Sunday, 2 May 2021
For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
And You have given them blood to drink.
For it is their just due.” Revelation 16:6
This verse continues the doxology of praise to the Lord based on the pouring out of the bowl on the rivers and springs of water. The last clause of the previous verse said, “Because You have judged these things.” That judgment is now described, beginning with, “For they have shed the blood of the saints and prophets.”
This is speaking of the nations and people of the world. They have taken the mark of the beast, they have allied themselves against the Lord, and they have martyred those who have refused the mark. They also killed the two witnesses (the prophets), and any others who spoke forth the word of the Lord concerning turning from their sins and to holiness in Christ.
The term “prophet” does not necessarily mean one who is commissioned by the Lord to prophesy under inspiration. It can also mean in the wider sense of the word as simply speaking forth what is recorded in the word of God, as a preacher or teacher of the word might do.
Because of this, the doxology continues with, “And You have given them blood to drink.” This is referring to the judgment of the pouring out of the third bowl and the waters turning to blood. This does not necessarily mean the waters have become blood, but blood stands representative of life and/or death. When it is said that blood is shed, such as in a sacrificial animal or when referring to Christ, it means that the life is shed and thus death is the result. Therefore, giving “them blood to drink” may simply signify that the waters they drink result in death. With that understood, the verse finishes with, “For it is their just due.”
The words translated as “their just due” are more of a paraphrase. It is an adjective, not a noun. The KJV says, “for they are worthy.” This is closer to the intent, but “worthy” normally carries a positive connotation. A better translation would be, “For they are deserving.” They have heaped up the measure of their sins and they are deserving of death. This is the idea being conveyed.
Life application: Blood for blood – the people of the world are receiving their just due for their violent and ungodly actions, having shed the blood of the Lord’s people.
Revelation is speaking of the time of tribulation at the end of the age, so this verse is surely referring first to those who have died during the church age and also leading into the tribulation period. But more specifically, it is referring to the wholesale slaughter of God’s people during the tribulation.
A saint is anyone who has called on Jesus Christ as Lord. This is evidenced time and again in the epistles and obviously bears little resemblance to those designated “saints” by the Roman Catholic Church.
A saint is a saint based on a relationship with Christ, not a congregation. The saints of the church age have often been faithful even unto death, starting with the first recorded martyr in the New Testament – Stephen in Acts 7. Throughout the bloody ages, God has not forgotten any of them or their deeds. The “prophets” are those who prophesy on behalf of the Lord. There are two types of prophecy – foretelling and forth-telling.
Foretelling is what the prophets of old and the apostles of the New Testament did. They spoke the word of God to the people of God. Foretelling ended at the time the book of Revelation was complete, but prophets still forth-tell to this day. Faithful men of God – pastors and preachers who speak the word of God to the world – are today’s prophets, speaking the sealed words found in the Holy Bible. They have, along with the other saints, been martyred for their faithfulness. But like all of God’s faithful martyrs since the creation of the world, He has remembered them and their shed blood.
For their slaughtering of these people, the world is now given blood to drink, “for it is their just due.” God has seen, God has judged, God has sentenced, and God now executes the sentence – blood for blood.
For those in Christ who have died, it is a temporary thing. There is the hope of an eternity of days ahead, walking in the glory of God and reveling in what He has done through His Son. He is great. He is glorious. He is JESUS!
Lord, You have watched and seen what has been done to Your faithful over the centuries. A time is coming when all wrongs will be made right, and all penalties will be executed with speed and finality. We can be assured that our faithful witness for You will not go unnoticed, and we thank You for Your watchful eye upon our souls. Amen.