The disasters described in the seven seals, the seven trumpets and the seven bowls take place during different times, their severity level increases as each event develops. When we studied the seven bowls, we used the comparison of three groups of visions to have a better view of it. The seven seals and the seven trumpets have a warning effect. When these events happen there is still time to repent. But when the seven bowls of wrath develop, it is the last and greatest disaster, and when you see it happen it will already be too late. It is not a warning for people to repent. Verse 15 is a warning to believers to stay awake.
15 “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.”
The seven bowls are disasters of retribution and punishment. The first six trumpet calls out of seven serve as a way of warning or possibly refining. The seven bowls are entirely God’s retribution to the wicked but as God’s wrath is poured out on them; even at the verge of death these people did not want to repent.
THE WRATH OF GOD IS POURED OUT
1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”
The voice came from the most holy place, from the throne of God; God Himself gave the command to execute the judgment, it will be an unalterable action.
What are the seven bowls? In Greek, the word “vial” means “small bottle”. It was not a bowl but most likely something in the shape of a cup. Since they will be drinking the wine of the wrath of God, it would be proper to use a cup. In the old English version it is translated into golden cup. Modern translation uses the term “bowl” because inside the sanctuary only bowls were used, not cups. On the table of show-bread there were only golden plates and golden bowls. There were also bronze bowls on the altar. They thought that the cup that John wrote about in the New Testament was the bowl that was used in the Old Testament. The bowl used on the altar was not made of gold, so we can skip that. Since it was a golden bowl, then it could only be the golden bowl from the table of show-bread. But the utensils on top of the table of show-bread were used for eating, which represents the life of fellowship of all the brothers and sisters in the Lord. Where then does the wrath of God suddenly come from?
這金杯到底是甚麽？是聖所中哪種物件？其實早在5:8 已經出現，只不過翻譯不同。｢聖徒的禱告裝在這金香爐上。｣( 5:8)
After all, what are these cups? Are they objects that are in the sanctuary? In fact, they were already mentioned in 5:8, but the translation was different. It said: “…they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.”
In 5:8 it is translated into “golden censers”; here it is translated into “bowls”. So, the golden bowls are in fact golden censers. These golden censers are full of incense which are the prayers of all the saints; those prayers drifted up to the throne of God, hence, the wine of wrath does not come directly from God but from those who have lost their lives because of their faith. God hears and remembers all the prayers uttered while in suffering, their treatment of injustice have become the wrath of God, a payback to those who have harmed God’s people.
Our prayers are never ignored. God keeps all our prayers in His heart. God knows what we need even before we start praying. Our spirits call to God in a different frequency. He answers us at the right moment according to our heart’s desires and according to the degree of our sufferings.
七印揭開( 六章) ，看見靠近末世時的大風潮、風氣，都是｢預兆｣，當我們看見這些風氣產生，就知道日期近了。
When the seventh seal is opened (chapter 6) and we see the trends and tumultuous times (the omens) developing, then we will know that the end is near.
七號吹響( 八章九章) ，描寫近世紀世界性的戰爭。也是預兆，給我們有預先的警告。
The seventh trumpet sound (chapters 8 and 9), which describes the world wars in this century, is also an omen, a warning of the things to come.
The disasters of the seven cups will be seen during the seven years of great tribulation.
These disasters are intended mainly for the people who worship the beast. That is, those who worship the new Persian empire. The 10 plagues that were recorded in the book of Exodus were intended mainly for the Egyptians; God’s people were not affected at all.
