Revelation – Seven Plagues and Bowls

We’ve had the seven

  • churches
  • seals
  • trumpets

Now we come to the last of the “sevens”. The seven plagues released when the seven bowls of God’s wrath is poured out, this is covered in Chapters 15-16.

Note that John himself refers to them as the last (15:1), “because with them God’s wrath is completed.”

Note also that “bowls” containing wrath is patently metaphorical. I leave it to you to decide if the “harps” held by those victorious over the beast are literal.

Interestingly, “what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire” could easily be the aftermath of a nuclear explosion in the desert.

1st Plague

The angel poured out this first bowl on the land resulting in ugly, festering sores breaking out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshipped its image.

Those who worshiped evil would be punished.

2nd Plague

The next angel poured out his bowl on the sea turning it into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died.

The life of a thing is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). It’s as if the world has been stabbed, with pollution and neglect by man and now lies dying, bleeding.

With all the sea creatures dead those who make their living from the sea would be devastated (cf Revelation 18:17).

3rd Plague

Next a bowl is poured out on the rivers and springs of water causing them to become blood.

4th Plague

The fourth bowl is poured out on the sun. The sun was then allowed to scorch the people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.

The key point to note is that God’s punishment did not cause people to turn to Him in repentance. But it caused them to curse Him instead.

5th Plague

The third last bowl was poured on the throne of the beast causing that kingdom to plunge into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.

Again, people failed to repent and instead cursed God.

6th Plague

The penultimate bowl / plague was actually not a punishment but preparation for the final battle to be held at Armageddon.

It was poured out on the great river Euphrates causing the waters to dry up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.

In addition, three evil spirits performed miraculous signs to gather the kings of the world for the final battle.

7th Plague

The final bowl is poured into the air. There’s flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and the severest earthquake in history causing the Great City to split into three parts and the cities of the nations to collapse.

Babylon the Great was given the cup of God’s wrath. Island fled away, mountains could not be found. Huge 100 pound hailstones fell on people, and people cursed God for the hail.

The final “plague” is basically God dealing with Babylon the Great / the woman on the beast / the Great City that rules over the kings of the world (Revelation 17:18).

Babylon is split into three parts by an earthquake, the beast and the 10 horns will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.

Addendum: The Final Battle (Armageddon)

The final battle is actually pretty anti-climatic as the Beast and the False Prophet were simply captured and thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulphur (Revelation 19:20).

The rest of the amassed armies were simply killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the Rider (Faithful and True, the Word of God) of the White Horse.

Rather gruesomely, all the birds gorged themselves on the flesh of the slain.




Revelation – the Seven Trumpets

The First Trumpet

Hail and fire mixed with blood was hurled onto the earth. 1/3 of the world was burned, 1/3 of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass burned up.

The Second Trumpet

Something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. 1/3 of the sea turned into blood, 1/3 of the living creatures in the sea died, 1/3 of the ship were destroyed.

The Third Trumpet

A great star, Wormwood, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a 1/3 of the rivers and on the springs of water. 1/3 of the waters turned bitter and many people died from the waters.

The Forth Trumpet

1/3 of the sun, moon and stars struck turning 1/3 of them dark. The result was that 1/3 of the day and night without light.

The Fifth Trumpet (First Woe)

A star that fell from the sky to the earth, and was given key to the shaft of the Abyss. That “star” opened the Abyss, smoke rose from it, darkening the sun and sky.

From the Abyss there came “locusts”, given power to torture people (excluding those who have the seal of God on their foreheads) for five months.

The description of the locusts are pretty fantastical. The leader of the locusts is the angel of the Abyss (Abaddon in Hebrew, Apollyon or destroyer in Greek).

The Sixth Trumpet (Second Woe)

The four angels bound at the river of Euphrates were released. They were given power to kill 1/3 of all people. They were accompanied by 200 million troops. They killed people through the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulphur.

The key point to note here is that despite the torture, the killing, people did not repent of their idol and demon worship, their murders, magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.

The Seventh Trumpet (Third and Final Woe).

The nations are angry, and God’s wrath has come. Time of judgment of the dead, and for the rewarding of God’s servants, prophets and people who revere His name. And destruction for those who destroy the earth (cf we as God’s steward of the earth need to look after it, not exploit it, but this doesn’t mean we cannot benefit from it).

God’s temple in heaven was then opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.

