The Third Bowl

Revelation 16:4-7
The End Times

In my last post, we examined Yom Kippur. In this post, we come back to Revelation 16:4-7 to explore The Third Bowl.

“The third one poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they turned to blood. 5 Then I heard the angel of the waters say, “O HaKadosh, the One who is and was, you are just in these judgments of yours. 6 They poured out the blood of your people and your prophets, so you have made them drink blood. They deserve it!” 7 Then I heard the altar say,“Yes, Adonai, God of Heaven’s Armies, your judgments are true and just!” ~ Revelation 16:4-7 (CJB)

The rivers and springs of water on which the third bowl was poured became blood also. It was the blood of Yeshua that could have saved these people, and now it is blood that will kill all living creatures in the sea and probably many people, for there is no more water to drink.

The third one poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they turned to blood. This third bowl judgment is very similar to the second, except it affects the fresh water supplies rather than the seas of salt water. The magnitude of the chaos and hysteria that will develop due to this plague will be overwhelming. People will be hoarding all the liquid they can gather whether bottled water, soft drinks, or any other source that has not been affected by this plague. The frenzy surrounding the search for fresh water will continue to escalate, as no living being can live very long without water. These times are obviously what Yeshua was referring to when He said: Indeed, if the length of this time had not been limited, no one would survive; but for the sake of those who have been chosen, its length will be limited.” ~ Matthew 24:22 (CJB)

Then I heard the angel of the waters say, “O HaKadosh, the One who is and was, you are just in these judgments of yours. 6 They poured out the blood of your people and your prophets, so you have made them drink blood. They deserve it!” 7 Then I heard the altar say,“Yes, Adonai, God of Heaven’s Armies, your judgments are true and just!  Ray Stedman gives the following explanation:

After this third bowl of judgment is poured out, John hears the voice of the third angel. The angel affirms that God’s judgment is right and just. It is based on the principle we hear so often these days: “What goes around, comes around.” What you dish out, you will someday have to take. Those who shed the blood of the prophets and the saints of God will have to drink what they have spilled: a torrent of blood. Then something amazing takes place: the altar speaks! The altar is the symbol of redemption, of the substitute sacrifice, of the shedding of innocent blood that removes the penalty of sin from the guilty. In the day of judgment when it is too late to pray, even the altar, the symbol of God’s mercy and grace, will declare that God is just in meting out consequences and judgment to those who have earned it.

O HaKadosh means “O the Holy One.” Rabbinic writings often refer to God as HaKadosh, barukh hu, “the Holy One, blessed be He.” For example, in the well-known ‘Aleinu prayer recited near the end of each synagogue service: “We bend the knee, bow and acknowledge before the supreme King of kings, HaKadosh, barukh hu … that He is our God, there is none else.” Here too, the reference is to God the Father, but at Acts 2:27, 13:35, quoting Psalm 16:10, the term applies to the Messiah.

They poured out the blood of your people and your prophets, so you have made them drink blood. They deserve it! This verse and Revelation 17:6, 16 echo Isaiah 49:26, where God says to Israel, “I will feed your oppressors with their own flesh, and they will be drunk on their own blood.” The nations that fight against God’s people will shed each other’s blood in civil warfare. Compare Ezekiel 38:21-22, Haggai 2:21-22 and Zechariah 14:12-13 (which also suggests the first and fifth bowl judgments).

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 16:4-7 [1]

 Historicist Approach:

Historicists believe that the timing of the first four bowl judgments coincide with the beginning of the French Revolution.  Beginning in 1793, France launched invasions of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Northern Italy.  The subsequent wars produced much bloodshed, in particular on the river system of Italy.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists who see Jerusalem’s fall throughout the passage seem to have the advantage over those who believe it refers to the Roman Empire.  The pollution of the water sources did occur during the siege of Jerusalem and streams of actual blood flowed through the city. Verse six lends further credence to Jerusalem’s fall in 70 CE.

Futurist Approach:

Futurists again are divided between a symbolic and literal approach to this passage.  The gloomy assessment of the body count during the Tribulation period seems to justify the more literal interpretation. Without fresh water, the remaining population of the world would die within a matter of days.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists do not generally commit to any specific belief as to the fulfillment of a plague like this one.  It merely shows God’s ability to match the punishment with the crime.

In my next post, we again take a break from our study of Revelation to observe Sukkot.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

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