Revelation | 1-3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14:1-5 | 14:6-20 | 15 | 16:1-7 | 16:8-21 | 17 | 18 | 19:1-10 | 19:11-21 | 20-22 | PDF |


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Revelation 16:8-21 Bible Study Guide With Questions – Fourth Through Seventh Bowl Judgments

Outline

I. The First Bowl Judgment (1-2)
II. The Second Bowl Judgment (3)
III. The Third Bowl Judgment (4-7)
IV. The Fourth Bowl Judgment (8-9)
V. The Fifth Bowl Judgment (10-11)
VI. The Sixth Bowl Judgment (12-16)
VII. The Seventh Bowl Judgment (17-21)

IV. The Fourth Bowl Judgment (8-9)

Discussion Questions

  • What does the phrase “it was allowed” show us?
  • How do these plagues show us God’s sovereignty over nature?
  • What are some reasons why God allows natural disasters now?
  • How did people respond to this plague? What does this reveal to us about them?
  • What does the phrase “They did not repent and give him glory” show us about God’s purposes in allowing this plague?

Cross-References

Psalm 115:3 – Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.

Proverbs 19:21 – Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

Psalms 103:19 – The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. The fourth bowl judgment – This judgment affects the sun, which scorches the earth’s population. It could be a result of extreme solar activity or solar flares. Or it might be due to problems with the earth’s atmosphere. As that protection is reduced, the more harmful effects of the sun will come through.

Either way, it is a nightmare scenario. Advances in science tend to cause the human race to become prideful. People believe that they can overcome any obstacle that will come up. They believe that they are masters of their own fate, captains of the ship.

Yet these plagues show us just how vulnerable we are. One million earths would fit inside the sun. If the sun heats up or cools down, there is nothing that people can do to stop it. With all of our modern technology, people will be completely helpless to find any solutions to this plague. An unbeliever might look at the vast universe and conclude, “we are at the mercy of mother nature.” But this is the wrong conclusion. The correct conclusion is that we are at the mercy of the divine Creator.

Think about how fragile life is on earth. If the atmosphere is damaged, we die. If the weather cycle gets messed up, we die. If the air we breathe is contaminated or changes composition, we die. If a large asteroid’s orbit lines up with earth, we die. If the sun heats up or cools off, we die.

We are at the mercy of God. And to this point, God has chosen to be merciful. Each sunrise is evidence of the common grace He extends to all mankind, allowing us to live another day. As we see in Revelation, that mercy will not last forever. There will come a point when His patience with sinners runs out. Woe to the one who has not repented of sin and enters that day unprepared.

Application: Realizing that our very existence relies on the mercy of God is greatly humbling. There is no room for pride in the life of the believer. Every good and perfect gift is from above. Let us do away with pride. Let us do away with relying on ourselves. Let us do away with boasting about our accomplishments. Instead, let us daily remember that we live because of God’s mercy.

2. It was allowed to – The sun will only release more heat toward the earth because God will allow it to. Every created thing is subject to God’s divine will. That is true from the largest of celestial bodies. One million earths can fit in the sun. And five billion suns can fit in the largest known star, UY Scuti. That means that six quadrillion-four-hundred-eighty-nine-trillion earths could fit in UY Scuti. Yet UY Scuti was made with a word by God. It cannot move unless He allows it to.

To get an idea of the gigantic size of the universe, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i93Z7zljQ7I

In the same way, no snowflake has ever fallen that God did not allow. The smallest of insects and even unseen atoms and electrons move according to God’s design and under His sovereign will.

We are no different. We live because God allows us to.

Application: Always remember that God is sovereign. He designed this incomprehensibly large universe for our enjoyment and to showcase His power. And He made us. Even though we are tiny in the universe, He loves us. He values us. He has a plan for us. We should praise Him for His creation.

Psalms 8:4-6 – What is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet.

3. They cursed the name of God – The judgment did not change people’s minds. Battle lines had already been drawn. Most of the earth’s citizens have already decided at this point to cast their lot with Satan. They have worshiped him and taken his mark. So there is no turning back. There seems to be no desire to ask for mercy or plead with God to forgive their rebellion. Instead, they rage against God, cursing Him. In short, they hate Him. They hate Him because He is more powerful than they are. They hate Him because He doesn’t tolerate their sin. They hate Him because He exists, and they don’t want Him to.

