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The Battle of Armageddon

Scripture: Revelation 7:1-3, Revelation 16:12-16
Date: 02/21/2009 
The topic of this sermon is the battle of Armageddon spoken of in Revelation 16. It happens in the context of the last plagues to fall on the earth. Though it is often understood as a local battle in the Middle East, it is actually a spiritual battle. It is the final mobilization of the armies of the world to exterminate God's people. It is the final battle of the great controversy between Christ and Satan.
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Today we're going to be talking about Battle of Armageddon. It is a topic of theology that has been debated ever since the words were first penned by the apostle John about 90 AD. A lot of misunderstandings about the word and what the battle is and what it means. Is it literal; is it spiritual? What is the Battle of Armageddon? A few years back, as his career was winding up, General Douglas Macarthur was addressing Congress and he made this statement. “If we do not devised some greater and more equitable means of settling disputes among the nations Armageddon will be at our door.” Now he said that in a context of a general who had witnessed two world wars and all of the carnage connected with those wars. So when you hear a general like Douglas Macarthur say, “We’ve got to find some other way to settle our disagreements for Armageddon is going to be our doors,” in the minds of most people that then conjures the pictures. Armageddon is the ultimate world war with the unthinkable weapons. And so often when people think about the Battle of Armageddon they’re thinking of World War III. Just the idea of World War III makes most of us shudder. If you've done any history, looking at the devastation of World War I and the unthinkable loss of life and property and World War II. With the technology today and what we've seen just in the Gulf wars and Afghanistan, World War III, it is unthinkable.

Is that the Battle of Armageddon? Well, I'm not going to give you the answer right away. I'm going to try and keep you with me as long as I can. The first of all we’re going to do a little countdown that leads up to the Battle of Armageddon. What begins the countdown to Armageddon? If you read in Revelation 7, that's quite a ways before chapter 16, but Revelation sort of gives the final days in several different pictures. And one of them here is in Revelation 7:1. It speaks about the four angels that are holding back the winds of strife. “After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth.” Those four angels represent the four directions of the compass, north, south, east and west. “Holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth.” These are the winds of strife. “Or on the sea, or any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried out,” notice, where does that angel come from? From the east. “And he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea.” Notice, these angels are holding back harm. These winds are going to bring a storm. Winds on land, could be a tornado. Winds on the water are hurricane, typhoon. Winds are often associated with storms, storms of destruction. And this is the perfect storm, all four winds involved. “Do not harm the earth, or the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.”

Right now, friends, whatever peace you think we see in the world, and compared to what’s coming we do have relative peace, we’re in the eye of the hurricane. It’s temporary. There is going to be a time of great trouble that comes upon the earth. When those angels release their grip. I don’t know when that’s going to be. We’ve already seen just some little tremors economically in recent months of what can happen on a global scale. I read some reports that seem to be authentic or credible that the world’s wealth has been reduced by 45% in 8 months, or less than one year, anyway. You think about it. Never in the history of the world has the economy been affected globally simultaneously like this. And you’d be amazed how many letters we get in at Amazing Facts. People are asking is this financial crisis or this meltdown, is this the end? And my answer would be, no. But it is certainly a means where governments are gaining control over the banking system. And that falls in line perfectly with prophecy that tells us ultimately the government is going to control buying and selling unless the peoples of the world cooperate with this beast power that is rising right now in prominence.

Then something’s going to happen, as these final events transpire. Ultimately probation closes. Now I’ve just covered a lot with one sentence. A lot still has to happen. It can happen quickly, don’t misunderstand. And then the plagues fall. Armageddon is in the context of plague number six. Just to give you an idea of how rapidly the final events can transpire. If you had come to the Israelites before they crossed the Red Sea and said, “In a couple of weeks we’re going to be out of here. We’re going to free and we’re going to be rich.” The Israelites would have said, “You’re dreaming. You’re crazy. There’s no lottery here in Egypt. What are you talking about?” And they would have said, “Well, Moses is going to come. Plagues are going to fall. We’re going to be paid by the Egyptians. We’re going to cross the Red Sea. We’re going to be free.” From the time of their bondage and slavery that had gone on for hundreds of years uninterrupted, when Moses first went to the Pharaoh, to the time when they crossed the Red Sea, would you agree that things happened very quickly? Well that’s the way it’s going to be. There is going to be a very rapid transition of events. And people are going to become very religious through fear very quickly.

Now I still think we may have some months, maybe some years before that happens. But if you knew that Jesus was coming in four or five years would you think you had a lot of time left? To do the work of telling the world? I don’t know. I’m not setting any time. I’m just saying it’s going to happen quickly, friends. When it does happen most of us will think it was too quick. But eventually when the final appeal is made, and the final prayer is said and the final person has accepted Christ and the final person has rejected the offer, the door of mercy closes like the door closed on the ark. Life went on for a little while. Those on the outside were permanently lost. Those on the inside were permanently saved. Probation closed. No more grace. That’s what’s going to happen. Probation will close. When that happens, Daniel 12:1, “Michael stands up, that great prince who stands over the sons of your people.” And when Michael stands up that means he’s not hearing cases anymore. The judgment is over. “And there will be a time of trouble, such as never been since there was a nation, even to that time.” He goes on to say then there is a resurrection. That’s the end of the world, great time of trouble. But probation closes. Then you’ve got this great time of trouble.

