"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 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. The second blood angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died. The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 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; for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.' And I heard the altar respond, 'Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.'" (Revelation 16.1-7)✞
Dr. William Barclay (1907-1978) writes of these verses in "The Revelation of John." "Here we have the last terrible plagues and the sores associated with them. They do not connect to the ten plagues in Egypt and the terrors which followed the sounding of the seven trumpets in Revelation 8-11."✞
1. The First Bowl - Loathsome Sores.
2. The Second Bowl - Sea Turns to Blood.
3. The Third Bowl - Rivers Turn to Blood.
4. The Fourth Bowl - Sun Burns Planet.
5. The Fifth Bowl - Thick Darkness.
6. The Sixth Bowl - the Euphrates Dries Up.
7. The Seventh Bowl - Global Earthquake.
We see in Exodus 9.8-12, the ten plagues and painful plague sores when Moses confronts Pharaoh with the wrath of God, "Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on people and animals throughout the land.' So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh. Moses tossed it into the air, and festering boils broke out on people and animals. The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils on them and all the Egyptians. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses." Water turns into blood, and the invasion of frogs appears. Lice fill the air like dust, then flies swarm around the people and animals. Plague sores occur on the cattle, and then boils follow on the people of Egypt. Thunder and hail come from the skies, and locusts swarm and eat up all the greenery. Finally, darkness envelopes the whole land. In Exodus 12.29-30, the Lord slays the firstborn of every Egyptian family and even the livestock. "At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead."✞
The second Revelation blood angel pours out his bowl onto the sea, and it turns to blood. Every living thing in the waters dies, and the terrors follow the sounding of the seven trumpets. Hail, fire, and blood come upon the earth, and a third of the trees and green grass withers. The trumpet blast alarm sounds in Revelation 8.7-9, "The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth burned up, a third of the trees destroyed, and all the green grass incinerated. The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships destroyed." Here the flaming mountains are cast into the sea, and a third of the sea becomes blood. The star or angel called Wormwood falls into the waters to make them bitter and poisonous. "Wormwood" is mentioned seven times in the Hebrew Bible and means a "curse" or a "bitter substance" associated with "bitterness." "Wormwood" is described in Revelation 8.10-11 as the great star blazing. "The third angel sounds his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, falls from the sky on a third of the rivers and the springs of water — the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people die from the waters that had become bitter." The name "Wormwood" may refer either to a famous person or to a celestial event. This event destroys and darkens one-third of the sun, the moon, and the stars.✞
A star (possibly an angel) comes to unlock the abyss, from which smoke and demonic locusts arise in Revelation 9.1-21. The four angels are set loose on the Euphrates River area, and the demons come from the east. God announces the final victory despite the rebellious anger of the nations in Revelation 11.15. Revelation 16 sets out the terrors of the seven bowls of wrath when everybody breaks out in ulcerous sores. The sea becomes like blood, and the rivers and fountains flow red. The sun becomes scorching hot. Darkness falls over the kingdom of the beast and its agony. The Euphrates River dries up to open a way for the hordes of the kings of the east. The air is polluted, and the accompanying terrors in nature, the thunder, the earthquake, the lightning, and the hail appear. William Barclay comments, "In this final series of terrors, John seems to have gathered together the horrors from all the stories of the avenging wrath of God and to have hurled them on the unbelieving world in one last terrible deluge of disaster."✞
The Revelation blood terrors and destruction upon the earth, which follow are justifiable punishment by God. It is easy to see how many things these lists of Revelation blood terrors have in common with early Christians' everyday occurrences. The hail, the darkness, the blood in the waters, the ulcerous sores, the coming of the terrible hordes from beyond the Euphrates River are all experiences Christians could have known. In Revelation, there is a difference between terrors following the trumpets and terrors after the pouring out of the bowls. In the former, destruction is always limited. In the latter, the damage is complete on God's enemies.✞