“Armageddon” has come to stand for the most terrible of all wars.
The word actually means “mount of Megiddo,” referring to a small mountain overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
The great valley there has been a battlefield for many conquerors and it will be the focal point of the earth’s final conflict.
Since the fall of man, earth’s population has been training for Armageddon. Every tiny skirmish and world war has been a preliminary to the battle of battles: Armageddon.
Following the defeat of Russia and her armies by Israel, the final world dictator, the Antichrist, will be revealed for who he is — a ruthless, satanically controlled, evil person. The length of his reign after the Israeli defeat of Russia will be three and one-half years (forty-two months; see Rev. 13:5) and during that time he will bring the world to its most violent hour.
The World’s Most Violent Hour
There is considerable speculation as to just what triggers the Battle of Armageddon.
» Why do the armies of the world gather in the Middle East at the end of the Tribulation period?
» Is there a rebellion in the kingdom of the Antichrist?
» What precipitates the final conflict?
Although there is mystery surrounding some of these questions, there are a number of certainties about Armageddon.
• It takes place at the end of the Tribulation (Rev. 16:16).
• It involves all the nations of the world (Joel 3:12).
• It pits all nations against the Lord and His anointed (Ps. 2).
• It ends with the revelation of Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:11 — 21).
While many events of the end time are hidden from us, it is not difficult to sort out some important developments during the Tribulation period that lead to the Battle of Armageddon.
1. The Consolidation of the Power of the Antichrist
When the Beast (the Antichrist) makes peace with Israel and guarantees her security at the beginning of Daniel’s seventieth week, he is not in complete control of the world. Although he is headed for ultimate dictatorship, the earth is at that time still given to considerable nationalism. The Beast will have to fight for total control of the earth. To gain unchallenged dominion, he will have to face the military might of both the Russian confederacy and a powerful Eastern force, probably China.
Writing of this international turmoil, Daniel explained:
“And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over” (Dan. 11:40).
That this crisis is not confined to the northern alliance is made clear by Daniel 11:44:
“But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.“
Following the miraculous defeat of the Russian armies and their allies for Israel’s sake, the Antichrist will vent his fury against the massive Eastern force of 200 million that is moving toward the Middle East to challenge his power. The casualties in this confrontation will total one-third of the world’s population.
Here is John’s description of the struggle and slaughter:
“And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For this power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt” (Rev. 9:15 — 19).
It is not difficult to envision nuclear weaponry here, and in the populous Eastern nations the destruction unleashed by the Antichrist will be dreadful.
With all the world subservient to him, the final world dictator will deify himself, demanding worship in the Jews’ temple in Jerusalem. He will then assume total economic control, requiring his mark in the hand or forehead in order for a person to transact any business. The Beast will rule the earth, assisted by the false prophet and energized by Satan.
The entire world will be under the control of a satanic trinity:
“And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:4 — 8).
It is clear then that all opposition to the Beast will finally be put down, making him a world dictator.
Threats from the north, the south, and the east will be overcome.
“…therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious mountain…” (Dan. 11:44,45).
The Antichrist will have accomplished the dream of Hitler, Napoleon, the Caesars, and others. He will be dictator of the world.
2. The 144,000 Converted Jews
Another important factor as the world moves toward Armageddon will be the conversion to Christ of 144,000 Jews — 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel (see Rev. 7). The result of their missionary activity during history’s most difficult time will be phenomenal. They will reap converts from all nations, even though conversion will mean martyrdom for many (Rev. 7:9 — 17).
The message of these 144,000 Hebrew Christian evangelists will be the gospel of the kingdom — that is, it will be the gospel with a kingdom emphasis. They will be announcing the coming kingdom of Christ, and during their ministry Matthew 24:14 will be fulfilled: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.“
In his book, The Jews and Armageddon, Milton B. Lindberg describes the work of the 144,000 Jews as follows:
The Gospel of Christ has a number of descriptive designations because of a variety of emphases. In Matthew 24 it is called the “gospel of the kingdom” because the emphasis in its proclamation will be upon the Saviour’s near return to set up His kingdom…. How these redeemed sons of Israel will delight to proclaim the good news of salvation with the added emphasis that at last the long-looked-for kingdom is about to be established. At long last, the Messianic hopes of Israel are to be realized. Jerusalem is to be the capital of Messiah’s kingdom. Israel’s Messiah is to be king over all the earth (Zech. 14:9).
An added dimension to the kingdom message of the 144,000 servants of God will be their ability to announce the approximate time of the Lord’s return. Tribulation chronology will make this possible.
A number of prophecies state that the rule of the final world dictator will continue for three and one-half years after breaking the agreement for peace with Israel. Daniel described this period as “a time and times and the dividing of time” (Dan. 7:25).
John similarly spoke of “a time, and times, and a half a time” (Rev. 12:14).
Becoming more specific, he wrote: “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months” (Rev. 13:5).
Armed then with the evidence of fulfilled prophecy and the unfolding Tribulation drama, these end-time messengers will reap a great harvest.
To quote Lindberg again:
When the 144,000 begin to preach the Gospel, they will be given a hearing. Even today the world loves to hear the testimony of those who, like Paul, having hated Christ and persecuted the church, now proclaim the grace of God. Not only will these transformed Jews have a hearing, but as Revelation 7 indicates, their preaching will result in “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues” coming out of the Great Tribulation, having “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” What a mighty revival will result when these enemies of Jesus Christ become His devoted servants! Onward sweeps the revival in mighty power, drawing multitudes to faith in Christ.
It is not difficult to imagine the reaction of the world dictator to these who publicly proclaim the end of his reign and announce the coming kingdom of Christ. His anger will explode in an avalanche of persecution. Multitudes will be martyred. There will be no Sunday-gotomeeting Christians during the Tribulation. Great numbers will be called upon to seal their testimonies with blood.
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE