By Elder Lawrence Nelson
The purpose of this subject is to discover the inspired meaning of Armageddon. Many of you who listen will be surprised to learn that the battle of Armageddon is not exactly as you have heard it in the past. Many evangelists have endeavored to draw crowds by sensational preaching but Armageddon is not a battle between the East and West. Neither does the Bible teach that the battle of Armageddon agrees with the secret rapture theory believed by most Protestant churches of today.
Now, before we get down to some serious Bible study, let us first seek God’s wisdom that we might understand divine inspiration. Will you join me in prayer? Our loving Father, we praise Thee for giving to us in Thy Word a detailed description of what we might expect in this end time. Grant us Thy Holy Spirit that we might comprehend Thy divine predictions, for we want to be found on the winning side in the battle of Armageddon. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Amen.
Let us begin this study by reading Revelation 16:13-16. “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” This divine instruction leads us to ask some questions. What is the cause for this battle of Armageddon? Where does this battle take place? Who are the participants? When does it begin? How will it end? Who will win? We will be satisfied with Bible answers. As we proceed, let us keep in mind that every earthly war that has ever existed on this planet has been fought by two opposing sides. The battle of Armageddon is no exception. The Bible states clearly that one army will be completely annihilated when victory is achieved so it is important that we are found on the winning side.
Let us first determine the cause of Armageddon. There is always a reason for war between two sovereign powers. We will discover that the Bible teaches that Armageddon is a great war between the eternal God of the universe and His loyal subjects, who are in a fight to the death with the devil and his army who have accepted Satan as their god. Believe it or not, the cause for which these two opposing powers are fighting is to determine who is to be worshiped – Christ or Satan. Armageddon is a fight started by Lucifer to overthrow Jehovah and to remove Christ from the throne so that Satan could sit on God’s throne. It is a battle to deify the man of sin, the devil himself.
One thing that we can learn from the history of warfare on this planet is that before a war ends in final victory there are many smaller battles. Take for example, World War II. Many of us can remember that there were a number of battles which prepared the way for the final battle, such as the battle for the English Channel, the battle of Leningrad, and the Battle of the Bulge. All of these battles led finally to the battle for Berlin and victory. In this study we will discover that Armageddon is composed of seven major battles which we will consider one by one.
Let us take the first – the battle in heaven to overthrow God’s throne . This was an actual battle that took place more than six thousand years ago. Isaiah 14:12-14 explains the cause for this war, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Lucifer was so filled with pride and self-conceit that he attempted to cast Christ from heaven’s throne and place himself on the throne of the universe. He was determined to usurp the power of God.
In order to do this he promised the angels of God that he would change heaven’s law of love to God and obedience, and provide them with a government based on love of self in which all of his subject could obey the desires of their own heart. In order to accomplish this he demanded that they accept him as their leader and surrender to his dictatorship. One must never underestimate the seriousness of this coup in heaven. It divided all of heaven’s angels into two opposing sides. Christ and His obedient subjects consisted of some two-thirds of the angels, while Satan and the remaining one-third of the angels joined in the attempt to overthrow the government of God. This was the first of seven battles which scripture calls Armageddon.
Revelation 12: 7-9 describes how the first battle took place in heaven. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” The outcome of this first battle is very clear. Christ expels Satan and his angels from heaven, but we must keep in mind that the issues over which the first battle was fought are the same for which the next six battles took place. God does not change His divine principles on which His government is based, and neither does Satan who continued to use the same evil methods of battle which he used in heaven, namely deception, flattery, doubt and downright lies.
This takes us to battle number two. The second battle took place in the Garden of Eden . Satan having been cast out of heaven into this earth, which had recently been created, determined to capture Adam and Eve and set up an earthly kingdom in which he would be the god of this planet. The details are found in Genesis 3: 1-6, “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
The fall of Adam and Eve has changed the lives of every living person on this earth, for it brought sorrow, pain, sickness, and death to all. By capturing our first parents, Satan was able to seize control of this world and demand of his earthly subjects that they worship him as a god. Thus he became the dictator of planet Earth for hundreds of years. Satan continued to spread his evil teachings causing universal wickedness.
This brings us to battle number three. The next battle, which climaxed in a worldwide floo d, took Satan but a short time to conquer. As man multiplied on the face of the earth, millions upon millions decided to accept Satan’s counterfeit government until almost every living soul joined on the devil’s side. The Bible puts it in these words found in Genesis 6:11-13, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, ( This brings us to battle number three – the next battle, which climaxed in a world-wide flood) The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” So when the flood came, only eight individuals could be found on earth who were still faithful to God and obedient to His commands.
In these wars, God is not concerned by numbers, for His kingdom is based strictly on love, truth and obedience. So what does God do with a world that is completely dominated by Satan? No problem. Listen to Genesis 6:5, 17, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.”
