09 September 2021

Finished! - The Seventh Bowl

The seventh “bowl of wrath” produced the final overthrow of Babylon and the completion of the wrath of GodRevelation 16:17-21

Tornado Alley - Photo by Nikolas Noonan on Unsplash
The last “
bowl of wrath” anticipates the fuller description of the destruction of end-time “Babylon” in chapters 17 and 18. The Old Testament story behind it is the plague of hail on Ancient Egypt. When the contents of the “seventh bowl” are emptied, a “great” voice declares: “It is finished,” for this bowl consummates the final judgment of God on “Babylon.” - [Photo by Nikolas Noonan on Unsplash].

As the visions of chapters 17 and 18 demonstrate, the fates of “Babylon” and the “beast” are inextricably linked. The political power of the “beast” is wholly dependent on the economic influence of “Babylon.” Economic control cannot be maintained without the political might of the “beast.” Inevitably, the downfall of one means the downfall of the other.
  • (Revelation 16:17-21) – “And the seventh angel poured out his bowl on the air; and there came forth a great voice out of the sanctuary from the throne, saying: It is finished! And there were flashes of lightning and voices and claps of thunder, and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since there were men upon the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail, every stone about the weight of a talent, comes down out of heaven upon men, and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof is exceeding great.
The “exceedingly great plague of hail” unleashed by the “seventh bowl” alludes to the hail inflicted on Ancient Egypt by Moses - (Exodus 9:22-23, “And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and Yahweh sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down unto the earth; and Yahweh rained hail upon the land of Egypt.”

The word “great” occurs seven times in the paragraph, a sevenfold repetition that stresses the severity and the finality of the last plague, since it brings the entire series of the seven “last plagues” to its intended completion.

The “flashes of lightning, voices, and claps of thunder” allude to the story of Israel gathered before Mount Sinai, where similar phenomena accompanied the presence of Yahweh. The same description was employed at the start of the vision of the Throne, and at the end of the series of “seven seals” and “seven trumpets,” and so, also, here. The repetition of these phenomena, beginning with the vision of the throne, demonstrates divine control over events, and that each of the three sevenfold series concludes at the same endpoint:
  • (Revelation 4:5) – “And out of the throne proceed flashes of lightning and voices and claps of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
  • (Revelation 8:5) – “And the angel takes the censer; and he filled it with the fire of the altar and cast it upon the earth: and there followed claps of thunder and voices and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
  • (Revelation 11:19) – “And there was opened the temple of God that is in heaven; and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant; and there followed flashes of lightning and voices and claps of thunders and an earthquake, and great hail.
  • (Revelation 16:18) – “And there were flashes of lightning and voices and claps of thunder, and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since there were men upon the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty.
Each series adds the element of an “earthquake” to the original phenomena, and “hail” is added to the second and third series. But the “earthquake” intensifies with the conclusion of each subsequent sevenfold series, so that, with the emptying of the “seventh bowl,” the exceedingly “great earthquake” causes “every island to flee, and the mountains are not found.

Lightning Storm Photo by Josep Castells on Unsplash
Photo by Josep Castells on Unsplash

Th
e massively “great earthquakeis a verbal link to the opening of the “sixth sealwith the arrival of the “day of the Lord” when a “great earthquake” caused celestial upheaval and “every mountain and island were moved out of their places” on the “great day of the wrath” of the “Lamb, and of the one who sits on the throne.” Once again, the narrative has reached the same final day of wrath and judgment – (Revelation 6:12-17).

And the cosmic chaos and terrestrial upheaval at the end of each sevenfold series point to the cessation of the existing creation and anticipate its replacement by the New Creation - (2 Peter 3:8-12).

The completion of the series of “seven bowls of fury” alludes to a passage from the Book of Daniel (“It is finished!”):
  • (Daniel 12:7-10) – “And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and swore by him that lives forever that it shall be for a time, times, and a half; and when they have made an end of breaking in pieces the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.
In Daniel, the context was the end of the “time of trouble,” the “indignation,” that is, the persecution of God’s people. Judgment and wrath are God’s righteous response to the persecution of His saints. As promised to the martyrs under the altar in the “fifth seal,” he has “vindicated” his witnesses by judging the “inhabitants of the earth,” along with the “beast” and end-time “Babylon” - (Revelation 6:9-11).

The “great earthquake, such as was not since there were men upon the earth” echoes two Old Testament passages:
  • (Exodus 9:18) – “Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as has not been in Egypt since the day it was founded even until now.”
  • (Daniel 12:1-2) – “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people will be delivered, everyone that will be found written in the book.”
End-time “Babylon” is the counterpart to Ancient Egypt, and so, suffers a similar but far worse fate. But the affliction is ironic. Just as the saints suffered tribulation “such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time,” so their persecutors endure the greatest earthquake of all time.

The term “Babylon the Great” is derived from Daniel. In response to the boast of Nebuchadnezzar, God removed his sovereignty for a period of “seven seasons.” Here, the clause stresses that end-time “Babylon” possesses the same arrogance as its ancient predecessor.
  • (Daniel 4:30-31) – “The king spoke and said: Is not this Great Babylon, which I have built for the royal dwelling-place, by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty? While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you, it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from you.
Thus, the draining of the “seventh bowl” anticipates the fuller judgment of “Babylon the great” described in the next three chapters of the book, along with her inseparable allies, the “beast” and the “false prophet.”




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