SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- The seven bowls of God's wrath (that we saw in the previous chapter) release seven devastating plagues on the earth. They are similar to each of the seven trumpets from chapters 8 and 9 of Revelation, but more extensive.
- In verse 2 we learn that the first bowl is only poured out on those who have the "mark of the beast".
- Notice in verse 9 that people still refused to repent and glorify God. They had the opportunity, the plagues were meant to lead them to turn away from their sin and to turn to God, but they adamantly refused.
- In verse 16 we see the only place in the bible were Armageddon is mentioned. It literally refers to a place in Israel that has been the scene of many battles. Comments in The NIV Student Bible say, “Some historians estimate more wars have been fought here than any other location in the world.” Armageddon symbolically refers to where “the battle on the great day of God Almighty” (verse 14) will be fought. John’s use of “great day of God Almighty” means that God will ultimately be victorious in battle.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Verve 15 says, "Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed." This calls to mind several other Bible verses, such as Matthew 24:36-44 (where Jesus says that he will return when we least expect it, so we need to always be ready), and 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (where we're told that Jesus will come when we don't expect him, like a thief in the night), and 2 Peter 3:10 (where we're again told that Jesus will come like a thief in the night). So the idea is that Jesus is going to return someday. When he does, it will be to end the world as we know it. At that time those who did not put their faith in Jesus will face judgment, and Jesus will bring those who followed him on earth into heaven.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- One of the themes of the Bible is that Jesus is returning, we won't know when, and so we always need to be ready. Do you feel like you're ready? Is your faith in Jesus? Do you have unconfessed sins you'd be embarrassed to face Jesus without asking forgiveness for in advance? What if he returns in 5 minutes?
- If you're faithfully reading the Bible, following our plan, and you're growing a bit tired of Revelation and the negative images of wrath and judgment, take heart -- we only have about a week left in Revelation. And the good news is that God, and good, win in the end.