THE FIFTH BOWL OF GOD'S WRATH
the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom
became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain. They
blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not
repent of their deeds. Revelation 16:10–11
fifth bowl of God’s wrath is poured out on the throne of the beast. Your King
James Version calls this the seat of the beast—the Greek word translated
throne or seat is thronos, meaning a
throne from which the power of a king emanates. The term throne is the key to
understanding this outpouring of God’s wrath under this fifth bowl. Let’s
take a few minutes for a little review to establish the significance of a
word throne appears first in Revelation 4:2 where John is admitted into the
spiritual heaven of the Revelation, which we understand to be the kingdom of
God. Revelation 4:2 “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set
in heaven, and One sat on the throne.” Of first importance, it requires a work
of the Holy Spirit to be able to see this throne. Next, it is the seat of
authority in the kingdom of God. Last, the only one authorized to sit on this
throne as the king of the kingdom of God is the glorified Christ. In chapter
five we learned that the scroll with the seven seals is issued from this throne
showing us that only the glorified Christ has the authority and ability to open
those seals to reveal the messages of the seals to us.
in Revelation 6:16 under the opening of the sixth seal we see the throne again.
The professing Christian world is shown the Lamb sitting on this throne. By this
time in the history of the church the visible Christian church was apostate and
divided into multiple denominations, churches, and groups. Under this sixth
seal, we are told the wrath of the Lamb is finally come upon apostate
Christianity. The sixth seal continues in chapter 7 where we the servants of our
God, having been called out and sealed, are standing in front of this throne and
giving the glorified Christ His rightful place and authority in the kingdom.
8 verse 3 reveals the seventh seal and the silence that followed the events of
the sixth seal. Here we see the prayers of the saints being offered on the
golden altar that was before the throne. And, in Revelation chapter 12 we see a
vision of the woman clothed with the sun giving birth to a male child that is
caught up to God and His throne. This is a picture of the church in the earliest
days of Christianity. It was pure and undefiled by the ideas and prejudices of
men, and Christ was truly the head of His church. A similar picture is presented
in the 14th chapter of Revelation where the 144,000 are rejoicing around the
beast mentioned connected with the fifth vial of God’s wrath first appears in
the 13th chapter of Revelation. This beast received power and authority from the
dragon of chapter 12, which we have identified as Christ-less religion. We
identified this beast as the apostate church that evolved into Catholicism in
its various forms. This beast had two heads, of which one was wounded. This
pictures the division of Catholicism in 1054 A.D. with the Pope having his
church in Rome and the Orthodox Church having its head at Constantinople. It is
popular among commentators to pick on the Church of Rome as an object of God’s
wrath, but there are several different versions of Catholicism in the world
today that originated around the same time in history.
Catholicism continued as the stronger of these churches. Each church had some
kind of hierarchy such as a Pope, Metropolitans, Bishops and supporting clergy.
The deadly wound that was healed evidenced the strength and power of the pope,
who eventually controlled not only the church, but most of Europe during what is
called the Dark Ages. The religious system of these churches diverts faith and
worship from God to the religious hierarchy, rituals, images, and such. This
bowl of wrath calls these things blaspheme.
our study of chapter 13, we also know that the beast of the earth follows the
first beast. We are told this beast also speaks like a dragon—that is, it
speaks like Christ-less religion. It also exercises all the authority of the
first beast. In other words, this beast organized itself into competing churches
with organizations, structures and practices that replaced the authority and
true worship of Christ. We learned that this beast represents the Protestant
Reformation. The worst thing this beast brought into being is the mark of the
beast, which we learned is formal church membership.
the Reformation diversified across Europe, national churches emerged, each
having its own form of government and its own creed that permanently separated
it from other churches and consequently separating Christians from each other by
denomination. This arbitrary separation was contrary to Christ’s intention
when He declared that He would build His church in which all Christians are
fifth bowl of wrath coming out of the everlasting gospel is poured out
specifically on the throne of the beast. The everlasting gospel condemns
division in the church and the judgment of God is poured out directly on the
systems that cause and rule division. This is not Christ’s authority, it is
man’s authority exercised in the place of Christ. This is also blasphemy.
word church appears only three times
in the gospels. The first appearance is Matthew 16:18 where Jesus declares that
He will build His church on the rock, by which He means Himself—He is the
foundation as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:11, “For no other foundation can
anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” In Ephesians
1:22–23 the church Jesus builds is called His body. “And He put all things
under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is
His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” And it is plain from this
scripture that Christ is the only head of His church; that authority is given to
no man and He does not share His authority with any man.
