PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE
In the sixth plague, the waters of the Euphrates dry up to prepare the way for the kings from the east (Rev 16:12). This is interpreted as that support for false Christianity dries up to prepare the way for Christ and His angels to return (cf. Rev 19:11, 14). The purpose of this article is to explain why it is necessary for false Christianity to suffer a loss before Christ can return. For that purpose, this article provides an overview of the events leading up to the sixth seal:
OVERVIEW OF THE FINAL EVENTS
Consider the following chronological overview of the final events preceding the sixth seal, as explained in other articles in this series.
REVELATION 13 – 14:
THE WAR ON THE SAINTS PRECEDING THE PLAGUES
IMAGE OF THE BEAST
Before the plagues are poured out, the “image of the beast” persecutes God’s people and kills some of them (Rev 13:15; 14:13).
The “image of the beast” is a replica of the beast, namely of the dominance of the church over the nations of Europe during the Middle Ages. This was also a replica of the powers of the beast in Christ’s day. Christ’s main enemies were the people in authority; the scribes and Pharisees. He had very harsh words for them, calling them “serpents, you brood of vipers” (Matt 23:29-33). “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men” (Mark 7:8).
This explains what the end-time situation will be. The end-time Pharisees will be Bible-believing, well-dressed, respectable, refined and educated church-going Christians, but they opened themselves to the powers of darkness to such a degree that the enemy could use them and they would think that they were being used by God.
They will be eager for the traditions of the church fathers. Similar to the Pharisees of Christ’s days, Christ would say to them: “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
They rule the church by fear, condemning those who dare to deviate from the traditions. In their view, God is cruel and quick to judge, for they ascribe Satan’s character to God. Then they interpret the Bible accordingly. They do not have the love of God in them. Satan’s ultimate deception, and his ultimate power of destruction is released when he uses Christians to attack other Christians.
THE MARK OF THE BEAST
The “image of the beast” is the main persecutor of God’s end-time people (Rev 13:15). It is able to identify and persecute God’s people because they refuse to accept the mark of the beast (Rev 13:16-17).
The mark of the beast is a doctrine or practice for which the beast (the church of the middle ages) is particularly known. It is, therefore, not something that will be developed in the end-time. It is something that existed for thousands of years. To serve as the mark of the beast, it must be a doctrine or practice that is contrary to God’s will. Since this mark will play a dominant role in the end-time crisis, it must also be something which was accepted and continued by the beast’s daughters (the modern denominations).
The mark of the beast will divide the people of the world into TWO CLEARLY DELINEATED GROUPS.
THE ETERNAL DESTINY OF EVERY PERSON FIXED
In Rev 15:8, the temple fills up with smoke from the glory of God “and no one was able to enter the temple.” This is a critical point in human history and symbolizes the end of the time for mercy. From this point forward, nobody will be saved (cf. Rev 16:9, 11). Now, the eternal destiny of every person has been sealed; symbolized as either with the mark of the beast or with the seal of God (Rev 7:1-3; 14:1).
THE FIRST FIVE PLAGUES TARGET THE BEAST.
But the strange fact is that Christ does not return at that point in time. Rather, the plagues start to fall. They fall SELECTIVELY only on the people with the mark of the beast (Rev 16:2, 10).
The end-time Pharisees – the rulers of the churches – therefore, must begin to at least suspect that they are serving Satan and resisting and opposing God. (See First Four Plagues.) However, they do not change, for they have become so hardened that they are unable to repent.
The fifth plague falls on “the throne of the beast” (Rev 16:10), which is a symbol of its authority, namely Christian religious authority.
As a result, its “kingdom became darkened” (Rev 16:10), which means that it suffers humiliation before all human eyes.
Another article proposed that the fifth plague is the consequence of the message proclaimed by the mighty angel Revelation 18). Through the proclmation of that angel, all people come to understand that false Christianity “HAS BECOME a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit” (Rev 18:2). Previously, the people with the mark of the beast believed that the beast spoke for God. Now they realize that that claim is false. And it is that realization that causes the darkness in his kingdom.
