16:4, note b
Rivers and fountains, two sources
^ And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. (Rev. 16:4)
I suggested in the overview
that that these water sources represent the Word of God. Did you notice
that there are two sources here – rivers and fountains? The rivers would
flow from the fountains. We have noticed that, in times of crisis, God
has spoken to us through the established word (fountains or springs) and
through His contemporary prophets (rivers). Here I believe we find them
again, re0102. See what you
Sources from sea and land
I'm about to share some concerns
that may challenge you unless you are not a Christian. They are about my
heritage in the Christian faith and probably yours. What we believe is
influenced by our parents and theirs parents and theirs, and so on. My
concern is that we, all innocently, may not be drinking directly from what
God has revealed. I'm not attacking people like you and me, but systems
and traditions that have been added to pure truth, polluting it. We must
pray for wisdom to understand. Here's a verse to hold on to: "If any man
will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God,
or whether I [Jesus] speak of myself." (John 7:17; also James 1:5).
Comparing the second and third plagues helps us see two errors we want to avoid. Take a look at chapter 13 in your Bible. It's divided into two parts. In one, we see the rebellion of the sea beast (for example re1303most of page) and in the other, the rebellion of the land beast (re1311, page). The polluted oceans, in our text, relate to the way the Word of God is misrepresented by the beast from the sea. Rivers and springs, on the other hand, are land sources of water so we see them as polluted by the beast from the earth. I see these two beasts as the major divisions of Christendom. Image from Corel.
I mentioned my concern that Bible scholars often try to analyze the Scriptures by their own human wisdom re1602a+. This is more the situation of some Protestant scholars. The Catholic Magisterium (authoritative council) simply declares what the Scriptures mean and adds to it the human wisdom of the church fathers re1408f. Adherents to the faith essentially depend on the church teachings as truth. Of course there is much truth, as well as pollution, in both divisions.
In the second plague, pollution of the sea responds to corruption by the Medieval church, and the pollution of the earth sources, results from scholarship that doesn't trust God to keep the purity of His Word.
Jesus warned, "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." (Matt. 24:24). The sea and land corruptions are like a false Christ and a false prophet. A false christ would hand down doctrine as the way of salvation and a false prophet would pretend to speak for God, re13tr.
I must add that I do not consider myself a final authority — a sole channel of pure truth, for I still have much to learn. God's Word is truth jn1717, and I recommend it to you. I cannot advise you to leave your worship home. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised would lead us into all truth jn1613. He will help you know about making changes like that. Just follow the word mt0404 and pray earnestly 1th0517.
God is righteous in judgment
"And 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. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy." (Rev. 16:5, 6).
From the context, blood was
the curse on both the sea (plague 2) and the sources of water (plague 3).
Who shed the blood? Clearly the church of the sea that dominated the Middle
Ages did, re1315c.
Will the end-time apostate power do the same? Yes, according to the song
of the angel of the waters. The sad facts of history report that the Protestant
churches that grew out of the reformation also persecuted, although not
as much. For example, Zwingli, a Swiss reformer, persecuted the Anabaptists
(who opposed infant baptism). He eventually had their leader's tongue cut
out and burned him at the stake. Of course not all Protestants were like
that. And many faithful Catholics also lived by the light of love which
God brought to their pathways.
The seven last plagues, however, are still future as I write in 2003. The earth beast of the end times has yet to set up the image to the sea beast forming a coalition supporting the church of Rome (click on 1315c above). They will threaten to kill all opposers but, as we will soon see, they will not be able. We may expect martyrs but most will be protected according the picture in Revelation. I believe we are living close to the time when we will see these things begin to happen in reality!
Then why would the end-time Protestants be guilty of the blood of the righteous minority?
These are the "saints and prophets." re1217b We are judged by our motives (Prov. 23:7). Listen to Jesus.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. . . . Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar." (Mat. 23:29-35).
Because of their motives, the Jewish leaders were already guilty for what they would have done. Soon, with the crucifixion of Christ and later persecutions, they would verify their guilt. The end-time religious majority will be guilty of what they would do, were they given the opportunity. This persecution is still future as I write.
The angel said, "Thou art righteous, O Lord . . . because thou hast judged thus."
Part of the preadvent
How this all fits together as a judgment is a little complex and depends on our previous study which you may want to refer to. Jesus Christ is our judge (John 5:22). The scene of judgment here occurs before His second coming which is seen in the seventh plague. Judgment has several parts: the examination, the decision, and the execution or carrying out of the sentence. Pouring wrath on sea and on land water would be carrying out of judgment. In fact, the temple (sanctuary) ceases operation of decision making before the plagues began re1508. Only those who claim to want heaven are judged in the temple. Those who don't want to enter have no case to be decided re0601b.
The sea and land beasts are religious systems, not people. But people operate them and follow them. Without the people there would be no systems, which are judged here. We may see the judgment of a system to be the combined results of the judgment of people who have chosen to identify with it. Although the wicked will be punished at the end of the thousand years (Rev. 20:4, 7-10), they will also receive the end-time wrath of God as participants in the systems.
"You, God, have given them blood to drink because they deserve it." (my paraphrase). We cannot rejoice over the suffering of the wicked. It is sadly the fate they have chosen. "For the wages of sin is death. . . ." (Rom. 6:23).
Praise God for the rest of that verse! ". . . but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."