Transcript Document

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Presentation 11
Preparation For The Bowls - Plagues [15:1-8]
Chapter 15 begins by introducing the seven
angels who will later receive the seven bowls of
wrath which are poured out on the entire
heathen world. These bowls form the third series
of seven; seals, trumpets and bowls. God’s
judgement is revealed in the seals, announced in
the trumpets and now executed by the bowls.
Beware of assuming that this pattern provides us
with a precise chronology of the consummation
of history. God’s final acts of judgement break in
upon men who have rejected him throughout the
course of history, albeit leading to a final Day of
judgement, which is the completion of God’s
wrath against all unrighteousness.
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Preparation For The Bowls - Plagues [15:1-8]
Prior to the execution of judgement, we have a
picture of the saints of God rejoicing in the triumph
of righteousness. Their song, that of Moses and the
Lamb, celebrates the redemptive activity of God. In
the OT. it found its focus in the redemption of God’s
people from Egypt [Ex. 15] and culminates in the NT.
in the redemptive activity of Christ upon the cross.
The one deliverance prefigured the other. Hence not
two songs but one. The song does not celebrate the
judgement of God on his enemies but the
righteousness of his redemptive acts. The universal
recognition of God of which they sing was both the
OT. expectation [Ps. 86:9, Mal. 1:11] and the NT.
prediction [Phil. 2:9-11].
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Preparation For The Bowls - Plagues [15:1-8]
After this John sees the heavenly temple open
and the seven angels of devastation emerge.
The fact that the seven angels come from the
temple leave us in no doubt that God is the
author of the devastation.
Each angel receives a bowl of wrath from the
four living creatures, the guardians of the
throne. As the bowls of judgement are given,
the temple is filled with smoke symbolising the
power and glory of God [Ex. 19:18, 40:34, Isa.
6:4] thus indicating God’s presence in all his
power and glory to carry out his judgements
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Preparation For The Bowls - Plagues [15:1-8]
No one was allowed to enter the temple until
the seven plagues are finished for there is a
finality associated at this stage of God’s
judgement. No one can turn God back. The time
for intercession is past. No longer does God
stand knocking. Only fearful judgement awaits.
Christ gives last knocks. When your heart
becomes hard and careless then fear lest Christ
may have given you a last knock.
Kelso girl.
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The Plagues Poured Out [16:1-21]
The plagues detailed here parallel the series of interim
judgements in chap 8-11 but with a number of
The first plague is universal, it affects the whole earth
unlike the interim judgement of God in 13:11 that
touched only a third of the earth. In 8:8 a third of the
sea became blood, here in v3 ‘every living thing died.’
Secondly, the trumpets summoned men to repentance
but these judgements are final. The evil sores brought
by the first plague were not simply judgement for sin
but an evidence that sin was already there. In this
sense sin is its own judgement. God simply commands
sin to expose itself and then go to its own place.
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The Plagues Poured Out [16:1-21]
The second plague turned the sea into blood. As
a result the sea is incapable of supporting life.
Those who shed the lifeblood of God’s people
and who thirsted for their blood now
appropriately have a sea of blood to contend
The third plague affects the inland waters. They
too are turned to blood. Water is a staple
requirement for life but this is being denied
those who deprived God’s people of their lives.
[ cf. Isa. 49:6]. The judgement of God is neither
vengeful nor capricious but an expression of his
just nature and his intense hatred of sin.
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The Plagues Poured Out [16:1-21]
The fourth plague affects the sun. Men are scorched by its
intense heat. Fire is often associated with judgement in
scripture [ Deut. 28:22, 1 Cor. 3:13, 2 Pet. 3:7 ]. In contrast
with this judgement of God cf. the blessing of God’s
people in heaven, ‘The sun will not beat upon them nor
any scorching heat’ [7:16]
The fifth plague affects the throne of the beast i.e. the first
beast who represented evil government. Here is the final
overthrow of the monstrous regimes of men, from ancient
Pharaohs, to the Hitlers and Stalins. When God eclipses
such rulers the darkness of those, who have been their
avid followers, only intensifies producing personal
suffering. They are bereaved and grieve over the fallen evil
power they had given themselves so unreservedly to.
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The Plagues Poured Out [16:1-21]
The sixth plague affects the Euphrates and the river
dries up preparing the way for attack from the kings
of the East. At least fifty different interpretations
have been advanced for the kings of the East. The
immediate historical context would cause John’s
readers to think of the Parthians who lived across
the Eurphrates beyond the eastern boundary of the
Roman Empire. The kings of the East [ v12 ] are seen
to be distinct from the kings of the whole world
[v14]. Three unclean spirits come out of the mouths
of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet,
suggesting the persuasive and deceptive
propaganda that, in the last days, will cause men to
side unconditionally with the cause of evil.
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The Plagues Poured Out [16:1-21]
While it is true that this is a pattern that
repeats itself throughout history, it clearly
leads towards the climax of v16 Armageddon. [cf. Ezek. 38-39, Joel 2:11,
A warning in the midst of this prophetic
passage is appropriate. When the forces
of the beast gather for the last battle, the
believer will enter a period of supreme
crisis. The words of Jesus are cited, ‘Lo I
am coming as a thief’, reminding us of the
unexpected nature of Christ's return and
intervention in the historical process.
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The Plagues Poured Out [16:1-21]
The faithful are encouraged to remain
faithful, i.e. to keep their trust in the
garments of Christ’s righteousness as the
source of their justification and
sanctification. The place of God’s final
clash with evil governments is described as
A great deal of energy has been expended
in attempting to locate its geographical
location. What is of greater importance is
the fact that there is a day coming when
the powers of evil will be finally defeated
and be seen to be defeated.
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The Plagues Poured Out
The seventh bowl is poured out and followed by a great
voice from the temple declaring that God’s purpose is
accomplished cf. 11:15, 18-21. The plagues are over and
man stands now on the threshold of eternity. This time is
marked by the greatest of all earthquakes. There is no
general agreement about the identity of the great city, split
into three, some understand it symbolically as ‘civilised man
ordering his affairs apart form God’ [Morris]. The storm of
divine wrath reaches its climax with hailstones of around
100lb in weight - for God’s use of hailstones see Josh. 10:11
and Ezek. 38:18-22. Note the effect of divine retribution
only serves to intensify man’s implacable opposition to
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