In this article, we will focus on what the Bible says about plagues that will occur during the last days of the so-called End Times, particularly with regard to how many and what types of plagues there will be and who will suffer from these plagues. Before we attempt to address these matters, we will define what a plague is insofar as this article is concerned.
Webster’s Dictionary defines a plague as “any contagious epidemic disease that is deadly” or “any of various calamities sent down as divine punishment.” And, Webster defines a calamity as “deep trouble or misery; any extreme misfortune bringing great loss and sorrow; disaster.” Therefore, when the Bible mentions a plague, it is not necessarily referring to a contagious epidemic, and the scriptures that we subsequently cite will support this perspective.
The Book of Revelation describes the plagues that will occur during the last days of the End Times. And, the sixteenth chapter of Revelation is the most comprehensive scripture passage to consider in trying to determine how many and what types of End Times plagues there will be.
[Note: When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible.]
Revelation 16 states that seven plagues which are contained in seven bowls will be poured out on the earth by seven angels and describes the contents of each of the bowls, as follows:
1Then 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.”
First Bowl: People Will Get Foul and Loathsome Sores
2 So the first [angel] went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sores came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.
This may seem to be a rather insignificant plague, but anyone who has had to endure multiple painful sores on their body will tell you that it can be an excruciating experience.
Second Bowl: The Ocean Will Become as Red as Blood
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.
It would be frivolous to just say that people who enjoy fishing and eating seafood will no longer be able to do so and that swimming in the ocean will no longer be a viable option. This will be an environmental disaster.
Third Bowl: Rivers and Springs Will Become as Red as Blood
4 Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
This raises the question as to where people will be able to get water that is suitable to drink or to use for bathing and other activities that necessitate having clean water.
Fourth Bowl: People Will Be Scorched with Great Heat
8 Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire. 9 And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
Evidently, some form of solar activity will cause widespread fires and/or extremely hot temperatures on the earth.
Fifth Bowl: There Will Be Some Form of Darkness that Will Cause Pain
10 Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.
This plague apparently will involve more than the usual type of darkness, since it will cause severe pain.
Sixth Bowl: The Euphrates River Will Dry Up
12 Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.
The Euphrates River runs through Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq, so there will be drought-related problems in those countries. Whether there will be similar conditions in other areas of the world is uncertain.
Seventh Bowl: There Will Be a Great Earthquake and Great Hail
17 Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth.
20 Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21 And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.
Not only will this earthquake evidently be the worst in all of human history, but also the hailstorm will apparently be far worse than any that has previously been experienced. With regard to the hailstones weighing about a talent, note that various sources indicate that a talent is a weight of more than 70 pounds and may be 100 pounds or more, so the hail will be devastating to buildings, trees, crops, and other things that are not adequately sheltered, including humans who are outside during the hailstorm.
Revelation 21:9a also indicates that there will be seven plagues, but does not describe any of them.
Several of the End Times plagues will be similar to those that God brought on Egypt to persuade the Egyptians to free the Israelites they had enslaved. These similar plagues on Egypt are mentioned in the book of Exodus, as follows: 7:19-21 (water became as red as blood); 9:8-10 (people got boils on their skin), 9:22-26 (there was a severe hailstorm); and 10:21-23 (there was darkness that could be felt).
Revelation 16:1 states that the seven last plagues will be manifestations of God’s wrath. This raises the question as to who will suffer the consequences of these plagues, since the Old Testament indicates that God does not inflict His wrath on those whom He regards as His people, particularly those who are faithful to Him.
The New Testament indicates that people who experience the End Times plagues will be primarily, if not exclusively, people living at that time who have not trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior (i.e., everyone who is not truly a Christian). Therefore, we believe that true Christians who are living immediately before these plagues occur can expect to be raptured (i.e., ascend to heaven) before the last plagues begin and, therefore, they will not need to endure these plagues. [For a discussion of this point of view, click on “Will Christians Need to Endure the Tribulation?”]
Summary and Conclusion
The Book of Revelation indicates that there will be seven final plagues during the End Times and describes them in some detail, although at least some of the terminology may be allegorical. Other New Testament scriptures indicate that the people living at that time who are not true Christians will experience the consequences of these plagues.
For people to be justifiably confident that they will not be among those who will suffer from the final plagues that are manifestations of God’s wrath, they need to be absolutely certain that are a Christian according to biblical teaching. [If you are not sure if you are a Christian according to what the Bible teaches, click on “What Must a Person Do to Be Assured of Eternal Salvation?”]