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.

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[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.

What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 8

In my last post, we learned about the lesson of the fig tree as a sign of Yeshua’s ultimate return to establish His millennial rule.  In this post, we are told flat out that no one knows the day or the hour of when that will occur.

No One Knows the Day or Hour

No One Knows 

“But when that day and hour will come, no one knows — not the angels in heaven, not the Son, only the Father.  For the Son of Man’s coming will be just as it was in the days of Noach.  Back then, before the Flood, people went on eating and drinking, taking wives and becoming wives, right up till the day Noach entered the ark; and they didn’t know what was happening until the Flood came and swept them all away. It will be just like that when the Son of Man comes.  Then there will be two men in a field — one will be taken and the other left behind.  There will be two women grinding flour at the mill — one will be taken and the other left behind.  So stay alert, because you don’t know on what day your Lord will come.  But you do know this: had the owner of the house known when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not allowed his house to be broken into.  Therefore, you too must always be ready, for the Son of Man will come when you are not expecting Him.  Who is the faithful and sensible servant whose master puts him in charge of the household staff, to give them their food at the proper time?  It will go well with that servant if he is found doing his job when his master comes.  Yes, I tell you that he will put him in charge of all he owns.  But if that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is taking his time’; and he starts beating up his fellow servants and spends his time eating and drinking with drunkards; then his master will come on a day the servant does not expect, at a time he doesn’t know; and he will cut him in two and put him with the hypocrites, where people will wail and grind their teeth! ~ Matthew 24:36-51

While Yeshua had given general signs to watch for regarding the coming of the end, He clearly explained to the talmidim that the exact day or hour was not known by the angels or Himself.  When Yeshua said that even He did not know the time of the end, He was affirming His limitations as a human (see Philippians 2:5-8).  Of course, God the Father knows the time, and Yeshua and the Father are one.  But when Yeshua became a man, He voluntarily gave up the unlimited use of His divine attributes.  On earth, Yeshua laid aside his divine prerogatives and submitted to the Father’s will.  Thus, only the Father knows exactly when Yeshua will return.  Continue reading “What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 8”

What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 7

In my last post, we began to unpack Yeshua’s teaching regarding the Coming of the Son of Man. In this post, we continue to explore the signs He shared with His talmidim to identify the beginning of His millennial rule.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

fig tree

“Now let the fig tree teach you its lesson: when its branches begin to sprout and leaves appear, you know that summer is approaching.  In the same way, when you see all these things, you are to know that the time is near, right at the door.  Yes! I tell you that this people will certainly not pass away before all these things happen.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” ~ Matthew 24:32-35

Again, using a parable, Yeshua answered the talmidim’ question regarding Yeshua’s Second Coming (Matthew 24:3).  The talmidim, like anyone living in Israel, knew when summer would come by observing the twigs and leaves of fig trees.  Fig trees lose their leaves in winter (while most of the other trees in Israel do not), and they bloom in late spring (many of the other plants bloom in early spring).  Yeshua chose the fig tree for this peculiarity; since its buds come late, it was a perfect example to picture the delay of the Second Coming.

The dry, brittle twigs getting tender with rising sap and the leaves coming out were certain signs that summer was near.  Inherent in this process is patient waiting.  There is no hurrying the natural cycle of the fig tree.  So all believers must patiently await the Second Coming.  In the same way that they could interpret the season by the leaves on trees, so the talmidim could know when these significant events would occur.  When they saw all these things (referring to the events described in previous verses), they would know that the destruction of Jerusalem would soon follow.

Some scholars feel that the phrase the time is near refers to the coming desecration of the Temple.  But this interpretation makes too abrupt an interjection in Yeshua’s thought.  Because Yeshua was reassuring the talmidim, it makes more sense that Yeshua was speaking of His Second Coming.  Therefore, this verse means that the second coming of Yeshua is both certain and near.  The fulfillment of Yeshua’s prophecy would assure the talmidim that the other prophecies he had given regarding the end times would also come true.

The solemn phrase yes, I tell you introduces an important truth, an assurance like an oath.  There are three views of the meaning of this verse: (1) It refers only to those alive at the time Yeshua spoke who still would be alive at the destruction of Jerusalem; (2) it refers to the end times only; (3) it refers both to the destruction of Jerusalem and the end times, the destruction of Jerusalem containing within itself the elements of the final end times.

Yeshua singled out this people (or generation) using the Greek word genea, which can refer both to those living at a given time as well as to race or lineage (therefore, he would be speaking of the Jewish race).  That makes the third view above most likely.  Yeshua used genea here to mean that the events of 24:1-28 would occur initially within the lifetime of Yeshua’s contemporaries.  Not that all the problems would stop at the end of their lifetimes, but that all these things would be under way, verifying what Yeshua had said.  Yeshua explained that many of those alive at that time would witness the destruction of Jerusalem.  In addition, the Jewish nation would be preserved and remain on earth, so Jews also would witness the end-time events (see also 16:28).

There could be no doubt in the talmidim’ minds about the certainty of these prophecies.  While heaven and earth as we know them would eventually come to an end, Yeshua’s words (including all His teachings during His time on earth) would never pass away into oblivion.  They were true and would remain for all eternity.

This chapter opened with the talmidim admiring the durability and beauty of the Temple.  But Yeshua countered with a different vision of durability:  Only His words endure; only the truth of God survives.  History is the story of change, the rise and fall of empires, the coming and going of societies, which, for a time, happened upon some happiness, then floundered upon some folly.  What survives all this change?  Not temples, not governments, and not even believing saints (who get sick and die like everyone else).  Only God’s Word endures.  On that alone we stake everything.  God’s promises endure forever, and all who belong to Yeshua share in them.  Take hope.  Yeshua alone leads through change to a bright and buoyant future, full of everything good.

In my next post, we will learn that Yeshua warns everyone that no one knows the day or hour of His return.

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What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 6

The Olivet Discourse grew out of some questions the talmidim asked when Yeshua told them that the Temple would one day be destroyed.  First, they wanted to know when.  That answer is not recorded in Matthew but is given in Luke 21:20-24.[1]  Second, they asked about the sign of Yeshua’s return or the sign of the end of the age.  This is answered in Matthew 24:29-44 which we will get today.  It is the period of “Tribulation” that Yeshua described in the Olivet Discourse.  At the end of that period, Yeshua will return to the earth, defeat His foes, and establish the promised kingdom during His millennial rule.

In this post, we will begin to unpack what Matthew reports as the signs of Yeshua’s return to inaugurate His millennial rule.

Coming of the Son of Man

Second Coming Edited

“But immediately following the trouble of those times, the sun will grow dark, the moon will stop shining, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in heaven will be shaken.  Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, all the tribes of the Land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with tremendous power and glory.  He will send out His angels with a great shofar; and they will gather together His chosen people from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” ~ Matthew 24:29-31 (CJB)

The phrase of those times signaled that Yeshua was talking specifically about the end times (see similar wording in the Prophets: Isaiah 13:10, 34:4; Jeremiah 3:16, 18; 31:29; Joel 3:1; and Zechariah 8:23).  After the time of tribulation, nature itself would experience change.  As taught in Romans 8 and 2 Peter 3, the entire universe had become involved in humanity’s fallen predicament; thus, the entire universe will be changed when humanity is changed. Continue reading “What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 6”