Bowls of Wrath – Revelation 16:1

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.”

Revelation 16:1 NIV

In chapter 15, seven angels were given seven plagues that would finish the wrath of God. And, in chapter 16, the angels were told to pour out their bowls of wrath onto the earth. The first five of these plagues describe what appears to be environmental disaster. Then the sixth is massive conflict. And with the seventh, the earth itself convulses mightily. What are these plagues? Are they directly and suddenly caused by God? Or are they, especially the first five, describing ongoing environmental deterioration caused by humanity? I really don’t know. But what is clear is that ultimately God is behind this disaster. It is an expression of his wrath against a rebellious humanity. A rebellious humanity that will refuse to repent (vv. 9, 11), and will curse God for what is happening (v. 21).

We should not be fooled into thinking that the world will go on forever and that life on earth will continue to improve. If we take nothing else away from Revelation, we should realize that God will hold humanity accountable for our rebellion against him, and that judgement is coming. How or in what form that judgement will come is secondary. That it is coming and that we need to be ready is of primary importance.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life (John 5:24).

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