In 2012 there was a spate of bodies of water turning blood red, and interest in the phenomenon was high.
February 2012: Beirut River runs red. (a factory had illegally dumped red dye.)
August 2012: A lake in France turned red. (“Scientists say the blood red lakes in southern France are actually a natural phenomenon. Camargue, France is a river delta where the Rhône meets the sea. The picturesque area is home to numerous salt flats, and it is this concentration of salt that will occasionally stain red the region’s normally blue water.”)
September 2012: Yangze River in China runs red (“officials have no idea why, or officials say it may have been caused by recent floods stirring up silt upstream. The Environmental Protection Bureau is also looking into potential industrial pollution or sewage breaches.”)
The other day a river in China turned red and interest is again high. I can only guess this is because Revelation says that rivers shall run with blood.
The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. (Revelation 16:4).
River In China Mysteriously Turns Bloody Red Overnight
Residents in Zhejiang province said the river looked normal at 5 a.m. Beijing time on Thursday morning. Within an hour, the entire river turned crimson. Residents also said a strange smell wafted through the air. … Inspectors from the Wenzhou Environmental Protection Bureau said they have not found the cause of the incident, although water samples seem to indicate the suspicious color was a result of illegal dumping in the river…. “We suspect that somebody dumped artificial coloring in the water because he thought the typhoon yesterday would cause heavy rain, and nobody would notice [the color],” Jianfeng Xiao, Chief of the bureau told China News. “It turned out there wasn’t heavy rainfall yesterday, so the evidence is left behind,” Xiao said. Xiao said there is a paper manufacturer, a food coloring company and clothing-maker a long the river.
Cases like these are usually due to illegal dumping.
But whenever something like this happens, hits on the blog go way up. On the one hand, I’m glad that people are so interested in prophecy! The bible speaks of future things almost a third of the time.
Fully 17 of the Old Testament’s 39 books are classified as prophetic: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. All of the other 22 books are also filled with prophecy. Source
It’s a significant topic and one that is definitely worthy of study and attention. On the other hand though, too many people are willing to proclaim it a sign, and overlook the obvious.
For example, a river turning red is NOT a fulfillment of Revelation 16:4, because we have not been in the Tribulation for ten chapters. We are not in the Tribulation now, and none of the other signs have happened.
Even in Revelation 8:10 which prophesies a third of the rivers on earth turning to blood, happen because of a star falling from heaven.
The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. (Revelation 8:10)
And at that time, also a third of the seas will turn to blood as well. One cannot pick and choose which prophesies are fulfilled. Either it happens the way the bible says, or it is not a prophecy. It’s some food coloring manufacturer dumping dye.
Secondly when it does happen, a third of all the earth’s rivers will turn to blood. And the verse says what it says, the waters will become blood. Not salt making it look like blood, not illegally dumped dye, not silt from a typhoon, but actual blood.
I’m so grateful that people become so interested in biblical prophecy when these strange things happen. I’m personally fascinated with the sky sounds of the apocalypse, myself. Others are fascinated with the large bird and fish die-offs that had occurred a few years ago. Yet it’s our responsibility to rightly teach how to study prophecy, and not become hand-wringing, pickers and chooser bell ringers when they happen.
The most important thing is to always point to the certainty and safety of life in Christ. Once we repent and are justified by faith in Jesus as Resurrected Savior, He will always hold us in His hand. We become legal heirs and sons of God. Our life changes from one of despair to one of hope and joy. Our future is also spoken of. It does not include rivers running with blood or fish die-offs or starvation or other prophetic wrathful things. Our future is one of hopeful prophecy, like this:
Then he led me back to the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:6-12)
Or this prophecy:
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ (Revelation 23:7)
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
So when you come across someone who is interested in a strange phenomena, and connects it with bits of prophecy they have heard, teach them the true prophecy from the bible, show them why it can’t be happening now. Connect their interest in prophecy with Jesus and His Gospel. It is one reason He gave us prophecy, to warn of judgements to come for the ungodly- and ultimately to educate about the One who spoke it, Jesus Christ.