they had prayed that Almighty God would avenge their blood (chapter six, verses ten and eleven).

And John hears them now shout “YES”, Kurie (Lord), Almighty God!  True and righteous Your judgments.

You see, all those who are not guilty of pouring out blood have been shielded from the Avenger; and they have been set free by the death of our Royal High Priest – Jesus, the Christ.  And the Avenger of blood is about to pour out His wrath on the guilty (they no longer have a city of refuge).


It is of interest to read the non-Biblical, non-inspired account of Josephus the Jewish officer who was able to escape from Jerusalem and write some of what he saw and heard.  It is a most tedious read, for he included names and places and numbers as best as he could remember.

But his writing gives us some accounts of grotesque scenes that we can relate to the Words of God through the prophets… that the armies would turn the entire nation into an uninhabitable wilderness and cause blood to be where the sea and water sources once were.  The utter destruction of all of Israel and the siege of Jerusalem, over the course of three and a half years, are recounted by Josephus in language that gives us some idea of the righteous vengeance of Almighty God as the legions were gathered from all the nations of the empire for the great tribulation.  We’ll see much more about that when we come to the pouring out of the fifth bowl of the final wrath of God.

I don’t want to take up much of our time with non-Biblical things, but I want to give you one example of the horrific events that took place in Israel from Josephus’ perspective.  And this one is appropriate to our text here at verses three through seven.

Vespasian’s armies had crossed the (dry) Euphrates River and were turning God’s paradise into a desert wilderness; and they cornered many thousands of Jews at the Sea of Galilee – Jews who were fleeing the holocaust.  The specific instructions of the then-dead emperor Nero were being carried out to the “nth” degree by commander Vespasian.

Here is some of Josephus’ account of what happened on that one day….


“Some tried to break through, but the Romans could reach them with their lances, killing others by leaping upon the (rafts) and passing their swords through their bodies… the Jews were caught in the middle….  If any of those who had been plunged into the water came to the surface, they were quickly dispatched with an arrow, or a raft overtook them; if, in their extremity, they attempted to climb on board the enemy’s rafts, the Romans cut off their heads or their hands.  So these wretches died on every side in countless numbers and in every possible way, until the survivors were routed and driven onto the shore, their vessels surrounded by the enemy.  As they threw themselves on them many were speared while still in the water; many jumped ashore where they were killed by the Romans.

“One could see the whole (sea) stained with blood and crammed with corpses, for not a man escaped.  During the days that followed a horrible stench hung over the region, and it presented an equally horrifying spectacle.  The beaches were strewn with wrecks and swollen bodies, which, hot and clammy with decay, made the air so foul that the catastrophe that plunged the Jews into mourning revolted even those who had brought it about.”


This is just one instance, during one day of the great tribulation; and as I said by only one uninspired man who was there during much of it.

But this account is reminiscent of the words of the prophets and the words of our text here in the Revelation.  As the armies of God proceeded through the land (and they were God’s armies!), the paradise of God became desolate behind them; and there was blood.

Israel had poured out idolatrous blood all over the land; and it had poured out the blood of the righteous throughout its history.  And God gave them blood.  He polluted the whole land with it.

As John was shown, from God’s perspective not only was the sea to become coagulated blood like that of a corpse, but the rivers and water sources would become blood.  And the water for washing and the water for drinking was all polluted.  And as prophesied, many in Jerusalem were relegated to eating corpses and drinking the blood.

Israel had polluted the paradise of God from the beginning; and now God was about to give them what they were!  And the waters messenger cries out to Kurie: “They are worthy!”

By that great affirmation, the waters messenger recalls the affirmation of the creatures in the heaven back in chapter five:


“And when He did take the scroll, the four creatures and the twenty four elders fell before the Lamb, each having a harp and golden bowls filling with incense which are the prayers of the holy ones, and singing new songs, saying “worthy are You to take the scroll and open its seals, for You were slain, and You did buy for God in Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation….”


