The War of Armageddon (Rev 16:12-21)

October 16, 2017 — Leave a comment

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Past Lessons & Review

B. Text of Rev 16:12-21

“12Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl onto the great Euphrates River and its water dried up. This prepared the road for the kings of the east. 13Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs come out of the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. 14For they are demon spirits making signs which go out to the kings of the whole earth to gather them for the battle of the great day of the Lord, the Almighty! 15Behold! I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays alert and keeps his clothing, so that nakedness does not walk around and people see his nakedness. 16The demonic spirits gathered the kings and their armies to the placed called in Hebrew, ‘Armageddon.’ 17Lastly, the seventh angel poured out his bowl on the air. And I heard a loud voice coming out of the temple from the throne saying, ‘It is done!’ 18Then there was lightening, roaring, thunder, and a great earthquake. The earthquake was so great and severe, that one of that magnitude had never been felt by man before. 19The great city was split into three parts and the cities of the Gentiles fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God and gave her the cup of wine of his angry wrath. 20Every island disappeared and no mountain was found. 21Then great hailstones that weighed 100 pounds each were coming down from heaven onto people. So people slandered God from the hailstone plagues because they were the most severe of his plagues.” (Rev 16:12-21) 1

The Sixth and Seven Seals and War of Armageddon of Rev 16.12 to 16.21

Photo Credit: Matthias Gerung

C. General Remarks

“Those who fall under judgment here are those who have been given every chance to repent, and have refused. They have chosen to go down with the monsters rather than to suffer and be vindicated with the lamb. In the language of chapters 17-22, they have chosen the way of the harlot rather than the way of the bride.” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 146)

“Though we are not able to immediately understand all the details of these dramatic judgments, the unmistakable impression of the Scriptures is that the whole world is being brought to the bar of justice before Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. There is no escape from divine judgment except for those who receive the grace of God in that day of faith in Jesus Christ.” (Walvoord, Revelation, 251)

QUESTION: IS ARMAGEDDON A “PLACE” OR A “BATTLE?”

QUESTION: IS ARMAGEDDON THE “LAST” BATTLE ON THE EARTH?

QUESTION: IS ARMAGEDDON A “WAR” OR A “SINGLE BATTLE?”

QUESTION: IS JESUS PRESENT DURING THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON?

II. THE SIXTH BOWL JUDGMENT ON THE EUPHRATES RIVER (Rev 16:12-16)

“Numerous interpretations have been offered for this bowl judgment. Some have been farfetched, and the historical school has in the past attempted to identify this battle with a previous major world conflict. But the most natural explanation is the best, which is that this judgment actually dries up the great Euphrates River, thereby preparing for an invasion from the East.” (Walvoord, Revelation, 245)

You can get a PDF version of this blog post and a handout for a small group by becoming a patron of my blog.

A. The Euphrates Dries Up (v. 12)

Καὶ ὁ ἕκτος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν ποταμὸν τὸν μέγαν τὸν Εὐφράτην, καὶ ἐξηράνθη τὸ ὕδωρ αὐτοῦ, ἵνα ἑτοιμασθῇ ἡ ὁδὸς τῶν βασιλέων τῶν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς ἡλίου.

“Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl onto the great Euphrates River and its water dried up. This prepared the road for the kings of the east.” (Rev 16:12) 2

QUESTION: DOES GOD ALLOW BAD THINGS TO HAPPEN?

1. The Great Euphrates River

The river is called the “great river . . . Euphrates” in Gen 15:18; Deut 1:7; Josh 1:4.

Two Old Testament prophecies seem to predict this future event of the drying up of the Euphrates River:

  • “The LORD will make a dry path through the gulf of the Red Sea. He will wave his hand over the Euphrates River, sending a mighty wind to divide it into seven streams so it can easily be crossed on foot.” (Isaiah 11:15, NLT)
  • “They will pass safely through the sea of distress, for the waves of the sea will be held back, and the waters of the Nile will dry up. The pride of Assyria will be crushed, and the rule of Egypt will end.” (Zechariah 10:11, NLT)

2. Kings from the East

Some believe that the “kings from the east” represents communist China. This is a view that it could be the Oriental rulers who will descend upon the Middle East. This view is held by Walvoord, Revelation, 246.

