Author: Ron Graham
The Battle of Armageddon
—A Physical or Spiritual Battle?
Judgment of the Beasts (Revelation 12-20) >Seven Final Visions >5th vision >Excursus on the battle visions
Who hasn't heard of “The Battle of Armageddon”? Those who believe in a future reign of Christ on earth for 1000 years, see this battle as a great war on earth just prior to, or at the end of, that millennium. But in the visions of Revelation there was no battle. It was planned. The armies gathered. But the battle did not happen.
Much nonsense has been taught about this battle. The following quote is typical:
“...Cities like London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, Chicago —obliterated! ...entire islands and mountains blown off the map... 'Behold the Lord will lay waste the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants' ...So many people will be slaughtered in the conflict that blood will stand to the horses’ bridles for a total distance of 200 miles northward and southward of Jerusalem (Revelation 14:20)” —Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth
There are at least six passages that we should note when considering the battle of Armageddon. These are as follows...
1 Satan Opposes God’s Grace
Revelation 12:1-12 When Christ was "caught up to God and to his throne" there was no place for Satan and his angels in heaven. So in the vision he was cast out and confined to earth.
In the vision, two armies made war in heaven: Michael the archangel with his angelic armies, against the Dragon with his demonic armies. Satan loses and is cast down to earth. It is not the battle of Armageddon, but it is connected. This vision signifies the power of Jesus Christ and the crucifixion of Christ was not a loss but a victory.
2 Satan Receives God’s Wrath
Revelation 14:19-20 This is a vision of the wrath of God represented as a great wine press. The grapes of "the vine of the earth" were trodden in this winepress outside the city, but it was blood that flowed out.
The blood came "up to the horses' bridles over a distance of 1600 stadia". This vision signifies the fullness of the wrath of God against those who choose to be his enemies.
3 The Beasts Stir Up War
Revelation 16:14-16 In this vision, the three beasts (the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet) spew from their mouths frog demons who go out and deceive the kings of the earth into gathering in Har-Mageddon to make war against God.
This vision shows that, though cast down from heaven, Satan is still determined to do his worst.
4 The Lamb Will be Victorious
Revelation 17:14 "They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and with him will be his called and chosen and faithful followers."
The angel tells John what will take place in visions to come. It's another reminder that, as insane as it seems, the enemies of Christ have the temerity to make war against him!
5 Kings of Earth Join Satan’s Battle
Revelation 19:19-21 Later John sees the Beast and the kings of the earth assembled to make war against the King of kings and Lord of lords. But the Beast and the False Prophet are cast into the fiery lake whilst the Dragon is thrown into the Abyss for a full 1000 years. (Revelation 19:11-16).
How tragic that the earth’s kings are making war against their King instead of fighting with him!
6 Satan Makes a Second Attempt
Revelation 20:7-10 This vision shows Satan the dragon released. Again his evil armies move in to attack the army of God. But it's a complete fiasco. "fire came down from heaven and devoured them!"
We might have expected a battle with a bit of to and fro, a bit of touch and go, a bit of suspense about who is going to win. But in the visions there is no battle at all!
After all their preparations and gathering for battle, the enemies of Christ do no more than march to the city and surround it. They thrust no sword. They fire no shot. Fire comes down from heaven and devours them. The battle didn't happen. Are you disappointed, or are you relieved?
If you put on the whole armour of God, and fight the good fight of faith, your victory with Christ is a foregone conclusion.
¶“10Finally my brethren,
Be strong in the Lord
and in his mighty power.
11Put on all the armour of God
so that you will be able to stand
firm against the strategies of the devil.
12We don't struggle against flesh and blood.
We struggle against the foremost heavyweights
among cosmic powers of darkness.
We struggle against spiritual forces
of evil in the celestial realms”
Note:— Two different battles? In some premillennial doctrines the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16) is distinguished from the battle of Gog and Magog (Revelation 20:7-8) because the millenium comes between them. However for the purpose of the above study, they may be considered to signify the same ongoing battle between God and Satan.
According to premillennislists, the Antichrist’s career and the incredible events of a seven-year tribulation, end in the climactic war of Armageddon —a war that would annihilate the world if not for the intervention of Christ’s second coming.
Typically, the premillennialist will interpret a vision in Revelation as though it were a news report from the future.
Things seen in dreams and visions, however, are not always possible in reality. The vision well represents the spiritual battle that is going on in the world today. But it's not a literal description of an actual physical battle —for the simple reason that it's physically untenable.
For example, why would horses be used in a modern day battle? And how could a river of blood like that in the vision exist in reality? (Revelation 14:20).
The sensational claims about this imagined future conflict distract us from the very real battle now being waged between the spiritual forces of good and evil (Ephesians 6:10-17)