Revelation Chapter 16, “The Seven Last Plagues”, Part 4
VERSE 4-7 “And the third (angel) poured out his bowl into the rivers and the fountains of the
waters; and it became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying, Righteous art thou,
who art and who was, thou Holy One, because thou didst thus judge: for they poured out the
blood of the saints and the prophets, and blood hast thou given them to drink: they are worthy.
And I heard the altar saying, Yea, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are thy
The third angel was Arius the same individual who had sounded the third trumpet.
And the third angel POURED OUT HIS BOWL INTO THE RIVERS AND SPRINGS OF WATERS: This
third bowl appears to be a religious movement which would effectively challenge the sources and outlets of
Babylon’s “truths.” Perhaps we have been too close to it to notice, but the most active “event”
accomplishing this on a worldwide basis has been the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” movement. Their
organization has been phenomenal. Their system has been extremely effective. They have knocked on
almost every door in Christendom leaving behind perplexing questions, which have caused many to
question their religious leaders and authorities -- even though they don’t abandon them.
Arius’ truths caused Rome great difficulties; he and his followers were rejected as dangerous heretics. In
this plague, the Witnesses (who are considered apostates -- and really are; but who have damaging
truths to spread), can and do threaten the establishment.
This third plague affects the dispersal of “water” and its sources so that, THEY BECOME BLOOD:
undrinkable. How often do we hear people say, “I’m a Lutheran, but I don’t believe all my churches
teachings?” Traditional doctrine is undrinkable and more and more either avoided or repudiated. This
plague has, indeed, had its effect.
16:5 -- AND I HEARD: Two times during this plague John takes us aside for editorial comments –
presenting two distinct focuses as to the meaning of the plague, not to Babylon upon whom it is poured,
but to the saints on BOTH sides of the veil.
THE ANGEL OF THE WATERS: -- the glorified Arius gives praise to God for what is happening as well as
for the opportunity to be a participant.
SAYING, RIGHTEOUS ART THOU WHO ART AND WHO WAS, THOU O HOLY ONE: Arius is pointing
out that this action is a righteous action; it compensates for what Arius and his followers had to face.
They tried to impress truth over error and had little success; but now, truth over error is having an
eating-away effect on error.
BECAUSE THOU DIDST JUDGE THESE THINGS: It would be UN-righteous to have let error continue
16:6 -- FOR THEY POURED OUT THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS AND THE PROPHETS, AND BLOOD
HAST THOU GIVEN THEM TO DRINK: THEY ARE WORTHY: Throughout the age Babylon has drained
the life of the saints as much as possible. False doctrines were used to slay true faith. NOW, the reverse!
Now they must try to justify their own doctrinal and behavioral positions, and they are choking on it. How
[Note: --Arius died under very suspicious circumstances. Some of his friends charged that his opponents
had poisoned him.]
It seems one of those Divine subtleties of humor that the Witnesses make such a point about
“drinking blood.” Here their own works are causing others to drink blood!
16:7 -- AND I HEARD: This is John’s second re-focus editorial comment on this plague.
THE ALTAR SAYING, YEA, O LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS ARE THY
JUDGMENTS: Why should John re-focus our attention? Because he has just given the feelings of
those beyond the veil. Now he wishes to give the feelings of those still on this side of the veil -- US.
We are yet in the sacrificing condition (represented by the altar), and we agree heartily! (N.A.N.O.R.
Another view which appears equally true taken from the Reprints,
“This third element of trouble results from the turning of the rivers and fountains of water into blood.
Running waters symbolize truth. The river channels through which water (truth) has flowed,
symbolize the various sects or denominations. The fountains symbolize the founders and schools
of these various systems--the places or men in whom these channels had their start or
For a long time, water--truly very muddy in some, but nevertheless a mixture of water has flowed in
these various systems, of which many have partaken and have been refreshed. But a change comes, and
that which once refreshed, will (gradually) become loathsome as blood. [Blood has been advised as a
medical remedy, but in such cases it is taken immediately on being drawn from the animal, else it would be
poisonous for its change is rapid--hence a river of blood could symbolize only loathsomeness and death.]
This we understand to be a picture of a change rapidly taking place in religious channels--their creeds,
though containing as much truth and error as ever, they are coming to regard differently. General
enlightenment is greater, and what was once received without question, is now becoming
loathsome and death-like. As in a similar plague (literally) upon Egypt, the people dug wells for water
because they could no longer drink of the bloody rivers, so here--independent thinkers are digging for
themselves, for purer waters other than what the regular channels afford. Truly this turning of the
waters of their channels into blood is among the causes of anxiety and great annoyance to the sectarian,
but only the few yet realize this trouble.
The angel of the waters--or the messenger of the REAL truth—is able to see in this a righteous
judgment of God against those systems, as expressed in Verses 5 and 6. The direct cause of this
trouble is mentioned--they had poured out the blood of the saints and prophets. (Disregarded
them, disregarded their testimony, beheaded them, cut them off from the rest of the congregation,
disfellowshiped them, thus symbolically spill their blood, i.e. killed them)
VERSE 7 "And I heard the ALTAR saying, Yes, O Lord God, the omnipotent, true and righteous
are thy JUDGMENTS,”
The altar represents the class of prophets and saints whose testimonies for truth were sealed
with their lives, the testimony of whose lives had been wasted.
Is it inquired in what sense this was done? We answer that blood in a person is life and to pour it out
is to waste it. The life of the saints is truth--God's word--as it is written: "The words that I speak unto
you, they are spirit and they are life," and "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit [vitality, life] of
prophecy." Hence to have wasted the life-principle of saints and prophets would be to have wasted the
words and testimony of Jesus. This they did by neglecting his word, and receiving instead the traditions of
men, which errors have corrupted and defiled the truths they possess to such an extent that the thinking
ones are fast coming to that condition where they cannot drink from those channels.”
These speak not audibly, but in that figurative way in which Abel's blood is said to have cried out. The
testimonies of these condemn the present systems as worthy of having this trouble or plague;
because of their previous disregard of truth. While nominal Church systems have become great and
popular in worldly favor, both in the days of the prophets and ever since, in the days of the saints, yet
now as ever, this success and popularity has been the result of an alliance with the world and a
participation of its spirit. Since, as well as in the days of the prophets, to live separate from the world and
to boldly advocate the truth in opposition to the worldly mixture of error, has cost persecution and either
literal or symbolic beheading--or cutting off. The testimony of every sacrifice for truth acceptable to God is
here represented as condemning the course of these systems and justifying the retribution represented in
this third plague--"FOR THEY ARE WORTHY." (R499)
Both of the forgoing have their merits, both share similar thoughts, the only difference is that the first is
more direct in its implications, I myself believe that one should keep an open mind in regards to these
issues especially when any direct statements are made which implicate any individual or organization of
individuals, however in the end it is the facts which are to determine the issue. When we return we will
examine the Fourth Plague.
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