The Seven Bowls and the Egyptian Plagues
The apostle John foretold of a future series of plagues or bowls that will affect the earth saying, “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth” (Revelation 16:1). These calamities are symbolically represented by the seven bowls (Revelation 15:7).
The seven bowls or plagues are similar in many ways to the ten plagues that took place in Egypt (Exodus 5:1 to 12:30). Both affirm the higher authority of God. Both result in the conclusive downfall of those that had rebelled against God. And both illustrate the justice of God in bringing honor to His Name.
The plagues on Egypt were literal punishments that affected the inhabitant’s resources and land. They were given to expose the false gods of Egypt and prove their inability to deliver their worshipers (Exodus 7:17; 12:12). Similarly, the last seven bowls or plagues will be literal. Each one will strike a different facet of the false religions in the world and thus have symbolic implications.
It is clear that the first angel will not pour a literal chemical liquid from a literal bowl upon people who had the literal mark given by a literal beast. But rather the angel himself will be literal, and the people that will receive the plagues will be literal and their pain will be also literal.
These seven last bowls will occur before the second coming of Christ (Revelation 15:8). How do we know that? The fact that the first plague will be poured on those who receive the mark of the beast (Revelation 16:2) shows that the plagues will happen after the enactment of the image and the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:14–17). And it will happen after the preaching of the third angel message that warns against receiving the mark of the beast (Revelation 14:9–11).
Also, the fact that the seven last plagues display God’s full wrath that will be poured without mercy (Revelation 14:10; 15:1; 16:1) shows that the probation of the wicked has closed (Revelation 22:11) quickly (verse 2).
Now is the time of preparation for His coming. Jesus invites all saying, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17). A daily relationship with the Lord through the study of His Word and prayer will help the believers stand for the truth and not be deceived by the devil’s lies.
In His service,