3-Week Series: Double Blessing

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Summary: The rivers and springs of water “became blood” as the contents of the bowl are poured out on the rivers and springs of waters. It is not only the great sea which becomes blood, but all the sizes and types of streams and babbling brooks which carry. . . .

Book of Revelation

By: Tom Lowe Date: 3/6/17

Topic # IV: VISIONS OF JUDGMENT AGAINST ROME (12:1-19:21)

Subtopic A: The Great Conflict (12:1-14:20)

Lesson: IV.A.4: THIRD BOWL: RIVERS AND SPRINGS TURN TO BLOOD (16:4-7)

REVELATION 16:4-7 (KJV)

4And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

5And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.

6For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

7And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and right¬eous are thy judgments.

COMMENTARY

4And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.

“And the third angel poured out his vial (bowl) upon the rivers and fountains of waters”

The third vial carries on the idea of the second vial (See 16:3 notes), and is similar to the second in its effects. Moreover, this clause is almost a match with the account of the sounding of the third trumpet (*Revelation 8:10-11). “Upon the rivers and fountains of waters” may be an allusion to the first Egyptian plague (Exodus 7:20), and there are allusions to those plagues throughout this chapter. For more on the meaning of the phrase, “rivers and fountains of waters,” see the notes on Revelation 8:10-11. It is an opinion of the rabbis that "whatever plagues God inflicted on the Egyptians in former times, he will inflict on the enemies of His people in all later times."

The “angel of the waters,” is a name given to the second and third angels, since both of them are said to be sent against the waters, though the one acts against the sea, and the other against the rivers (16:5, 6).

“And they became blood”

This would mean that they became like “blood”; or became colored red by blood; and it would be fulfilled if bloody battles were fought near them, so that they seemed to run with blood.

The rivers and springs of water “became blood” as the contents of the bowl are poured out on the rivers and springs of waters. It is not only the great sea which becomes blood, but all the sizes and types of streams and babbling brooks which carry their tribute of water to the seas and the five great oceans. And this plague is acknowledged by heavenly voices as a just retribution (See Revelation 16:5-7). This complete contamination is in contrast to the partial (one-third) pollution of fresh waters shown in Revelation 8:10-11.

In addition to the interpretation of the second vial given in Revelation 8:10-11, it is probable that the “blood” signifies the slaughter and death which is part of God's vengeance on the wicked (See verse 6). The great effusion of blood results from terrible wars where so much of the blood of the saints has been shed: hence it follows, “and they became blood”; these countries will be covered with blood, the allusion is to Exodus 7:19. “They thirsted after blood and massacred the saints of God; and now they have got blood to drink!” (Clarke)

When these judgments come, the time for the return of Jesus must be getting near. With ecological disaster such as this, the human race cannot survive for very long.

5And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.

“And I heard the angel of the waters say”

This is the “angel” who presides over the element of water; an allusion to the common opinion among the Hebrews that the angels presided over elements, and that each element was committed to the jurisdiction of a particular angel. Compare the notes on Revelation 7:1. We read in Jewish writings of an angel that was “the prince of the sea,” and of angels that were over the waters, and others over fire (*Revelation 14:18), and angels that presided over particular kingdoms and states (*Daniel 10:20); angels appointed to take care of the wells, and fountains, and ditches in the vicinity of Jerusalem, so that the people might have water at the feasts.

“Thou art righteous, O Lord”

In view of the judgments that turned these streams and fountains red with the blood of people, the angel ascribes “righteousness” to God. These judgments seem terrible, for the numbers slain were so vast, and the bloody streams indicated that a great slaughter had taken place, and all this showed the severity of the divine judgment; yet the angel sees in all this only the act of a righteous God bringing just retribution on the guilty.

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