Lesson 20 - The Background of the Seven Bowl Judgments

Lesson 20 - The Background of the Seven Bowl Judgments

(Revelation 12:1 – 14:20)

Beginning in Revelation 15:1, John wrote about the seven bowl judgments, which are a result of the sounding of the seventh and final trumpet judgments.  However, it was necessary for John to span back in history to reveal the hidden forces that played a part in the final judgment.  John looked back into time to record the initial rebellion of Satan and moved forward through human history to reveal the impact of that rebellion.  Finally, John recorded a survey of the last half of the Tribulation, including the triumphant return of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 12 records the plan of Satan to kill the Messiah and thwart God’s plan of salvation.  This rebellion by Satan began in eternity past and will not be fully resolved until Satan and the fallen angels are cast into the Lake of Fire. 

There was a time in eternity when angelic beings were created and given volition (the ability to choose).  Through an act of willful disobedience, Lucifer, the highest-ranking member of these beings, along with one third of the other angels, rebelled against God.  This rebellion (a rejection of God’s authority) resulted in a trial and a sentence of these angelic beings to the Lake of Fire.  Lucifer, now called Satan, apparently appealed the sentence and the execution of the sentence was delayed.  Mankind was created to resolve this conflict between God and the fallen angels. (Matthew 25:41)

God’s Word gives us quite a lot about angels.  When we examine the original languages of Hebrew and Greek and the meaning for various words used to describe angels, we get a very good picture of the nature and function of angels.

Angels are created spirit beings. (Ephesians 3:9-10; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:7,14)  Nowhere in the Bible are angels said to be human beings that have died and become angels.  Angels are individuals. (Ezekiel 1:5)  Angels were created in eternity past. (Job 38:4-7)  Angels are not born and they do not die. (Matthew 25:41)  Angels are countless in number. (Revelation 5:11; Hebrews 12:22; Luke 2:13)  Angels are generally invisible to man (except on certain occasions). (Colossians 1:16; Genesis 6)  Angels are not to be worshipped. (Colossians 2:18)  Angels render intelligent worship to God. (Psalms 148:2)  Angels have limited knowledge. (Matthew 24:36)  Angels are now inferior to Jesus Christ.  (Hebrews 1:4-14)  Angels are superior to man (this included the humanity of Christ while He was on earth). (Luke 4:33-34; Psalms 103:20; Hebrews 2:6-7; Daniel 9:21)  Angels observe mankind. (Ephesians 3:10; I Peter 1:12) 

The words used for angels give insight to their functions.  Let’s examine some of these words from Scripture and their meanings.

  1. Principalities - Greek: “Arche” – rule or authority.  This tells us that angels are organized by rank under authority. (Romans 8:38)
  2. Powers – Greek: “Exousia” – authorities.  This is a reference to those who execute the authority.  (I Peter 3:22)
  3. Might – Greek: “Dunamis” – power, strength.  Supernatural power of an individual angel.  (Ephesians 1:21)
  4. Dominion – Greek: “Kuriotes” – lordship.  A special class of angels. (Colossians 1:16)
  5. Thrones – Greek: “Thronos” – seat of authority.  Name of a class of angels. (Colossians 1:16)
  6. Ruler – Greek: “Kosmoskrator” – world ruler.  Angels that have authority in this world system, Satan being chief. (Ephesians 6:12)
  7. Angel – Greek: “Angelos” – messenger.  Angels who carry messages. (Hebrews 1:13-14)


There are two categories of angels since the rebellion in eternity past.  The one third who rebelled against God are now called “fallen angels” or “demons.”  Those angels who remained faithful to God are called “elect” or “holy.”  Both categories are organized similar to a military organization, which makes sense, because we are told that we are engaged in spiritual warfare. (I Timothy 5:21; Mark 8:38; Matthew 25:41)

