CHAPTER 16: THE MIRROR OF THE TRUMPETS
In chapter 16, we have a mirroring of the trumpets of previous chapters, but with a progression and emphasis on things to come (in the now but not yet). We see a progression because the trumpets were sounded before in partial judgement and the bowls are the end of God’s judgement on the Earth. The throne, the authority, the Beast, and the Devil are all progressively overcome by the Gospel.
Verse 1: A voice is heard from the like the command of the LORD. The chapter uses symbolism and phrases and themes related to Egypt’s plagues (Exodus) and Babylon’s fall (Daniel, Isaiah). The focus is the finalization of judgement so all of Creation will be cleansed by blood. Note: The Blood of Christ purifies Creation which sets Christ’s own people free (Exodus theme). 7 speaks to completion.
Verse 2: The first angel has a bowl of wrath inflicting harmful painful sores on people with a mark that defines them as worshipping the Beast. The context speaks of torment or painful sores (symbol for the Gospel’s effect on them) for people with this mark.
Verse 3: The second angel has a bowl of wrath poured into sea and it is filled with blood and the corpses of every living thing. Much death. Note the parallel from Revelation 8:9 where the judgement was only a third… here… all dies. This indicates the fullness and completeness of the judgment. We also see a parallel symbol from Exodus of the Nile turning to blood.
The third angel brings more of the same death to the living who are under the plague’s (blood’s) power.
Verse 8: The sun harms those who are judged. We should note the promise of Psalm 121:6 where we are told ‘the sun nor moon will not harm who the LORD keeps.’ We see an example of this in Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, Jesus Who walks through the crowd unharmed because it wasn’t His time. Also see Isaiah 49:10 where the reverse happens to the unrepentant.
Verse 12: Frogs are present and may link with chapter 13 as the Dragon calls beasts out of sea. The Dragon’s earthly kingdom is overcome with God’s wrath poured out on the Beast’s throne and yet it carries on. There appears to be a period of time after the 5th bowl is poured out on the throne of Beast which allows demonic forces to have sway in the world. We also see darkness and frogs in these verses (parallel to the Exodus story).
The dried-up Euphrates River is likely symbolic for dried up protective barriers. Historically, the kings of Persia overcame Babylon by drying up the river Euphrates which is being used here as a symbol. The Old Covenant needs to be dried up for the New Covenant to come in and conquer.
The fifth angel brings pain caused by the rejection of the blood of Christ. Blood is the symbol for the power of the cross and Christ’s authority is seen overcoming the Beast’s authority even though the Beast still lives a great power and authority has enter the world. Forgiveness is power and shakes the authorities of the earthly realm.
Verses 12-16: We see that there have been many years of the Gospel going into the world. In verse 15, Jesus says He is coming like a thief… His Second Coming. Like in the Gospels, Jesus predicts the fall of Jerusalem and of the temple and warns believers not to follow false Christs so as to not be prepared for His coming. It will indeed take time for the Good News of His complete victory over evil to be told to the whole world. All nations must be taught to follow Jesus’ way of living.
Verse 16: Before the seventh angel, the kings of the earth gather for battle. This is and begins at the fall of Jerusalem and of the temple up to the Second Coming. As everyone during the Gospel Age is either marked with Christ or marked by the Beast.
The sixth angel speaks to removing barriers to overcome Babylon therefore there is the removal of all old covenant entrapments (see Hebrews Ch.8) standing between the Nations from hearing the Gospel. A reference to the river Euphrates being dried as mentioned above. To open the way to the fall of Babylon which here is likened to Israel. Israel was first to have the offer of eternal life (as the Messiah came from them) and then the message went out to the Gentile nations.
The seventh angel is parallel to the seventh trumpet in Revelation 11. Both speak to finality. Nations and cities all fall worldwide as the last plague finishes. It is done. Very similar to the words of Christ on the cross; ‘it is finished.’ In addition, the large hail stone is like a Sodom and Gomorrah judgement, but bigger. Remember: the fullest extent of God’s wrath is poured out with these plagues and leads to ultimate destruction. All who follow the Beast and fight for him are destroyed.
Verse 17: ‘It is done.’ Remember: the task to be completed is the Gospel message going into the world. That mystery of God is fulfilled and that is what is ‘done.’ See Colossians 2:1-3 and Ephesians 3:1-6 which describes for us the mystery of new humanity in Christ that accepts the Gospel.
PREVIEW: CHAPTERS 17-22
Keep in mind as we move forward that we have one focused vision with two contrasting views. First, we see the downfall of ‘bad guys’ in chapters 17, 18, and 19 and then the victory of the ‘good guys’ in 20, 21, a0nd 22. The two visions overlap. The visions conclude with the destruction of Babylon by way of Christ’s Word. This victory is followed by a retelling summary of how Christ and His people overcome the enemy. There is a picture of the Bride. There is a picture of New Jerusalem who also have shared identity with Christ and are embraced into a New Heaven and the New Earth. These chapters are a symbolic vision of two people groups and of two cities with only one who will find continuance of life with God.