B. Three Evil Spirits from the False Trinity (v. 13)

Καὶ εἶδον ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦ δράκοντος καὶ ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦ θηρίου καὶ ἐκ τοῦ στόματος τοῦ ψευδοπροφήτου πνεύματα τρία ἀκάθαρτα ὡς βάτραχοι·

“Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs come out of the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet.” (Rev 16:13)

1. Demonic Spirits

Where did they come from? Two views of where demons came from.

  • Fallen Angels. Some believe that demons are fallen angels that followed Satan during his original rebellion from God (Matt 25:41; Rev 12:3-4, 7-9; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).
  • Offspring of Ungodly Union. Another view is that demons come from ungodly sex between angels (“sons of God”) and women (“daughters of men”) in Gen 6:2-4 (also see Num 13:31-33). This position assumes that angels could assume some type of physical form similar to man and therefore could cohabitate with women. 1 Enoch 10:11-14 makes the case and supports this view.

2. Demons

The description of “unclean spirits” or “demon spirits” is likely a way that the New Testament references “fallen angels” or “demons” (Matt 10:1; Mark 1:23-24; 3:11; 5:2, 13; Acts 5:16; 8:7).

3. The False Trinity

  • Dragon Is Satan. While the symbolism in the book of Revelation is difficult to understand, there is no doubt that the dragon is Satan because the dragon is described as “the ancient serpent—the devil—who is called Satan and who deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9; 20:2)
  • Beast Is World Ruler. The beast is the world ruler that comes to power and rules for forty-two months (Rev 13:5-6), and in his power people gave allegiance to him and worship him (Rev 13:3-4). This world ruler wages war against God’s holy people, conquers them, and rules over every tribe and people (Rev 13:7).
  • False Prophet Is Religious Counterpart of World Ruler. The Bible makes it clear that we are supposed to avoid false prophets (Matt 7:15; Mark 13:22; Acts 13:6; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:22; 4:1, 3; 2 John 7).

C. Demonic Spirits Doing Evil (v. 14)

εἰσὶν γὰρ πνεύματα δαιμονίων ποιοῦντα σημεῖα, ἃ ἐκπορεύεται ἐπὶ τοὺς βασιλεῖς τῆς οἰκουμένης ὅλης συναγαγεῖν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν πόλεμον τῆς ἡμέρας τῆς μεγάλης τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ παντοκράτορος.

“For they are demon spirits making signs which go out to the kings of the whole earth to gather them for the battle of the great day of the Lord, the Almighty!” (Rev 16:14)

1. What Battle Is This?

AT Robertson says that this is a war against God described in Rev 17:14; 19:19. Also see 2 Peter 3:12; Joel 2:11; 3:4. Additionally, Paul uses “that day” for the Parousia (1 Thess 5:2; 2 Thess 1:10; 2:2; 1 Cor 1:8; 2 Cor 1:14; Phil 1:6; 2:16; 2 Tim 1:12, 18; 4:8).

2. The Work of Demons

While much of our culture is obsessed and fascinated with the work of angels, I think it is important to be aware of demons and how they might cause havoc in our world today. Here’s some basic things that demons do during the age we live in.

  • Oppress and Possess Humans and Animals. In this manner they cause violence (Matt 8:28-29; Mark 5:1-10; Luke 8:26-29; Acts 19:16), speech impairment (Matt 9:32; 12:22; Mark 9:17), blindness (Matt 12:22), and seizures (Matt 17:14-16, 18).
  • Extraordinary Powers to Those They Indwell. Things such as supernatural knowledge (James 2:19), fortune-telling (Acts 16:16), wild strength (Matt 8:28; 17:15; Acts 19:16).
  • Instigate Deceptive Doctrines (1 Tim 4:1-3 and Rev 9:20-21)
  • Deceive Nations (Isa 24:21; Dan 10:4-11:1; 11:1-12:4; Rev 16:13-16)
  • In Prison But Let Loose in the Great Tribulation (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Rev 9; 16:14)
  • Occasionally Sent to do the Will of God (1 Sam 16:14, 15-23; Job 1:6-2:1; 2 Cor 12:7)

D. Jesus Promises To Come (v. 15)

Ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ὡς κλέπτης. μακάριος ὁ γρηγορῶν καὶ τηρῶν τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ, ἵνα μὴ γυμνὸς περιπατῇ καὶ βλέπωσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτοῦ.

