What would you say are the most famous words in the Bible? Perhaps many passages come to mind. Starting from the very beginning of Scripture some might say God’s initial creation statement “Let there be light” is most famous. Maybe some would say it’s Moses’ words to Pharaoh “Let my people go!” Or Job’s words “I know my redeemer lives.” Or David’s words in Psalm 23. Or perhaps you think of statements we find in the New Testament. Surely John 3:16 is near the top of this list, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” A rival to John 3:16 would have to be Jesus’ famous words on the cross as He’s nearing death “It is finished!” That would be mine if you were to ask this question to me because of all this phrase contains within it. In these words “It is finished!” all the promises of God made become promises kept and fulfilled. Meaning, in the glorious Person and in the great work of Jesus Christ, all things find their fulfilment. He is the long awaited Adam, Noah, the descendant of Abraham. He is the true Israel, the One similar to but greater than Moses, Joshua, and David. He is the Christ. As God’s true Prophet He is the very Word of God to us that reveals the will of God for our salvation. As God’s true Priest He not only stood in the gap between us and God by making a pure sacrifice but was the atoning sacrifice Himself, and to this day He continues to plead for us before the throne of God. And as God’s true King, He reigns forevermore in resurrection might and authority. “It is finished!” leads us to all this and more.

But I wonder, do you know the sister statement to “It is finished!” found in the book of Revelation? It is found in our text this evening, in 16:17, “It is done!” While Jesus’ statement on the cross announced the completion of the atonement, this statement announces the completion of God’s judgment on the world at the end of all things. Or we could say, the redemption Christ accomplished on the cross will come to pass fully on the day when God accomplishes judgment.[1]This grand statement “It is done!” corresponds to the previous statement “It is finished!” and I think we can be sure that John, who wrote both of these statements, had the earlier in mind as he penned the later. So, while many know the “It is finished!” statement, few know of its sister statement here. 

Last Sunday evening pastor Andrew led us through the first six bowls in the previous passage, tonight do not miss how the grand statement “It is done!” begins the unfolding of the events surrounding the seventh bowl. But as we begin remember, we’re taking the view that the book of Revelation isn’t a chronological narrative but a cycle of seven parallel sections, that tell the same story, with increasing intensity each time.[2] That is filled with rich and symbolic imagery that isn’t defined in our imaginations but comes from the Old Testament. What is before tonight is the conclusion of the fifth cycle.

Begin with me in v17-18, “The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.”

From this we come to learn the seventh angel poured his bowl into the air. That might seem like a strange location to pour something as all the other bowls were poured into definitive objects or places or environments. But that this bowl is poured into the air suggests judgment being brought onto the Devil, or as he is referred to elsewhere “the prince of the power of the air” in Ephesians.[3] And as it’s poured out we hear a loud voice coming out from the throne within the temple. This is none other than the voice of God, because remember back in 15:8 the sanctuary was filled with the glory of God and no one could enter it. So out God’s voice goes and we hear the pronouncement, “Is it done!” 15:1 already told us of this reality, that the seven angels would come and finish God’s wrath by pouring it out. Well, now the angels have done just that so we hear the finality of it being accomplished in this pronouncement.

What does the pouring of the seventh bowl bring with it? We see it in v18: lightning, rumbling, thunder, and an earthquake. Perhaps here we think back to the scene at Sinai, when God came down to give His Law and lightning and thunder filled the air as the ground quaked terrifying Israel and showing them how dreadful it was to disregard God’s Law.[4] But here in v18 the earthquake was severe, one such as there had never been before. This was not just any earthquake but the earthquake spoken of long before.[5] Haggai 2:6, “For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land.” Hebrews 12:27 (which was part of our call to worship last Sunday morning) quotes Haggai and applies it further saying, “This phrase ‘Yet once more’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken – that is, things that have been made – (why? ) in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.” So why does the seventh bowl bring a quake that shakes all things? So that which cannot be shaken may remain. What will be no more and what will last after this quake? All that is of and all that belongs to the prince of the power of the air, Satan, will be destroyed while all that is of and all that belongs to God will remain. That later on in our passage, v20, mentions not even mountains or islands are able to remain after this tells us this seventh bowl poured out is nothing less than the end of the world itself.

v19 continues on saying, “The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of His wrath.”

