(16.3)         And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.


1. “The second vial is poured out upon the sea with the result that the sea becomes as blood (literally ‘it became blood as of a dead man’), and every living soul in the sea dies. As in the second trumpet in 8:8, the analogy seems to be to the first of the ten plagues in Egypt (Exodus 7:20-25) which killed all the fish in the Nile River and made the water unfit to drink. In all these cases it is possible that the sea does not become literally human blood but that it corresponds to it in appearance and loathsomeness. The area of the judgment is similar to that of the second trumpet where one-third of the sea is turned to blood and one third of the creatures of the sea die. Here the judgment is universal. The reference to the sea may be limited to the Mediterranean, but the same word would be used if the judgment extended to all large bodies of water. In the latter event, a major portion of the earth would be involved in the judgment as most of the earth is covered with water.”[1]


2. Can you begin to imagine the amount of death this judgment will bring about? Every living thing in the sea will die as a result of what we would today refer to as some kind of pollutant in the water.


3. Stop here to consider your concept of God, as opposed to the way He reveals Himself in scripture. There are many today who embrace environmentalism as a profoundly spiritual movement that seeks harmony with nature and which sees mankind as a polluting threat to the environment. But this is a passage that shows God wreaking havoc on the environment, God polluting the sea beyond any hope of recovery, God killing untold numbers of species in the oceans.


4. To be sure, mankind is responsible to be environmentally responsible. We are given charge over the earth’s resources, but that does not mean we are given license to waste and ruin. But what about God? Is He sovereign over His creation? Does He have the right, in your conception of what is right and proper, to do what He chooses with His creation, even if it means ruining it with poisonous pollution and annihilating whole species?


5. This portion of scripture challenges people who have devised a god after their own imagination, and confronts them with the God Who is sovereign over His creation and Who disposes of it as He wills.


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


1. The same thing that happened to the seas also happens to the fresh water supplies of the human race. Do you see what is happening here? “Fresh water, already in short supply because of the prolonged drought (11:6), will now suffer the fate of the oceans (cf. Ex. 7:19ff). In addition to suffering from thirst, the worshipers of Antichrist will have no clean water with which to wash their sores.”[2]


2. These who universally reject the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the living water, will suffer God cutting off their supply of fresh water. And not even Arrowhead or Evian will have clean drinking water for sale. God’s judgment on the fresh water supply will result in it becoming blood, just as the vial poured out by the second angel turned the ocean water supply to blood.


3. Verses 5-6 tell us why God does this.


(16.5-6)     5 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.

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


1. Apparently God has supernatural servants who attend to the details of His physical universe, as we have previously seen evidence of. So, when God turns the water into blood, the angel of the waters will actually praise God for what He has done. God will be acclaimed righteous for judging rebellious mankind in this way.


2. The reason God does this, according to verse 6, is because He is giving to the lost the just payment for their sins against God’s servants. They have shed the blood of the saints and the prophets, so God repays them with blood. They wanted the blood of the innocent, so God will give them more blood than they can stand, as just punishment.


3. And since we know that the wrath of God poured upon the unsaved will result in their eternal punishment and destruction, what experiences are referred to in this passage are really only the beginning of sorrows for the damned.


4. Looking back to verse 5 before continuing, notice how the angel acknowledges God’s eternality. “which art, and wast, and shalt be.” This One Whose existence spans the breadth of eternity past to eternity future is righteous. And while God’s eternity is acknowledged by the angel, it is God’s righteousness which is displayed by the judgments that are described in this portion of scripture.


5. Take a moment to reflect, my unsaved friend. Should you live through the next prophetic event, what we have termed the Rapture, you will be visited by an astonishing array of disasters, each one after the other poured out upon you by holy angels dispatched by the righteous God of eternity. There is absolute right and absolute wrong, and when God begins to judge you in this way for your sins it will be the right thing to do. Do you ever think about that? When God’s judgment begins to fall upon you it will be the right thing, God’s Own righteousness on display for the universe to see . . . and you will be one of the objects of His wrath.


(16.7)         And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.


1. Is God just and righteous in what He does? Well, according to the Bible a thing or a truth is established by the mouths of two truthful witnesses.[3] This additional testimony of God’s righteousness is both proper and expected. The angel of waters, you will remember, said that God was right for doing this. And now another out of the altar seconds the motion.


2. God is righteous in punishing the wicked and Christ-rejecting of this world . . . whether now or in the future during the time we are now reading about. You do realize, do you know, that God’s judgment upon unsaved people begins in the here and now, during the course of their lifetimes, before they die?


3. Read Romans 1.18-32 with me to see God’s judgment of the unsaved during the course of their natural lifetimes:


18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.


a. Of course, Romans 1.18 declares who God’s wrath is poured out on. Notice that Paul writes “is revealed” and not “will be revealed.” This shows us that God’s judgment upon someone who is unsaved actually begins before that person goes to Hell, before that person dies.


b. Look down to verse 24. Because of what men did, which is detailed in verses 19-23, “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.”


c. In verse 26 we see more of God’s judgment: “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections.”


d. Finally, in the last half of verse 28, we see yet a third judgment God visits upon the lost: “God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”


e. Please understand something: The judgment of God has already begun for some of you. This is but the beginning of God’s wrath, and it is God’s response to your sinning and to your refusal to respond to the gospel of God’s grace.


f. Back to Revelation 16.7. God does not begin to pour out His wrath on the unsaved during the Tribulation. His wrath has been poured out on the unsaved for thousands of years. But after the Rapture, throughout the Tribulation, and especially during the vial judgments, the intensity of God’s wrath is severely escalated to a level never before seen on earth.


4. Notice one thing before we move on. From Revelation 15.8 we know that no one is in the heavenly temple at this time, yet the verse before us indicates that the angel speaking is “out of the altar.” How can this be?


a. It can be in two ways: Either the angel is from the altar but was sent forth prior to the events of Revelation 15.8, and he is outside the Temple when his words of 16.7 are uttered, or he was sent forth from the Temple and has now returned to the altar, from where he speaks these words.


b. The phrase “out of the altar” tells from where the angel originated, but it does not tell us when. So, there is no necessary conflict between this verse and the words of Revelation 16.1 having to be the words of God.

[1] John Walvoord, The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1966), page 233.

[2] See footnote for Revelation 3.1 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 2014.

[3] Deuteronomy 19.15; Matthew 18.16; 1 Corinthians 14.29; 2 Corinthians 13.1; 1 Timothy 5.19; Hebrews 10.28

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