The Sixth Bowl

THE SIXTH BOWLThe sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.” Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. (Revelation 16:12-16)

The sixth angel poured out his bowl to dry up the river Euphrates to prepare the way for the kings from the East.(1) When God delivered Israel from Egypt, He dried up the Red Sea to let the nation out. Here He
dries up part of the Euphrates to allow the armies of the kings of the east in. These armies, “the kings from the East” and “the kings of the whole world” gather to a place called Armageddon.(2)

The Kings from The East – There has been endless speculation about “the kings from the East.” Bible expositors have always tried to relate them to some contemporary leaders of their generation. A survey of 100 commentaries of the Book of Revelation reveals at least 50 interpretations of the identity of the kings of the East. The simplest and best explanation, however, appears to be a literal reference to kings or rulers from the Orient or East who will participate in this final “World War Z.” In the light of the context of this passage, which indicates the approaching second coming of Christ, and considering contemporary world situation with the Orient representing such a sizable portion of the world’s population and increasing military potential, a literal interpretation is beginning to make more and more sense.(3)

The Great River Euphrates – The “great river Euphrates” is the water boundary between the Holy Land and Asia to the east. While the implication is that the water is dried up by an act of God, the fact is that dams have been built across the Euphrates River to divert water for irrigation so that there are times even today when there is little or no water in the Euphrates. The Euphrates River is frequently mentioned in Scripture, and the drying up of this river is also predicted in Isaiah 11:15.(4) Historical Babylon fell when the waters of the Euphrates were diverted, causing it to dry up and the Persians under Cyrus came under the wall of the city on dry ground.

Three Unclean Spirits – These unclean (evil) frog-like spirits (not literal frogs) are somewhat reminiscent of the plague of frogs in Exodus 8:1–15. In contrast to unclean spirits in the Gospels, these demons do not invisibly possess or inhabit people. Rather, they appear to have a physical presence and summon the people to battle. Ironically, though they were commissioned by the unholy trinity, they unknowingly work for the Holy Trinity (God is in control) by gathering the nations together in one place for His final judgment on earth.(5) One need not speculate on the identity of the three frogs, for the text explains that they are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs. These demons go throughout the world influencing kings to assemble for the battle on the “great day of God Almighty.”(6)

The Kings of the Whole World – Some have suggested that there is a problem in what these demons do. The coming world government in the Great Tribulation will be established by the power of Satan (Revelation 13:2). Here, however, Satan, the world ruler, and the false prophet, through these unclean spirits, unite in inciting the nations of the world to gather for the final world war. Is this a war of rebellion against the world ruler? Why then would satanic forces be let loose to destroy the world empire which Satan has just been created? Or are all the other nations of the world that remain loyal to the anti-Christ being summoned to fight the kings of the East who are marching against the anti-Christ’s capitol? Regardless of his original motive behind these actions, Satan, knows that the second coming of Christ is near (when), and he knows He will return to the Mount of Olives (where) (Zechariah 14:4). Satan will unite all this military might to resist the coming of the Son of Man. Though the nations may be deceived to enter the war in hope of gaining world political power, the ultimate satanic purpose will be to combat the armies from heaven at the second coming of Christ. The war is said to continue right up to the day of the second coming and involves house-to-house fighting (“houses ransacked”) in Jerusalem itself on the day of the Lord’s return (Zechariah 14:1–3).

Armageddon – The reference to “the battle,” is probably better translated as “the war.’ Thus, it may be better to speak of “the war of Armageddon” rather than the “the battle of Armageddon.” If so, the war may have been going on for some time. But it will climax with Christ’s second coming (“if those days had not been cut short”).

Armageddon comes from the Greek Harmagedōn, which transliterates the Hebrew words for Mount (har) of Megiddo (magedon). There is a mountain near the city of Megiddo and the Plain of Esdraelon, which was the scene of many Old Testament battles.(7) The word Megiddo means place of troops or place of slaughter. In addition to the Plain of Esdraelon, it is also called the Valley of Jezreel.(8) This area has long been recognized as one of the world’s greatest battlefields; and it is here that many believe the battle will be fought between Christ and the anti-Christ.(9)

The area is about fourteen miles wide and twenty miles long, and forms what Napoleon called “the most natural battlefield of the whole earth.” It was on this plain that Barak defeated the armies of Canaan (Judges 5:19), Gideon met the Midianites (Judges 7), and King Saul lost his life (1 Samuel 31). Titus and the Roman army used this natural corridor, as did the Crusaders in the Middle Ages. British General Allenby used it when he defeated the Turkish armies in 1917.

Man has long lived in fear of one last world conflict known as Armageddon. On September 2, 1945, when General Douglas MacArthur supervised the signing of the peace treaty with Japan, he said: “We have had our last chance. If we will not devise something greater and more equitable [than war], Armageddon will be at our door.”(10) That was the end of World War II (we had learned to number them). Yet we have not devised something greater or more equitable. Perhaps Armageddon (will it be World War III?) is at our door today.

Up Next – The seventh bowl.

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References

  1. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 967–968). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  2. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 843). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 967–968). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  4. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 968). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  5. Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Re 16:13–14). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  6. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 968). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  7. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 968). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  8. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 610). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  9. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 843). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  10. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 610). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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