Revelation 16:1-21 Part 8

REVELATION 16:1-21 Part 8


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.



The “strange fire” underneath the big, black witch’s cauldron keeps the brew bubbling up.  It seems ever-present.  And as the bubbles burst on the surface the brew releases something most mal-odorous.

The brew is gnosticism – the old heresy that never seems to go away… one of the tenets of which presents a dichotomy for humanity, a “separation” of the spiritual from the physical.

This beast-from-the-brew has many tentacles – one of which is best observed in those whose profession has little effect on their lifestyle.  In other words, what they do bears little resemblance to what they say.  The good “words” are often there, but the deeds aren’t.  There’s that “separation”, you see.  What one does in life doesn’t have to agree with what one professes, because the “physical” is different and separate from the “spiritual”.

That’s the definition of a dichotomy.  The word implies “two”… a separation - two separate things.  Gnosticism posits two separate things.  The gnostic can be a “spiritual” being at the same time he does what he wants, because the physical is separated from the spiritual.

That which is physical isn’t all that important anyway … it’s the spiritual that counts!

I’m sure you see this often – as I do.  I was speaking to a person just the other day about a Biblical issue of great importance to Christians.  And the response I got was disheartening.  But I get that same response all the time, as a matter of fact; it goes something like this:  “well, John, I hear what you say; and it’s going to be okay… I’m safe in the arms of Jesus.”

You see, it’s the spiritual relationship that counts to those who hold to the old philosophy of gnosticism – to the detriment of fear and obedience.  If one is “safe in the arms of Jesus”, why, then, would one’s lifestyle exhibit defiance of that Jesus?

There’s nothing new under the SUN!

And it was the same in Israel’s time as it is now.

As much “light” as this peculiar people had…  The Word directly from the mouth of YAYVEH written by Moses and the prophets; all the mighty works of YAHVEH in redeeming them from Egyptian captivity; a replica of the glory cloud/tabernacle of YAHVEH right in their midst; the ceremonial and sacrificial Law foreshadowing the coming of God’s Anointed Messiah/King; a paradise-land after the likeness of Eden – it, itself, a resemblance of the abode of Almighty God in His tabernacle in the heaven, and all with its own lights; and the promise of YAHVEH to save Jacob (Israel) and protect it from all its enemies… and much more.  The glory of God shone in and all around Israel.

And yet… with all this “light”; and while holding to the “form” of righteousness, Israel did all that was evil in God’s sight.

From Moses all the way through the Scripture, Israel was warned that should they do that which was unclean, YAHVEH would make them unclean – with open, running sores from head to toe.

And He warned them that should they pour out the blood of the sacrifice anywhere else than at the entrance to the tabernacle, that He would give them blood.

And He warned them that should they pour out the blood of the righteous, that they would suffer the blood of the righteous.  And the land would be filled with their blood – a flood of blood - from border to border.

And He warned them that should they worship the creation rather than creation’s Creator – such as the sun – that He would burn them with the heat of that which they worshiped; for the sun and the moon and the stars do only that which God decrees for them to do.  They are inanimate objects with no power of their own – just like the idols of wood and stone and silver and gold.  YAHVEH is Creator of these things.  Wood and stone do what He decrees them to do; silver and gold do what He decrees them to do; and the sun does exactly what YAHVEH decrees it to do.

Jonah found that out very quickly, didn’t he?  He didn’t want to do what God commanded; so God took away his shade and baked him in the heat of the sun until Jonah relented… he finally “saw the light”!

And now, what we’re seeing and hearing in this great and awesome sign to John and the Churches is the full and final wrath of God about to be poured out on all remaining in the land; for Israel continued to believe, all the way to the end, that God would send their messiah/king to save them from their enemies (there’s the spiritual component in the dichotomy)… but all the while refusing to obey and do the commandments of God!

Even with all of the “light” that they had received from YAHVEH through their fifteen or sixteen hundred years of national existence, John is shown here in the Revelation that Israel had identified itself with the fourth great beast of world history by receiving its mark and adoring its image.  It had made a covenantal pact with the very beast that God had raised up against it!!

We can’t forget that Israel had, at first, been taken from out of the pagan nations (Gentiles) and constituted a separate people among whom the glorious Presence of YAHVEH (the light) would be made known!

And throughout its turbulent and rebellious history three previous great beasts of world history were brought up against it by YAHVEH out of the sea of humanity; and Israel had aligned itself with them, as well.

And it was under the authority of foreign nations continually from her captivity in 586BC; and she is under the authority of the fourth beast at the writing of The Revelation.  And yet this nation would not turn from its rebellion.

