The Battle of Armageddon & Cosmic signs Summary

  • We now return to biblical eschatology. We have looked at the Great Tribulation and the rise and nature of the Antichrist. Now we must tackle the Battle of Armageddon. Some regard this not as a literal battle but as the on-going attack by the powers of evil on the church. I’m sure that Revelation is meant to encourage Christians in any age to persevere against the attacks of the devil but I do not believe the prophecy about Armageddon is limited to such a symbolic interpretation.
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  • The only specific reference to the name Armageddon is in Revelation 16:16 “Then they [demonic spirits] gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” John describes how impure spirits looking like frogs came from the mouths of the dragon (Satan), the beast (the Antichrist) and the false prophet (who, as we have already noted, manipulates humanity to worship the Antichrist using economic boycotts and death threats).
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  • Scholars interpret the symbolism of the frogs emerging from the mouths of the evil trinity deceptive propaganda leading people to commit themselves to the cause of evil. John writes that the evil spirits gather “the kings of the whole world …. for the battle on the great day of God Almighty” (Rev 16:14). 
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  • Professor William Hendricksen writes that Armageddon is “When the world under the leadership of Satan, antichristian government and antichristian religion – the dragon, the beast and the false prophet – is gathered against the church for the final battle”
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  • So all the kings of the whole world, i.e. all the leaders of the nations and their forces, gather at Armageddon, seized by a passion for war inspired by Satan and his associates, especially the Antichrist. The word ‘Armageddon’ is really ‘Har-Mageddon’ i.e. Mt Megiddo but there is no such mountain. Some think it refers to the hills around Megiddo in Northern Israel, about 18 miles SE of Haifa. The mound or tell on which Megiddo was built was only some 70 feet high. Others think the name comes from the end time battle on the mountains of Israel as predicted by Ezekiel 38-39 where Gog and his allies attack. Megiddo is the scene of some great victories by Israel.
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  • But why would all the nations attack one city? One scholar says “The only explanation is that this is an ideological conflict to remove a non-co-operative element that blocked the way to an international world order.” Others believe Armageddon is not a single battle but a campaign which lasts throughout the second half of the Great Tribulation, and takes place in different places.
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  • However the geography is not crucially important. The significance of the battle of Armageddon is that it is the End Times battle between the forces of evil and the power of God.
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  • Armageddon is a battle against God and his people. Some think that the church has been ‘raptured’ safely to heaven before this and the battle will only be against Israel, but, as I have already stated, I do not think Scripture supports that view. Certainly Antichrist will persecute and seek to destroy the (largely Gentile) church but there does not seem to be any reference to anyone other than Israel being attacked in the relevant passages (Ezk 38-39; Joel 3; Zech 12-14; Matt 24:29-31; 2 Thess 1:6-10; 2:1-12; Rev 16, 19, 20). It is difficult to imagine the armies of “the kings of the whole world” literally gathering on the plain of Megiddo (although I suppose it could be a smaller international force) and, of course, there is symbolism in the immediate context.  
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  • However an international invasion of Israel is hardly incredible, given that:
  • ·         “The world’s longest hatred” is anti-Semitism and can only be explained as demonic, based upon God’s choice of and future purpose for the Jewish people.
  • ·         Even today Israel is incurring growing international disapproval and opposition, including from nations which oppose its existence.
  • ·         Because of its strong messianic faith, it is not incredible that Israel could resist acceptance of the Antichrist.
  • ·         God’s future purpose for the Jewish people is that they will turn to Christ in large numbers (Rom 11:25-26), the prospect of which engenders demonic opposition.
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  • I have studied the passages which seem to relate to the Battle of Armageddon (Ezk 38-39; Joel 3; Zech 12-14; Matt 24:29-31; 2 Thess 1:6-10; 2:1-12; Rev 16, 19, 20) and I don’t want to be dogmatic. Biblical prophecy does not necessarily follow modern logic and consistency. Also particular aspects are sometimes open to different interpretations and chronological assessment. Terminology and similar descriptions can sometimes apply to different events. Nevertheless, a certain pattern does seem to emerge, even if it is not entirely clear in every aspect, namely:
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  • 1.      The nations, deceived by the Antichrist, gather to invade Israel
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  • 2.      Israel will turn to Christ, “the one they pierced” and be spiritually purified. However, tragically, many in Israel will be killed or exiled.
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  • 3.      Jesus will return to gather the elect and to judge the Antichrist and his followers defeating their military might “with the breath of his mouth” and with various signs and catastrophes. (The judgment of believers will take place at some stage).
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  • 4.      The Lord will rule over the earth in peace and justice and the nations will gather to worship the Lord. There is some difficulty in understanding all the nations going up to Jerusalem annually for the Feast of Tabernacles literally in view of the numbers involved (unless it is a representative group of international leaders).
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  • 5.      If, as seems likely, the Millennium is literal (even if not exactly a thousand years) then after it Satan will attempt a repeat invasion of Israel and the people of God before being finally destroyed in Hell.
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  • The fall of ‘Babylon’

