What does the Bible say about plagues that will occur during the last days of the 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 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 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, unless indicated otherwise.]
Revelation 16 states that seven plagues that 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 Disgusting Sores
2 So the first 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.
Second Bowl: The Ocean Will Turn to 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.
Third Bowl: Fresh Water Sources Will Turn to Blood
4 Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
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.
Fifth Bowl: There Will Be Darkness and 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.
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.
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.
Revelation 21:9a subsequently reiterates that there will be seven plagues, but does not describe any of them.
Interestingly, 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 (see Exodus 7:19-21; 9:8-10, 22-26; 10:21-23).
As Revelation 16:1 states, 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 people who are faithful to Him.
Several scriptures in the New Testament indicate that the people who experience these plagues will be those living on the earth who have not trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior (i.e., everyone who is not a genuine Christian). In contrast, true Christians will be raptured (i.e., ascend to heaven) before the last plagues begin. [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. Furthermore, several books in the New Testament indicate that everyone who is not a genuine Christian when the plagues begin will be included among those who will experience the plagues.
Therefore, it behooves every person to be absolutely certain that he/she is a Christian according to biblical teaching, so they can justifiably be confident that they will not be among those who will suffer from the final plagues that are manifestations of God’s wrath. [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?”]