A catastrophic oil spill brings thoughts of the end-times.
"Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died" (Revelation 16:3). Many have noted the eerie sight of the British Petroleum "Deepwater Horizon" oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and have compared it to what the Apostle John saw in vision and recorded in Scripture more than 1,900 years ago. Some even wonder: Has the second angel poured out the bowl of the wrath of God?
The Apostle John wrote his words while living in exile on the island of Patmos. There, as an elderly man near the end of his life, he had a most incredible experience. In vision, he was transported into the future, to the time of God's impending intervention and judgment on humanity. In the vision, John saw what life would be like at the end of this age, just before Jesus' return. Christ revealed to John the things that would come to pass at the end, so he could record them to show God's servants down through time what must take place (cf. Revelation 22:6).
Before Christ's arrest and crucifixion, His disciples asked Him what life would be like at the time of the end, just before His return (cf. Matthew 24). When Christ answered their question, He also said "See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass" (Matthew 24:6). Christ told of many signs that would precede His return—and although the picture painted is dark indeed, His purpose was that His followers, knowing what would come, would not be alarmed. Christ's intent was that, in knowing what to look for, His disciples would not be caught off-guard when His return would come quickly after these events occurred.
Events just ahead of us are unlike anything that has ever happened on earth in nearly six thousand years of human history. Those who dismiss the Bible's end-time prophecies as a recounting of past history, or as mere allegory, will be in for a rude awakening. The prophesied events will come to pass, and those who understand now have the opportunity to prepare for Christ's return. Sadly, many others—ignoring the fulfillment of prophecy all around them in the news headlines—will be caught unaware.
What about you? Will you be prepared? Do you know what events to look for? Do you know the sequence in which prophesied events will occur?
Many consider Revelation the most difficult-to-understand book in the Bible. Some dismiss its complicated narrative, inset chapters and vivid descriptions as little more than fantasy. Others assume that it allegorizes past history. The truth, however, is far more remarkable: if you understand Revelation, you can know the future of the world!
The seven bowls repre-senting God's wrath on the earth will be poured out in rapid succession. If the bowls were not poured out rapidly, no flesh would be saved alive. Together, these seven bowls—judgments—make up the seventh trumpet, announcing the return of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 11:15; 19:16). These bowl judgments, also known as the seven last plagues (Revelation 15:1), come in the prophetic sequence after the seven seals of Revelation (Revelation 6) and after the seven trumpets (Revelation 8 and 9).
Since the imagery described in the Bible is so dramatic, and is so far removed from what we see around us, it can be hard to imagine that those events really will occur. However, when we watch the news and see a shocking event described in biblical language, it can help us understand how quickly the seemingly "permanent" can change.
No, the dramatic pictures of oil on the ocean appearing as if blood, as seen from the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, are not the second bowl of God's wrath. But they do foreshadow it, and should give us pause as we consider what the "real thing" will look like.
Do not let what is coming catch you by surprise. To understand the future of the world and how it will impact your life, be sure to read our free booklet, Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled!