Armageddon

Before getting into the details of this momentous Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty, known more commonly as the Battle of Armageddon, it is helpful to understand a little background.

Megiddo was an ancient city of Israel. It guarded the Aruna Pass, the most important pass through the mountains of northern Israel. The city itself is in the Valley of Jezreel on the northern end of the pass. That valley opens up into the Plain of Esdraelon. The Kishon River runs northwest through Jezreel and Esdraelon and into the Mediterranean. The Harad River also drains the Valley of Jezreel and heads east to join up with the river Jordan.

The Aruna Pass is on the ancient trade route from Egypt to Mesopotamia, and as such Megiddo grew rich from the taxes it imposed on the merchandise that flowed through it. Because it was also strategic militarily, the area was the scene of many battles throughout history, the last fought between the British and the Turks in World War I. The ancient city was destroyed and rebuilt many times, but has lain in ruins since Roman times. The site of the city is now covered in the dirt and debris of millennia, and appears as a raised mound or tel and is called in Hebrew Har Megiddo, which means the Hill of Megiddo. This is rendered in English Bibles as Armageddon. Megiddo in ancient tongues meant "rendezvous" or "troop," both fitting names for the place where the Antichrist gathers his troops for his final battle. It is also only 24 kilometers (15 miles) from Haifa, Israel's main deep-water port and the most likely place for boats bringing troops and materiel from abroad to dock and offload.

But who exactly is the Antichrist gathering his forces to fight? It can be deduced that it is the remnants of any alliance of nations that he has been fighting all along. We have already seen that war has occurred, but now it seems that the Antichrist and the nations that oppose him are about to really go at it one last decisive time.

From reading over the books of Daniel and Revelation and other prophetic biblical passages, it seems that the Antichrist is embroiled in many wars throughout his reign, and the attack on Babylon the Great is the penultimate battle that precedes his final Battle of Armageddon.

The Rapture has taken place and the Wrath of God is being poured out—primarily it seems on the Antichrist and his forces, but also affecting every part of the earth. Apparently there are still nations even at this point that will not submit to the Antichrist, otherwise the Antichrist would have no one to fight against. The Antichrist must now be determined to wipe them out once and for all.

If these people and nations are fighting the Antichrist, then it is obvious that they do not worship him nor have they accepted the Mark of the Beast. By simple deduction we can then separate humankind at this time into three general groups: 1) those who are saved and were taken up to Heaven at the Rapture, 2) those who follow the Antichrist, and 3) those who are not saved but who nevertheless refuse to be allied with or subservient to the Antichrist and his regime. For the sake of simplicity in this chapter we'll give this third group, those arrayed against the Antichrist, the moniker of Anti-Antichrists, or AACs for short.

The most likely interpretation of the Scriptures seems to be that the Battle of Armageddon takes place when the seventh Plague of the Wrath of God is poured out, after the Antichrist's forces have gathered together in the vicinity of the Hill of Megiddo, Armageddon.

Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of Heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!" And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And great hail from heaven fell upon men, each hailstone about the weight of a talent [about 35 kg, or 75 lbs]. Men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, since that plague was exceedingly great.—Revelation 16:17–21

Upon the pouring out of this seventh bowl, a voice from the throne says, "It is done"—meaning, "This is the End!" This is the last scene of the horror drama of all the damage that man has wrought on Earth. This is the last horrific battle before the establishment of God's kingdom on Earth. War is man's most ardently pursued occupation, creating the most possible destruction, the ultimate manifestation of man's inhumanity to man, and in this war the Devil and man have combined to bring about the most utter devastation ever!

One great final earthquake is going to destroy the "cities of the nations." Whether this means all the cities of the world is not made clear, but nevertheless this earthquake is very destructive. Isaiah also envisioned this great final utter destruction at the time of the Battle of Armageddon when he spoke of "the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall" (Isaiah 30:25).

John's apocalyptic vision is paralleled by Ezekiel's description of the Battle of Armageddon in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. God told Ezekiel that there's going to be a great shaking when God finally decides to judge the Antichrist. After he's caused so much trouble for those who refuse to worship him, and has warred against any nations that oppose him, God finally will put a stop to him!

