Sixth Bowl - Armageddon

Synopsis - The sixth “bowl” begins the final battle between the “Lamb” and the “Dragon” - ArmageddonRevelation 16:12-16

Battle Angel - Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash
By Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash
The first four “bowls of wrath” targeted the economic foundations of the World-Power, while the fifth one attacked the political authority of the “Beast from the Sea.” Now, demonic forces are released when the sixth “bowl of wrath” is emptied in order to gather the “kings of the earth” to the final battle of the “Great Day of God the Almighty” – (Revelation 16:12-16).
  • (Revelation 16:12-16) – “And the sixth poured out his bowl upon the great river: [the] Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way might be prepared of the kings who were from the rising of the sun. And I saw out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false-prophet, three impure spirits as frogs; for they are spirits of demons, doing signs, which are to go forth unto the kings of the whole habitable earth to gather them together unto the battle of the great day of God the Almighty.— Lo! I come as a thief! Happy, he that is watching and keeping his garments, lest naked he be walking, and they see his shame.— And he gathered them together unto the place that is called in Hebrew, Har Magedon” – (The Emphasized Bible).
In this paragraph, several images from Old Testament prophetic passages are used to portray the results of the emptying of the “sixth bowl,” specifically--
  1. The drying of the Red Sea - (Exodus 14:21-25).
  2. The second Egyptian plague of frogs - (Exodus 8:1-15).
  3. The diverting of the Euphrates River by Cyrus to capture the city of Babylon.
  4. The predicted invasion by the forces of “Gog and Magog” - (Ezekiel 38-39).
These several images are combined to create a complete picture of a final “battle” between the forces of the “Lamb” and those of the “Dragon.” The conflict culminates in the destruction of “Babylon” when the “seventh bowl of wrath” is emptied in the subsequent paragraph - (Revelation 16:17-21).

The Euphrates River was the symbolic eastern boundary of the Promised Land, and the direction from which invading armies historically attacked ancient Israel. Thus, the final “battle” between the “saints” and the forces of Satan is poised to begin - (Genesis 15:18, Exodus 23:31, Deuteronomy 1:7, 11:24, Joshua 1:4).

An Old Testament prophecy predicted how the city of Babylon would fall to Persia by the drying up of the Euphrates River. Yahweh promised the restoration of the Jewish nation that was held captive by Babylon. To facilitate this, He commanded the rivers—
  • Be dry!…who says of Cyrus, He is my shepherd and shall perform all my pleasureI will raise up one from the north who will come from the sun-rising” - God would - “Disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon” and cause “a drought upon her waters that they should be dried up” - (Isaiah 44:24-28, 41:45, Jeremiah 50:3851:36).
This was fulfilled in October 539 B.C. when a Medo-Persian force rerouted the Euphrates River so its army could penetrate the walls of Babylon and enter the city along the (now) dry riverbed. The image of the “kings from the sun-rising” marching across a dry riverbed borrows its language from these prophetic texts, as follows:
  • (Isaiah 41:2) – “Who has raised up one FROM THE SUNRISEwhom he calls in righteousness to his foot? He gives nations before him, and makes him rule over kings; he gives them as the dust to his sword, as the driven stubble to his bow.”
  • (Isaiah 41:2) – “I have raised up one from the north, and he is comeFROM THE RISING OF THE SUN one that calls upon my name: and he shall come upon rulers as upon mortar, and as the potter treads clay” - (Compare - Daniel 5:1).
The seventh “bowl of wrath” will result in the fall of end-time “Babylon.” The book of Revelation uses the past conquest of ancient Babylon by Persia to paint its portrait of the downfall of the “Great Whore, Babylon.”

The image of the “kings of the east” leading a large force from beyond the Euphrates draws in additional Old Testament imagery about an army from Mesopotamia invading Palestine from the north, especially the prophecy of “Gog and Magog” from the book of Ezekiel.

In Revelation, neither the “Euphrates River” nor “Babylon” is a literal geographic reference. In Chapter 17, Babylon “sits upon many waters,” which is interpreted as “peoples, multitudes, nations and tongues”. She also “sits on seven mountains,” yet the ancient city-state was situated in a vast alluvial plain between the Euphrates and Tigres rivers hundreds of kilometers from the nearest mountain. And if Babylon is not a literal geographic reference in this passage, neither is the “Euphrates River” - (Revelation 17:1-15).

Greek Battle - Photo by Jaime Spaniol on Unsplash
Photo by Jaime Spaniol on Unsplash

Demonic spirits are sent to cause the “
kings of the whole habitable earth” to gather to the war of the “great day of God.” The Lord uses demonic forces to accomplish His purposes. The description employs language from Ezekiel where Yahweh declared to “Gog of Magog”:
  • (Ezekiel 38:3-10) - “I will turn you back and put hooks into your jaws, and I WILL GATHER YOU AND ALL YOUR ARMYBe prepared and prepare yourself, you and all your company that are gathered unto you…in the latter years you shall come into the land that is brought back from the sword and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel...You shall ascend and come like a storm, you shall be like a cloud to cover the land, you and all your bands, and many people with you.”
This is not a picture of two opposing armies facing off in a massive land battle. The “kings from the sun-rising” and the “kings of the whole earth” are identical - The latter interprets the former. Moreover, it is NOT a battle between national armies but, instead, the global “battle of all nations gathered against the “Lamb,” the anointed king of Yahweh, as predicted in the second Psalm:
  • (Psalm 2:1-4) – “Why do the nations rage, and the peoples meditate a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against Yahweh and against his anointed, sayingLet us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their cords from usHe that sits in the heavens will laugh: the Lord will have them in derision.”
Although the “kings of the earth” believe they are assembling to destroy the “saints,” in fact, they are gathered at the instigation of God in order to destroy “Babylon”; afterward, they themselves will be destroyed along with the “Beast” and “False Prophet” - (Revelation 16:1917:16-17, 19:17-21).

