The Battle of Armageddon is described in the Scriptures as a war between the Remnant of Israel and the armies of the nations who will be destroyed in this battle by a Great Earthquake and Severe Hailstorm. The name of the war, itself, comes from the place where the kings will be gathered for battle.
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. 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. Rev. 16:12-16
In these verses, the Dragon represents Satan, who will empower the Beast to war against God’s people. The Beast is the Man of Lawlessness who is more commonly known as the antichrist. The False Prophet is the man who will enforce the worship of the Beast, during the Great Tribulation and who will cause anyone who does not take the Mark of the Beast to be killed. Together, these three will send out demons who will perform signs in order to gather the kings of the whole world to Armageddon.
The Rise of the Beast
In order to understand what will take place at the Battle of Armageddon, we have to look at the events that will precede this war, beginning with the Rise of the Beast (the antichrist) who will attack Jerusalem and kill the Two Witnesses. (To read more about the Attack on Jerusalem, see Is the Attack on Jerusalem a Past Event?)
I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Rev. 11:1-7
From the Revelation, we learn that the Two Witnesses are two prophets who will preach in Jerusalem and call down plagues as a warning to the Inhabitants of the Earth. The Two Witnesses will be opposed by the Beast (the antichrist), who will also rise to power at this time and who will blaspheme God. When the Beast goes up to Jerusalem and kills the two prophets, it will not be an isolated event, but will take place as part of a much larger attack on Jerusalem, itself, which will be followed the Great Tribulation when the armies of the Beast will occupy Jerusalem for 42 months. The Attack on Jerusalem was also described by the Lord who warned the people that when they witnessed the desecration of the Temple, they were to flee to the mountains.
“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. Matt. 24:15-21
In the above warning, the people are told that when they see the desecration of the Temple, (the abomination that causes desolation) they were to flee to the mountains in order to avoid being killed in the attack. In addition, the Lord said that the Attack on Jerusalem would be followed by the Great Distress (Tribulation), which would never be equaled. These same events are explained in the following passages that use symbolism to describe how the Remnant from Israel will flee into the wilderness and will be kept safe from the dragon during the 42 months (3 1/2 years) of the Great Tribulation, when the Gentiles will occupy Jerusalem.
When the dragon (Satan) saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman (Israel) who had given birth to the male child (Jesus). The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, (3 1/2 years) out of the serpent’s reach. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river (Gentile army), to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth (an earthquake) and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war (the Great Tribulation) against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. Rev. 12:13-17
In this account of the Attack on Jerusalem, we read how the dragon will entice the armies of the Beast to pursue the Fleeing Remnant into the wilderness. When the armies of the serpent attempt to overtake the Fleeing Remnant, they will be destroyed when the earth opens its mouth and swallows the river, which is a description of how an earthquake will swallow up the pursing armies. After escaping from the chasing armies of the dragon, the Remnant from Israel will be kept safe in the wilderness, out of Satan’s reach, for a time (1 year), times (2 years) and half a time (1/2 year), which equals 3 ½ years. During the 3 ½ years that the Remnant from Israel will be kept hidden in the wilderness, Satan will wage a war against those who keep God’s command and hold fast their testimony about Jesus, which is another description of the Great Tribulation.
The flight of the Remnant from Jerusalem is also described in the following passages that explain how the Mount of Olives will be split in two in order to provide a way of escape for the people who will flee from the city when it is attacked.
A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. Zech. 14:1-5
Anyone who is familiar with the Old Testament will recognize the similarities between the above description of the flight of the Remnant from Jerusalem, and the exodus of Israel from Egypt. In the Exodus, it was the armies of Pharaoh who pursued the escaping children of Israel, and it was the sea that was divided and made a way of escape for the Israelites. Once Israel had passed through the sea, the waters swallowed up Pharaoh’s army. In the same way, when the future Attack on Jerusalem takes place, Israel will once again be pursued by an army but this time it will be the Mount of Olives that is split in two and an earthquake that will swallow up the chasing armies of the Beast. When the armies of the Beast are destroyed and the Remnant escapes, it will fill Satan with rage, and he will, then, wage a war (the Great Tribulation) against those who hold fast to their testimony of Jesus and keep God’s commands.
