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Bible Prophecy: When Rivers Dry Up

euphratesThe 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.

nile7also 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 mapit 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”.