25 December 2017 Bible Reading
A loud voice commands the seven angels to pour out their bowls of wrath on the earth. The bowls of wrath are similar to the plagues poured out on Egypt. One of the important lessons we are learning is that there is a pattern to the spiritual warfare raging around us. God’s judgments, whether against Egypt, Jerusalem or the Roman Empire, are part of this pattern that spans history. This is why the message is so relevant for us, today: spiritual warfare continues and God’s hand still moves in the affairs of men.
The first bowl brings harmful and painful sores on those who have the mark of the beast and worship its image. The sores are symbolic of pain and suffering.
The second bowl turns the sea to blood killing everything living thing in the sea. This judgment reminds us of the Nile turning the blood in the Egyptian plagues. The third bowl turns the rivers and springs of water into blood. The second and third bowls probably picture the economic devastation that God’s wrath will incur. One of the reasons for these judgments is given in verses 5-7. They are killing God’s servants and this wrath is deserved.
The fourth bowl pours out pain on the worshipers of the beast. Rather than repenting, the people curse God. They did not repent or give God glory. Thus, the judgments continue. The fifth bowl pours out judgment on the throne of the beast, the Roman empire.
The sixth bowl dries up the Euphrates River, symbolic of being overthrown militarily. Cyrus was able to conquer Babylon because the Euphrates dried up (Isaiah 11:15; 44:27-28; 50:2; 51:10). The kings coming from the east, continues the imagery of and is symbolic of nothing more than Rome’s eventual defeat militarily.
We see the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet desperate to survive and taking extraordinary measures to reinforce their control through idolatry. Finally, we see in the sixth bowl the assembling of the kings of the earth at the place called Armageddon. This is the only place in scriptures where the word ‘Armageddon’ appears. Armageddon simply means “mount of Megiddo.” Like everything else in this message, Armageddon is symbolic. There is no place on Earth called Mount Megiddo. Scripture does discuss a valley of Megiddo and cities of Megiddo. By studying the Old Testament, we associate the name with battles:
- 2 Kings 9:27 tells us that Ahaziah, king of Judah, was killed in that area
- 2 Kings 23:29 and 2 Chronicles 35:22 tell us King Josiah was killed in that area
- Judges 5:19 speaks of kings fighting by the waters of Megiddo but failing to take the spoil
Taken together, the symbol of Armageddon is nothing more than the point at which the work of Satan being carried out through the Roman empire and its religions will fail.
The seventh angel pours his bowl and makes the important declaration: “It is done!”
Chapters 17 and 18 explain the details of this judgment that were described in summary form in chapter 16.
8 The word of Yahweh of Armies came to me. 2 Yahweh of Armies says: “I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath.”
3 Yahweh says: “I have returned to Zion, and will dwell in the middle of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called ‘The City of Truth;’ and the mountain of Yahweh of Armies, ‘The Holy Mountain.’”
4 Yahweh of Armies says: “Old men and old women will again dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, every man with his staff in his hand for very age. 5 The streets of the city will be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.”
6 Yahweh of Armies says: “If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my eyes?” says Yahweh of Armies.
7 Yahweh of Armies says: “Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; 8 and I will bring them, and they will dwell within Jerusalem; and they will be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.”
9 Yahweh of Armies says: “Let your hands be strong, you who hear in these days these words from the mouth of the prophets who were in the day that the foundation of the house of Yahweh of Armies was laid, even the temple, that it might be built. 10 For before those days there was no wages for man, nor any wages for an animal; neither was there any peace to him who went out or came in, because of the adversary. For I set all men everyone against his neighbor. 11 But now I will not be to the remnant of this people as in the former days,” says Yahweh of Armies. 12 “For the seed of peace and the vine will yield its fruit, and the ground will give its increase, and the heavens will give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things. 13 It shall come to pass that, as you were a curse among the nations, house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing. Don’t be afraid. Let your hands be strong.”