Having already gone beyond the line of no return, none of them will turn to God. That is not because they are begging for forgiveness and God refuses them. It is because they are incapable of changing their minds and repenting. Their hearts have turned to stone. Every subsequent judgment hardens their resolve to rebel against God.

V. The Fifth Bowl Judgment (10-11)

Discussion Questions

  • What are the implications of darkness?
  • What symbolism is attached to darkness in the Bible?
  • Since the text says that “its kingdom was plunged into darkness,” do you think this plague will affect believers?
  • How did people respond?
  • Why does darkness cause such anguish?
  • How is darkness a taste of hell?
  • What can we learn about the importance of repentance?

Cross-References

1 John 1:5-7 – This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Exodus 10:21-23 – Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived.

John 3:19-21 – And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

1 John 3:8-9 – Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

Hebrews 10:26 – For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. The fifth bowl – The fifth bowl judgment is poured out on the throne of the beast and its kingdom. It is a direct judgment from God against the world order that has set itself up in opposition to God with the antichrist at its head. Darkness will cover this evil kingdom and it will be terrifying. It is interesting to note that this plague is something like the opposite of the fourth bowl. The fourth bowl judgment will be “too much sun.” And this one will be “too little sun.”

It is not the first time that such a plague has descended upon the earth. In Exodus 10:21-23, God sent the plague upon the Egyptians. That passage describes it as a darkness that “can be felt.”

Each person was completely alone with his thoughts, his sin, and his guilt. There was no escape. This plague reminds me of the darkness of hell, where each person will forever be in utter darkness alone and in terror to contemplate his sin and rejection of the one true God. It is a taste of what hell will be like.

Matthew 8:12 Bible verse

When the judgment of darkness descended upon Egypt, the Jews had light in their dwellings. God made a distinction between the two groups in how He treated them. The fifth bowl judgment also specifically targets the throne and kingdom of the beast. Thus, it is likely that if there are any believers left alive at this point, God will make a distinction between them and the unbelievers. It is likely that somehow His believers will still be able to see.

Darkness is a symbol of sin, shame, guilt, and judgment. It also symbolizes blindness and deception. Though the world will be deceived and living as blind followers of the blind, God’s people see the light. He has opened our eyes to the truth. The fifth bowl judgment will act as a physical reminder of the spiritual truth. Those whose eyes have been opened by the Lord will never live in darkness, but will experience the light directly from God’s glorious presence forever. But those who shut their eyes in willful disobedience will be sentenced to live the life they have chosen, without light.

Reflect: What are some ways we can live in the light? How can fellowship help us to live in the light?

2. People’s response –

“People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.”

In this verse, we see that they were still experiencing pain from their sores, which was the first bowl judgment. The effects of these bowl judgments overlapped. One is not always completely resolved before the next one comes. The cumulative effect of all of these judgments is overwhelming. People are living in anguish. Yet there is still no repentance. Instead, people grow angrier against God, cursing Him.

VI. The Sixth Bowl Judgment (12-16)

Discussion Questions

  • Why was the Euphrates dried up? Where were these armies going?
  • Who might the “kings of the east” be?
  • Who is the dragon? The beast? What are they doing here?
  • How do these demonic spirits seek to deceive people?
  • What is the goal of these demons?
  • What prophecies does this fulfill?
  • Are demonic spirits doing the same thing today? If so, how can we be on guard about being deceived or influenced by them?
  • What is the “great day of God the Almighty?”
  • What application is given to believers here?
  • What does it mean to stay awake?
  • What are the “garments” and how can keep them on?

Cross-References

Ephesians 6:11-12 – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

Matthew 7:15 – Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Matthew 24:24 – For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Luke 21:36 – But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.

Matthew 24:42 – Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. The sixth bowl judgment – The result of the sixth bowl judgment is that the Euphrates River is dried up. Notice it says that its “water” is dried up. In the third bowl judgment, freshwater was turned to blood. This may indicate that the third bowl is a temporary plague and God restores the waters.

The Euphrates River runs predominantly north to south to the east of Israel. It provides a natural barrier between Israel and the Far East. Any invasion force from the Far East would have to find a way to get all of their troops across the river. And that would be made more difficult since the earthquake in the sixth seal judgment would have likely destroyed all the bridges.

On the surface, it looks like this bowl judgment helps Israel’s enemies. It makes it easier for them to gather a massive force and wipe them off of the map.

