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by Rev. Ken Overby
A final trumpet blast concludes the annual Feast of Rosh Hashanah and begins the countdown to “Yom Ha-Din” – the Day of Judgment. Jewish tradition teaches that the ten “awesome days” that follow Rosh Hashanah are for repentance, so that one’s name may be inscribed in the Book of Life on the Day of Atonement. These shofar “teruah” blasts are sounded in “staccato” (nine short blasts in half as many seconds). With similar rapidity the seven vials or bowls of God’s wrath in Revelation 16 are compressed into a short period. These meteoric judgments, described as seven vials, begin the countdown to the final “Day of the Lord.” Every last drop thunders that humanity is about to face her Judge.
Before the glorious appearing of David’s Son and Messiah, as THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, and before the armies assemble at Megiddo, seven bowls of divine wrath will already have been emptied on the kingdom of the beast. In the days of Noah God said, “My spirit shall not always strive with man.” He waited 120 years while the Ark was prepared. As the flood destroyed everything, there will be a worldwide deluge of scalding wrath poured from these bowls. All the while the 144,000 Jewish virgin male evangelists, Revelation 14:1-4, will traverse the globe reaping the final gospel harvest with catastrophic signs and wonders accompanying their preaching. Incredibly, like the antediluvians ignored Noah, millions will mock their message of Christ.
I remember as a farm boy emptying a bucket of fresh milk into the strainer. How slowly and carefully I began to pour the preciously obtained milk into the strainer but once the bucket reached a tipping point, the remainder flowed unrestrained. This chapter unveils the tipping point of God’s wrath. The preceding seven seal and trumpet judgments in Revelation 6-9 will have threatened humanity’s existence. Instead of repenting, man hardens his rebellion to do away with these witnesses and destroy Israel. The final solution for this act of godlessness is a final act of God’s global destruction. As God once destroyed the earth by water, then He will deal with godless humanity and its humanistic ruler in a deluge of damnation times seven. Noah’s generation had one hundred and twenty years to repent. Though the Tribulation is only seven years, actually His grace has been extended for over 2000 years since He gave His only begotten Son. When God’s longsuffering reaches the limit, judgment will pour down like a waterfall.
The first classic book on Bible Prophecy I purchased was recommended to me by a godly Bible teacher and coach, Donald Crews, who taught me the books of Daniel and Revelation. Things To Come by Dr. Dwight J. Pentecost gives the context of this period known as Daniel’s “seventieth week.” Of the vial judgments he says, “And yet while the whole earth is in view, this period is particularly in relation to Israel, known as “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” (Jeremiah 30:7). God says to the prophet in Daniel 9:24, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city…” This whole period then has special reference to Daniel’s people, Israel, and Daniel’s holy city, Jerusalem.”1 Paul wrote, “Isaiah also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth,” Romans 9:27, 28. After Revelation 16 His work will be cut short in righteous judgment for many and righteous salvation for some. A remnant of Israel will be saved. Sadly we know the exact percentage of this remnant. It will only be the surviving one-third who “endure to the end,” (Zechariah 13:9; Matthew 24:13). Two thirds of Israel will have been slaughtered and all who remain will call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.
Let’s remember the time line of these seals, trumpets and bowls of wrath. They all happen after the Rapture as the Church is not mentioned in Revelation chapters 5-18. “We know that our Lord bore for us the wrath of God and His judgment, therefore we who are in Him shall not come into judgment. For God appointed us not unto wrath,” 1 Thessalonians 5:9.2 “These two purposes, the testing of the earth dwellers and the preparation of Israel for the King have no relation to the Church whatsoever.”3
Now let’s distinguish these bowls of wrath from the preceding seals and trumpets. “Though there are similarities…the bowl judgements…being more intensive and extensive. Thus it is best…to see the bowls as…a distinctive series of judgments following the trumpets.”4 The bowls are also divided into two groups. “The first four bowls will be poured on nature globally. The final three bowls will affect only the kingdom of the Beast.”5 The bowls are carried out from the Temple in heaven by seven angels at the command of a voice. “The voice is undoubtedly the voice of God which is described as … a “great” voice (Greek, megales)” a word which occurs frequently (ten times) in this chapter.”6
During the “time of Jacob’s trouble” these remaining bowls are focused on the beast and his subjects like the plagues on the unbelieving Egyptians during the exodus of Israel, (Revelation 16:2, 9, 11). “The first bowl poured out upon the earth, Revelation 16:2,” is similar to the sixth plague (Exodus 9:8-12). It is “limited to those who took the mark of the Beast.”7 The second bowl is poured out upon the sea, Revelation 16:3. “The sea here becomes lifeless, as the blood of a dead man.”8 Here again it is like the first plague of Exodus 7. “The third bowl is poured out upon the rivers and fountains of waters and they lose their power to nourish or satisfy or sustain life, Revelation 16:4-7.”9 Revelation 16:5-7 matches the punishment of God’s justice for the crime against God’s saints and spokesmen. There is nothing but blood to drink for all the righteous blood that they have shed. “The fourth bowl like the fourth trumpet falls upon the sun, Revelation 16:8-9.”10 However this is the opposite of the fourth trumpet in which one-third of the sun’s light will be darkened. Here its intensity reaches “scorching” on the thermometer. Like Pharaoh their hearts hardened again. “The fifth bowl has to do with the imposition of darkness on the center of the Beast’s power, Revelation 16:12.”11 It is like the ninth plague of Exodus 10:21-23. It is reminiscent of the darkness in Matthew 25:30, of which Dr. David Levy writes, “This is a preview of the outer darkness of hell which unbelievers will suffer.”12 Both speak of the horrific pain of “gnawing their tongues” and “gnashing of teeth.”
“The sixth bowl prepares the way for an invasion of the kings of the east, that they with the Beast’s armies, might come to judgment at Armageddon, Revelation 16:12.”13 The three unclean spirits will seduce these eastern kings to attack Israel, perhaps through eastern religious leaders, like God permitted false prophets to lead Israel to judgment. Revelation 16:15 sounds like the unprepared foolish virgins of Matthew 25. Unbelievers are warned not to be found naked in their sin, and believers are admonished to keep their robes of Righteousness pure, Revelation 19:8.
“The seventh bowl has to do with a great convulsion that completely overthrows the ordered affairs of men as they experience the “fierceness of His wrath, Revelation 16:19.”14 This was seen in type through Moses’ seventh plague of hailstones, Exodus 9:23, 24. The wrathful voice of God removes every mountain and island from its position. The “great city” is divided in three. This has Bible scholars divided in two, between either Jerusalem which is divided by an earthquake, Zechariah 14:4, or the Babylon of Revelation 18. Cities will crumble under brimstone sized hail stones, weighing about 100 pounds each, yet man’s unbelieving hearts fail to bend.
On Rosh Hashanah afternoon each year, Jewish congregations gather by a body of water. They recite the “tashlikh” (Hebrew for “cast”) prayer. “Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea,” Micah 7:19. The only way to personally escape the devastation of the vials of wrath is to receive Yeshua ha Moshiach, Jesus the Christ, as one’s sin bearer. Then God will cast – “tashlikh” – one’s sins into the depths of the sea. The church, the Bride of Christ, will be caught up into heaven before these judgments, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. The rejections of His mercy through the blood of Jesus His Son leaves one unshielded from the outpouring of His wrath. “A short work will the Lord make upon the earth,” Romans 9:28. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23. Please don’t come up short. Receive His righteousness by faith.
1. Things To Come, Dwight J. Pentecost, Zondervan, 1964, pp.195-198