The seventh “bowl” produced the final overthrow of Babylon, the Great City, and completed the “wrath of God” – Revelation 16:17-21.
The seventh “bowl of wrath” anticipates the fuller description of the destruction of end-time “Babylon” in chapters 17 and 18 of Revelation. The Old Testament story behind it is the plague of hail inflicted on Egypt at the word of Moses. Emptying the bowl “on the air” prepared for the “great hail” that concluded this last “plague.”
When the “seventh bowl” was emptied, the “great” voice from the throne declared – “It is finished!” Thus, the judicial sentence of God against “Babylon” was consummated. The word “great” occurs seven times in the paragraph, and in the book, the number ‘7’ symbolizes completion. The sevenfold repetition of “great” stresses the finality of this judgment, 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 when it was 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 latter sounded, the 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 would resurrect faithful martyrs and the wicked, the latter for “reproach and everlasting shame.” The 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,” which 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 reached 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 they 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 order and anticipate its replacement by the New Creation – (2 Peter 3:8-12).
The description “Babylon the Great” is derived from Daniel. In response to the boast of Nebuchadnezzar, God removed his sovereignty for a period of “seven seasons.” Here, the clause stresses that end-time “Babylon” possesses the same arrogance as its ancient predecessor – (Daniel 4:30-31).
And thus, the draining of the “seventh bowl” anticipates the fuller judgment of Babylon described in the next two chapters of Revelation.