“Behold! I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays alert and keeps his clothing, so that nakedness does not walk around and people see his nakedness.” (Rev 16:15)

1. A Statement of Jesus, Not John

Several translations and commentators make the correct conclusion that this is a parenthetical statement by Jesus. This verse is not a statement by John, but instead an insertion from Jesus Christ (Walvoord, Revelation, 247). This same type of quick and unexpected utterance is seen in Rev 1:8; 8:13; 9:12; 11:14; 13:9-10, 10; 14:12-13; 16:5, 7; 18:20; 20:6.

2. Always Be Ready

QUESTION: WHAT IS “THIEF” MEANING HERE? WHAT DOES A THIEF DO AND HOW DOES HE DO IT?

The warning here uses the illustration of a thief. A thief comes unexpectedly to inflict harm on someone who is surprised. Jesus himself compared his second coming as a thief (Matt 24:43; Luke 12:39) who will overtake those who are not alert. Earlier in the book of Revelation a warning was given to the church of Sardis that Jesus would come like a thief (Rev 3:3). Lastly, 1 Thess 5:2, 4 and 2 Peter 3:10 describe the day of the Lord will be like a thief. What’s this mean? It means that the second coming of Jesus results in a loss for those who are not alert and are not ready. (See Walvoord, Revelation, 247 for an excellent explanation of this.)

3. Don’t Be Naked!

The idea of “nakedness” was a sign of defeat and humiliation in the Old Testament (2 Chron 28:15; Isa 20:2-4; Ezek 16:39; 23:29). This means that those who want to be victorious need to stay clean and loyal to Jesus, otherwise they will be stripped of their clothing and be defeated.

E. The Gathering of Armageddon (v. 16)

Καὶ συνήγαγεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν τόπον τὸν καλούμενον Ἑβραϊστὶ Ἁρμαγεδών.

“The demonic spirits gathered the kings and their armies to the placed called in Hebrew, ‘Armageddon.’” (Rev 16:16)

QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU HERE THE WORD, “ARMAGEDDON?”

Jezreel-Valley-near-Mediddo-and-War-of-Armageddon

A picture of the Jezreel Valley near Megiddo. This is the valley where the war of Armageddon will begin. Holman Bible Atlas, p. 16

1. The Word “Armageddon”

The word Armageddon is made up of two words: הַר which means “mountain” and מְגִדּוֹ which means “Megiddo” (Josh 12:21; 17:11; Judg 1:27; 5:19; 1 Kings 4:12; 9:15; 2 Kings 9:27; 23:29ff; 1 Chron 7:29; 2 Chron 35:22; Zech 12:11; Literally, “mountain of Megiddo.” The word “Armageddon is used in Rev 16:16 and nowhere else in the Bible. This is it’s only use in the entire Bible, yet this is something that everyone who is interested in end times events wants to talk about.

2. The Location of Armageddon

This area is in the Jezreel Valley which is a plain that runs northwest to southeast. “Fertile soil and abundant water supplies made the valley agriculturally productive, especially for barley and wheat crops. Numerous springs in the valley fed two small streams flowing to the east and west” (Thomas V. Brisco, Holman Bible Atlas, Holman Reference [Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998], 16). This area is fifty miles north of Jerusalem.

Broad View of Northern Coastal Plains with Armageddon in bottom left

Broad View of Northern Coastal Plains with Armageddon in bottom left. Holman Bible Atlas, p. 15

3. Why Armageddon?

Why would there be a gathering of armies? Wright states, “His [John’s] point is simply that all the powers of evil must be brought to one place, so that they can be dealt with their” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 148).

