I was reading in Luke 17 this morning when I came upon a strange verse:
“Where, Lord?” they asked.
He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.” Luke 17:37
What in the world?! I asked the Lord what it meant. Then, I let my mind wander through the Scriptures trying to remember where else I had read about vultures. Praise the Lord for the “search” feature on my bible app! I found a similar verse in Matthew 24, in which the reference is to Jesus’ Second Coming.
For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. Matthew 24:27-28
The reference to vultures, then, may be a reference to Armageddon, in which the birds of the world come for a great feast when the armies of the world come together to fight against the Lord.
14 They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. Revelation 16:16
Here is the result of that battle:
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”
… 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. Revelation 19:17-18, 21
As I continued to read around 16:16 for context, I noticed a similarity between verse 20 and this prophecy in Isaiah:
Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. Revelation 16:20
Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. Isaiah 40:4
It’s reference is to the declaration of John the Baptist about the coming Messiah, who was Jesus. In the Gospel of Mark, verse 3 of Isaiah 40 is used with verse 4 implied:
2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— 3 “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” Mark 1:2-3
John confirms this passage:
John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” John 1:23
Matthew does, as well, in Matthew 3:3. Jesus Himself confirmed John the Baptist:
9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.” Matthew 11:9-10, 14
If Revelation 16:20 is a prophetic reference like Isaiah 40:3-4, then the entire chapter about the seven bowls of God’s wrath may be about the earth being made ready for His Coming.
The first bowl might actually be one of God’s final evangelistic appeals to the world.
2 The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.
The second bowl I see as God’s mercy upon all the creatures of the sea. He took them on into heaven with Him in preparation for the new heaven and new earth.
3 The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died.
The same can be said for the third bowl, except that now there is no potable water- really, no water at all! Another evangelistic appeal.
4 The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
The fourth bowl is big. It could be a sonar flare of such magnitude that it lasts for several days or even weeks. Not only would it become intensely hotter, all communications would go down due to the huge electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Or, it could be that something happens to our ozone layer, which keeps harmful ultraviolet radiation from the earth’s surface. Whatever the case, it’s gonna be hot!
8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. 9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.
Oh, the stubbornness of mankind!
The fifth bowl is similar to the ninth plague of Egypt found in Exodus 10:21-23. If it is only upon the kingdom of the beast, then it is exactly like the ninth plague and is a bonified miracle with no “coincidental” natural phenomena.
10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony 11 and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.
The sixth bowl dries up the great river Euphrates. This action could possibly be man-made by China as they prepare to march to Armageddon.
12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.
The seventh and last bowl of wrath is the greatest earthquake the earth has ever had, even during the Great Flood. Jerusalem, which is generally divided into three areas, splits apart into three areas. Are they the same areas? We are not told. We ARE told that the cities of the world are destroyed. 100 pound hailstones! The mountains and islands, which are submerged mountains, are leveled. World-wide chaos. More loss of life. More opportunities for the remnant to come to Christ.
17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. 21 From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.
If we were to keep reading in Revelation, we would read about the end of Satan’s throne and then his reign. Jesus wins, and so do we!
Exciting times ahead!