The Sixth Bowl

Revelation 16:12-16
The End Times

In my last post, we considered Revelation 16:10-11 ~ The Fifth Bowl. In this post, we continue with Revelation 16:12-16 to explore The Sixth Bowl.

The War of Armageddon (Har Megiddo)

The War of Armageddon (Har Megiddo), the final earthly battle, is demonically inspired. It is called the war of the Great Day of Adonai-Tzva’ot (“the Lord of Heavenly Armies”). In this conflict the kings of the whole inhabited world come against God’s people; but God, through His Messiah Yeshua, wins the victory after Babylon the Great has been destroyed (compare Zechariah 12 & 14).

“The sixth one poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water dried up, in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east. 13 And I saw three unclean spirits that looked like frogs; they came from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet. 14 They are miracle-working demonic spirits which go out to the kings of the whole inhabited world to assemble them for the War of the Great Day of Adonai-Tzva’ot. 15 (“Look! I am coming like a thief! How blessed are those who stay alert and keep their clothes clean, so that they won’t be walking naked and be publicly put to shame!”) 16 And they gathered the kings to the place which in Hebrew is called Har Megiddo.” ~ Revelation 16:12-16 (CJB)

The sixth one poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water dried up, in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east. This bowl, like the sixth shofar, affects the River Euphrates. Under the sixth shofar, the demon army of 200 million riders was released from the Euphrates. Here the Euphrates is dried up to make way for the kings from the east and their vast army. This is in the area of present-day Iran, Iraq, and Syria. In years past, an army of 200 million men seemed inconceivable, but with current populations in China, Russia, India, and other eastern countries today, it is entirely feasible.

Because of its size (1,780 miles long; 300-1200 yards wide; ten to forty feet deep) the great river Euphrates is a natural boundary and an excellent buffer zone during times of war. History gives many examples of armies that were stopped because they could not forge the river.

This war is predicted in Psalm 2:2-4: The earth’s kings are taking positions, leaders conspiring together, against Adonai and his anointed.3 They cry, ‘Let’s break their fetters! Let’s throw off their chains!’ 4 He who sits in heaven laughs; Adonai looks at them in derision.”

And I saw three unclean spirits that looked like frogs; they came from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet. 14 They are miracle-working demonic spirits which go out to the kings of the whole inhabited world to assemble them for the War of the Great Day of Adonai-Tzva’ot. Gary Cohen shares these interesting thoughts: [1]

In verse 13 we see that from the Infernal Trinity there goes out a clamor for the armies of this world to gather together in northern Palestine, the approach valley-plain to Jerusalem, Armageddon (verse 16). Why? We do not yet know the Satanic reasons that these three will give to the world. Some have suggested that the western world will desire to have a showdown against the eastern armies marching to take Palestine. This may be it. Perhaps both east and west are coming as a United Nations force to once and for all settle the Middle East by totally annihilating Israel, and representative armies from all over the world are to participate in this necessary “for the good of mankind” genocide? This would certainly fit the circumstances of Joel 3 and Zechariah 12:14.

This is a revealing insight into the way God works among the nations of the world to bring to pass His will. It is amazing how the leaders of the world’s countries think they are in control of what happens when in reality they are controlled by unseen spiritual forces and moved along a course God has already laid out.

(“Look! I am coming like a thief! How blessed are those who stay alert and keep their clothes clean, so that they won’t be walking naked and be publicly put to shame!”) Right here in the middle of this prophecy concerning the most catastrophic events ever to afflict humanity, Yeshua makes an announcement! It’s like a wake-up call. Who is He speaking to? I believe He is speaking to two groups of Believers! First, He is speaking to those of us who are alive now. He is reminding us that His return is the theme of Revelation. The message here is for us to remain faithful; to live an exemplary life and reach out to those around us with the message of the Besorah.

The second group of Believers would be those who are alive in the closing months, weeks, days, and hours of the Tribulation period. They are to remain steadfast, knowing the end is close at hand. These are the ones who haven’t taken the mark of the beast; nor bowed down to him, nor given in to his commands. They probably are meeting under cover of night, knowing that to worship the Lord openly would cost them their lives. I thought the Left Behind series did an excellent job of portraying this group.

To all Believers of any age the message remains the same: remain faithful, keep your garments white, Yeshua is coming as a thief in the night.

And they gathered the kings to the place which in Hebrew is called Har Megiddo. In Zechariah 12:11, which also places Megiddo in the context of the Last Days, the Hebrew word is Megiddon: When that day comes, there will be great mourning in Yerushalayim, mourning like that for Hadad-Rimmon in the Megiddon Valley.”

Hadad-Rimmon was the place in the Valley of Yizre’el (Jezreel) near Megiddo where King Yoshiyahu (Josiah) fell at the hands of Pharaoh Nekhoh in 609 B.C.E. (2 Kings 23:29-30).

