Read Revelation 16:12 along with Revelation 17:1 and Revelation 17:15. What does the symbol of the Euphrates stand for? What is the significance of the drying up of the Euphrates in the context of the seven last plagues?
In the Old Testament, the Euphrates was a critical means of support for Israel’s enemies, Assyria and Babylon. The river flowed through Babylon and was important to the city because it nourished crops and provided water for people. Babylon could not survive without the Euphrates.
Revelation 17:1 describes end-time Babylon as sitting upon many waters, perhaps a reference to the Euphrates (Jer. 51:13). Revelation 17:15 explains that the waters upon which end-time Babylon sits represent the people who support it: the worldwide civil, secular, and political powers behind the system. However, these powers eventually will retract their support.
The scene of the sixth plague reflects the capture of ancient Babylon by Cyrus the Persian (see Daniel 5). According to the ancient historian Herodotus, on the night that King Belshazzar and his officials had a feast, the Persians diverted the Euphrates and entered Babylon along the riverbed, taking the city by surprise.
The symbolic drying up of the Euphrates in Revelation 16:12 results in the collapse of Babylon in the end time. Because the Euphrates in Revelation represents the world’s civil, secular, and political powers giving their support to Babylon, the drying up of the Euphrates symbolizes the withdrawal of their support and their subsequent attack against Babylon, thereby causing its downfall.
As the people of the world witness the upheaval in nature (Rev. 16:3-9), they turn to Babylon for protection. However, as the fifth plague strikes the seat of Babylon’s authority (Rev. 16:10-11), they see the futility of seeking help there. Feeling deceived, they turn against Babylon, causing her downfall (Rev. 17:16). Yet, as we have seen, their hearts remain hard against God and His people. As such, they become fertile soil for the final deception by which Satan will draw the world to unite against God’s people to wipe them off the face of the earth.
|In what ways have you learned how risky it is to place your trust in humans and in human institutions?|