"And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon." Revelation 16:16
Opening prayer: Father, this world has gotten so corrupted and evil since You gave us our freedom. Please send Your Son, Jesus, to clean up this mess and restore order, we pray.
This is a continuation of our series on the Revelation of Jesus the Messiah. If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to study our previous lessons in this series:
Rev. 1: The Revelation of Jesus
Rev. 2-3: I Know You!
Rev. 4-5: Preview of Heaven
Rev. Study: Prophecies of Daniel
Rev. Study: Raptures and Resurrections
Rev. 6: Overview of the Tribulation
Rev. 7: Some Special People
Rev. 8-9: Danger! Rough Road Ahead!
Rev. 10-11: Seven Thunders; Two Witnesses
Rev. 12: The Woman and The Dragon
Rev. 13: The Last-Days Dictator
Rev. 14: The Last Train for Glory
Rev. 15-16: The Last Plagues
Rev. 17-18: Who IS That Woman?
Rev. Study: Ezekiel's War
Rev. 19A: A Mysterious Marriage
Rev. Study: The Day of the Lord
The Day of the Lord
Today we shall study the crowning achievement of man's 6,000-year de-evolution: Doomsday, sometimes called the Battle of Armageddon. This is an unpleasant subject, but don't worry: we'll be finished soon.
Our previous study on The Day of the Lord looked at the prophecies in the Hebrew Bible concerning our Lord's return. This lesson will examine at the same subject in the New Testament.
Let's start with the background, Revelation 16, verses 12-16:Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.
13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
15 "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."
16 And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.
Welcome to Doomsday. By this point, the Lord has spent seven years proving that He meant every single prophetic word in the Bible. As promised, He has removed the Gentile church from the scene so He can once again make the nation Israel be the focus of His dealings with mankind. And as predicted, mankind has been very unkind to Israel and to the latter-day Gentile believers in Jesus, the Messiah. Now it's payback time.
Some of my friends express dismay that the Lord will make the world so unpleasant during the tribulation period. But to me, the amazing thing is that He will make it last seven full years -- to give every person time to repent and submit to His Son, Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. These seven years will also allow the thoroughly evil ones to amply prove their fatal stubbornness.
Hey, teacher! What's the deal with drying up the river?
The sixth angel causes the river Euphrates to be changed from a river to a highway. This prepares the way for "the kings from the east" -- probably Red China -- to invade the Middle East.
But why is that important?
There are several reasons:
- It shows that the whole world will not be not under the control of the Last-Days Dictator. The leaders of this group would not be called "kings from the east" unless they were (a) kings or rulers of some sort and (b) different from the kings that will team up with the Last-Days Dictator.
- It strongly hints that China will suffer a lot of confusion and disarray at the beginning of the seven-year period. Today, Red China is significantly more powerful than the nations of the Middle East and Europe. Yet somehow the Last-Days Dictator will become the dominant player. Perhaps China will be one of the countries damaged during the war described in Ezekiel. Perhaps China will be devastated by the number of Christians who are "airlifted to safety" at the first and second rapture events. Both scenarios are very probable.
- The plural form "kings" hints that India and Pakistan might join with the Chinese. Another possibility is that some of the southern "republics" of the former Soviet Union might participate.
- The passage doesn't say whether the kings of the east are coming to fight against the Last-Days Dictator or to fight with him against "the invaders from space" -- Jesus and His army (you and me). It really doesn't matter: God will execute judgment on all the countries that oppress Christian and Jewish people, so God will ensure that the Red Chinese arrive in time to participate.
The Frog Rapture
Notice a very peculiar type of gathering in verses 13-14:And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
These are evil demons sent forth at the command of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet. They perform miracles and persuade the leaders of nations to send troups and weapons to the Middle East.
The frog demons are really performing a cynical, Doomsday mission. The unholy trinity (dragon, beast, false prophet) knows that their side is going to lose. They know Jesus will come back and destroy them, together with everybody gathered in support of them. Being evil to the core, they want to take down as many people as possible and send miracle-working demons to do this.
Jesus hinted at this event in Luke chapter 17, verses 30-37:Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. 31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 32 Remember Lot's wife. 33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
Jesus makes it clear He's describing the times of the very end, when His return will be visible in the sky. Some commentators opine that "one shall be taken" refers to the Rapture of the church. Even Jesus' disciples were unclear on the concept of who would be taken where, and asked, "Where, Lord?" Jesus answered (verse 37) that it would be a place of corpses and vultures (eagles).
Matthew 24:27-28 echoes and clarifies the concept:For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
Does this sound like a gathering of the church of Jesus Christ? Sure, some denominations might LOOK a bit lifeless at times, but the Body of Christ is never described as a carcass in other Scriptures. So if you and your pastor insist this is the Rapture of YOUR church, please don't invite me to join you. I'd rather go on one of the earlier flights, according to our Raptures and Resurrections lesson.
So much for the background and the losers. Now let's look at the winner, in Revelation 19 verses 11-13: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. 12 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. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
Unless you are Jewish (or a diligent Gentile student of Scripture), you might not appreciate the power and significance of these three verses. They are very Jewish in flavor. And they speak very clearly of the Jewish Messiah.
Compare Isaiah 11, verses 1-9, which speak of the coming Messiah:There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. 3 His delight is in the fear of the Lord, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; 4 But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist.
6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea.
These verses clearly speak of the Messiah establishing His Kingdom -- AFTER He destroys the wicked folks. This is consistent with the picture painted in the Book of Revelation, as we'll see.
Notice that in Rev. 19:13, the Lord is wearing "a robe dipped in blood" -- echoing Isaiah 63:1-6:Who is this who comes from Edom, With dyed garments from Bozrah, this One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength?-"I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save."
2 Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?
3 "I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes. 4 For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come. 5 I looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered That there was no one to uphold; Therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; and My own fury, it sustained Me. 6 I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, made them drunk in My fury, and brought down their strength to the earth."
Once again, we're reminded of the Jewish flavor of these prophecies. The writer is speaking from the perspective of a resident of Jerusalem, immediately after the battle of Armageddon. The Lord has struck the nations in His fury, and delivered the remnant of His people that had fled to the wilderness of Edom (now called Jordan) during the Great Tribulation period.
While the Lord will act in His own strength, He will travel back to earth with a host of interested spectators, as we see in Revelation 19, verses 14-16:14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 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. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
These days, government leaders and TV commentators are very brazen in their contempt for "those born-againers." Christians are branded hateful and intolerant for daring to believe that the Bible is true, and that Jesus actually meant what He said. So far, the attacks are subtle and political. In a few years, we'll see these accomplices of Satan cooperate with the Last-Days Dictator in rounding up Christians and Jews like sheep for slaughter -- in the interest of purging the race of the "baser elements that are slowing down man's evolution to the next level." These cowardly, murderous rebels will feel differently when they see Jesus returning in glory.
In verses 17-18, we see an angel inviting these cowardly rebels to dinner -- as buzzard bait: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, 18 "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."
These verses echo Ezekiel 39:17-20, which we studied in an earlier lesson. In fact, these two passages are so similar that many good people believe they refer to the same event. For reasons discussed in that lesson, I tend to believe that the two buzzard feasts are seven years apart.
After all this dramatic buildup, the actual "Battle of Armageddon" (Rev. 19:19-21) is almost a letdown: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. 20 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. 21 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.
Is that it? Just those three verses?
That's it. Just three verses:
- The bad guys gather themselves for one last rebellious stand.
- The Lord surgically removes the Last-Days Dictator and the False Prophet and gives them the first two staterooms in Hell.
- The Lord speaks a word and the bad guys are buzzard bait.
Modern weapons? The armies of this world will launch enough nuclear missiles at Jesus to destroy every planet in the Solar System -- but God doesn't even bother mentioning them.
All the young fools who spent untold hours practicing violence and sorcery in their computer games will join the old fools -- who spent untold hours practicing murders, bribery and political sorcery in the halls of government. They will perish together.
Young and old, small and great -- their only common link will be their enslavement by the chains of this world. The enemy of their souls has tricked them into craving the shallow pleasures of this world, which can never completely satisfy. Sadly, they will voluntarily remain slaves of sin and the devil. They will refuse to submit to Jesus, who could set them free and give them eternal life. What a tragedy.
Look around you. Most of your friends are in various stages of enslavement to the shallow pleasures of this world. Maybe you are, too. But Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, can set you completely free.
It's not too late. If you can still read this, you still have the capacity to make the right choice. You can be on the winning side. Or you can be buzzard bait. God will respect your choice, and give you whichever you want.
You can be one of the riders in white linen, in a pain-free resurrection body, following Jesus. But first, you must start following Jesus today.
But I'm too much of a sinner. I already KNOW I can't be good enough to deserve heaven.
Then you've already taken the first step, realizing that nobody is perfect. Because God isn't looking for perfect people. Just repentant and teachable people. He just wants His adopted children (you and me!) to love Him, respect Him, and spend quality time with Him. He wants us to approach Him through faith in the merits of His Only Begotten Son's sacrifice on the cross. He wants to give us a heart transplant -- the Holy Spirit living inside our hearts, giving us a new nature and eternal life. This is The Big Loophole -- how we can get to heaven even though we don't deserve it.
So how do I take advantage of The Big Loophole and get heaven as a free gift?
Just a few simple steps:
- Repent of self righteousness, and acknowledge that you can never achieve God's standard of righteousness perfection in your own strength.
- Acknowledge that Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, suffered and died in fullfilment of Scripture to pay the price for your sins and mine. Just as the Passover lamb died so the family inside the house would live, Jesus died so you and I might live -- forever.
- Pray a simple prayer, right now, asking God to forgive your sins on the basis of Jesus' perfect sacrifice.
- Ask God to send His Holy Spirit to live in your heart, to give you that new (born-again) nature that will equip you for eternal life.
- Ask God to take control of your life, through His Holy Spirit, that He may transform you from the inside out, making you a new person, filling you with His love and peace and joy.
But what if I already prayed that prayer some time ago?
Then walk in it. Live it. Feed your new nature with Scripture, prayer and regular attendance in local worship services. Read the Bible, paying special attention to the words of Jesus. Aggressively seek the Lord's presence in prayer, and seek to know Him as intimately as you know your own loved ones. Give to the Lord's work -- not to gain a specific reward or because God needs the money, but because you need to exercise the faith of giving.
Above all, remember that you have a new nature that requires care and feeding, like any newborn. Get involved in a local church ministry where people love God with all their heart and teach the truth of Scripture without the burden of denominational doctrine and traditions.
If you would like to ask further questions or discuss this in more detail, please feel free to send me an e-mail by clicking the "mail-to" link below. Explain your concerns and we'll respond as quickly as we can (assuming the first rapture event hasn't already happened).
Closing Prayer: Lord, I admit that I can't be "good" enough to deserve eternal life in Your house. Forgive my sins, take authority in my life, and send Your Holy Spirit to indwell my heart. Let me be changed and renewed by Your Holy Spirit as I follow You, I pray, Amen.