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Revelation 16:8–16

“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 like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty” (vv. 13–14).

For God’s people, the Lord’s judgment is not something to fear. Instead, it is something for which we praise our Creator. Because His judgment is rooted in His perfect righteousness, His judgment reveals His wisdom and the true justice that we long for. Thus, when the bowls of God’s final wrath are poured out on the earth, heaven rejoices and praises the Lord (Rev. 16:1–7).

The final outpouring of God’s wrath in Revelation 16 is described in terms of the plagues that fell on Egypt at the time of the exodus (Ex. 7:1–12:32). This tells us that the enemies of God in every era share the same wicked disposition as Pharaoh, who falsely believed that he could defeat the Lord. These judgments’ recalling the plagues on Egypt also encourages believers. At the time of the exodus, plagues fell selectively on the Egyptians only; the Israelites, who were living in the land of Egypt at the time, were spared (for example, Ex. 9:6–7, 26). Those who trust in Christ alone have nothing to fear when God pours out His final wrath on creation, for like the ancient Israelites, we will be preserved from destruction. Only those who have the mark of the beast and worship his image—those who serve the world, the flesh, and the devil—will suffer the wrath of God (Rev. 16:2).

The wise response to the wrath of God would be to repent; however, as we see in Revelation 16:8–11, the servants of the beast do not turn from their sin. They share in the hard-heartedness of Pharaoh, whose rejection of the Lord grew stronger the more the plagues caused him and his nation to suffer. Sin is manifestly irrational, which is why it takes more than just suffering to get people to turn to the Lord. Their hearts must also be changed by the Holy Spirit (John 3:1–8).

Those who serve the beast respond not only with greater hatred toward God as His wrath is poured out but also with greater hatred of His people. When the Euphrates is dried up so that enemies from the east can gather, the forces opposed to God assemble “at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” In Hebrew, “Armageddon” means “Mount of Megiddo,” but Megiddo is actually a plain located northeast of Jerusalem where some important Old Testament battles took place and where many Jews expected the final war between God and the forces of evil to occur (2 Chron. 35:22–27; Zech. 12:11). John well knows that Megiddo is not a mountain; he is using language symbolically not to tell us where the last battle will take place but to give a picture of the conflict to come at the end of time.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

The use of images from the exodus plagues and other symbolic language such as “Armageddon” or spirits that resemble frogs shows us that Revelation 16 is conveying the surety of God’s judgment and the futility of resistance to the Lord but is not necessarily providing an exact picture of what will happen at the final day. We do not have to know all the logistical details, but we do know the Lord’s judgment is sure, and we can take comfort in that.

For Further Study
  • Judges 5:19–21
  • 2 Kings 23:28–30
  • Obadiah 1–3
  • Revelation 20:7–10

    Three Bowls of Wrath

    The Plague of Hail

    Keep Reading The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus

    From the December 2020 Issue
    Dec 2020 Issue