根據但以理12:11-12 所記載的：｢從祭祀止息到地土荒涼，有1290 天。｣就是叁年半及叁十日。那最後七年分成兩段，頭叁年半，敵基督與神的選民有和約，教會有禮拜，戰爭暫時停止。那時所有地上的災難，都以天災為主。過了叁年半，敵基督得勢，教會受十國聯邦的嚴重打擊，教會變得荒涼，末後證人成了屍體，變了空的教堂給人憑弔。
According to Daniel 12:11-12, it says: “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.” That equals 3 ½ years plus 30 days. The last seven years is divided into two parts. During the first 3 ½ years the Antichrist will have a peace treaty with God’s elect, the church will hold worship services, wars will cease temporarily. Many natural disasters will occur at that time. After the 3 ½ hears have passed, the Antichrist will assume the power, the church will be fiercely persecuted by the ten-nation alliance and will become deserted, the witnesses of the end times will become carcasses, empty church structures , a public spectacle.
但以理還有一句話：｢等到1335 日的人有福了。｣即是再多加45 天，一個半月。就是七年大災難後，還有45 天，地球纔完全毀滅。這最可怖的45 天，就是七碗完全倒下的時候。以前七印與七號裡面死的人或生物數目，都是一部份，死四分一或是叁分一。到了七杯之災時所死的數目，都是全部的。
Daniel also says, “Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.” That is, 45 more days, a month and a half. Only 45 more days, the last part of the seven years of great tribulation , the time when the whole earth will be completely destroyed. These most terrifying 45 days will be the time when the last seventh bowl of wrath is poured out. At the time when the seven seals were opened and the seven trumpets were blown, the people who died from the disasters were only one fourth or one third of the population. During the seven cups of wrath the devastation will be complete.
THE FIRST CUP, UGLY, FESTERING SORES BROKE OUT ON THE PEOPLE WHO HAD THE MARK OF THE BEAST AND WORSHIPED ITS IMAGE.
2 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.
This is truly a punishment with a purpose. There are many kinds of sores, and there are many different causes for them. The festering sores could grow on any body parts. It is a true punishment, because those sores did not kill the people, they only tortured them slowly and painfully. If a person died from a disease, it would take away their misery. But suffering in agony and not being able to die is a very terrifying punishment. The ugly sores only grew on those who worshiped the beast , those who endorsed the ten-nation alliance from the end times. Maybe the causes of these sores were due to the environment or their lifestyle or maybe due to the use of high tech modern equipment. The more advanced science and technology, the more harmful to people. Only the people who worship the empire of the last days will have these ugly, festering sores.
THE SECOND CUP
3 The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died.
“The sea” was originally a place where living organisms were nurtured. Intellectuals believe that living organisms originated in the sea, and little by little they evolved into more advanced life forms. Regardless of this theory being right or wrong, at least we know that the sea is a suitable place for living creatures to develop and grow. Now, the sea has become a cemetery for living creatures. When the second trumpet sounded, only one third of the sea was affected. But here all the living creatures in the sea have died completely.
THE THIRD CUP
4 The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
When the third trumpet sounded, the chemical warfare only affected one third of the rivers and springs of water; but here, the situation is more severe, people did not have any clean water to drink at all. They had to drink blood which is the filthiest of all liquids, full of chemical components. At that time, all the natural resources of the earth will be completely contaminated; everything people drink will be polluted.
5 聽見掌管眾水的天使說：昔在今在的聖者，祢這樣判斷是公義的，6 他們曾流聖徒與先知的血，現在祢給他們血喝，這是他們所該受的。7 我又聽見祭壇中有聲音說：主神全能者阿，祢的判斷義哉、誠哉。
5 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.”7 And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”
After the third cup, there are words of praise; indicating that the payback that they deserve is just, is not excessive, it is adequate. Those who shed people’s blood will shed their own blood as retribution. Those who treat people in a cruel manner will receive the same treatment. Pharaoh wanted to drown God’s people, but in the end his own army drowned. Haman ordered that a gallows be built to hang Mordecai, but at the end Haman was hanged on a gallows; that is called retribution. They shed the blood of martyrs, at the end there will be no water for them to drink, only blood, which is the contamination derived from wars.
