The angels go forth to pour out the wrath of the Lamb on an unrepentant world. As we observe them we note that these plagues parallel those the Lord sent on Egypt in Exodus. At that time the entire land of Egypt was devastated by the plagues. Even though the Israelites dwelt in the land, the Lord kept them safe throughout. Once again that reminds us that the Lord will keep us safe from His wrath even while the world around us is being overwhelmed.
In addition we recall that the plagues of Egypt only served to harden the hearts of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Their magicians even attempted to mimic the plagues so as to belittle their significance and insult the Lord God. The same thing results when the 7 bowls are poured out. God’s judgment is designed to lead people to repentance, and indeed many will come to Him, as we have seen, because they have endured His wrath and fear Him. Yet ultimately millions more will only harden their hearts and continue to reject Him even to the point where they ignore or deny the evidence of their own eyes.
John indicates that these judgments will pour wrath on Babylon. His audience would have understood this to refer not only to Rome but also to the whole world system of humanity opposed to God which values cruelty, injustice, immorality, and idolatry all epitomized by Babylon. Thus we can understand that the judgments will afflict the spiritual forces that back up the world system and all those humans who subscribe to its tenets. This may be an indication that these signs are not necessarily to be taken literally, that they symbolize the whole range of violence, warfare and so-called natural disasters that occur today as they have for thousands of years all used by God to judge sinful humanity. Yet in addition it is likely that such events will increase in intensity and frequency on a broad scale as the return of Christ nears, as the fullness of the sin of mankind reaches its height and the history of the world nears its climax.
For we who are believers, we must be aware that we do not know when the Lord will return. Consequently, as Jesus warns us in verse 15, we must always be ready. We must always be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. The problem is that many of us forget that. Every day we are tempted to compromise with the evil world system epitomized by Babylon and every day we fail. When we are so tempted we ought to remember that we should be standing clothed in the white robes of godliness, not in the shame of sinfulness. Then we will shun the ways of the world and their deadly appeal.