“The Sixth Vial” is the term by which the plague that brings about the return of Jesus Christ in the Book of Revelation, is most commonly known. In more modern versions, these seven judgements are called “the bowls of the wrath of God”. This article is particularly concerned with the sixth.
The Sixth Vial is divided into two parts:
- The Drying up of the Great River Euphrates to prepare the way for the “kings of the east”.
- The demonic like spirits “like frogs” coming out of the mouths of Dragon, Beast and False Prophet, which lead the nations to a war which begins with the Battle of Armageddon.
We going to look at each of the two parts and then show how they are connected at the time of the end.
The Sixth Vial – Part 1
So let’s lay a foundation by looking at Part 1. The angel pours out his bowl into the great river Euphrates and the waters are dried up, to prepare for the “kings of the east”. We must look to the Old Testament scriptures for clues as to the meaning of this imagery. Why? Because this is where most of the imagery in the Book of Revelation comes from. In Isaiah chapter 8 we read these words concerning the expansion of the Assyrian empire.
(7) Therefore the Lord is about to bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates – the king of Assyria with all his pomp. It will overflow all its channels, run over all its banks
(8) and sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck. Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, Immanuel!” (NIV).
We would expect therefore, for a symbol such as the “drying up” of Euphrates, to represent exactly the opposite – the contraction and bringing to an end of a great empire, based around the river Euphrates.
Recent history fulfilled this in the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Turks had ruled the Middle East since the 14th century and during this time, the land of Israel was a desert wasteland. However, one of the major outcomes of World War 1, was the end of the Ottoman power and its replacement by the modern nations of the Middle East, under the supervision of the British and French victors.
The modern nations of the Middle East, are the “kings of the east” that the apostle John speaks of. The aftermath of the first World War created these fledgling nations and thanks to the “Balfour Declaration” by the British government in 1917, laid the foundation for the re-establishment of the modern nation of ISRAEL. It took another “World War” to accomplish that, but in 1948 the last of the “kings of the east” made its debut. With Israel among the nations of the world once again, the scene was now set for the coming Kingdom of God.
But first . . .
Phase 2 of the Sixth Vial prophecy had to be realized.
“Three unclean spirits, like frogs” emerge from the mouths of the Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet. These “spirits” have the ability to “perform signs” and go forth to the “kings of the earth” to gather them to Armageddon.
Some bible commentators have suggested that because frogs are historically related to French heraldic symbols, that the French Revolution, or at least modern French influence, may be the answer. I’ve always been a bit dubious about “the French Connection” with the frog-like spirits.To me, it’s a bit like saying that China is “the Dragon”. There may be something in it, but I haven’t felt that the proof is irrefutable …. more like, convenient. Also, there seems to be a direct connection with the drying up of Euphrates in the language of the Sixth Vial prophecy and the release of the frog-like spirits.
Historically speaking, they say that Cyrus was able to enter ancient Babylon in 540BC undetected because, having diverted the Euphrates from the city, the croaking of the frogs in the dry river bed was so loud that they didn’t hear them coming under the walls (the Euphrates ran through the city). There may be a clue here, however . . .
The Sixth Vial and the Plague of Frogs
Considering the fact that most of The Apocalypse is drawn from Old Testament symbols or concepts, I would be looking there for an answer first. The obvious one is the second plague on Egypt in the days of Moses. The notable thing about the plague of frogs was, that they came “out of the river” and infiltrated into every part of Egyptian life. They were “everywhere” and in such abundance among them that they even infested their beds, causing great distress. The plague of frogs was an insult to the Egyptian god Hekt, the wife of the creator of the world, who was always shown with the head and the body of a frog. As such, it was a “sign” of her impotence.
Now, looking at today’s current events. We have a Middle East which has originated out of a fallen Ottoman Empire. They are all Islamic, except Israel. Due to recent events in Syria, there has been a huge wave of Islamic refugees swarming into Europe, who at first, were welcomed with open arms on humanitarian grounds, but NOW, the Europeans are living in FEAR of them. These refugees have come from the region of Euphrates and pose a cultural and religious threat to the future identity of Europe.
