THE FIRST BOWL – The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. (Revelation 16:2)
“Ugly and painful sores” describes oozing, open wounds or ulcers, that are similar to
the plague of boils in Exodus 9:8–12.(1) The sores affect only those who had taken the beast’s mark and worshiped his image,(2) leaving everyone else unaffected. God promised to send Israel this plague if they rebelled against Him (Deuteronomy 28:27, 35). Here, unbelieving Jews will suffer along with the unbelieving Gentiles.(3) Revelation 16:10–11 (the fifth bowl judgment) suggests that these sores do not disappear, as the people were still in pain from the first bowl judgment. Nevertheless, the continuing pain does not persuade them to repent (see Revelation 9:20–21).(4) It is a sobering thought to consider that a sizable portion of the remaining world population will suffer from such a painful malady that nothing can cure or relieve.(5)
THE SECOND BOWL – The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died. (Revelation 16:3)
This blood is not the bright, healthy, red oxygenated blood of a living creature, but rather “like that of a dead man.” This judgment and the one that follows mirror the plague of blood in Exodus 7:17–24, and “every living thing in the sea” (bodies of salt water) dies. This is an extension of the one-third that perished because of the second trumpet judgment (see Revelation 8:8).(6) It is possible that the seas do not turn into actual blood, but into something that looked like blood and had the effect of killing everything in the sea. As most of the earth’s surface is covered by the seas, this judgment affects the entire world and as such is tremendous in its scope.(7)
This plague is somewhat reminiscent of so-called red tides, but on scale of “Biblical proportions.” Red tides are a naturally occurring phenomenon in which algae overpopulates a stretch of water, turning it red. Sometimes, these algae blooms produce harmful toxins that sicken and often kill sea creatures. In rare cases, even humans have died from eating red tide-tainted seafood. For years now these harmful algae blooms have been increasing worldwide, with some scientists blaming global warming. Others say runoff from farms and cities are draining into the ocean and feeding these micro-organisms, causing them to grow in larger numbers.(8) Whatever the proximate cause, this judgment will ultimately originate from God.
Up Next – The 3rd, 4th and 5th trumpets.
- Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 16:2). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
- Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 966). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 841). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 609). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 609–610). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
- Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 16:3). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
- Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 967). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.