After the flood begins the next battle – number four . This battle begins to take place soon after the flood in the days of Nimrod. God now decides to develop a special people whose father would be called Abraham. His descendents where to separate from Satan’s idolatrous people and settle in the land of Palestine where Jerusalem was to become its capital. It was God’s plan that His people would be so successful that they would attract all nations who would discover that the best government for the people was based on truth, love, and obedience.
But Satan quickly developed his battle plan. He gained control of a man named Nimrod who developed a kingdom for Satan called Babel. These people defied God by building a tower so high they believed that God could not destroy it. But God dispersed these evil people by confounding their one language into the many languages now known in this world. With a mighty stroke of lightning God destroyed the tower of Babel. Satan salvaged what he could and began to build the city of Babylon on the nearby banks of the Euphrates River. He patterned this city after the Holy City of Jerusalem from which he had been cast out. Satan hoped desperately that Babylon would become the capital of Satan’s world empire.
These two warring sides each have a totally different object. God’s people, the Jews, were to display God’s government of love in which God promised to give His only Son as a sacrifice for man’s sins and to provide freedom of choice and eventual everlasting life to every obedient subject. At the same time Satan’s kingdom, composed of paganism, demanded the sacrifice of sons and daughter of all of his followers who were to be offered alive to their pagan god, called Baal, in order to appease the wrath of the devil. Satan instituted the worship of the sun as a god to be served in fear. The Bible speaks of this, Satan’s kingdom, in Isaiah 14:16,17, “Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?”
But wonder of wonders, Jesus Christ, heaven’s commander, comes down to this world in person to face the devil, revealing in person the character of His kingdom. Satan could not contain himself and he immediately revealed himself as a murderer. Revelation 12:4,5 explains it in this way, “And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.” It is here that we discover that God the Son, who could not die, prepared himself with a body that could die. He comes to this earth, ruled by Satan, to live as a man, proving to the universe that God’s holy law could be obeyed in love by all of his followers.
Satan tried every temptation that he could invent to try to force Christ to sin and become his subject, but he totally failed. Infuriated, he invaded God’s Jewish church and captured its priests and rulers who, as subjects of Satan, demanded Christ to be crucified. Jesus died the death that should have been ours, proving what God had said of Satan in John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
It was Satan’s plan to keep Christ in the tomb and then establish his throne here on this earth. But Christ arose in victory over death because He said, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Revelation 1:18. In dying for you and for me, Christ won the right to redeem man, and to recapture the ownership of this world. But the battle of Armageddon was still far from over.
This brings us to battle number five which is taking place from the day of Christ’s resurrection to that of our day. Since the Jewish church and the nation rejected their Savior and crucified Him, Jesus declared in Matthew 23: 37,38, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” Now it is Christ who attacks Satan by establishing a Christian church based on His eternal principles of love and obedience, and challenging His followers to go and make converts out of Satan’s subjects, the Gentiles. The good news of a Savior that loved man so much that He would die to save them, and promise eternal life to those that obeyed His commandments spread like wild fire among the Gentiles. Satan was stunned. The gospel spread throughout the entire world in one generation and Satan’s subjects were converted to Christianity by the tens of thousands.
Like a madman Satan now attacked the Christian church with relentless persecution, but the blood of Christians only proved as seed for new converts. So Satan decided to change his tactics and to use the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind. He ordered his pagan subjects to join the Christian church – not to become Christians at heart, but to infiltrate God’s true church and thereby change the gospel of Christ. The apostle Paul warned of this danger in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.”
But this warning was overlooked by the majority of God’s people within the church. Tired of the many years of persecution and amazed at the tremendous number of pagans professing to be converts the church, now filled with unconverted pagans, demanded that the blood-bought doctrines of Christianity be compromised with their pagan traditions. Thus the false teaching that man could save himself by his works took hold in Christianity. Also the worship of images of saints now found their way into the church. As paganism gradually succeeded in planting its pagan doctrines within the church, it finally became so strong as to demand that the Christians forsake the seventh-day Sabbath and keep Sunday, the first day dedicated to their sun god. Almost every divine doctrine was compromised by the traditions of paganism. This is how the papal religion developed which God called in Revelation a mixture of Christianity and paganism.
History reveals the results, known as the Dark Ages, in which Satan almost succeeded in destroying the truth by prohibiting the Word of God to be read by the people. But God raised up some mighty men in spite of Rome’s restrictions, men such as John Wycliffe, Jerome, Huss, Luther and others who, with God’s help, began the Protestant Reformation. Eventually the Bible was restored to the common people and this brought the papacy to its knees and made it possible for Napoleon to inflict a deadly wound upon the papal institution by bringing an end to the 1260 years reign of the pope.
