As we read through the Lord’s judgments told to us in Revelation, we see many of the judgments result from a large object being cast into the sea or falling to earth. The result is a devastating judgment in the world. Should we take this literally? I believe the answer is no. As I’ve stated before, I believe that we should focus on the results of these judgments, not how they are brought into the world. I believe we are given a clue to interpreting these specific prophecies in Revelation chapter 18, verse 21:
“Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said:
"With such violence
the great city of Babylon will be thrown down,
never to be found again.”
So, when we’re told that something is thrown into the sea, this simply means that something destructive is happening on earth as a result of this judgment. In verse 21 above, a city is destroyed. The city is not destroyed because a large asteroid or other object literally strikes the oceans (if this actually happened – more than one city would be destroyed); this is simply symbolic of something destroying a city. As we’ve discussed in other posts, we are given other clues in Revelation that tell us which city this judgment refers to. We’re also told in other verses the type of judgment verse 21 above refers to – fire.
If we examine the results of the judgments in Revelation and apply them to the world today – we begin to see the truth. If we stop thinking that all of these judgments are described literally and will somehow appear by supernatural means (example: water turning to blood) during a future period of time – we begin to understand the truth. If we interpret the symbolic meaning of the judgments of Revelation through prayer and apply them to what we know is happening in the world – we begin to know the truth. If we apply what we know about the judgments of Revelation to what we know about the ‘beasts’ of Revelation 13, then we begin to truly ‘see’ God’s end time plan being laid out before us. Do you think it’s a coincidence that the Catholic Church is once again a powerful religious and political force in the world at the same time that the New World Order is on the verge of implementing a world government? Do you also think it a coincidence that these two entities are gaining control of the world at the same time that ‘global warming’ seems to be making headlines with its doomsday scenarios? Is it a coincidence that these things are happening at the same time that technology exists that could enable a cashless society – giving complete monetary control to the New World Order? Is it becoming clear for you now? If you have been seeking the Lord and praying about these things as you’ve read through what is written here – then you’ve heard the Lord’s quiet voice confirming the truth. If you’ve drawn near to God as I have, then you are beginning to understand just how blind you once were.
‘I was blind but now I see!’ (John 9:25)
You may ask – ‘Why does God communicate to us in this manner? Why not simply tell us plainly what these judgments mean?’ God gives knowledge and wisdom to those who love Him and ask Him for these things – according to His will. To those who are full of pride, those who are evil and do not follow Him, these things remain hidden. To those who think they are proud and wise, God tells us they are fools. He reveals true knowledge to those who humbly follow Him. As you read the Bible, you will notice that the Lord’s teachers and prophets are continually persecuted and ridiculed throughout the history of our world. They speak of things revealed to them through God’s spirit – real Truth. Worldly people have always rejected these messages because they cannot spiritually discern anything – and have no desire to do so. Everything they know is seen and heard by their eyes and ears – and the most important things remain hidden from them.
“At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” (Mathew 11:25)
“The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?"
He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables:
"Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
" 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people's heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. (Matthew 13:10-17)
“He changes times and seasons;
he sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king." (Daniel 2:21-23)
“I foretold the former things long ago,
my mouth announced them and I made them known;
then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.
For I knew how stubborn you were;
the sinews of your neck were iron,
your forehead was bronze.
Therefore I told you these things long ago;
before they happened I announced them to you
so that you could not say,
'My idols did them;
my wooden image and metal god ordained them.'
You have heard these things; look at them all.
Will you not admit them?
"From now on I will tell you of new things,
of hidden things unknown to you.
They are created now, and not long ago;
you have not heard of them before today.
So you cannot say,
'Yes, I knew of them.'
You have neither heard nor understood;
from of old your ear has not been open.
Well do I know how treacherous you are;
you were called a rebel from birth.
For my own name's sake I delay my wrath;
for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you,
so as not to cut you off.
See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
How can I let myself be defamed?
I will not yield my glory to another.” (Isaiah 48:3-11)
“My own hand laid the foundations of the earth,
and my right hand spread out the heavens;
when I summon them,
they all stand up together.
"Come together, all of you, and listen:
Which of the idols has foretold these things?
The LORD's chosen ally
will carry out his purpose against Babylon;
his arm will be against the Babylonians.
I, even I, have spoken;
yes, I have called him.
I will bring him,
and he will succeed in his mission.
"Come near me and listen to this:
"From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret;
at the time it happens, I am there."
And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me,
with his Spirit.
This is what the LORD says—
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
"I am the LORD your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:13-17)
“He tunnels through the rock;
his eyes see all its treasures.
He searches the sources of the rivers
and brings hidden things to light.
"But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?
Man does not comprehend its worth;
it cannot be found in the land of the living.
The deep says, 'It is not in me';
the sea says, 'It is not with me.'
It cannot be bought with the finest gold,
nor can its price be weighed in silver.
It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir,
with precious onyx or sapphires.
Neither gold nor crystal can compare with it,
nor can it be had for jewels of gold.
Coral and jasper are not worthy of mention;
the price of wisdom is beyond rubies.
The topaz of Cush cannot compare with it;
it cannot be bought with pure gold.
"Where then does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?
It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
concealed even from the birds of the air.
Destruction and Death say,
'Only a rumor of it has reached our ears.'
God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,
for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
When he established the force of the wind
and measured out the waters,
when he made a decree for the rain
and a path for the thunderstorm,
then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he confirmed it and tested it.
And he said to man,
'The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.' " (Job 28:10-28)
Many prophecies are being revealed now because we are nearing the end of this age. It is time for us to know these things that have been hidden for centuries. Even though we have been told these things, many will again reject the Truth, just as people have done throughout history.