And the people of God learned about eastern mysticism and all of its gods while in captivity to Babylon and Persia; and it learned from the philosophers about the “light” of the human mind and enlightened rationalism and natural law while under the authority of Greece; and it learned of the shining “glory” of the city of Rome and the Roman empire while under the authority of its emperors.  Israel learned from them rather than turning to YAHVEH; and it learned to depend on them rather than turning to YAHVEH.

But, as we’ve already noted, YAHVEH had given them light – the light of His mighty deeds, the light of His Word, the light of His tabernacle and the sacrifices; the light of the prophets, the light of the sun and moon and stars of Israel’s own cosmic paradise, the light of the coming Savior of the world!

The light of the mystics and the light of the philosophers and the shining glory of the emperors of Rome was all darkness!  And although YAHVEH warned them time and again about the coming Day of YAHVEH ‘s vengeance, the people wouldn’t turn from their idolatry and harlotry.  Historically they were the spiritual “people of God” even if they never obeyed Him!  They “claimed” Him, but they were forever defiant of Him.

But through it all, YAHVEH kept a remnant for Himself – a people of promise… a covenantal continuity from Adam through Abraham, and all the way to the ones marked and sealed and rescued from the wrath shortly to come.  He had kept His promise.  He had kept the seed of the woman from the devilish machinations of the dragon and the beasts that it raised up through history.

And the “Light” did shine in darkness.

In order for us to get a better understanding of the fourth bowl of the full and final wrath of God, we have to come to the place where we perceive “light” as God perceives it.  At least we need to approach an understanding of it.

In all his bitterness, Job wished that he had been stillborn and had never seen light.  And he had to be taught what light was; hopefully we would not have to be taught as Job was.

Here is some of God’s instruction of Job; it includes some things about light:


12) Have you ever in your life commanded the morning or assigned the dawn its place

13) so it may seize the edges of the earth and shake the wicked out of it?


15) Light is withheld from the wicked, and the arm raised [in defiance] is broken.

16) Have you traveled to the sources of the sea or walked in the depths of the oceans?

17) Have the gates of death been revealed to you?  Have you seen the entrance (the door) of death's shadow?

18) Have you comprehended the extent of the cosmos?  Tell [Me], if you know all this.

19) Where is the way to the place of light?  And as for darkness, where is its place

20) so you can direct it back to its confines?  Are you familiar with the paths to its place?

21) Don't you know?  You were already born; and you have lived so long!

22) Have you entered the [place] where snow is stored?  Or have you seen the storehouses of hail

23) which I hold in reserve for the times of trouble, the day of warfare and battle?

24) What is the way to the place where light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?

25) Who cuts a channel for the flooding rain or clears the way for lightning,

26) to bring rain on an uninhabited land, [on] a desert with no human life,

27) (in order) to satisfy the parched wasteland and cause the grass to sprout?

28) Does the rain have a father?  Who fathered the drops of dew?

29) Whose womb did the ice come from?  Who gave birth to the frost of heaven

30) when water becomes as hard as stone, and the surface of the watery depths is frozen?

31) Can you fasten the chains of the Pleiades or loosen the belt of Orion?

32) Can you bring out the constellations in their season and lead the Bear and her cubs?  (The lights in the heaven)

33) Do you know the laws of the heaven? Can you impose its (the heaven’s) authority on earth?

34) Can you command the clouds so that a flood of water covers you?

35) Can you send out lightning bolts, and they go?  Do they report to you: "Here we are"?

36) Who put wisdom in the heart or gave the mind understanding?



We pray that God gives us wisdom… for He is the One Who does that (as He said to Job), so that we might understand “light”.  The Psalmist said (Psalm 38): “For in You is the fountain of life; in Your light shall we see light.”

You see, YAHVEH LORD OF HOSTS is glorious.  The prophet Ezekiel described Him above the firmament of the heaven in magnificent brightness – shining in all His glory.  We’ve read that a couple of times in the past.

And light was made in His image.  He made light to reflect Himself!  Light arises from the glory of His Person.  Therefore He knows the place where light is distributed.  He knows how the dawn seizes the edge of the earth.  He knows how – and why – light is withheld from the wicked.  And as He revealed to the Psalmist: in HIS light WE see light.

In all that He has created, we are to see His glory.  And it’s not just in the incredible brightness of His “Being”; but as well in the perfections of His Person.  There is no dichotomy to be observed there; no separation of “being” and “virtue”.