The bodies of the martyrs are laid on the altar; the souls of the martyrs are lie under the altar. Their prayers and pleads are stored inside the golden cups which now have become the wrath of God, which are the grounds for their retribution. Here , “the angel in charge of the waters” is mentioned, as if saying that different angels are in charge of different natural resources. Actually, this angel is the one who poured out the golden cup of God’s wrath on the springs of water; he is the third angel, not another angel. The first angel was in charge of the land, the second angel was in charge of the sea, the third angel was in charge of the rivers and springs of water and the fourth angel was in charge of the skies. The arrangement is similar as in the seven trumpets.
THE FOURTH CUP
8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire.
When the fourth trumpet sounded there was conflict in space and one third of the sun turned dark. But here, when the fourth cup is poured out the sun will become so intense that it will scorch people. The sun is actually a ball of fire but we are protected from being burned by the atmosphere. During the end times the protection from the sun through the atmosphere will cease and people will suffer severe burns.
Here it says that the people who were seared by the intense heat of the sun were those who worshiped the beast. Because in the original manuscripts a definite article “the” appears before the word “people”, it is even more astounding. Why were only the people who worshiped the beast seared? Why not everyone else? Could it be that these people stayed outdoors most of the time, or maybe they were exposed to radiation from the things they made and they couldn’t protect themselves from being seared? Or maybe their immune system did not work anymore? All these things could be possible.
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.
In the midst of these plagues from the seven cups, we see that the people cursed the name of God. The people did not curse God until these events happened. Before only the beast and Satan cursed the name of God; but during the end times , the people who worshiped the beast had also learned Satan’s manners. When the disasters came they cursed the name of God and refused to repent. The time of repentance had already passed; the doors of grace had been shut, the Holy Spirit cannot work in their hearts anymore.
THE LAST THREE CUPS
前面的天使把杯中的忿怒倒在地、海與水源上，所用的前置詞，是｢to ｣，｢to 地｣、｢to 海｣、｢to 眾水泉源｣。後面的前置詞卻用｢on ｣，｢on 獸國的寶座｣、｢on 幼發拉底河｣、｢on 空中｣。
The first angels poured the cups of wrath on the land, on the sea and on the rivers and springs of water; the preposition used in the original Greek language is the word “to”, “to the land”, “to the sea” , “to the rivers and springs of water”. Later on, the preposition “on” is used, “on the throne of the beast”, “on the great river Euphrates”, “on the air”.
“On” denotes direct contact, a very forceful and penetrating punishment. A disaster of limited range, only directed towards the empire of the beast, targeting only the higher authorities of the empire of the beast, only on the area of the great river Euphrates , on the air space of the beast’s empire.
THE FIFTH CUP – DARKNESS AND AGONY FOR THE TEN NATIONS ENEMIES OF GOD
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.
The original text says “throne”. The punishment of this cup is poured directly in the center of the highest leadership of the new Persian federation. This federation of ten nations will face the darkest times ever; they will be badly defeated and will be in utter agony. At the present we have not yet seen the rise of this ten-nation union, they are still in the process of developing weapons and manufacturing high tech warfare; but they will gradually make themselves known.
Western countries that fight against Iraq suffer great damage. The leaders of the countries that carry out attacks against Iraq one by one have to step down from office, or become regular citizens without any authority. Europe and America have their own problems to solve; on the other hand, Iran’s wealth is increasing which is beneficial to their future expansion. Their future will become brighter and brighter until the last part of the great tribulation when the fifth angel pours out the cup of the wrath of God on them. Then, it will be their time of darkness and agony.
They were in such agony that they gnawed their tongue because of pain. Of course gnawing their tongue could not relieve the pain but they rather suffer the pain on gnawing their tongue than to endure the mental agony of defeat. Their bodies were tormented with painful sores like the pain a person suffers when jumping off a tall building. That must be incredibly painful but not as painful as suffering spiritual torment. Being in darkness or not being able to see light is not that painful. The kingdom of the beast became darkened; of course, it points out to spiritual darkness, the activities of the whole nation were in such a state of pain and devastation that even their wealth and their advanced science and technology were incapable of solving their problem.
