Kings of the East

The “Kings of the East” are identical to the “Kings of the Earth” that are allied with the “Beast from the Sea” – Revelation 16:12-19

World Map - Photo by T.H. Chia on Unsplash.com
The “
sixth bowl of wrath” presents us with an image of an army led by the “kings from the east” crossing the Euphrates River. The picture is derived from prophecies of the overthrow of Babylon by the “Medes and Persians.” Now, God is about to use a “pagan” force to destroy “Babylon,” only this time the attack is against end-time “Babylon” - [Photo by T.H. Chia on Unsplash.com].

In preparation for this battle, the army is gathered to the place called “Har-Mageddon.” In painting this picture, Revelation also employs verbal allusions from Ezekiel about the attack on Ancient Israel by “Gog and Magog.”

In the passage, there is no description of an actual battle. In the interpretation, the “kings of the whole habitable earth” are assembled by demonic spirits to the “battle of the great day of God the Almighty.” The enemy to be destroyed is not identified until the contents of the “seventh bowl” are emptied - “Babylon, the Great City” – (Revelation 16:12-16).

Chapter 16 serializes the meting out of wrath on the “Beast” and “Babylon” as the seven “last plagues” or “bowls of wrath.” They are unleashed sequentially as seven angels empty the contents of their respective bowls. Throughout the series, God initiates the action and even uses the vassals of the “Dragon” to execute His judgments on His enemies. In the “sixth bowl,” the “kings of the earth” are assembled for the “battle of God the Almighty” - It is His “battle.”

Prepared for the kings of the east.” This clause alludes to the prophecy by Jeremiah about the destruction of Babylon. In the sixth century B.C., the city was captured by the army of the “Medes and Persians” after it blocked the Euphrates River to allow its troops to enter the city along the riverbed. Note the verbal parallels between Revelation and the passages from Jeremiah:
  • (Revelation 16:12-13) – “And the sixth poured out his bowl upon the great river: the Euphrates; and THE WATER THEREOF WAS DRIED UP, that THE WAY MIGHT BE PREPARED OF THE KINGS WHO WERE FROM THE RISING OF THE SUN. And I saw out of the mouth of THE DRAGON, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false-prophet, three impure spirits as frogs, for they are spirits of demons doing signs, which are to go forth unto THE KINGS OF THE WHOLE HABITABLE EARTH to gather them together unto the battle of the great day of God the Almighty.”
  • (Jeremiah 50:35-38) – “A sword is upon the Chaldeans, says Yahweh, and upon the inhabitants of Babylon…A drought is upon her waters, and they shall be dried up; for it is a land of graven images, and they are mad over idols. Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wolves shall dwell there, and the ostriches shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited forever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation.”
  • (Jeremiah 51:25-38) – “Prepare against her the nations, even the king of the Medes and of the whole earth, his rulers and all his captains…Therefore thus says the Lord, Behold, I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for you; and I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry. And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwelling-place for dragons…without inhabitant.”
The language does not mean that the “kings of the east” are identical to the ancient “Medes and Persians.” Instead, it provides fitting imagery for the judgment of God on end-time “Babylon.” After the “kings of the earth” are assembled, the “Great City” partakes of the “wine of God’s wrath” - (Revelation 16:19-20).

The image of the “kings from the east” crossing the Euphrates is interpreted by what John “saw” - (“and I saw”). First, he “heard a great voice… Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath into the earth,” then he described what he saw - demon spirits from the “Dragon,” the “beast,” and the “false prophet” dispatched to gather the “kings of the whole habitable earth.” What he saw interpreted what he heard.  Thus, the “kings from the east” and the “kings of the whole habitable earth” are one and the same.

The “kings of the earth” were introduced at the beginning of the book – Because of his death and resurrection, Jesus is the “ruler of the kings of the earth.” This group appears several times in Revelation. The term is from the second Psalm, a messianic prophecy applied to Jesus several times by the book - (Revelation 1:4-6, 12:5, Psalm 2:1-8).

As the seventh angel empties his “bowl,” the destruction of “Babylon” is announced. The actual judgment of the “Great City” is detailed in chapters 17 and 18 of the book. In turn, the judgments of the “beast,” the “False Prophet,” and the armies of the “kings of the earth” are detailed in the vision of the “Rider on a White Horse” in chapter 19 - (Revelation 19:17-21).

Thus, the “kings of the earth” are assembled for the “great day of the battle of God” to destroy end-time “Babylon,” and in preparation for their own destruction by the “Rider on the White Horse.” Note the verbal parallels:
  • (Revelation 16:14) – “They are spirits of demons, working signs, which go forth to the kings of the whole habitable earth to gather them together unto the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.”
  • (Revelation 19:15-21) – “And he treads the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God, the Almighty. And he has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, king of kings and lord of lords. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in mid heaven, Come and be gathered together unto the great supper of God…And I saw the Beast, and the kings of the earth and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army.”
Revelation uses Old Testament language to build its picture of how God destroys the earthly vassals of the “Dragon” - The “beast from the sea,” the “False Prophet,” and “Babylon,” often combining language from multiple passages from the Hebrew Bible.

The “kings of the earth” may be allied with the “beast,” but in the “sixth bowl of wrath,” they become the instruments of divine justice to destroy end-time “Babylon.” In turn, these same servants of the “Dragon” will be judged with the “beast” and the “False Prophet” by the “Rider on a White Horse” - Jesus.




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