This scenario parallels the description from Ezekiel about how Yahweh who causes the forces of “Gog of Magog” to invade ancient Israel in order to destroy this force on the “mountains of Israel” - (Ezekiel 38:3-1039:1-3).

The demon spirits “gather the kings of the earth unto the war” (sunagagein autous eis ton polemon). The term “war” is singular in the Greek sentence and has a definite article, or “the.” This demonstrates that his is a specific and known event - Not just another war, but “THE war.”

This “war” is the same one referred to when the “Dragon” determined to wage “war” against the “seed of the woman.” It is the same “war” that the “Beast from the Sea” waged against the “saints.” It also is the same final confrontation that occurs in the vision of the “Rider on a White Horse” and the assault against the “camp of the saints” led by Satan after his release from the “Abyss” after the “thousands years.” Each vision presents the same final battle from a different perspective - (Revelation 11:17, 13:7, 19:11-21, 20:7-10).

The “kings of the earth” were among those who sought to escape from the “wrath of God and the Lamb” when the sixth seal was opened. They have “fornicated” with Babylon by participating in her idolatry. In the present passage, the “kings of the earth and their armies” are allied with the “Beast” and the “False Prophet” in order to be “gathered together to wage war” against the heavenly figure on a white horse - (Revelation 16:15, 17:2, 18:3, 19:19).

The “kings from the rising sun” are not righteous rulers that are intent on resisting the “Beast.” Instead, they join the “Beast” and the “False Prophet” in a final confrontation with God. The divine purpose is so that “Babylon” will be destroyed - God has put it into their hearts to do His bidding - (Revelation 16:1917:16-17).

Thus, the “sixth bowl of wrath” is a symbolic picture of the final confrontation between the “Lamb” and the “Dragon.” The passage reinterprets and reapplies the Old Testament images - “Gog” and its armies become the “kings of the whole habitable earth” – Unrepentant humanity united and led by the “Beast” in its hostility to the “Lamb.”

The voice of Jesus is interjected at this point (verse 16) - “Behold, I am coming as a thief!” - The final battle culminated with the arrival of Jesus from heaven - The “he” in verse 16 who causes the armies of the earth to “gather to the place called Armageddon.” The “Lamb,” not the “Beast,” assembles this force to the “battle” to achieve his purposes.

Christians who “keep their garments” will find themselves “blessed” when he arrives, but his arrival means also “shame” for the unprepared and destruction for all forces opposed to God - (Revelation 16:15-16).

The promise of “blessing” reiterates exhortations and promises given to the churches at Sardis and Laodicea:
  • (Revelation 3:2-5) – “Be watchful and establish the things that remain that were ready to die, for I have not found your works perfected before my GodRemember therefore how you have received and heard, and keep it and repent. If therefore you shall not watch, I will come as a thief and you shall not know what hour I will come upon youBut you have a few names in Sardis that did not defile their garments: and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy. He that overcomes shall thus be arrayed in white garments; and I will in no wise blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”
  • (Revelation 3:17-18) – “Because you say, I am rich and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing, and know not that you are the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and nakedI counsel you to buy of me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich; and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness be not made manifest; and eye-salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.”
Armageddon” transliterates a Hebrew term that means “mountain of Megiddo.” No such city or site in Palestine is called by this name. Historically, “Megiddo” referred to the “valley of Megiddo” or the town by that name in a broad plain with no mountain or even a sizable hill - (Judges 5:192 Kings 23:29-30Zechariah 12:11).

The explanation for the term - The “mountain of Megiddo” - Is that Revelation has combined two Old Testament passages - Zechariah 12:11 and Ezekiel 39:2-4. In the former, Yahweh sought to “destroy all the nations gathered against Jerusalem. At that time, the clans of Judah will wail as the wailing of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.” In the latter passage, Yahweh caused “Gog of Magog” to gather “upon the mountains of Israel” to be destroyed.

The actual geographic location of this battle is not given until the battle scene described in Chapter 20 of the book, along with the identity of the attacking force, “Gog and Magog” - (Revelation 30:7-10 -“The nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog…and they went up over the breadth of the earth and encompassed the camp of the saints”).

Thus, the final war against the “Lamb” is global in scope and involves all nations in a last-ditch attempt to destroy the Church. However, instead, “Babylon, the Great City” is destroyed, the “Dragon,” the “Beast,” and the “False Prophet” are cast into the “Lake of Fire,” along with all men and women whose names are not “written in the Lamb’s book of life” - (Revelation 20:7-15).


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