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Armageddon: The Final Conflict

The morning of October 7, 2001 when the news broke that the U.S. forces had attacked Afghanistan. We kept our eyes riveted on our television sets.

To those of us who saw the Afghanistan War on their t.v. screens, it was very real. But to those who went through it, the war was a million times more real.

Listen. I have bad news for everyone. Another war is coming, and it is going to make the Afghanistan War seem like child’s play.

Armageddon – that is what the book of Revelation calls it. Thankfully, we are given information about this war. Revelation has a lot to say regarding Armageddon. Let's read a number of more descriptive verses from the book:

  • “The dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring” (chapter 12:17).
  • “I saw a beast coming out of the sea…. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them” (chapter 13:1, 7).
  • “I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns…. The ten horns… are ten kings…. They will make war against the Lamb” (chapter 17:3, 12, 14).
  • “Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army” (chapter 19:19).

This war actually began in heaven thousands of years ago when Satan, also called the devil, rebelled against God. Because of their rebellion, the devil and his followers were expelled from heaven and cast into the earth (Revelation 12:9), and the devil's conflict against God has continued on our planet ever since.

Armageddon will simply be the final battle in that war, when the devil will learn all about the consequences of rebelling against God.

Right now this war doesn't seem real, does it? - you and I “chatting” about it in the same detached sort of way we talk about Rome's conquest of Greece 2,000 years ago. But the clash between Rome and Greece is finished; no one will go through the horrors of that war ever again. On the other hand, Armageddon, is the future and it is fast approaching. You and I are staring the devil eyeball to bloodshot eyeball, and he's belching his sulfurous breath in our nostrils.

I don't want to terrify you, but I hope you'll get emotional enough about Armageddon that you'll want to know more about it. Let's go back over those descriptions from Revelation and analyze them one at a time. Let's see what we can learn about earth's final war. Where and when will it happen? Who will be the main participants? What will be the issues?

War With the Dragon

“The dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring” (Revelation 12:17).

What or who is this dragon? Who is the “woman” he's attacking? And who are her offspring?

Revelation tells us exactly who the parties in this conflict are. We've already learned that the dragon is Satan - the devil. The woman and her offspring represent “those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (verse 17).

Those are God's people. Christians! Catholics and Protestants and, yes, if I read my Bible correctly, people from all religions who serve God from the heart (Romans 2:14, 15).

War With the Sea Beast

Immediately after John's report about the dragon's attack on the woman, he introduces us to a powerful creature that stalks out of the ocean: “I saw a beast coming out of the sea,” he says. “He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name” (Revelation 13:1).

Picture it, if you will - this monster with seven heads, each with a blasphemous name burned into its forehead. It stamps its way across the beach, water pouring off its back and running in rivulets back into the ocean.

What on earth is this beast?

For one thing, it is very powerful. People all over the world will follow it, and they will ask, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”. This beast is invincible! Nobody can attack him and win.

Yet a few courageous people do try. Revelation says this beast was “given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them” (verse 7). The saints - God's people - will resist the beast. They will pay a heavy price for their resistance, though. Revelation says that the beast will conquer the saints. God's people are doomed!

Or are they?

War With the Scarlet Beast

The next reference to Armageddon comes in Revelation 17. This chapter opens with a word picture of a prostitute riding on a scarlet beast that, like the beast in chapter 13, has seven heads and ten horns.

The reference to war comes in verse 14, which says, “They will make war against the Lamb.”

“They” refers to the 10 horns on the scarlet beast, and verse 12 explains that these horns represent 10 kings. Kings means “heads of state,” which in our day can include presidents and prime ministers. In the broadest sense, these kings represent the, nations over which they rule. There are far more than 10 nations in the world today. Revelation's “ten kings” should probably be understood to represent all the nations of the world at the time of this final conflict.

Now note this: “They [the nations of the world] will make war against the Lamb.”

So the nations of the world join the devil on one side, while the Lamb is on the other. The “Lamb” in revelation always represents Jesus Christ.

How amazing! Jesus Christ Himself will be one of the contestants in earth's final conflict! And Revelation says “the Lamb will overcome them [earth's nations] because he is Lord of lords and King of kings” (chapter 17:14).

The Rider on the Horse

Revelation's final picture of war comes in chapter 19: “I saw heaven standing open,” John says, “and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war”.

Revelation goes on to say that “the armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean”. The phrase “armies of heaven” probably refers to the angels (chapter 12:7-9).

We know; of course, that the devil will be on the other side. Will anyone join him? Oh yes! John says, “I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army” (chapter 19:19).