with Christ as the head of the church, He also recognizes a need for
organization within the body, His church. 1 Corinthians 12:27–28, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And
God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third
teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations,
varieties of tongues.” Paul speaks of this to the Ephesian church in Ephesians
4:11, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some
evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” Notice that all these things are gifts
of ministry given to the church for one purpose which Paul says is to come to
the unity of the faith in verse 13.
recognized that in any cooperative association of people there must be some form
of leadership otherwise the endeavor ends in chaos. There is a divine gift of
administration (governments, King James Version). The visible church of the New
Testament existed in local congregations; there was no such thing as a universal
human government or leadership over the church at large. Biblically,
administration in the church can only be on the local level in local
congregations and the Apostle Paul defines how that leadership is invested in a
congregation in Titus 1:5, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you
should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every
city as I commanded you.” Adam Clarke provides a proper definition of the word
elder: “persons well instructed in Divine things, who should be able to
instruct others, and observe and enforce the discipline of the Church.”
speaks of two distinct classes of elders in 1 Timothy 3:1 and 8; he identifies
them as bishops and deacons. Bishops oversee the work of a congregation. Deacons
assist the bishops as needed; often deacons are teachers in a congregation. The
instruction to Titus was to appoint elders in every city. It is possible
that there can be more than one bishop and one deacon in a congregation.
1 Timothy 5:17 Paul refers to the two classes of elders: “Let the elders who
rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the
word and doctrine.” Some elders rule or preside in the work of the
congregation, and some elders labor in the word and doctrine. Barnes comments on
this it is clear that, while there were “elders” who laboured “in the word
and doctrine,” that is, in preaching, there were also those who did not labour
“in the word and doctrine,” but who were nevertheless appointed to rule in
history of the New Testament shows us the visible church organized in local
congregations only. There is evidence that as the church spread out to northern
Africa, Asia Minor and southeast Europe lines of fellowship and communication
were established. Letters from various of Jesus’ Apostles were copied and
shared from church to church. Traveling ministers such as Apollos visited and
ministered in many different churches. News concerning needs passed among the
churches. When the churches in Judea were in need, churches in Asia Minor and
Greece took up collections and sent them by the Apostle Paul.
with all the communication that existed among the churches, there was no
organization above the local congregation. The gifts of ministry given to the
church by Jesus are for the purposes of preaching, teaching, and edifying the
people in congregations. There are positions of leaders in congregations but
there is no form of leadership above local ministry. The New Testament appears
to be somewhat fluid as it gives no definite form of government for
congregations. Jesus never ordained a universal bishop over the entire church.
Jesus never authorized national or regional church boards, superintendents or
other such supervisors over numerous churches. Jesus never created
denominational associations to govern congregations, ordain ministers, or
perform administrative functions or establish doctrinal guidelines.
gospel and teachings of Jesus are the foundation and authority for His church.
Whenever people take authority in the church into their own hands it brings
darkness. The first phase of the darkness is that it removes the people one step
away from Jesus by placing some kind of administration, a throne of the
beast, between Jesus and the people of the church. The second phase of the
darkness is that eventually that throne replaces Christ. This affects what is
taught or not taught and ultimately it hinders the effectiveness of the gospel.
The beast authority takes people into the church or puts them out of the church
irrespective of their standing before Christ. Eventually, church takes the place
of Christ in the perceptions and affections of the people. In their vision, the
throne of the beast has become the throne of Christ.
blasphemy causes pain when placed under the light of the everlasting gospel.
People become blinded to the truth of the gospel and cannot, or will not, see
that they are really worshipping their church instead of Jesus. When confronted
with what the New Testament teaches about the church Jesus built and its
function in the experience of salvation, such people reject it. When this angel
pours out the wrath exposing this error they refuse to repent and accept the
real lordship of Christ in their lives.
that God’s wrath is a choice people make for themselves by separating
themselves from God’s love. Taking refuge in a church other than the church as
built by Christ eventually separates a person from the love of God. Even though
God reaches out with the gospel, that church repels the influence of the true
gospel with its version so that the people miss the real love of God. It is a
pity that modern churches have put themselves between God and the people God
reaches out to with the gospel. This in itself is blasphemy because that church
is usurping Christ’s throne.