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10 September 2019

The Seventh Bowl of Wrath

Photo by Michael Dam on Unsplash.com
(Revelation 16:17-21) – “And the seventh poured out his bowl upon the air; and there came forth a great voice out of the temple, from the throne, saying, It is done: and there were flashes of lightning, and voices, and thunders; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since there were men upon the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail, every stone about the weight of a talent, cometh down out of heaven upon men: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof is exceeding great.
The primary Old Testament source of this image is the plague of hail on Egypt (Exodus 9:22-34). The pouring out of this bowl “upon the air” prepares for the “hail” with which this judgment concludes.
(Exodus 9:22-23) – “And Yahweh said unto Moses, Stretch forth thy hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and Jehovah sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down unto the earth; and Yahweh rained hail upon the land of Egypt.”
A “great” voice from the throne declares, “It is done!” With the seventh bowl, the final judgment of God is consummated. The word “great” occurs seven times in this final paragraph and the number ‘7’ in the book of Revelation symbolizes completion. The sevenfold repetition of “great” stresses the finality of this last plague; it brings the entire series of God’s judgments to completion.
This voice is parallel to Revelation 21:3-6 where a “great voice out of the throne” declares, “it is done!” The focus there is on the replacement of the Old Creation by the New one. The consummation of God’s plan means the final judgment of the wicked and the redemption of the Cosmos:
(Revelation 21:3-6) – “And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God: and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away. And he that sits on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he says, Write: for these words are faithful and true. And he said unto me, It is done!”
The “flashes of lightning, voices, and thunders” alludes to Exodus 19:16-18 where similar phenomenon accompanied the manifestation of Yahweh on Mount Sinai. This same language was used in Revelation 4:5, 8:5 and 11:19, in the latter, as part of the seventh trumpet that culminated in the final judgment.
The description of the great earthquake “such as was not since there were men upon the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty,” alludes to two Old Testament passages:
(Exodus 9:18) – “Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as has not been in Egypt since the day it was founded even until now.”
(Daniel 12:1-2) – “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Daniel described the future tribulation when God would deliver and resurrect faithful martyrs and, also, raise the wicked for “reproach and everlasting shame.” This link demonstrates that the seventh bowl points to final judgment and the preparation for the inauguration of the New Heaven and Earth.
The great earthquake causes islands to “flee away and mountains not to be found.” This also occurred in the sixth seal, the Day of the wrath of the Lamb (Revelation 6:17-21).  This earthquake also was portrayed when the seventh trumpet sounded (“there were flashes of lightning, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail” - 11:18-19).
The same description also occurs in Revelation 20:11 at the Great White Throne of Judgment. When God is seated, “the earth and the heaven fled from his face and place was not found for them.” The verbal parallels point not to multiple events at different times, but to the same final event.
This verbal overlap at the end of the series of seals, trumpets, and bowls demonstrates they are not in chronological sequence; all three series culminate in the final judgment. The cosmic chaos and terrestrial upheaval point to the end of the existing created order and its replacement (e.g., 2 Peter 3:8-12).
The description, “Babylon the Great,” is derived from Daniel 4:30-31. In response to King Nebuchadnezzar’s boast, God intervened to remove his sovereignty for a season:
(Daniel 4:30-31) – “The king spoke and said, Is not this Babylon the great which I myself have built as the home of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the dignity of my majesty? While yet the word was in the mouth of the king, a voice out of the heavens fell, Unto thee is it said, O Nebuchadnezzar the king, the kingdom has departed from you.”
The great hail descends not on ancient Egypt, but on all the nations of the earth, “like talents coming down out of heaven upon mankind” (anthrōpous). This description parallels the one given in the assault by “Gog and Magog” at the end of the thousand years; “fire came down out of heaven and devoured” the nations from the four corners of the earth that were gathered against the saints (Revelation 20:8).
The draining of the seventh bowl prepares for the fuller description of the judgment of Babylon that begins in the next chapter of Revelation.

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