The First Bowl

Revelation 16:1:1-2
The End Times

In my last post, we examined a Revelation 15:5-8 to consider The Angels Having the Seven Last Plagues. In this post, we move on to Revelation 16:1-2 to explore The First Bowl. We will be spending some time in Chapter 16 as it contains the description of all Seven Plagues.

The events that are presented in Chapter 16 are neither a record of historical occurrences that have happened in the past nor are they circumstances to be spiritualized and not taken literally, for the plagues that are depicted will indeed occur during the last half of the Tribulation as this catastrophic event happens here on earth. It is also interesting to note the striking similarity between the plagues that afflict the world during the Tribulation and the plagues that fell on the Egyptians preceding the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt during the days of Moshe. The difference is one of both scope and intensity. The plagues of Pharaoh’s time were limited to the country of Egypt; however, the plagues described in here will be worldwide in scope and much more intense.

The First Bowl

“I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary say to the seven angels, ‘Go, and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of God’s fury!’ 2 So the first one went and poured his bowl onto the earth, and disgusting and painful sores appeared on all the people who had the mark of the beast and worshipped its image.” ~ Revelation 16:1-2 (CJB)

Like the first four shofars, the judgment of the bowls is poured successively out on the earth, sea, rivers, and sun. God Himself is directing the angels to carry out these judgments. The first bowl judgment is poured out on the earth and causes those who have the mark of the beast to be covered with ulcerated sores.

I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary say to the seven angels, ‘Go, and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of God’s fury!’ 2 So the first one went and poured his bowl onto the earth, and disgusting and painful sores appeared on all the people who had the mark of the beast and worshipped its image. This first angel empties his bowl upon the earth, and all the inhabitants of the earth who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped him were stricken with sores. This plague parallels the sixth plague in Egypt as recorded in Exodus Chapter 9:8-11. Tim LaHaye shares that this judgment delineates two essential points: [1]

  1. The time ~ when Antichrist is worshiped. Further confirmation that the three judgments, the seals, the shofars, and the bowls, are sequential, not concurrent, as some Bible teachers suggest, is clarified at the time of this judgment. Antichrist will not be set up as the object of worship until the middle of the Tribulation Period. This judgment will fall on humanity because of their worship of Antichrist, which could only occur in the midst of the Tribulation Period as we saw in chapter 13. The time of this judgment, then, will probably commence within the first one to three months of the last half of the Tribulation Period.
  2. The recipients ~ the beast worshippers. The selection from among the peoples of the earth is seen in this passage: only those containing the mark of the beast and worshiping his image will be selected for those awful sores. This would indicate that God in His marvelous grace will not bring judgment on Believers during this latter half of the Tribulation, but will protect them as He did the children of Israel during the plagues of Egypt.

According to Revelation 16:11, despite the pain of these sores, their hearts, like Pharaoh’s, remain hard – they never turn from their sins to glorify God (v. 9) but curse him to the end (v. 21).

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 16:1-2 [2]

 Historicist Approach:

The majority of Historicists relate this vision to the French Revolution, seen as one of the major blows in modern history weakening the papal power, but not yet eradicating it entirely. As a result of the Revolution, the power of the popes in France was shattered.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists are divided concerning the recipient of these plagues.  Some believe they are associated with Jerusalem; while others see the second half of the book deal with the fall of Rome.  So, those who take the mark of the beast are either loyal citizens of the Roman Empire or Jews who have rejected Yeshua as the Messiah.

Futurist Approach:

At this point in the narrative, some Futurists allow for both a literal and a symbolic interpretation.  The sores can either be the result of nuclear fallout or internal corruption that is outwardly manifested.  In either case, they are apparently incurable.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists believe, as do the others, that the loud voice from the sanctuary is God Himself signifying that the time for repentance has passed.

In my next post, we will take a short break from our study of Revelation to learn about Rosh Hashanah.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

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