Once this quake began shaking in v18 another result is what we see here in v19a, the great city is split into three parts. For John’s time and John’s original audience this would’ve been Rome, the capital city in their day that stood strong and proud as the epitome of worldliness. But more than Rome is in view here, John says next that the cities of the nations fell as well. From this we take it to mean every city or society, every man or woman that sets up in opposition to Christ now falls.[6] And the fall that’s in view isn’t just a city being overthrown and captured, no. It’s split into three parts, not a literal three sections, but three as we seen time and time again in Revelation meaning total and complete. So a total, a full, a final, and a complete destruction is in view here of all that stands up against Christ and His Kingdom. This is then why Babylon the great is mentioned next. Because Babylon represents all that is of the world. In this regard author and commentator G.K. Beale says, “It is not just Rome or some later great capital of evil that is decimated, but all the world’s cultural, political, economic centers, because they are part of the great city and world system of Babylon.”[7] Despite all that Satan has done and is doing to prevent the destruction of his fallen kingdom, despite all has done and is doing to keep blinding the eyes of sinners to keep them from seeing the light of God’s glory in Christ, and despite all he has done and is doing to keep deceiving the nations, God will utterly and completely conquer and demolish him and those who’ve bought in to his lies.

Notice what’s next in v20? While far too many believe God doesn’t notice, cannot see, or has flat out forgotten sin and the wicked injustices of this world, we see here that God will remember Babylon the great, the HQ of all things worldly if you will, and cause her to drain a cup. What cup? The cup of the wine of the fury of God’s wrath. Notice in this that not only has God not forgotten sin wherever it is found, but that God will one day remember the sin of the wicked. God has not forgotten that Babylon had once destroyed many (11:18), now it will be destroyed. God has not forgotten that Babylon had once made all the nations drink the wine of her sexual immorality (14:8), now she will be made to drink the wine of God’s fury. This brings us back to the pronouncement in v17 “It is done!” and its sister statement in the gospels “It is finished!” All who come to the Son of God in faith are welcomed into His love and His redemptive work on the cross is applied to them. “It is finished!” is the banner over them because Christ drank the cup of the Father’s fury for them. But all who do not come to the Son in faith, all who welcome worldly thinking, the Babylonian life, and reject Him have another banner standing over them. “It is done!” resounds as God makes them drink the cup of His fury themselves. One commentator put it like this, “Either Jesus Christ drank the cup for you when He suffered God’s wrath on the cross or you will be made to drink it to you eternal ruin on the dreadful day of judgment soon to come.”[8]

In other words, if you do reject Jesus, ultimately your judgment will fit your crime. And not only will Babylon and all her citizens be undone, but v20 tells us creation itself will be undone, “And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found.” The intensity of judgment here is sobering is it not? It reminds us that sin isn’t just error, sin isn’t just doing wrong, sin isn’t just messing up in an impersonal kind of way that’s really no big deal. Sin is personally and potently offensive to the holy God who created us. If nothing has to date persuaded you of this. If nothing has sobered your heart in regard to sin and it’s ruinous wake, I pray this text does it. Because it proves to us how horrific sin is in God’s sight.[9]

This is put before us again in v21 as the text ends, “And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.”

Immediately we go back to the plagues in the Exodus when we hear of hail falling from the heavens.[10] But then it was only against one nation, now hail falls from heaven against all nations, and each hailstone is said to be one hundred pounds each. We could also think back to the conquest of the promise land, when hail fell on the Amorites in Joshua 10, or Ezekiel 38 where hail and an earthquake are mentioned in relation to the end of the world and the final judgment.[11]As overwhelming and intense as all of this is, is it not staggering to see the response of the wicked at the end of v21? Perhaps it doesn’t surprise us though, we saw the same response in 16:9 and 16:11. But in both of those instances it was possible for repentance, here in v21 no such possibility is mentioned. All they did was curse God for the severity of His wrath.

Conclusion:

And so, we here today lingering on this text receive great warning in this. But we also receive great encouragement as well. 

You see, we now live between the cries. Jesus cried out on the cross “It is finished!” and in the end at the judgment the cry “It is done!” will resound. How can we find an encouragement on how to live between these two cries? Peter has a good word for us. 2 Peter 3:11-15 says, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.”

In other words…we are to live this day, and everyday in light of that day. May God sober us and spur us on to do just that.


[1] Richard D. Phillips, Revelation (Phillipsburg: P & R Publishing, 2017), 465.

[2] Joel R. Beeke, Revelation – Lectio Continua, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 2016) 406.

[3] Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation, First Edition (Phillipsburg, N.J: P&R Publishing, 2001), 236.

[4] Phillips, Revelation, 471.

[5] Phillips, 466.

[6] G. K. Beale and David Campbell, Revelation: A Shorter Commentary (Eerdmans, 2015), 348–49.

[7] Beale and Campbell, 349.

[8] Phillips, Revelation, 472.

[9] Phillips, Revelation, 466, 470.

[10] G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, eds., Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2007), 1137.

[11] Beale and Campbell, Revelation, 350.

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