Chapter 26

World War III (Battle of Armageddon)

INTRODUCTION

Armageddon. What an emotion-filled word! What pictures it brings to mind. The battle to end all battles, or is it? Does it really usher in a 1000 years of peace as some proponents espouse, or does it end with the annihilation of the human race? Who are the players and where will the battle be fought. And who will appear to be the victor? Let's take a deep look at what the Bible has to say.

 

SCRIPTURE

Rev. 19:11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

      17And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, "Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great."
     19Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshipped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

Rev. 16: 12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. 13Then I saw three evil 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. 14They are spirits of demons performing miraculous 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.

15"Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."

     16Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
    17The 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!" 18Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 19The 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. 20Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. 21From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible.

Rev. 17:11 The beast [from the abyss] who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
    12 "The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast [from the abyss]. 13 They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast [from the abyss]. 14 They will make war [Armageddon] against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings --and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."
    15 Then the angel said to me, "The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. 16 The beast [from the abyss] and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast [from the abyss] their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled. 18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth."

COMMENTARY

The battle of Armageddon will be fought in its place within the sequence of events of the END.  These were lined out in a previous chapter. It occurs after 13 of the devastating events (plagues) take place. The world is angry at God for pouring out His wrath against them and they are preparing to do battle with Him.

Allied with the three main powers at the end of time, the nations come to do battle. Let's review these main powers.

bulletThe beast of Revelation 13, also known as "Babylon," is the Roman Catholic Church or the Papacy.
bulletThe false prophet is the same as the lamb-like beast, which we clearly identified as the United States of America, especially as it leads the United Nations.
bulletThe dragon (Satan) also materializes as the beast from the abyss.

Let's look at the scope of their domains or influence.

The papacy has dominance over a substantial part of the world. The sheer number of professed Catholics in a number of nations allows the papacy to control them. These nations include many of those in Europe, South and Central America and some countries in Africa and the Far East.

The United States has many allies including those stemming from the United Kingdom/British Commonwealth. These would include the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and others included in the Papacy's fold. Remember that the United States backs the Papacy's quest for spiritual leadership of the world. The bond in Revelation is very tight between the two.

The other group Scripture calls "the kings from the East." In a sense, despite the presence of Christians in the Far Eastern countries, most are predominantly Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, Animist, etc., religions which hinge largely on idolatry and spiritualism. These countries would include China, Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Japan, and the countries of Indochina such as Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, etc. These really have no history or interest in following the dictates of the Roman Church or of the United States (with the exception of Japan).  By the pervasive presence of the dragon in these religions, it seems likely that the beast from the abyss (the dragon), would specifically lead this group in World War III.  It should be noted that nearly two thirds of the world's population dwell in these countries.  There is another strong possibility as well.  In the events surrounding Jesus birth, the magi from the east, most likely came from the area of Babylon/Nineveh, areas that are predominantly Muslim today.  Muslims make up the largest segment of the world's population that has extremists that have vowed openly to bring down the great Satan ("USA").  And while Muslims have not fared well against the USA in overt battle, segments have been most consistent in carrying out attacks against the USA and even on its soil (i.e. 9/11).  The current saber rattling between Taiwan and the Republic of China, if it turned into an all out war, could draw the U.S. into the fray. 

Revelation 16 states that the waters of the Euphrates River were dried up. From Revelation 9 (the story of the two witnesses), we've seen that during the time of tribulation, extending for 3 1/2 years, that there would be no rain. In "Bible-speak" that means at minimum the regions of Palestine and the surrounding European and North African regions, including the area draining into the Euphrates.

God finishes off the drying up of the Euphrates with the pouring out of the sixth angel's vial, i.e. the sixth of the seven last plagues. The riverbed is now exposed and no longer stands as a barrier to any army that wishes to cross it.

Why do the Nations Gather?

In the symbolic representation of the vision, the lying spirits that come out of the mouths of the beast, the false prophet and the dragon look like frogs.   A frog's power to destroy (to catch and eat) is in its tongue.  These spirits' power to deceive is in their tongues, i.e. in what they say, and is verified by the signs and wonders they do.  Each of the three main powers goes out to the kings, presidents, i.e. the leaders of the nations of the world.  The nations realize that the Second Coming of Jesus is near. They realize that the annihilation of the world's population is right around the corner. They have experienced the wrath of God in the previous 13 plagues. They believe (incorrectly at this coming) that Jesus will touch down on the Mt of Olives, near Jerusalem. The two witnesses testifying in Jerusalem have wrecked havoc on the world by the words of their mouths. By banding together, the nations suppose that they can battle against the LORD and his people. And so they gather together at the place that is "in Hebrew called Armageddon."

Where Is Armageddon?

