The Third, Fourth and Fifth Bowls

THE THIRD BOWLThe third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.” And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.” (Revelation 16:4-7)

The third bowl extends the judgment of the second bowl on the sea to the fresh-water rivers and springs, which also turn into “blood.” John heard the angel in charge of the waters proclaim that God the Holy One is “just in these judgments.” This judgment is God’s response to the shedding of the blood of the saints and prophets.(1) In God’s system of justice,
the punishment fits the crime. Pharaoh tried to drown all the Jewish boy babies, and his own army eventually drowned in the Red Sea. Haman planned to hang Mordecai on the gallows to exterminate all the Jews. But he was hanged on the very gallows he had built, and his entire family was exterminated (Esther 7:10; 9:10). King Saul refused to obey God and slay all the Amalekites, so he was slain by an Amalekite (2 Samuel 1:1–16) that he had spared.(2)

THE FOURTH BOWLThe fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him. (Revelation 16:8-9)

This is the only bowl judgment that is against someone or something that is not on the earth.(3) Nevertheless, it affects all on the earth. This is the day Malachi promised would “burn as an oven” (Malachi 4:1–2).(4) This judgment focused the intense heat of the sun. In response people cursed God and refused to repent.

By contrast, the fourth trumpet (Revelation 8:12) darkened a third of the heavens but did not include additional intense heat (likely the opposite?). It is clear from this and other prophecies that dramatic changes in climate will occur in the Great Tribulation.(5) But this “global warming” is coming from (or is intensified by) God. Remembering that the water sources are now all tainted, one can imagine how people will suffer from thirst. Incredibly, and sadly, even this judgment will not bring men to their knees!(6)

THE FIFTH BOWLThe fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done. (Revelation 16:10-11)

Satan is the prince of darkness, so it is only fitting that darkness should invade his kingdom. Joel 2:1–2 declares that the day of the Lord would be a time of darkness. See also Christ’s prophecy in Mark 13:24.(7) This plague corresponds to the ninth plague in Exodus 10:21–23, where the darkness is centralized in Egypt (Revelation 8:12). In that case, the entire land was dark, except for Goshen where the Israelites lived. The judgment of the fifth bowl is just the opposite. While there is light for the world, darkness reigns at the headquarters of the anti-Christ.(8)

People will chew their tongues, because of the pain caused by the sores, thirst, and burns inflicted thus far. This may indicate confusion, delirium and mental/emotional derangement brought on by prolonged, intense physical suffering.(9)But they refused to repent of what they had done.” This is the last reference in Revelation to a failure to repent, underscoring the finality of the remaining unredeemed’s choice.

The fifth bowl is similar to the fifth trumpet (Revelation 9:1–11) in that both will bring darkness. However, some suggest that the fifth trumpet relates to spiritual darkness rather than literal darkness.(10)

Up Next – The sixth bowl.

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References

  1. 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.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 610). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 16:8). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  4. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 842). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. 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.
  6. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 610). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 842). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  8. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 610). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  9. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 16:10). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  10. 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.

 

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