“The sixth angel poured out his bowl
on the great river, the Euphrates;
and its water was dried up,
so that the way would be prepared
for the kings from the east“
The previous article in the current series explains that the waters of the great river, the Euphrates were literally dried up, hundreds of years before Christ, by the kings of the Medes and Persians. By diverting the water of the river, they took the ancient city of Babylon. That article explains the Euphrates, as mentioned in the sixth plague, as a symbol of the peoples of the world, and drying up as that false Christianity will lose its control over them.
Since the previous plagues are symbolic, and since the other elements of the sixth plague are also symbolic, the Kings from the East is a symbol. The plagues describe the final events before Christ returns; after all people have received either the mark of the beast or the seal of God. (See Introduction to the Plagues) The sixth plague uses the historical fall of Babylon as a symbolic description of the overthrow of end-time Babylon.
The article on end-time Babylon defines it as the false religious system that has existed for all human history, corrupting people and reigning over the kings of the world.
The current article proposes that the Kings from the East (in the sixth plague) is a symbol for Christ and His angels and that the sixth plague dries up the river to prepare for Christ’s return. This is justified as follows:
GROUPS OF KINGS
There are two groups of kings in the sixth plague:
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, so that the way would be prepared for the kings from the east. (v12)
And I saw … spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the WAR OF THE GREAT DAY of God, the Almighty. (v14) (This war is called Armageddon in verse 16.)
These two groups of kings, therefore, oppose each other. Since the “kings of the whole world” are gathered “for the war of the great day of God,” they also oppose God. It follows that the “kings from the east” are on God’s side in that last battle. Daniel and Revelation do not describe secular wars between political rulers. These books explain the cosmic war between God and Satan.
The conclusion, that the “kings from the east” are God’s kings, is supported by the fact that, in Revelation, the “east” is associated with God:
The angel brings the seal of God from the EAST (7:2).
Jesus is called “the bright morning star” (22:16). The morning star rises in the east. The term in Greek for the east is literally “the rising of the sun”.
“East” is also the direction from which God comes in the Old Testament:
“The glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the EAST. … and the earth shone with His glory” (Ezek. 43:2).
As mentioned above, the sixth plague uses images from the literal fall of ancient Babylon. From the perspective of the Bible, that was God’s deliverance of His people. God used Cyrus and his kings to deliver Israel from their oppressors and bring them back to their homeland (Jer. 50:33-34). God said, “He will build My city and let My people go free” (Isa. 45:13; cf. 44:28). God, therefore, calls Cyrus His “anointed one” (Isa. 45:1) and “My shepherd” (44:28). These most honorable titles (Isa. 45:4) were later reserved for Jesus.
The plagues fall at the very end of time. The use of images from the fall of literal Babylon as a symbol in the sixth plague implies that that plague is (the preparation for – see v12) the deliverance of God’s end-time people from spiritual Babylon. However, in the end-time, God will deliver His people through the return of Christ. The sixth plague, therefore, describes the preparation for Christ’s return, which again implies that the Kings from the East, for whom “the way” is prepared, are Christ and His angels:
“The Son of Man is going to COME
in the glory of His Father WITH HIS ANGELS”
(Mt. 16:27; cf. Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Rev. 14:10; 19:11-16).
RETURN OF CHRIST
A comparison between the sixth plague and the Return of Christ, as described in Revelation 19, will identify the two groups of kings with certainty. The sixth plague does not describe either of the two groups of kings:
The drying up of the Euphrates is not the arrival of the “kings from the east,” but only prepares for them to come (16:12). Both the preparation of “the way” and the word “from” imply that these kings will MOVE from one place to another. Arguably, they will move towards the “kings of the whole world” to engage them in battle.
Similarly, in these verses, we do not already see the “kings of the whole world” gathered. Verse 14 mentions only the demons that will go out to gather them.
So, in the sixth plague, the kings of the earth are NOT YET gathered and the kings from the east have NOT YET moved. Where does Revelation portray the movement of kings, and where do we see the “kings of the whole world” gathered together? We find them in Revelation 19; in the description of Christ’s return:
“The kings of the EARTH” are “gathered” (19:19). The NASB uses the word “assembled,” but the KJV and many other translations use “gathered”. In the Greek it is exactly the same word as in 16:14 and 16:16 in the sixth plague.
