1. And I heard a great voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, Go ye, and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God into the earth.
These plagues are similar to the plagues brought upon the Egyptians. The plagues in Egypt were the precursor of the release of the Israelites; and the same is intended here. That is, the function of these plagues is to bring about the freedom of the people of God.
2 And the first went, and poured out his bowl into the earth; and it became a noisome and grievous sore upon the men that had the mark of the beast, and that worshipped his image.
cf. Ex 9:9ff.
3 And the second poured out his bowl into the sea; and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living soul died, even the things that were in the sea.
4 And the third poured out his bowl into the rivers and the fountains of the waters; and it became blood.
cf. Ex 7:17ff.
5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying, Righteous art thou, who art and who wast, thou Holy One, because thou didst thus judge:
In the Judaism of the first century it was believed that Angels were in charge of the natural elements. Sort of guardian angels for the natural world.
6 for they poured out the blood of the saints and the prophets, and blood hast thou given them to drink: they are worthy.
7 And I heard the altar saying, Yea, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
8. And the fourth poured out his bowl upon the sun; and it was given unto it to scorch men with fire.
The heat of the sun is only a precursor to the punishment the godless will suffer in hell.
This is a good point to remind the reader that the events described in this book are contained in a visionary experience. They therefore describe spiritual realities using physical language. The fact that exodus language is used concerning those who disregard God is important because the first readers would have been brought to understand that they, like their ancient relatives, are about to be delivered from their oppressors.
9 And men were scorched men with great heat: and they blasphemed the name of God who hath the power over these plagues; and they repented not to give him glory.
10 And the fifth poured out his bowl upon the throne of the beast; and his kingdom was darkened; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,
cf. Ex 10:21ff.
11 and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they repented not of their works.
12. And the sixth poured out his bowl upon the great river, the river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way might by made ready for the kings that come from the sunrising.
13 And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits, as it were frogs:
14 for they are spirits of demons, working signs; which go forth unto the kings of the whole world, to gather them together unto the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.
They might fight against God -- but He will win the war. The day of God is the day of Godís victory over his enemies. The Jews of the first century spoke about this day and used this very same terminology. So John is simply using language common to his people.
15 (Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walked naked, and they see his shame.)
16 And they gathered them together into the place which is called in Hebrew Har-magedon.
The city of Megiddo on the mountain (Har in Hebrew means mountain). This city was one of the most important in the ancient Near East. It was situated on the major trade route from Africa to the Middle East. Thus the one who controlled it controlled the region. The meaning of this battle is simply that God will once more have control over the destiny of his people. The Romans will not be victorious in their attempt to eliminate the Christians.
17. And the seventh poured out his bowl upon the air; and there came forth a great voice out of the temple, from the throne, saying, It is done:
18 and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since there were men upon the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty.
19 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 unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
21 And great hail, every stone about the weight of a talent, cometh down out of heaven upon men: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof is exceeding great.
Cf. Ex 9:18ff.
God does not have to fight -- he simply appears and its all over. This is a very important fact; for the persecuted Christians needed to be reminded that the battle was not theirs, but Godís. And since the battle belongs to God there is no need to worry about the outcome!
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