Study Notes

Revelation 15:1-16:21


In our study last Sunday, we saw in chapter 14 that the 144,000 had been redeemed from the earth - they are now in heaven. An angel flew in mid heaven proclaiming the eternal gospel. A second angel proclaimed the fall of Babylon. A third angel warned the people of the world that if they received the mark of the beast they could not be saved. Then Jesus reaped the earth. The tares and the wheat were separated. The wrath of God began.

We're now coming to the climax of the judgments upon the earth. Just as we have seen the seven seals and seven trumpets, the chapters before us introduce seven bowls. These will be the most devastating judgments to hit the earth. But before we see them poured out, we get a glimpse into heaven.

15:1 Seven Angels With Seven Plagues

John sees seven angels who had seven plagues. These will be the last judgments poured out upon the earth.

Many today see God allowing unrighteousness and immorality to prosper, and come to the conclusion that He either does not exist or does not judge sin. But neither are the case.

2Pet. 3:7-9 But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one {fact} escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

God has waited for mankind to come to His Son Jesus Christ for 2,000 years. His patience is longsuffering, but not eternal. His mercy is great, but not to the extent of negating justice. Now is the time that His full wrath will be poured out upon the earth. In these seven plagues, His wrath is complete.

15:2 A Sea Of Glass

In chapter four, we saw that,

Rev. 4:6 ...before the throne {there was,} as it were, a sea of glass like crystal ...

Now in heaven, there are people standing on it. However, it now appears to have a fiery aspect to it. What does the fire symbolize? I believe it is reflecting the fiery wrath of God which is about to be poured out upon the earth.

Those Who Had Come Off Victorious

Who are the people standing on the sea of glass? They are those

Rev. 15:2 ...those who had come off victorious from the beast and from his image and from the number of his name...

These are people that rejected the command to worship the image of the beast and take his mark. They have been killed for their stand, yet are considered victorious. Ancient church writings speak of being martyred as "the day of victory." Paul told the Philippians,

Phil. 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

And told the Corinthians,

2Cor. 5:8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

"The Antichrist thinks he is getting rid of his enemies down here, but what he is really doing is running a shuttle service to heaven! He is but an elevator boy in God's service, taking loads of saints up to glory. He does not realize that God is using him for the very purposes that he has ordained." (Stedman)

15:3-4 The Song Of Moses

When Moses and the rest of the Israelites walked onto the opposite shore of the Red Sea, they turned around and saw the waters fall in upon the Egyptian army.

Exod. 14:28-15:1 And the waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh's entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained. But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters {were like} a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. And when Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses. Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD...

We can understand how relieved they must have been! They were about to be butchered, but God intervened. But the parallel here is that those who were killed by the antichrist also sing this song. What the world looks at as defeat - death - is a Christian's greatest moment! When you die and enter into heaven, it won't be a matter of saying, "Lord, come on, you didn't come through. I prayed for healing, but I died of cancer. I prayed for deliverance, but you allowed me to be killed anyway. I prayed for safety and was hit by a truck." Being with the Lord is so wonderful, that there will not be a single regret that you didn't stick around earth for another few weeks or years.

15:5-7 Bowls Of Wrath

John sees the heavenly temple opened and seven angels emerge. The four cherubim give them seven bowls full of the wrath of God.

15:8 No One Could Enter

In Exodus, when Moses had finished constructing the tabernacle,

Exod. 40:34-35 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

In 2Chronicles we read of Solomon building the temple of the Lord. When it was finished, the ark of the covenant was brought in and...

2Chr. 5:13-14 ...then the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.

Now it seems that the same thing is happening, although on a much grander scale. This time, God is about to pour out His wrath upon the earth. His glory and power is too intense to be around - even for the redeemed saints. I think of the space shuttle launches - all of that intense heat, power, and fire. The closest you can get to watch the launch is over 6 miles away - if you got too close, you'd be consumed. I think the same thing is happening here. God is fired up, and the end is near.

Why? Because God has shown mercy for generations while they sinned. But this is the first generation that is actually going to try and fight against God - to do battle with Him, to try and kill Him.

Ps. 2:1-12 WHY are the nations in an uproar, And the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand, And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed: "Let us tear their fetters apart, And cast away their cords from us!" He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury: "But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘Thou art My Son, Today I have begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, And the {very} ends of the earth as Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Thou shalt shatter them like earthenware.'" Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence, And rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish {in} the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

The armies of the earth will actually try and end God's rule. They will attempt to do battle with the Almighty.

