“The Last Days” – Revelation 16 – Pastor Scott
What will the last days look like?
Whether you were for Trump or Biden, I hope we can all move forward and just hope and pray for the best. The past few months have been ugly with lots of mean words, low blows and what many consider to be dirty politics. But battles and opponents fighting are nothing new. We are surrounded by it. Here in Revelation 16, we get to see the final battle of the two greatest rivals in the history of the world. In one corner, you have a fallen angel, Satan, who fights dirty and uses an army of demons to destroy people. But Satan has limited power while God is omnipotent (unlimited power). It’s no contest - not even close. No votes to recount. God wins. As we have seen studying Revelation, that judgment is coming.
We talked about the 7 seals, then the 7 trumpets. And now, we will see the 7 bowls. These 7 bowls represent the final judgment. We know the number 7 represents “completion” and “perfection”. And these final 7 judgments show you how complete and perfect God’s plan is. These things that happen here are really disturbing. A lot of pain and suffering is going to happen. This will be the greatest judgment of God that the world has ever seen.
As believers, we should not look forward to this time when sin will be punished just because we are safe. As followers of Christ, we should have hearts like God and He doesn't want anyone to perish. We deserve to be punished as well. But we are saved by grace. Just like how Noah and his family were spared from the flood. And how Lot and his daughters were saved by grace. We, too, are offered a life line, a way to avoid God’s judgment. Judgment is deserved, and our God is just. Sin needs to be punished. But He is also loving and merciful and full of grace and He desires that none would perish.
God's judgment will bring about painful suffering for those who reject Jesus' plan of salvation. So, how can a loving God allow all this pain to occur? This is not the actions of a vengeful and spiteful God. He is loving and merciful. But He is also a just God. And the sin issue needs to be addressed. There needs to be consequences for sin. God has waited thousands of years for man to repent and turn to Him and to accept His free gift of salvation. And many have. But now in this final act, it is time for God to finally cleanse the world from sin.
Chapter 16 of Revelation is not in the 7 years of the tribulation but it feels like we are close or in it. Signs are showing that the stage is being set for all this to happen. Earthquakes, famine, disease, violence, wars, horrible things. Some believe in the rapture
and that believers will be taken away so we will not have to go through the tribulation. Some believe that there is no rapture and we will all have to go through the tribulation , either way, the tribulation is going to happen. It doesn't appear that anyone could survive under these conditions for very long. So, what will the last days look like?
1) The last days will bring about physical, emotional, mental and spiritual pains. (v.1) The loud voice from the temple is God. We know this because no one could enter the temple other than God. These bowls are the third woe which was described in Revelation 11. The third set of 7 judgments. First, we saw the 7 seals, then 7 trumpets and now the 7 bowls.
(v.2) – harmful and painful sores. Harmful – evil, wicked. Not only hurts but goes to the core. But not for everyone – only for those who have the mark of the beast – those that pledge allegiance to antichrist. Those who have the mark will feel intense pain.
(v.3) – The blood of a corpse. The blood of a dead person cannot support life. And everything in the sea will be dead. Every living creature! And with a famine, that leads to more pain. Hunger pains, illnesses from lack of nutrition, etc. (v.4) – And now fresh water is blood. Nothing to drink. The body needs water to survive but now there is none.
And the angel says in verses 5-6, God is just. He is our moral compass. He has a standard of morality of what is right and what is wrong. He is clear on what sin is. And sin needs to be accounted for and needs to be punished. But God is also full of love and grace. He made a way so that His Son Jesus would pay the penalty for us when His blood was spilled for us. His love and justness work together in His perfect plan. And now those who shed the blood of the saints are now forced to drink blood themselves. They had the chance to receive the Living Water (Jesus) but now have to drink blood. (v.7) – This speaking altar may be God’s altar – the cross. The cross is where the greatest sacrifice was made. Where His righteous judgment was on full display. Where God offered His love and a way to escape all these judgments. By the time all this happens and the water is blood, it may be too late. But NOW is NOT too late for you to accept His free gift of salvation. These bowls bring painful sores as well as turn salt and fresh water into blood. But there is more pain to come.
(v.8) – The sun will be allowed to scorch people with fierce heat. Judgment is coming in the form of fire. The real point of this fourth bowl is not the pain. It supports the first point that the last days will bring pain. But it also sets up the next point.
2) The last days will reveal a separation from God. (v.9) All these judgments are coming together. There are similarities between these judgments and what God did through Moses. But with Moses, Pharaoh was shown these events one at a time. But here in Revelation, they all come one after another. And even with everyone seeing all this, it says the people still cursed God. Even though they knew God had power over all these things. They did not repent. They did not give God glory.
