VI. The sixth vial

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.” The sixth angel pours out his portion of the unmixed wrath of God and the effect is that the river Euphrates is dried up. This in and of itself may be the effect of the blasting heat of the fourth vial that scorched men with fire and great heat. A great river drying up is a sign of great dearth; a dying planet. Water is one of the great necessities of life and it, at least in this region, is gone. The name of this river was first mentioned in the scripture in connection with the four rivers that came out of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:14 – two of the rivers were identified with the African continent and the other two with the Asian continent in the present day – leading this author to believe that the pre-flood channels of those rivers we more closely identified with the promised land and the garden of Eden may have existed near present day Jerusalem. This would be fitting for the fall of man to be connected with the same place of the redemption of man – however, this is mere conjecture in the part of this author). It was also mentioned as the ideal border of the promised land in many scriptures, stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates (some I believe erroneously consider this to be the Jordan and not the Euphrates), which will no doubt be the actual borders of the promised land when Christ comes to this earth to reign (Gen. 15:18). There is no reason in this text for us to consider the river Euphrates to be a symbol of something else. The river Euphrates runs perpendicular with the river Tigris from modern day Turkey through modern day Iraq into the Persian Gulf. If it symbolizes anything in the scriptures it is connected with Babylon. Some have seen this as symbolic for the Turks and may even try to connect with the modern Islamic State. But the river should be seen here as the actual river.

The wrath of God is not seen simply in the drying of the river but the effect that it had upon men when it dried up. The waters were dried up by God to make a way for the kings of the east. God has dried up a passage through the Red Sea and stopped the waters of the Jordan River to make a way for the nation of Israel to come across on dry land out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Here God dries up an entire river to allow the kings of the east to come across the river to the battle of Armageddon. For some reason the river will become a hindrance to the mobilization of the armies against Israel. With all of the devastation on earth during the 70th week of Daniel it is possible that there armies of the earth have been reduced to medieval weaponry and means of mobilization. Since the defeat of the antichrist’s armies by the God of Israel as described in chapter 12 of this book the antichrist has finally come to the threshold of having massive armies march upon Israel. The river was a hindrance to some of that and God in His wrath has removed that hindrance. It is the wrath of God that allows man to go on in his sin. If you have chosen sin over God, God may remove all hindrances to you following that sin and allow you to march on to your own judgment and destruction. That is the wrath of our text. The great nations east of the Euphrates would be paramount to mounting an all-out assault on Israel and Israel’s God. Those nations would include Persia (Iran), China, India, Japan, Korea, and others. Those nations today hold a majority of the world’s population and would boast, no doubt even in that day, huge armies. Again, Joel prophesied of this coming day: “Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (Joel 3:9-15). God is in His wrath letting man mobilize in their wrath. Zephaniah rightly foretold: “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy” (Zeph. 3:8).

God allows man to march to their own destruction. The antichrist now draws mankind toward Armageddon. “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” As we consider the three unclean spirits which came out of the mouth of the unholy trinity of Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet; we immediately catch the fact that they are likened unto frogs. That hearkens us back to the plagues of Egypt (Ex. 8:1-14). The plagues of frogs invaded the entire land and when it was finished it caused the whole land to stink. “Their land brought forth frogs in abundance, in the chambers of their kings” (Ps. 105:30). It was the judgment of God that Pharaoh thought he could stand for just one more day in his hardened state (I head a song about Ex. 8:10 once that was apt – “One more night with those stinking frogs, one more night in sin, I had such a terrible time with them last night, and I just have to do it again”). The frogs are said to have destroyed Egypt: “He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them” (Ps. 78:45). Since the frogs come from the unholy trinity that would make the unholy trinity a plague in and of themselves to this world. However, they were also subject to judgment as well. The plagues of Egypt were plagues upon their gods that they worshipped. The frog god, Heqet, was the goddess of fertility. This connects the frog with sexuality and licentiousness. This no doubt is a good description for not only today’s culture but that culture yet to come. It is the spirit that comes out of the mouth of the unholy trinity. It is rightly called the spirit of devils. They are spirits that are working miracles. So they are not just licentious words coming out of the mouth but they are followed by signs and lying wonders. They are not just directed to the kings of the east but to all the kings of the earth and to every inhabitant of the world. They are no doubt telling them that they do not have to leave their sin (their fornication, their adultery, their lies, their murders, their sorceries) but can come up with them to destroy Israel and Israel’s God. These are their words and their deceptions: Ye shall be as gods. What a difference from the words of antichrist and the words of Christ. The words of Christ are spirit and they are life (John 6:63). The words of God are that by which men may live (Matt. 4:4). The words coming from antichrist lead men to destruction. Their words are described as vile things. Yet mankind listens. Where does it lead? It does not lead to the great day of man but it will lead to a battle (as we already just read about in Joel) and that battle will be the great day of God Almighty. It will be a day in which God is glorified as the Almighty. There will be no glory for antichrist or the nations of men there. His day is coming: “for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it” (Joel 2:11)? Zephaniah again greatly described this day: “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly” (Zeph. 1:14).

Our God interjects a great blessing here in the midst of the delusions of mankind. “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” God (i.e. Christ) first declares that He is coming as a thief. The idea here is not that He is coming in stealth or that He sneaking up on mankind. The idea is that He is coming to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He came the first time that mankind might have life and have it more abundantly but now He comes upon mankind as a thief. This is no longer the day of grace but the night of judgment. “The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief” (Job 24:14). Peter describes the wrath of this day like this: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Pet. 3:10). Christ, who is the one that is coming and is synonymous with God Almighty in the previous verse, is coming and He is coming in wrath against an unrepentant world. But, there is still grace in His coming. There is a blessedness which comes with Him but only to those that are watching for Him. The nation of Israel will be among those good servants that watch from the coming of their Lord. To watch is to wait in hope and expectation. And the term watch is always connected with doing (Luke 12:38). If you are properly watching you are also properly working. The ones that are blessed in our text are not just watching for the Lord but they are keeping their garments unspotted from sin. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:2, 3). And in doing so they will not stand in God’s judgment naked and shamed. There will be many that will be ashamed at the coming of Christ.

And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” Mind you that it is God that has ultimately has drawn men to this place. He poured out the vile that dried the river that made the way for the final mobilization of man’s deluded armies. Armageddon is the place where God has determined that the armies of the world will meet and be judged. We have already read Joel’s description of that battle where he called the place the valley of decision. Mankind must there live with consequences of their decision to fight against God in their unrepentance. The word Armageddon simply means the mountain of Megiddo (Joshua 12:21). It is a vast valley that Napoleon once viewed and said the armies of all the world could fight there; and they will. It is a vast valley in central Israel that has been the subject of many battles in the Scripture (Judges 5:19, II Kings 23:29). It is called the valley of Jehoshaphat and is also referred to as the valley of slaughter. God will in His wrath gather men there. The battle is yet to be described in our study but the place is certain.