Let’s continue our study of the judgments of Revelation.
“The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.” (Revelation 8:8-9)
Is it possible for a third of the oceans to turn into blood? Again, should we take this literally? Unless God did this supernaturally and somehow created a dividing line between the blood and water, it would be impossible. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t believe that God will intervene in a way that allows everyone to see this as a supernatural event. True believers will be able to discern this – ungodly people will not. We are told that even though these judgments are unleashed on the world, most will not repent. So, we won’t see something as literal as water turning into blood so that all will know without a doubt – without any faith. Those that humble themselves and draw close to the Lord will know exactly what’s happening. Those who rely on their own knowledge and understanding will not know – and will find all kinds of reasons in the natural world why these things are happening. I believe that the reference to blood is simply telling us that something catastrophic is happening to the oceans of the world. This is not an isolated event.
Let’s take a look at other symbolism present in this judgment. The ‘mountain’ that is thrown into the sea is ‘ablaze’. This would lead me to believe that fire (war) could be a reason that ‘a third of the ships were destroyed’. Is this a reference to world wars? It’s possible. I believe the most important piece of this judgment, and the one we need to pay the most attention to, is the reference to the creatures in the sea. A third of them die. Something happening in the world is causing the animals of the oceans to die. Again, we’re not looking for a supernatural event that will cause the oceans to turn to blood – thereby causing the animals to die. We’re looking for something happening in the world today that will have a worldly explanation to worldly people – yet the real (spiritual) answer will be clear to those who can spiritually discern the truth. The answer to this prophetic puzzle is, once again, right in front of you. Is there anything happening in the world today that is putting stress on the oceans of the world? Absolutely. We could say that pollution certainly has played a role in the decline of our oceans and has even caused dead zones in certain areas of the oceans where fish and wildlife cannot live. Although pollution is causing harm, I believe there is something much more ominous happening to our planet that is beginning to adversely affect the world and our oceans – global warming. As our planet warms (see links on my website), fresh water is pouring into the oceans due to melting ice in Antarctica, the North Pole and Greenland. In addition, as the concentration of carbon dioxide has increased in our atmosphere, oceans have absorbed massive amounts of carbon. Where does this lead? From a scientific perspective, no one knows for sure – but climate models (using super-computers) tell us it’s not good. From a biblical perspective – we’re looking at one of the Lord’s judgments. Has over-fishing, pollution and climate change affected a third of the fish in our oceans? I believe the answer is clear - yes. I have included a link on my website to a study by ecologists that estimates salt-water fish could be completely extinct by the year 2048. But that’s not all – scientists believe that if the average temperature of the Earth rises by six degrees (over the past century the average temperature of the earth has risen one degree – and the rate is accelerating), the oceans of the earth would become marine wastelands – devoid of life. From space the oceans would still look normal – they would still be blue/green – but they could not support life. We see the beginning of this today (coral death, red tides, dead zones). Would it surprise you to learn that one of the bowl judgments (Revelation 16:3) speaks of this very thing happening? What we’re seeing now is only the beginning. In a future post we’ll discuss where we are on God’s prophetic timeline (looking at the judgments present in the world) and what we can expect in the near future.
Let’s continue with the trumpet judgments.
“The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.” (Revelation 8:10-11)
We have discussed this judgment in a previous post. I believe this is a reference to how the world’s fresh water supplies are becoming polluted in various ways – war, industrial pollution, pesticides, etc. Without a doubt, this is happening today (see links on my website).
Even though these judgments seem terrible, they do not compare to the final seven judgments. These are commonly referred to as the ‘bowl’ or ‘vial’ judgments – God’s final judgments on this world before Jesus returns. The seal and trumpet judgments really don’t give us a specific time reference, so while I believe many of them are present in the world today, it’s not easy to pinpoint exactly when they were introduced – and it’s not really important for us to know this. The important thing to remember is that they are happening now – they are not fantasies that will happen only in the future.
We are, however, given a reference for the beginning of the bowl judgments. For the spiritually mature, we are definitely given a reference for the beginning of the end of this age. Why? So that those who are being persecuted for staying true to Jesus Christ will know that this age is progressing exactly according to God’s will. These things are no longer a mystery because we need to know that God is in control and our redemption is near. It will be a very difficult time, but not unexpected.
Notice carefully what we’re told at the beginning of Revelation 16.
“Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go, pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth." The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image.” (Revelation 16:1-2)
Who is affected by this judgment? People who have received the mark of the beast and worship his image. So, the bowl judgments begin after the mark is introduced in the world and the image of the beast is revealed. What have we said the image is? As we have discussed previously, this is the evil image (likeness) of the Roman Catholic Church after its judgment by fire. We are clearly given a time reference in these verses that we can use to determine when we can expect to see the bowl judgments being poured out onto the earth. Why is this made clear? Why does the Lord give us a clear starting point for the bowl judgments? Because the earth will become a very unpleasant place to live.
The Lord is telling His children to prepare themselves for what is coming. The mark and image of the beast mark the starting point for the most difficult time in human history. This will be a time of unprecedented war, famine, disease, persecution and death. Nothing in human history will compare with this period of time before Jesus’ return. Because of this, God gives His saints a means to pinpoint its beginning.
I believe it is this period of time that Jesus was referring to when he said:
“because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.” (Mark 13:19)
God is telling us that it is of the utmost importance that we are prepared spiritually for the future. We must be able to stand against evil. Regardless of our circumstances, we must remain focused on Him.
We’ll review the bowl judgments in a future post.