Revelation – the Seven Seals Part 2


The Fifth Seal

When this seal is opened, John saw a vision of the souls martyred because of their testimonies. They hungered for judgment and vengeance, instead of getting what they asked for, they were given a white robe and told to wait a little longer. To wait until the full number of martyrs would be killed.

How often are we who are living impatient! When we receive a small injury or slight, we get worked up and demand our rights. But God has his schedule, His timing. He will do what is right, when He determines the time is right.

It’s about doing the right thing in the right time.

The Sixth Seal

There’s a great earthquake, sun turned black, the moon turned red. The stars “fell” and the “heavens” “rolled back”. Every mountain and island was “removed”.

Is this passage figurative? Literal? Or are literal events being described in a figurative way? I believe it’s the last of the three.

There’s going to be calamity. Both on earth and reflected in the “heavens”, ie space.

People try to hide from the calamity. They are aware that this (coming judgment?) is from God Himself.

They know they cannot withstand the wrath of the Lamb but they’d rather cry out to the mountains and rocks (inanimate things) rather than fall at the feet of the Lamb and beg for mercy.

The 144,000

Prior to the final judgment, ie the seventh seal being unsealed, God’s people are sealed against the coming judgment.

12 x 10 x 10 x 10 is 12,000

12,000 times 12 tribes = 144,000

My interpretation of Revelation 7:1-3 is that ALL of God’s people, who are alive prior to the seventh and final judgment, are sealed.

This includes God’s Chosen people (ie the hereditary Jews / Israelites) and also the followers of Christ.

Revelation 7:4-8, to me, is an aside. To indicate the multitude, ie the number is symbolic not literal, of hereditary Israelites being saved.

Whether the number is symbolic or literal is not the point. The point is that God’s people are saved from the coming judgment.

I interpret the great multitude in white robes (refer to the fifth seal for reference to white robes) as those in Christ who have already died (they are before God’s throne so ought to be either dead or raptured). The great tribulation is probably the sixth seal.

The Seventh Seal

The seventh seal is somewhat anti-climatic because when it was opened all that happens for the first 1/2 hour in heaven is silence. Now only God knows how long 1/2 hour in heaven translates to.

But after that time is up, the Golden Censer is filled with fire then hurled onto the earth. There’s peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and (another) earthquake.

Then it’s time for the Seven Trumpets

Revelation – the Seven Seals Part 1

Chapters 4 to 8 concentrate on the opening of the Seven Seals.

Now in the olden days, things were written on scrolls, pieces of paper which were rolled up.

Sometimes these scrolls would be sealed, typically with a wax seal. They’d light a candle and drop some wax onto the scroll which would cool down and form a seal. They’d even imprint the seal with a stamp, leaving an imprint on the wax which served as an indicator as to whom the letter or scroll came from.

What is interesting about the scroll is

  • who held it – the One upon the heavenly Throne
  • who was able to open it – the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, a Lamb

Whenever the scroll was progressively opened – through the breaking of one of the seven seals, an event would occur. Some of those events could be categorized as a judgment from God.

The First Seal

When the first seal was opened, a white horse came forth with a rider holding a bow and given a crown. He rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

This is suggestive of wars.When we look at the written history of mankind, the first world war (WW I)marked a shift in the level of warfare and conflict. This was both in terms of the ferocity of war as well as the coverage of the conflict. If not the first world war, definitely the second world war can be classified as a global conflict (WW II).

The Second Seal

Upon opening the second seal, a fiery red horse emerged, given the power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other.

Is this a repeat of the first event?

I do not believe so. In my mind, this is referring to a breakout of localised conflict and global terrorism. In this case, we are not talking about a land grab or a resources grab by world powers.

We are talking about the conflict in Somalia, genocide in Rwanda, the former Northern Ireland situation, etc. Civil wars and unrests such as the Arab Spring.

The Third Seal

The third horse is black, with a rider carrying a set of scales. The scales are not eh scales of justice as we are talking more about the scales of commerce.

This is borne out by what the Living Creature says, “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

This in reference to inflation in the price of food.

If we assume an average annual salary of A$60,000, divide by 360 days, gives you A$166 per day. 6 pounds of barley is approximately 2.72kg. This translates to about A$60 per kg.

Checking Woolworths, Goodness Superfood Wraps Wholegrain Barley is selling for A$2.22 per 100g. Or A$22 per kg, which is 1/3 the price of what is described in the Bible.

