Chapter sixteen reveals the final seven judgments of the Tribulation. John described these as “bowls containing God’s wrath” that would be “poured out…on the earth” (Revelation 16:1-2). These judgments will be similar to the trumpets but should not be interpreted as the same judgments. The first bowl will produce sores all over the Beast’s followers. This is similar to the sixth plague on Egypt (Exodus 9:10). The second bowl will turn all saltwater to blood; the second trumpet will change only one-third of the water. The third bowl turned all remaining fresh water to blood. This is said to be in vengeance for the blood of the saints. There will be nothing potable to drink from this point on.
The fourth bowl will intensify the heat of the sun, scorching everything it touches. The fifth bowl will finally extinguish the sun’s light, immersing the world into complete darkness. John mentioned a couple of additional details here. First, this will affect only the Beast’s kingdom; apparently the saints will not be affected. Second, the sunburns and sores from the previous plagues will still be in effect, so people will be in pain in darkness, similar to the lake of fire where they will suffer for eternity.
The sixth bowl will dry up the Euphrates River, making a path for the human armies from the Far East to join the Beast in his final attack on Jerusalem. John noted that the command to join them will come via demonic messengers from the “unholy trinity” of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet (Revelation 16:13-14).
The seventh bowl follows the pattern of the seventh trumpet – lightning, thunder, earthquake, and hailstorm. There are several descriptions that show this to be far worse than the seventh trumpet. The earthquake will be so great, “unequaled since humanity has been on the earth” (Revelation 16:18), that Babylon, “the great city,” and “the cities of the nations” will collapse (Revelation 16:19), and all islands and mountains will be flattened. In the hailstorm, the hailstones will weigh “about a hundred pounds each” (Revelation 16:21). Throughout all of the bowls, though, those receiving these judgments will not repent, choosing to blaspheme God instead (Revelation 16:9, 11, 21).