You can also read in Revelation 22:11. There’s a declaration made when probation closes. “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; he that is filthy, let him be filthy still; he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; he that is holy, let him be holy still.” This is the point where there is a great gulf fixed, as Jesus said. There is no changing teams anymore. Right now if the wicked man forsakes his way and does that which is right all of his sins will be forgiven, they’ll not be mentioned. He will live, Ezekiel tells us. “But if the righteous man turns from his righteousness and does that which is wicked all of his righteousness will be forgotten. In his sin that he has committed he will surely die.” Again, Ezekiel 18. And so, people can change teams right now. But time is going to come when the door of mercy is going to be closed. One group is going to be sealed in their salvation. [I’ll, in another sermon, talk more about the seal of God. The foundation for the seal of God is the Holy Spirit. The foundation for the mark of the beast is the spirit of antichrist, or the devil. But you already knew that.] Those who are sealed with the Spirit of God and surrendered to the law of God are going to be permanently saved. And there will be another group who have grieved away the Spirit of God. They have committed the unpardonable sin and they will be permanently lost.

A great shaking takes everybody who has been living on the fence. They've been trying to live in this neutral territory of, “I’m not with Christ and I'm not against Him,” but events are going to shake them where there will be nobody on the fence. All that are saved are saved; all that are lost are lost. And that's why you don't want to stay on the fence because when the shaking comes I think most of those on the fence are going to fall on the wrong side of the issues. And there are some in the church now, maybe been there for generations, and were sort of nominal Christians, when persecution comes and shaking happens we're going to jump right out. We're going to go with the popular trends. We’re following the world now; we’re preparing ourselves to follow the world then. And then there are some in the world who are looking for the truth. And when that shaking happens they're going to take their stand. They're going to come into the church. So there is going to be a little bit of changing sides during that time.

Then, once probation closes, then is the great, great time of trouble that is synonymous with the seven last plagues. Seven of these plagues mirror 10 of the plagues in Egypt. That's interesting. Why 10 plagues in ancient Egypt before the children of Israel were delivered? Seven plagues in the world before we’re delivered by our Moses, who is Jesus. Well during the 10 plagues that fell on Egypt, during the first three plagues it seems like the Israelites also struggled through those first three plagues. The magicians were able to imitate those first three plagues, but during the seven last plagues (of the first 10) God protected His people through those seven plagues. Those seven plagues that are coming, all these people that believe in the secret rapture, so afraid of the tribulation, they say, “We want to get raptured out before the tribulation.” I say, “I don't really care because God promises in His word to preserve His people through the plagues, right? So we don't need to be afraid of that. My fear as we approached the last days is not the noisome sores or the blood in the water. My fear is I don't want to be on the wrong team when that happens. If you're saved He promises to preserve you during that time.

Very quickly I'm going to overview what the seven last plagues are. Again, this is a whole sermon by itself, but today we’re focusing on Armageddon. Don't forget, those plagues came on Egypt just before the children of Israel were delivered from their bondage and began their journey to the Promise Land. The seven last plagues come on our world just before we are delivered from the bondage of sin in the world. This whole creation that groans and travails, and we begin our journey to the Promise Land, the mansions He has prepared. Plague number one is a noisome or loathsome sore on those to receive the mark of the beast. You need to know what the mark of the beast is and who the beast is. Plague number two, the sea, the salty waters, become as blood of a dead man, putrid blood. A lot of people have theories about what that is. Plague number three, the rivers and waters, the fresh water sources, become as blood. You remember the water is turned to blood in Egypt. Plague number four, men are scorched with great heat. The ultimate global warming at that point. Plague number five, the beast kingdom is full of darkness. Was darkness one of the plagues on ancient Egypt? Plague number six, the battle of Armageddon. Plague number seven, is this great earthquake, great hail and ultimately the second coming of Christ.

When you go through Revelation, you’ve got your seven churches. The last church, Jesus says He stands at the door and knocks, is the coming of Christ. You’ve got your seven seals. The last seal Christ comes. You’ve got the seven plagues and the last plague is the coming of Christ. So in the end of all the sevens, even if it’s the seven trumpets, in Revelation they all culminate with the great deliverance and Jesus’ coming, right? So He is the final chapter in all of these different symbols and stories that you find in Revelation.

Now when we read about the seven plagues, something that you’ll be happy to know. They’re not universal. When it says men are scorched with great heat, do you think that the people who are in the South Pole are going to be cooler than the one at the equator? Probably. So there’s a difference in intensity of these different plagues. And by the way, they come pretty quickly. How long do you think the seven last plagues will be? I don’t know, but I have a theory. It’s just Pastor Doug’s theory. How long did it take for the 10 plagues to fall on Egypt? We don’t know exactly, but it was a matter of weeks. When you read the account there from when Moses first went to Pharaoh until they crossed the Red Sea, a matter of weeks. You agree? The plagues that fell on Job, how long do you think that took? Again, it seems they came in rapid succession, but it was just a matter of weeks through his whole suffering until he was healed.

And when I read in Daniel 12, I always thought it was interesting that between the 1290 days (I believe that’s historic, but I also think there might be a future fulfillment) and the 1335 days—some of you right now don’t know what I’m talking about. That’s because you’re still on just the milk of the word. This is for those of you who have the meat of the word. There’s a 45-day difference. 45 days. I think that’s interesting because if a day equals a year in prophecy, when Babylon falls (which is during the time of the plagues) it falls in three sections. In three times it says one-hour financial ruin, one-hour spiritual ruin, one-hour physical ruin. Three times it says for one hour, one hour, one hour. If a day equals a year in prophecy an hour is 15 days. 24 hours in a day, 1/24th, 360 days in a Jewish year, it’d be 15 days. Three times 15 is what? 45. And so I don’t know, it seems to fall in line with about the time frame. The Bible says, “for all of her plagues come in one day.” It doesn’t mean it takes a day. It means within one year it all happens. That’s why I said the final events are rapid. So within a few weeks.

Another interesting statement from the book Great Controversy, “These plagues are not universal,” speaking of the seven last plagues, “or the inhabitants of the earth would be wholly cut off.” Doesn’t Jesus say, “If those days are not shortened no flesh would be saved, but for the elect’s sake it will be shortened.” “These plagues are not universal or the inhabitants of the earth would be wholly cut off. Yet they will be the most awful scourges that have ever been known to mortals.” Usually the judgments of God are mitigated by the intercession and mercy of Jesus. “But in the final judgment wrath is poured out unmixed with mercy.” Again that’s Great Controversy, 628. People will be desperate during that time.

Now there is a small time of trouble before the plagues fall and we’re living on the borders of that in the close of probation. Again, another message. I ought to do a whole series on this, but I just became very interested with the subject of Armageddon. So, now if we’re going to study Armageddon you’ve got to open your Bible to Revelation 16. We just heard this in our memory verse. Revelation 16:12, we’re going to take this verse by verse. “And the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and the water was dried up.” These bowls, these vials, are the plagues that fall. “And the water was dried up, so the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.”

First let’s talk about the Euphrates River. Now, a lot of people when they read this about the battle of Armageddon, they believe that it’s going to happen in the vicinity of the Euphrates. And you know, I can’t blame them for wondering about that because have you noticed a lot of international news focusing on Iraq in at least the last 10 years? And when you think about all that’s happened over the course of Bible history with the kingdoms of Nineveh and Babylon and Persia and the Sumerians in the region of Mesopotamia, so many of these kingdoms all revolved around the Euphrates River. Well the Euphrates is one of the great rivers of the world. It reaches all the way from up there in Turkey and it goes through Syria into Iraq and off into the ocean. And it basically is the lifeline for those countries. And there’s a lot of intense simmering anger among those countries because up in Turkey they’re damming off the Euphrates River, they’re using more and more of the water. Less and less is making it downstream to Syria where they’re building dams for power and taking the water for irrigation. And less and less is making it down to Iraq, that then is using their clout and their oil to punish these countries. There’s just a lot of fighting over the water from the Euphrates because that is the river. Now in Iraq they’ve also got the Tigris, but it’s the main river.

Matter of fact, the word Euphrates means fruitful. The Bible speaks of the Euphrates when God said to Abraham, “I am going to give you all of the Promise Land from the great sea (Mediterranean) to the great river, even the Euphrates.” It’s spoken of as the great river. And by the way, when Solomon was king God finally fulfilled that promise. Solomon had people paying tribute all the way from Egypt (the Mediterranean) to the great river (Euphrates). So the Euphrates River represented a border. By the way, you know what a Hebrew is? The word Hebrew near as they can tell means one who crossed over. And when Abraham left Ur and he crossed over the Euphrates it was a great border. He left the country of his nativity. He had faith to cross over. And so they were known as the people that crossed over because they crossed over the Euphrates. I personally don’t think it’s talking specifically about the literal river.

I tell you, it got my attention a few years ago. I was in Guam and I stopped at, the church has a clinic there and I was going to go visit with one of the church leaders who was meeting me there. And while I was in the waiting room they had magazines as they often do in doctors offices and they had Newsweek. Now Newsweek in North America is different from Newsweek international. Newsweek is an international magazine. They always do the North American version of it a little differently because we sort of live in our own world. Matter of fact, if you ever check news on the internet, if you really want to know what’s going on you’d better go to BBC or something, because if you’re just listening to CNN North America it’s like we live in our own world. We’re preoccupied with what the movie stars are doing, our own little minimal problems. If you really want to know what’s going on in the world you’d better check some of these international agencies, or at least click on international news. So this is the international version of Newsweek. By the way, I was not allowed to take that copy because it wasn’t mine and I was in Guam. But I did look it up on the Internet and it’s February 12, 1990, page 24-25. The title article, this is a cover article is what got my attention, “When Rivers Run Dry.” And in the article they talked about how the Euphrates River is drying up. So, even if you believe it’s spiritual, as I do, I think God sometimes gives us a little bit of a literal fulfillment just to get our attention. And it is true that they are taking more and more water out of the Euphrates. They’re using it for electricity and irrigation and the river itself is going down, down, down. I thought that was interesting.

But the Euphrates River really represents the lifeline to the beast. In the same way that the Euphrates Rive is what irrigated ancient Babylon, and when it dried up Babylon fell, the lifeline for modern Babylon dries up and that signals the kings of the east will come. Now that’s our next subject. It says, “to make the way for the kings of the east.” Whenever I read that automatically my mind goes back to when Christ was born. When He came the first time, it’s interesting that these magi, these kings, these leaders, patriarchs from the east came. “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem.” You’ve heard the song before, “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” That’s because in the original word they were some sort of patriarchs, magi leaders, chieftains. These were men of honor that came from the east. And they could have been some of the Hebrews that had been left in Babylon. They could have been reading the prophecies of Balaam that said a star would arise out of Jacob. We don’t know. But that’s one thing I want in your mind when it says kings of the east.

