The seventh “bowl of wrath” anticipates the fuller description of the judgment and destruction of end-time “Babylon” found in chapters 17 and 18 of the book of Revelation. The Old Testament story behind the “seventh bowl” is the plague of hail inflicted on Ancient Egypt at the word of Moses. Pouring the contents of the bowl “on the air” prepared for the “hail” that concludes the last “plague.”
When the “seventh bowl” was emptied, a “great” voice from the Throne declared, “It is finished!” Thus, the final judgment of God against “Babylon” was consummated. The word “great” occurs seven times in the paragraph, and the number ‘7’ in Revelation symbolizes completion. The sevenfold repetition of “great” stresses the finality of this last plague, and it brings the entire series of the “last plagues” to completion.
(Revelation 16:17-21) – “And the seventh angel poured out his bowl on the air; and there came forth a great voice out of the sanctuary from the throne, saying, It is done! And there were flashes of lightning and voices and claps of thunder, and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since there were men upon the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail, every stone about the weight of a talent, comes down out of heaven upon men, and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof is exceeding great.”
(Exodus 9:22-23) – “And Yahweh said to Moses, Stretch forth your hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and Yahweh sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down unto the earth; and Yahweh rained hail upon the land of Egypt.”
The “flashes of lightning, voices, and claps of thunder” allude to the story of Israel gathered before Mount Sinai, where similar phenomena accompanied the presence of Yahweh. Previously, the same description was employed in the visions of the Throne, the seventh seal, and the seventh trumpet. When the “seventh trumpet” sounded, these same manifestations accompanied the final judgment, and a voice also declared, “It is finished!” – (Exodus 19:16-18, Revelation 4:5, 8:5,11:19).
The description of the final great earthquake echoes two Old Testament passages:
(Exodus 9:18) – “Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as has not been in Egypt since the day it was founded even until now.”
(Daniel 12:1-2) – “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people will be delivered, everyone that will be found written in the book.”
The book of Daniel described the future tribulation when God will deliver and resurrect faithful martyrs and the wicked, the latter for “reproach and everlasting shame.” This verbal link demonstrates that the “seventh bowl” points to the final judgment at the end of the age, and to the preparation for the arrival of the “new heaven and earth.”
The great earthquake caused islands to “flee away and mountains not to be found.” This also occurred in the “sixth seal,” the “day of the wrath of the Lamb.” The same “great earthquake” was portrayed when the “seventh trumpet” sounded – (“There were flashes of lightning, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail”). Thus, the same endpoint is pictured in both the “seventh trumpet” and the “seventh bowl of wrath.”
The verbal links at the end of the series of seals, trumpets, and bowls demonstrate that the three sevenfold series are not in chronological sequence – All three culminate in the final judgment. The cosmic chaos and terrestrial upheaval at the end of each series point to the cessation of the existing created order and anticipate its replacement by the New Creation – (2 Peter 3:8-12).
The description, “Babylon the Great,” is derived from the book of Daniel. In response to the boast of King Nebuchadnezzar, God removed his sovereignty for a period of “seven seasons.” Here, the clause stresses that end-time “Babylon” possesses the same arrogance and presumptuousness as its ancient predecessor – (Daniel 4:30-31).
Thus, the draining of the “seventh bowl” anticipates the fuller judgment of Babylon described in the next two chapters of the book of Revelation.