Setting

After the interlude of chapters 12-14, the book now picks up the temple scene of 11:19. The dragon’s futile endeavor on earth and the Lamb’s triumph on Mount Zion have prepared the way for the fulfillment of the final judgment already declared in 11:14-18. The cries of the angels and the vision of the harvests in chapter 14 lead us to the seven bowls that contain the seven last plagues. The time has now come for God to pour out His full wrath on the earth. It is in the bowl judgments that God will complete His vengeful wrath.

Key Verse

(15:1; 16:15)

Did You Know...?

1. Song of Moses (15:3): “See Ex 15; Dt 32. Ex 15:1-18 was sung on Sabbath evenings in the synagogue to celebrate Israel’s great deliverance from Egypt.” [ref]
2. Tabernacle of the testimony (15:5): “The dwelling place of God during the desert wandering of the Israelites (see Ex 40:34-35). It was so named because the ancient tent contained the two tablets of the Testimony brought down from Mount Sinai (Ex 32:15; 38:21; Dt 10:5).” [ref]
3. Armageddon (16:16): “Probably stands for the Har Mageddon, ‘the mountain of Megiddo.’” [ref] “Megiddo and Taanach dominated the main pass that runs northeast through the hill country from the plain of Sharon to the Valley of Jezreel. Because of its strategic location, the ‘plain of Megiddo’ (2Ch 35:22) has been a frequent battleground from the earliest times.” [ref]
4. Weight of a talent (16:21): about 100 pounds.

Outline

  • Preparation for Pouring Out the Seven Bowls
    (15:1-8)
  • Seven angels having the seven last plagues
    (15:1)
  • The Song of Moses and the Lamb
    (15:2-4)
  • Seven angels coming out of the temple
    (15:5-8)
  • Pouring Out of the Seven Bowls
    (16:1-21)

Segment Analysis

  • 15:1-8

    1.

    How does John describe the sign?

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    Great and marvelous.

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  • 2.

    What feelings does the scene in verse 2 give you?

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    Peaceful and triumphant.

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  • 3a.

    Compare the song in verse 3 with Exodus 15:1-8. What is the theme of the song of Moses and the Lamb? What does the song teach about God and His deeds?

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    Like the song of Moses in Exodus 15, the song here in Revelation is a celebration of and praise to God’s powerful and marvelous deeds. The Lord has manifested His justice by meting out judgments on His enemies and delivering His saints. He is worthy of all glory and worship.

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  • 3b.

    Why is this song also called the song of the Lamb?

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    The Lamb, which has been slain, has prevailed over evil through His redemptive blood (5:5-10). The believers have likewise overcome Satan and his persecutions by the blood of the Lamb (12:11). It is because of the victory of the Lamb that we can sing the song of divine deliverance.

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  • 3c.

    Who are the singers? Why?

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    Those who have victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name. They are believers who have overcome Satan and his powerful evil forces. Since they have experienced firsthand God’s salvation, they can sing praises and thanks to God for all that He has done for them.

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  • 3d.

    Describe a time in your life when you also praised and thank God for His greatness and deliverance.

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  • 4.

    Why do you think God showed this vision to John before showing him the angels with the last plagues?

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    The appearance of a heavenly scene before judgments is typical of Revelation. As in previous heavenly scenes, the vision of the people of God on the sea of glass once again shows the victory of the Lamb and His followers in contrast to the punishment that falls on the beast-worshippers. God demonstrates His justice by delivering the believers from the divine wrath.

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  • 5.

    Read 11:1,19; 14:15,17 for previous references to the temple. Then read 15:5-16:1. Explain the role of the temple in God’s acts of judgment, especially in the context of the last plagues.

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    The temple, which represents God’s presence among His people, has played an important part in the unfolding of God’s redemption and judgment in Revelation. In 11:19, the temple was opened and the ark appeared. Chapter 15 returns to the scene of the temple from which divine judgment proceeds. The sending of the last plagues from the temple indicates that the calamities are the acts of God for the vindication and deliverance of the believers. The identification of the temple as “the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony” further points to the fact that God is pouring out His wrath in fulfillment of His covenant with His people.

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  • 16:1-21

    6.

    Record your observations of the seven bowls on chart I.

