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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 16 - Verse 12

Verse 12. And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates. On the situation of that river, and the symbolical meaning of this language, see Barnes on "Re 9:14-21".

The reference there was supposed to be to the Turkish power, and the analogy of interpretation would seem to require that it should be so understood here. There is every reason, therefore, to suppose that this passage has reference to something in the future history of the Turkish dominions, and to some bearing of the events which are to occur in that history on the ultimate downfall of the Antichristian power referred to by the "beast."

And the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. That is, as the effect of pouring out the vial. There is an allusion here, undoubtedly, to the dividing of the waters of the Red Sea, so that the children of Israel might pass. See Ex 14:21-22. Compare Barnes on "Isa 11:15".

In this description, the Euphrates is represented as a barrier to prevent the passage of "the kings of the East" on their way to the West for some purpose not yet specified; that is, applying the symbol of the Euphrates as being the seat of the Turkish power, the meaning is, that that power is such a hindrance, and that in some way that hindrance is to be removed as if the waters of an unbridged and unfordable river were dried up so as to afford a safe and easy passage through. Still there are several inquiries as to the application of this which is not easy, and as it refers to what is still future, it may be impossible to answer. The language requires us to put upon it the following interpretation:

(a) The persons here referred to as "kings of the East" were ready to make a movement towards the West, over the Euphrates, and would do this if this obstruction were not in their way. Who these "kings of the East" are is not said, and perhaps cannot be conjectured. The natural interpretation is, that they are the kings that reign in the East, or that preside over the countries of the eastern hemisphere. Why there was a proposed movement to the West is not said. It might have been for conquest, or it might have been that they were to bring their tribute to the spiritual Jerusalem, in accordance with what is so often said in the prophets, that under the gospel kings and princes would consecrate themselves and their wealth to God. See Ps 72:10-11, "The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall clown before him." So also Isa 60:4-6,9,11, "Thy sons shall come from far.—The forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.—All they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense.—The isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them.—Thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought." All that is fairly implied in the language used here is, that the kings of the east would be converted to the true religion, or that they were at the time referred to in a state of readiness to be converted if there were no hindrance or obstruction.

(b) There was some hindrance or obstruction to their conversion; that is, as explained, from the Turkish power: in other words, they would be converted to the true faith if it were not for the influence of that power.

(c) The destruction of that power, represented by the drying up of the Euphrates, would remove that obstruction, and the way would thus be "prepared" for their conversion to the true religion. We should most naturally, therefore, look in the fulfilment of this for some such decay of the Turkish power as would be followed by the conversion of the rulers of the East to the gospel.

{a} "Euphrates" Re 9:14 {b} "dried up" Isa 42:15; Jer 50:38; 51:36

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