There is also another group of kings in Revelation 19, for it says that the kings of the earth are gathered “to make war against” the “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (19:16, 19). The “King of kings“ is identified as “the Word of God” (19:13), which is Christ. As the “King of kings,” He leads many other kings.
Furthermore, while the “kings of the earth” are stationary in one place (on earth), the “King of kings” move from heaven to earth:
“The armies which are in HEAVEN …
were following Him on white horses” (19:13).
This movement, from heaven to earth, is “the way” that has been prepared by the drying up of the Euphrates (16:12).
Another connection between the sixth plague and the Return of Christ (in Revelation 19) is that both mention five categories. On Satan’s side, both mention:
The False Prophet; and
The gathered “kings of the earth.”
It follows therefore that the fifth category in both must refer to the same group, namely:
The “kings from the east” (16:12) are
The “kings” that are with Christ (19:16).
Consequently, the following connections between the sixth plague and the Return of Christ (Revelation 19) have been identified:
- Both have two groups of kings.
- In both the one group is called “the kings of the earth” (19:19; cf. 16:14), and they are gathered.
- In both, the other group of kings are God’s kings and move towards “the kings of the earth.”
- The five categories mentioned above.
CHRIST RETURNS IN PLAGUE SEVEN
A bird’s eye view of Revelation will clarify this connection.
The first five plagues use images from the Plagues on Egypt, but the last two switch the imagery to Babylon. In the seventh plagues, for example, “Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath” (16:19).
Since Babylon was not mentioned earlier in Revelation, except very briefly by the three angels (14:8), Revelation 17 interrupts the flow of thought to explain who she is and how she will come to her end.
Revelation 18 jumps back in time to the warning of God’s people “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues” (18:4).
Revelation 19 then actually continues the seventh plague, for a great multitude rejoices that “He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality” (19:2; cf. 16:19). The jubilation of the “great multitude” (19:1, 6) moves from praising God for judging Babylon to the rejoicing that “the marriage of the Lamb has come” (19:7), which refers to Christ’s return. This is followed by the description of His Return (19:11-).
The point is that Revelation 17 and 18 are an interruption and that the seventh plague continues in chapter 19 with the Return of Christ, which means that the Return of Christ is actually part of the seventh plague. In the sixth plague “the way” is prepared for the kings from the east, but they only come with that “way” in the seventh plague. Similarly, in the sixth plague the demons go out to gather the kings of the earth, but they are only fully gathered in the seventh plague.
SUMMARY – Kings from the East
The purpose of this article is to show that the Kings from the East are a symbol of Christ and His angels. The following proofs have been offered:
There are TWO GROUPS OF KINGS in the sixth plague. Since the kings of the whole world make war against God, the kings from the east fight on God’s side.
In Scripture, the EAST is where God comes from.
The sixth plague uses language from the DELIVERANCE OF GOD’S PEOPLE from literal Babylon. This implies that this plague describes God’s deliverance of His end-time people, which He will do through Christ.
The sixth plague does not describe either of the two groups of kings, but both are DESCRIBED IN CHRIST’S RETURN. In both the sixth plague and the Return of Christ:
– Are the kings of the world gathered;
– Do God’s kings move towards them; and
– Is Satan represented by the dragon, the beast, the false prophet and the kings if the world.
A high-level analysis of chapters 16 to 19 shows that chapters 17 and 18 are an interruption and that the seventh plague continues in Revelation 19 with the Return of Christ. In other words, the Return of Christ is part of the seventh plague: The sixth plague is the preparation, but the seventh plague is the real war – Armageddon.
The Kings from the East are Christ and His angels, and the sixth plague angel dries up the river to prepare for Christ’s return.
The previous article concluded that the drying up means that false Christianity loses its control over the population of the world. The question remains, why would it be necessary for that to happen before Christ may return? That critical question is discussed in the last article on the Sixth Plague.
ARTICLES ON THE PLAGUES
Introduction to the Plagues of Revelation
First four plagues:
The First Four Plagues are non-specific.
The Throne of the Beast is Christian Religious Authority.
The mighty angel of Revelation 18 causes the darkness.
The great river, the Euphrates, dries up.
Kings from the East (Current article)
Armageddon (Next article)
Why must the river dry up to prepare the way?
Purpose of the Plagues.