The other thing is from the east represents where the glory of God, the power of God, comes from. It doesn’t have anything to do with the sun rising in the east. Ezekiel 43:1, “Afterward he brought me to the gate that faces toward the east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.” When King Nebuchadnezzar came he had to cross the Euphrates and he came from the east. And he did one of two things with the Israelites. They were either destroyed or they were spared, favored and taken back to a golden kingdom. Isn’t’ that interesting? When Nebuchadnezzar came he was the king of that golden empire. One of two things happened to the church when he came. They were either judged and punished or spared, like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego, taken back to a golden kingdom. That’s even a figure of what Christ is going to do when He comes to this world. But he crossed the Euphrates. Matthew 24, Jesus speaking of the second coming: “For as lightening comes from the east.” Lightening doesn’t always come from the east. But when the second coming is taking place He speaks of it as “coming from the east and flashing to the west, so the coming of the Son of man will be.” So these kings of the east, it’s speaking about the coming of the Lord.

Now you’ve got to know your Bible history to understand Revelation. You’ve heard me say before, some haven’t’ heard it so I’ll repeat it. There are about 404 verses in Revelation. Out of those 404 verses 278 can be found almost word for word somewhere else in the Bible in a story. So you need to know your history and your Bible stories for this to all make sense. There is a piece of history that is not literally in the Bible, but it’s in the ancient writings and in the history of the Bible. That when the children of Israel were in Babylon, just before Babylon fell to the Persians, there were two kings of the east: Cyrus and Darius. And they came to conquer Babylon. They had conquered all over the territory of Babylon. Now Nebuchadnezzar is dead. His grandson, Beltashazzar’s having a feast. He was sort of a spoiled jet setter having a big party in the kingdom. They weren’t worried about the Medes and the Persians, these two kings from the east. I want to go to the next picture. See that Media and Persia? See Babylon? Media and Persia were two kingdoms to the east of Babylon. Now go back to the picture of Cyrus again. You see the city of Babylon, how the Euphrates River went under the wall? When Cyrus was looking for a way to conquer the city; there’s no way to get through the walls at Babylon. They were massive. They had confidence in their walls that it could keep him out. Interesting thing is Cyrus is mentioned by name that God was going to choose him. He’s like a type of Christ in that he’s called the anointed. “Thus says the Lord,” Isaiah 45:1, “to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held.” That means I am going to help you to let my people go, to deliver them. “To subdue nations before him, to loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so the gates will not be shut.”

Now here’s what happened in history. When he knew he couldn’t get over the walls he said, “Well, what’s my other option? I can’t go through the walls. Maybe I can go under the walls.” The Euphrates River ran under the walls of Babylon, but it ran right up to wall level. And it irrigated the city. It was the lifeline to the city. They had food stored. The historian Herodotus says that they had food stored for 20 years. Plus the water that came in the city. They could withstand any siege that would come. The armies would not be able to take care of their troops long enough. So that’s why the king, to mock the Persians and the Medes that were camped outside, they had a party. You read about this in the Bible. They had this great feast. And that’s when they saw the handwriting on the wall. Cyrus and Darius were right outside the walls at that time. And they said, “We’re not afraid. City 15 miles on each side. They can’t get in here. It’s an impenetrable fortress.”

Well, the story goes, according to Herodotus the Greek historian, one of the prize horses of Cyrus drowned in the Euphrates. It got spirited, it jumped off in the water, it drowned. He was so angry he said, “I’m going to conquer this river.” Because the Babylonians worshipped it as a god. And he had his men dig some ditches and divert the river so it went down and you could ford it at thigh level. Well that had happened earlier in his conquest of Babylon. When he got to the walls of Babylon he thought, “Hey, I’ve already proved I could tame this river.” He had sort of this tantrum when his horse drowned and he had diverted the river. Don’t ask my why a king would do that, but maybe the Lord inspired him. And he said, “Hey, there’s a dry lakebed off here. I’ll get all my soldiers to dig a canal.” They dug this canal and at the right moment after the sun went down, when they heard them partying in the city they broke the last barrier. The water then started flooding from where it would normally go into this dry lakebed. And the water level began to drop. And no one in the city noticed.

Well there were still inner walls that separated the canal, the river Euphrates, where it ran through Babylon from the main entrance to the city. But because there was nothing but the river running through and it was all sealed off and they didn’t have scuba gear back then they weren’t worried about the army. They left the gates open. They were having a festival in the city. And by the way, even in my notes the historian mentions this. [left it out of his notes] You can read up Herodotus for yourself. He says they were having a festival in the city, they were drunk and they left the gates open. This is exactly what it says was going to happen here. It says, “to open before him the double doors.” The main gates to the city were left open. That’s why in one night Babylon fell.

The kings of the east were the Medes and the Persians that came. The Euphrates River dried up. What happened when the Persians took control? They issued a decree. The 70 years of captivity was over. The people could go back to the Promise Land. When the Euphrates dried up Babylon fell, the people could go back to the Promise Land. In the last days do we have a modern Babylon? It’s a spiritual Babylon, right? Do we have a spiritual Israel? “What, don’t you know if you’re Christ you are Abraham’s seed?” So many will come from the east and the west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If you belong to Jesus you are Abraham’s seed. Spiritual Israel. Spiritual Babylon, spiritual Israel, spiritual Euphrates, friends.