Reflect: How is this apparent good fortune for the antichrist’s forces not actually good for them at all?

The simple answer: it’s a trap! God is going to allow these forces to muster and march on Israel in order to gather them all in one place for their final judgment. He wants them to go. All of their elaborately hatched schemes and skillful tactics are just playing right into God’s plans. And the funny thing is, He announced these plans in the Bible long before it happens. And they still fall for it.

2. Who are the kings from the east? – Scripture doesn’t say. India and China are currently the two largest and most powerful nations to the east that would be well-equipped to launch a large ground invasion against Israel through the Euphrates. A closer nation to the east that has long been an enemy of Israel is Iran.

3. I saw coming out of the mouth… three unclean spirits like frogs – While God is working, Satan is not napping. It is a battle. God has His plans and Satan has his plans. Satan wants to unite the world together against God in one epic battle that he somehow still seems to believe that he can win. It is apparent that his minion, the antichrist, may not be as popular as he once was. The world is in a complete state of ruin. It is far worse than Germany or Japan faced in the late stages of World War II.

History teaches us that when a war goes badly, it becomes hard to hide the truth. Morale fades. Dictators live in fear of coups, schemes, and betrayal. There is less will to fight. In these times, corrupt regimes scale up the intensity of propaganda. The war is fought on multiple fronts. And one of those fronts, is for the minds of people.

Satan also knows this. And he is no stranger to deceitful propaganda. Normal media will be controlled by him. But it won’t be enough. To win the minds of people across the world, he will send out demons throughout the earth. They will use various tools of deception including performing miraculous signs. Whatever supernatural abilities they have, will be on public display for all to see.

It will be a last-ditch attempt by Satan to muster his troops for war. His goal will be to get them to join this battle. He will want every man, every woman, every weapon he can get, thinking that with enough military might he can crush the Jews and defeat God once and for all.

It seems that people will not be eager to sign up and enlist, causing Satan to resort to spiritual mind games: brainwashing, propaganda, intimidation, and fear. Having worshipped him, their minds will certainly be susceptible to demonic influence. Only the power of God can combat the deluding influence of Satan. But God will not stop it. He will allow it to happen (Romans 1), letting people go their own way and then finally reaping the consequences of their choices.

4. Satan is also active now – Make no mistake. Satan and his demons are active in the world. They hate God and all the followers of God. Their constant goal is to fight against God and His kingdom. They enjoy nothing more than seeing believers sin and seeing unbelievers with hard hearts reject the gospel.

Because they can’t defeat God, they go for the next best thing, defeating God’s followers.
This is a way to strike at God’s heart because He is grieved when we fall. It is a way to keep us from enjoying His blessings. They are spiteful and miserable. Misery enjoys company. They know they will be condemned by God and all they can do is drag as many down with them as possible. His strategies are effective. They worked in the garden of Eden and have worked countless times since then. This is our adversary.

Application: We must put on the armor of God and fight. When we do fight, we must do so by the power of the Holy Spirit. If we depend on ourselves, we are doomed to fall.

Reflect: How can we be sure that we are not deluded or influenced by evil spiritual forces?

5. Stay awake – How can we be alert?

a) We should know ourselves well. That means we should know our weaknesses and areas of worse temptation. Then we need to make sure we stay far away from the temptations that are worst to us.

b) Make no opportunity for the flesh. Two is better than one. If we are going to be in a situation that could be a temptation, take along another believer. For example, even if as a guy you are going to share the gospel with a girl, take along another Christian so that there are three together instead of two. This can limit temptation.

c) Part of being alert is having an escape plan ready to go. That means we know what we are going to do if temptation comes. For me, whenever I fly or get on a bus I look around and have a plan as to what I will do if the worst happens. If that crash happens, at least I will know what I am going to do, which will cut down on reaction time and indecision. We should do this about temptation as well. When you face temptation, what will you do? Some things could include:

A. Run.

B. Pray.

C. Call another Christian for help and encouragement.

D. Read Scripture.

A lion is a very dangerous creature. Lion and wild animal trainers try every trick in the book to tame them. Still, you can often read stories in the news about lion tamers who were killed by the lion. Most of the time it is because for a moment they were not alert and the lion chose that moment to attack. Let us not give Satan the same opportunity.

Application: What are some practical ways you can “stay awake?”

