By Dr. Roger Barrier, Crosswalk.com
Our small group had a long discussion about the Battle of Armageddon. One thing we tried to discuss with intelligence was the Battle of Armageddon and the maneuvering of the nations in battle for the end times. We wondered where and how Jesus fit in with the Battle? Will America be involved? We read Jesus’ Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 where He describes the times and the signs preceding the Second Coming. With wars and rumors of wars, and earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and genocide occurring all over the earth, do you believe that these things are being fulfilled today?
Could you please shed some light on this for us? We would really appreciate it. Sincerely, Christopher
Dear Christopher, I would be delighted to give you some thoughts regarding the Battle of Armageddon; but, with several caveats.
1. God has not chosen to give us all of the details regarding the end times. In other words, no one can answer this question exactly, not with absolute certainty.
2. I’ve been fascinated by this study for years. I’m going to present to you the best picture I can give of what the Bible does say about the Battle of Armageddon and the events leading up to it.
3. I will be sharing with you a simple summary of the events as I see them.
4. I am taking a literal perspective as if these events are indeed still in our future. This is based on Ezekiel 37
5. If I could meet with your small group, we could expand this answer of mine to a two- or three-hour teaching. Since we can't, I hope this summary will at least answer some of your questions while I know it will bring up many new ones.
6. I have made a lot of assumptions in my description of Armageddon and the events preceding it. Others will look at my answer and disagree with most everything I've written. Nevertheless, what I present to you is something I’ve worked on for several decades. Hopefully, you’ll find my perspective interesting and helpful to your group.
Battle of Armageddon Scriptures
“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" – Revelation 16:13-16
Old Testament End Times Prophecy of Armageddon
Napoleon called the geographical Armageddon the greatest natural battlefield in the world.
But the fact is that no one knows exactly where the battlefield is located. Most likely the Valley extends for some 15 to 20 miles north and south in the northern part of present-day Israel.
The Book of Daniel provides some of the foundational truths that make up any study of the end times.
Daniel 2: God's plan for the Gentile nations begins with King Nebuchadnezzar and follows the historical sequence of human governments from him to a 10-nation confederacy during the end times which occupies the area of the old Roman Empire. The Antichrist will gain control of these nations and, after guaranteeing Israel’s peace and security, will break that treaty 3 ½ years later and will launch an attack against Israel.
Daniel 9: God's plan of 490 years for Israel predicts to the very day on April 6, 30 A.D when the Messiah will enter Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. This time period begins with the decree from Persia to rebuild and restore Jerusalem. This time period lasts for 483 years. Hence, there is one seven year-time-period left.
On Palm Sunday, God stopped the prophetic clock with seven years to go. The clock will restart when the Antichrist makes his peace treaty with Israel. The first 3 ½ years are peaceful between the ten-nation coalition in Israel. Although, during this time, Israel may be under attack from Rosh - a nation that lies due north of Jerusalem. The Antichrist breaks the treaty after 3 ½ years and then all hell breaks loose with what is called the time of Great Tribulation. This is the time of:
The seven seals of man's destruction upon himself,
The seven trumpets of Satan's destruction on mankind,
And finally, the seven bowls of God's wrath which are poured out on mankind.
Now, at what point during this time will The Rapture occur? Some argue at the beginning of the seven years, some argue in the middle of the seven years, and some argue at the end of the seven-year Tribulation. You can make your own choice. Remember that the Rapture need not necessarily be tied to the seven years at all. It may occur before the seven years' time clock even begins.
Revelation 16:17-21: 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. …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.
"It is done" is followed by a great earthquake. This reminds me of the words of Christ on Calvary, "It is finished." Jesus statement there was followed by a great earthquake, too.
We must realize here that every man or woman stands in the face of one of these two statements. If a person doesn't want, “It is done" at Calvary, then he or she will hear "It is done" at Armageddon. Let's look at the seven events that will take place during the Battle of Armageddon.
1. Ezekiel's Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones
Ezekiel 37: The vision of dry bones coming together to make a skeleton and being covered with flesh and then coming alive is a prediction of the Jewish people coming together from places all over the world to become a living, breathing soul. This prediction became a reality in 1948 with Jews all over the world returning to Israel and establishing a nation.
2. The Gog and Magog Invasion into Palestine
Ezekiel 38:1-4: The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshek and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of[b] Meshek and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army—your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords.
Magog, Mesheck, and Tubal were all sons of Jepheth (the son of Noah) who migrated to the area of modern-day Russia - (Genesis 10:2-3).
Magog means the "Chief Prince" or "Prince of Rosh." Rosh is the old root word for the name Russia. Meshek corresponds to the old name for the capital of Western Russia, which is today the city of Moscow. Tubal was the ancient name of one of the dominant Asiatic provinces of Russia.
Ezekiel 38:15: "You will come from your place in the far North (the Hebrew word means "the uttermost part of the North"). What's north of Jerusalem? Moscow. What is further north than Russia? Nothing.
Ezekiel 38:5-6: identifies the rest of the participants of the Battle of Armageddon.
- Persia is a reference to modern-day Iran which changed its name in 1935.
- Cush describes present day Ethiopia and the black nations of Central Africa.
- Put is Libya, located in northern Africa.
- Gomer are the people who settled in Germany.
- Beth Togarmah is Asia Minor and Turkey.
3. Magog's Decision to Invade Israel
Ezekiel 38:14-16: “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.”
In other words, this occurs at a time when Israel dwells in peace...When is that? Probably during the first 3 ½ years before the Antichrist breaks his treaty with Israel.
At that time, the people of "Rosh from the North" will seize the opportunity to quickly invade Israel. Rosh and the nations with her will be utterly destroyed by God. In other words, these nations will have no part in the battle of Armageddon; they have already been defeated. It is my guess at the Antichrist is the one who engages these nations in battle and destroys them.