As believers, we can see God in so many things, but there are many people who cannot or will not recognize that all of this is God’s creation. Even when God’s power is fully revealed, they refuse to repent and give God glory. Even in the last days as painful sores come on people and all water is turned into blood and the sun is scorching people… there will still be people who will refuse to come to God. This reveals that there is a serious and real separation from God, and a reminder that people can only change by the grace of God.
The fifth bowl (vv.10-11) further reveals the separation of man and God. The kingdom of the beast is thrown into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish – this is a glimpse of what hell is like, the ultimate separation from God. Perhaps ironic that the kingdom is thrown into darkness. Darkness represents the lack of wisdom and knowledge. It exemplifies the confusion and lack of understanding of people who follow the antichrist.
There’s a real separation from God that is hard for people to understand. We tend to think we can be close to God by doing nice things or being kind to others
. Or going to church. And those things are great. But they don't mean much if you don’t take the first step – and that’s to ask Jesus to come be a part of your life. He wants to have a personal relationship with you. He wants to bridge the gap between you and Him. Today could be the day when you make the one decision that can impact your eternity. You can know what it’s like to have a real relationship with God and that would save you from God’s judgment.
3) The last days will bring complete and final destruction. (v.12) To set up this destruction, the Euphrates River will dry up. The Euphrates River is 1,740 miles long and is a natural barrier to protect from enemies attacking. But if it’s dry, armies from Babylon, Assyria and Persia could easily cross over. And these armies represent unhindered judgment.
Then in verses 13-14 - Frogs coming out of the mouths of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet. That right there is the unholy trinity. The imagery there is unclean spirits like frogs coming from the mouths of the three evil rulers. They signify the lies, propaganda and enticements that they will use to get people to follow them in their battle against God.
The evil powers will perform signs to deceive nations to join their side. There’s a spoiler here. Don’t miss it: “Assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.” It’s great day of God! Not man. Not the antichrist. Not the evil spirits. But of God! The battle will be soon and it says in Armageddon (v.16) which literally means “Mountain of Megiddo.” That’s where the final battle will be. It’s peaceful now but this is where the greatest battle of the world will be. The last days will bring complete destruction. And the last bowl further supports this last point. (vv.17-18) The bowl was poured into the air and that completes the four elements that are the objects of God’s wrath – land, water, fire and now the air. So, we see here lightning, thunder, earthquake – the largest ever!
(v.19) – The great city – Jerusalem, was once a great and mighty city but now Jerusalem is split into three parts. This also represents the Jews. Cities of the nations fell – this represents the Gentiles. Then there’s Babylon the Great – the third entity to suffer because of this huge earthquake. The Fall of Babylon is more detailed later in Revelation. But here, God has Babylon make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of His wrath. What does all that mean? Doesn’t sound so good.
Wine = It’s the intoxicating cup which God in His wrath presents to the nations so they will stagger and stumble and eventually lead to their destruction.
(vv.20-21) - Islands will be gone…mountains will disappear. And hail will come down in 100-pound chunks.
Wow! Are you ready? This is a lot of bad things coming. But there is one little verse I haven’t touched on yet, but it is very important and a bit of relief and hope in the middle of a very dark and depressing chapter. Verse 15 gives us a reminder of who we are and the hope we have in Christ. It’s one verse of hope in the midst of all this judgment. (v.15) – Jesus is speaking. This verse is a call to stay awake! Be aware! Be ready! Not only for believers centuries ago or believers living through the Tribulation, it is a message for us now.
We live in a day and age where it’s easy to fall asleep. We ignore what’s important and focus on what’s meaningless. We spend time on things God created but ignore God Himself. And the saddest part is…we don’t stop to ask our ourselves why.
Why are we here? What is my purpose? We fall asleep. Or at the very least, we don’t recognize that there is more to this life than what we see. We need to wake up and focus on the things that we don’t see and not only the things that we do see. Because all the things we see are just temporary. And the things that we don’t see are eternal.
More good news… the word for blessed is powerful, meaning taking on the characteristics of deity. It is our state of being when we have Christ in our lives. He makes us perfect and covers us with His grace. We don’t deserve it but He loves us so much He covers us with His Robe of Righteousness. Jesus tells us to keep our garments on. Galatians 3:27 reminds us that for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. We are not meant to be naked, bare, uncovered like Adam and Eve. They disobeyed God and tried to cover themselves with whatever they could find. Believers have something better to put on, the Robe of Righteousness. If you have made a decision to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you too have this Robe of Righteousness. You are covered. You are protected.
It is God’s grace that we could study Revelation 16 this morning and you can still have time to prevent having to go through all the pain and suffering we discussed. All you have to do is ask Him. Ask Jesus to help you. To save you. To be your Lord and your Savior! You can be guaranteed to not have to worry about judgment. Jesus can cover you with His robe. And instead of judgment, you can experience real peace. Would you like to do that right now? Pray!
Songs of Praise: Cornerstone, Jesus is Better, Jesus Paid It All, Doxology