“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. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty…. And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.”
Two views – one literal and the second symbolic
In the first view, the “great river Euphrates” represents the Ottoman Empire; the drying up of its waters, the gradual dissolution of that empire; the kings of the east, the nations of the Orient; and Armageddon, the literal valley of Megiddo in northern Palestine. Thus, the ending of the Ottoman Empire is seen as making the way for Oriental nations to gather for war with those of the West in the valley of Megiddo. According to the first view, the battle of Armageddon begins as a political conflict and peaks at the appearance of Christ and the armies of heaven.
In the second view, the Euphrates signifies the people over whom mystical Babylon controls; the drying up of its waters, the withdrawal of their support from Babylon; the kings of the east, Christ and those coming with Him; and Armageddon, the last war of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, fought on earth. Thus, the withdrawal of human support from mystical Babylon is seen as the removal of the final wall leading to her defeat and judgement. According to the second view, the battle of Armageddon begins when the united religious and political powers of earth start their final attack on God’s faithful people.
Though these two views seem to be different, they in reality have much in common.
Both views agree that:
- Armageddon is the last great battle of earth’s history and that it is still future.
- Armageddon is the battle of the great day of God (v. 14).
- “The great river Euphrates” is symbolic of human beings.
- The three “unclean spirits” (v. 13) represent the papacy, apostate Protestantism, and spiritism (or paganism).
- These three spirits constitute the agencies that will summon the nations to battle.
- The uniting agencies—the three unclean spirits—are religious and that the forces gathered are political and military.
- The preparations for the war take place in the sixth plague, but the war itself is fought in the seventh plague.
- In one stage it will be a real war between real people using real weapons.
- There will be great bloodshed.
- All the nations of earth will be part of it.
- Finally, Christ and the armies of heaven will end this war.
- The living saints will see the war, but will not participate in it.
The difference between the two views
The basic difference between these two views is whether the three terms, Euphrates, “kings of the east,” and Armageddon, have a literal, geographical significance, or whether they are symbolic. The first view adopts that these terms hold geographical importance. The second view holds that they are symbolic in terms of the context of chapters 13 to 19 in Revelation.
In His service,