Revelation 16:10-11 – The Fifth Bowl

(10)  The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish (11)  and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.

    We are not given a lot of details here as to the people who are being afflicted; I will provide two options, both of which would be scriptural ideas. In either case, the pouring out of the bowl onto the “throne of the beast” must refer to the place of Rome. This pouring out onto the location of Rome may not be a change in people, just a change in location. The Jews were not just in Judea, but they were scattered throughout the empire (Acts 2:5, 8-11), and there was a great population of them in Rome – as is evident from the content of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. So the fifth angel’s actions are revealing that this judgment of God is not upon one plot of land, but upon the Israel that is scattered throughout the empire. In the curses of the covenant, God promised,

“And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone” (Deuteronomy 28:64).

This he accomplished because of their disobedience, and the curse is a great scope of the situation which the Jews are in during the first century. They have been scattered everywhere, and they have played the harlot against God with every god of wood and stone imaginable (13:12; 14:9-10; 17:4-5). So the kingdom being “plunged into darkness” would refer to the judgment against the house of Israel throughout the empire.

    The other option is to understand this angel to be acting against the gentiles, who took part aiding and abetting the old covenant people in their idolatry. It is evident that God had also remembered the gentiles for their sins after he judged old Israel (19:17-21; 20:11-15).

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