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  • Revelation 17-18 described the fall of Babylon or the Great Prostitute. These symbols refer to the godless world economic and cultural system organised without reference to God and seducing people away from God. It concentrates on the luxury, vice and glamour of this world and speaks of the self-deification of human power. It also persecutes the church. The early church saw this fulfilled in pagan Rome. The Roman emperors became gods in the eyes of the people and this was a foretaste of the Antichrist.
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  • John goes on to write that the beast, “once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction … it once was, now is not, and yet will come.”  This is referring to the fact that evil keeps recurring in the world. This is true especially with respect to the final manifestation of the power of the antichrist just before the second coming of Christ.” This repeated manifestation of the spirit of Antichrist, of course, fits in with the concept of the multiple fulfilment of prophecy.
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  • This godless world system will form a world alliance “will wage war against the Lamb” in the Battle of Armageddon (Rev 17:14). However, division arises between the Beast, Antichrist, and the great prostitute/Babylon, the godless world system (Rev 17:15-18). There is no cohesion in evil. Wicked men give way to jealousy and hatred.
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  • Revelation 18 then describes the fall of Babylon (the collapse of godless civilisation) in graphic detail with devastating economic effects.
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  • Revelation 19 then describes the return of Christ in judgment but we will return to that.
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  • Cosmic signs

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  • Could some of the cosmic signs in biblical prophecy be literal?
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  • Speaking of the signs of his coming and the End of the Age, Jesus predicts “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken’” (Matt 24:29 cf. Isaiah 13:10; 34:4). Ezekiel, Joel, Zephaniah and Revelation predict similar events.
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  • Many take these as symbolical language and some of it seems to be, e.g. the heavens rolling up like a scroll or blood falling on the earth. But could such prophecies include some literal predictions as well as poetic language about cataclysmic events? For example, the sun, moon and stars could be darkened by the “smoke” of a supervolcano and falling stars could refer to Near Earth Asteroids which might collide with the planet.
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  • Professor F. F. Bruce, commenting on Acts 2:19-20 says the sun was darkened on the afternoon of the Day of the crucifixion and the paschal moon might have appeared blood-red because of this.  These were to be understood as signs of the End.
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  • NEAR EARTH ASTEROIDS. Astronomers are very concerned about Near Earth Asteroids. One, big enough to destroy London, passed Earth by just 17,200 miles in February 2013. On the same day a small asteroid hit Earth. This was only a week after the 10 ton meteor hit Earth with a blast 30 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atom bomb, injuring 1200 people and damaging 3000 buildings. Astronomers say such objects enter our atmosphere between once a year and once a decade.
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  • Comments in the press can be summed up by Professor Qing-Zhu Yin of the University of California, who commented: “If humanity does not want to go the way of the dinosaurs, we need to study an event like this in detail.”  There are many more Near Earth Asteroids up there.
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  • In February 2014, Paul Cox, technical and research director of the Slooh Space Telescope, said: "We continue to discover these potentially hazardous asteroids - sometimes only days before they make their close approaches to Earth …. "We need to find them before they find us!"
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  • Slooh astronomer Dr Bob Berman said: "On a practical level, a previously unknown, undiscovered asteroid seems to hit our planet and cause damage or injury once a century or so, as we witnessed on 20 June 1908 and 15 February 2013 …. Every few centuries, an even more massive asteroid strikes us – fortunately usually impacting in an ocean or wasteland such an Antarctica. But the ongoing threat, and the fact that biosphere-altering events remain a real if small annual possibility, suggests that discovering and tracking all NEOs [Near Earth Objects], as well as setting up contingency plans for deflecting them on short notice should the need arise, would be a wise use of resources."
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  • SUPERVOLCANOES are thousands of times more powerful than normal volcanoes. In the past they have caused mass extinctions, long-term climate change and volcanic winters when ash blots out sunlight. If a supervolcano erupted the sound would be heard around the world, black rain would fall and the sky would darken. Only a few supervolcanoes exist including Yellowstone Park in Wyoming
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  • A supervolcanic eruption 70,000 years ago in Sumatra blocked out the sun for six to eight years and caused a period of global cooling lasting a thousand years. Experts say it would take about ten years for pressure to build up enough to cause an eruption.
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  • Conclusion on cosmic signs

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  • One cannot be dogmatic that such events as asteroid impacts and supervolcanoes will fulfil the prophecies of cosmic signs pointing to the return of Christ and the End of the Age. But it is at least conceivable. It is also interesting that astronomers currently are deeply concerned about the possibility of such events. At the very least they can be a “reminder” of the End, like earthquakes, war, pestilences and famines. After all, Jesus did predict: “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11). If the earthquakes, famines and pestilences are literal, is it surely possible the “fearful events and great signs from heaven” are literal too?
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