16:1-2 The First Bowl - A Malignant Sore

The first bowl of wrath is poured out into the earth. All those who had worshiped the beast and taken his mark were stricken with a loathsome and malignant sore.

16:3 The Second Bowl - Blood Into The Sea

The second bowl is poured out, and every living thing in the sea dies. While the second trumpet judgments caused a third of the sea to become blood, and a third of the creatures to die, now the entirety of ocean life is wiped out.

16:4 The Third Bowl - Waters To Blood

Earlier, we read of one third of the waters being made bitter by Wormwood falling from the sky. Now it is all of the springs and waters which are corrupted.

16:5-7 God's Righteous Judgments

"Righteous and true are Thy ways," they sing. God is always fair and just - He always has been and always shall be. God is so often called into question - "A just God wouldn't do this!" "If God is so good, then how come this and such happens?" God is constantly called into question now, but in heaven, both the righteous and the wicked will admit to the righteousness and justice of God.

16:8-9 The Fourth Bowl - Scorching Sun

The sun scorched men with fire and fierce heat. This seems to speak of solar storms and the intensity of the sun increasing. Talk about global warming! Those on the earth will need sunblock with an SPF of 500 when this judgment hits.

16:10-11 The Fifth Bowl - Darkness And Pain

In the plagues of Egypt, God smote the land with a darkness that could be felt. Here, another mysterious darkness falls upon the face of the earth. Those who dwell upon the earth are in agony at this point - nothing to drink, burning with the increased heat of the sun, and agonizing sores. It is so bad that...

Rev. 16:10 ...they gnawed their tongues because of pain

And yet they still blaspheme and refuse to repent!

They Did Not Repent

Notice that in the last two bowls of wrath, they refused to turn to God and repent. Instead, they blaspheme His name. Like Pharaoh's hardened heart, the worse God judges, the more they seem to stiffen their necks against Him.

16:12 The Sixth Bowl - Euphrates Dries Up

The Euphrates is a huge river, basically cutting the Middle East in half. It stretches almost from the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf. Beginning in the mountains of Turkey, it flows through Syria and Iraq, and empties into the Persian Gulf at the Iranian border. The Lord had promised to Abraham that the land given to his descendants would be

Gen 15:18 ...From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates"

Look at a map and see how small Israel is today! But one day, when the Millennial Kingdom comes, the Jews will possess that entire region.

The Euphrates has been a great separation between those east and west of it. It ranges from three hundred yards wide to over 1,200. Its depth is from 10 to 30 feet. Right now it is a very real protection for Israel from land invasions stemming from countries like Russia and Iran.

The Kings From The East

But now the sixth angel pours out the sixth bowl, and its water dries up. This prepares the way for the kings from the east. Looking at the map indicates that the kings of the east could include Russia, China, India, Japan, Iran, and Kazakstan. God is leading the blasphemous nations to their ultimate doom. It is almost like God is saying, "Okay, no more excuses. The way is clear. I'll take on every one of you at once." More on this when we get to chapter 19, when we read about the kings of the earth assembling to make war against the Lord.

16:13-16 Three Unclean Spirits

Three wicked persons: the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. Out of their mouths come three spirits of demons performing signs, going out to the kings of the world to gather them together for the final battle.

I Am Coming Like A Thief

The Lord inserts a parenthesis in verse 15:

Rev. 16:15 ("Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his garments, lest he walk about naked and men see his shame.")

He is coming like a thief in the night. At least to the wicked. You see, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians,

1Ths. 5:2-5,9 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day... For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus also won't be catching the Tribulation saints unawares. He encourages them to stay awake - keeping watch for the coming of the Lord. Walking in righteousness and expectancy.


Here we read where this final battle will take place. Harmagedon - the mount of Megiddo. Megiddo is a valley that has factored in numerous Biblical and recent historical battles.

16:17-21 The Seventh Bowl - A Great Earthquake And Hail

When the loud voice says, "It is done," it is talking about the judgments. The seventh and final bowl is about to be poured out, and there will be no more. After Armageddon, the Great Tribulation will be done. Chapters 17 & 18 will focus in on this destruction, concentrating on Babylon. But this is chronologically the end of the judgments.

This bowl triggers an earthquake described as,

Rev. 16:18 ...A great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty.

It destroys the cities of the nations. There will be no escaping this judgment.

The Great City

Verse 19 tells us that "the great city" was split into three parts. What is the great city? Back in chapter 11 we read,

Rev. 11:8 ...the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.

"The great city" is Jerusalem, where Jesus was crucified.

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