Now this sometimes causes people to stumble. Because when you’re going through the plagues, is it going to literally be a sore? Yeah. Literal blood? Was it literal blood in Egypt? The river was at least literally red. I don’t know if it was literally blood. Oceans blood? Literally scorched with great heat. Literal darkenss. The other plagues are very real plagues. And now when we talk about spiritual Euphrates. Here’s the key to understand the distinction. All of the terms and the numbers in Revelation are quite literal unless you get to a name. Whenever you hear a name in Revelation you have to apply the spiritual equivalent from the Old Testament story. Let me give you an example. In the message to the seven churches, out of the blue it talks about Balaam. Was there some guy named Balaam in those seven churches of Asia? No, it was a Jewish name, or Mesopotamian name. There was nobody there. But the Lord wanted us to look back at the story of Balaam to understand what was happening in that church.

Then they’re talking on and they talk about Jezebel. Well that was an ancient Jewish queen. She wasn’t even Jewish. She was a pagan queen over Israel. Do you think there was a literal member of one of the seven churches named Jezebel? No, it’s a name. Revelation, when it says Michael we know that’s a spiritual name. When it says dragon that’s a spiritual name for the devil. Is the devil really a reptile? So whenever you hear a name in Revelation there’s a key. And that’s true all the way through the book, friends. These names, when it talks about spiritually called Sodom and Egypt those were spiritual names for the nation of France. You see what I’m saying? So when it mentions Euphrates it means the spiritual equivalent. Its lifeline is going to be dried up. Then you read in Revelation 18 about Babylon falling. That makes sense to me. I hope it makes sense to you.

Let’s go on and read Revelation 16:13 now. “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.” Well, before I get to who those three characters are let’s talk about frogs. How many frogs? “Three unclean spirits like frogs.” Do we find frogs in Egypt among the plagues? A lot of parallels that you’re going to see. When you think of frogs what comes to your mind? First of all, has anyone here ever been bitten by a frog? They may have napped down on you, but frogs have no teeth. I remember one time I went to make a sales delivery and this guy had this German shepherd that ran out and bit me on the leg. I said, “You’re dog just bit me.” And he said, “That’s impossible.” I said, “It just bit me.” He said, “My dog has no teeth.” And sure enough I realized it didn’t really hurt me. Scared me half to death. He had a toothless dog. Frogs, their real danger is their tongue. The other thing we notice is just when you think you’re going to grab them they leap. They jump from place to place and they’re slippery. These frogs, it represents. And it comes out of what? It doesn’t come out of the eye or the ear. It comes out of the mouth. It means it’s a message. God’s messages are symbolized by angels flying in the midst of heaven. The devil’s messages—frogs. Because they’re reptiles. They’re like tadpoles and they’re slippery. It’s a message where they get you with their words. How did the devil get Eve? He stuck out that sticky tongue of his and he trapped her. And so it’s symbolic with these frogs.

Then it says it comes out of the mouth of the beast, out of the mouth of the dragon. And then out of the mouth of the false prophet. Now we’ve got another whole message on who the beast is. That has not changed. Most Protestants believe that beast is the apostate Christianity with its headquarters in Rome. By the way, I’m not the first one who says that. This is what you find in all the great Protestant commentators going from Luther, John Huss, back to the first ones I suppose. The Waldensees. Here’s a quote from John Gill. This is the first great Baptist theologian, the bible commentator. “The same spirits that are there said to go forth to gather the kings together. These will gather them together, will persuade the papal, pagan and Mohammedan powers.” I thought that was interesting. “That remains of them in the several parts of the world to join together and make one effort to the reviving of their declining almost ruin interests in an attack on the people of God.” But he lumps the three together as the pagan, paganism in the world and the Mohammedan.

Now you know a growing number of people have been wondering about the influence of Islam. And by the way, if I’m not mistaken, Matthew Henry thought something very similar to that in his commentary. I’m telling you what’s out there now. I’m not telling you what I believe. I’m telling you what’s out there. But I am trying to get you to think for yourself. You know one of the sacred statements of Islam is, “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.” And it’s hard to deny the explosive growth of Islam. Some have wondered if one reason that Pope Benedict came to the US, was it last year, was because in Europe, their former beachhead, their former base of power, they used to hold sway there, but what’s growing there is Islam. What’s shrinking there is Christianity. Catholicism and Protestantism. And he’s looking across the ocean and seeing the only nation left that really is a stronghold of active Christianity is North America. And he’s reaching across. I heard that because they’re really threatened by the growth of Islam, that it’s really a threat to their faith. And the big statement of Islam is, “Mohammed is the prophet.”

I don’t want to be unkind to our Muslim friends, but I don’t believe Mohammed was a true prophet. So there’s only one alternative left. You’re almost afraid that you’re going to be attacked if you say this publicly, but I believe he was a false prophet. [lot’s of amen’s in audience] We hear these stories. Recently when they had this big battle about Proposition 8 and that proposition was funded by a number of groups. Not only did a number of Christian groups fund it, the Latter Day Saints, Mormons funded it, and Muslims funded it. Because Muslims do not believe in same-sex marriage. But when the gay community decided to protest they went to the Mormon Church, but they never went to the Muslim church. I wonder why. Maybe they were afraid. I was just afraid to tell you I thought Mohammed was a false prophet. But I did it, because it’s true.