11 and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.
Though they were in agony, they did not repent of their deeds; they blasphemed God, making God responsible for everything they were going through and blaming God for it. That is how the people who are perishing think. They believe that everything good that they have comes from working hard and from their own abilities and that everything that is bad comes from God, it’s all God’s fault.
THE SIXTH CUP –THE ANTICHRIST ‘ S GREAT ARMY AT ARMAGEDDON
12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east.
The Euphrates is not a small river. This kind of great river is an obstacle to an army. If the waters of the river dried up it wouldn’t be an obstacle anymore. But it is not easy to make the waters of a great river dry up. Here, the river was dried up to make way to the army to pass through and attack Israel; it means that the obstacle was eliminated. If the Euphrates is as obstacle, it means that this 10-nation federation must have come from the east.
The ten horns must represent the heads of state of ten nations. Here the number is not symbolic, it is a real number. The horns on the beast described in the book of Daniel are also a real number. Like Greece, after Alexander the Great died, the empire was divided among his four subordinates (8:22). In Daniel chapter 7, there is a description of a terrifying beast that will appear during the end times, it also has ten horns, which also represents ten kings. The evidence in many places confirms that it is a real number.
幼發拉底河以東的十國，是在以前波斯國的版圖之內的國家，中心國是伊朗，伊朗人就是波斯人。伊朗東邊七個國都以istan 結尾：Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kurkmenistan , Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, 北邊的kazakhstan 是沒有經過波斯統治的不算在內，只算六個。另外幼發拉底河流經的，有伊拉克、敘利亞、土耳其，共十個國。
The ten nations east of the Euphrates River are located on the territory of the Old Persian Empire, the country in the center of the territory is Iran, and Iranians are actually Persians. The names of the 7 nations located east of Iran end in “ istan ”: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Kazakhstan that is located on the north was not ruled by Persia so that one does not count. So there are actually only 6 nations. In addition, alongside the Euphrates there are the nations of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, all together ten nations.
不過這十個王，都沒有一個是稱為｢敵基督｣的( 但7) ，那敵基督是後期纔出現，是另外一個角。他制服其中叁個王，他的作風比這十王更極端。他的出現，大概是在獸的寶座快進入黑暗期之時，或是因為他的出現，帝國權力高層就起了大地震，引起了嚴重的衝突。但因為他的才能、力量超過其他的王，所以後來他得到各王的順服，獨攬大權。
But none of these ten kings is the “Antichrist” (Daniel 7). The Antichrist will not show up until the end, it is another horn. He will overpower three of the kings; the way he operates will be more extreme than the ten kings. He will appear approximately when the throne of the beast is about to be plunged into darkness; his appearing will probably lead to a great earthquake among the higher level governing authorities of the empire, causing serious conflicts. But because of his ability and great power, the other kings will submit to him and he will monopolize great authority.
THREE UNCLEAN SPIRITS
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 like frogs.
According to the Law of Moses, frogs are unclean animals. Some of the idols that the Persians and the Egyptians worship are shaped like frogs. Here they also use unclean spirits like frogs as their helper. These three spirits are the most malevolent ones. Satan , the empire of the beast and the false prophet are aided by these evil spirits to make war against God’s chosen people.
Therefore, their power was so enormous that it affected the whole world. In the past, when people studied the book of Revelation they were unable to comprehend how the anti-Christ could make the whole world listen to him. At the present, everyone could see that any organization or any group could have worldwide influence. During the end times, it will not be surprising that with the help of the evil spirits the entire world will listen and obey him.
14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.
Of course, these three evil spirits are invisible to the people; they work behind the scenes. Someone performs the signs but behind him there are the evil spirits that incite the whole world to go against God.
