III. The third vial


And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. 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. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.” The angel which poured out the wrath of this vial appears to have a title in the fifth verse: the angel of the waters. We already noted an angel that had power over fire (14:18) and now we see one that has power over waters. The Bible by no means teaches any sort of animism. There are not individual living spirits that animate all things. But the Bible does teach that there are ministering spirits and that reality is much more mystical than naturalist and material philosophers would ever admit. God has angels as spirits that exercise their powers both for the good or the judgment of mankind. Regardless, this angel which had a presiding power over the waters poured the wrath of God upon the rivers and fountains of waters; the fresh water sources. This is a continuation of the vial that proceeded it. The fresh water supply became blood. Presumably it became blood just as the seas did as the seas cycled back to the fresh water sources. However, the cry of the angel in the later verses states that nations were given blood to drink. But one can certainly maintain that that was figurative and the fresh water became as blood in the same sense that seas did. Rivers and fountains of water have long been worshipped among paganism as sources of life. The god (or divine idea) her that is being destroyed is the idea that mankind can have the necessities of life without giving honor to the God that provides it. The rivers and fountains of water are the results of the rain and it is God that causes it rain on both the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45). The end result is that man has been cut off from life because man has been completely and finally cut off from God. Whatever subsistence mankind will maintain from this point forward (for however long is left till Armageddon) is whatever he already has stored. This will become a desperate time for the world of lost men. When the Nile was turned to blood the Egyptians could not drink (Ex. 7:21). “And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink” (Ps. 78:44). For a world that worshipped the fulfilling of appetite God has given them real thirst.

But our text goes on to have the angel explain a greater meaning for the world of men. It first does the amazing thing of saying that God (Christ – the one that is, was, and shall be – God in his nature as being timeless and Christ in His nature as being alive, dead, and now alive forevermore) is righteous in what He has done. This is an act of right judgment on the part of a Holy God. This is not the act of a capricious god but the act of the God who is exact in proper judgment and fairness. Why is it righteous? “For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.” The whole world at that time will be guilty of the blood of the saints and prophets. They will have rejected and killed the greatest of light ever given man. They will have been complicit with the powers that be who killed the prophets of God and those that followed Him. All who named the name of Christ were killed by this generation, both Jews and Gentiles. And the words of Christ to His generation will echo to this generation yet to come: “That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation…” (Luke 11:50). Therefore what would be more righteous to a blood thirsty generation of murders but to be given blood to drink! The world will be worthy of this judgment. There is a further witness to join the angel: “And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.” Who are the ones that are crying out of the altar? This is the voice of the martyrs who were under the altar in the fifth seal. They have had all their brethren who would die in the name of Christ to join them and now they rejoice in the judgment of God that has given blood to the world that spilled their blood. All the children of God will rejoice in the judgment of God. In heaven they will be able to glory and join in that witness of the truth and righteousness of God’s judgment.