"Rivers"--A Prophetic Symbol - Endtime Issues January 2008
– A Prophetic Symbol
Many rivers are named or alluded to in Scripture.
They usually refer to literal
bodies of water.
God chose, however, to use
several rivers as prophetic symbols.
“Water” in prophecy has a distinct meaning:
“And he saith
unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are
peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues”
“Waters,” whether rivers, seas, or as here, are
generally accepted to represent people in some form.
Other examples illustrate this.
“Woe to the
multitude of many people, [which] make a noise like the noise of the
seas; and to the rushing of nations, [that] make a rushing like the
rushing of mighty waters! The nations shall rush like the rushing of
many waters: but [God] shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off,
and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and
like a rolling thing before the whirlwind”
“Thus saith the
LORD; Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an
overflowing flood [conquering armies,
and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them
that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of
the land shall howl” (Jeremiah 47:2).
The “River” Story:
begins in the Garden of Eden (Genesis -14).
There – four distinct rivers are
Intriguingly, they are numbered.
Their names and Sequence:
Pison – encompassed “the whole land
That is where there is high quality gold plus bdellium and the onyx
Gihon – this encircles “the whole
Hiddekel – goeth east of Assyria
Euphrates – no information
Note the considerable information
regarding Pison and no comments on the Euphrates.
We don’t know the “fate” of Pison and Gihon.
But intriguingly God chose to
make the Hiddekel and Euphrates important rivers in
Since they represent people:
1.The Euphrates symbolizes
the people in support of Babylon. Since Babylon is a symbol of apostasy in
prophecy, these people are apostates.
2.The Hiddekel (today called
“flowed” to the “east” (another prophetic symbol representing “deliverance”)
and symbolize those who are “delivered” or “restored.”
They are righteous – holy – as
will unfold shortly.
Four Key Prophetic Rivers Daniel and Revelation
Note how each one relates in some manner to the end of
Its origin was God’s throne “and
the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1).
It flowed down the middle of
apparently a very wide street (Revelation 22:2).
Its banks supported two trunks of
the Tree of Life.
This river has no representation of people or nations
that is understood.
It is the Water of Life that has
its source in the seat of the universe.
It is a
river of hope to the saints of eternal life as they look
forward to its beauty.
The redeemed will drink of its water
(Selected Messages, vol. 1, pp. 30-33).
It will also
water the heavenly Paradise of God (Counsels to Parents,
Teachers, and Students, p. 63).
The River of
is a beautiful picture of what awaits the saints.
Beside that river, Jesus will conduct continuing
education for the saints.
“Here in this world we are to learn
what we must be in order to have a place in the heavenly courts. We are to
learn the lessons that Christ desires to teach us, that we may be prepared
to be taken to the higher school in the courts above, where the Saviour will
lead us beside the river of life, explaining to us many things that here we
could not comprehend. … There we shall see the glory of God as we have never
seen it here. We get but a glimpse of the glory now, because we do not
follow on to know the Lord.” (Heavenly Places, p. 365).
“Some among the redeemed will have
laid hold of Christ in the last hours of life, and in heaven instruction
will be given to those who, when they died, did not understand perfectly the
plan of salvation. Christ will lead the redeemed ones beside the river of
life, and will open to them that which while on this earth they could not
understand. – Undated manuscript 150.” (Selected Messages,
vol. 1, p. 262).
The three other prophetic rivers are tied to the time the
end of the world comes.
represent the people in the last battle between right and
The righteous – the wicked
An important river distinction is to be observed between
the two great prophetic books, Daniel and Revelation:
The people of the east
“Ulai” and “Hiddekel”
The Ulai (called also Oubal, Ulaa, Eulaeus and Kerkhah
today) flowed immediately to the north of Shushan – the ancient capital of
Elam, later Persia (now Iran).
In 640 B.C. Ashurbanipal, last
king of Assyria, attacked Shushan (Susa).
Its king, Te-umman with his army,
were killed and dumped literally into the Ulai.
this was made by Ashurbanipal and now preserved in the Nineveh Gallery at
● He noted
the river ran red with blood.
was destroyed along with the palace.
This is an
important piece of history to know. When Daniel had his vision of the
ram, he-goat and the little horn, he was at
the palace in Shushan by the Ulai river. The city and palace which were not existent at that time! (They had been
● That suddenly invites a symbolic
meaning to all the “objects” in that vision.
timing fulfillment is in the explanation
portion of Daniel 8 (vs 15 on).
Daniel is physically in Babylon
when he has this vision.
is in the far east from his location.
is in the immediate east.
● They both
prophetically represent peopleof the
east(see article on the “East” for deeper
explanation) at the time of the end – the “season” or “period” when the
harvest comes (Matthew 24:32 – in prophecy – “summer”) – the “appointed
time” of Daniel and Habakkuk 2:2-3.
The Hiddekel (Tigris), also known anciently as the
Idiglat [Tenny, Merrill; Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible,
vol. 5, (Zondervan Publishing House)], along with the Euphrates, gave
verdure to the great Mesopotamian plain.
This supplied water for key
cities like Ur of Chaldees, Babylon and Ninevah.
was also called the Land of the Two Rivers.
The Hiddekel is nearly 1200 miles
headwaters are in the vicinity of Mt.Ararat.
In prophecy we note two groups of end-time people.
Revelation 7 describes the
144,000 – “the number of them that were sealed” (vs 4; 14:1-5).
Revelation 7 also notes “a great
multitude” “which no man could number” (vs 9; likely 19:6).
groups go through the end of time tribulation.
two groups are represented by the two horns of Daniel 8’s ram.
●The ram represents Jesus (cf. Genesis
The horns were of different sizes, the larger coming up last.
This ties to the work of the smaller 144,000 who bring in the “great
The Ulai is small – some historical accounts suggest that
it was a canal that passed Shushan. The Hiddekel was great.
How can we be certain that there
is this symbolic meaning of people in the east?
This is one of the most important
issues to discover in Daniel 8–12.
Rivers are noted four times in those chapters:
1.Daniel’s ram, he-goat and
little horn vision (8:2-12) were by the Ulai (8:1-2).
2.In the verses that follow
that vision, Jesus gave the 2300-year prophecy ().
needed to know what that meant because he felt it was an omen [he would soon
fall to the ground in weakness ()
and then faint ()].
● Jesus then
requested of Gabriel that he explain things to Daniel to help him ().
● It is in
that verse that it notes His voice came from betweenthe banks of the Ulai.
● He was above
the people of this body of water.
● He was over
them – protecting them.
● His words
were for them.
● This smaller body of people, the Ulai, was under Jesus’ watchful care.
is the placeof a vision of Jesus (Daniel
● He is seen
as priest, judge and king.
● It is
similar imagery as Revelation 1.
● Daniel was
by the “side [bank] of the great rivers” – Hiddekel is specifically
● He lifts up
his eyes and sees Jesus in these three roles.
doesn’t say, but likely, by the description, in front of him over the water.
spoke – but we aren’t told what He said: “the voice of his words like the
voice of a multitude.”
● Once again with prophetic
● Jesus is with people that are
● He is functioning as their
helper, pastor, guide – HOW DO WE KNOW?