In reading Adam Clark’s commentary, speaking about who these three powers are, and we need to understand this. Actually I’m reading John Wesley now. “The devil represents the secular power of anti-Christ and the ecclesiastical power. The dragon fights chiefly against God. The beast fights against Christ. The false prophet against the Spirit.” I agree with that. In the dragon, the beast and the false prophet you’ve got basically. You ever play basketball? And if you’re playing [with] six men you play three on three. Well what’s happening in this final battle is you’ve got a counterfeit trinity. That counterfeit trinity on earth is the beast, the dragon and the false prophet. Now here’s where I land on this. The book Great Controversy page 588. “Protestants in the United States will be foremost in stretching their hand across the gulf to clasp the hand of spiritualism. They will reach over the abyss to clasp the hand with the Roman power,” the orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic Church, “and under the influence of this three-fold union,” the beast, the dragon, the false prophet, “this country will follow in the steps of Rome, trampling the rights of conscience.”

So you’ve got apostate Protestantism, apostate Catholicism, and a spiritualism that is counterfeiting or masquerading as Christianity. Some have wondered if the charismatic movement, where you have this sort of counterfeit Holy Spirit, is the fulfillment of that. That spiritism is going to teach that you can consult the dead. It struck me today, this morning, for the first time I made the connection. Just before Israel lost a battle, this tremendous battle between Israel and; just before David took the throne there was a great battle fought. That’s when David said, “Oh, how the mighty are fallen.” King Saul and his sons were all killed. Saul consulted a witch. He got involved in spiritualism. Here’s a Jewish king. He’s a church member and he’s going to a witch to get information. And he dies in battle the next day. And you can’t help but wonder if that’s going, that’s spiritualism. Aren’t’ there Christians now that believe that you die and go right to heaven or hell and you can communicate with the dead? And if someone pops up and they say, “I’m the apostle Paul,” or, “I’m Martin Luther,” whoever they want to be, and they say, “I’ve got a message for you,” and it contradicts the message of the Bible. That’s what the witch did for King Saul. Those people are doomed in the battle of Armageddon. They get involved in spiritualism.

And these devils, these spirits, these powers: the beast, the dragon, and the false prophet. I want to read Revelation 16:14, “they are the spirits of demons, performing signs,” wonders, “which go out to the kings of the earth,” the governments, the world leaders, “and the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty.” Now these are some very important verses to consider. Revelation 13:13-14 speaking of the beast power, “He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And deceives those who dwell on the earth by the means of those signs that he was granted to do in the sight of the beast.” There’s lying wonders it tells us about. II Thessalonians 2:8-11, “Then that wicked one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the spirit of His mouth,” speaking of the anti-Christ power, “and will destroy with the brightness of His coming. Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders.”

All kinds of power and signs. Are they true wonders? Are they wonders calculated to deceive? The devil who deceives the whole world. They’re lying wonders. There’s going to be counterfeit miracles. That’s why our faith needs to be rooted and what does the Bible say? Not what great miracle has happened? It’s on the news all over the world. Or some counterfeit Christ that may appear doing wonders. Maybe even bringing fire down from heaven like Elijah prayed and fire came down. And obviously if Moses prays and fire comes down on the altar. And here this false Christ, he prays and fire seems to come down. That must be true. Fire coming down in Acts 2 represented the Holy Spirit. They were all baptized with tongues of fire. This would be a counterfeit baptism of the Spirit, counterfeit power. There’ll be counterfeit signs and wonders. That’s why we’ve got to go by what does the Bible say.

I’ve got some friends in the church that every time there’s any kind of extraordinary wonder out there they are just attracted to it. They hear about the shroud of Turin, or they heard about these lost documents, or hear about some miracle or some wonder, or some strawberry juice that will make your hair grow. They’re just always attracted to just all these things and just always on the edge of their seat for the next marvelous thing. You’ve got to have your feet on the ground, friends, but even more than that you’ve got to have your feet in the word. You can’t be blowing around with every wind of exciting thing that happens. You know who those people are. You all pray for them. We could be easily deceived by the latest amazing fact, pardon me.

And it says “to gather them together for the great day of God Almighty.” This is often referred to in the Bible as the day of the Lord. That is the day of days. The great judgment day that it speaks of, or the first part of that judgment. Isaiah 13:6, “Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Therefore all hands will be limp, every man’s heart will melt.” “Pastor Doug, we want our money back. We didn’t come to church and expect you to talk like this.” It’s in the Bible. You like the Bible, friends? It talks a lot in the Bible about the day of the Lord and it’s scary. But it’s in there. “All hands will be limp, every man’s heart will melt.” By the way, it’s not just Old Testament. Jesus said, “All the tribes of the earth will mourn.” They will see Him coming. That’s the day of the Lord. Joel talks about it. “Their faces will be like flames. Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger.” This is the wrath of God poured out without mixture. “To lay the land desolate; He will destroy its sinners from it.” All through the Bible you find these examples of the day of the Lord.