Just as the Lamb of God received His reward for the blood He poured out, so this generation of judaists would receive its reward for the blood that it has poured out.  And this affirmation from the waters messenger has to be seen as a deliberate reference to the chapter five affirmation from the all creatures in the heaven.

And right here, since it is my duty, and since it is a subject of gross misapprehension, I’ll take a minute to urge you to be ever ready to defend, from His holy Word, God’s perfect justice.  God’s elect who had been persecuted and killed cried out from the incense altar to Almighty God for His vengeance on all of their oppressors who had poured out their blood (chapter six).   That, you see, is a matter of God’s righteous justice!  His justice needs to be defended against those who would twist and turn His perfect character into something resembling a false god.


As David writes in Psalm 58: “The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance.”


And as Isaiah writes in chapter fifty-nine… at the point when it is written that YAHVEH sees no righteousness in Israel:


16) … then His own Right Arm will bring Him salvation, His righteousness will uphold Him.

17) He (YAHVEH’S Strong Right Arm) will put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; He will put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and will wrap himself in zeal as a cloak.

18) According to their deeds so will He repay wrath to His adversaries, repayment to His enemies; to the borders He will render repayment.

19) So they shall fear the name of YAHVEH from the west, and fear His glory from the rising of the sun;

20) for he (the adversary) will come like a flood, which the breath of the LORD drives.

21) "And a Redeemer will come to Zion to those in Jacob who turn from transgression," declares YAHVEH.


And then the words of the coming Savior of the World  prophesied in Isaiah sixty-three:


3)    I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yea, I trod them in mine anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood spattered upon my garments and stained all my raiment (the garments of vengeance).

4)    For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption is come.


Luke writes Jesus’ own words in Chapter twenty-one of his Gospel:


20) "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know  that its desolation has come near.

21) Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it,

22) for these are the days of vengeance to fulfill all that is written.


God promised to save His people and avenge their blood on their oppressors.  As the apostle Paul said in Romans chapter twelve, vengeance belongs to God!  And the topic of His wrath and vengeance and justice should never be one that causes you discomfort; or one that is awkward or makes you too timid to speak.  The exhortation is for you to speak!

Just because the evangelical community thinks that God loves everybody, that shouldn’t inhibit you from speaking corrective words.  The waters messenger here in our text praises Almighty God for His justice!  And then, from the altar of incense in God’s tabernacle comes the collective voice of all the righteous ones whose blood has been poured out: “YES, Kurie… true and righteous Your judgments!”

So, why should you be embarrassed to speak of God’s perfect and righteous vengeance on His enemies?  Why should you be ashamed to quote the Psalmist from Psalm five, for example, where he says that God hates all workers of iniquity?  Why would you ever hesitate to apologetically engage the conversation regarding God’s justice?

Is it fear?

Man can’t consign you to an eternity in the lake of fire!  But God can… and does.  So why fear man?  The subject of God’s justice comes up in many different contexts; and man rebels against it because it doesn’t “fit” his own concept of justice.  But the follower of Jesus Christ holds His testimony!

Why fear rejection when you say what God said?  When you bring the Word of God to bear regarding a subject as important as God’s perfect justice, and you receive abuse for it, what is that to you?  It isn’t your opinion; so why should it matter to you that you’re abused?  Why should you take it personally?  You’ve spoken the Truth directly from God, and you’ve defended His perfect righteousness; so the disbelief has been confronted; you’ve been the apologist!  You’ve been “salt” and “light”; and so their blood isn’t on your hands!  You’ve brought the Word of God to those holding falsehoods!

The subject of God’s perfect justice is as important a subject as any you’ll ever have opportunity to address.  For it has to do with life and death; it has to do with the fear of God as opposed to defiance of God; it has to do with eternity in the lake of fire; it has to do with the One Whose raiment was splattered with the blood of vengeance, but Who poured out His OWN blood for His people.

So the admonition arising out of these five verses is for you to defend!  Don’t allow anyone to cause you to fear; and don’t allow them to provoke you to anger.  And when you speak, back it up with righteous living – giving them no cause against you.