THE SIXTH PLAGUE
This overview of the preceding events helps to explain the sixth plague.
In the sixth plague, the waters of the Euphrates dries up to prepare the way for the kings from the east (Rev 16:12). This is interpreted as follows:
The Euphrates is Babylon’s river. In Old Testament times, the Euphrates flowed through the ancient city of Babylon and supported life in the city. In Revelation, Babylon and her river become symbols.
Rev 17-18 interrupts the flow of events to explain who the harlot Babylon is (cf. Rev 16:19; 19:2). She symbolizes the false religious system(s) that has corrupted mankind for thousands of years. But end-time Babylon represents false Christianity (See Throne of the beast).
Rev 17-18 also explains the Euphrates River as the “many waters,” on Babylon sits, namely the support which Babylon enjoys from the population of the world (Rev 17:1, 15). In the end-time, the Euphrates symbolizes the support which false Christianity has.
That the Euphrates dries up means that the people’s support for false Christianity dries up. This will be caused by the lethal blow which false Christianity will suffer during the first five plagues, as explained above.
The Kings from the East symbolize Christ and His angels. In other words, the Euphrates dries up to prepare the way for Christ’s return.
The purpose of the current article is to discuss why the Euphrates dries up to prepare the way for the kings from the east. In other words, why must false Christianity realize that it is false before may Christ return?
“Spirits of demons, performing signs, …
go out to the kings of the whole world,
to gather them together for the war
of the great day of God, the Almighty” (Rev 16:14).
This is a turning point in human history: In the plagues, up to this point, the beast power has suffered severe losses and lost its popular support. But now, God’s enemies receive reinforcements in the form of “spirits of demons, performing signs” (Rev 16:14).
Revelation 17 depicts Babylon as sitting on a scarlet beast (Rev 17:3) and explains this symbol as that she “reigns over the kings of the earth” (Rev 17:18). However, when her support (many waters) dries up, she is no longer able to reign over the rulers of the world.
But then, the “spirits of demons” come out of the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet (Rev 16:13). The same trio persecutes God’s people in the end-time (Rev 13:2, 11-12), as described above. In other words, the same organizations (churches) continue to persecute God’s people. They have lost power due to their dwindling popular support from the people of the world, but now they have received renewed strength from “spirits of demons, performing signs” (Rev 16:14). This means that God allows Satan direct control over the churches of the world. False Christianity has now joined forces with spiritualism, which is a religious practice based on communication with the spirits of the deceased, through mediums.
Through the power of these demon spirits, these churches (false Christianity) gather “the kings of the whole world … for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (Rev 16:14). In other words, they prepare the world to war against Christ when He returns (Rev 16:16; 19:19).
“And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.”
Har-Megeddon is more commonly known as Armadeggon because that is how the KJV and many other translations read.
WHY MUST THE EUPHRATES DRY UP?
Why must false Christianity realize that it is false before may Christ return?
SATAN QUESTIONED GOD’S JUDGMENT.
The rebellion against God, which we experience on earth, actually began in heaven when a huge number of God’s holy angels joined Satan’s revolt against God (Gen 3:1, read with Rev 20:2; Rev 12:4, 7; Dan 10:13; Job 1:6). The following are some of the articles which the reader may want to consult in this regard:
God condemned Satan and his angels to hell. To defend himself, Satan accused God of unfair judgment (cf. Rev 12:10). (See also, Christ resolved the crisis in heaven.) Due to Satan’s enormous intelligence and skills, many of even the sinless heavenly beings do not know whether Satan is telling the truth.
God also sentenced the end-time Pharisees, who have accepted the mark of the beast, to “the second death, the lake of fire” (Rev 20:14). Satan, therefore, similarly accuses God of unfair judgment with respect to such people, arguing that many of them appear to be more committed to the law of God than many of God’s elect, as identified in “the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain” (Rev 13:8).
Due to Satan’s enormous intellect and knowledge of the evil committed by every person, many of even the heavenly beings that are loyal to God are not sure whether Satan is telling the truth and whether God’s judgments are perfect!
THE PLAGUES SHOW THAT GOD JUDGES PERFECTLY.
