It Is Finished – Revelation 16:16-21 05/23/21
Today, those who opposed God’s rule will take a beating. The full passage today is Revelation 16:16-21, which I leave to you to look up. Here we have the pouring out of the seventh bowl, pointing to the climax that the seals, trumpets, and preceding bowls have been building up to. It doesn’t really matter whether we see these as distinct sequential events of as different views of the same events, the conclusion is the same. This is the last of the judgments on earth before the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. With this final seventh bowl we are shown the final destruction of the corrupt world system and, frankly, the end of world as we know it.
Just as with the fourth, fifth, and sixth bowls, this bowl plague is poured out on the unbelieving realm ruled over by the Dragon and the Beast. Now the enemies of God are finally defeated. But this final judgment is multifaceted as an incredible earthquake hits, but at the same time a devastating hail storm strikes. These things are accomplished by King Jesus, now acting as the Judge.
This judgment is described as being against Babylon. That leaves us with a bit of a problem since that city was no longer in existence at the time John was alive. Babylon, as a city, was abandoned sometime between the 2nd and 3rd centuries B.C., and during John’s lifetime it was nothing more than a pile of rubble.
Either John is using the name symbolically, which is what I think, or the Antichrist is going to rebuild the city of Babylon, which is entirely possible. The original city of Babylon was located 55 miles south of Baghdad. The site of the original city was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019, but if you were to try to visit it today what you would fine is a tacky recreation of the city, which has been partially destroyed because of ongoing war in the region.
Notice that this bowl is poured out on the “air” (ἀήρ). Here, we have the final “bowl” poured out “into the air” in Revelation 16:17. The one element that has so far not been impacted is the air, the atmosphere. We can hardly read this judgment poured out “into the air” and fail to think about who is described as ruling in this realm in Ephesians 2:1-2. That one is called “the prince of the power of the air.” This judgment has symbolic significance as the power and authority of the Antichrist and False Prophet, who are empowered by the Dragon (Satan), are directly challenged… and shown to be helpless.
Jesus states that “it is done” (γέγονεν); Revelation 16:17. This is a verb in the perfect tense, active voice, and indicative mood. You should remember that the perfect tense refers to an action completed in the past, but it serves to emphasize the present results of that past action. The active voice tells us that God, the subject, has performed this action. And then, the indicative mood tells us that this is a fact as opposed to a possibility.
The wrath of God now fully expressed. Honestly, there’s no way to read this and not recognize that it stands in parallel to the work of redemption where Jesus also experienced the full wrath of God and said the same thing in John 19:30. This forms a kind of book end, with the Church Age beginning with the first time Jesus said it and the final time Jesus will say it.
On the cross our redemption was completed and salvation was made available. It is for this reason alone that we do not face the wrath of God, for us His wrath is already satisfied. In both cases this is a declaration that the righteousness of God has been satisfied through judgment, first as Jesus took that judgment in our places, and now as mankind, having rejected that intercessory sacrifice, receives that judgment on themselves. With the last of the seven bowls poured out, the wrath of God on earth has run its full course. Now there remains only the final judgment of mankind described in Revelation 20:11-12.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, pouring out undiluted wine resulting in intoxication was used as an image of the unleashed wrath of God. Now the entire world system established by the Dragon through the Beast will drink “the cup of the wine of his fierce wrath.” In the context of God’s wrath, the phrase, “Babylon was remembered by God,” is sad beyond comprehension. It points us back to the first time this expression was used, but then it was an expression of mercy as God remembered Noah and his family in the ark; Genesis 8:1. Now God’s patience is at an end. Those who have not yet chosen Jesus as Lord and Savior have run out of time. They are one step away from leaving this life and entering into eternal life… but separated from the source of life.
While there are many different ways that the events of the three judgments, the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls, may be interpreted, the general thrust is clear. God’s wrath will one day fall on mankind. The separation of God from man began in the Garden of Eden. Mankind hid from God, even as God continued to reach out to man. Now, for those who reject God’s offer of mercy, God gives them over to their own desires.
All the events leading up to this, the story of the fall of the Dragon, the rise of the first and second Beast, the fate of those who will follow the Beast, these all serve to present a clear choice. We can continue in our sin and rebellion, or we can humble ourselves, admit that we are in the wrong, and be forgiven. What God wants for us is not a mystery. We are repeatedly told this, probably most clearly in 1 John 4:16 ~