Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Justice devotion: Unclean Water - Revelation 8:10-11

Revelation 8: 10-11    The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water--the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter.

According to the European parliament, ‘access to clean drinking water is a fundamental right, but it is not a fact in many parts of the world. Contaminated water causes 1.5 million deaths a year, 2.5 billion people live without basic sanitation and one in six people does not have access to clean water.’

You would think that in the 21st century, unclean water would not be a problem. With all of the wonderful scientific minds and amazing technology at our disposal, clean water should be a given. However, a distinct lack of proper funding, coordination of resources, and political unity bedevils humanity from achieving this goal. Until we really want to do this, millions of people will die each year from a lack of clean water.

It’s not just a problem for under-developed countries, either. Here, in the ‘wealthiest’ nation on Earth, unclean water and polluted springs are issues, too. Our wee church at Erin supports a wonderful but necessary program of installing and maintaining filter systems for clean water in rural Tennessee. People who live just thirty miles from Knoxville don’t have clean water which is a shameful thing. We can find billions of dollars to fight foreign wars; we can spend billions more on building up foreign nations, constructing bridges to nowhere, or adding pork belly expenses to Congressional laws, but we don’t have the political clout or apparent will to eradicate unclean water in our own neighboring communities!

In the Book of Revelation, when the world is finally judged by God, a terrible and catastrophic event occurs. A star falls from the sky, which blights one third of the planet’s water supply, causing billions of deaths. This will be a devastating blow to all of humanity, and the star is given the hideous name of ‘Wormwood,’ which really means ‘bitter poison.’

No matter when these events will occur, we still have our own current crisis of unclean water throughout the world. If Christ’s Church really wants to be effective and relevant in the world today, then His people need to become pro-active about guaranteeing clean water as a fundamental human right. Scientists and geologists are already finding solutions, but it’s up to all of us to advocate for clean water and pressure our current political representatives to make this their priority, too.

Questions for personal reflection

Do I take clean water for granted? Where are the unclean water problems in my community? What can I do about this?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, we sometimes call You the ‘Water of Life,’ because You refresh our weary souls. Sadly, there are many people in the world in need of life-giving water instead of death-infested water. Convict our hearts to do something positive about this, especially in the unclean water areas of where we live. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment or ask a question about today’s message, please send John an email to

Today’s image is a commissioned drawing that John created for a worship conference taking place in 2015. It’s called “Thirsty Ones.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: Thirsty Ones

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