David Stern comments: [2]

The city of Megiddo, which overlooks the Yizre’el Valley and guards a major pass on the ancient Via Maris (“Way of the Sea”) connecting Egypt with Syria, has seen many battles and much mourning. The archeological remains, spanning a period from the Chalcolithic Age (4th millennium B.C.E.) to the Persian conquest (7th century C.E.), consist of twenty levels, indicating the city was destroyed and rebuilt many times. In this valley, Dvorah [Deborah] and Barak defeated the Canaanites (Judges 4-5; Megiddo is mentioned at Judges 5:19) and Gid’on the Midianites (Judges 6-8). In modern times both Napoleon (1799) and General Allenby (1918) defeated the Turks near Megiddo. The hundred square miles of the Yizre’el Valley would provide more than enough space for the conflict envisioned in the book of Revelation.

 However, the final war may not take place at Har Megiddo at all, but in Jerusalem, at Har Megiddo, the “mount of his choice fruit,” i.e., the mountain of God’s blessing, Mount Zion. Mount Zion has already been mentioned at 14:1; moreover, the imagery resembles Joel’s picture of the Day of Adonai, when God’s power goes forth from Mount Zion against the forces of evil (Joel 2:1-11, 4:16-17 (3:16-17); compare also Isaiah 31:4-9). The next passage (vv. 17-21) resembles 14:14-20, which also draws on imagery from Joel 4 (see 14:14-20N). Strengthening the case further Zechariah 12:11, cited above, mentions Jerusalem along with Megiddon.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 16:10-11 [3]

Historicist Approach:

Since the Garden of Eden and later Babylon were both situated at the great river Euphrates, Historicists believe human history will come to an end where it began.  They also believe that the Euphrates points to the Turkish Empire.  Some believe that the three spirits are paganism, the papacy, and Islam. Many modern Historicists do see the War of the Great Day of Adonai-Tzva’ot as a real armed conflict of international proportions.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists point out that Cyrus the Persian did divert the Euphrates in 536 BCE in conquering the Babylonians. Again, they still see these events as relating to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE.

Futurist Approach:

Most Futurists believe the kings from the east may include Japan, China, India, as well as other lesser nations.  The involvement of every nation on earth is taken literally by many.  They raise an interesting conundrum: Since the countries of the whole world will be effectively under a single government during the Tribulation, how will it be possible for there to be a world war at the end of the Tribulation? One possibility is the conflict will be against the Messiah and His Heavenly Army.  The second option is that the final battle will be one of rebellion and insurrection on the part of many nations against the beast’s authority.

Idealist Approach:

There is no consensus among Idealists as to whether this passage describes spiritual or physical warfare.

In my next post, we continue to explore the plagues by examing Revelation 16:17-21 ~ The Seventh Bowl.         

                Click here for PDF version.                                                    

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[3] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Fifth Bowl

Revelation 16:10-11
The End Times

In my last post, we considered Revelation 16:8-9 ~ The Fourth Bowl. In this post, we continue with Revelation 16:10-11 to explore The Fifth Bowl.

“The fifth one poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom grew dark. People gnawed on their tongues from the pain, 11yet they cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and did not turn from their sinful deeds.”  ~ Revelation 16:10-11 (CJB)

The fifth bowl is poured onto the throne of the political beast, whose realm had suffered greatly from the first four bowls. Darkness ~ probably real darkness ~ fills his kingdom. Perhaps this is like the darkness that fell over the land of Egypt (Exodus 10:21-23). Humanity continues to blaspheme.

The fifth one poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom grew dark. People gnawed on their tongues from the pain, 11yet they cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and did not turn from their sinful deeds. On the surface this seems to imply a partial blackout covering only the place of the beast; however, looking back to Chapter Thirteen, where the beast rises up out of the sea, his dominion and power extend to every tribe, people, language and nation (Revelation 13:7). It would seem then that his kingdom covers the earth. If true, then this plague involves a total blackout of planet earth. How long it lasts is not known. However, it continues for a sufficient time to cause complete panic among the inhabitants of the earth.

The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast. This bowl was directed to the controller of the people of the earth ~ the beast, the Antichrist, who had been placed into power by Satan (see chapter 13). His throne was merely an imitation of God’s great throne in heaven (Revelation 4:2-11).

When the fifth bowl was poured out, the Antichrist’s kingdom grew dark. This was not like the partial darkness that had occurred during the fourth trumpet (Revelation 8:12). This was total and complete darkness ~ like the plague visited upon Egypt, which is described as so dark that “during that time people scarcely moved, for they could not see” (Exodus 10:23).

It’s interesting to note that at the same time people are still suffering from the sores of the first plague. G. E. Jones says: [1]

In the days of Moses and Aaron there came a plague of darkness on the land of Egypt so intense that it could be felt. See Ex.10:22-23. All who accept the Bible as being God’s Word believe that those plagues which came on Egypt were literal. The plagues about which we read in Revelation will be just as literal as were those on Egypt. In fact, we can see a striking similarity in those plagues. Those that will come on the Beast and his followers will be greatly intensified. Let us not try to explain away the word of God, but let us be willing to believe it.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 16:10-11 [2]

 Historicist Approach:

Historicists believe the throne of the beast is a reference to Rome. The darkness that fills the beast’s kingdom is symbolic of confusion, disorder, and the distress often the emblem of calamity during the French Revolution.