So there is the glorious light of His “being”; and the glorious light of His “wisdom”; the glorious light of His “holiness”; the glorious light of His “justice”; the glorious light of His “goodness”; the glorious light of His “verity” (truth).  And, as the Psalmist said, we are caused to see His light.  In His light WE see light.

And might I say also that “darkness” is created by Him as well.  And for those who live in darkness, it isn’t just an abstract absence of His light.  But it is a created realm, for there is a place – a source – of darkness – a realm that YAHVEH “creates” and refuses to shine the glory of His perfections… and, as we’ll see in a minute, a realm in which He exposes the wicked who exist in darkness to SEVEN TIMES the brightness of His light!

Let’s listen to the prophets for a few minutes:

20) Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  (Isaiah chapter five)


9)    Behold, the Day of YAHVEH comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger; to make the land a desolation, and to destroy the sinners thereof out of it.

10) For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in its going forth, and the moon shall not cause its light to shine.  (Isaiah chapter thirteen)


The lamenting prophet – Jeremiah – cries out in anguish as God speaks of His intent for the land.  Here it is in chapter four:


23) I beheld heaven and earth, and, lo, it was waste and void, and it had no light.

24) I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they shook, and all the hills moved to and fro.

25) I looked, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled.

26) I looked, and, lo, the fruitful field was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of YAHVEH, and before his fierce anger.

27) For thus says YAHVEH, The whole land shall be a desolation; yet will I not make a full end.

28) For this shall the earth mourn, and the heaven above be black; because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and I have not repented, neither will I turn back from it.


And again in chapter thirteen:


13) Thus says YAHVEH, “Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, even the kings that sit upon David's throne, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with drunkenness.

14) And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, says YAHVEH: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have compassion that I should not destroy them.”


Then Jeremiah writes:


15) Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud; for YAHVEH has spoken.

16) Give glory to YAHVEH your God, before He makes darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while you look for light, He turn it into the shadow of death, and make it all gross darkness.


And here’s Ezekiel at chapter thirty-two:


4)    I will leave you upon the land; I will cast you forth upon the open field, and will cause all the birds of the heavens to settle upon you, and I will satisfy the beasts of the whole land with you.

5)    And I will lay your flesh upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with your height.

6)    I will also water the land wherein you swim with your blood, even to the mountains; and the watercourses shall be full of you.

7)    And when I shall extinguish you, I will cover the heavens, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its light.

8)    All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over you, and set darkness upon your land, says YAHVEH.


In chapter after chapter Jeremiah prophesies against Israel for burning incense to idols.  The burning of incense in the tabernacle is in the likeness of the prayers of the saints before the mercy seat in God’s heavenly tabernacle.  And for the people of Israel to burn incense to idols therefore is like praying to wood and stone and silver and gold for mercy and for vengeance upon one’s enemies!

In chapter forty-four of Jeremiah, the condemnation culminates as men and women all over the land offer incense to the sun (the queen of heaven as it’s called).

So, from God’s perspective John sees a two-fold final judgment from the sun that is about to be poured out upon the land!  First, as we heard last Lord’s Day, YAHVEH will turn off the lights in heaven-and-earth Israel; and a pall of darkness shall be created to cover the land.  No “light” of the glory and brightness of YAHVEH will shine in “paradise”.  Any “light” that still remained in the land that men might see and repent was extinguished; and darkness was created, and they were completely given over to it.

 And at the same time the sun will burn all the people with the heat of the wrath of God, for all those remaining in the land have not only burned their sons and daughters to idols, but they have burned incense to dumb idols in all the high places; and they have burned incense to the SUN!   So, the very object of their adoration is turned against them in the heat of YAHVEH’s anger.  It is the fourth bowl of the full and final judgment of Almighty God against His special heaven-and-earth creation.

And please understand that there is no contradiction whatever implied here; for YAHVEH causes light to be wherever He wills.  And He causes darkness to be wherever He wills.  He creates gross darkness – that all those remaining in the land are blind to His glorious perfections; and, at the same time, He creates fierce heat (from which there is NO shade) - (fierce heat) from the very object of Israel’s worship – the SUN!

And unlike Job (who relented when the shade from the fierce heat of the sun was withered away) all Israel was confirmed in its alienation from YAHVEH.  The text even implies that all those remaining in the land knew that these plagues came from YAHVEH; and yet they would not turn; but, instead, would exhibit a blasphemous hostility toward Him for their being subjected to these plagues.

It was their disobedience, and their hypocrisy, and their uncleanness, and their pouring out of blood, and their sacrifices and prayers to dumb idols, and their harlotry, and their worship of the sun; and yet they raise the arm of defiance in the face of God when He pours out His vengeance!

