17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air. Then a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is finished!” 18 Then there were flashes of lightning, noises, thunder, and a big earthquake—the worst earthquake that has ever happened since people have been on earth. 19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations were destroyed. And God remembered the sins of Babylon the Great, so he gave that city the cup filled with the wine of his terrible anger. 20 Then every island ran away, and mountains disappeared. 21 Giant hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell from the sky upon people. People cursed God for the disaster of the hail, because this disaster was so terrible. ~ Revelation 16:17-21
Today, we return to Revelation 16 where the seven bowl judgments are given. For quite some time now in our study of the book of the Revelation, we have been considering the wrath of God. In fact, last time, we watched as the armies of the world gathered around the tiny nation of Israel for a great conflict after all of these other horrifying things had happened. The armies of the world will be gathered together for this final war with God, Himself.
Sometimes people think the wrath of God is an Old Testament theme. This, of course, is not the case. In John 3:36 we read, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them."
In Colossians 3:5-6 we read, "5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming."
God's wrath is preceded by man's sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. No one can accuse God of being anything less than holy and just. But, in the end, rebellious and stubborn man will go the way of Satan because he will love the way of Hell more than the way of God.
In v.17 of today's text we read, "The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air. Then a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, 'It is finished!"'
This scene probably describes nuclear war. When the bombs are detonated there will be the release of enormous clouds of radiation upon the earth and the air will be poisoned. The word "loud" here in v.17 is used seven times with this bowl judgment. This is the climax of the great day of the Lord that will spread chaos and destruction over the entire face of the earth. This will be the most awful time ever on the earth.
By the way, the very same expression that is used here was used by the Lord Jesus while on the cross: "It is finished!" These words spoken by the Lord Jesus was a judgment that provided grace for honest and humbled sinners. The "It is finished!," in our text today, is a judgment with no grace. It is written in the perfect tense, meaning "it has been and will remain finished."
In the same way as at Calvary when it was finished, God punctuated it with an earthquake. Only this earthquake will not be local. It will be worldwide, and it will remake the earth appropriately for the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ in His millennial reign.
In v.18-20 we read, "18 Then there were flashes of lightning, noises, thunder, and a big earthquake—the worst earthquake that has ever happened since people have been on earth. 19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations were destroyed. And God remembered the sins of Babylon the Great, so he gave that city the cup filled with the wine of his terrible anger. 20 Then every island ran away, and mountains disappeared."
The pouring out of this seventh bowl corresponds well with the seventh seal and the seventh trumpet. But, this great earthquake will affect the whole world and the cities of the earth will fall, which will probably result in putting the earth back into the state that it was before the Fall, before the curse, and before the flood.
In v.19 we learn the great city will be divided into three parts. In Revelation 11:8 the two witnesses will be killed in Jerusalem because it says their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city where also our Lord was crucified. Not only that but Zechariah said, that at the end, when all the nations gather together in Israel to fight this great battle, in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west. When the Mount of Olives splits, Jerusalem will split.
In Genesis 6-7, when the flood happened, not only did it rain many days, but the fountains of the great deep broke and the waters gushed out over the face of the earth. From that point on continents were formed, islands were formed, oceans were formed, and the tectonic plates were formed in the earth. Since that time there's been earthquake activity on the earth. We live in an unstable earth because the earth, after the curse, was not destined to last.
In v.21 we read, "Giant hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell from the sky upon people. People cursed God for the disaster of the hail, because this disaster was so terrible."
Then a terrible hail storm will happen. This will be the last of God's judgment. The penalty in the Old Testament for blasphemy was to be stoned to death. And God will stone these people with hail. Man, apart from Christ, in his fallen state, will always curse God.
You will remember this book of the Revelation was written for the seven churches, which represents the whole church on earth today. And, the ultimate message of this book is clear: Judgment does not produce repentance.
In Romans 2:4 we read, "Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" It is not judgment that will change our minds or our hearts. Men often get more stubborn, more set upon evil, by judgment. But it is His grace that changes our hearts. Judgment removes and ends evil. Judgment cleanses society. Judgment enables a new beginning to come. But it does not change people's minds or hearts. No, for that we have to look to the grace of God.
The Bible has always pointed to the warnings of God for generations. And, it's been pointing all of us to the cross where God took the judgment for our sin. It was the Lord Jesus Christ who said, "It is finished," and for those who do not receive the free gift of forgiveness, the final judgment of God will come upon them.