Now let’s proceed to what John is shown next in this great and awesome sign.  Verses eight and nine:


“And the fourth poured out its bowl on the sun; and it was given it to burn men in fire; 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.”


Remember, now, that God’s perception, and His language, has the land of Israel as its own cosmic paradise.  He has made it to reflect His Own glory in His glory cloud in the heaven.

He reveals it to be its own land and sea and light and dark and stars and sun and moon and rivers and water sources; and it was made similar to the original garden of Eden.  And it has a man-made tabernacle and firmament in its midst that is a reflection of the tabernacle over which is the Presence of glory.

As John is shown what is shortly to be in the full and final wrath of God, one of the seven bowls of His wrath has to do with the sun.

And, as always, rather than railing and posturing and fear-mongering about some mythological future cataclysmic event in which the whole world melts in a super-nova, we must see what God has said through the prophets.  Man in all his hubris and arrogance doesn’t observe and understand light and darkness and sun and moon and stars as God does.

You remember the creation narrative of course.  Moses writes what he saw and heard while on Mt. Sinai.  And he wrote the Genesis narrative that God told him to write.  And he wrote that God made light first (to mirror His Own glory); and then He made the sun and the moon and the stars.

And they do what He wills them to do.  Listen to Job at chapter nine:


2)    Of a truth I know that it is so; but how can man be just before God?

3)    If he be apt to contend with him, he cannot answer Him even once in a thousand times!

4)    He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered?

5)    He Who removes the mountains and they don’t know it when He overturns them in His anger….

6)    Who shakes the earth out of its place and the pillars thereof tremble;

7)    Who commands the sun and it doesn’t rise, and seals up the stars;

8)    Who alone stretches out the heavens, and treads upon the waves of the sea;

9)    Who made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades and the chambers of the south;

10) Who does great things past finding out… yea, marvelous things without number.


Now, there are many like that all through the Scripture; I’ll give you just one example of His causing the sun to do what it does.  The wicked king Ahaz had before erected a great sundial on the roof of his palace in Jerusalem (this is about 700BC).  I’ll tell you the other part of that story shortly; but the account of Isaiah being sent from YAHVEH to the righteous King Hezekiah is recorded in both Second Kings and in the prophecy of Isaiah.

Here’s the Isaiah account from chapter thirty-eight:


4)    Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah:

5)    "Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says YAHVEH, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.

6)    I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and will defend this city.

7)    "This shall be the sign to you from YAHVEH, that YAHVEH will do this thing that he has promised;

8)    Behold, I will make the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of Ahaz turn back ten degrees." So the sun turned back on the dial (Ahaz’s sundial) the ten degrees by which it had declined.


Now, this is of peculiar interest to us; and it is of particular importance to the text here in the Revelation.  And I’ll come back to Ahaz and the sundial that he had previously built in Jerusalem in a few minutes.

But first I’m going to read a few very important texts here, the background of which has to be the fact that Almighty God had created the sun – first having created light by which the sun shines.  And the entirety of the Word of God confirms that the sun (along with all others in the heavens) does what it does - the first cause being the will and command of the Creator!  The sun and the moon and the stars and the earth do not exist and move on their own!  And neither to they exist and move by some imaginary natural law!  They do what they do because God causes them to do what they do.

And other than the plain words of Scripture to that effect, there are several examples (the sundial of Ahaz being just one) a number of examples of God’s sovereign authority over light and dark and sun and moon and stars, and all that He has made.  And He made all of that perfectly clear to this people that He had placed in the land of paradise – a land that He viewed as being its own cosmic structure; and a land – the cosmic structure of which He prophesied, and even demonstrated, that He would disintegrate!!  In other words, He would take it all apart – decreate it!

But what did this people do?  Even with all the revelation of His creation and His authority over it… what did they do?  That’s where the passages that I want to read come in.

