The angel of the waters - The rabbins attribute angels, not only to the four elements so called, but to almost every thing besides. We have already seen the angel of the bottomless pit, Revelation 9:11, and the angel of the fire, Revelation 14:18. The angel of the earth is spoken of in Yalcut Rubeni, fol. 13, 2, and is called Admael. They have also an angel that presides over the grass; another that presides over the cattle which feed upon the grass.
They say that God employed the angel of the sea to swallow up the waters at the creation, that the dry land might appear. He disobeyed, and God slew him; the name of the angel of the sea is Rahab. See Baba bathra, fol. 74, 2. It is plain from several places that the writer of the Apocalypse keeps these notions distinctly in view.
And I heard the angel of the waters say - The angel who presides over the element of water; in allusion to the common opinion among the Hebrews that the angels presided over elements, and that each element was committed to the jurisdiction of a particular angel. Compare the notes on Revelation 7:1.
Thou art righteous, O Lord - In view of the judgments that reddened these streams and fountains with the blood of people, the angel ascribes righteousness to God. These judgments seemed terrible - the numbers slain were so vast - the bloody stream indicated so great slaughter, and such severity of the divine judgment; yet the angel sees in all this only the act of a righteous God bringing just retribution on the guilty.
Which art, and wast, and shalt be - That is, who art eternal - existing now; who hast existed in all past time; and who will exist ever onward. See the notes on Revelation 1:8. The reason why this attribute of God is here referred to, seems to be that the mind of the angel adverts to it in the changes and desolations that were occurring around him. In such overturnings among people - such revolutions of kingdoms - such desolations of war - the mind naturally turns to one who is unchanging; to one whose throne is from everlasting to everlasting.
Because thou hast judged thus - Hast suffered these wars to occur that have changed rivers and fountains to blood.
In the plague that follows, power is given to the sun “to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat.” Verses 8, 9. The prophets thus describe the condition of the earth at this fearful time: “The land mourneth; ... because the harvest of the field is perished.... All the trees of the field are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.” “The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate.... How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture.... The rivers of water are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.” “The songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord God: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence.” Joel 1:10-12, 17-20; Amos 8:3. GC 628.1
These plagues are not universal, or the inhabitants of the earth would be wholly cut off. Yet they will be the most awful scourges that have ever been known to mortals. All the judgments upon men, prior to the close of probation, have been mingled with mercy. The pleading blood of Christ has shielded the sinner from receiving the full measure of his guilt; but in the final judgment, wrath is poured out unmixed with mercy. GC 628.2Read in context »
Before Christ's first advent, the sin of refusing to conform to God's law had become widespread. Apparently Satan's power was growing; his warfare against heaven was becoming more and more determined. A crisis had been reached. With an intense interest God's movements were watched by the heavenly angels. Would He come forth from His place to punish the inhabitants of the world for their iniquity? Would He send fire or flood to destroy them? All heaven waited the bidding of their Commander to pour out the vials of wrath upon a rebellious world. One word from Him, one sign, and the world would have been destroyed. The worlds unfallen would have said, “Amen. Thou art righteous, O God, because Thou hast exterminated rebellion.” RC 58.4Read in context »
The words will soon be spoken, “Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.” One of the ministers of vengeance declares. “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.” These heavenly beings, in executing the mandate of God, ask no questions, but do as they are bid. Jehovah of hosts, the Lord God Almighty, the just, the true, and the holy, has given them their work to do. With unswerving fidelity they go forth panoplied in pure white linen, having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And when their task is done, when the last vial of God's wrath is poured out, they return and lay their emptied vials at the feet of the Lord. TM 432.1
And the next scene is recorded, “After these things ... I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.” They sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. TM 432.2
We must keep close to our great Leader, or we shall become bewildered, and lose sight of the Providence which presides over the church and the world, and over each individual. There will be profound mysteries in the divine dealings. We may lose the footsteps of God and follow our own bewilderment, and say, Thy judgments are not known; but if the heart is loyal to God everything will be made plain. TM 432.3Read in context »