Saturday, 1 May 2021
And I heard the angel of the waters saying:
“You are righteous, O Lord,
The One who is and who was and who is to be,
Because You have judged these things. Revelation 16:5
The previous verse saw the third angel pour out his bowl on the rivers and springs of waters, turning them to blood. With that done, it now records a doxology of praise to the Lord, saying, “And I heard the angel of the waters saying.” This is the angel set over the waters, just as there were angels who were in charge of the winds in Revelation 7:1 –
“After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.”
Likewise, an angel was noted in verse 14:18 having “power over the fire.”
What is probably the case is that this “angel” over the waters is another revelation of Christ Jesus. As the Creator, He is in charge of all aspects of His creation. In the first four verses of this chapter, four aspects of the created order have been noted – heaven (verse 1), earth (verse 2), the sea (verse 3), and the fountains of waters (verse 4). This angel then says, “You are righteous, O Lord.”
It is a note that what has occurred in the judgment is appropriate. There is nothing unjust in the actions against the people, but rather the Lord is justified in taking action appropriate to the state of the people of the earth. The angel next says, “The One who is and who was and who is to be.”
It is another confirmation of the deity of Christ. This concept, or one similar to it, is found so far in Revelation 1:4, 1:8, 4:8, & 11:17. Each directly or indirectly refers to Christ Jesus. Here, it refers to Him as “Lord God Almighty” in verse 16:7. It is the deity of Jesus Christ that is on prominent display throughout the book.
The nature of God in Christ is unchanging. The standard of His judgments does not change, but they come in response to the sin of man. Everything He judges will be perfectly judged, and the resulting punishments will be in accord with that unchanging standard. This is the reason for, again, calling Him the One who is and who was and who is to come. Understanding that, the next clause continues with, “Because You have judged these things.”
In accord with His standard, the judgment has been made, and the punishment has been meted out. That will be described in the next verse.
Life application: As referred to above, an interesting concept has slowly developed through the chapters of Revelation. We have seen the angels with power over the winds in Revelation 7. Then we saw the angel who had power over fire. This verse now shows us the angel of the waters.
Unlike other religions which ascribe a deity to the elements, the Bible proclaims that God is sovereign over His creation. Either He has directly controlled them (if these angels are revelations of Christ), or He has designated a created angel with authority over each of these things. Either way, the control of the elements is subservient to His direction for those things.
In this verse, the angel of the waters (be it Christ directly or an angel appointed under His authority) acknowledges this. Instead of questioning why the waters under His care are harmed, the angel states that God is righteous in His judgment. He also clearly identifies and calls into remembrance that God is sovereign over time itself. He is “the One who is and who was and who is to be.”
Because of this, His transcendence over time means that He is outside of time and therefore before the creation. Thus, it is His to direct. And in the time of tribulation, that direction includes the judgment of the people of the world through the elements.
In the end, whether through earthquake, famine, flood, lightning, or any other natural disaster, we have no right to question God when disaster occurs in such ways. He created, and the creation is His to direct for His purposes. Let us understand this and know that God is just when He judges. Let us be grateful that our judgment for sin has been taken out on another at the cross of Calvary. We can have release from condemnation if we simply call out in faith for the saving grace of God that is found in JESUS.
Lord, the elements can scare us because we are powerless to do anything about them, but we also know that they are under Your control. Should we be afflicted by natural disaster, it didn’t happen apart from Your knowledge. Help us to remember this and to give You praise at all times, even when we don’t fully understand what has occurred or why. Amen.