For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken: "Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. So that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground."—Ezekiel 38:19–20

Here again the great earthquake is predicted, and this time it gives its epicenter as Israel.

"And I will bring Gog [a name used both for the Antichrist and the Devil] to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone" (Ezekiel 38:22). We just read in Revelation 16 that the seventh plague of the Wrath of God included mighty hailstones weighing over 35 kilograms (75 lbs) each. "Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 38:23).

In Revelation 19, John writes: "Now I saw Heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God" (Revelation 19:11–13).

Up until this time the Antichrist and his forces have been fighting the AACs who are arrayed against them. And it could be theorized that because of the immense power and resources the Antichrist has available that he is most likely getting the upper hand. But now a far more formidable foe has entered the battle, leading a heavenly cavalry charge.

Who is it that John saw coming on a white horse? Someone called Faithful and True, whose Name is called The Word of God. This can be none other than Jesus, "the Word [that] became flesh, and dwelt among us"(John 1:14).

Here is Jesus Christ, crowned with many crowns, not coming as a babe in a manger, not coming as a merciful savior. This time He's coming with righteousness and with judgment. He is coming now as a great warrior and a judge to make war, as King of kings and Lord of lords!

And the armies in Heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.—Revelation 19:14–16

"And the armies in Heaven … followed Him on white horses." There are many references to horses in the passages about Armageddon. In Revelation 9:16 John sees a vast multitude of mounted horsemen and is told that they number 200 million. This is in the middle of a passage that talks about a very different kind of battle horses that have heads like lions that breathe out fire and tails like serpents that sting. It is very mysterious to us right now what these horses and their riders actually are.

"Out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations" (Revelation 19:15). He's going to strike them with His Word. "The worlds were framed by the Word of God" (Hebrews 11:3). If He can make the whole world and the whole universe just by speaking the Word, how much more can He smite the nations with His Word?

"He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS" (Revelation 19:15–16). This picture of the grand finale of the judgments of God, with Christ coming and casting the wicked into the Great Winepress of God's Wrath, is also described in Revelation chapter 14:

Then another angel came out of the temple which is in Heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe." So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses' bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.—Revelation 14:17–20

From reading Revelation 14, it seems the city referred to in the preceding passage is Jerusalem. However, the site of Megiddo is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the north. If the rivers run with blood after the third bowl of wrath is poured out as we covered in Chapter 10, then this would literally be up to and even beyond the horses' bridles. The horrific bloodletting at Armageddon would no doubt add to this grisly flow. One thousand six hundred furlongs, or stadia as it is written in the original Greek, is about 300 kilometers, and a horse's bridle would be about one-and-a-half meters from the ground. So if this is literal, the carnage is going to be of such horrific proportions as to be almost incomprehensible.

The prophet Joel also foresaw this gathering of the wicked at Armageddon to be cast into the winepress of God's Great Wrath when he prophesied:

The Lord gives voice before His army. For His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; who can endure it? Proclaim this among the nations: "Prepare for war!" Wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, "I am strong." Assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together all around. … Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow—for their wickedness is great." Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness.—Joel 2:11; 3:9–15

The Valley of Jehoshaphat is believed to be the steep-sided ravine that separates the Mount of Olives from the old city of Jerusalem, and that is now known as the Valley of Kidron. But it might not be talking about this particular place, as Jehoshaphat by interpretation means "the Lord is judge." So here they could be entering into the "valley" of the Lord's judgments.

Several more verses do point to the fact that this last great battle culminates at Jerusalem.

Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. … Thus the Lord my God will come, and all the saints with You. It shall come to pass in that day that there will be no light; the lights will diminish. It shall be one day which is known to the Lord—neither day nor night. But at evening time it shall happen that it will be light. And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths.—Zechariah 14:1–7,12

This passage states that the Lord's feet will land on the Mount of Olives during this great battle and the mount will split and a great valley will be formed. Could this be the valley of judgment that is talked about? Whether it is or not, the other important point from this passage is that this battle is taking place around Jerusalem. Since the Antichrist has already made his capital there, the looting, rape, and deportation of half the population that is referred to in the first part of the passage could be referring to when he initially took it over. But the "plague" referred to in the last part certainly sounds like a continuation of the nuclear carnage that began with the nuclear attack on Babylon.

