Revelation 16:3

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died. Revelation 16:3

This second bowl judgment is not unlike the second trumpet judgment. Placed side by side, this becomes evident –

* Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died. (bowl)

* Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. (trumpet)

Having noted that, John begins the words with, “Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea.” The first bowl was poured out into (Greek: eis) the earth. Now, rather than the earth, the second bowl is poured out into (Greek: eis) the sea.

This bowl judgment closely corresponds to the first plague upon Egypt –

“So he lifted up the rod and struck the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants. And all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. 21 The fish that were in the river died, the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink the water of the river. So there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.” Exodus 7:20, 21

This correlation is seen in this verse as John continues by saying, “and it became blood as of a dead man.” It is debated what the meaning of these words is. Does it mean “very bloody,” as in someone who has been stomped on and mangled, or does it mean “dark and lifeless,” as in the blood of a corpse which has no oxygen flowing to it and which has been corrupted?

Either way, the symbolism is probably of a great sea battle where countless people have slaughtered one another. Or, maybe more likely, some cataclysmic disaster – such as radiological, biological, nuclear, etc. – has occurred. If the latter, the sea dies and takes up a dead color demonstrating a lack of oxygen and vibrancy. Because of this, John next says, “and every living creature in the sea died.”

One thought by some scholars is that this “sea” is the same symbolism used elsewhere to designate the “sea” of people in the world, not the literal sea of the ocean. This is certainly not what is being portrayed here. If “every living creature in the sea died,” then it is not referring to people of the nations. The term is a general term, not a specific term like “every person in the sea.” The general nature of the terminology demands a literal rendering of “sea.”

The result of such a cataclysm, and the resulting decrease in oxygen, would be death as the life in the sea suffocates. This would cause an immense smell to arise, and from there, the sea life would wash up on shores leading to pestilence and disease.

The scope of this judgment is not stated. Is this speaking of the area of Israel alone? If so, it may be the Mediterranean Sea. It could extend to one of the greater seas in the world as well. However, it is unlikely that it would encompass the entire earth. Even the most severe disaster would hardly kill every living thing in all of the world’s oceans. Being dogmatic at the scope of the event is currently pointless, but when it occurs, it will be known as the fulfillment of the prophecy.

Life application: In Leviticus 17:11, it says this – “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” The life is in the blood, but when this second bowl is poured out, it “became blood as of a dead man.” In other words, there is death in the waters and not life; the opposite effect of what God originally intended for His creatures.

The terminology here allows that this is not real blood, but what would resemble the blood of a dead person. It would stink and have death-producing effects. God is using this horrifying form of judgment as a punishment upon the world. It will be an immensely effective tool because the waters of the oceans affect all the land they come in contact with.

Depending on the actual scope of the plague, the world will lose a large source of food, and it will only lead to greater disaster as the bowl judgments continue, all because people have decided to reject God’s offer of peace through His Son. God has made the offer, and the entire focus of what occurs throughout redemptive history towards man – be it positive or negative – is the result of how we respond to that offer. Everything is centered on our Lord, JESUS.

Lord, when the great judgments of the end times come, the people of the world will certainly curse You and say that You are unfair in Your dealings. But for those of us who believe Your word as it is written, we know that Your judgment is right because You have let us know in advance what is coming. Great are You when You judge, O God. Amen.