Hear Moses first as he writes YAHVEH’s words at Deuteronomy chapter seventeen (before the tribes of Jacob occupy the promised land):


2)    "If there is found among you, within any of your towns that YAHVEH your God is giving you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of YAHVEH your God in transgressing his covenant,

3)    and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven which I have forbidden,

4)    and it is told you and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently.  Then if it is true and certain that such an abomination has been done in Israel,

5)    then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing; and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones.


But after possessing the land, the people began their idolatry immediately.  And by the time of the righteous king Josiah, Israel was a fully idolatrous nation.  The passage recorded in Second Kings chapter twenty three has to do with all that Josiah did to destroy the idols of Israel.  It’s far too long to read, so I’ll read only two small portions of it.  Listen:


4)    And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the keepers of the threshold to bring out of the temple of YAHVEH all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron and carried their ashes to Bethel.

5)    And he deposed the priests who the kings of Judah had ordained to make offerings in the high places, at the cities of Judah, and around Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and the moon and the constellations and all the host of the heavens.


That’s verses four and five.  Now verses eleven and twelve:


11) And he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of YAHVEH…. And he burned the chariots of the sun with fire,

12) 1and the altars on the roof of the upper chamber of Ahaz….


Now… as you can hear, there were altars and other items of sun worship inside the tabernacle, horses and chariots of the sun at the gates of the tabernacle, sacrificial altars in all the high places and cities - and on the roof of the palace of (the former) King  - Ahaz (including his sundial of course).

From the sun’s rising to the sun’s setting, Israel was steeped in idolatry.  First they were defiled and unclean by their idolatry; then they had poured out blood on the land in sacrifices to idols and poured out the blood of the righteous; and now we see that they worshipped the things that God had made – the creation itself that only does His bidding (the sun and moon and stars).

This all has great bearing on the pouring out of the sixth bowl of God’s wrath, as we’ll see next time; but we need to hear from the prophet Ezekiel now, for this is YAHVEH’s revelation, through the prophet, of the abominations that existed in His holy temple that led to its destruction and Israel’s captivity in Babylon in 586BC.  Here it is from Ezekiel chapter eight:


9)    …Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here."

10) So I went in and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel.

11) And before them stood seventy of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up.

12) Then he said to me, "Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, 'YAHVEH does not see us, YAHVEH has forsaken the land.'"

13) He said also to me, "You will see still greater abominations that they commit."

14) Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of YAHVEH, and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.

15) Then he said to me, "Have you seen this, O son of man?  You will see still greater abominations than these."

16) And he brought me into the inner court of the house of YAHVEH. And behold, at the entrance of the temple of YAHVEH, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of YAHVEH, and their faces toward the east, worshiping the sun toward its rising.

17) Then he said to me, "Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger? Behold, they put the branch to their nose.

18) Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them."


There’s much more to do here; the mind of God is infinite.  And the correspondences and connections run all through the Scripture.  But it all coheres; for it IS the mind of God as He perceives His Own creation and His salvation.

Rather than worshiping YAHVEH, and doing so as He commanded, Israel’s idolatry wasn’t limited to just pouring out blood to the imaginary gods of the pagan nations; but it extended even to worshiping that which God had called into being!

Its SUN worship (which, as I said, has great bearing on the sixth bowl of God’s wrath), Israel’s sun worship was an arrogant affront to Almighty God the Lord of Hosts; for He made the sun.  And as Ahaz’s sundial illustrated (when God made the shadow on the dial go backward ten degrees), light and darkness, sun and moon and stars do all that which YAHVEH decrees… and only that which He decrees!

His having revealed all of these things to Israel so many times, and in so many ways, and with so many mighty deeds on her behalf, and then having Israel demonstrate her disdain by worshiping the sun…!

His full and final wrath against this nation includes bringing the object of Israel’s worship against her.  And all the nations will know that He is YAHVEH when he burns the land with fierce heat from the very object of their worship.

We’ll continue this next Lord’s Day; and we’ll also see its connection to the fifth bowl of the wrath of God.