The Last Pandemic

Revelation 15-16

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
April 2023

We have been studying the judgments of the Tribulation Period.  To many, they seem too hard to imagine ever happening in our world today.  That was until 2021 when we encountered a worldwide pandemic.

Schools were closed.  Churches were closed.  We couldn’t meet in large groups.  We all had to wear masks and that was for something that was a man-made virus.  How much worse will plagues that come directly from God.

We live in a world full of DISEASE.  Sometimes diseases affect more than one country.  We call those diseases PANDEMICS. Some wiped out entire civilizations.  When diseases cross international boundaries and are worldwide, we call them GLOBAL PANDEMICS.

Revelation 16 describes a global pandemic.  It will be the greatest pandemic the world will ever see.  Revelation 16 describes the last plagues on planet earth.  They will be the final judgments of the Tribulation Period.

I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the SEVEN LAST PLAGUES—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed. (Revelation 15:1 NIV).

These plagues will be worse than any before them. They will affect health and safety.  They will cause water pollution.  They will affect the food supply. They will affect the water supply.  They will affect the environment.  They will affect the weather.  They will affect power sources.  They will affect electricity.

Rivers will turn into blood.  The Sun will be so hot, it will burn people up.  People will have sores all over their body and no water to drink.  Hundred-pound hailstones will fall on people’s heads (Revelation 16:21).  The heaviest hailstone that has ever been recorded was only 2.25 pounds. [1]  These hailstones will be a hundred pounds or more.

Some have called these seven bowls, “The seven super bowls” (to use a football analogy). They describe the end of the world, as we know it.  After these seven bowls, the Tribulation comes to an end, Jesus comes back and the kingdom begins.

What we are going to do today is to see what these bowl judgments are.  We will see where they come from and why they will come to planet earth.  We will see what people’s reaction to these judgments will be.

We will also look at how this chapter applies to us today.  How does it apply to people who are not living in the Tribulation Period?  Before John describes the final plagues on earth, He has a vision of heaven in Revelation 15.  He has a vision of the sea of glass.  He sees a heavenly temple or tabernacle.  The earthly one was just a copy of the heavenly one (Hebrews 8:5).

A Heavenly Vision

In Revelation 15 is the shortest chapter in the Book of Revelation.  In fact, it is the shortest chapter in the NT.  It is only eight verses long.  It is another vision of heaven.  John has seen many of them.

What does John see in heaven?  He sees God in His temple and the Temple is full of smoke from God’s glory.  He sees Jesus.  He sees two groups of people: saints and angels.  The saints SING and the angels SERVE.

He saw the 144,000 in heaven with harps, and they are singing.  They are singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. We know why they are singing the song of the Lamb.  Why are they singing the song of Moses?

The Jews sang the song of Moses after they crossed the Red Sea.  They sang it after they were victorious over Pharaoh.  The 144,000 will be victorious over death.

They will be victorious over the Antichrist.  The Antichrist thought he was victorious when he killed them but they are in heaven and they are singing.

He also sees seven angels with shiny clothes, and a golden sash around their chest.  They have golden bowls of wrath.  They are given a special command from God.  They are given a direct order by God.

These seven angels are given a special job to do.  They are given a special commission.  Their job is to pour out bowls of wrath on the earth.  They did not pour out their bowls all at the same time but one at a time.





One On the body Health and Appearance Ugly and painful sores on people who have the mark of the beast and worship his image (Revelation 16:2)
Two On the sea Food Supply The sea turns into blood, and every living creature in the sea dies (Revelation 16:3).  In the trumpet judgments, some fish died (Revelation 8:9).  Now EVERYTHING in the sea dies (Revelation 16:3)
Three On the rivers Water Supply The rivers became blood (Revelation 16:4).  In this bowl, we learn that that there is an angel of the waters (Revelation 16:5).  You can only go a few days without water, so these judgments must last long.
Four On the Sun The Weather People are scorched from the sun (Revelation 16:8-9).
Five On the land Energy Supply The kingdom of the beast is plunged into darkness.  The people are in so much agony that they bite their tongues (Revelation 16:10-11)
Six One river Military Preparation Some of the bowl judgments seem pretty bad but all that happens when sixth bowl judgment is poured out is that a river dries up.

That doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it will lead to the greatest battle in history, the Battle of Armageddon.  It will take place in the Middle East, and it will be inspired by demons from Hell.

Seven On the air Lightning, thunder, a severe earthquake, islands disappearing, mountains falling, destruction of Babylon and hundred-pound hailstones falling from the sky (Revelation 16:17-21)

Four Shocking Truths

1) These terrible judgments will happen in the future

These bowls are literal.  They will all literally be fulfilled one day.  There are some who interpret all of this figuratively.  They say that it is all symbolic.  Many preachers say that Revelation 16 was all fulfilled in 70 AD.

Are they right? No. That makes absolute nonsense of the text.  When in 70 A.D. did all the rivers turn to blood?  When did the seas all turn to blood?  When did the Euphrates River dry up.

The truth is that Revelation is a symbolic book.  There are lots of symbols in this book.  Seven angels pour out bowls of wrath on the earth.  How can you have bowls of wrath?  How can judgment be placed in a bowl?  How can it be poured out like a liquid?

There are some symbols in this chapter but the judgments themselves are literal.  How do we know?  Many of these plagues resemble other plagues in the Bible that were clearly literal, the Plagues of Egypt.

If the plagues in Exodus were literal, and everyone agrees that they were, then, the plagues in Revelation must be literal as well.  If the historical plagues were literal, then these prophetic end-time plagues must be literal as well.  History is going to repeat itself.

There were Ten Plagues in Egypt in the Book of Exodus.  Some of the plagues in Revelation 16 are just like these plagues.  There is a bowl judgment of boils.  There was an Egyptian plague of boils.

It went on everyone in Egypt, including the magicians.  It broke out on every person and animal (Exodus 9:9).  In fact, the word for “sores” in Revelation 16 is the same Greek word (ἕλκος) used of the sores of the sixth plague of Egypt (Revelation 16:2; Exodus 9:6 LXX).

There was an Egyptian plague of darkness.  There was darkness over all Egypt for three days and it was total (Exodus 11:21-23).  The Fifth Bowl Judgment is darkness on the kingdom of the Antichrist.

One of the plagues of Egypt was the plague of blood.  Moses turned the Nile River into blood.  All of the fish died, the river stunk, and they could not drink any water (Exodus 7:14-23).  The second and third bowl judgments will be almost identical to this plague.

There was a plague of frogs in Exodus and there are frogs in Revelation 16. We see three of them there, the three frogs of Revelation.  These will be demonic frogs.  They will be demons.  They represent three powerful demons.

Three evil spirits come out of the mouth of the dragon, beast, and false prophet (Revelation 16:13).

How would you like to have demons coming out of your mouth?  Talk about having a frog in your throat and the Jews regarded frogs as unclean animals (Leviticus 11:10).

God dried up the Red Sea.  In the Tribulation Period, He will dry up the Euphrates River.  The Euphrates Rivers is one of the most important rivers in the world.  It is one of Iraq’s two main rivers.  It is 1800 miles long.

I learned something this week.  Did you know that the river right now is drying up?  It is in the process of drying up.  It has been drying up for years because of low rainfall and other reasons.

Scientists believe that it will completely dry up, possibly by the year 2040 unless action is taken.[2] That is an example of reading the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other hand.

In Revelation 9:14-16, four demons bound at the River Euphrates were released.

In Revelation 16, the Euphrates River dries up and three demons bring all the nations to that location to fight a battle.  There will be end-time demonic activity during the Tribulation.

They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty (Revelation 16:14 NIV).

How will they convince everyone?  They will have the power to perform miracles.  Now, in the OT, we are told that God will gather the nations to battle for Armageddon.

A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls. 2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. 3 Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. (Zechariah 14:1-3 NIV)

“In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land… Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. (Joel 3:1-2, 12 NIV)

The OT says that God will draw the nations to this battle.  Revelation 16 says that demons will do it.  God is sovereign over evil.  He is sovereign over Satan.  He uses Satan for His own purposes.  Both statements are true.