For these last few minutes I want to go back to the prophets yet again; for there is much more to say about the “light”.

YAHVEH has spoken to Jacob – Israel - about the coming of His HOLY ONE, the Anointed of God.  His Right Arm - His “light” is to be a flame of fire to burn and devour (Isaiah chapter ten).

But hear what else YAHVEH revealed through the prophet!  Here is Isaiah at chapter thirty:

 26And the light of the moon hath been as the light of the sun; and the light of the sun is sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day of YAHVEH's binding up the breach of His people….


That which is bound on earth is that which has already been bound in the heaven.  And by the coming of His Strong Right Arm – His HOLY ONE – the breach of His people is complete; for His HOLY ONE is the full, seven-fold Light of YAHVEH!

And in Isaiah forty-two, the prophet writes what YAHVEH says to His HOLY ONE:


6)    I, YAHVEH, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand, and will keep you, and give you for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles –

7)    to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, those who sit in darkness out of the prison-house.

8)    I am YAHVEH; that is My Name; and My glory I will not give to another, neither my praise unto graven images.

9)    Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.

10) Sing unto YAHVEH a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth; you who go down to the sea and all that is therein, the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.

11) Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit; let the inhabitants of Sela sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.

12) Let them give glory unto YAHVEH, and declare his praise in the islands.


The sevenfold light of His HOLY ONE shall be the joy of the Gentiles in the great sea of humanity – in all the coasts and on all the islands and on all the mountains.

Isaiah continues:


24) Who gave Jacob to the spoiler, Israel to the plunderers?  Was it not He against Whom we have sinned, and in Whose ways they would not walk, neither were they obedient unto His law?

25) Therefore he poured upon him the fierceness of his wrath, and the strength of battle; and it set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.



16) I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; in paths that they know not will I lead them; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do, and I will not forsake them.


The glorious future in God’s Holy One of Israel is a future of light to the nations, according to the prophet in 700BC.  Here is Isaiah chapter sixty:


1)    Arise, shine; for thy light will come, and the glory of YAHVEH will rise upon you.

2)    For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but YAHVEH will arise upon you, and His glory shall shine upon you.

3)    And nations shall come to Your light, and kings to the brightness of Your rising.


And YAHVEH continues to give Isaiah the words concerning the rising of the Light in His HOLY ONE:


18) …You shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.

19) The sun shall be no more light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto you: but YAHVEH will be unto you an everlasting light, and your God your glory.

20) Your sun shall no more go down, neither shall your moon withdraw itself; for YAHVEH will be your everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.

21) Your people also shall all be righteous; they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.


The HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL, the bright and MORNING STAR, the ANOINTED OF GOD, has arisen.  He is the DAWN of the new day!  The special “lights” of Israel foreshadowed HIM, and they’re no longer needed.  They were extinguished; and darkness was created over the land.

But HIS glory is seven times the brightness of Israel’s lights; and, unlike Israel’s lights, HIS light can never be extinguished!  HE is the Light of the world!  Those who sat in darkness (the Gentile nations) have now seen a GREAT Light; and it will never “burn” those who live in that Light!  He is the “Daystar” shining brightly at mid-day!

This very apostle – John - previously wrote the words of Jesus in His Gospel: “I am the light of the world (He said): he who follows me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.”


The apostle Peter, writing to all the Churches in his first letter wrote:


9)    But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;


The apostle Paul’s first letter to the Church at Thessalonica is so appropriate here.  Let’s hear a bit of that from chapter five:


1)    Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you.

2)    For you yourselves are fully aware that the Day of the Lord is about to come like a thief in the night.

3)    While people say, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

4)    But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.

5)    For you are all children of light - children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.


8)    And since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

9)    For God has not predestined us for wrath, but (He has predestined us) to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us…. so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live in Him.


As we close here, and as we look to this next Friday and Sunday when the Christian Church especially celebrates the pouring out of the blood of Christ and His resurrection the third day, I quote the apostle Paul in what is perhaps the greatest proclamation in all of Scripture regarding the “light” of the Gospel.  Here is a few verses from the beginning of Second Corinthians chapter four:


1)    Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.

2)    But we have renounced disgraceful, hidden things. We refuse to practice deceit or to tamper with God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

3)    And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing.

4)    In their case the ruler of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ Who is the express image of God.

5)    For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

6)    For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.


To God be the glory!  For we in the nations are recipients of the “light” of His glory in Christ Jesus.  May the light of the knowledge of God now cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.