Hitchcock makes the most compelling reason that the world powers gather at Armageddon. He believes that the armies of the world “gather for one final anti-Semitic, Satanic surge to ride the world of the Jewish people” (Hitchcock, The End, 376).

4. The Titles of Armageddon

Among the passages and verses that mention the battle of Armageddon, here are some titles used to describe this location and what goes on there:

  • “The Lord has a day of Vengeance” (Isa 34:8, ESV)
  • “The winepress” (Isa 63:2; Joel 3:13; Rev 14:19-20, ESV)
  • “The great and awesome day of the LORD” (Joel 2:31; Mal 4:5, ESV)
  • “The harvest” (Joel 3:13; Rev 14:14-15, ESV)
  • “The day is coming, burning like an oven” (Mal 4:4, ESV)
  • “The great day of God the Almighty” (Rev 16:14, ESV)

5. The Passages about Armageddon

There are various passages in the Bible that describe the battle of Armageddon.

  • Pss 2
  • Isa 34:1-16
  • Isa 63:1-6
  • Joel 3:1-17
  • Zech 12:1-9
  • Zech 14:1-15
  • Mal 4:1-5
  • Rev 14:14-20
  • Rev 16:12-16
  • Rev 19:19-21

6. The Aftermath Armageddon

Two key events happen after Armageddon:

  • The Great Bird Supper. Dead corpses will fill the entire area during the brutal war and the birds of the air will gather to feed on the carnage. This is described in Matt 24:28; Luke 17:37; Rev 19:17-21.
  • The Antichrist and False Prophet Cast Into the Lake of Fire Forever. At the end of Rev 19 it is described that the false prophet and the antichrist (the two beasts of Rev 13) will be cast into the Lake of Fire forever. They will have their butt kicked! As Hitchcock so eloquently states, “These two pawns of Satan will be the first two occupants of the lake of fire” (Hitchcock, The End, 379).

III. THE SEVENTH BOWL JUDGMENT ON THE AIR (Rev 16:17-21)

A. Seventh Bowl Completes the Wrath (v. 17)

Καὶ ὁ ἕβδομος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν ἀέρα, καὶ ἐξῆλθεν φωνὴ μεγάλη ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ θρόνου λέγουσα· γέγονεν.

“Lastly, the seventh angel poured out his bowl on the air. And I heard a loud voice coming out of the temple from the throne saying, ‘It is done!’” (Rev 16:17)

1. The Climax of God’s Judgments

The verb used at the end of this verse, γινομαι (I become, am, exist, am born, created, happen), with a stem of γεν is in the perfect form to give emphasis on the climax of God’s judgments in the series of bowl judgments (Mathewson, Revelation, 220).

2. The Severity of God’s Judgment

AT Robertson makes a good observation that all men and women breath the air so this is worse than the bowl judgment on the earth (v. 2), the sea (v. 3), the fresh waters (v. 4), or the sun (v. 8) (Robertson, Word Pictures). The word for “air” here is the Greek word ἀηρ which describes the atmosphere immediately above the earth’s surface (also used in acts 22:23; 1 Thess 4:17; 1 Cor 9:26; 14:9). Nothing will have ever have been this bad!

3. Now Complete

Like Rev 21:6, the whole series is now complete.

4. Why on the “Air”

Some believe that this final bowl is poured out onto the “air” because that is the place where Satan and his demons reign. For example, the devil is called the “commander of the air” in Eph 2:2 and in Rev 9:2 there “air” is where the smoke comes up filled with demons.

B. Mighty Rumblings (v. 18)

καὶ ἐγένοντο ἀστραπαὶ καὶ φωναὶ καὶ βρονταὶ καὶ σεισμὸς ἐγένετο μέγας, οἷος οὐκ ἐγένετο ἀφʼ οὗ ἄνθρωπος ἐγένετο ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς τηλικοῦτος σεισμὸς οὕτως μέγας.

