Tuesday, 4 May 2021
Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. Revelation 16:8
John’s vision now turns to the plague of the fourth bowl, beginning with, “Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl.” It is the pouring out of God’s wrath upon the world that has rejected Him. In the pouring out, it says, “on the sun.”
The first three, in order, were poured out on the earth, the seas, and then the rivers and springs of water. Each of these was a directed action on the planet in which we live. This one is on the sun, an extraterrestrial body. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the sun is affected, although it could be so – such as in increased sunspots, increased electromagnetic radiation, or some other solar occurrence.
However, it could be that the effects of the sun are simply more pronounced here on earth; maybe the ozone layer has been adversely affected. Whatever occurs, the result will be catastrophic, and it will be agonizing for those who failed to give God the glory He is due. In this judgment upon the sun, John then says, “and power was given to him.”
The word “power” is inserted. A more correct reading is, “and there was given to him.” In other words, the power, ability, or authority to take action according to the pouring out of the bowl on the sun belongs to him. It speaks of the result of the pouring out, which is “to scorch men with fire.”
Again, the Greek is more precise, saying, “in fire.” Fire is the condition or state in which the scorching takes place. Whether the sun is directly affected (as noted above), or whether it is the earth that is affected because of the lack of its normal protection (ozone or etc.), the heat will be so intense on earth that fires will become more pronounced due to the extremely dry conditions that permeate the land.
If this is what is being prophesied, then it means that not only will the earth be physically affected by the fire, but many secondary issues will arise as well. Without protection from the sun and cooling from the rains, crops will fail, lakes will dry up, and so on.
One of the terrible afflictions that people face on earth is that of famine. When it comes, everything dries up and dies. The effects are then multiplied because there is no place to hide from the heat. When one is left in the heat for too long, only misery is to be expected. Eventually, if no relief comes, death is the result. Such is the state that will come to pass when the fourth bowl is poured out.
Life application: Death from heat and no water (as is already the case from the third bowl) is exceptionally bitter. The book of Lamentations gives a vivid description of this –
“The tongue of the infant clings
To the roof of its mouth for thirst;
The young children ask for bread,
But no one breaks it for them.
5 Those who ate delicacies
Are desolate in the streets;
Those who were brought up in scarlet
Embrace ash heaps.
6 The punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people
Is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom,
Which was overthrown in a moment,
With no hand to help her!
7 Her Nazirites were brighter than snow
And whiter than milk;
They were more ruddy in body than rubies,
Like sapphire in their appearance.
8 Now their appearance is blacker than soot;
They go unrecognized in the streets;
Their skin clings to their bones,
It has become as dry as wood.
9 Those slain by the sword are better off
Than those who die of hunger;
For these pine away,
Stricken for lack of the fruits of the field.” Lamentations 4:4-9
Ancient Israel was punished for disobedience and the suffering was immense. Throughout the ages, such suffering has been recorded time and again. The difference with the Tribulation Period though is that the calamity will be global in nature. How much better to call out to God now through His offer of peace, instead of having to face the suffering which lies ahead. God has lovingly and graciously made this offer through the giving of His Son. He is our hope, our place of rest, and our hiding place from what lies ahead. He is JESUS!
Heavenly Father, Your word tells us that it is Your desire that none perish. However, You give us the freedom to choose. In the end, the misery of the coming Tribulation is self-inflicted, and the people will pay for their decision to reject Your gracious offer. Help us, Lord, to be faithful witnesses of Your gospel now before that time comes. Amen.