In the rest of Ezekiel 38-39, God describes his destruction on Gog and Magog. We see in these verses what seems to eerily describe a nuclear holocaust. Fire and brimstone fall from the sky. The earth shakes. The faces of the invading soldiers melt like hot wax. It takes Israel seven years to decontaminate the land. The burial of radiation-contaminated men and women injures even more.
Thousands of invading soldiers lie unburied. God sends the birds of the air to pluck the flesh right off their bodies.
This sounds just like the grisly feast of God in Revelation 19 at the Battle of Armageddon.
The Antichrist uses this move by Russia against Israel to set up the Abomination of Desolation and move his forces into Israel. The nations which comprise the land area of the old Roman Empire include England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Greece, Macedonia, Belgium, and the Netherlands, among others.
4. Rise of the Antichrist
Daniel 11:36-45: 3 ½ years into the final seven-year period the Antichrist places what Jesus called the Abomination of Desolation in the holy place in the temple in Jerusalem. This is a small statue of the Antichrist which comes alive and desecrates the place of sacrifice.
The Abomination of Desolation compels Jews to worship the Antichrist. This is crucial to his plan for world dictatorship.
Jesus said, "When you see the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet set up in the Holy place, Run! ...Woe if you are pregnant. Run away as fast as you can." The Antichrist demands to be worshiped and brands all of his followers with the number 666. John tells us that those who will worship the Antichrist and take the number will avoid economic sanctions but will be doomed to hell. Those who refuse to take the number and won't follow or worship the beast will be put to death as martyrs.
In the middle of Tribulation, Satan is cast from Heaven and personally indwells the Antichrist. The Great Tribulation (the final 3 ½ years) has begun.
The rest of Daniel 11 describes a massive battle between the king of the North and the King of the South. The king of the North is obviously the Antichrist and the King of the South refers to an Arab-African Confederacy.
The battles are intense with the King of the South initially victorious. But the Antichrist builds a massive army and moves into Israel and utterly defeats the King of the South and his forces.
The Antichrist is in full control of Israel, killing Christians and Jews quickly and mercilessly. Then, tidings from the East warn the Antichrist of a gigantic invasion of the Kings of East which comprise an army of 200 million soldiers. In Revelation 9 the Euphrates River impedes the movement of the Kings from East. This is the sixth trumpet.
In Revelation 16 the sixth cup of God's wrath is poured out as the Euphrates dries up and allows the Kings of the East to March into Israel to battle with the Antichrist.
"Tidings from the North" refers to Russia restored which then returns for a second time to invade Israel.
At this point all the armies move into the Middle-East and spread out along the entire length and breadth of Israel, with the greatest concentration poised for the fiercest and final battle on the Plains of Armageddon.
5. The Climax of Battle of Armageddon Described
Some feel that these verses are descriptive, poetic pictures of Armageddon. I am taking the literal position here.
The islands flee away. God rearranges the surface of the earth. Just as Africa, Europe, South America, and North America used to be one land mass, God will speed up the process and change it all.
The mountains will not be found. This would indicate a complete renovation of the earth, which may be a fulfillment of 2 Peter 3:10, which predicts that the entire earth will be destroyed and "the elements shall melt with fervent heat: the earth and also the works that are in it, shall be burned up."
While this great battle is raging, every city in the world is going to be leveled. This will take place by what is called an "earthquake" (seismos in the Greek), but that's not the only meaning. The word itself simply means "a great shaking of the earth." The earth could be shaken either by a literal earthquake or by a full-scale nuclear exchange.
Just think of the great cities of the world: London, Rome, Paris, Berlin, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Tokyo... all of these great cities are going to be judged at that time!
6. The Second Coming of Jesus
Jesus sets foot on the Mount of Olives and a great Earthquake takes place which splits Israel from East to West and brings water from the Mediterranean Sea all the way to Jerusalem. By the way, there is a fault line that runs from the Mount of Olives all the way to the Mediterranean Sea...
Jesus then enters the fray and destroys the forces of the Antichrist, the King of the East and the king of the North as recorded in Zechariah 14:12-13:
"This is the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. On that day people will be stricken by the Lord with great panic. They will seize each other by the hand and attack one another."
For hundreds of years, students of Bible prophecy have wondered what kind of plague could produce such instant ravaging of humans while still on their feet. Until the advent of the atomic bomb such a thing was not humanly possible. But now everything Zechariah predicted could come true instantly in a thermonuclear exchange.
Zechariah 12:10: "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son."
7. The Two Suppers of God at the End of Time
The Supper of God -- Revelation 19:17-18: "And 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, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.'"
The Wedding Supper of the Lamb -- Revelation 19:9: Then the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” This is the marriage feast when Jesus, as the Bridegroom, takes His church for His Bride. It is a tremendous time of fellowship and praise!
There is a telling word picture here and we all have a choice: We can enjoy the wedding supper with Jesus or we can be the supper.
Revelation 20 and 21 wrap up the story with the destruction of Satan and his followers, the 1000-year reign of Christ on Earth (the Millennium), and the new Heaven and the new Earth which are designed for eternity.
Well, Christopher, I hope this gives you some insight into the battle of Armageddon and to the extra material beyond your question that you may find helpful.
May God bless you in your studies of the Book of Revelation and please remember that God promises a blessing for those who read it often. Sincerely, Roger.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Hasan Almasi
Editor's Note: This Ask Roger article features insights from Roger's daughter, Brie Barrier Wetherbee, a sought-after Bible teacher and conference speaker, author, analyst, and Christian theologian.
Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at [email protected].