Introduction To The Bowls (Revelation 15:5-16:1)

After John takes in the glad and victorious vision of the saints in heaven, rejoicing in their victory over the beast (Rev. 15:1-4), he then looked and saw the heavenly temple—where God dwells. And the door to the temple was open, so he could see inside, even into the Holy of Holies. And he saw the seven angels (referred to in verse 1). They came out of the temple clothed in clean linen, and they were girded around their chest with golden sashes. The clean and bright linen represents their holiness and purity, and the golden sashes denotes their royalty.

Then one of the four living creatures (God’s cherubim) gave to each of the seven angels, golden bowls full of the wrath of God. Take note that it is not the wrath of the Antichrist, but the wrath of God. Hence, all the terrible tribulation during the next period of time (approximately three- and one-half years) will come from the wrath of God as He pours out His anger on the sins of the world.

Suddenly, after the angels were out of the temple and had received the bowls of wrath, there came into the temple a cloud of smoke. It was not any ordinary smoke; it was smoke from the glory and power of God. And it was impenetrable, so that no one was able to pass through it to enter the temple until after the seven plagues were finished.

Now we don’t know exactly what this cloud of smoke was like, but I imagine that it was the same smoke as in the Old Testament, the smoke of God’s presence preventing Moses or the priests from entering the temple. Now I don’t think that its impenetrability had anything to do with its physical make-up. I think it has more to do with its spiritual make-up, with the holiness of God, mainly His wrath and judgment.

I dare not say too much—more that I am sure of, but I need to say something about this situation of not being able to enter the temple. The temple here is not the physical, Tribulation temple. Verse five tells us that it is the temple in heaven. So, I take it that it is the place of God’s presence, the place where we now go to draw near God when we pray. It is the throne of grace where we go to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:16). Hence, during this Great Tribulation, I take it that the time of grace is over, that for unbelievers as well as believers, it is too late to call out to Him. For believers during that time, I believe that God will take care of them. But for unbelievers that suddenly want God’s help, I think it may be too late for them.

Suddenly, John was disturbed by a loud voice from inside the temple, saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”

Three Tribulation Angels (Revelation 14:6-11)

In addition to the constant preaching all over the world by the 144,000 Jewish evangelists during the Tribulation, God will send His angels to warn the world of what is coming in the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation. We don’t know to what extent the angels will be active in this warning ministry, but here in these verses is what John saw and heard.

Revelation 14:6-7. And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; 7 and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”

Here John saw something incredible: an angel flying across the sky preaching the eternal gospel to all the world. We don’t know how he will do it, but he will. Perhaps it will be broadcast over the internet or TV so that all will see and hear it. That is my guess. Or perhaps this one angel will have others helping him. At any rate, we know that all the world will hear this eternal gospel.

Now this gospel will not merely be presented; it will be preached with a stern warning that they must repent and believe now because God’s judgment is coming. I think it will be much like the preaching of John the Baptist.

Verse 8. And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”

 This is not only a warning but a declaration that the evil, idolatrous and immoral system of Babylon will certainly be destroyed. Its destruction will begin at about the midpoint of the Tribulation, when the Antichrist himself along with his ten kings will make desolate the harlot (the false religious system) because of his hatred for her. He will be envious of her power and will want all power for himself (read Rev. 17:16-17).

The climax of Babylon’s fall will be toward the end of the Tribulation, when Rome, the future capital city of the world and of the Antichrist falls and is burned up, along with all of its riches and power (Rev. 17 and 18). Some may disagree with Rome being that city and say that it is the actual rebuilt city of Babylon. However, as I have stated in my book, After the Rapture, after the ancient city of Babylon was destroyed in 539 B. C., the high priest, along with the entire Babylonian system moved to safety and settled in Rome. There they merged their evil beliefs and idols with the Roman Emperors as well as with the Catholic Church. Hence, the city of Rome essentially has become Babylon.

Verses 9-11.  Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

Here, with this angel’s message is the final and ultimate warning. The first massage was to fear God and give Him glory, and thus to repent and be saved. The second message is that there is no hope for the Antichrist’s kingdom—that it is fallen and will be no more. This third message and stern warning is that if anyone decides to follow the Antichrist—to worship Him and receive him mark—they will suffer the wrath of God forever.

Now let me mention just a couple of things from this passage. The first is that because of the strength and clarity of the message, no one will be able to plead ignorance at and during their judgment. They will not have any way out. Secondly, it is clear here that all those who receive the mark will also worship the beast. The two go together. That is, no one can say I received the mark but I do not worship him. Thirdly, it is very clear here what hell will be like; hence, no one can say that they weren’t aware of the reality and severity of the judgment. Here are three distinctives of hell:

1. Hell will be to experience the wrath of God forever, which is the full strength of His anger.

2. Hell is being tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb of God.

3. Hell is to have no rest day and night. To me, this means to have no peace, no contentment, and no satisfaction of life. It will be a continual experience of pain and anxiety without a rest break.

Personalities in the Tribulation: Angels — Part 2

Studying Bible Prophecy

Continuing from part 1

Another angel (Rev. 8:3-5). When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour (v. 1). This silence was in anticipation of coming judgments. During that time of silence an angel stood at the altar of incense (in the heavenly temple). Here are four things that this angel did, or that occurred.