6. Armageddon – This is the Valley of Megiddo, where one front of the last battle will take place between Jesus and the antichrist’s massive assembled army.

VII. The Seventh Bowl Judgment (17-21)

Discussion Questions

  • Who is speaking in verse 17? What is done?
  • What previous judgment is this similar to? How is it similar? How is it different?
  • Are these one and the same event or two distinct events?
  • How did this affect Jerusalem?
  • What will happen to the earth’s topography during this judgment?
  • How does verse 21 show us that these plagues are literal?
  • Some people claim that if people could only see evidence of God they would believe. How do these judgments show us this is not the case? Why will people still not repent even in the face of such signs and judgment?

Cross-References

Revelation 6:12-14 – When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. A loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.” – The seventh bowl judgment ends the series of twenty-one supernatural judgments, where God pours His wrath out on the world.

2. It is a terrifying ending – There will be lightning, thunder, and a massive earthquake such as has never been seen before.

It seems quite similar to the sixth seal judgment, which also features an earthquake that affects the mountains and islands. The wording is so similar that some have concluded it is the same event described again here. There are three common ways to interpret this.

A. It is the same event. The judgments are not necessarily chronological.

B. The sixth seal is a summary of what is to come. The trumpet and bowl judgments are contained within (part of) the sixth seal. This view does not seem to be consistent with the fact that the future judgments are described as contained within the seventh seal, not the sixth seal.

C. They are two separate, but similar events. The second event is an intensification of the first one.

The most similar part of these earthquakes is the fact that they both effect mountains and island. Yet the Greek word used is not the same.

The NASB translates Revelation 6:14 as, “Every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

The NASB translates Revelation 16:20 as, “And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

“Not found” is more serious and extreme than “moved out of their places.” It seems that the first earthquake shakes and moves the entire earth, including the mountains and islands. They are left changed, bruised, beaten, crumbling perhaps. But the second earthquake finishes them off to the point where they cannot even be found. Mt. Everest will be gone. Hawaii will be gone. They will vanish from the earth. The power needed to cause that is immense. Thus, this global catastrophe will be even greater than any seen before.

Therefore, the third explanation seems the most plausible. And it fits with the theme of “escalation of intensity” we have seen in this chapter and throughout Revelation. As people continue to ignore God’s warnings, their culpability, and hence, the severity of judgment goes up.

3. The great city was split into three parts – Most likely, this is a reference to Jerusalem. It will not completely escape God’s judgment.

4. God remembered Babylon the Great – For God’s enemies, it is a scary thing to be remembered by God. They would rather just slink away in the darkness unobserved. But, it’s not going to happen. As God remembers this wicked nation, he is going to dump out His entire cup of fury on it. There will be no escape. Those who think they can get away without judgment will be wrong indeed.

5. Great hailstones one hundred pounds each – Scholars disagree about how much of Revelation to take literally, and how much to take figuratively. Some argue that the earthquake, thunder, lightning, and hail, are all figurative. If that is the case, it would be odd to describe the weight of the hail.

What significance would a one hundred pound figurative hailstone have?

It doesn’t make sense to record the weight of the hail unless it is real. When hundred-pound hailstones start to drop, the most fervent God-denier will not have a leg to stand on. The precision of the prophecies, once fulfilled, will bring even more glory to God.

The largest hailstone on record fell in South Dakota in 2010. It was 8 inches (20.3 CM) in diameter and weighed 1.94 pounds. Large hailstones in this size range are sometimes put in their own category called gargantuan hail.

The hail in Revelation will be fifty-times heavier and in a category all their own, apocalyptic hail.

6. The response – What was the response of those who were still alive? They cursed God. Still, there is no repentance. No recognition of sin. No throwing themselves upon the mercy of God. Only bitterness and hatred.

Application: Revelation 16 is another reminder that God takes sin very seriously. So should we. Sin is not a light matter. Too often, we take a casual attitude toward sin, thinking, “I can do it now, and repent later.” Perhaps these people thought the same. Hardening our hearts toward God and sinning willfully is a very dangerous thing. Let us be quick to confess our sins. One practical application is to confess your sins of the day each night before you sleep. Confess them to God, and also the person you sinned against.

Revelation Bible Study Guide – If this study is helpful, you can download the whole Revelation study PDF, get the paperback from Amazon, or also get the 7 Churches in Revelation study.

Revelation 17
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