“And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, ARMAGEDDON.” (Rev. 16:16).
ARMAGEDDON, “THE WAR” OF THE GREAT DAY OF GOD
The “Battle of Armageddon” is described by John as “the battle of the Great Day of God Almighty” (16:14). Now, technically, Armageddon is not a battle at all. It is the gathering for the battle of the Great Day of the Lord. However, we use the term as it is commonly used.
Revelation 16:14-16 speaks of the kings of the earth gathered to “Har-Megiddo” for “the war” (ton polemon) of the Great Day of God. The use of the Greek article “the” war, informs us that what is being discussed is a well known event. The reference to a singular “the war” in Revelation 16:14, 19:19, 20:8 is significant. The war of 20:8 comes at the end of the millennium. However, “the war” of 16:14 and 19:19 comes at the judgment of Babylon. Thus, the judgment of Babylon, during the Parousia, occurs at the end of the millennium and Parousia.
|Prophecy of the Last Days (2:2)||Prophecy of the Last Days|
|Establishment of the Kingdom (2:2-4)||Establishment of the Kingdom (11:15)|
|Israel becomes like Sodom (3:9)||Israel becomes like Sodom (11:8)|
|Judgment on Israel (3:13)||Judgment on Israel (where the Lord was slain, 11:8)|
|Salvation of the remnant (4:3-6)||Salvation of the remnant (7, 14)|
|The Day of the Lord (2:9-21)||The Day of the Lord (6:12-17)|
|The glorification of “the Branch” (4:1-2)||The glorification of “the Branch” (Chpt. 19)|
|Men run to the hills (2:10, 19-21)||Men run to the hills (6:15-16) (A direct citation of Isaiah 2!)|
|The time of “the war” (3:24-26)||The time of “the war” (16:14, 19:19, 20:8)|
|Israel’s judgment, the Day of the Lord, for shedding innocent blood (3:15, 4:4)||Israel’s (Babylon’s) judgment, the Day of the Lord, for shedding innocent blood (17:6, 18:20, 24)|
|The “tabernacle of God” among men (4:5-6)||“The tabernacle of God is among men!” (21:3-4)|
What is often overlooked by commentators is the prophetic significance of the angel’s reference to “the war.” This is not just any war, it is “the war.” It is the “mother of all wars.” The war was foretold in the OT scriptures as the chart shows and it can be definitely located in time and framework. That identity leads us inexorably to Jerusalem and AD 70.
Isaiah 2-4 is a singular, united prophecy, and is, as the chart demonstrates, beyond doubt parallel with Revelation and contains virtually every motif found in the Apocalypse. Take a look at some of the pertinent points.
First, both prophecies are about the last days. This is universally admitted.
Second, the New Testament writers are clear that they were living in the last days foretold by the Old Testament prophets (Acts 2:15-21; 3:18-24; 1 Cor. 10:11; Heb. 1:1-2, etc.). This means that it is prima facie untenable to extrapolate millennia into the future from the first century. The Old Testament prophets were often writing as much as 1400 years before the 1st century, and stated that the last days were not near to them (Num. 24:17-19). They knew they were not in the last days. The New Testament writers said they were in the last days foretold by the prophets. Since the New Testament writers tell us they were in the last days foretold by the Old Testament prophecies, and since the Day of the Lord was to be near when the last days finally arrived (Joel 2:28-3:1, 13-14), this means that the consummation of the prophecy of Revelation, being an anticipation of the fulfillment of the last days prophecies of the Old Testament, was near.
Third, in Luke 23:27-31, Jesus cited Isaiah’s prediction of the time when men would run to the hills from the presence of the Lord. It is widely admitted that he was applying Isaiah to the impending fall of Jerusalem. Thus, if Jesus applied Isaiah 2-4 to the events of AD 70, then we have no authority to apply Isaiah, when used by John, to any other event, because John cites from the identical verses cited by Jesus. In Revelation 6:15-16, John quotes Isaiah 2:10, 19-21 about the Day of the Lord. These are the identical verses cited by Jesus in Luke 23:30. So, to reiterate, Jesus applied Isaiah’s prophecy of the Day of the Lord to the impending judgment of Israel. John quoted the very verses from Isaiah that Jesus applied to AD 70 (Rev. 6:12-17).
Therefore, Revelation 6:12-17 refers to the events of AD 70.
Fourth, Isaiah foretold the establishment of the Kingdom at the Day of the Lord, and this would be the time when the blood guilt of Israel was purged in judgment (Isa. 4:4-6). Likewise, John foretold the establishment of the Kingdom at the time of the judgment of the city “where the Lord was slain” (Rev. 11:8, 15-19).
Fifth, Isaiah spiritually calls Israel and Jerusalem “Sodom” in the last days that he is foretelling (Isa. 3:9). In other words, in the last days, Israel would spiritually be called “Sodom.” John was living in the last days, and says the city that killed the Lord was spiritually called Sodom.