Matter of fact, in Malachi 4 the Old Testament ends with this. Elijah, the Elijah prophet, the message of the Elijah prophet. It says, “I will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a cruse.” It says before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. It’s the day of the Lord, the day of God. This is what it’s talking about. These spirits like frogs are gathering everyone together for this final battle. Joel 3:2, “I will gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment there with them on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land.” Now, you’ve got to know your Bible. There was a great battle in the days of Jehoshaphat where all of the nations around him took him on: the Edomites, the Moabites, the Ammonites. It looked hopeless. He didn’t know what to do. He prayed and God sent him a prophet. God sends prophets to His people just before the end. And that prophet said, “Don’t be afraid. Trust the Lord.” And they sent the Levites out before them singing. They were also told to dig ditches and the enemy, when the sun came up, saw these ditches and they thought it was blood. And they got scared and somehow they went into battle and began to fight among themselves. And the enemies self-destructed. The enemy destroyed themselves; they turned on one another. Jehoshaphat didn’t have to fire an arrow. God delivered him.

So when it talks about the Valley of Jehoshaphat don’t start looking on your map to find out where that battle of Armageddon’s going to be. It’s talking about what happened in the days of Jehoshaphat is how it’s going to happen again. It’s not a place on a map. The battle of Armageddon is not a battle as Macarthur was suggesting between the nuclear powers of the world, between Russia and China and the United States and Iran and whoever else is out there, and Pakistan and India and everybody just kind of all pulling ourselves up. All the armies of the world being mobilized and gathering. I remember one time, my second trip to Israel I went with a group of ministers from all different faiths. And one of the places they took us was to this Mount Megiddo above the Valley of Jezreel. And different pastors took their turns doing devotionals as we came to different places. They never did ask me to do a devotional. They knew I was a Seventh Day Adventist. I really wanted to do some though. I remember he stood there and he pointed at this valley that you couldn’t even turn around a 747 in this valley. He pointed to this valley, said, “All the armies of China and all the armies of Russia and all the armies of the US and the world will gather in this valley against Israel.” And I’m looking, I looked at a Methodist pastor who sort of agreed with me and we said, “You can’t fit all of the Chinese army in this valley.” Then he goes on, “And the blood’s going to reach up to the bridles.” Just such a fantastic story. It’s no wonder some people don’t believe the Bible when you hear it interpreted that way.

The battle of Armageddon is not a battle that’s going to take place in a little bitty valley over there in Israel. It is the great battle in the last days between; the battles of Revelation are talking about Christ and Satan. It’s not a battle talking about Iran, Pakistan, India, these nations. It’s dealing with those who follow God, the great controversy, and those who follow the devil. Armageddon is the final mobilization of the powers and armies of the world to exterminate God’s people. Like they did with Jehoshaphat. But when that time comes the tables are turned. It looks hopeless, but God fights for His people.

Go with me now to Revelation 16:15, “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” Christ is issuing a warning for you and for me and for the church in the last days. He says, “I’m coming soon. It will be a surprise. Don’t get lazy because you think you’ve got time and start to besmirch your garments, your wedding garment.” Keep the righteousness of Christ on you because otherwise you’ll be caught unprepared. Now many people think coming like a thief that’s a secret rapture. That just means it’s a surprise. When Jesus comes as a thief it tells you how that happens. II Peter 3:10, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the element will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it are burned up.” When the Lord comes as thief does life go on for seven more years of tribulation? Or is that the end of the tribulation? When the Lord comes as a thief that’s it.

I Thessalonians 5:2, “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord will so come as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But brethren, you are not in darkness, that this Day should overtake you as a thief.” God does not want you to be caught like a thief. He wants you to be awake. He wants you to be ready and alert when it happens. He’s giving you warnings in His word. And so we should be watching. Revelation 3:3 Jesus said, “Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief.” Meaning, if you do watch you won’t be surprised when it happens. So we’ve got to be watching. That’s why I’m preaching a message like this; giving you advanced warning. So we can be ready when it happens. If you don’t watch I’ll come as a thief and you’ll not know what hour I will come. If you do watch it’s implied you will know when He’s coming. No man will know the day and the hour, but you’ll know.

Revelation 16:16, “And they gathered them together to a place called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon.” Now here is the real conundrum. You can’t compare this word really with another use of the word in the Bible because it’s the only time the word appears in Greek literature anywhere. At least they haven’t found anything yet. And it doesn’t really appear as this in the Old Testament. Here you’ve got a Jewish writer, John. He’s an old man. He mostly speaks Aramaic. He’s in prison by the Romans, a Latin country, on a Roman island. And when he wrote it out the best they can figure it has something to do with the Valley of Megiddo. Har means hill of [?] Megiddo. But that was really either Mount Tabor. It’s a confusing phrase and everyone tries to point on a map where is this battle. They’re gathered to this place called Armageddon. Now what did I tell you about names in the Bible? Are the names literal or spiritual? They are spiritual and symbolic. So when you read Armageddon you’ve got to know where in the Bible does this point. If it’s talking about the Valley of Megiddo that’s fine. There are three stories in the Bible that help us understand the Battle of Armageddon.

Judges 4 and 5. The children of Israel had wandered from God. They were oppressed for 20 years by [a] pagan country, the Canaanites. And finally God rose up a prophetess by the name of Deborah. Deborah called for Barak. He said, “Gather all the people together at Mount Tabor.” And they fought with the general named Sisera. They had 900 iron chariots. That’s like 900 Abram tanks today. They had a massive army and there was no way that they could defeat them. They had been oppressed for years. All of the Israelites have is garden shovels and things to fight with, pruning hooks. And she says, “God’s going to be with you.” He said, “If you go with me I’ll go.” She said, “I’ll go with you, but you’re not going to get the credit. The credit’s going to go to a woman.”

