The Euphrates River, long part of the area known as the Fertile Crescent, is a significant landmark in Scripture and a valuable resource in the Middle East as it runs through Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. Over the past few years, the water level of the Euphrates River has dropped dramatically. The drying up of the Euphrates River has revealed several ancient ruins and a cave. Some people are quick to point to the drying river bed as a fulfillment of the Bible’s end-times prophecies.
Two passages in the Bible predict the drying up of the Euphrates River. The first prediction is part of a lengthy oracle against Babylon. God pronounces judgment against Babylon’s officials and wise men and against its false prophets, warriors, horses and chariots, and treasures. Then God says,
The waters of Babylon are the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Both rivers are drying up now. Are we witnessing the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy?
The second prediction of the Euphrates River drying up comes as part of the seven bowl judgments in Revelation. The judgments of the seven-year tribulation start with the seven seals (Revelation 6:1–17; 8:1–5), continue with the seven trumpets (Revelation 8:6—9:21; 11:15–19), and end with the seven bowls (Revelation 16:1–21). The bowl judgments come at the end of the tribulation, and they are so destructive that, if they continued, all human life would perish (Mark 13:19–20).
The sixth bowl judgment—the penultimate judgment of the tribulation—is the drying up of the Euphrates River. Revelation 16:12 says, “The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.” This prophecy not only identifies the judgment but also gives the reason for it: so a great army from the East can cross the Euphrates unimpeded. Next, the kings of the earth gather “to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” (Revelation 16:16). At that point, Jesus returns, and the battle fought at Armageddon will result in all God’s enemies being destroyed (Revelation 16:17–20; 19:11–21). A key event leading up to Armageddon is the drying up of the Euphrates. Are we witnessing the setup for the fulfillment of a major end-times prophecy?
Concerning Jeremiah’s prophecy that the Euphrates River will dry up, there are several possibilities:
Concerning John’s vision that the Euphrates will dry up, that will have a future fulfillment. The current drying up of the Euphrates is not related to the prophecy of Revelation 16:12, for these reasons:
When it comes time for the Battle of Armageddon, the Euphrates River will indeed dry up. The current water level of the Euphrates, the revealing of ruins and caves, etc., has nothing to do with Revelation 16:12. That simply hasn’t happened yet.