If you see food inflation running at several times normal, you know it’s a bad sign…

The Fourth Seal

The opening of the fourth seal releases Death riding on a pale horse. Hades is riding close behind him. I’d suggest that this indicative of the figurative language used in the book of Revelation.

The main takeaway I have is that a quarter of the world will perish through the sword (violence), famine (starvation, lack of resources) and plague (disease).

To be continued…

Revelation – the Churches

This is not an exhaustive commentary on the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 to 3. This will be a summary of things that struck me and the truths and applications I was able to derive from them.

The churches which are mentioned are, in order:

  1. Ephesus
  2. Smyrna
  3. Pergamum
  4. Thyatira
  5. Sardis
  6. Philadelphia
  7. Laodicea

John uses a similar pattern when describing each church:

  • mentions a characteristic of Christ
  • praises them for the good things they have done
  • rebukes them for the bad things they have done and warns them regarding some of their actions
  • for some churches he has some choice extra words
  • mentions a reward or two
    • for each reward a condition is mentioned

I see the things that John mentioned as a list of things to emulate and things to avoid doing. The rewards are things I can use to motivate myself to be a living sacrifice and to live a life holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1).

About Christ

The number seven is used a few times, Christ is described as one who holds seven stars in His right hand, who walks among the seven golden lamp-stands, who holds the seven spirits of God,

Christ is the the First and the Last, the Son of God, holy and true, the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.

He is described as he who died and came to life again, who has has the sharp, double-edged sword, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze, who holds the key of David (what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open).

Celebrate the Good

John praises the good that each church is doing. I think that sometimes we take the good things for granted and forget to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Celebrate the good!

In this case if you’re doing any of these things to take the time to pat yourself on the back!


John emphasizes that Jesus knows our deeds. Those who were hard-working, showed perseverance, endured affliction/poverty, did not tolerate wicked people, tested those claiming to be apostles, remained true to Jesus’ name, kept His words and commandments, did not renounce Him – these people were praised.

Warning concerning  the Bad

If you are doing any of the things for which any of the churches were criticized for you’d better do something about it!

  • holding onto false teachings (eg Balaam, Nicolaitans)
  • tolerate wicked people (eg Jezebel)
  • spiritually dead or asleep resulting in unfinished deeds
  • lukewarm
  • trusting in material riches



There is reference to eternal life, and other rewards in addition to it.

With regards to eternal life, I believe that we are already victorious, through Christ.

  • eat from the tree of life
  • will not be hurt by the second death (first death is spiritual, second death is physical)
  • hidden manna
  • white stone with a new name written on it

With regards to the rewards in the fourth church (Thyatira), I find it perplexing as some of these ought to belong to Christ in my opinion. Note that the Book of Revelation is poetic prophesy and is a form of writing that is not necessarily clear – it’s not a manual or a script or a contract!

  • authority over the nations
  • given the morning star

Others rewards might be meant for the apostles or the patriarchs.

  • sit with Christ on His throne
  • made a pillar in the temple of God

Apart from the fifth church, the condition for the other rewards is that the recipient is victorious. And as I mentioned earlier, I believe that we are already victorious in Christ.

Anyway, these are my thoughts. Any questions or comments please feel free to write them below!


Revelation Overview

We studied the Book of Revelation last year with BSF. As requested by a friend (Hi Edwin!) I’m going to share some of my thoughts on Revelation.

This will be an overview of the book followed by posts on specific parts of it. I think you can spend a whole lifetime trying to understand it, and that’s because there’s lots of poetic imagery in the book which can have multiple interpretations…

The main topics, by chapter, are listed in the table below

Chapter Topic
1 Greetings
2-3 Churches
4 Throne
5 Scroll and Lamb
6 Seals 1-6
7 144,000 sealed
8 7th seal
8:6 Trumpets 1-4
9 5th and 6th trumpet
10 Angel and little scroll
11 Two witnesses
11:10 7th trumpet
12 Woman and dragon
13 Beast out of the sea, out of the earth
14 Lamb & 144,000
15 7 angels and 7 plagues
16 7 bowls of God’s wrath
16:16 Battle at Armageddon
17 Woman on the beast
18 Fall of Babylon
19 Hallelujah, Rider on the white horse
20 1,000 years
21 New Jerusalem
22 Rivers of life

The topics which I will focus initially on are:

  • the Churches
  • the Seals
  • the Trumpets
  • the seven Angels / Plagues / Bowls


I may write on the other topics depending on my time / requests.