14 For Yahweh of Armies says: “As I thought to do evil to you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath,” says Yahweh of Armies, “and I didn’t repent; 15 so again have I thought in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Don’t be afraid. 16 These are the things that you shall do: speak every man the truth with his neighbor. Execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates, 17 and let none of you devise evil in your hearts against his neighbor, and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate,” says Yahweh.
18 The word of Yahweh of Armies came to me. 19 Yahweh of Armies says: “The fasts of the fourth fifth, seventh, and tenth months shall be for the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace.”
20 Yahweh of Armies says: “Many peoples, and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come; 21 and the inhabitants of one shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go speedily to entreat the favor of Yahweh, and to seek Yahweh of Armies. I will go also.’ 22 Yes, many peoples and strong nations will come to seek Yahweh of Armies in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favor of Yahweh.” 23 Yahweh of Armies says: “In those days, ten men will take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, they will take hold of the skirt of him who is a Jew, saying, ‘We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”
16 I heard a loud voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God on the earth!”
2 The first went, and poured out his bowl into the earth, and it became a harmful and evil sore on the people who had the mark of the beast, and who worshiped his image.
3 The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man. Every living thing in the sea died.
4 The third poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 5 I heard the angel of the waters saying, “You are righteous, who are and who were, you Holy One, because you have judged these things. 6 For they poured out the blood of the saints and the prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. They deserve this.” 7 I heard the altar saying, “Yes, Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments.”
8 The fourth poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was given to him to scorch men with fire. 9 People were scorched with great heat, and people blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues. They didn’t repent and give him glory.
10 The fifth poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was darkened. They gnawed their tongues because of the pain, 11 and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores. They didn’t repent of their works.
12 The sixth poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates. Its water was dried up, that the way might be prepared for the kings that come from the sunrise. 13 I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits, something like frogs; 14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs; which go out to the kings of the whole inhabited earth, to gather them together for the war of that great day of God, the Almighty.
15 “Behold, I come like a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his clothes, so that he doesn’t walk naked, and they see his shame.” 16 He gathered them together into the place which is called in Hebrew, Megiddo.
17 The seventh poured out his bowl into the air. A loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 There were lightnings, sounds, and thunders; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since there were men on the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty. 19 The great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of God, to give to her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. 20 Every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 Great hailstones, about the weight of a talent, came down out of the sky on people. People blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, for this plague is exceedingly severe.
144 Blessed be Yahweh, my rock,
who teaches my hands to war,
and my fingers to battle:
2 my loving kindness, my fortress,
my high tower, my deliverer,
my shield, and he in whom I take refuge;
who subdues my people under me.
3 Yahweh, what is man, that you care for him?
Or the son of man, that you think of him?
4 Man is like a breath.
His days are like a shadow that passes away.
5 Part your heavens, Yahweh, and come down.
Touch the mountains, and they will smoke.
6 Throw out lightning, and scatter them.
Send out your arrows, and rout them.
7 Stretch out your hand from above,
rescue me, and deliver me out of great waters,
out of the hands of foreigners;
8 whose mouths speak deceit,
Whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
9 I will sing a new song to you, God.
On a ten-stringed lyre, I will sing praises to you.
10 You are he who gives salvation to kings,
who rescues David, his servant, from the deadly sword.
11 Rescue me, and deliver me out of the hands of foreigners,
whose mouths speak deceit,
whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
12 Then our sons will be like well-nurtured plants,
our daughters like pillars carved to adorn a palace.
13 Our barns are full, filled with all kinds of provision.
Our sheep produce thousands and ten thousands in our fields.
14 Our oxen will pull heavy loads.
There is no breaking in, and no going away,
and no outcry in our streets.
15 Happy are the people who are in such a situation.
Happy are the people whose God is Yahweh.
29 “There are three things which are stately in their march,
four which are stately in going:
30 The lion, which is mightiest among animals,
and doesn’t turn away for any;
31 the greyhound,
the male goat also;
and the king against whom there is no rising up.