The fact that Jesus touches down on the Mount of Olives is also a fulfillment of the angels' promise to Jesus' disciples at His Ascension:

While they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey."—Acts 1:9–12

Since Jesus Himself is trampling the winepress of the Wrath of God outside the city as stated in Revelation chapters 14 and 19, then it seems that from this and the other verses already quoted, that although the forces of the Antichrist are gathered at Armageddon, the Battle of the Great Day of the Lord culminates at Jerusalem or at least is fought in and around Jerusalem as well.

"Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of Heaven, 'Come and gather together for the supper of the great God'" (Revelation 19:17).This is not referring to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The Marriage Supper of the Lamb has already taken place. This is a different kind of supper! This angel invites the carrion-eating fowls of the air to come and feast upon the bodies of these terrible people who caused untold destruction and who even tried to fight God to the very end. This angel cries out to all these vultures and buzzards, "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great" (Revelation 19:17–18).

Ezekiel's description of this horrific Battle of Armageddon remarkably parallels John's: "'Speak to every sort of bird and to every beast of the field: Assemble yourselves and come; gather together from all sides to My sacrificial meal which I am sacrificing for you, a great sacrificial meal on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, drink the blood of the princes of the earth. … You shall be filled at My table with horses and riders, with mighty men and with all the men of war, says the Lord God" (Ezekiel 39:17–18, 20).

Now back to where we left off in Revelation: "And I saw the Beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army" (Revelation 19:19). Here the Antichrist makes a last-ditch stand to try to fight Jesus and His forces. "These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful" (Revelation 17:14).

The book of Jude also describes this: "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him" (Jude 14–15).

The final outcome of the battle is described in Revelation chapter 19: "Then the Beast was captured, and with him the False Prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the Mark of the Beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh" (Revelation 19:20–21). That is the miserable end of the Antichrist and all of his bestial followers who have persecuted and imprisoned and tortured and slaughtered God's people and so many others in their reign of terror.

It says the Antichrist forces are slaughtered by the sword that comes out of the mouth of Christ. The prophet Isaiah also foresaw this when he wrote, "He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked" (Isaiah 11:4). In another passage Isaiah also writes: "For behold, the Lord will come with fire and with His chariots, like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire and by His sword the Lord will judge all flesh; and the slain of the Lord shall be many" (Isaiah 66:15–16). The sword of the Word proceeding out of Jesus' mouth is evidently going to be like fire to devour His enemies.

Following is another passage, written by the apostle Paul, that refers to the destruction of God's enemies by fire:

It is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe.—2 Thessalonians 1:6–10

This Battle of Armageddon is going to be a very great battle and a very great slaughter, and is surely the fulfillment of the wicked being cast into the winepress of the Wrath of God described in Revelation 14. And how long does the period of wrath and Armageddon last? We don't know for sure, but an interesting passage in the book of Daniel, which could provide some insight to this, is covered in Appendix 5 of this book.

When the Battle of Armageddon is over and the blood has run so deep, there will be so many bodies left that the Scripture tells us it will take "men regularly employed" seven months just to bury the dead in Israel alone (Ezekiel 39:14–15)!

Yet there is one last foe, the ultimate archenemy of all that is good, that has to be dealt with.

Then I saw an angel coming down from Heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished.—Revelation 20:1–3

So the Devil is locked away for a thousand years. Although it will not be the last we hear of him, at least the earth will be free from his evil for a long time. What is to become of him after that will have to be left to the next book of this series, From the End to Eternity.

In conclusion, at this mighty Battle of Armageddon, Jesus, along with a little help from those who love and serve Him, not only conquers Satan and his forces, but as a result "the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" (Revelation 11:15). God is going to take over the governing of this world, and He's going to turn it right side up and run it the way it ought to be run, and those who believe and follow Him are going to help Him. Are you ready?

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