Not only did the credit go to a woman, Deborah, but the credit went to another woman named Jael. Because when the Israelites took on the Canaanites in the Valley of Megiddo they were conquered. They were routed. And as they fled their chariots got stuck in the mire. It had rained, evidently, and Sisera got off and he fled and he found a tent of the Kenites, which were sort of a neutral people. And he said, “You’re not an Israelite. You’re not one of us, but will you show me sanctuary? Hide me.” So the general hides underneath this rug and she ends up piercing his ear while he slept. Except she went a little too far, killed him. So she got credit for destroying the army. And then they sing this song; Deborah sings this prophetic song about the victory they received. Judges 5:19, “The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money. They fought from the heavens; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.” She’s saying the heavens fought for us. We didn’t have to fight. The heavens fought for us and they were delivered.

Then you’ve got the story of Gideon. Now this is especially interesting when you study the word of Armageddon because Gideon’s name is very similar. They were completely outnumbered. Another battle in the Valley of Megiddo. When you read in the story of Gideon and you go to Judges 7:2, in the original Hebrew, several times it says “God spoke to Gideon” and it’s [Jehovah ????]. Spoke to Gideon. And that’s very similar to the word Armageddon. Now in the story of Gideon you’ve got the same thing you have in Revelation. There was a three-fold power: The Middeonites, the Amalakites, the people of the east, gathered against God’s people and oppressed them. All Gideon had was 300 men. He divided them into three companies. They were all given three things: given an trumpet, given a pitcher, and they had a sword. All symbols of the word. “Let your light shine.” “Lift up your voice like a trumpet.” “Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword.” And at the right moment they broke the pitchers. The lights shined. They blew the trumpet. They waved their swords. And they shouted. And what did the enemy do? They woke up in disarray and confusion, confounded by the noise, the blaring trumpets. They saw the lights around the hill. They thought there was this vast army. And they all turned on each other and self-destructed. That’s what happens in the end. God fights for us from heaven in the battle of Armageddon. The Bible tells us Christ comes. Matter of fact, that’s the seventh plague, is Jesus’ coming.

Final thing, friends, I just want to go back to Revelation. I’m just going to read it to you so I can tie off this. The seventh bowl. I read about what Armageddon means. Armageddon is talking about. I knew I was forgetting something. There’s a third story about Armageddon. The favorite young king. He was in his 30’s, right about the age of Christ, named Josiah. He dies in the Valley of Megiddo defending God’s people. So whenever you say the Valley of Megiddo to the Israelites, it talks about a king they loved who sacrificed himself. It talks about battles that are won when God fought for them in a miraculous way. And so when it says they’re gathered together like the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the Valley of Megiddo, it looks hopeless. It looks like we’re going to be destroyed, but at the last minute God fights for us. Amen? All the forces of the world are going to be gathered against those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus in the last days. That is the battle of Armageddon. And just when they’re getting ready to launch the battle against us the real forces come from over the hill.

Have you ever seen these stories before where it looks like this little troop is completely outnumbered, and they’re surrounded, and it looks like it’s all over. And then all of a sudden you hear in the distance a trumpet [cavalry charge tune], and the cavalry comes riding over the hill, just like a wave. And they come to the rescue. That’s what it’s going to be like. It’s going to be the great rescue. And you know who’s going to be leading that cavalry from heaven? Jesus is going to come riding on the white horse wearing His red garments, saying the word of God with a sword coming out of His mouth. And He comes to deliver His people. And that’s when the wicked flee from His presence and run and call for the rocks and mountains to fall on them.

Revelation 16:17, “The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’” That’s what Jesus said on the cross. “And there were noises and thunderings and lightenings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty earthquake,” and so great that no Richter scale could measure it. “As has never occurred since men were on the earth. That great city was divided into three parts,” just like the forces in the story of Gideon. “And great Babylon was remembered before God.” Is that literal or spiritual Babylon there? Spiritual Babylon, yeah. “To give up the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” So if you’re part of the country living class don’t move to Kauai. “And great hail from heaven fell upon men, every hailstone about the weight of a talent,” 75 pounds. “And men blasphemed God because the plague of hail was very great.” This is the final hail it talks about, the coming of Christ when Jesus comes and raptures up. I don’t even mean to use that word rapture like in secret rapture, but they are caught up to meet Him in the air. And this is the second coming.

So this is what we’ve got before us, I believe, friends. We need to continue studying these things. Believe me, I’m not the last word. I know I don’t understand it all, but I want you to understand what I do think I understand and to be prepared. One thing I want you to know is in spite of what’s coming you don’t have to be afraid. Do not be afraid of the plagues. God makes a promise in His word. You’ve read this before. Psalm 91:9-10, “Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil will befall you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.” Notice Revelation 15:2, “And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over the mark and number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps.” Someone’s going to be on that sea of glass who escapes the plagues. That can be you. I want to be one of those people, don’t you?

We’re going to ding a song in closing. You’ve got to pay attention when you sing it. It’s one of those songs that has a lot of words that come rally fast. They all mean something. So I’d like you to stand with me, 598 Watch Ye Saints.

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