THE SHORT VERSION: Chapters 15-16 contain the shortest of the seven perspectives of Christ's return, and I think that is by design. These bowls of wrath are God's final judgment. There is nothing more for Him to say or do. In all of the previous perspectives there have been some awful things for sure, but all of them either were warnings or came with warning, because it is always God's desire for people to repent.
HAVEN'T WE READ THIS BEFORE? If these bowls of wrath, including festering sores, the sea and rivers turning to blood, darkness, frogs, and killer hail sound familiar, it's because you're remembering the plagues that were visited upon Egypt when Pharaoh refused to align himself with God's will. Isn't it amazing how God's salvation of His people from slavery in Egypt foreshadowed the salvation of His people from the slavery of sin?
GOD'S NOT UNFAIR: It's hard not to feel sorry for those people who will experience the seven bowls of wrath. After all, we read that it was so terrible that 'people gnawed their tongues in agony (v10).' But before we paint God as being vindictive and petty, we must remember that God is being just. After you've read of God's wrath being poured out without mercy, re-read the pronouncements of God's justice in v5-7.
NO WARNINGS & NO MERCY: In chapter sixteen there are no trumpets blasting woes which warn all which hear, and unlike the previous calamities where 1/3 of the creatures in the sea or in the heavens were destroyed, in chapter 16, the destruction is total, final & complete.
NO REPENTANCE: As these seven bowls of wrath are poured out, John pauses three times to note that even in the midst of the awfulness, the sinners experiencing the agony were still too stubborn to repent and glorify God (v9, 11, 21). Before you find yourself looking down upon these unrepentant people, remember that had not God given you His grace, you would be unrepentant and subject to His wrath as well.
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments (v7)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will adhere to Jesus' warning that He is coming like a thief, so that you will stay awake and remained clothed (as in, clothed with the Armor of God in Ephesians 6) - (v15)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: