Revelation 16:12-16 deals with the “Bowl Judgments,” we have already covered the “Seal Judgments,” and the “Trumpet Judgments” which all lead up to the final outpouring of God’s wrath on those who will not receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, and instead have looked to the Antichrist and his world system for their deliverance.
The first bowl will be ulcerous sores, the second is on the sea which becomes as blood, the third is on the fresh waters which also will be turned to blood, the fourth is on the Sun and it will bring a scorching heat on the earth. Men will rightly blame God but instead of repent they will curse God. The 5th Bowl will be on the kingdom of the beast and be a judgment of thick darkness. Unlike the previous five bowls, the sixth, like the fifth has no specific attack on people but prepares for what is to come.
The sixth angel pours out his bowl on the Euphrates. The Euphrates formed the eastern boundary of the land God gave to Israel (Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 1:7; 11:24; Joshua 1:4). Along with the nearby Tigris, the Euphrates forms the Fertile Crescent. The Euphrates will be very high from the melting of the snows that empty into it when the heat from the sun associated with the fourth bowl will come upon it this will likely cause bridges to be destroyed from the flooding. The purpose of this sixth judgment is to prepare the nations and armies of the world for the great battle of Armageddon. In order for the Armies from the East to meet they will need new bridges built or the river to be dried up, and this is what happens with the sixth bowl.
This verse says that all the nations of the earth are going to be involved in the great battle of Armageddon. This will include the kings of the east: all the nations east of Palestine, this would probably include all the Muslim people from as far away as Indonesia, China, and all the other eastern nations. These will probably be headed up by the antichrist.
The kings of the north: all the nations north of Israel including Russia. The kings of the south: all nations south of Israel including the nations of Africa. The kings of the west: all the nations west of Palestine including a western alliance and involving some of the European nations and probably including America and other nations of the Americas and Canada. Armageddon is Hebrew for Mount of Meggido which in reality is now a Tel of one ancient civilization buried on top of another. This is a great valley that runs through the middle of Israe from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River and is about 200 miles long and ten miles wide.
John 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. Frogs are unkosher animals but these are not literal frogs as in the plague in Egypt, they are described “as or like”. John describes them as the spirits of demons. Barclay in his commentary describes the frogs in this way:
“In the Greek there is a kind of play on words. The unclean spirits came out of the mouths of the evil forces. The mouth is the organ of speech and speech is one of the most influential forces in the world. Now the word for spirit is pneuma which is also the word for breath. To say, therefore, that an evil spirit came out of a man’s mouth is the same as to say that an evil breath came out of his mouth. As H. B. Swete puts it, the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet “breathed forth evil influences.”
These spirits entice the kings from the east into attacking Israel at Armageddon we see a similar action in Israel’s past (1 Kings 22:19–22). The mission of these demonic spirits is to gather not just the eastern powers, but all of the world’s rulers and armies to join the forces from the east for the battle of Armageddon. According to Revelation 17:12–14, ten kings will be involved. Joel prophesied of this time in Joel 3:2, 9–13, as well as Zechariah 14:2–3, this is also spoken of by the Psalm 2:1-3.
In the midst of all this death and destruction from the Bowls of God’s wrath, there are still Believers who are still alive and God through John speaks words of comfort to them in Revelation 16:15. This word from heaven will come before the pouring out of the seventh bowl and assure believers that they will not be forgotten this also was spoken through Malachi 3:16–17. Like a thief, Jesus will come quickly and unexpectedly. But His coming is to deliver His people and judge their enemies similar words are spoken in Revelation 3:3 and Matthew 24:42–43 as well as 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and 2 Peter 3:10. Jesus’ return will bring fear to His enemies and comfort to His people.
Following the words of comfort come the third of seven beatitudes (blessings, benedictions) – Revelation 1:3; 14:13; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14 – This describes those who, like the wise virgins (Matthew 25:1–13), will be prepared for His arrival. The clothing speaks of the “garments of salvation” and the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10), Paul alludes to this in Romans 13:14. As the Lord in the Garden covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness so He does so today. Those who are properly clothed will be blessed. Following these words of encouragement the focus returns to the judgment at hand.
The deceiving demon spirits have gathered the nations together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon. There have been more than two hundred battles fought in that region, including Barak’s defeat of the Canaanites (Judges 5:19), Gideon’s victory over the Midianites (Judges 6:33; the “valley of Jezreel” is another name for the Plain of Esdraelon), and Josiah’s defeat at the hands of Pharaoh Neco (2 Chronicles 35:22), which also is alluded to in the salvation of Israel in the midst of the battle in Zechariah 12:10ff.
The Plain of Megiddo and the nearby Plain of Esdraelon will be the focal point for the Battle of Armageddon, which will rage the entire length of Israel as far south as the area of historic Petra known then as Bozrah (Isaiah 63:1). Other battles will also occur in the vicinity of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:1–3).
Revelation 16:17-21 The seventh bowl was poured out on the air, this is most appropriate when you consider that Satan is described as the Prince and power of the air in Ephesians 2:2. He has been cast out of heaven but in the last days he is taking charge of the entire domain that he has left and God sends the final bowl upon this area of his influence, he has already brought judgment on the land the seas, and the sun.
When the angel pours out this seventh and final bowl a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne. The voice is that of God who declares “It is done” speaking of the final judgment on the earth. Just as Yeshua declared “it is finished” speaking of God’s judgment of sin, so the idea here is the declaration that God’s judgment on sinners who will not receive and acknowledge Messiah is finished. While the bowl is poured out on the atmosphere it affects the earth as well with a great earthquake reminiscent of the events surrounding Jesus’ death at Calvary.
This earthquake will be the most powerful one ever to strike the earth according to word that came to John it was also described in Haggai 2:6 and Hebrews 12:26–27. The earthquake will affect the topography of the earth preparing it for the 1000 years of Jesus’ rule on the earth. The great city described here is Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:8) and it will be split into three parts described further in Zechariah 14:4–10.
The purpose of the earthquake in relation to Jerusalem is not to judge the city, but to set it apart as the City of the Lord where Yeshua will reign as King over the earth and the nations shall come there at least annually (Psalm 110:2; Isaiah 2:3; 24:23; Micah 4:7). Everywhere else judgment will be upon the earth with the focus being upon Babylon the Great, the seat of the Antichrist. More is described of those events in Revelation 17-18.
Revelation 16:21 we are told that those who have survived all the preceding judgments will be bombarded with huge hailstones that weigh around 100 pounds. The largest hailstones so far recorded are about two pounds. In the face of this final judgment men will still not repent but further curse and blaspheme God.