The Seventh Bowl

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THE SEVENTH BOWLThe seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible. (Revelation 16:17-21)

It Is Done – The seventh angel then poured out his bowl into the air. With this, a loud voice from the throne proclaimed, “it is done,” which bears a striking similarity to
Christ’s last words on the cross (“it is finished”). The martyrs in heaven had asked, “How long?” (Revelation 6:9–11) and now “it is done.”(1)

The angel likely poured his bowl out in the air because it is the realm assigned to Satan, “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). Up to this point, the judgments have only touched the world of nature and of mankind, but not the mastermind behind the fall and all that is evil – Satan. From this point on, Christ will deal with Satan’s religious system (Revelation 17), his political system (Revelation 18), his armies (Revelation 19), and at last the old serpent himself (Revelation 20:1–3).(2)

Lightning and Thunder – John also saw lightning flashes and heard peals of thunder.(3)  The hail which accompanies this “storm” is reminiscent of the seventh plague in Exodus 9:22–26.(4) Hailstones of the size described here (100 pounds each) would bring massive destruction (Revelation 8:7). Cities would be leveled, and forests and vegetation would be obliterated. There could be few survivors among people or animals who were exposed. Thus, this final bowl judgment will bring wholesale devastation upon the earth.(5)

The current world record for the largest hailstone fell on July 23, 2010, in Vivian, South Dakota. It was only eight inches in diameter, and weighed a “mere” one pound, 15 ounces. Because of the variability in the shapes of hailstones, a seven-inch-diameter stone that fell in Aurora, Nebraska in 2003 still holds the record for largest circumference at 18.75 inches. Small hail, up to about the size of a pea, can wipe out a field of ripening grain or tear a vegetable garden to shreds. Large hail, the size of a tennis ball or larger, can fall at speeds faster than 100 miles per hour and can batter rooftops, shatter windows and total automobiles.(6) As global warming (fourth bowl?) increases the ability of the atmosphere to hold moisture (warm air holds more water vapor than cold), an increase in the number and destructiveness of hailstorms is a distinct possibility.(7)

A Severe Earthquake – These were followed by a severe earthquake. John was told that “no earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth.” Its description indicates that it will affect the entire earth, except perhaps the land of Israel.(8) Every island will likely be covered (“fled away”) with water, likely the result of tsunamis caused by the quake. The mountains will break apart (“could not be found”). This type of language was used often in the Old Testament (e.g., Nahum 1:3–5) to metaphorically describe divine visitation. Nevertheless, we cannot conclude from this that the earthquake will not be a literal earthquake.

To give some perspective, Figure 20.1 lists the deadliest earthquakes on record.(9) As terrible as these were, pale in comparison to this last bowl judgment.

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With this earthquake, the great city splits into three parts. This likely refers to the destruction of Babylon (literal or figurative?). Jerusalem is mentioned in Revelation 11:8 as “the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.” Here the “great city” is specifically referred to as Babylon, although this too could be either a literal or figurative reference. Some have suggested that this city is Rome, but that it is called Babylon because of its spiritual falling away. Others see it as a literal Babylon that is rebuilt on the Euphrates River, and becomes the capital of the final world government.(10) Those who believe that the “great city” is Jerusalem, as referenced in Revelation 11:8, also point to the Prophet Zechariah who prophesied that an earthquake would change the topography of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4).(11) Whatever its identity, God will give this Babylon the cup filled with the wine of the fury of His wrath. She will experience a terrible outpouring of His judgment.(12)

The cities of the nations (gentiles) will also collapse and be reduced to rubble. Obviously, in the collapse of the world’s cities, there will be tremendous loss of life and destruction of what is left of the world empire.(13) The world watched in horror as the twin towers fell on September 11, 2001, yet they were only two buildings in one city (perhaps the beginning of birth pains, and a warning?). With the seventh bowl judgment, entire cities will fall across the world. Towering skyscrapers, feats of modern engineering and architecture, modern towers of Babel will fall in judgment. The stage is thus being set for the second coming of Christ.

Up Next – We begin Chapter 17 of the Book of Revelation (Chapter 21 in “Studies in Revelation.”

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References

  1. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 609). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (pp. 843–844). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. 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. 969). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 844). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 16:20–21). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  6. http://www.citylab.com/weather/2014/07/looking-back-at-americas-largest-hailstone/374882/
  7. Copyright 2014 Jon Plotkin, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Science
  8. 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. 969). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  9. Source: National Earthquake Information Center, U.S. Geological Survey. Data compiled from several sources. Read more: Deadliest Earthquakes on Record http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0884804.html#ixzz3T4YYQajQ
  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. 969). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  11. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 611). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  12. 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. 969). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  13. 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. 969). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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