christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

revelation 16, the sixth bowl of wrath

Read Revelation 16 at Bible Gateway.

Previously: revelation 16, the fifth bowl of wrath

Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. Rev 16:12

This is the entire commentary on the sixth bowl of wrath. The events from Rev 16:13-16 describes the interval period between the sixth and seventh bowl. We know this to be true, because Rev 16:17 begins with the pouring out of the seventh bowl.

All of these judgments that we have been reading about in Revelation so far, have been aimed at the fourth beast of Daniel’s vision, the Roman beast, the terrible crushing beast of iron, which was in power when John received this vision. The opening of the seals, we saw, brought about the decline of the Roman beast and the fall of paganism, which had been the ruling religion since the Tower of Babel rebellion. The sounding of the first four trumpets brought about the fall of one third of the Roman beast, by the fall of Rome by barbarian invasions. The fifth trumpet brought about the fall of the second third of the Roman beast, by Islamic conquest. The sixth trumpet brought about the fall of the third third of the Roman beast, by Turkish conquest, ending with the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

Then the vision backtracked to the beginning of time, and we learned that the source of the beast’s power was the dragon, who was at war with God. Thus the beast who rules by the dragon’s authority is ever at war with the saints of God. And then a marvel: even though the opening of the seals and the sounding of the trumpets brought about the fall of the Roman beast, it was born again after it had been mortally wounded in three incarnations: the Roman state expressed by Roman government, laws, philosophy, and worldview (the beast from the sea); the Roman church (the beast from the land), and the Holy Roman Empire, the image of the beast.

The pouring out of the bowls of wrath has been aimed at judging these reincarnations and bringing about their downfall and end. The first four bowls of wrath, we saw, brought about the end of the first third of the Roman reincarnation, in the permanent dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. The fifth bowl was poured out on the throne of the beast from the land, the beast with two horns who looked like the Lamb but spoke like the dragon. This was the loss of all temporal and political power of the papacy through the national independence of Italy accomplished in 1848-70. So the second third of the Roman reincarnation was not dead yet, but it had been sustaining heavy blows and loss of power since 1793.

Through all these judgments, the beast did not repent of its blasphemies or its works, and we saw that the lack of repentance of the Roman papacy was so great, that for 59 years after its loss of political power, it refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Italian state, until it was restored a teeny measure of its former power in the creation of Vatican City in 1929.

This brings us to the sixth bowl poured out on the Euphrates River. Now the last time we saw the Euphrates River in Revelation, it had been the boundary of Turkish power, which was restrained beyond the Euphrates until the proper time of its release, during the sounding of the sixth trumpet (1056 ad). It is not a coincidence that we next encounter the Euphrates in the sixth bowl of wrath. God is a God of order!

As the pouring out of the sixth bowl of wrath dries up the Euphrates, so that the obstacle for the kings of the east is removed, we will postulate that the obstacle in the way of the kings of the east, was the Ottoman Turks, and the drying up of the Euphrates represents the drying up of Ottoman power. Why do the kings of the east need this obstacle removed? We can see that the interval period following the sixth bowl of wrath is the preparation for the battle of Armageddon, a locality in Israel; and as all nations will be called to battle against God here, the kings of the east need the way prepared for them so that they can respond also to this call.

After the Turks captured Constantinople and ended the Byzantine Roman empire in 1453, they continued to grow in territory in the 15th and 16th centuries until they had conquered southern and eastern European states nearly to the gates of Vienna Austria, or the southern borders of the Holy Roman Empire. At its greatest extent, the Ottoman Empire of the Turks extended from Algeria in the west to Azerbaijan in the east, from the border of Austria in the north to Yemen, Africa in the south.

Beginning in 1839, the Ottoman empire began to enact reforms for its citizens which the citizens of the Roman beast in the rest of Europe could only dream of. Full rights of citizenship were guaranteed to all regardless of ethnicity or religion, security of life and property was extended to all citizens; universities, post offices, modern banking, separation of state and church, secularization of government, and many other modern advancements were likewise established. The empire established a constitutional monarchy in 1876 providing the force of law for these reforms, but after a few years the sultan revoked it, for the same reasons that kings and nobles resisted constitutions in the rest of Europe in the 19th century.

However, war began to weaken the empire. Uprisings in Ottoman controlled holdings in Europe took place in the 19th century as they did in the rest of Europe against the Roman powers. The Ottomans began losing political power. In the Crimean War in 1853-56 and the Russo- Turkish War in 1877-78, the Ottomans lost more of its European and Balkan provinces. Also, in the 19th century, Britain and France gained colonies in Africa and Asia, which were formally Ottoman among others, but the Turks were unable to oppose them militarily so far from its power base of Constantinople.

While these wars were being fought on the borders of the empire, the sultans were also dealing with social unrest internally. After tasting the freedom of 1876 the people of the empire were not content to forget about it. In 1908 the sultan restored the constitution of 1876 in response to this pressure, paving the way for nationalism and further weakening the empire.

Then the Ottomans entered World War I on the side of Germany and the Central powers. When the Central powers lost the war, the Ottoman empire was dissolved, in 1917. The nation of Turkey was created from the ruins of the empire, with its capital of Istanbul (Constantinople). The map of the Middle East was redrawn, with Britain administering many of the newly created states (such as Palestine) in former Ottoman territory.

Thus the Euphrates was dried up, so that the way of the kings of the east was prepared …

Continued in revelation 16, the third interval period


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