Revelation 16:1–3 (NKJV)
After the scene of the fiery sea and the seven angels coming out of the temple, John’s attention turns to the first two angels, and the specific wrath that is poured out from their bowls.
1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”Revelation 16:1
The command is given to the angels to move to the earth and pour out God’s wrath. The brief descriptions of the angels’ actions and the resulting plagues seem to suggest that these bowls were not necessarily poured out in succession, but perhaps simultaneously instead. It was as if John was seeing them all poured out at once, and was catching glimpses of each of them. These plagues are similar, as previously stated, to the plagues associated with the seals and the trumpets. However, these plagues are complete and part of a final judgment, whereas those previously measured out were partial, and meant to elicit repentance instead of utter destruction.
2 So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.Revelation 16:2
The first bowl was poured out with the result of “a foul and loathsome sore.” This is very similar to the sixth plague against Egypt in the book of Exodus, All who had the mark of the beast received this sore. It is not specified as to where this sore showed up on the human body, but it could be something that surfaced at the location of the mark, perhaps a sign that the mark was the cause and source of such a judgment. The description goes on to say that those who worshipped the beast received this same judgment. Therefore, it is not just a judgment against the political, commercial, or social affiliation with the beast, but also the spiritual and religious affiliation, which is an absolute affront to the role and place of God in the spiritual realm.
3 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.
The second angel also pours out his bowl, and the judgment it delivers is directed at the sea, much like the first plague against Egypt. The blood poured from the cup is poured into the sea. Blood carries many significant meanings in Scripture. Blood is considered the life force of all living beings, and shedding blood in violence was prohibited. Blood was considered unclean if it came from another source. For instance, no meat was to be eaten with the animals blood still in it. The blood was to be drained. A man was prohibited from sexual relationships when his wife was observing her menstrual period, and she and anything she touched was considered unclean during that time. However, the blood of Jesus, pure and clean, was considered efficacious in cleansing the soul from sin. In the case of this blood being poured out from the bowl in judgment, the blood is impure and brings death to the sea in which it was poured. Every living creature in the sea died once the blood entered the waters. This is complete annihilation rather than the partial attack on the sea earlier in Revelation.
As the judgment of God is poured out on the earth, absolute and complete destruction begins. Everyone with the mark of the beast has a foul sore arise on their person. Every creature in the sea dies as a result of the blood being poured out. Complete destruction and annihilation falls on the earth at the pouring out of the bowls. The first two bowls bring worldwide damage to the nth degree. This is the beginning of the final chapter in the story of God’s wrath being poured out on the earth for their apostasy and idolatry during the Great Tribulation.