Strictly speaking the term “Armageddon” denotes the assembling area of earth’s military confederacies for the final battle in human history prior to the millennium It is a Hebrew word which means “Mountains of Megiddo”, and represents that region in Palestine to the north of Jerusalem where the armies of the nations of the earth will be marshalled preparatory to the battle itself, which may be pitched in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, as the great assembled forces move southward on Jerusalem. There they will be met and utterly destroyed by the Warrior King, at the head of His heavenly army Although the point of rendezvous and the battlefield proper are not identical, the conflict is commonly called “the Battle of Armageddon
The only Scriptural reference to Armageddon, under this designation, is found in Revelation 16. 16 as a consequence of the pouring out of the sixth bowl of divine fury. In that context the place and the preparations for the epic battle are described. But for the actual conflict itself we need to turn to the grimly and graphically depicted account in Revelation 19. 11-21.
What, then, is this battle about? The issue involved is a very big one, namely - Who has the right to rule the world? The conclusive answer to this age-long question will be decided by a trial of strength, when earth’s Satanically mobilized kings are confronted by God’s appointed Monarch - His own Son - probably in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Man defies God, and his declaration of intent is to cast aside all divine restraint, and live and order things in accordance with his own will. Thus, to dethrone God, and wrest from His hand the governmental control of the world, is the audacious and suicidal plan which reaches its climax at Armageddon.
(Psalm 2 sets forth the arrogant defiance of earth’s kings and people in relation to God and His appointed King. It foretells the collision course along which men and nations will be moving, a course which can have but one conclusion - utter and ignominious defeat and destruction by omnipotent power.)
Under the sixth vial of wrath, the natural barrier separating east from west, the great river Euphrates, is removed, facilitating the troop movements of the eastern armies (“the kings from the east”, Rev 16. 12) to converge at the assembly point in Palestine.
We must not, however, miss a notable feature regarding this massive concentration of military might in Judaea. It is God who is the prime mover in assembling the nations and their leaders, and some translate: “And He (God) gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew Armageddon”, Rev. 16. 16. (See also Joel 3. 2.) And so Satan over-reaches himself again, for unwittingly he is furthering the divine purpose in marshalling the military confederacies, and assembling them to their doom at Armageddon in the day of Jehovah’s vengeance.
As in the case of many of the outstanding events in the history of mankind, Armageddon has had its typical foreshadowings in Old Testament times. Can we not see a preview in miniature of earth’s last war, in the defeat of Sisera and his forces, inflicted on them by the Israelites under Deborah and Barak in the mountain of Megiddo?, Jud. 4; 5. 19-20. “All the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left”, 4. 16. The Valley of Jehoshaphat, mentioned in Joel 3 2. 12, is the place where God will judge the nations that He has gathered together, in the same region in which Sisera’s armies met their total annihilation so many centuries before. (“Jehoshaphat” meaning “Jehovah judgeth”)
Space being limited, it might be well now to summarize some of the salient features of this last and decisive battle fought here on the planet earth (Note. When we refer to Armageddon as the final conflict, we are not overlooking the last revolt instigated by Satan at the close of the kingdom age, when he is temporarily released from the place of restraint in the abyss. This meets with summary judgment by consuming fire sent down by God out of heaven, so that no battle is actually joined, Rev. 20. 7-9.)
This is to mount a universal rebellion by earth’s rulers, in defiance of God, to dispute by concerted military action God’s right to rule the world, Psa. 2.
The immediate strategy of the assembled armies is to prevent the deliverance of Jerusalem by Messiah, the true King of Israel.
Satan’s aim is to assemble the nations to contest Christ’s claim, whereas God’s purpose in gathering the nations is to execute judgment upon them.
It will no doubt be spread over a more extensive area than simply the Hill of Megiddo The field of operations is bound to occupy a much broader battleground than the Valley of Jehoshaphat alone, where king Jehoshaphat achieved his great victory over the invading forces, 2 Chron. 20. 24. An extensive region in the vicinity of Jerusalem will probably form the scene of awful carnage, where the carrion fowl of the heavens will satiate themselves at the great supper of divine judgment, Rev. 19. 17-18, 21.
Various confederacies will converge on Palestine at the end of the age. We have identified them and their rulers in previous articles in this series.
(Some may wonder at the omission of Russia and her minions from this tremendous concentration of military power in Palestine at this time. But the prophetic Word would seem to indicate that Gog and his satellites will not sweep down into Israeli territory until a slightly later date, which event we hope to deal with in a subsequent paper.)
The armies of the western alignment will suffer a devastating defeat at Armageddon, and those two archenemies of God, the beast and the false prophet, will be despatched from the very field of battle, to be cast alive into the lake of fire, Rev. 19. 20. There will, consequently, be no resurrection for them at the end of time; and there will be no need for them to stand before the Great White Throne of judgment. Because of the enormity of their iniquity and the heinous nature of their sinning, their judgment will be summary and final, a consignment to become the first two occupants of that dreadful place, prepared originally for the devil and his fallen angels, the “lake of fire burning with brimstone”, Rev. 19. 20.
This, too, will be the fate of the fierce Assyrian, the king of the northern army, who also will be cast into “Tophet” (the lake of fire), Isa. 30. 27-33. His army, in an apparently separate operation in the campaign, will be driven eastward by the Lord in His warrior character, to die and putrify in the barren wilderness, Joel 2. 20.
And so the universal slaughter of earth’s armies, and the judgment of their leaders, will proclaim a triumphant Christ, and clear the way for the establishment of His reign in righteousness. Soon He will take the kingdom, whose right it is to reign!
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