Political and religious leaders in Russia and Europe are all talking about it and many are using it as a pretext for their own agendas. In this sense it could be said that “out of their mouths” are proceeding spirits “like frogs”. Russia in particular, is sending ships into the Mediterranean and is perceived as possibly the only “answer” to the ISIS problem, since the USA has proved impotent there.
The Dragon, Beast and False Prophet
Taking a step back, we need to identify the other symbols in the sixth vial – the Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet. The first two of these, first appear in chapters 12 and 13 and their descriptions align them with the “dreadful and awesome” Fourth Beast of Daniel chapter 7. The fourth beast of Daniel 7 represents the Roman Empire, followed by its decline into a loose confederation of European nations following barbarian invasions. The “glue” that held these nations together was initially the Roman Catholic Church and the authority of the Eastern Roman emperor in Constantinople. In more modern times, we saw the emergence of the Common Market in 1957 and ultimately, the European Union as we know it today.
Once the Roman Empire was divided into two parts, different forms of government were to be seen in each “half” of the Roman territory. In the East, a cohesive imperial government, headed by the emperor, continued the legacy of the original empire. In the West, the scene was evolving, usually with an ongoing struggle between “emperor” (wherever he was based … Germany, France etc.) and the Papacy.
When the Eastern Empire fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, the Orthodox Church along with some of the empire’s royalty migrated to Russia, following which, Moscow became known as “The Third Rome“. Historically, Constantinople had been “New Rome” (or the second Rome) and now the Russians claimed the title.
So in summary, the symbols of Dragon, Beast and False Prophet point us to Russia and Europe. So how are they connected with the “drying up of the great river Euphrates” and the relatively new Middle East?
Spirits of Demons
One final matter to solve before we proceed – the “spirits of demons” that look like frogs.(v13). This is a subject in itself, but to summarize, the concept is drawn from Greek and Roman mythology. “Demons” were a type of “god” whose origins began when Pandora’s box was opened. They were lower in status to the main gods such as Jupiter or Zeus and because they didn’t have a home, wandered about inhabiting poor souls and driving them insane. This was the best explanation that the ancients could come up with, for insanity. But for biblical writers, it served a useful purpose to describe those who worshiped idols (false religion) in general, which coincidentally, from God’s perspective, is a form of insanity (Isaiah 44:10-18). You can also follow the idea through the Old Testament where a similar usage will be found – “they sacrificed to demons and not to God” (Deut. 32:7) – for example, which is quoted by Paul in 1Cor. 10:20 where he comments “what am I saying then? that an idol is anything?” (v9).
It seems to me, that the sixth vial “frog-like spirits” coming from the Russo-European entities, is the reaction of European leaders to the perceived “Islamic threat” who, being “possessed” with fear, are seeking to protect their religious and cultural heritage.
These frog-like demons “perform signs” before the “kings of the earth”. How so? A clue is given as to what a “sign” means, in Rev. 13:14. There, the “beast that came up from the earth” was able to “bring fire down from heaven” and by this “sign” deceive those who dwelt on the earth, to make an image to the sea beast. This is symbolic language that speaks of the power of armies to vanquish enemies.
Remember also, that the plague of frogs in the early chapters of Exodus, was a “sign” of the impotence of the Egyptian god Hekt, to keep the frogs in the river. It could also be said that the refugee problem in Europe is a “sign” that the religious and cultural integrity of Europe is under threat.
I wouldn’t be surprised if a Russian led invasion of the Middle East is initially targeting ISIS in Syria, considered to be the source of the present European problem, but once there, having become the “King of the North” of Daniel 11, he “thinks an evil thought” and invades the land of Israel … first thrusting down into Egypt (or maybe directly from the Mediterranean?) but then, hearing news from “the east and north” (Israel’s involvement somehow, via the USA, who is responsible for ISIS in the first place, plus other US aligned Islamic nations?) goes forth to invade the Holy Land and comes to his end there.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, the Lord says “Behold! I come as a thief. Blessed is he who watches and keeps his garments” …
…. and he gathered them into a place called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon.”