15 “Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”
This battle will be very terrible, blessed is the one who is not among it. Clothing has the effect of protection, therefore men and women should cover their whole bodies as a protection; which tells us that this war will involve toxic pollutants.
16 And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har- Magedon .
“Har” means “mountain”, Har- Magedon is the Mountain of Magedon . It is a famous battlefield from ancient times. This is the place where Deborah confronted the Canaanites, Gideon fought the Midianites, and where King Josiah died in battle. Pass the Mountain of Magedon there lays the Plains of Jezreel which is now called Galilee. Israel will not seal the ravine but will make use of the narrow road between the mountains to contain the flow of people. This place has seen a lot of bloodshed. Now it is telling us that in the future the most brutal battle will take place there.
THE SEVENTH CUP – NUCLEAR WAR WILL BRING COMPLETE DESTRUCTION
17 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, “It is done.”
倒在空中，是全面核子的污染，乃是世界的結局，是真正的世界末日。神的聲音從至聖所裡面發出來說：｢成了！｣是真的大結局了。祂的計劃完成了。跟著下去應該就接著地廿章白色大寶座的審判。不過17 至19 章又是另外的異象，再從另一個角度看另一個題目。
When the cup was poured upon the air, it meant complete nuclear contamination, which will definitely be the end of the world. God’s voice came from the Holy of Holies: “IT IS DONE”, truly a great ending. God’s plan had been accomplished . Following this should be the judgment of the Great White Throne (chapter 20). But there is still chapter 17 through 19 which talks about another vision seen from another angle, it is another topic.
18 又有閃電、大聲、雷轟、大地震，自從地上有人以來，沒有這樣大這樣厲害的地震。19 那大城裂為叁段，列國城也都倒塌了，神也想起巴比倫大城來，要把那盛自己烈酒杯遞給他。20 各海島都逃避了，眾山也不見了。21 又有大雹子從天落在人身上，每一個約重一他連得( 一他連得約有九十斤) 。為這雹子的災極大，人就褻瀆神。
18 And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth, so great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. 20 And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe.
Lightning, thunder and earthquakes are Mother Nature’s sudden display of might; it is terrifying because these things could happen without any warnings. This can make people very scared. Seeing the great city split into three parts and watching the nations fall would certainly be very horrifying .
Let’s say that next month an extremely powerful meteorite will be hitting the earth and destroying it, but people would not be as terrified as those in this chapter because they might think that they still have time to deal with it. But a sudden terrifying event like this one will make people have their hearts in their mouth and be paralyzed from the horrific events; they will not know what to do. That is why verse 15 tells us to be alert. The disasters from the seven seals and the seven trumpet calls happened gradually; here things happened suddenly.
大雹子聽起來不很恐怖。因為1. 人常有機會看見冰雹落下。2. 冰雹通常小，有時像小珠子。3. 範圍不大，一個地方下冰雹，十哩外可能沒有。但這裡所說的大雹子，是世界性的災難，不是冰雹是大火雹。
Hail doesn’t seem too scary because: 1. People often see them come down from the sky. 2. They are mostly small like size of little pearls. 3. The range of the hail is small; there could be hail in one place and no hail 10 miles away. But the disaster of huge hailstones here happened on the whole earth, they were not small pieces of ice but huge hailstones of fire.
Before the flood, people had never seen rain in their lives, which is why people in those times were not afraid of it. People from different eras thought that the world would always remain the same. They thought ice age would never happen. If you would tell them that the atmosphere was so saturated with water that it would cause a flood, people could just hear you say it but not pay much attention to it. If we were to tell people that there would be hailstones coming down weighing more than one hundred pounds, they would say: “That is not possible, because it had never happened before.”
Here it says that each hailstone weighed about one hundred pounds each. We could hardly imagine the devastation that these huge hailstones could cause. Huge hailstones weighing more than a hundred pounds falling on house would destroy them completely and falling on people would kill them instantly. People would not be able to endure this last disaster.