Three Impure Spirits
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62. Three Impure Spirits
Revelation 16.12-21

"The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river the Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are demonic spirits that perform signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. 'Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.' Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'It is done!' Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail because the plague was so terrible." (Revelation 16.12-21)

False Prophet

Green FrogAccording to this passage, three impure or unclean spirits emerge like frogs from the three mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. They are described as the "three impure spirits." In Greek, there is a play on words here. The "frog spirits" come out of the mouths of the evil forces. The mouth is the organ of speech which is one of the most powerful forces in the world either for good or for evil. What is said and how it is said is tremendously important and can hurt or encourage other people.

Unholy Trinity

Unholy TrinityThe Greek word for "spirit" as in "three impure spirits" is "pneuma" which means "to breath". We recognize this in the word "pneumatic" connected to a "tire filled with air." The equivalent Latin word is "spiritus" or "spirare" and the Hebrew word is "ruach" which in itself when spoken sounds like the air being breathed out. To say, therefore, that an evil spirit comes out of a person's mouth is the same as saying that a word is spoken which is intended for evil. The dragon, the beast, and the false prophet all "breathed forth evil influences," wrote H. B. Swete (1835-1917) the English Biblical scholar "like the three frogs, an unholy trinity."

Plague of Frogs

Plagues of EgyptFrog spirits are often connected with plagues. In Moses' time, one of the ten plagues in Egypt was a plague of frogs. Psalm 78.45 reads, "He (God) sent swarms of flies that devoured them, and frogs that devastated them." Frogs are impure creatures according to Jewish Law and eating them is strictly prohibited. Although not mentioned by name, frogs are implied in the list of unclean things in the water and the seas which were not permitted as food by the Jews as they had no scales. Leviticus 11.10 reads, "But all creatures in the seas or streams that do not have fins and scales — whether among all the swarming things or all the other living creatures in the water — you are to regard as unclean."

Meaningless Croaks

Frogs on Lily PadsCroaking frogs are also especially disliked for their annoying and continuous noise. The sound a frog makes is like meaningless speech. To say that frog spirits "came out of the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet" is to say that their garbled words are meaningless as well as impure and harmful, like so many people today!

Prophet's Speech

ArmageddonA false prophet's speech deceives people by the clever words he or she uses and attempts to seduce christ's followers away from the true faith. The false prophet is a figure whom "God's people were warned to expect" both in the Old and in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, people are forbidden from listening to a false prophet, however impressive their performing of miraculous signs may be. It is laid down in Deuteronomy 13.1-5 that the punishment for listening to these people is to be death. "If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, 'Let us follow other gods' (gods you have not known) 'and let us worship them,' you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you."

Sanhedrin's Duty

Wolf in Sheep's ClothingThe Sanhedrin's duty in the Jerusalem Temple is to deal with these false prophets and to punish them when they arose. The Christian Church is warned in Mark 13.22 that many a false Christ and false prophet would arise to seduce Christ's people, "For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." H. B. Swete (1835-1917) the English Biblical scholar, said that false prophets cover a whole class of "magic vendors, religious impostors, fanatics, whether deceivers or deceived, regarded as persons who falsely interpret the mind of God. True religion has no worse enemies and Satan no better allies." The false prophets who come like wolves in sheep's clothing try to introduce the worship of other gods, try to make Christians compromise with the world, and try to seduce others from the exclusive worship of the Almighty God. Such a person is always a false prophet, who falsely claims the gift of divine inspiration.✞

The Kings Battle

ArmageddonGog and Magog fought with God at the Megiddo kings battle at Armageddon in the Plain of Esdraelon on the highway from Egypt to Damascus. The idea of an end of the World confrontation between God and the forces of evil is an old one. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 2.2, "The kings of the earth rise and the rulers band together against the Lord and his anointed." The prophesied location of this battle was at a place called Armageddon or a mountain or range of hills that may well be connected with the name Megiddo. Megiddo was not, in fact, a mountain but a "tell" or a hill created by generations of people living on the same spot.

Garbage Removal

Before the days of garbage removal or recycling the people simply dumped their rubbish outside and this built up over time. If a fire or earthquake destroyed a house, they simply rebuilt on the rubble outside. A good example of this is Jericho where the modern tourist can look down upon what was originally a tower in the city wall. Megiddo is in the Plain of Esdraelon, which was part of the great highway from Egypt to Damascus. From ancient times to the time of Napoleon, Megiddo was one of the great battlegrounds of the world. This was the plain where Barak and Deborah overthrew Sisera and his chariots recorded in Judges 5.19, "Kings came, they fought, the kings of Canaan fought. At Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo, they took no plunder of silver." This was where Ahaziah died by the arrows of Jehu in 2 Kings 9.27 and where the good King Josiah of Judah in 2 Kings 23.29-30 perished in the battle of Megiddo at the hand of Pharaoh Necho the Second in BC 609. It was a tragedy that burned itself into the Jewish mind and which the Jews never forgot. It was "a battleground," says the Biblical scholar H. B. Swete (1835-1917) "familiar to any student of Hebrew history." When Ezekiel was describing the last struggle with Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38.8-39.17, he said that the final victory would be won in the mountains of Israel. It may well be that John of Patmos spoke of this last struggle as the "Megiddo kings battle" in Revelation.

False Prophet Spirits

MegiddoJohn of Patmos tells of the great battles of the kings at Armageddon and the plague of hail that rained down upon them. Huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, or in metric units about forty-five kilograms fell on the people. The seventh bowl was poured out upon the air or as the Biblical scholar H. B. Swete (1835-1917) said, "the air that all breathe." If the air was polluted, the very life of human beings was being attacked at its source. Nature was at war with human beings. There came "lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake." The first century was notable for earthquakes, but John of Patmos said that, whatever horror the world has known from past tremors, this earthquake far surpassed them all. Great Babylon, that is Rome, was split into three parts. Rome had thought that she could do as she liked with impunity, but now her sin was remembered and her fate was upon her. The mills of God may grind slowly but in the end, there was no escape for sins committed. The earthquake sank the islands and leveled the mountains. The last of the terrible events was a deadly hail in which huge hailstones weighing as much as a hundred pounds fell from the sky. Here was another recurring feature of the wrath of God.

Plagues on Egypt

A devastating hail was also part of the plagues upon Egypt in Exodus 9.22-26, "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt — on people and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt.' When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields — both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were." Again we see the people of Israel spared while the peoples all around suffered. In Israel's battle with the five Amorite kings at Beth-horon, in Joshua 10.11, there came a great hail upon the enemies of Israel so that more died by the hailstones than died by the sword. Isaiah 28.2 explained, "See, the Lord has one who is powerful and strong. Like a hailstorm and a destructive wind, like a driving rain and a flooding downpour, he will throw it forcefully to the ground." He spoke of the tempest of hail and the destroying storm which God in his judgment sent. Ezekiel 38.22 said, "I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and his troops and the many nations with him." The prophets spoke of God punishing nations with pestilence and blood and sent an overflowing rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.

"Three Impure Spirits"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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