Preterist Approach:

Preterists agree with the Historicists concerning the throne of the beast being a reference to Rome. The darkness is symbolic in prophetic scripture representing political turmoil and the overthrow of a ruler.  This appears to have occurred in Rome after Nero committed suicide on 68 CE.

Futurist Approach:

Futurists again divide between a symbolic and a literal interpretation.  The darkness affects the political power of the beast.  Lindsey takes a literal approach stating: “I believe there’s a reason God’s blackout of this Revised Roman Empire: the darkness will allow the movement of 200 million Oriental soldiers into the area of the Middle East, the subject of the next judgment.” The pains and sores relate to ongoing effects of the first bowl judgment.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists seem to take a literal approach to this passage.

In my next post, we continue to explore the plagues by examining Revelation 16:12-16 ~ The Sixth Bowl.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The Fourth Bowl

Revelation 16:8-9
The End Times

In my last post, we examined Sukkot. In this post, we come back to Revelation 16:8-9 to explore The Fourth Bowl

“The fourth one poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was permitted to burn people with fire. 9 People were burned by the intense heat; yet they cursed the name of God, who had the authority over these plagues, instead of turning from their sins to give him glory.” ~ Revelation 16:8-9 (CJB)

The fourth bowl, unlike the fourth shofar which darkened the sun, intensified the sun’s heat. Perhaps God’s darkening of the sun was to keep the intensity of the sun’s heat from getting so extreme that all would perish. There is also an interesting passage in Matthew where Yeshua, while describing the end of the age, says, Indeed, if the length of this time had not been limited, no one would survive; but for the sake of those who have been chosen, its length will be limited.” Matthew 24:22 (CJB) Even through the worst of days, God makes provision for His people.

Even as God pours out these final warnings to humanity, the people refuse to repent and continue to blaspheme Him.

The fourth one poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was permitted to burn people with fire. 9 People were burned by the intense heat; yet they cursed the name of God, who had the authority over these plagues, instead of turning from their sins to give him glory. For the most part, we seem to take for granted the water, the sun, and all other God given blessings that enhance our lives. In the previous two plagues the waters of the earth are polluted, and now the sun is altered in such a way that the increased heat scorches people. It would be logical, in light of this, that humanity should repent and turn to God, but, as in the case of other such events, again with this plague there is no repentance, no godly sorrow; just a blaspheming of God. This seems to imply that they could have repented, that God in this fury of judgments was still extending His mercies, and yet God knew, as in the case of Pharaoh, their hearts were growing harder and they had lost the capacity for repentance. Oliver Greene has the following to add: [1]

In Revelation 8:12 the heavenly bodies were affected. “One third” were blacked out. But here it is altogether different. The power of the sun is increased until the terrific heat and blazes of fire from the sun scorch and burn the backs of men, roasting them. What a horrible thought! God takes His mighty hand, pushes the sun so near the earth that the sunrays scorch the backs of earth’s inhabitants! God created the sun, and it would be a small thing for Him to put it close enough to earth to scorch men. Both Moses and Malachi speak of a day in which it will “BURN AS AN OVEN,” when men shall be “DEVOURED WITH BURNING HEAT” (Deut. 32:24, Mal. 4:1). Hear this solemn declaration: “The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof: because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant… therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” (Isaiah 24:4-6).

David Stern comments on verse 9: [2]

Here is the New Testament’s most cogent description of the normal behavior of hardened sinners. They cursed the name of God… instead of turning from their sins, the result of which would have been to give him glory. Although God had the authority over these plagues, these unbelievers, in their irrationality, instead of entreating the only one who could help them, curse him. They recognize that God controls the plagues but blame him instead of themselves, since, being amoral and materialistic, they see no causal connection between their own sinful behavior and these events as judgment. They remain unrepentant throughout the chapter.

Special Comparative Note on Chapter 16:8-9 [3]

Historicist Approach:

Historicists believe the time of this vision’s fulfillment overlaps the time of the second and third bowls during the French Revolution. All three are judgments focused upon papal Rome.

Preterist Approach: 

Preterists cannot take a literal interpretation of this vision as there is no record of such an event occurring with the fall of Jerusalem or Rome. Instead, they take the sun symbolically as representing an influential political or religious leader

Futurist Approach:

Futurists again look at this vision as either symbolic or literal.  Symbolically, it relates to a supreme, ruling authority.  Others take the vision literally.  As is his general approach, Hal Lindsey compares this to the result of full-scale nuclear exchange which radically upsets the universe.

Idealist Approach:

Idealists take this vision literally.

In my next post, we continue to explore the plagues by examing Revelation 16:10-11 ~ The Fifth Bowl.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[2] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[3] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.