(Revelation 14 to 16)
Revelation 14 is a prelude to the seven last plagues, or bowl judgements, that will culminate in the great battle of Armageddon. From this chapter it is evident that the Second Coming is at hand, and that Jesus is ready to enter into judgement against the nations of the world. He will tread the winepress of the anger and wrath of God alone, and kill the wicked with the sword that proceeds from His mouth. John describes this action as follows:
The nations are here described as grapes that are ripe. They will be trampled in the wine-press of God’s fury until their blood flows as a thick stream in the valley of decision outside Jerusalem. The stream of the blood of God’s enemies will also flow in the plain of Megiddo and in Bozrah. Isaiah referred as follows to the Messiah’s day of reckoning:
Edom and Bozrah are part of the present Jordan. In 1922, Sir Winston Churchill united the territories of Edom, Bozrah, and Ammon, and called them Jordan. Just south of Bozrah is Petra, which means Rock. It is the city carved out of solid rock, currently uninhabited and a famous tourist attraction. People from Israel will take refuge here during the great tribulation. This area will remain free from the direct domination of the Antichrist. Daniel says:
During the great battle of Armageddon the remnant of Israel who took refuge in Petra will move towards the Mount of Olives in anticipation of the Messiah’s coming. When they are surrounded and cut of in Bozrah (in southern Jordan) by the forces of the Antichrist, Jesus will come and deliver them from their enemies whom He will destroy in Bozrah.
In Revelation 16, a very dark picture is painted of God’s judgements during the Second Coming of Jesus. In the events just prior to and during the battle of Armageddon the followers of the Antichrist will be afflicted with obnoxious sores while the natural resources of the earth will be destroyed. In an ecological disaster of unprecedented proportions all marine life will die and fresh water sources will be totally polluted and undrinkable. People, animals, and plants will first be scorched with a great heat, after which the light of heavenly bodies will be extinguished.
In the darkness of God’s judgements devastating earthquakes will occur while massive hailstones will ravage the world and its inhabitants. In the awesome earthquakes, large buildings will collapse. Mountain ranges will be flattened and islands vanish under the surface of the sea. In the midst of these apocalyptic disasters the armies of the nations will be deployed in the Middle East under demonic provocation. They will be intent on destroying the remnant of Israel and achieving 'the final solution' against this troublesome nation which has been a thorn in the side of the world for so long. They will also be foolish enough to prepare for war against the coming Messiah of Israel.
John describes the seven bowls as follows:
The first bowl is a judgement which is aimed at people, and it strikes the followers of the Antichrist. Obnoxious sores appear on those who received the mark of the beast and worship his image. That includes all the deceived people who, for the sake of economic survival, concluded a covenant with Satan’s representative on earth, the Antichrist, to receive his number in exchange for their souls. They worship the beast, and before the Second Coming they will already have received the penalty of their wickedness in their bodies which were marked by Satan.
The second bowl strikes all the oceans of the world – not only a third of them as in the case of the trumpet judgements. Its water becomes like blood and all animals and other living organisms in it die. A disaster of this magnitude will deprive mankind of an important food source, promote famine, cause pestilence because of the decomposing marine animals, force people to move away from the contaminated coastlines, and render shipping virtually impossible.
The third bowl is poured out on the rivers and springs and their water becomes blood. Through this plague the survival chances on land are also drastically reduced and millions of people and animals are faced with certain death.
The fourth bowl is poured out on the sun and causes unprecedented heat-waves on earth. Big explosions will occur on the surface of the sun, and by that time the ozone layer will be destroyed. Apart from the tremendous heat, it will cause skin cancer in people who are directly exposed to the harmful ultra-violet rays of the sun.
The fifth bowl is poured out upon the world empire of the beast, and engulfs it in total darkness. People will be terrified as they grope in darkness while God’s judgements are poured out upon them. Because they have already sold their souls to Satan by accepting the number of the Antichrist, their hearts will be totally hardened and they will blaspheme God because of the plagues. They will be past the point where they can be convicted of their sins as they will already have fallen under the power of delusion to believe the lies of Satan through the false prophet.
The sixth bowl is poured out over the Euphrates River to dry up its water so that the kings and their armies from the East can cross through it dry-shod on their way to Armageddon. They will be among the many enemies for the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Under demonic instigation a mighty army of 200 million men will march as sheep to the slaughter to be destroyed by the judgements of God. During their march they will annihilate a third of mankind, as described in Revelation 9:14-19. Consider the fact that there were barely 200 million people on earth when John received this vision; yet, today, China alone can mobilise more than 200 million men for war!
