The Bible tells us that the Euphrates and the Nile will one day dry up. When that happens, great hardship and suffering will be experienced by those relying on the waters of these rivers.
In Egypt, nearly eighty percent of the population is to be found living within a short distance of the banks of the Nile, relying on its water for commerce and sustenance. While not as devastating, many people in Syria and Iraq would also face extreme hardship should the Euphrates dry up.
In Revelation 16:12 we read:
12The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its waters were dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. (NIV)
In Isaiah we read:
19: 5 -6 5The waters of the river will dry up, and the riverbed will be parched and dry. 6The canals will stink; the streams of Egypt will dwindle and dry up. The reeds and rushes will wither, (NIV)
The following few verses from Isaiah 19 have been added to show the utter devastation that will occur when the Nile dries up.
7also the plants along the Nile, at the mouth of the river. Every sown field along the Nile will become parched, will blow away and be no more, 8The fishermen will groan and lament, all who cast hooks into the Nile; those who throw nets on the water will pine away. (NIV)
11 :15 The Lord will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt; With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River, And strike it in the seven streams, And make men cross over dry-shod. (NKJV)
Interestingly, the NIV names the river as the Euphrates. Thus in the NIV it seems that both the “gulf of the Egyptian Sea” and the Euphrates are dealt with simultaneously, while in the NKJV it appears to refer only to the Nile. There seems to be some uncertainty as to what is meant by the “tongue of the sea of Egypt” (NKJV) and the “gulf of the Egyptian Sea” (NIV). We ask: “Is it perhaps the Nile Delta with all its canals”?
Nearly ninety percent of the Euphrates’ water has its source in mountains in Turkey. As far back as the 1930’s Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, came up with the idea of utilizing the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris, the latter also having most of its source there, for irrigation and hydroelectric purposes. After a number of delays, the project to dam up the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris began in the 1980’s. The project involved the building of over twenty dams, the largest being the Ataturk dam. Once completed the project was capable of doubling Turkey’s irrigable farmlands. In the late 1980’s when the Ataturk dam was being filled, Turkey stopped the flow of water into the Euphrates for four days, showing how easily they could stop it flowing completely. Syria and Iraq have already raised concerns about the effects of the reduced flows; soil erosion and increased salinity in irrigated areas amongst other problems. Clearly in times of great national need, it would seem that Turkey would not hesitate in diverting all the water towards its own needs.
Egypt faces a similar situation because Ethiopia is currently building a massive dam on the Blue Nile, which accounts for eighty percent of the water flowing into the Nile downstream. The massive Aswan dam is not in contention here, as it is fully under Egyptian control, although about 10% to 12% of the annual flow of the Nile is lost to evaporation because of the vast surface area of the dam. The waters of the dam in Ethiopia will be used primarily for electricity generating purposes, although there is talk of making Ethiopia more “water resilient” by using the dam for storage purposes and irrigation schemes. Through this dam, which is due for completion in 2017, Ethiopia will be able to limit the flow of water into the Nile and, as could happen in Turkey, may well completely stop the flow of water from the dam in times of great national need.
As of now, these rivers have never dried up, so these scriptures clearly refer to a future time when, for His purposes, God will cause them to cease flowing. God’s main purpose at that time will be His judgment on mankind, especially upon those who refuse to recognize and worship Him.
It is worth mentioning here that God used Darius to defeat Belshazzar and take Babylon by diverting the flow of the Euphrates, but that was a temporary strategy and the river did not dry up completely. (Daniel 5:30, Isaiah 44:28 – 45:1-4.)
How God will dry up the rivers we do not know, but is it perhaps possible that He will also use man and man-made structures to achieve His purposes? We are told that “With His mighty wind He will shake His fist over the River” and wonder whether that is a reference to a coming drought which will cause not only a reduction in the water flow, if not a complete drying up of those rivers, but will at the same time entice the countries controlling those dams to look after their own interests by completely stopping water from being released out of them.
Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in this new series “Bible Prophecy”.
March 6, 2014 at 5:25 am
And cannot human interference produce what God predicts? When the Aswan dam was completed it permanently changed the Nile, which no longer has a spring flood, that which was necessary to renew the soil for farming. So now fertilizer is added to the soil. I have been watching the latest dam in Turkey, and as I read it the entire agriculture of the marshes in Iraq, which have existed throughout history, will be disrupted – permanently. People get so focused on Israel they miss the other things happening in the region. Mess with water and the potential for economic and political stability increases. Just ask Canadians who see the American plans to divert Great Lakes water southward as a major deal! Jesus said stay alert. Your points here are sound, if I may be so bold as to sound arrogant enough to know enough to say too much!
March 7, 2014 at 3:10 am
THank you for your comment and your encouragement. I will pass that on to Chris, who writes the “Bible Prophecy” section on my blog. (And I am learning about it along the way). There is so much happening in the region and it is so amazing to me that God has foretold us the “end from the beginning” in His Word.
Yes – water really is life isn’t it? Particularly in that region where it is so dry for much of the year. It reminds me of Jesus crying out at the Feast of Tabernacles “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me…” God bless you
June 9, 2015 at 3:59 am
Speaking of Egypt, you might like to read this dream that a lady had that I met in Wyoming:
“A Dream About Egypt”
June 25, 2016 at 1:08 am
What if we are making it too literal? Revelations is spoken with a lot of symbolism from the old testament… what if Egypt itself is a symbol or symbolism? Is it possible? Egypt always seems to symbolize wealth, comfort, and everything false, false wisdom etc. So I ask, could this passage be a symbol?
July 7, 2016 at 6:14 am
Hi Christine, thank you for your question. No I don’t think that this passage could be symbolic. I believe the actual, literal Euphrates river will dry up. The other plagues described in Revelation will be real, and not symbolic, so why would this not also mean the actual drying up of the real Euphrates River?
The prophecy In Isaiah 11:15-16 where “the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian Sea (Red Sea) and …. shake His hand over the River (Euphrates) and smite its seven streams, so men can go over DRY SHOD” refers to the time that the Kings of the East and their armies will cross over and assemble for the Battle of Armageddon.
The Kings shall journey east from Africa and west from Asia that they may meet in Israel for the Battle of Armageddon. The drying up of the Euphrates will serve two purposes:
1. it will allow the remnant of Israel from Assyria to return and
2. it will permit the nations of the far East to gather for the “Judgment of Nations” (See Matthew 25:31-46)
Hope this helps,
June 25, 2016 at 1:16 am
Is it possible that we are making this too literal instead of using symbolism, which the book of Revelation regularly speaks in? Is it possible that Egypt in our day, simply represents the world full of wealth, comfort, and falsehoods.. lacking God… if so.. let’s say we decide to read it like that. How then make might it read? For the kings…?
May 10, 2023 at 5:50 pm
What is the symbolic meaning of River Jordan drying,as its one of the rivers mentioned in the Bible and it has served generation after generation. Can it be a sign of hard times coming upon the earth due to Gods wrath on a sinful world?
May 11, 2023 at 12:28 am
Hi Naftali, that’s a great question. I’m not sure, only to say that God does withhold rain when a nation is under judgment. So perhaps it is connected to Gods wrath as you say. Blessings