2) These bowls will come from God Himself

These bowl judgments actually come from God.  Here is the shocking truth.  These terrible disasters do NOT come from Satan.  They come from God Himself.  He sends them.  How do we know?  These bowls are poured out by angels from heaven.

They are not poured out by demons but by seven righteous angels, who are clothed in pure, bright and shining clothes (Revelation 15:6).  There are seven angels with seven plagues (Revelation 15:1), not seven demons with seven plagues.

They come from the Temple.  The Temple is filled with smoke from the glory of God.  These bowls issue from God’s presence.

These angels walk out of the temple with a bowl, and they hear a loud voice FROM THE TEMPLE saying, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth” (Revelation 16:1 NIV).  They get a command from God to pour the bowls out.  It is the voice of the Shekinah Glory.

Many people think that good things come from God and terrible things must come from Satan but here are a bunch of bad things come from God.  These judgments come from God.  That raises this question: Does God cause sickness?

Some preachers say that only Satan does that.  They have not read their Bible.  Prosperity preachers will say that God does not cause sickness.  He does not cause disease, but God sent boils on the Egyptians.  He sent tumors on the Philistines and He sent the bowl judgments in Revelation 16.

THE HAND OF THE LORD was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and HE terrified and afflicted them WITH TUMORS, both Ashdod and its territory. (I Samuel 5:6 ESV)

This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. (Zechariah 14:12 NIV)

There are also passages where He did this to believers.  Miriam opposed Moses publicly and God gave her leprosy (Numbers 12). She was a believer and so was King Uzziah.  In fact, he was called one of the good kings of Judah but at the end of his life he sinned and God gave him leprosy.

16 But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the Lord followed him in.

18 They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the Lord God.”

19 Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. 20 When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the Lord had afflicted him. (II Chronicles 26:16-20 NIV)

He wasn’t content with being king.  He wanted to be the high priest as well and God made Him sick.  God also warned the Jews of diseases for disobedience.

The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured… The Lord will afflict your knees and legs with painful boils that cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. (Deuteronomy 28:27, 35 NIV)

In Revelation 16, God sends the bowl judgments.  The first judgment affects people’s health, but it only comes on the worshippers of the Antichrist.  Believers are not affected.  They are excluded.

We care about our health.  We do all kinds of things to stay healthy but there will be absolutely nothing you can do if you get these ugly sores in the Tribulation Period.   Doctors will not be able to help.  Medicine will not work.  Shots will not work, because it is not natural but supernatural.

These will not be just natural pandemics.  They will be supernatural pandemics.  People will have sores that will not heal and there is nothing they can do.  Doctors can cure it because it is not natural but supernatural.

3) The bowls will be judgment on sin

The Fourth Bowl results in global warming but it has nothing to do with fossil fuels or greenhouse gases.  It has to do with the judgment of God on sin.

These are not just bowls.  These are called bowls OF WRATH.  They are “the seven bowls of God’s wrath” (Revelation 16:1 NIV).  Each one of these bowls is a judgment on sin.

They are targeted judgments.  They are not random plagues.  They are targeted plagues. They resemble the plagues of Egypt which came on the Egyptians, not the Israelites.

The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly, festering sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. (Revelation 16:2 NIV)

The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. (Revelation 16:10 NIV)

These are not judgments on believers but are judgments on unbelievers.  They are judgments on those who take the Mark of the Beast.  They come on the kingdom of the Antichrist.

The Euphrates River will dry up to draw unbelievers to Israel to wipe them off the map.  All of these anti-Semitic nations will come to fight Israel, but it will be a death trap.

4) The bowls will be perfectly fair judgments

Parents overreact.  They get angry sometimes and over punish their kids.  God’s punishments are always fair.  God is not just going to judge the world.  He is going to judge the world IN RIGHTEOUNESS (Psalm 96:13; Acts 17:31).  We see that in this chapter.

Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are JUST in these judgments, O Holy One, you who are and who were; 6 for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets, and you have given them blood to drink AS THEY DESERVE.” (Revelation 16:5-6).

This angel says they got what they deserved.  People shed blood.  They killed the righteous and now are given blood to drink.  Pharaoh drowned the baby Hebrew boys in the sea and his troops drown in the Red Sea.

