SIXTH BOWL: EUPHRATES RIVER DRIES UP (16:12-16). The miraculous drying up of the Euphrates removes a major natural obstacle. It prepares the way for the kings of the East to move westward. This Great River flows 1,800 miles from its source on the slopes of Mt. Ararat to the Persian Gulf. It forms the eastern boundary of the Promised Land (Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 1:7; 11:24; Joshua 1:4) as well as the Ancient Roman Empire.
At this point, the kings of the North and the kings of East appear to form a coalition against the Willful King. The East probably refers to an invasion of a massive army of two hundred million soldiers from East of the Euphrates River, which will have killed a third of mankind (Revelation 9:16-19). They could be from Asiatic nations, such as China, Korea, and Japan.
God shall gather the nations to the great Plain of Esdraelon and clear the way for their arrival. So when the armies of the East move westward, the Antichrist and his forces also are drawn to meet them at Armageddon.
But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him (Daniel 11:44-45).
The Plain of Esdraelon is famous for two great victories, of Barak over the Canaanites, and of Gideon over the Midianites; and for two great disasters, the deaths of kings Saul and Josiah. Hence, it is a place of great slaughter, the scene of a terrible retribution upon the wicked.
Armageddon is a transliteration of the Greek armageddon (ar-mag-ed-dohn’). In Hebrew, “Har-Magedon” means the mountain of Megiddo (Nwddgm Megiddon, “place of crowds”). In Bible times, the city of Megiddo commanded the entrances to the Costal Plain, the Plain of Acco, and the Valley of Jezreel. Over two hundred battles have been fought on this plain.
An Egyptian account of Pharaoh Thutmose III’s campaign through Palestine boasted that “taking Megiddo is like taking a thousand cities” (ANET 237). Megiddo is one of the strategic locations in Palestine, and many crucial battles have taken place in its immediate vicinity. Judges 5:19 foreshadows the end time Battle of Armageddon:
Kings came, they fought; the kings of Canaan fought at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo, but they carried off no silver, no plunder.
In the ninth century B.C., Yahweh predicted this place and outcome of this battle through the prophet Joel.
I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.
Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow— so great is their wickedness!” Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision (Joel 3:13-15).
This place is called the Valley of Jehoshaphat because here God destroyed Israel’s enemies (2 Chronicles 20:20-26). Additionally, the name “Jehoshaphat” means “Yahweh has judged.”
Ironically, the Willful King will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many, but his army shall be struck down by a sharp sword out of the mouth of the rider on the white horse, who is called Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11-16). At this time, the harvest of the earth takes place (Revelation 14:14-20).
Sixteen hundred stadia (about 180 miles) is the distance from Dan to Beersheba in Palestine. The height of the initial blood will be astonishing at first, and then it will taper down as it flows from the Valley of Jezreel (Jehoshaphat, Decision, Megiddo) into the rift of the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea. Scavengers will be invited to clean up the flesh of the slain.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in mid-air, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great” (Revelation 19:17-18).
There are demonic forces involved in this plague also. The three evil spirits that looked like frogs came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. These might be a manifestation of evil powers, evil influences, or false teachers, which persuade the kings of the earth by lying miracles from the unholy trinity. Croaking day and night, they provoke and call forth to arms as though trumpets of war. The wicked often fall into traps they set!
Frogs are unclean animals according to OT dietary laws (Leviticus 11:10-11, 41). To Persia, the frog was the god of evil and agent of plagues. To Egypt, the frog was the goddess Heqt of resurrection and fertility. With the third plague in Egypt, God sent frogs but the powers of darkness contributed to this plague.
But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt (Exodus 8:7).
Unwittingly, the powers of darkness will participate in their own destruction when they go to Armageddon as Satan did when he entered Judas Iscariot for the betrayal of Jesus.
BEHOLD, I COME LIKE A THIEF (16:15). The armies of the world that gather for battle will not anticipate the return of Christ to make war against them (cf. Matthew 24:43; 1 Thessalonians 5:2). Their destruction will be swift and surprising.
BLESSED (16:15). This is the third of seven beatitudes in the Apocalypse (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14). Blessing is promised for the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him. Believers are clothed with the garments of righteousness; they should not lay them aside, so that their spiritual nakedness should be seen (cf. Revelation 3:4, 18). Saints are to be always clothed with the robes of salvation; always ready for any event; however soon or suddenly it may come (Matthew 24:29; 25:13).