What does Revelation 16:5 mean?
ESV: And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say, “Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was, for you brought these judgments.
NIV: Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: 'You are just in these judgments, O Holy One, you who are and who were;
NASB: And I heard the angel of the waters saying, 'Righteous are You, the One who is and who was, O Holy One, because You judged these things;
CSB: I heard the angel of the waters say, You are just, the Holy One, who is and who was, because you have passed judgment on these things.
NLT: And I heard the angel who had authority over all water saying, 'You are just, O Holy One, who is and who always was, because you have sent these judgments.
KJV: 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.
The apostle John reports in this verse that he heard an angel in charge of the waters—the waters that have just become blood—extol God. The angel addresses God as, "O Holy One, " and declares that He is just and eternal.
As the Holy One, God cannot think or do anything wrong or sinful. So, what He does in judging the wicked is right and in keeping with His abhorrence of evil. As the eternal God, He has always been holy and just, is holy and just now, and always will be holy and just. He never accuses the innocent and never excuses the guilty. The angel understands clearly that God is the source of the judgments. He agrees fully with God's action of turning the waters into blood. He yields his administration of the waters into God's righteous hands.
In the fifth seal judgment, the martyrs had begged God to punish their murderers (Revelation 6:9–11). Now the time of vengeance on their behalf has arrived.
Revelation 16:1–7 reports the beginning of the bowl judgments which were predicted in Revelation 15:5–8. The first and second judgments resemble the plague of boils and the plague of blood that God brought upon the Egyptians when Pharaoh refused to let the Hebrews leave Egypt (Exodus 7:19–21; 9:8–12). The third judgment turns the water sources into blood. The second and third judgments resemble the third trumpet judgment (Revelation 8:8), but their intensity is greater. A break occurs in 16:5–7 as an angel reflects on the first three bowl judgment and affirms that God is just to judge the wicked.
This chapter explains the bowl judgments, which are the last and most severe of God's outpouring of wrath on earth. The first three bowls bring sores, seas of blood, and rivers of blood. After a declaration of God's justice come the next three bowl judgments, involving scorching sunlight, darkness, and a drying of the Euphrates to clear the way for an invading army. In the final, seventh bowl judgment, an earthquake tears Jerusalem into three parts, levels cities worldwide, and displaces islands and mountains. Hundred-pound hailstones fall, but unbelievers refuse to repent and instead continue to curse God.
Revelation 16 resumes the account of God's judgments on the wicked. It describes the bowl judgments, the third and final series of judgments. The seven seal judgments of Revelation 6:1–17 and 8:1 are the first series of judgments. The trumpet judgments of Revelation 8:1—9:21 and 11:15 are next. All of these judgments vent God's wrath and are recognized as the day of his wrath and the wrath of the Lamb (Revelation 6:17). Chapters 17 and 18 further describe the destruction caused by the judgments. Revelation 19 and 20 will describe the culmination of God's wrath and the final events of the end times.
The word ''revelation'' means ''an unveiling or disclosure.'' This writing unveils future events such as the rapture, three series of judgments that will fall on the earth during the tribulation, the emergence of the Antichrist, the persecution of Israel and her amazing revival, as well as Jesus' second coming with His saints to the earth, the judgment of Satan and his followers, and finally, the eternal state. This content, combined with the original Greek term apokalypsis, is why we now refer to an end-of-the-world scenario as ''an apocalypse.''
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