This is part five n the ongoing review of the July 2022 Watchtower.
15. How do we know that the end of Babylon the Great is near? To answer that question, it is helpful to remember that the ancient city of Babylon was partly protected by the waters of the mighty Euphrates River. The book of Revelation compares the millions of supporters of Babylon the Great to protective “waters.” (Rev. 17:15) But it also reveals that the waters would ‘dry up,’ indicating that the world empire of false religion would lose many of its supporters. (Rev. 16:12) In fulfillment of that prophecy, today a considerable number of people have abandoned false religion and have begun looking elsewhere for answers.
Ancient Babylon was one of the seven empires of Bible prophecy. Its sudden downfall was foretold through the prophet Isaiah before Babylon even became the dominant power. Under the direction of Cyrus, whom Isaiah was inspired to call by name before he was even born, the combined armies of the Medes and Persians performed some sort of engineering feat, perhaps opening irrigation gates along the river, thereby temporarily diverting the Euphrates River. The lowered water level allowed the invaders to wade across the river under the cover of darkness.
Jehovah saw to it that the over-confident Chaldeans left the river-facing gates open as they indulged in a drunken celebration of Babylon’s greatness. Thus, in one night mighty Babylon fell, just as God had foretold.
Of note, the waters of the Euphrates were not dried up over a long period of time by means of drought or some other natural phenomena like a landslide upstream. The drying up of the protective waters of the great river took place on the same night that Babylon fell and it was brought about by the enemies of Babylon.
Many aspects of Revelation draw upon historical events that were recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures. That is certainly the case with Revelation 16:12, which reads: “The sixth one poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the rising of the sun.”
“The sixth one” is in reference to the angel pouring out the sixth bowl of the wrath of God upon Satan’s doomed world. Whatever loss of support modern religions may be experiencing is not the fulfillment of prophecy. Although some segments of traditional Christendom have experienced a decline of support, other denominations and so-called non-denominational sects identifying as evangelicals are experiencing a notable revival. And besides, Islam, which according to the Watchtower is also an integral part of the world empire of false religion, is experiencing rapid growth. So, the assertion that the waters of support are drying up just doesn’t—pardon me—hold water.
Just as the literal waters of the Euphrates were said to have dried up to allow the kings of Media and Persia to enter the city, so too, the pouring out of the sixth bowl upon the symbolic Euphrates does not represent the gradual dwindling of church membership or anything that pedestrian, but rather, it signifies the total destruction of Babylon the Great. The kings from the rising of the sun represent the chosen ones who will by then have seen Christ in his ascendant glory and been given their crowns and who will shine as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.
That the sudden end of Babylon the Great is what is symbolized by the drying up of the “Euphrates” is evident in the context. The very next span of verses is the gathering of the kings of the earth to a place called Armageddon.
16. How can these prophecies benefit us? The appearance of the United Nations and the decline of support for false religion add to the evidence that we are living in the last days. Although Babylon’s symbolic waters of support are drying up, the final end of false religious organizations will come by a different means. As mentioned earlier, Jehovah will put it into the hearts of the “ten kings” —the political powers supporting the United Nations— “to carry out his thought.” The end of false religion by those nations will come suddenly, catching the world by surprise. * (Rev. 18:8-10) The destruction of Babylon the Great will be world-shaking and may cause hardships, but God’s people will have at least two reasons to rejoice. This long-standing enemy of Jehovah God will be gone forever, and our deliverance from this wicked system of things will be at hand! —Luke 21:28.
I have been thinking—trying hard to come up with an instance where the Watchtower actually interpreted something and applied it correctly. I honestly cannot think of a single thing. Maybe you can. I am not talking about explaining the ancient fulfillment of prophecy. The Watchtower is actually very good at that. I am talking about applying prophecy to our modern world.
As pointed out in Part Four, there is no possibility that the United Nations is presently fulfilling the role of the eighth king. That is not to imply that it will not become such in the future—but something cataclysmic and unexpected will have to happen to catapult the UN into a position of the dominant global power. As regards the waters of the Euphrates drying up, again, that has nothing to do with dwindling church membership.
What I have come to appreciate is that the Watchtower itself is fulfilling prophecy by consistently being wrong. I know that is harsh, but it is true. The reason for their persistent error is explained by none other than Jehovah God himself, the One whom Bethel claims is their God. “For Jehovah has poured a spirit of deep sleep on you; He has closed your eyes, the prophets, and he has covered your heads, the visionaries.” — Isaiah 29:10
When the Persians overthrew mighty Babylon God’s people were in captivity in the land of the Chaldeans. Cyrus was called by God to deliver the Jews from captivity. Later Darius assisted them to return to Palestine and rebuild Jerusalem. Jehovah even referred to the pagan king, Cyrus, as his anointed one—obviously, portraying Christ at his second coming. Being aware of this the Watchtower has long claimed that the greater Cyrus came and liberated the Bible Students from captivity to Babylon the Great in 1918-1919. It is all part of the grand delusion connected to 1914.
The leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses boast that Babylon the Great has no power to ever suppress Jehovah’s liberated people. They seem to not realize that the Russian Orthodox Church has been the driving force behind the liquidation of the Watchtower in the vast Russian Federation. Because of their refusal to acknowledge the setback in Russia as discipline from Jehovah, God is obligated to use stronger measures. The worldwide liquidation of the Watchtower by the eighth king and Babylon the Great ought to get their attention.