The Seven Bowls
Open Your Bible
Revelation 15:1-8, Revelation 16:1-21, Exodus 15:1-18
BY Erin Davis
When it comes to how to respond to the righteous judgment of God, we only have two options. We can worship in wonder or we can wave a rebel fist. There is no middle ground, no gray area, no third option. Just worship or rebellion, reverence or revolt.
Here, in Revelation 15–16 we see a picture of the wrath of God poured out. It’s a terrifying image, bowls filled to the brim with the righteous judgment of God. As squeamish as God’s wrath may make us, deep down, we know He is justified. We look around at mankind and inwardly at our own wicked hearts and must repeat the cry of heaven:
“They deserve it!”…
“Yes, Lord God, the Almighty,
True and just are your judgments” (Revelation 16:6–7).
Notice that in these passages, no one is arguing with God’s justice. No scales are needed to weigh and consider the justice of God. Over and over we read that these grisly judgments are in line with a fair and true God. This is justice in its purest form. And yet it’s possible, even when His justice is deserved and devastating, to choose insurrection over His goodness and mercy. Though the judgments certainly take center stage here, there is still an undercurrent of the people’s rebellion within these passages:
They “blasphemed the name of God… and they did not repent and give him glory” (v.9).
They “blasphemed the God of heaven… they did not repent of their works” (v.11).
They “blasphemed God” (v.21).
Consider those pummeled by the final bowl of wrath. Though buried under hailstones weighing a hundred pounds, they still shook rebel fists at God. If we are honest with our own hearts, we see that our own rebellious streak runs just as deep. Our own eye for justice is just as distorted.
But God, in His infinite mercy has unclenched our rebel fists. We are shielded from God’s ultimate judgment and are now “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Instead of continuing in rebellion, God’s grace has taught us to respond like Israel when the nation witnessed God’s wrath on Pharaoh and His men.
“Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord. They said:
‘I will sing to the LORD,
for he is highly exalted;
he has thrown the horse
and its rider into the sea…
LORD, who is like you among the gods?
Who is like you, glorious in holiness,
revered with praises, performing wonders?’” (Exodus 15:1,11).
God’s righteous wrath isn’t all penned up for the Day of Judgment. Even now He judges the wicked. Even now He has the right to rule our hearts and lives. When face to face with His judgment we only have two options. Because He is so worthy, may we choose to worship the God who is just.