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Bowls of Wrath 3

Revelation 16:4-7
The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. 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; for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.' And I heard the altar respond: 'Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.' (NIVUK)

Water is essential for life. In this third series of physical plagues that God will send on the earth at the end of time, the poisoning of the seas has already been seen killing all living creatures in the water (Revelation 16:3). Now John sees that an angel is commanded to turn the water of the rivers, and their sources, into blood. This reminds us of the first plague God sent to Egypt to convince Pharaoh that he was not almighty and that he needed to submit to God's supreme authority (Exodus 7:17-18).

These visions of what will happen at the end of time show that people cannot arrogantly assume that they have control over the natural resources which are essential for life. John sees God giving the world one last opportunity for the rebellious to repent. He wants everybody to come to Jesus, the source of living water (Revelation 7:17); but if they refuse they will have to drink bitter water (Jeremiah 9:15). The blood in the water is a reminder of God's people who have been martyred for their faith in Jesus. The ancient punishment for murder (Genesis 9:6) is not enough; God will personally avenge His people. Romans 12:19 says, "Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord."

Some think that God is a pacifist, never reacting to aggression. Certainly, Jesus did not retaliate because His wounds would be the salvation of all who believe in Him (Isaiah 53:5) and He committed Himself to His Righteous Father (1 Peter 2:23). But Romans 2:4-5 is clear that God's wrath is now being stored up for those who refuse to repent: "… do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realising that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." The outpouring of His wrath is a just response. Romans 2:8 says, "… for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger."

God is just. His character defines what is true: all that goes against the truth cannot stand in His presence. All of us were against Him, until we welcomed His mercy and grace through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:1-5). God's wrath was poured out on Jesus, so that all who believe in Him might be saved (Romans 5:9). But the people who do not accept Christ's blood as the sacrifice for their sins are exposed to the full weight of God's anger. God is just in forgiving the sins of those who trust in Jesus (1 John 1:9) and in condemning those who reject Jesus, their only Saviour (John 3:36). The final terrors of earth in this vision are graphic foretastes of what will happen on earth and a glimpse of eternal punishment. That is why we who love Jesus should broadcast this gospel (2 Corinthians 5:11) of which a video summary is found at www.crosscheck.org.uk. If we really love people as Jesus loves them, we should want to share His gospel with them.
 

Prayer 
Holy God. Thank You that You only do what is righteous and just. Forgive me when I am disobedient, careless about my personal holiness and indifferent to the eternal plight of those who refuse to receive Jesus. Please help me to come to You in confession and repentance, and to gladly share the gospel of salvation with people I know and meet. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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