Troublesome Topic: Armageddon

Revelation 16:12


Then the sixth one poured out his bowl


the great river EUPHRATES;

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then the water of it was dried up,

that it might prepare the way for the kings

of the rising of the sun.


Then the sixth one set in motion the consequences demanded by the evidence, directing them at

the GREAT STREAM which is the source of life and confidence, then that which had been such a consistent, reliable and trustworthy source of life simply disappeared, letting everyone down, so that a way could be prepared for the leaders who claim to

provide life and health and everything important.

Revelation 16:13


And I saw coming from the mouth of the DRAGON, and from the mouth of the BEAST,

and from the mouth of


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three unclean spirits,

like frogs.


And I saw the inner character of the GREAT DECEIVER revealing itself, likewise I saw the inner character of the FEROCIOUS CREATURE and the inner character of the FRAUDULENT PROPHET, all were being revealed in the form of some utterly foul spirits, displaying the most detestable of all spiritual conditions.

Revelation 16:14


They are indeed demonic spirits performing signs intended to go forth to the kings of the entire inhabited world, in order to gather them together for the battle of the great day of GOD ALMIGHTY.

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They are indeed demonic spirits utilizing teaching tools intended to influence the powerful leaders of the entire inhabited world, in order to gather them for the battle of the great day of THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS, THE ALMIGHTY ONE.

Revelation 16:15


{“Behold, I

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am coming like a thief; blessed is he who is constantly watching and keeping his garments [in proper condition] so that he will not walk about naked, for people would see his shame.”}

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{“Stay alert, I am coming in an unpredictable way; blessed is he who is constantly alert to spiritual contamination

and is careful to keep his testimony what it should be

so that he will not

live in a shameful manner, for shameful living is obvious to everyone.”}

Revelation 16:16


Then he

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gathered them at the place  called in Hebrew ARMAGEDDON.


Then he gathered them at the place which in Hebrew is called the HILL WHERE THINGS ARE CUT OR TORN AWAY.

The word used here is a Geek attempt to express a Hebrew name which is a compound word constructed by adding “har” meaning “hill,” to “Megiddo,” which was a town in Northern Israel. Megiddo means “to invade” or “to cut or tear away.” The sense of “invading” conveys the idea that an invading army would likely have to come through the nearby pass, which shows how important this location was. The idea of “cutting away or tearing away” probably refers to the way the sword cuts and tears off parts of the body such as limbs.

Some see in the “cutting or tearing” of the name Megiddo, a reference to the idea that (in their minds) God will use this place to divide or separate the just from the unjust in a final, climactic battle, but that requires working backward from one’s interpretation of the future events supposedly described in Revelation, to the meaning of a name from ancient times. In other words, it is an example of setting the meaning of a word by what we have already determined it to mean.

How would someone of John’s day understand “Har-megiddo?” The town of Megiddo was near a pass that controlled the entrance to the Jezreel valley. The road through the pass was one of two primary trade routes that connected the great kingdoms of Egypt to the Southwest and Mesopotamia (i.e. Babylon, Assyria or Persia, depending on the era) to the Northeast. The two major trade routes, this one along the Mediterranean sea on the West side of the country, and the other along the desert East of the Jordan river, were connected to each other in only two places, here in Megiddo in the North, and one spot at the far southern end of Israel. In the south, the trade route had to be defended at various points, not just one. The advantage of Megiddo was that it was a defensible position. Of all the defensible locations in Israel, Megiddo was probably the most strategic; whoever controlled Megiddo controlled access to Israel from the North. To ancient Israelites, Megiddo was a picture of guarding the most important points of access to the land.

Ray VanderLaan sees the issue of “access to the land” as the control of those things that exert the most influence in shaping a culture.  Read the in-text comment following Revelation 17:9 for a discussion of the control of “culture-shapers.”

The biggest problem with the popular teaching about Armageddon is that Revelation never describes a true battle as we know them to be. Nowhere in Revelation is Jesus depicted as engaging in military efforts against His enemies. He is always portrayed as the sovereign ruler who renders judgment on everyone and assigns consequences for rebellion or loyal obedience. How does Jesus win the victory over his enemies? He does so with the words of His mouth, with truth. Satan uses deceit as his primary tool, Jesus defeats him with truth. That is also how the followers of Jesus “fight” against the enemy of our souls.

When they gather to make war, the Beast and the False Prophet will be captured and cast into their fiery punishment. The rest are killed with the “sword” from the mouth of Jesus, i.e. His words of truth. So in the end this is not a real “war” as we know it; it is the final salvo of the age-old conflict between good and evil, truth and falsehood. We know that the words of Jesus will provide righteous judgement and thus win the victory over falsehood and all other forms of evil.

Revelation chapter 16 describes Satan preparing to do battle against the Lord, and it describes God judging him for it. How will he fight against the Lord?  He can’t really attack God directly, so he accuse and attacks those who follow God. While the preparation for battle is described, the true battle against God himself never comes, only the persecution of the believers. God deals with him by thwarting his efforts, strengthening and encouraging the believers, confronting deceit with truth, and punishing the unrepentant. Even though the followers of Jesus may suffer hardship, our enemies cannot touch our souls unless we open up our inner being to them. Even in persecution and martyrdom, Satan is not winning, because the faithful are given what they need to remain faithful unto death, which is the ultimate victory for the believer.