Sixth, the time of this judgment would be “the war” in both Isaiah 3:25 and Revelation 16:14. Significantly, when predicting the time of the judgment of Israel, Jesus said “And they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away captive into all nations” (Luke 21:24). So, Jesus, who cited Isaiah 2 in his prediction of the Day of the Lord against Israel (Luke 23), is now all but quoting Isaiah 3:25 to predict that event once more. And, John, who also cites Isaiah 2-4 is anticipating “the war.” The correlation between Isaiah, Jesus and John points directly to the events surrounding the judgment of Israel in AD 70.
Seventh, Isaiah foretold the time when the blood shed by Israel would be judged and purged through judgment at the Day of the Lord in the last days. Jesus unequivocally posited the time for the avenging of the blood shed by Israel, at His coming against Israel (Matt. 23:29-36). Likewise, John foretells the judgment of the city guilty of killing the Old Covenant prophets, Jesus and Jesus’ apostles and prophets.
Isaiah said that in the last days, Israel’s guilt for shedding innocent blood would be purged “by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of fire” (4:4). John foretold the judgment of the city “Babylon,” the city, “where the Lord was slain” (Rev. 11:8). Any doubt about where Christ was crucified? This judgment, when Israel would be judged for shedding the innocent blood of Yahweh’s saints, would be “the war,” Armageddon (Rev. 16:6-21)!
Take a look now at Revelation 6:9-17.
John saw under the altar, “the souls of those slain for the Word of God and the testimony that they held. And they cried, “How long, 0 Lord, do you not avenge our blood on those on the earth?” And they were given white robes and told to rest for a little while until their fellow brethren who should be slain as they were, should be fulfilled” (vs. 9-11). The martyrs cried out for vindication!
Heaven’s response to the prayer of the martyrs is found in Revelation 6:11-17; it is the Great Day of the Lord! And, what is so significant is that in Revelation 6:12-17, John’s prediction of the Great Day of the Lord is, as just seen, drawn directly from Isaiah 2-4!
The question is, when would “the war” to judge Israel for her blood guilt be? Is it past or still future? The answer is given by Christ himself. In Matthew 23:29-36, Christ castigated the Jews, “you bear witness against yourselves that you are the sons of those who killed the prophets.” He said that Israel had killed all the prophets sent to her in the past. He also said they were going to kill Him (Matt. 21:38). And, they were going to kill the apostles and prophets that Christ sent (Matt. 23:34). By continuing in the bloody ways of her forefathers, Israel would fill up the measure of her sin, and be judged for that blood guilt. When would this take place? We find the answer throughout scripture.
In Deuteronomy 32, called the Song of Moses, God’s prophet foretold Israel’s last days, her “latter end” (Deut. 32:20, 29). This tells us right up front that we are not dealing with the end of the Christian Age (Which by the way has no end! Ephesians 3:21; Hebrews 12:28; Revelation 11:15), nor are we dealing with the “end of time.” (The Bible never discusses the “end of time.”) What we are dealing with is the last days of Old Covenant Israel, and, in Israel’s last days, Yahweh said: “the Lord shall avenge the blood of His saints” (Deut. 32:43)
So, the Bible says that in Israel’s last days, God would avenge the innocent blood of the martyrs who had died for Him. Isaiah is repeating that promise, saying that in the last days, Yahweh would purge Israel’s guilt for shedding innocent blood. He would purge that guilt by “the spirit of judgment and the spirit of fire” (Isa. 4:4), and it would be in “the war” (Isa. 3:25).
Notice what Christ had to say about Isaiah’s prediction of the last days, when Israel would be judged for shedding innocent blood, in “the war,” and don’t forget, “the war” of Isaiah is Armageddon of Revelation. In Luke 23:28-31, Christ was being led to His crucifixion. The women who loved Him followed, weeping and mourning. The Lord turned to them and said: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?”
Christ was citing Isaiah 2 (parallel Hosea 10:8), and the prediction that in the last days, in the Day of the Lord, Yahweh would judge Israel for shedding innocent blood! Christ cited Isaiah’s prediction of the time when men would run to the hills from the presence of the Lord. It is widely admitted that He was applying Isaiah to the impending fall of Jerusalem. Here is where it gets very important in regard to our study of Armageddon.
In Revelation 6:12-17, John quotes Isaiah 2:10; 19-21 about the Day of the Lord. And he quotes from the very verse cited by Christ in Luke 23:30! So, to reiterate, Christ applied Isaiah’s prophecy of the Day of the Lord to the impending judgment of Israel. John quoted from the very same verses from Isaiah that Christ applied to AD 70 (Rev. 6:12-17). Therefore, Revelation 6:12-17 must refer to the events of AD 70.
[Also see: “Armageddon and Babylon”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 5 Rev. Chapters 14 thru 16 (sub study on Armageddon)”]