The participants in Revelation 19 are exactly the same as those in chapter 17 - Jesus and His followers on one side and the devil and his followers on the other. And chapter 19 indicates the same outcome. It says “the beast was captured” - taken prisoner of war, if you please! - and was “thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur”.

Just a moment ago, we read the question in Revelation 13:4, “Who can make war against [the beast]?” Chapter 19 answers that question: Jesus, the rider on the white horse, can make war against the beast - and defeat him! •

Let's find out what else Revelation tells us about Armageddon.

When Will it Happen?

The final conflict on Earth will have two stages, and the first stage will start a short time before the second coming of Jesus. In this stage, the conflict will take the form of punishment against the people of God all over the globe. For instance, the book of Revelation says the evil forces will make a law that any person who does not worship Satan will be terminated. It will appear that Satan and his armies are winning at this phase of the conflict. That is the reason why the prophet John declares the beast “will make war against the saints and … conquer them”.

The second stage of the war of Armageddon will occur at the second coming of Christ. Bible commentators concur that the word image in Revelation 19 of Jesus and His armies riding out of heaven on white horses is a figurative rendition of Christ’s second coming.

Where Will It Happen?

In the language of Hebrew, the meaning of the word Armageddon is “Mount of Megiddo.” There is a valley of Megiddo but no Mount Megiddo in Palestine. This made a lot of Christians to conclude that earth's final conflict will occur in that valley.

Nevertheless, as we have seen, this war will happen between Christ and the devil and their devotees. Since every person will join the side of Christ or the devil, we can believe that Armageddon will not be exclusive to just one location on earth. The battlefield will be the whole world.

Armageddon, You, and Me

When we speak of earth's final war, we are actually talking about a war that's been going on since Satan tempted Eve in Eden. It's the age-old conflict between good and evil, and it's been going on inside you and me all our lives.

Everyone who participated in a war has to make decisions, from the general who creates the battle plans to the soldier, going through the grass and mud, trying to choose whether to kill the opponent or just take him as a prisoner.

The conflict between good against evil in everyone’s heart also involves making decisions.

For instance, what decision do you make, when you have the chance to deceive on your income tax return? What do you choose when you are very angry at someone and you can either keep calm or explode in anger? What do you choose when a co-worker at the office is more attractive than your spouse?

Everyone is confronted with choices like these daily, every single day.

The battle is real in this very moment!

The war of Armageddon is still the future. But it, too, will involve decisions about moral and spiritual issues.

If you forget everything in this article, please keep in mind the following: Unless we decide to change, everyone will make the same moral and spiritual decisions in the final war in earth as we are making them in this very moment.

In Revelation 13, the formidable beast that surface from the sea seems to be invincible. On the first phase of this war, nobody can fight against this beast.

Every human being attempts to fight the beast, but it defeats them. In Revelation 19, the rider on the white horse fights the beast in battle, suppresses him, and casts him into a burning sulfur lake.

Revelation 17:14 indicates that the nations of the world will fight against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them for the reason that he is Lord of lords and King of kings – and with him will be his called, faithful and chosen devotees.

Let's explain that verse.

The most rousing part is that Jesus Christ is going to conquer the war of Armageddon! And the next most exhilarating thing about it is that you and I will be with Christ!

Indeed, Jesus Christ will be “with” you and me on the war of Armageddon.

Is not that what He promised two thousand years ago? Jesus Christ said, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He will keep the promise right to the end!

Oftentimes, I cross path with people who are so scared of the Armageddon that they cry and wring their hands. For me, I get excited when I know that Jesus Christ will be on our side in the final war.

Armageddon cannot devastate us for the reason that our Leader is King over all the kings of the world and Lord over all its lords!

But how about the devil, who started this war thousands of years ago in heaven when he rebelled against God? What will be his fate? •

Imagine Satan for a moment, like the Taliban soldiers during the Afghanistan war, hunkered down in an underground bunker with his generals, planning his strategy against Christ as he approaches the world from outer space. They think they're safe, but Christ blasts through their bunker, and Satan's generals cower in fear. Satan remains defiant to the bitter end, but does he win? Revelation says that the beast (Satan's human allies) will be “thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur,” and eventually the devil himself will be cast into this same lake of fire (chapters 19:20; 20: 10).

Satan will be destroyed! That will be his reward for the havoc he's wreaked on this earth for thousands of years. Armageddon will truly be “the devil's payday.”

Yes, the war is real - so real, in fact, that for a while, it will look like God's people are losing and Satan is winning.

But during the battle of Armageddon, God's people will have Jesus on their side, and He will defeat all their enemies, including the devil himself, who has been trying so desperately to destroy them.

If we join His side today, we are assured that He will keep us on His side in the final, most intense battle this world has ever known.

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