The persecuted saints would have understood the words “doing battle against” as meaning exactly what they were going through—persecution. God does not take lightly the mistreatment of His followers, and while He may allow His followers to suffer ill treatment, He does not forget the perpetrators.

Here is a run-down of the “battle passages” of Revelation:

Revelation 14:20 – Here is the instance when it says blood will run as deep as the horse’s bridles for 1,600 stadia.  This is in conjunction with the harvesting of the earth with the sickles of Jesus or the angel, or both. It is not in conjunction with Satan’s “preparation to do battle.” The angel swung his sickle, gathered its grapes and threw them into the winepress of God’s wrath, where they were trampled and the blood ran deep. This is simply an indication that when God judges the souls of men, a great many will suffer punishment, and that punishment will be severe. Blood is a picture of suffering, but it does not need to come as a result of military battles.

Revelation 16:14  – The dragon, the beast and the false prophet gather the kings of the earth for a great “showdown” whenever God acts to bring about judgment; in Scripture such an occasion is called “the great day of the Lord,” or “the great day of God almighty.”

Revelation 16:16 – “Then they gather the kings together at a place which in Hebrew is called Armageddon,” “the place of cutting away, or tearing apart.” Here we encounter the word “Armageddon.” It is part of bowl #6 which is part of the unrestrained judgments of God, in contrast to the partial judgments of chapters 6 and 8, symbolized by the use of fractions like one third or one fourth. In the face of God’s complete and unrestrained judgment, God’s enemies refuse to submit but instead choose to prepare for even more intense battle against God’s faithful followers. What follows is not a battle but various aspects of God’s judgment.

Revelation 17:14 says that the powers of evil will “make war” against the Lamb but He will conquer them for He holds all power (is King of Kings and Lord of Lords). This verse does not say how He will conquer them, only that it is based on His power and sovereignty.

19:14-20 – The conquest of God’s enemies is not fully depicted until here in chapter 19. In Revelation 19:15 we see that He will conquer them with the words of his mouth. When they gather to make war, the beast and the false prophet are captured and cast into their fiery punishment. The rest were killed with the “sword from the mouth of Jesus,” meaning His words, His truth.

Revelation 20:8  – Here we read that after the “sufficient period of time” (1000 years) Satan will be released and he will gather the nations to do battle against God’s people, but once again there is no real battle, rather fire (judgment) comes from heaven and consumes them, Revelation 20:9.


When describing the intentions and actions of God’s enemies, they are described as preparing to do battle against God and God’s people, but then what follows is not a true battle. Instead, Jesus judges them and punishes them with the words of his mouth, with truth.

Even Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 have no battle. There God is described as using a slightly different tactic; He employs supernatural demonstrations of His power and glory to block the enemies of His people. But the final outcome is the same; God does not fight His enemies, He simply judges His enemies with His power, His glory, and His truth.

These are a few of the many ways in which Revelation encourages and strengthens believers during hard times.

The next lesson is:What Brings A “New Heaven and a New Earth?” Is it Destruction or Renewal?


1: “the Euphrates”

Here I try to blend the meaning of the name with the other possible meanings of the word “river.” In this case the emphasis seems to be that water is the source of life, lots of water was a symbol of abundance, and together they bring a life of confidence.

2: “The Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet”

Don’t focus on their identities, but on the roles they play. The Beast is the opposite of the Lamb. The dragon is a reference to the dragon from the Garden of Eden; he is the great deceiver and as such is the opposite of Jesus, the revealer of truth. The false prophet stands in contrast to those who have revealed the truth of God down through history, Jesus being the key one of them all.


The “great day of the Lord” is not imagery, but it is a common Old Testament phrase meaning something akin to “the day of God’s reckoning.” A day of reckoning can have positive or negative consequences, depending on the actions of the individual in question. That fits perfectly with use of the image of the bowls in this passage.


“I” refers to Jesus. He has interrupted the presentation of these bowls of evidence in order to give a warning which sounds in some ways similar to things that He said while He was present here on earth, such as in Mt 24. Because it is an interruption of the flow of this passage, this statement be Jesus is placed in parentheses.

5: This is the voice of Jesus

In chapter 5 Jesus took the scroll with seven seals and since then we have been waiting for His voice to read message on that scroll. It was something that John was desperate to hear. Now at this point we finally hear the voice of Jesus, but it immediately becomes obvious that this is not the message from the scroll, rather, Jesus is interjecting His voice into the vision He is giving to John in order to pronounce a blessing and a warning. We will have to keep waiting for the voice of Jesus to read the message on the scroll.


The Greek says, “he gathered.” A number of translations render it “they gathered,” based in part on a selection of manuscripts that contain a plural verb, however, that reading is not the preferred one in most Greek texts. It is also chosen by some because it fits better with the expected antecedent, which they assume to be the “demonic spirits.” I can’t say for sure who “he” is, but here is one possibility for you to consider. Perhaps the Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet are one and the same. Perhaps they are simply differing personifications of Satan himself. If that is the case, then this use of “he” would make sense. Whether or not that is true, I will stay as close to the original text as possible and translate it as “he gathered them.”