The seventh bowl causes the greatest earthquakes of all time. The cities of the nations will collapse and in various parts of the world – including Israel – the landscape will be drastically changed by the earthquakes. Jerusalem will be divided into three parts and Babylon, now being restored, will be totally destroyed. The rumbling quakes will coincide with hailstones of 50 kilograms. For such big hailstones to form unusually high temperatures must prevail causing hot, moist air to rise to great heights. The prevalence of such heat waves is confirmed in Revelation 16:8-9. Isaiah says about this time:
The day when the Lord comes to save the remnant of His people and to judge the nations, will be a day of terror when the powers of heaven will be shaken. Many Old Testament prophecies describe the Day of the Lord. People will be afflicted by great heat and droughts, by ominous darkness and the rumbling of devastating earthquakes. The wicked who hardened their hearts will be given over to ruin, together with all their possessions. This present world, which they wrongly regarded as a safe haven, will be severely devastated:
Other similar warnings about the judgements of the Lord on that day have been recorded so that people should not lightly brush them aside and disregard them. The global extent of the destruction and the reason for these judgements, namely, an excessively wicked generation of people like that in the days of Noah and Lot, is time and again emphasised:
Joel says the following about the great battle of Armageddon, which will clearly be God’s judgement against the wicked and unruly nations:
The Valley of Jehoshaphat refers to the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem. Many of the armies of the Antichrist will be deployed there in anticipation of the coming of Jesus at the end of the seven year reign of the beast. Other armies will be deployed in North and Central Israel, while there will be a large concentration at the River Euphrates. When the darkness of God’s judgements engulfs them, many of these soldiers will according to Zechariah 14:13, kill one another.
In His prophetic discourse, the Lord Jesus referred to this terrible time before His Second Coming:
The Lord will reveal Himself in glory to the remnant of Israel but avenge Himself greatly upon His enemies. He will bring down and crush the wicked kingdoms of the world and reign in their place during the millennium.
In the two chapters after Revelation 16 the destruction of the false, Babylonian religion, as well as of the restored city of Babylon, the capital of the Antichrist’s future kingdom, are discussed in more detail. The reasons for God’s judgement upon Babylon and its evil system are given in these chapters and fully explain the destruction of Babylon as briefly described in Revelation 16:19. The climax of God’s judgements on the day of Jesus’ return is the subject of Revelation 19.
All who profess to be Christians should heed the Bible's solemn warnings of impending disaster for the world when God's judgements come upon it for its increasing wickedness. They should seriously ask themselves whether they are indeed born again, have truly repented of sin before God and placed their faith in Jesus Christ and His one perfect sacrifice for sins at Calvary. This is the only way of escape from God's coming judgements against all unbelievers. Tragically, the faith of many people is only a nominal one, trusting in their own righteousness and works to please God and escape judgement. Because of their unregenerate hearts, they will be left behind when Jesus comes for His bride.
Truly born again Christians should all follow Noah's example in earnestly and repeatedly warning our contemporaries of the coming judgements even if they ignore or mock us, as Noah's did, otherwise their blood will be on our hands. Noah's contemporaries perished in the judgement (the Flood), as ours will unless they repent and believe.
Lot also had to be spiritually worthy to escape the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. According to God’s will, which was clearly revealed to Lot, he and his family had to take drastic measures to hastily flee from the doomed city. If he had not really believed that these judgements would be executed, and had not been in his heart fully prepared to part from his possessions, he would have been destroyed with them and with his wicked contemporaries in the flames that engulfed them.
We are not the subjects of God’s wrath, but then we have to be spiritually worthy to be caught away to His wonderful presence shortly before the dark days of judgement:
We must "abide in Him, that when he appears we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming" (1 Jn. 2:28).
In Revelation 16, where the great judgements of the Day of God are announced, the Lord Jesus reminds us to be vigilant and live holy lives with a view to His sudden coming before this Day of terror that will engulf the entire world:
After the heavenly Bridegroom has come like a thief in the night to take away His bride to heavenly places, the spiritual nakedness and bankruptcy of those who are not truly born again will be evident to all. Among those who remain behind there will be many nominal Christians who were not ready because they only had a form of godliness, but not the real thing.
Have you made the necessary preparations to escape the coming judgements, like Noah and Lot did, and like Israel also had to do in their exodus from Egypt, when they had to take shelter under the blood of the lamb? Double-minded people who think they can serve the Lord and the passing pleasures of sin with the world will, like the wife of Lot, not qualify to escape judgements. The tragedy is that she only paid lip service to the kingdom of God and wrongly assumed that she was safe. It is not without reason that we are reminded of Lot’s wife! (Lk. 17:28-32).