Now God was in a position to give His last warning to the world. He startled the inhabitants with the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755. This was followed by the darkening of the sun and causing the moon to appear as blood in 1780. Finally God brought about the falling of the stars in 1833, all of which He had predicted in Revelation 6:12, 13, “Lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.” It was thus that God prepared the world for the final end-time warning message of the three angels, which you have been hearing in this series of tapes, declaring that earth’s judgment day had arrived and that Babylon is fallen. Do not receive the mark of the beast for you will be destroyed by the brightness of Christ’s Second Coming.
Satan knows that it is time for Christ’s Second Coming so he is now uniting the religions of the world by a great ecumenical program which will ultimately place the pope in control of all the religions of the world. Furthermore, at the same time Satan is gaining control of the nations of the world in the United Nations government that will finally be directed by the pope as portrayed in the woman of Revelation 18 as the papal church riding the beast and all the world wonders.
This brings us to the most decisive battle, number six, of Armageddon which will now take place as revealed in Revelation 19:11-20 when Jesus Christ comes . “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. … (Now notice) And I saw the beast (that’s the papacy), and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.”
These two great opposing armies are thus revealed fighting each other to the death. One side is led by the Creator of heaven and earth, with all those who bear His signet – keeping all the commandments of God. On the other side stands the prince of darkness, with those who have chosen to obey tradition and rebel. Each side will clearly reveal their allegiance. God’s people will bear the seal of God – the seventh-day Sabbath; the other side, the mark of the beast – keeping the first day, Sunday. Both armies consider the opposite side to be worthy of treason. Those who obey God will be considered as committing treason to the New World Order. Those who obey the pope will be considered by God as committing treason to His divine law. This battle will be fought to the finish.
I am afraid that few realize how great this coming battle will be, for each person on the face of the earth will be forced to make a decision either to fight and die for Satan, or to rather die than sin for Jesus Christ. John the Revelator was shown the enormity of this battle. He tells us that men’s hearts will fail them for fear. He saw the earth moved out of its place, its mountains thrown into the midst of the sea. He tells of the vials of God’s wrath being poured out in seven last plagues bringing pestilence, famine and death to those on the side of Satan.
This is all revealed in Revelation 19:17 – 21, “And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. … And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.”
But there is also the greatest news ever to be realized. At the Second Coming of Christ all who have died in the last 6000 years in these battles of Armageddon and been obedient to Christ’s holy Word will be resurrected to live again. Those who are alive in this end time and would rather die than sin by accepting the mark of the beast will join the resurrected saints without experiencing death. Both the resurrected and the living saints will meet the Lord in the clouds and receive immortal life. Praise the Lord. However, the followers of Satan will be consumed by the brightness of Christ’s Second Coming. The Bible states in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, “And then shall the Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” Thus ends battle number six of Armageddon.
But there is still one more final engagement. This brings us to battle number seven, of Armageddon, which takes place 1000 years later. During that period of time the devil and his angels will be confined to this desolate earth with all of his wicked dead. “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:1, 2.
During this thousand years God will convene a judgment session in heaven to consider the fate of the wicked. Revelation 20:12 reads, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” At the conclusion of the judgment of the wicked the saints of God, who have been living in heaven with Jesus, will gather together in the New Jerusalem that will then descend from heaven down to this earth as we read in Revelation 21:2, 10, “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. … And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.”
With the New Jerusalem safely positioned here on this planet Earth, Christ calls forth the wicked in the second resurrection. Once more the wicked will live under the control of Satan whom they have chosen to obey. Immediately Satan organizes this vast army of the wicked in a battle array to surround the Holy City in which the saints of God are now living. His plan is to take the city, with the saints, and sit on heaven’s throne. His plans are thwarted as God unleashes the fires of hell and annihilates every one of the wicked who have been resurrected. This fire also destroys the devil and his angels. Listen as I read God’s description of this final battle of Armageddon. “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:7-10.
Satan will be no more for I read in Ezekiel 28:18,19 where God describes the end of Lucifer, “Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.” Oh, how we should thank God. What a day of victory this will be.
It is then that we can expect the wonderful scene shown John the Revelator as he tells us in Revelation 21:1, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. … And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.” Praise the Lord!
Oh, beloved, I plan to be there with Jesus in this earth made new, how about you? I beg you in the name of our blessed Savior to decide this very moment that you will join God’s remnant people who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. I’ll see you in heaven.
Let us pray. Oh loving God, how we thank Thee for Thy wonderful gift of Jesus that one day soon we might live with Thee. Please help these dear listeners to be faithful in their decision to keep the commandments of God and ever remember the divine power of divinity is able to keep them from falling. For I read in Thy holy word in Jude 24, 25, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Praise God! With such a promise, we shall all meet at the feet of Jesus to ever praise His holy name.