As we have been doing, we will trust God to help us understand the visions shown when the third seal was opened, the third trumpet was sounded and the third cup of judgment was poured.
The opening of the third seal – Revelation 6:5-6
“5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. 6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” [KJV]
From this vision, we get the feel that Stage 3 is a time of famine, or scarcity of food. But we’ll realize that it’s actually not a physical famine but a spiritual one. We can learn more by considering the sounding of the third trumpet.
The sounding of the third trumpet – Revelation 8:10-11
“10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; 11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.” [KJV]
This vision further explains the famine in the previous vision. It shows that the famine is not because there was no water, but because the waters had become bitter. In scriptures, water is used as a symbol for the Word of God. For example, Ephesians 5:25-26 says “25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; 26 That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,”. Here we see that the Word of God is described as water which is meant for cleansing His Church. Also, in John 4:13-14, when our Lord Jesus was talking to the woman by the well, He told her that He is able to give her water which when she drinks will bring her to eternal life. This water is His Word. It is His Word, His voice, His knowledge that gives eternal life, as we are told in John 6:68, John 10:27-28 and John 17:3.
Knowing this, that the water is the Word of God, we can understand the context of this famine. It is a spiritual scarcity of the true Word of God, because the waters had been contaminated to become bitter and cause death. This contaminated water represents false doctrines, false voices, false knowledges which cause spiritual death to the true faith of anyone who takes them in. And why did this contamination happen? It is because a star burning as a lamp landed on the rivers and fountains of water. This star is a person. For example, in Jude 1:13, when Jude was describing the ungodly men that had entered into the church, he called them wandering stars. So, in the context of this vision, we know that this star is a person – a person with a lot of influence. It is as this person got involved in the rivers and fountains of water that they became contaminated. Since we know that water represents the Word of God, we can understand that rivers represent the flow, the ministration, the preaching, the communication of God’s word, while the fountains of water represent people who are in positions of responsibility to dish out the Word of God to His people. These rivers and the fountains of water were generally pure until that star involved himself with them.
Looking into history, the one person that fits this description well is Constantine. He is the star that fell on the rivers and fountains of water. He is described as a star “burning like a lamp” because he had a lot of zeal, but unfortunately, his zeal was misplaced. As the new Roman Emperor, he ended the persecution of Christians, which was good. But he began to assume a presiding role over church affairs. The reason for this was that the Roman Emperors were the guardians of the Roman culture and the head of their religious rites. So, after adopting Christianity as the official religion of the empire, he felt he had a role to play in Church governance. It is this his involvement that accelerated the contamination of the Word of God and led to the rise of the Roman Catholic Church. Many believers knew it was wrong, but many others loved the affiliation with the emperor. They were like Balaam who loved the gains of unrighteousness [2 Peter 2:15]. Constantine, using his influence as emperor, gave a lot of gifts and money to the church, and got more involved in setting up councils to determine doctrinal interpretations of the Scripture. As the church got richer, they began sewing special garments and capes [special bishop hats] for themselves and deviated away from being the church of God, the bride of Christ, to being the Roman Catholic/Universal Church, the great harlot in Revelation 17 – the one who rode on the strength of the Roman Empire [the beast]. As we know, the Roman Catholic Church is responsible for propagating many false teachings [bitter waters] that cause spiritual death to the true faith of any believer who takes them in, and unfortunately, it all began with Constantine’s involvement in church affairs. But there’s more to learn about Stage 3. Let us move on to the vision shown after the third cup of judgment was poured.
The pouring of the third cup of judgment – Revelation 16:4-7
“4 And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. 5 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. 6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. 7 And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.” [KJV]
Notice that the rivers and fountains of water show up again. But this time they have a bloody experience. They are being judged, after being contaminated and evolving to become the Roman Catholic Church, the great whore in Revelation 17. The words we just read in verses 5 and 6 reveal the main reason why they were judged: “… they shed the blood of saints and prophets…” Looking into history, we realize that the Roman Catholic Church was responsible for killing many of the faithful people of God, especially during the dark ages, because they opposed their false doctrines and practices. Many of these believers that were killed are recorded in Foxe’s book of martyrs, which can easily be downloaded online. So, God decided to bring judgment on them.
But it’s not only the Roman Catholic Church that God brought judgment on in Stage 3. Yes, in the New Testament, they are the corrupted rivers and fountains of waters that became the great whore, but in the Old Testament, the backslidden Jewish religious system was the corrupted rivers and fountains of waters, and was the great whore. In fact, in Jeremiah 3, God used this name “whore” to refer to them because, in the Old Testament, they were supposed to be His symbolic bride, but they backslid from Him to worship idols.
In Revelation 17, in verse 6, we are told that the whore is drunk with the blood of saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. This is something that both the Old Testament whore, the Jewish religious system, and the New Testament whore, the Roman Catholic Church, are responsible for. Looking into scriptures, in Matthew 5:12, Matthew 23:28-31, 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15, and more, we are told that the Jews persecuted and killed the prophets. As such, when the vision of the third cup of judgment says that the rivers and fountains of water were judged because they shed the blood of the saints and prophets, it is actually referring to a time when both the Roman Catholic Church and the Jews were judged.
Looking into history, we see that the time when both the Roman Catholic Church and the Jews had a bloody experience was under Hitler, during the Nazi regime and the holocaust. When we research into the holocaust and the operations of the Nazi regime, we would see that in addition to the Jews, the Roman Catholic priests suffered a great deal and died in concentration camps in large numbers.
That’s the prophecy for Stage 3. From the time of Constantine to the time of Hitler – the dark ages, a period of great scarcity of God’s true Word; the rise of the Catholic Church as the New Testament whore and a contaminated version of God’s true church; and the time of the Holocaust: a period of judgment both on the Catholic Church and the Jews.