The Spirit World: Ch. 12 (The Great River Euphrates)

This entry is part 14 of 23 in the series The Spirit World

The Great River Euphrates

(This is a continuation of The Spirit World book series. This post assumes the prerequisite reading of earlier posts in the series.)

The Euphrates River is noted several times in scripture in its common usage.  It normally refers to the literal Euphrates River, of course, which begins in Russia and flows through Syria and Iraq, emptying into the Persian Gulf.  The Euphrates is first mentioned in the book of Genesis, being one of the four rivers which flow out of Eden.

The phrase “the Great River Euphrates,” however, is used only one time and in a very unique way:  it is noted as a place of containment of angelic beings in Revelation 9.

Revelation 9:13-21 (NIV)
13 The sixth angel sounded his trumpet, and I heard a voice coming from the horns of the golden altar that is before God. 14 It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” 15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number. 17 The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this: Their breastplates were fiery red, dark blue, and yellow as sulfur. The heads of the horses resembled the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur. 18 A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. 19 The power of the horses was in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury. 20 The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood–idols that cannot see or hear or walk. 21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.


As this designation is used only once in scripture as a spiritual abode, deductions concerning its meanings must be derived from the context of this singular usage.

The first deduction is that the Great River Euphrates refers to a place of angelic bondage.  To that end, it must be understood that the bondage associated with the Great River Euphrates is a bondage of demonic angels, as righteous angels are never noted in scripture to be bound.  Being holy, their being “bound” would have no purpose or justification.

It can also be deduced that these noted angels are demonic because of their descriptions.  They ride horses having heads resembling lions, which excrete fire, toxic smoke and sulfur.  They have tails which have snake heads.  These heads apparently bite and kill those which are bitten.  These characteristics cannot be true of humanity, nor are they true of any known physical being, but they can be true of demonic entities, which commonly are given animal-like descriptive features in scripture.

Secondly, this place of bondage is noted to be temporary in nature.  It is stated in v14 that these demons are released from this container, and that they have been held until the specific point in time described.  They, “had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year.”  Thus, a pre-determined release date from this location had been appointed, indicating this to be a temporary abode.

Thirdly, this place of bondage is referenced in conjunction with the Abyss, as the first portion of the chapter describes another demonic invasion originating from the Abyss, as was noted in the last chapter.

While it is not easily demonstrated by a singular text, the evidence supports that The Great River Euphrates, as a spiritual realm, appears very similar to- if not one and the same as- the Abyss.  It is a place of demonic confinement which is temporary in nature.  Because other demons in the same text (earlier in chapter nine) are released from the Abyss, it seems likely that The Great River Euphrates is either one and the same as the Abyss, or is perhaps a unique level or degree of punishment within the Abyss. 

image The Spirit World series will continue weekly until the entire book is published online. If, however, you enjoy this series and do not wish to wait, you can purchase the paperback version of The Spirit World here.

Series Navigation<< The Spirit World: Chapter Eleven (The Abyss)The Spirit World: Chapter Thirteen (Tartarus) >>

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