3 The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died. 4 The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 5 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, you who are and who were; 6 for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.” 7 And I heard the altar respond: “Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.” ~ Revelation 16:3-7
Today, we come back to our study of the book of the Revelation. Our text for today informs us about the second and third bowl judgments of God. Throughout the book of the Revelation, the Apostle John uses the land as a symbol for the people of Israel. And, when he writes about the sea, he speaks symbolically of the Gentile nations surrounding Israel. In yesterday's passage, the wrath of God was poured out on unbelieving Israel. In today's passage judgment is poured out on the unbelieving Gentiles.
In v.3 we read, "The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died."
With the pouring out of the second bowl, the sea literally will become blood red. This could be similar to the phenomenon known as "Red Tide," which is caused by a microorganism which turns the waters blood red. Eating fish contaminated by this tide produces severe symptoms caused by potent nerve poison and resulting in possible death to people. An unchecked population explosion of this toxic microorganism would kill all the fish in the sea. Maybe that’s what will happen in the second bowl judgment, which as a result, will kill every living thing in the sea. And when they die, to the surface they will go with an awful stench. And the world’s seas will become putrid pools of death. This will be like the plague that fell on Egypt in Exodus 7:20-25 when the Nile River turned to blood. But, this will be much more intense and extensive.
In v.4 we read, "The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood."
The same thing that happened in Egypt, according to Exodus 7:19-21, will happen all over the world. And, it will not just happen in the saltwater, it will impact fresh water, as well. And, according to Revelation 11:6, rain water will be in short supply. These will combine into a situation where drinking water will be very scarce throughout the world.
And, according to Revelation 7:1 the four angels standing at the four corners of the earth will be holding back the four winds so that no wind should blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree.
As a result, rain clouds will not allow the rain to move across the land for it is by wind that clouds are blown across the land. There will be no wind, no cloud, no cloud development and no cloud movement. It may well be a time of unbelievable draught and then compounding, all the fresh water on earth will be turned into blood.
In v.5-6 we read, "5 Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: “You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, you who are and who were; 6 for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.”
As people, no doubt, across the world will be cursing and blaming God, an angel, in v.5, will declare that God is righteous and holy. This is an appropriate response to rejection. It’s not as if rebellious man didn’t have any opportunities to repent. In fact, according to v.6, they will have mercilessly killed those who believe in the Lord Jesus, along with His messengers. The truth hurts exponentially for those who have rejected it so many times.
The Lord Jesus in Matthew 24:21 told us that there is coming a time, and He was speaking of this time, the likes of which there has never been. This will be a time of retribution like there has never been before. And, because of this, God will clearly be just in His response.
In v.7 we read, "And I heard the altar respond: 'Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments."'
The altar here is personified because it is the altar under which the saints had been praying. And now, in v.7, the altar is affirming the responsibility of God. And, the actions of God are justified. You see, God sets the standard for what is right by what He does. He doesn’t have to live up to a standard. He sets the standard. He is the standard and when He acts, His actions are the righteous standard. So, when the seas are destroyed and the fresh water is scarce, God will be justified and His word will be true. If He did not judge sin, He would not be God.
These people will reject the Lord Jesus so much, their hearts will have become so hard against God, it will be too late. Due to their unwilling hearts, their condition will be cemented. The answer is turning away from our way and turning to Him. It involves feeling sorry about who we have been, but it is more than just that. There are many people who are sorry for their sinfulness. But, their failure to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus will be their undoing.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the answer to all of our troubles. He is the fulfillment of God's justice and love which met at the cross. At the cross we see God's love for people and His wrath upon sin. The Lord Jesus was our substitute. He tasted death for every human being and bore the punishment for every sin. None of us can imagine what He endured. He endured hell for us, so that none of us would have to endure it for ourselves. This is why the Lord Jesus is the key, and life's supreme question becomes, "What will you do with the Lord Jesus Christ?"