Even Abraham recognized this truth.  He said, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25 NIV)

The Bible says that God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11).  He does not show partiality.  He does not treat the rich differently from the way He treats the poor.  He does not treat one race any differently than He treats another race.

Applications for Today

What are the applications of these two chapters for us today?  How does it apply to us.  There are three applications.

1) If you rebel against God, expect consequences

Judgment is coming to planet earth.  Many think they can sin with no consequences.  Society thinks that.

See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed on it; the earth will conceal its slain no longer. (Isaiah 26:21 NIV)

I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. (Isaiah 13:11 NIV).

2) If you are judged by God for sin, repent

If you are judged by God for your sins, what should the proper response be?  Repentance but that is not what the wicked do.

When Moses told Pharaoh that God ordered him to let the Hebrews go, he said, “no.”  He responded arrogantly.  And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go. (Exodus 5:2 NKJV).

When God sent plagues on the land, he did not repent.  He just hardened his heart.  People do that today.  Instead of repenting, they just harden their hearts.  Are our hearts hard or soft?  The Bible says, “Don’t harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:8)

The same thing happens when the bowl judgments fall.  These terrible judgments fall on the land and on people’s bodies.  The wicked know where they are coming from.

They know who is sending the plagues, but they do not repent.  It just makes them mad.  It makes them mad at God.  That happens three times in the chapter.

The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 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. (Revelation 16:9-10 NIV)

10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in agony 11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done. (Revelation 16:10-11 NIV)

Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. 21 From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people. And they CURSED GOD on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible. (Revelation 16:20-21 NIV)

That raises a very interesting question.  Will people repent in hell?  Can people repent and get out of Hell?  That does not seem fair.  The truth is that there is no evidence that anyone repents.

People will experience God’s wrath in the bowl judgments and none of them repent.  They refuse to repent.  They will experience His wrath in the trumpet judgments and will not repent (Revelation 9:20-21).

Everyone would repent to avoid punishment.  They would repent to get out of hell.  People make apologies all of the time to avoid consequences, not because they are really sorry.  Hell would be empty if people did that but that is not the same thing as repenting of your sin.

Everyone in Hell will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord.  Every knee will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord but that is not the same thing are repenting.  The demons acknowledge that Jesus is Lord.

People do not stop sinning in Hell.  They will continue to curse God and blaspheme God, like people do when the wrath of God falls on them in Revelation 16.

3) When God judges on a wicked world, we should praise Him

That is what the saints and angels do in this section.  They praise God for what He does.

And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God 3 and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb:

“Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. JUST and TRUE are your ways, King of the nations. 4 Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are HOLY. All nations will come and worship before you, for your RIGHTEOUS ACTS have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:21-4 NIV)

Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are JUST in these judgments, O Holy One, you who are and who were…7 And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, TRUE and JUST are your judgments” (Revelation 16:6-7).

4) We all need to get ready for the return of Christ

This brings us to one of the strangest verses in Revelation.  It is Revelation 16:15. It is one of the seven beatitudes in the book (Revelation 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14).

“Look, I come like a thief! BLESSED is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” (NIV)

This is strange.  It says, “Stay awake and make sure that you are not naked when Jesus returns.  Make sure you have your clothes on when Jesus returns.”

Jesus compares Himself to a thief.  That is strange for Him to compare himself to a criminal.  Jesus is not a thief.  He is not a robber but all through the NT we are told that Jesus will come like a thief in the night.

Peter said it (II Peter 3:10).  Paul said it (I Thessalonians 5:2).  Jesus said it (Matthew 24:43; Revelation 16:15). What does it mean?

Jesus will return like a thief in the night. Thieves do not announce when they will come. People are always surprised when someone breaks into their house.

Jesus’ coming will be a big surprise as well.  He will appear unexpectedly when He returns.  Would you be ready for Him if He came today?

Many think that only unbelievers have to worry about Jesus coming as a thief in the night.  He only comes as a thief in the night to them.  Is that true?

The interesting thing is that Jesus told the same thing to a church.  He told it to the church of Sardis.  But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Revelation 3:3 NIV)


[2] is recent and from a non-Christian source.  Even they acknowledge that the Euphrates is drying up.

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