The Battle of Armageddon
All of the above forms the background for the Battle of Armageddon, which will take place after the Attack on Jerusalem and after the 3 ½ period of the Great Tribulation. Following the Great Tribulation, the Remnant from Israel, who will be kept safe from the dragon in the wilderness, will be the only nation or group of people left on earth who are openly defying the Beast. In order to destroy this surviving Remnant, the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet will send out demons to perform signs in order to gather the kings for battle. After the kings and their armies are gathered at Armageddon, they will be brought down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which lies between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, where the Remnant will have made their escape.
I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. Joel 3:2
When the nations are brought down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, they will be judged by God, and trampled down like grapes in a winepress, and their blood will flow like a river.
“Let the nations be roused; let them into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow—so great is their wickedness!” Joel 3:12-13
Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia. Rev. 14: 17-20
The imagery of a winepress to describe the defeat of the armies of the Beast corresponds with how the Lord will send a Great Earthquake and Severe Hailstorm, containing hailstones weighing up to a hundred pounds, which will crush the gathered armies.
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. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since mankind has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 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. Rev. 16:17-21 (To read more about Babylon the Great, see Who is Babylon the Great?)
These are the same events that are described in the opening of the Sixth Seal which reveals how a Great Earthquake will remove the mountains and islands from their place, and the kings and generals will be forced to hide in caves from the huge hailstones that will fall on the people.
I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” Rev. 6:12-16
These are also the events that are described in the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet, which will announce the Reign of Christ on earth and the same Great Earthquake and Severe Hailstorm.
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”… Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm. Rev. 11:15, 19
In each of the above accounts, we read of the Great Earthquake and Severe Hailstorm that will destroy the armies of the Beast and cause everyone to hide in caves.
The Rider on the White Horse
In the Revelation, the above events are described as the Lord riding into battle on a white horse with the angels of heaven behind Him.
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 wages war. 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. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is 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. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords. Rev. 19:12-16
When the Lord is pictured as riding on a horse with a sword coming out of His mouth, it does not mean that He will physically appear on a horse at the battlefield but is the Scripture’s way of showing us that it will be the Lord who will bring about the Great Earthquake and Severe Hailstorm, which will destroy the armies of the Beast. To the people on earth, the coming of the Lord will appear as dark clouds, thunderstorms, and lightning that will suddenly fill the sky and that will cause all the peoples on earth to mourn.
“Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” Matt 24:30
Likewise, when the Beast and the kings of the earth are referred to as waging war against the rider on the horse, it is a description of how the Beast will attack the Remnant of Israel and not Christ Himself.
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. Rev. 19:19
Throughout history, the way that nations and individuals have fought against God has been to fight against God’s people, which is what will take place at the Battle of Armageddon.
The Punishment of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet
At the conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon, the Beast and the False Prophet will be thrown alive into the Fiery Lake of Burning Sulfur, and the dead bodies of their armies will become food for the birds of the air.
But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. Rev. 19:20-21
In the Scriptures, to die by fire is a sign of judgment. In the case of the Beast and the False Prophet, when we read that they will be thrown alive into the Lake of Fire, it is a sign of their extreme rebellion against God and their corresponding punishment. Also, at this time, Satan will be locked in the Abyss for a thousand years, which will lead to the next event of the Last Days known as the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ. (To read more about the Reign of Christ on earth, see: The 1,000 Year Reign of Christ)
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Rev. 20:1-5
As the above verses describe, when the Beast and the False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire, Satan will be captured and thrown into the Abyss along with the demons who followed him. This corresponds with how, earlier, we read that the Lord will lead the angels into battle with a sword coming out of His mouth. When the Lord rides into battle, He will wage a war against the demonic spirits in the heavens, as well as the armies that they empower on earth. The result of these battles will be that the armies of the Beast and False Prophet will be crushed, and Satan and his demons will be captured and locked in the Abyss. (To read more about the Abyss, see: Hades, Paradise, the Abyss, Hell, Heaven, and the New Heaven and Earth)
As described in the above verses, following the Battle of Armageddon, the Reign of Christ on earth will begin.
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