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    1st Bowl
    Type of Plague:
    Target:
    Resulting Destruction:
    Men’s Response:

    2nd Bowl
    Type of Plague:
    Target:
    Resulting Destruction:
    Men’s Response:

    3rd Bowl
    Type of Plague:
    Target:
    Resulting Destruction:
    Men’s Response:

    4th Bowl
    Type of Plague:
    Target:
    Resulting Destruction:
    Men’s Response:

    5th Bowl
    Type of Plague:
    Target:
    Resulting Destruction:
    Men’s Response:

    6th Bowl
    Type of Plague:
    Target:
    Resulting Destruction:
    Men’s Response:

    7th Bowl
    Type of Plague:
    Target:
    Resulting Destruction:
    Men’s Response:

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  • 7a.

    Compare the bowl judgments with the trumpet judgments in 8:1- 9:21. What are the similarities?

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    As in the first four trumpets, the first four bowls are poured out on the earth, the sea, the rivers and springs, and the sun. Both the sixth trumpet and the sixth bowl have to do with the River Euphrates. The similarities suggest that the bowls are connected to the trumpets. The judgments that began with the trumpets are now completed in the bowls.

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  • 7b.

    How are the bowl judgments more severe than the trumpet judgments?

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    Whereas the harm inflected by the trumpet judgments were partial in its extent, as indicated by the number 1/3, the effects of the bowl judgments are total. At the sending of the last plagues, not only does nature suffer, human beings also go through extreme ordeal, and they blaspheme God because of the severe punishment (9,11,21). Finally, the earthquake, hail, and cosmic cataclysm in the last bowl judgment bring total devastation upon men and nature.

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  • 8.

    What type of people have to suffer these judgments?

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    Men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image (2).

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  • 9a.

    What is the theme of the declarations in 5-7?

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    God’s righteousness and justice in His judgments.

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  • 9b.

    Why are these declarations necessary?

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    The declaration reminds us that there is a reason for the plagues of blood (second and third bowls). God demonstrates His justice in the plagues by giving those who shed the blood of the saints blood to drink. The voice from the altar in 7 recalls the cries of the martyrs in 6:9,10. The time for the vindication of God’s people has come.

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  • 10.

    What do men’s blasphemy and unrepentance tell us about God’s justice in His judgments?

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    Their obstinacy further justifies God’s wrath. By their unrepentance and blasphemy, they declare themselves enemies of God, bringing destruction upon themselves.

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  • 11.

    Considering that Euphrates marked the north-eastern boundary of Israel (Gen 15:18) and served as a natural barrier against enemies of the east such as Assyria and Babylon, what does the drying up of Euphrates represent in the sixth bowl?

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    The drying up of Euphrates represents the lifting of the restraint on the enemies of God so as to prepare them for the final battle on the great day of God Almighty (cf. 2Thess 2:6-9; Rev 19:19; 20:7-9). The forces of evil will soon make advances against God and His people, leading to their own doom.

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  • 12a.

    What are the sources of the unclean spirits?

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    The mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. These spirits are the spirits of demons (14).

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  • 12b.

    What are their works?

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    They perform signs and go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty (14).

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  • 12c.

    What does this tell us about the nature of the battle in 14?

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    The demonic source of the unclean spirits that gather the kings of the world for battle tells us that the battle will be Satan’s final attempt to challenge God. The battle that will take place in Armageddon will be a spiritual one. The antichrist will go out and deceive the whole world so that the world will stand opposed to God (Mt 24:23,24 and 2Thess 2:9). It is also possible that the work of the unclean spirits will result in a world war in an attempt to destroy God’s people.

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  • 13.

    Explain the parenthetical statements in 15. Why are they inserted here?

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    Since Satan has been given permission to go out and deceive the whole world, true believers must be spiritually alert and keep their garments by holding on to the righteousness of Christ (cf. 19:8; 22:11). Because the Lord will come at an hour we do not expect Him, we must be spiritually ready at all times (Mt 24:44).

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  • 14.

    List the three parts to the seventh bowl. How is this judgment the most severe of all?

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    The great earthquake, the fleeing away of islands and mountains, and the great hail. This last plague is poured out in the air, resulting in the total devastation of nature and men alike. The passage also mentions the unprecedented nature of the earthquake as well as the magnitude of the hail (exceedingly great). Furthermore, the time has finally come for God to judge great Babylon with fierce wrath because of her fornication (14:8).

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  • 15.

    What is the meaning of “It is done!” (17)?

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    God’s wrath has been completely poured out in these judgments (15:1).

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