We are now prepared to examine Revelation 16:12 and let the Bible interpret
the "drying up of the great river Euphrates" to prepare the way for the "kings
of the east." Whatever these events are, they occur as Armageddon approaches a
very violent climax.
In order to understand this prophecy, we muse refer to the parallel
experience of ancient Babylon. Six hundred years before Christ was born,
the pagan kingdom of babylon was the great enemy of God's people. For 70
years they held the hebrew people in subjection and bondage. Finally
Babylon was overthrown by Cyrus the Mede, and the Isarelites were delivered.
Cyrus came from the east and captured Babylon by diverting the Euphrates
River, thus getting access under the water gates of the channel. God said
to babylon, "I will dry up thy rivers. ... This saith the Lord to His
annointed, to Cyrus ... to open before him the two leaved gates; and the
gates shall not be shut." [ ISA 44:27; 45:1 ] God "raised up the righteous
man (Cyrus) from the east." [ ISA 41:2 ] Cyrus is referred to be God as the
"annoined" and "the righteous man."
According to the principle of interpretation, the literal account in the
Old Testament must be applied in a piritual sense at the end-time. Thus,
we read in the book of revelation about spritual Israel (the church) being
oppressed by "Babylon the Great." [ REV 17:5,6 ] This Babylon is not a
physical kingdom but a counterfeit religious system manipulated by Satan.
God's people are finally delivered from the power of spiritual Babylon by
the drying up of the waters of the river Euphrates. "And the sixth angel
poured out his vial upon the great river euphrates; and the water thereof was
dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared."
[ REV 16:12 ]
The startling similarity to the Old testament story is obvious, but we must
remember that the secondary application cannot be literal. The immediate
fulfillment is always literal and local, but the last-day fulfillment
reaches worldwide and has a spiritual application only.
So we do not expect a literal Cyrus to dry up a literal river to deliver
a literal Israel. We have already discovered that all God's true people
are piitual Israelites. Now that does the water represent? "The waters
which thou sawest ... are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues."
[ REV 17:15 ] In this chapter Babylon the Great is pictured as sitting
"upon many waters." [ REV 17:1 ] The waters are identified as people and
nations who give support to the great Babylon harlot (false religion) who
persecutes the true saints. [ REV 17:6 ]
So the drying up of the waters would represent the withdrawig of support by
those people who had been followers of the Babylon system. This is one of
the final events that happens just before the coming of Christ. The people
recognize that they have been duped, and in a rage they turn on each other.
Zechariah describes what takes place under this seventh plague as Armageddon
reaches its climax. "And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will
smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem (God's people); ...
And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the Lord shall
be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour,
and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour." [ ZEC 14:12,13 ]
John described the scene thus, "These shall hate the whore, and shall make
her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire."
[ REV 17:16 ]
Just as literal Euphrates in ancient Babylon was turned from an asset to a
means of destroying her, so the supporting waters (people) of the spiritual
Babylon turn into the means of her destruction. This drying up of support
prepares the way for "kings of the east" to come and deliver the people of
God from the hand of Babylon.