1. He stood at the golden altar of incense with an incense burner, and mixed the incense that was given to him with the prayers of the saints (all believers that were praying).

2. He then offered the mixture on the golden alter.

3. The smoke of the incense and prayers rose up to God from the altar.

4. The angel then filled the incense burner with coals of fire from the altar and threw it down to the earth; and there came thunder and lightning…

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Personalities in the Tribulation: Angels — Part 1

There are several references to angels during the time of the Tribulation, which means that they have a prominent role and responsibility in all that God sets forth to do during the great time of His wrath.

After the letters to the seven churches (Rev. 2-3), John, in a vision saw through an open-door, certain things happening in heaven. He saw One (God) sitting on a throne encircled by a rainbow. And there were twenty-four thrones around God’s throne, and twenty-four elders were seated on them, having on white garments with gold crowns on their heads. And there were other strange and glorious things that John saw, including the presence of four living creatures.

Four living creatures (Rev. 4:6-9). These four living creatures it seems were placed closest to God and His throne, and so they were His guardians. The sight of them were as such: they were “full of eyes in front and behind.” One (or the first) creature was like a lion, and the second like a calf, and the third had a face like a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle. And they all had six wings. John MacArthur writes,

These are the cherubim, those angels frequently referred to in the Old Testament in connection with God’s presence, power, and holiness.[1]

The testimony that John gave of them was this: day and night they did not cease to say,

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.

And John saw that when these angels would give glory and honor to God, the twenty-four elders would fall down and worship Him. Hence, one of the purposes of these glorious ones were to lead and inspire worship in the elders (see also Rev. 19:4).

Besides being leaders in worship they were involved in the administration of the various judgments, as we see in Revelation 15:7, where one of them gave to seven angels, seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God (see also Rev. 5:11, 14; 6:1, 3, 5, 7; 7:11; 14:3; 19:4).

A strong angel (Rev. 5:2). We don’t know for sure, but this may be a reference to the angel Gabriel, because his name means “strength of God.” Anyway, his particular role was to ask the question, “Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?”

“The book” was held by God on His throne and it was sealed up with seven seals (v. 1). No doubt the book is the title deed to the earth and it describes seven things God will do to the earth.

Now as to the question that the “strong angel proposed, no one seemed to have an answer, and John began to weep because no one was found worthy to open the book.

But then, out of the blue, one of the elders said, “Stop weeping! Look over there.” And he pointed out a small pet lamb that had been slain (and killed), but was now alive and standing. And the elder said of Him that He was “the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David [and He has] overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”

So we see two things here: 1) We see in the lamb the true Passover Lamb, which is God’s Son. He was slain for our sins, but He is now alive. He has been resurrected and has triumphed over sin and Satan. 2) We also see that He is called the “Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David.” This is clear confirmation that He is the living Messiah, the descendant of David. And so, the Lamb (which is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah) are found worthy to open the book and its seven seals. And so, having this confirmation, the Lamb came and took the book out of the right hand of God.

And then, in a response of praise to the lamb and to God, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb and they sang a new song, saying,

Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.

Many angels (Rev. 5:11). And then besides the voices of the elders and the living creatures, John heard the voice of many angels numbering “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands—which could be translated as innumerable or as an amount beyond calculation. And they said with a loud voice,

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.

And besides these many angels, the entire universe began to praise both God and the Lamb (v. 13).

Four angels, and another angel (Rev. 7:1-3). After the first six seal judgments and just before the seventh seal judgment is an interlude of time (Rev. 7:1-17); and to begin that period of time, four angels appeared and stood at the four corners of the earth—that is, north, south, east, and west. And it was their job to hold back the wind from all directions. And then John saw another angel holding a seal of God in his hand. And he cried out to the four angels saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea until the bond-servants of God (the 144,000 Jews) are sealed on their foreheads.” The seal was apparently a mark put on to protect them from harm; the harm that was soon coming to the earth by the same four angels.

All the angels (Rev. 7:11). After the 144,000 Jews were sealed, suddenly there erupted loud praises in heaven around the throne of God. It first came from the great multitude of resurrected martyrs (Rev. 7:9-11; 13-16). And then, all the angels (probably the same group of angels in Rev. 5:11), plus the elders and the four living creatures joined in the praise. And then all of them fell on their faces and said,

Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.

I think, apparently, the praise was to God for His salvation of all those martyrs who were saved and now enjoying eternal life (Rev. 7:15-16).


[1] John MacArthur, Ibid, John MacArthur’s notes of Revelation 4:6.

Angelic Quotes about Jesus – from Revelation

I have just started reading through Revelation, and I keep noticing the many quotes about Jesus, which have been given to us through the apostle John, by “His angel” (Jesus angel, Rev. 1:1; 22:16). The angels are such good witnesses to Jesus; we ought to pay attention to what they say. Here are the quotes I ran across so far, up to Revelation 3:14.

[He is] the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. [He] loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father (Rev 1:5-6).

I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades (Rev 1:17-18).

[He is] the first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life (Rev 2:8).

The One who has the sharp two-edged sword (Rev 2:12).

The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze (Rev 2:18).

He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars (Rev 3:1).

He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens (Rev 3:7).

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God (Rev 3:14).