The Fourth Bowl

Revelation 16:8-9
The End Times

In my last post, we examined Sukkot. In this post, we come back to Revelation 16:8-9 to explore The Fourth Bowl

“The fourth one poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was permitted to burn people with fire. 9 People were burned by the intense heat; yet they cursed the name of God, who had the authority over these plagues, instead of turning from their sins to give him glory.” ~ Revelation 16:8-9 (CJB)

The fourth bowl, unlike the fourth shofar which darkened the sun, intensified the sun’s heat. Perhaps God’s darkening of the sun was to keep the intensity of the sun’s heat from getting so extreme that all would perish. There is also an interesting passage in Matthew where Yeshua, while describing the end of the age, says, Indeed, if the length of this time had not been limited, no one would survive; but for the sake of those who have been chosen, its length will be limited.” Matthew 24:22 (CJB) Even through the worst of days, God makes provision for His people.

Even as God pours out these final warnings to humanity, the people refuse to repent and continue to blaspheme Him.

The fourth one poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was permitted to burn people with fire. 9 People were burned by the intense heat; yet they cursed the name of God, who had the authority over these plagues, instead of turning from their sins to give him glory. For the most part, we seem to take for granted the water, the sun, and all other God given blessings that enhance our lives. In the previous two plagues the waters of the earth are polluted, and now the sun is altered in such a way that the increased heat scorches people. It would be logical, in light of this, that humanity should repent and turn to God, but, as in the case of other such events, again with this plague there is no repentance, no godly sorrow; just a blaspheming of God. This seems to imply that they could have repented, that God in this fury of judgments was still extending His mercies, and yet God knew, as in the case of Pharaoh, their hearts were growing harder and they had lost the capacity for repentance. Oliver Greene has the following to add: [1]

In Revelation 8:12 the heavenly bodies were affected. “One third” were blacked out. But here it is altogether different. The power of the sun is increased until the terrific heat and blazes of fire from the sun scorch and burn the backs of men, roasting them. What a horrible thought! God takes His mighty hand, pushes the sun so near the earth that the sunrays scorch the backs of earth’s inhabitants! God created the sun, and it would be a small thing for Him to put it close enough to earth to scorch men. Both Moses and Malachi speak of a day in which it will “BURN AS AN OVEN,” when men shall be “DEVOURED WITH BURNING HEAT” (Deut. 32:24, Mal. 4:1). Hear this solemn declaration: “The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof: because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant… therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” (Isaiah 24:4-6).

David Stern comments on verse 9: [2]

Here is the New Testament’s most cogent description of the normal behavior of hardened sinners. They cursed the name of God… instead of turning from their sins, the result of which would have been to give him glory. Although God had the authority over these plagues, these unbelievers, in their irrationality, instead of entreating the only one who could help them, curse him. They recognize that God controls the plagues but blame him instead of themselves, since, being amoral and materialistic, they see no causal connection between their own sinful behavior and these events as judgment. They remain unrepentant throughout the chapter.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 16:8-9 [3]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists believe the time of this vision’s fulfillment overlaps the time of the second and third bowls during the French Revolution. All three are judgments focused upon papal Rome.

Preterist Approach: 

Preterists cannot take a literal interpretation of this vision as there is no record of such an event occurring with the fall of Jerusalem or Rome. Instead, they take the sun symbolically as representing an influential political or religious leader

Futurist Approach:

Futurists again look at this vision as either symbolic or literal.  Symbolically, it relates to a supreme, ruling authority.  Others take the vision literally.  As is his general approach, Hal Lindsey compares this to the result of full-scale nuclear exchange which radically upsets the universe.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists take this vision literally.

In my next post, we continue to explore the plagues by examing Revelation 16:10-11 ~ The Fifth Bowl.

Click here for PDF version.

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

[2] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[3] 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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