Elect or holy angels are categorized as Michael the Archangel, (Chief Angel), Cherub, the highest order (cherubim, plural) and Seraph, the second highest in order (seraphim, plural).  Michael is the head of God’s army, guards the nation of Israel and directly opposes Satan. (Revelation 12:7; Daniel 12:1; Jude 9)  Gabriel is the only other elect angel named in Scripture.  Gabriel protects heads of state, announced the birth of Christ, brought the message of John the Baptist’s birth and will announce the Rapture. (Daniel 8:15-27; Luke 1:11-33; I Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Fallen angels (demons) are not given actual names in Scripture, but are very organized and active.  They deceive unbelievers and believers alike, they perform miracles, they inflict bodily disease, they war against God and His elect angels and they indwell (possess) unbelievers. (Ephesians 6:12; Romans 8:38-39; Revelation 13:14, 16:14, 19:20; I Timothy 4:1; I Corinthians 10:20-21; Luke 8:36, 13:16; Matthew 4:24)

Elect angels have a specific relation to believers, and are observers of our lives.  They rejoice in the salvation of a person and are said to be ministering spirits to the believer.  Elect angels are given to every believer as guardians and they guard children.  (Galatians 3:19; Acts 7:53; Luke 15:7, 10; I Corinthians 4:9; I Peter 1:12; Psalms 34:7; Matthew 18:10; Hebrews 1:14)

The Angelic Conflict

The Angelic Conflict began as a rebellion to the authority of God by the most beautiful creature to come from the hand of God, Lucifer.  Lucifer was the highest ranking of the angelic host.  By an act of arrogance, Lucifer attempted to overthrow God and become the ruler of the angelic host.  Of course, this didn’t happen and Lucifer and the angels that followed him were tried and sentenced to the Lake of Fire.  Apparently Lucifer, now called Satan, appealed the sentence and an appeal was granted.  Mankind was created to resolve this conflict by showing Satan and the fallen angels that God was justified in His sentence.  If only one person in history accepted the salvation solution offered by God in His grace, this would prove the fairness of His sentence.  Of course, many have accepted the salvation solution found in Christ and every time another person trusts Christ as Savior, another witness is created for the prosecution.

Five “I Wills” of Satan

Isaiah 14:12-15 details the arrogance of Satan and his rebellion against God.  In verse 13 Satan attempted to replace the authority of God with his authority (I will ascend into heaven).  He also tried to take over the throne of God and set himself up as the ruler of the angelic host. (I will exalt my throne above the stars (angels) of God).  He also wanted to rule over the entire earth. (I will sit in the mount of the congregation).  In verse 14 he continued with wanting to displace God as the Sovereign of the universe (I will ascend above the heights of the clouds).  Satan wants to become God or at least counterfeit Him in every aspect. (I will be like the Most High).

Satan’s Revolt

In Revelation 12:3-4 we are told that Satan led one third of the angels in his revolt against God.  As a result of this revolt, Satan and the one-third that followed him were cast down to earth. (Ezekiel 28:15-17)  Their rebellion against God led to a sentence to the Lake of Fire for all eternity.  (Matthew 25:41)  Hebrews 2:2, seems to indicate that there could have been a salvation solution offered to Satan and his followers, but was rejected.

Satan’s Appeal

Since the sentence imposed upon Satan and the fallen angels was not carried out immediately, it is obvious that an appeal was granted and the sentence delayed.  Mankind was created as a means to prove to Satan and his followers that God is fair and just. (I John 3:18)  The time frame of this appeal is from the sentencing in eternity past until Satan and the fallen angels are cast into the Lake of Fire. (Revelation 20:10)

The believer in Christ is involved in spiritual warfare as a result of Satan’s appeal.  It is by trusting Christ as Savior and executing His plan for our lives that we can become credible witnesses for the prosecution.  We have already seen that angels are observing us and when one person comes to know Christ as Savior the elect angels rejoice.  Why?  They rejoice because another victory for Christ has been won and it is additional proof that God is fair and just in His dealings, not only with mankind, but also with angels.  So you see that by studying, believing, and understanding the doctrine of angels, the believer can make application to his life.  What is the application?  You can glorify God by becoming a credible witness through the faithful execution of His purpose, plan and will.