"And I heard the angel of
the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt
be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints
and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy."
(Rev. 16:5, 6).
The angel of the waters has spoken well. Those who have murdered God's people deserve to drink blood. In the next, we hear an echo. Listen:
"And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments. (Rev. 16:5-7).
Who is this other one and why does he speak from the altar? In our previous
study, we identified the second plague (on waters of the sea) as God's
response to the apostate religious power of the middle ages; and the third
(on waters of the earth), as His response to the apostasy of the end times.
To review, you may wish to pick up the thread at verse 5 1605.
The voice from the altar piques our attention. We have heard it before (Rev. 6:9-11). We identified the souls under the altar as representatives of the martyrs of the middle ages and hence of the apostasy developed out of the early church (the beast from the sea) 0610. If they, as the second voice, speak here from the altar expressing agreement, then the first voice — the angel of the waters — might represent those whose blood is shed by the end time apostate power of the earth.
As a careful Bible student you might notice that I removed the carrying poles from the picture. They were not to be removed according to ex2515. I expect, however, that when the ark found its home in the temple Solomon built, they were removed.
This I believe to be the case. We recall that the souls under the altar represent the righteous dead who, like the blood of Abel, would speak metaphorically at the beginning of the end-time judgment anticipating to be judged faithful (which happened) and anticipating the just vengeance of God on their enemies (which they were told to wait for until their brethren would be perfected). Their perfected or sealed ones live to see Jesus come. They will be God's final people on earth. These, as the angel in our passage, will be in a position to parse His justice in the punishment they witness (giving the persecutors blood to drink).
The souls under the altar, on the other hand, would rest, or remain dead, a little longer (6:11). They would be resurrected later when Jesus would come to call them. Their testimony here is briefer. They exclaim, "true and righteous are thy judgments." They will not have seen the wicked given blood to drink. Notice their similar, earlier testimony: "And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them. . . ." (Rev. 6:10, 11).
The two groups appear a number of times. We can add a row to the table comparing the 144,000 with the great multitude 0709b. At the coming of Christ, we see them in the following passage:
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain [the final remnant of Rev. 12:17] shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." (1 Thess. 4:16, 17).
Let's sketch a table, similar to the earlier one, tracing the two groups.
|Dead in Christ, 1 Thess. 4: 16, 17||Righteous living, 1 Thess. 4:16, 17|
|Great multitude, Rev. 11:9-17||144,000, Rev. 11:4-8|
|Souls under the altar, Rev. 6:9-11||Brethren to be perfected, Rev. 6:11|
|Those persecuted mostly under the beast from the sea, Rev. 13:5-7||Those persecuted in the end time, Rev. 13:15-17|
|Praise from the altar, Rev. 16:7||Praise from the angel of the waters, Rev. 16:5, 6|
God does everything right. How wonderful to be His children!