Many have tried to interpret the bowls not only linking them to the plagues of Egypt (and we can see the correlation) but to modern day events (this is very blurry at times!). Again we remind ourselves this is not a timeline, it is all happening at once. So what do we make of this?
We have seen in this vision that suffering can be a test of faith and now we see also that suffering can be judgment from God.
The reading is at the end. Here are some thoughts to ponder:
- The earth, sea, rivers and sun can be seen as elements of the created order who pass their judgment on ‘us’ who have not taken care of and have in fact destroyed creation by the way we live our lives. These judgments are for those who judge, condemn and destroy others.
- The acts within history are not detached from God. He is involved. What was happening behind the pandemic? Look at the wars and the invasions. Look at our world right now. Can we see the judgment of God through creation?
- God continues to step into His world for the reason to bring ‘us’ back to Him. Through it all we see that ‘we’ didn’t repent even though opportunity was given. God is trying to get the world’s attention.
- God didn’t choose the judgment ‘we’ did. So those who shed the blood of the martyrs will receive the judgment of blood, v6.
- Even the Church can fall asleep in the midst of horror, v15. We can so easily leave the end times to the end time that we ignore what is actually happening and we fall asleep to it. Are we living ready? Are we watching? Do we carry the return of Christ in our vocabulary? Does it impact our decisions? Do we look to the sky? Are we so concerned with our lives that we have forgotten it will soon be over?
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.” 2 The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly, festering sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. 3 The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died. 4 The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 5 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say:
“You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, you who are and who were; 6 for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.” 7 And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”
8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him. 10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in agony 11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done. 12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. 13 Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. 15 “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” 16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. 17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. 21 From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds,[a] fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible. (Revelation 16: 1-21)