LaHaye helpfully points out that the plagues of Egypt alluded to by the bowls of wrath in Revelation 16 were literal, historic events. Why then, asks LaHaye, should these events be anything other than literal?
Believing that to be that, there is then little difficulty in speculating about the nature of these events in some future “Tribulation Period.” Actually, it seems to me that his question is worth a bit more effort (it’s a good question).
The song of Moses and the Lamb, the allusions to the plagues of Egypt, and the underlying themes of Passover lamb and Exodus are all highly significant. But just as Jesus is a superior Passover lamb, leading an ultimate, superior and altogether different kind of exodus, it seems that the plagues of Revelation 16 are similarly symbolic of far greater judgements than their OT types. That means we need not be overly literal – indeed, I would think we might downplay them if we are.
What is clear, however, is that while there are links with the trumpets there is more intensity in judgement. In particular, these judgements are final. They might sit over the same timeframe as the seals and trumpets, but there is a definite bias towards the end.