Historians and archaeologists have not been able to locate any place that was called Armageddon. However, most commentators postulate that the term actually means Har Meggido or the mountains of Meggido. The town of Megiddo is on the edge of the large Plain of Esdraelon, a plain through which any large army from the north would travel on its way to Jerusalem. This plain is also known in Scripture as the Valley of Jezreel, the scene of Gideon's famous battle with the invading eastern armies (see Judges 6:33).

A view from Megiddo overlooking the valley of Jezreel.

 

 

The three forces, while intending to challenge the coming of the LORD, find themselves in an awkward position. While they intend to fight the LORD's people, instead, they are gathering for their own doom.

The Bible makes it very clear that the three armies begin turning on each other. And the dragon's forces, the ten nations that grant their power to him for just a little while, turn on the Roman church and its allies, and the United States and its allies.

Rev. 17:16 The beast [from the abyss] and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. 17 For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast [from the abyss] their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled. 18 The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth."

Paraphrasing,

"The dragon and the ten nations backing him will hate the Roman church. They will bring her to ruin, totally destroying the city of Rome and her vassals, burning it with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish His purpose by agreeing to give the dragon their military strength, until God's words are fulfilled."

But what happens to the United States and its allies?

Rev. 19:20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshipped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

The distinct impression given is that the U.S. (the false prophet) which caused so much of the world to worship the Papacy and instituted the Mark of the Beast was also soundly defeated or destroyed in the war.

Of course one may question, how could this be?

The military strength of the U.S. is meant for fighting flesh and blood, i.e. other human enemies, not the realm of the invisible. If Satan and his cohorts of destroying angels go to work, there is no weapon or defense that can prevent them from neutralizing the U.S. defense or of taking the U.S.' weapons of mass destruction and turning them on itself.

For example, just one of God's destroying angels wiped out 185,000 of Israel's invaders in one night (2 Kings 19:35). Another slew 70,000 in 3 days when David numbered Israel (2 Chron. 21:14). One should not underestimate the devil's forces either.

The whole scenario of the nations coming to fight against the LORD and then turning upon one another reminds me of a parallel story of an invasion of the eastern people (Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites) against the people of Judah.

Let's read that story and see what parallels we find.

2Chr. 20:1 After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites [of the tribe of Edom] came to make war on Jehoshaphat. 2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar" (that is, En Gedi).
     3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.
     5 Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard 6 and said: "O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 7 O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9 `If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.'
     10 "But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11 See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12 O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you."
     13 All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.
     14 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. 15 He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: `Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'"
     18 Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with very loud voice.
     20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful."
     21After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: "Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever."
     22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
     24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 25 So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value --more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it.
     26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, where they praised the LORD. This is why it is called the Valley of Beracah to this day. 27 Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. 28 They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lutes and trumpets.
     29 The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.

In the same way that God fought against the three forces that wanted to fight against His people, so God will turn the world's hatred for His people to His people's benefit.

The battle is not ours, but the LORD's. The just will have to live by faith, going out rejoicing, even when all odds appear to be against them. It is better to praise than to complain or doubt.

The latter day prophet Ellen White, whom we have quoted earlier, also has some encouraging things to say for God's people.

Battle of Armageddon Soon to Be Fought.

"--There are only two parties in our world, those who are loyal to God, and those who stand under the banner of the prince of darkness. Satan and his angels will come down with power and signs and lying wonders to deceive those who dwell on the earth, and if possible the very elect. The crisis is right upon us. Is this to paralyze the energies of those who have a knowledge of the truth? Is the influence of the powers of deception so far reaching that the influence of the truth will be overpowered?
     "The battle of Armageddon is soon to be fought. He on whose vesture is written the name, King of kings and Lord of lords, leads forth the armies of heaven on white horses, clothed in fine linen, clean and white" (Manuscript 172, 1899).

"Every form of evil is to spring into intense activity. Evil angels unite their powers with evil men, and as they have been in constant conflict and attained an experience in the best modes of deception and battle, and have been strengthening for centuries, they will not yield the last great final contest without a desperate struggle. All the world will be on one side or the other of the question. The battle of Armageddon will be fought, and that day must find none of us sleeping. Wide awake we must be, as wise virgins having oil in our vessels with our lamps. . . .
     "The power of the Holy Ghost must be upon us, and the Captain of the Lord's host will stand at the head of the angels of heaven to direct the battle. Solemn events before us are yet to transpire. Trumpet after trumpet is to be sounded, vial after vial poured out one after another upon the inhabitants of the earth. Scenes of stupendous interest are right upon us." (Letter 112, 1890).

Two Opposing Powers.

"--Two great opposing powers are revealed in the last great battle. On one side stands the Creator of heaven and earth. All on His side bear His signet. They are obedient to His commands. On the other side stands the prince of darkness, with those who have chosen apostasy and rebellion." (Review & Herald, May 7, 1901).

And now, its time for the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior.

It's good news, the redemption of the righteous. And bad news, wrath for the rebellious world.

It's resurrection time for the righteous dead, and a dying moment for the living wicked.

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