“Then there was lightening, roaring, thunder, and a great earthquake. The earthquake was so great and severe, that one of that magnitude had never been felt by man before.” (Rev 16:18)

“Writing in an area of the world especially noted for earthquakes, John carefully distinguishes this final shaking from the greatest previously known up to that time” (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 274).

This will be a shaking so great that is has never been seen before. It was predicted in two passages:

  • “For this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the dry land.” (Haggai 2:6, NLT)
  • “When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: ‘Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.’ This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.” (Hebrews 12:26–27, NLT)

C. Babylon Split Into Three Sections (v. 19)

καὶ ἐγένετο ἡ πόλις ἡ μεγάλη εἰς τρία μέρη καὶ αἱ πόλεις τῶν ἐθνῶν ἔπεσαν. καὶ Βαβυλὼν ἡ μεγάλη ἐμνήσθη ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ δοῦναι αὐτῇ τὸ ποτήριον τοῦ οἴνου τοῦ θυμοῦ τῆς ὀργῆς αὐτοῦ.

“The great city was split into three parts and the cities of the Gentiles fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God and gave her the cup of wine of his angry wrath.” (Rev 16:19)

1. The Kingdom

This kingdom was mentioned in Rev 16:10 which

2. Views on the “Great City”

There are two main views about what the “Great City” is that is described here in Rev 16:19.

  • Babylon. This is the view that I hold for several reasons. First, in the next sentence Babylon is explicitly mentioned. Second, Babylon is described as the “great city” in Rev 14:8 and 17:18.
  • Jerusalem. This also is a solid view for a couple of reasons. First, Jerusalem is called “the great city” in Rev 11:8. Second, it is separated from the “cities of the Gentiles” in the next phrase.

D. Islands Disappear and Mountains Level (v. 20)

καὶ πᾶσα νῆσος ἔφυγεν καὶ ὄρη οὐχ εὑρέθησαν.

“Every island disappeared and no mountain was found.” (Rev 16:20)

Two Greek words are used together here for an emphasis that the islands disappeared into the oceans and that the mountains were leveled. The use of φυεγω (“I flee”) and εὑρισκω (“I find”) are only used here and in Rev 20:11; 21:1-2 in order to signal the extreme changes that the earth undergoes for the changes from the old earth to new earth.

E. Hailstones and a Slander of God (v. 21)

καὶ χάλαζα μεγάλη ὡς ταλαντιαία καταβαίνει ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐπὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, καὶ ἐβλασφήμησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι τὸν θεὸν ἐκ τῆς πληγῆς τῆς χαλάζης, ὅτι μεγάλη ἐστὶν ἡ πληγὴ αὐτῆς σφόδρα.

“Then great hailstones that weighed 100 pounds each were coming down from heaven onto people. So people slandered God from the hailstone plagues because they were the most severe of his plagues.” (Rev 16:21)

1. The Weight of Sin

These hailstones were heavy enough to kill anyone that they struck. But, are these symbolic? Robert Thomas comments, “The theory that the hail is only symbolic is faulty, however. The text has no hint to support this” (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 277). They are literally 100 pounds each.

2. More Cursing and Slandering

This verse ends with people slandering God just like they did in Rev 16:9, 11. The bad that God allows to happen on the earth is responded to with anger and rejection of the one who sends it.

IV. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION

A. Beware of Satan’s minions roaming the earth.

The book of Revelation makes it clear that Satan and his minions roam the earth. Satan’s demons are sent out to cause havoc and chaos among the earth. They are commissioned by Satan and motivated to do his work. As Christian believers we must be aware of Satan’s minions and what they are motivated to do.

B. Battle Satan’s minions roaming the earth.

After we are aware of Satan’s minions roaming the earth we must battle them. We must regularly read God’s word, prayer, and memorize Scripture. We need to regularly be in church, part of a small group, and have a close friend that we can rely on to help us stay pointed in the right direction.

You can get a PDF version of this blog post and a handout for a small group by becoming a patron of my blog.

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own based on the NA28 Greek Text
  2. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own based on the NA28 Greek Text

Christopher L. Scott

Posts Twitter Facebook Google+

Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I also may have received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."