Bowl 6, Foul Spirits, Revelation Chapter 16 Verses 12-16 (NASB)

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    And the SIXTH ANGEL poured out his BOWL upon the great river, the EUPHRATES;

The Euphrates River is the eastern boundary of land given to Israel (Deuteronomy 1:7 and Deuteronomy 11:24). This boundary is important because Israel's judgments seem to be promulgated from this area. In the past, Jeremiah 13 was a judgment and this verse for the future.

Two thoughts exist as to what effect the fourth bowl (verses 8 and 9) will have on the Euphrates River.

  1. The Euphrates River is swollen by the sudden melting of the snowcap on Mt. Ararat. Recall the fourth bowl was 'fierce heat'.
  2. The Euphrates River is naturally dried up because the fierce heat caused a short term flood but by the time of this bowl judgment, there is no more snowcap to melt. Hence the Euphrates River is dry.
    and its water was dried up, that the WAY might be prepared for the KINGS from the EAST.

In the past, the Euphrates River literally has been a barrier to armies advancing from the east. To today's militaries, the river is little more than a nuisance.

The symbolic interpretation is that eastern religions will penetrate Judo Christian beliefs. That is quite plausible given the inroads that Islam has made around the world in the last several decades. It is hard, however, to imagine our Jewish friends accepting the Islamic faith (or any other eastern belief) but given how readily they turned to Baal in Old Testament times even though they were commanded not to worship those idols (Exodus 34:11-16), this, too, is possible.

One last thought: if water is the container of spirits (evil most likely - see Revelation 9:14), then there is no place for the invading evil spirits to rest (verses 13 and 14 and Luke 11:14-28). With the Euphrates River dried up, these evil forces will penetrate onward right to the valley where the mother of all wars will take place.
    And I saw coming out of the mouth

Words come out of the mouth. Here these words are evil with the intent to cause an insurrection or jihad. We know these are blasphemous lies because they are equated with UNCLEAN SPIRITS.

Compare what comes out of Jesus Christ's mouth in Revelation 1:16 and Revelation 2:12,16.

  1. of the DRAGON and ....

  2. Out of the DRAGON's mouth a river flowed (Revelation 12:15) trying to kill the woman with child.

  3. of the BEAST and ....

  4. The (sea) BEAST spoke arrogant words and blasphemies (Revelation 13:5)

  5. of the FALSE PROPHET,

  6. The FALSE PROPHET tells the earth dwellers to make an image of the BEAST and then to WORSHIP it (Revelation 13:14). Nonworshippers are to be KILLED (Revelation 13:15). This is the first time the words "FALSE PROPHET" are used in reference to the 'earth BEAST'.
    three UNCLEAN SPIRITS like frogs;

In the Old Testament, frogs were considered unclean animals (Leviticus 11:9-12,41-45), so it is appropriate here for John to say these UNCLEAN SPIRITS looked LIKE frogs. These are not real frogs. However, like real frogs, they multiply rapidly, are noisy in the dark (night), and can jump great distances (compared to their body size). These UNCLEAN SPIRITS spread throughout the whole world (next verse).

If, as we have discussed before, spirits need water to exist in, then these 'frogs' may of necessity have spread across the globe because the Euphrates River has been dried up. The tadpole stage in the frog's life cycle requires water or the frogs will die out. One can conclude that when the Euphrates River dries up (previous verse), literally, the UNCLEAN SPIRITS will be on the move over the whole world. This is one of the few places in Revelation where the literal and symbolic become codependent. Otherwise, both the literal and the symbolic can be expected to happen in parallel.
    for they are SPIRITS of DEMONS,

There is confusion who these SPIRITS of DEMONS are. Some believe they are the demonic form of the UNHOLY TRINITY, but the prideful ego of the devil and his cohorts probably would not put them in this performing position. They rather would direct some very talented demons who are

  • performing SIGNS,

  • These spirits continue what the false prophet (earth beast) started in Revelation 13:13-14. Many present day believers, perhaps naively, say only God/Christ can perform SIGNS, but during the tribulation period, these SPIRITS will have that capability too. The deception goes on (Mark 13:14-22-23).