God wants all intelligent beings to trust Him fully. In particular, He wants all intelligent beings to understand His judgments. By faith, we live today and by faith, we must live for all eternity. God, therefore, does not simply execute His judgments. Rather, He shows to the universe that His judgments are perfect.
That is why He pours out the plagues, even after the eternal destiny of every person on earth has been permanently fixed. Through the plagues, He will shows, to all of God’s intelligent creatures, throughout the universe, that His judgments are perfect. For that reason the plagues emphasize the perfection of God’s judgments:
“Righteous and true are Your ways …
your righteous acts have been revealed”
(Rev 15:3-4; cf. 16:5, 7; 19:2).
In particular, the plagues reveal to the on-looking universe the true nature of the people who have accepted the mark of the beast. On the surface, they seem to hold God’s law in high regard. God knows that that is not so, for He knows exactly what is inside each person, but His intelligent creatures are not omniscient.
The purpose of the plagues is to reveal what they really are. The plagues will reveal that, in reality, they are followers of Satan, persecuting God by persecuting His people. For even after they realize that they are persecuting God’s true people, they refuse to repent. To the contrary, when Satan sends “spirits of demons, performing signs” to gather the kings (Rev 16:14), the people who accepted the mark of the beast accept this new power with the full knowledge that this power is from Satan. This shows that they are truly committed to Satan’s principles, which confirms God’s judgment of them.
– END OF SUMMARY –
Earlier, the people with the mark of the beast were led by Satan, but they thought that they were serving the God of the Bible. However, when the first five plagues teach them that they really do not serve God, but Satan, they do not change. They are now no longer deceived, but they have become so hardened that they are unable to repent. This is indicated by how frequently it is said in the plagues that they refuse to repent:
“They blasphemed the name of God …
and they did not repent so as to give Him glory” (Rev 16:9).
“They blasphemed the God of heaven …
and they did not repent of their deeds” (Rev 16:11).
“Men blasphemed God” (Rev 16:21).
When Satan sends his demons to gather the kings, the people with the Mark of the Beast accept this new power, but they are no longer deceived. They now know that they oppose God. They allow the miracle-working demon spirits to lead them against God.
WHAT DOES THIS SHOW?
This brings us back to the question: Why must the Euphrates dries up to prepare the way for the kings from the east? Or stated without symbols, why must false Christianity be shown to be false before Christ may return? Why must these modern Pharisees realize, before Jesus can return, that the Beast is not speaking for God, but is actually Satan’s agent?
This is actually part of the bigger question: Why does Jesus not return immediately when all people have been marked for eternity? Why does God allow the plagues when nobody will repent?
A TEST FOR ALL AGES
The end-time plagues serve as a test of God’s judgments in all ages. On judgment day there will be many Jews and Christians who have died in previous centuries who could similarly claim that they were only deceived:
“Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name?”
But God will allow the world to continue, even after all people have been marked for eternity, to reveal the true nature of these modern Pharisees. This experiment is not only to reveal the true nature of the people that live in the end-time but will apply to all people who died in the same spiritual condition.
This is the final test that is required before Jesus may return to the world He created. Jesus’ death was also a test. See Why Jesus had to die. Lot’s torment was a test. See, Why Satan thought he could win. Everything is tested because the crisis in the universe is about whether the Almighty God can be fully trusted.
In conclusion, the purpose of the plagues is to prove to all of God’s intelligent creatures, throughout the universe, that God’s judgment is right and perfect, and that we, therefore, can look forward to spending eternity knowing that we can rely 100% on the Source of all things.
See the Purpose of the plagues for further analysis of these principles.
ARTICLES ON THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES
First four plagues
Not interpreted individually
Overview – refuse to repent
The Throne of the Beast
The Mighty Angel of Revelation 18.
The Great River, the Euphrates, dries up.
The Kings from the East
Does “coming like a thief” support a secret rapture?
Why the Euphrates has to dry up
Summary & Conclusions
Purpose of the Plagues
To show that God judges perfectly
Why is it necessary to show that God’s judges perfectly?