Read Revelation 16 at Bible Gateway.
Previously: revelation 16, the second bowl of wrath
Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying:
“You are righteous, O Lord,
The One who is and who was and who is to be,
Because You have judged these things.
For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
And You have given them blood to drink.
For it is their just due.”
And I heard another from the altar saying, “Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.” Rev 16:4-7
The nations of Europe, at the beginning of the Revolution, were not as they are today. Europe was still deep in the throes of feudalism. Nobles held the lands on which the common people dwelt. Each noble’s land was perhaps the size of a county (which counts ruled) or a duchy (the size of a small state, which dukes ruled). Europe was made up of a patchwork of literally hundreds and hundreds of these holdings. Just as the common people owed allegiance to their noble, the nobles owed allegiance to their king, who was the overlord of his nobles’ territory, usually geographically close to each other. So the nobility from the Atlantic to the Pyrenees Mountains spoke Spanish and were loyal to the king of Spain, while from the Pyrenees nearly to the Rhine River, the nobles spoke French and were loyal to the French king.
Now the king of both Spain and France were to be loyal to the Holy Roman Emperor, which for many centuries had been of German nobility. Germany did not exist as it does today. The Holy Roman Empire, or the holdings loyal to the Emperor as an overlord, ran from the North Sea to the Mediterranean; from the the valley of the Rhine west to Russia. Popes crowned the emperors, and the emperors generally upheld the political authority of the pope, should he suffer a rebellion in his provinces.
At the opening of the Revolution, the Holy Roman Emperor was from a powerful Austrian family, the Hapsburgs, who had great holdings. His name was Leopold II, and his sister just so happened to be Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI’s queen. Many of the other crowned heads of Europe joined in a coalition of support for Louis XVI and against the Revolution when he was imprisoned in Paris. This was the beginning of the wider Revolutionary wars in Europe.
Thus Revolutionary France was at war with Austria, along with other powers of Europe, who dropped in and out of the wars at different times. Napoleon continued these wars as it was his ambition to become sole emperor of a new European empire modeled after the old Roman empire. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say, that the European powers continued their wars with him, not laying down meekly and accepting his vision of expanding his empire beyond the borders of France.
Many of the major land battles between the French and the European powers took place on rivers, as rivers were natural barriers to the progression of troops, men were bottlenecked while they crossed at bridges, and capturing and holding bridges or destroying them gave one side or the other strategic advantages.
For the purpose of the prophecy, it mattered not if the French or Austrians were victorious; both were expressions of Rome; the French as the imperial power, the beast of the sea with seven heads and ten horns (Napoleon was in fact one of the ten horns of this beast) and the Austrians representing the Holy Roman Empire, the image of the beast. That their blood ran in the rivers, fulfills the prophecy.
1805 — Ulm campaign; battles of Ulm and Austerlitz between the French and Austrians + Russians, concentrated on the Rhine and Danube rivers; 35,000 casualties;
1806 — defeat of the Austrian army caused the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, the image of the beast, as a political entity;
1806 — battles of Jena and Auerstedt between the French and Prussians, concentrated on the Saale River in Germany; 48,000 casualties;
1807 — battle of Friedland between the French and Russians, at the Wyna River in Poland; 48,000 casualties;
1807- 1814 — Peninsular War over French control of Spain and Portugal;
1809 — battles of the Fifth Coalition fought between the French and Austrians, at the Danube River north of Vienna; 97,000 casualties;
1812 — Napoleon’s Russian campaign, resulting in his expulsion from Russia;
1813 — battles of the Sixth Coalition fought between the French and the Prussians + Russians + Austrians, at the Danube and tributary rivers and Elbe and tributary rivers in Germany, and the Vistula and Katzbach Rivers in Poland; 283,000 casualties;
1814 — Napoleon’s abdication and banishment after his retreat to and defeat at Paris.
These statistics are just from the most major battles and do not include the battle of Waterloo, the casualties of the Peninsular War in Spain and Portugal, or the disastrous Russian campaign; nor do they include the losses from naval battles. In spite of that, they number over a half million dead and wounded in the rivers of the Holy Roman Empire.
Such sobering statistics, however, must not be sensationalised. They are not unique. The conflict of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, between 1790 and 1815, caused millions of deaths, with hundreds of thousands dying in the 1812 Russian campaign alone.
— Phil Andrade, Rivers of Blood, Military History Online
The worship in heaven, upon the pouring out of the third bowl, reveals that the blood in the rivers is a just recompense for the shedding of the blood of the LORD’s saints. The papal authority wielding the civil and military power of the kings of Spain, France, and the Holy Roman Empire, murdered millions of saints over the course of the centuries of its power, in Crusades, inquisitions, and purges of the Waldensians and other resisters of the Roman church, in the persecution of Protestants and in the Thirty Years’ War (primarily fought in Germany between Catholic and Protestant provinces and nations). These murders took place on Spanish, French, and Holy Roman Empire soil, the very same arena in which the Napoleonic Wars were fought.
Continued in revelation 16, the fourth bowl of wrath