I had a Protestant friend point out that the real Euphrates river was drying up and what it says in revelations about that. Why do we never hear this discussed in our meetings? Is there anything to the river drying that will cause 1/3 of the earth to die.
We recently heard a bit of a calming voice coming from the recent General Conference regarding the signs of the times. Not just the Euphrates, but many signs of the last days seem to be coming to fruition. And people are spooked. Here is the message:
Current conditions in the world have caused some to panic. As God’s covenant children, we do not need to chase after this or that to know how to navigate through these troubled times. We do not need to fear. The doctrine and principles that we must follow to survive spiritually and endure physically are found in the words of a living prophet. That is why President M. Russell Ballard declared that “it is no small thing … to have a prophet of God in our midst.” — By Elder Allen D. Haynie, A Living Prophet for the Latter Days, Apr 2023 Conference
This is not to say that these signs are not happening, nor that we shouldn’t be watching for them. It is to say that we’ve been given the tools to navigate the times regardless so we need not fear.
Now, to address the Euphrates, it should be important to note several things.
First, it is largely a hoax or at least an exaggeration.
I could only find a few articles that had actual aerial photographs to demonstrate the phenomenon. I won’t even give them the satisfaction of a link to the articles because they were being so disingenuous.
A particular site made a claim was that the Hadithah Reservoir (Lake) in Iraq was drying up. However, the aerial photography of the area doesn’t show any significant changes. A little research showed that they used a photo from 1984 (before the reservoir existed) to show how low the water level was. That’s what is known as a scam. Today’s levels are much higher than they have been in several years.
An article from a European news agency indicated that there was a problem with the Tishrin Reservoir because levels were slightly lower in 2022 than in 2021. But even their aerial photographs really required you to squint your eyes to determine what the differences were. The levels are still much higher than they were in 1990. The levels have remained largely unchanged for the past 6 or 7 years. Why they’re raising the alarm this year is a mystery.
There were other water issues affecting Iraq, but they weren’t really about the Euphrates, specifically. The most telling fact about the water levels of the Euphrates is that the downstream bodies of water prior to emptying into the Persian Gulf have maintained fairly constant water levels for many years.
Apart from the construction of various dams and aqueducts in the region, urbanization, and many naturally occurring phenomena that have been happening for centuries, I don’t really see signs of the river changing levels or flow rates.
Second, the prophecies
It is highly unadvisable to take a few verses out of context in the Bible. This is especially true of highly figurative/metaphorical passages like those which we find in the Book of Revelation. So, let’s unpack that a bit.
The Revelation of John only mentions the Euphrates twice in the King James Version. They are found in Rev 9:14 & Rev 16:12. The two passages don’t appear to be related to each other. Ch 9 is talking about the plagues poured out upon the earth with the opening of each seal. D&C 77 tells us that these are the various millennia throughout history (or possibly, dispensations). And chapter 16 speaks of Armageddon. So, it appears that we are talking about two different dispensations or two different millennia. And the past 1000 years have had many of the plagues and wars of men which have killed a whole lot of people. It is said that the Bubonic Plague alone killed about 1/3 of the population of Europe.
Ch 16 is where John speaks of the drying up of the Euphrates. And this is about Armageddon.
And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
Subsequent verses indicate that these “kings” will be under the influence of evil spirits. So, what do these kings have to do with the Euphrates? This is where we need some cultural understanding of what the Euphrates represents.
It is not only the source of life-giving water to all the farmlands, but it was historically the means of protection from the nations to the north and east (who were their historical enemies). Those nations couldn’t easily cross the Euphrates. So, the drying up of the Euphrates would indicate a state of vulnerability to both famine and war.
And we learn from Ezekiel that the armies of Gog would gather in the area north (probably around modern Turkey). With the Euphrates dried up, they would be able to come from the north to gather in the place called Armageddon. And they could make that trip with no natural barriers.
It is important to remember that this is figurative language. While a major river may have been a barrier to the ancient armies, it is not so much of a barrier to aircraft and long range missiles. And even foot traffic is overcome by the many bridges that have been already built across the Euphrates in the past century. So, the prophecy may simply be referring to the fact that warfare will not be limited by terrain so much. And the vulnerability both war and famine will be stark.
Regardless of any of that, my first sentiment still stands. Just keep turning to the Savior in all that you do. Listen to the counsel of the prophet. Stand in holy places. Pray for the Lord’s guidance every day. And whether you meet your Maker in the next hour or the next few decades, it won’t matter. You’ll be prepared to meet Him.