  • which go out to the KINGS of the WHOLE WORLD,

  • Apparently, all the leaders of the world are impressed by these signs. Collecting these "KINGS" implies a coalition of countries with combined political, economic, and military ties. However, previous seals, trumpets, and bowl judgments have so disfigured the earth that one wonders what is left to govern.

  • to gather them together for the WAR OF THE GREAT DAY OF GOD, the ALMIGHTY.

  • Nations gather to try to lift Jerusalem like a heavy stone (Zechariah 12:1-9 and Zechariah 14:13). This is only the gathering together of these nations (KINGS); the actual war takes place during the 7th bowl judgment (Revelation 19:19-21).
    Note: This verse clearly indicates this is not only man against man but will also be demonic man against God. Demonic man has been deceived again because no one wins against THE ALMIGHTY.

The next portion of scripture seems to be out of place. It has caused much confusion and remains one of those mysteries of Revelation. With its placement right before the final judgment (next verse), the verse implies that there will be some persons who did NOT take the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:16), and, thus, should be "rescued" before the final battle. How this will happen is not stated; it probably is different than the up-taking we believers will experience if we live that long (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

    (Behold, I AM COMING like a THIEF.

Before the tribulation, the believers at the church of the Thessalonians were informed of another thief-like event (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). It, too, was given a 'day of the Lord' connotation (see previous verse).

    Blessed is the one who stays AWAKE and keeps his garments,

While this could literally mean stay physically awake due to the time compress and the pending confrontation (next verse) which is being televised most certainly around the world, it also could mean staying awake spiritually. For one's garment to be taken away, one must be in a deep sleep. This may be a reference to those who prior to the tribulation KNEW the way to salvation but never made the commitment. Now they appear to be in a deep spiritual sleep.

    lest he walk about NAKED and men see his SHAME.)

Nakedness is exposure; what may have been hidden is revealed. Shame shows pollution or being spotted with the worldly sin curse (1 John 2:26-29).

Recall that prior to Christ's crucifixion, he was exposed in a similar manner. At that time, his exposure was to all the sins of the world. That is why it is so gratifying to know that He now is fully clothed (Revelation 1:13). Tribulation saints, too, are dressed in like manner (Revelation 7:9).

ARE YOU WEARING GARMENTS (of righteousness) OR ARE YOU NAKED?
    And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called HARMAGEDON.

While this appears to be a literal gathering of nations for war, this is not necessarily good military strategy. Thus, the symbolic meaning may be more likely. The symbolic view is supported because John uses the term "like frogs" (verse 13) to indicate that this is unclean/demonic activity. Although, these demons most likely are occupying human beings.

The humans who are gathering, in either view, believe they are doing this upon request of the Antichrist (a jihad, perhaps). They don't realize that God Himself is doing the gathering to fulfill His purpose (Revelation 19:21). According to Revelation 20:4, the millennial reign is coming soon, so the earth must be cleansed of evil. How convenient for God to have had the Antichrist have his followers (marked with 666) assemble in one place.

Geographically, HAR-MAGEDON is a broad valley about 60 miles north of Jerusalem. Literally translated, HARMAGEDON, means the hill where troops are cut to pieces. In the Old Testament, there was fighting there (Judges 5:19-23) and killing there (2 Kings 23:24-29-30). Water is referenced in both passages, while here in Revelation, the Euphrates River has been dried up (verse 12). It is not clear why this distinction.

The purpose, it is implied, is to make a march upon Jerusalem. The Antichrist has already desecrated the temple most likely and now wants to rule the city. He wants something to rule. Hence the city is not destroyed by missiles or bombs but is to be taken by sheer human numbers. This may fulfill the prophesy in Zechariah 14:1-8 with the 'waiting for the Lord' to follow (Zephaniah 3:8-13).
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 Used by permission."

References to the Revelation of Jesus Christ are in bold italics. All other references are in bold only