Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” – Revelation 16:1 ESV
In chapter 15, seven angels are given seven plagues that will finish the wrath of God. And in chapter 16 the angels are told to pour out their bowls of wrath onto the earth. Five of these plagues describe what appears to be environmental disaster, 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, and that 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).