The Battle of Armageddon, Pt. 1

Scripture: Matthew 24:6, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Ephesians 1:13
Date: 04/07/2018 
Armageddon. This scary word from the book of Revelation is an enigma for most Bible scholars. What is Armageddon?
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>>We are living in interesting times. We’re living in volatile times. And I was impressed this week to talk about a subject that actually has a certain air about it, even when you just say the word, ‘Armageddon’. The word only appears one time in the Bible and it doesn’t appear anywhere else in Greek literature. It’s something of a mysterious word, but it describes a great final conflict that the world is drifting towards. It’s going to represent the culmination of the battle between good and evil. There’s a lot of confusion on that subject, but you and I are very much involved in what happens and what leads up to this battle of good and evil. So the message today, and this next week, is going to be the Battle of Armageddon – today, part 1.

You know, Jesus makes a statement about the wars in the world when He spoke about the signs of His coming. In Matthew 24, verse 6, Jesus said, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars….for nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.” Now, at the end of World War II, General Douglas MacArthur said – you know, he was there on that battleship when they signed the peace agreement with Japan – and he said, “If we do not devise some greater and more equitable means of settling disputes among nations, Armageddon will be at our door.”

Sometimes when people think of Armageddon, like General MacArthur, they think about World War III – that it’s going to be a massive war between China and Russia and the U.S. or other world powers. It’s hard to imagine anything that could be worse than World War II. Do you know that in the last century - 108 million people were killed in the 20th century? Someone estimated that the total number of people killed in wars, that are recorded in history, easily tops 1 billion people killed in war. Man seems to have a propensity towards war. Today, the combined armed forces in the world – there are 21.3 million people in the military. China’s got the world’s largest military with 2.4 million. India is second - we were just there – 1.4 million. America now has 1.3 million, North Korea 1.1 million, Russia 900,000. Now this, to me, was one of the most interesting facts about war and militaries. Do you know that the world spends over 100 million dollars an hour on soldiers, ammunition, and war machines? How’d you like to get that paid per hour? Hundred million dollars an hour!

So when people talk, today, about Armageddon, it is a fact of history that man has never made a weapon he did not use. I mean, even America, at one point, used atomic weapons. And now, the nuclear weapons are infinitely more devastating and you think, ‘How long will it be before somebody, through accident, madness, or folly, launches a nuclear weapon. What would happen? But is that the battle of Armageddon? Well, it’s not what most people think. What begins the countdown to Armageddon? Now you go to – Revelation is the place where you find this, but we’re going to go to Revelation chapter 7. We read, “After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth,” – those four angels represent the North, the South, the East, and West. He talks about the four corners of the earth. The Bible says Jesus will send forth His angels to gather together His elect from the four corners of the earth, and those are the four directions of the compass, so this is somewhat symbolic. “…four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow…” – Now the winds represent a storm. It says, “…that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.” We’ve all seen when winds blow on the earth and you can get a dust storm or tornado and winds can blow on the sea and you can get a hurricane. And winds blow on a tree – you can see a typhoon or something bending the trees down – and so these storms affect the elements and the environment.

So these angels are holding back this great storm that is about to be unleashed. And, if you read in Daniel, it talks about, ‘I saw the winds of strife on the waters.’ In Daniel, there, it’s talking about strife and storm and these nations rising and falling. It often happens in the context of war. Now, before those angels release their grip on this storm, it says something has to happen. “Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, ‘Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”

We’re, right now, living in the eye of a hurricane, you might say. You know, they say that, you know, when a hurricane goes over and you’re just right in the middle of it, that there’s a strange calm that happens. So, there’s a sealing that needs to happen. Now, we’re going to talk for a moment about ‘What is this seal?’ Because this is something that you must have if you’re going to be saved.

By the way, I don’t know how to tell you this but, whether you like it or not, you’re all going to be marked soon – everybody here – one way or the other. There are two marks in Revelation – much of the Christian world is very familiar with the mark of the beast in the hand or in the forehead, but the Bible says the saved are marked too. It’s interesting, I never hear anyone say, ‘And all of the saved are going to get a bar code and all of the saved are going to get the salvation RFID chip.’ We never equate the mark the saved get with any of these goofy things. That’s because both of the marks are a symbol for something that is in the hand and in the head.

Now, you turn with me in the Bible and I’ll show you this. First of all, the seal of God in the heart is the law of God. The law of God is the seal of God. In the law of God you find the seal. You read in Isaiah 8:16, “Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.” You know, the Bible is called ‘the Law and the Prophets’ – the law and the testimony? This must be sealed within us – the word of God.

“Then I looked, and behold, a lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His father’s name written on their foreheads.” You get to Revelation 17, there’s this woman, she’s got a paragraph in her forehead – “Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” – I mean, do you really think you’re going to see a lady walking around with that big ol’ tattoo on her forehead in the last days? It could happen, I guess, today, huh?

But that’s not what it’s talking about. What does it mean when it says, ‘in the hand and in the forehead,’ biblically? Friends, I want you to understand this: Deuteronomy – if you go to Deuteronomy chapter 6 – this is that very famous shema, where you can read in Deuteronomy 5, Moses goes through and he repeats the Ten Commandments. By the way, the word ‘Deuteronomy’ means, ‘a repeating of the law’. In Deuteronomy chapter 5 you’ve got the Ten Commandments. You go to Deuteronomy 6 and he says, “Hear, o Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God” – this is verse 4 – “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today” – “these words” – Ten Commandments - the words He had just commanded, there’s no chapter divisions – “these words” – Ten Commandments – “which I command you today shall be in your heart.” That’s the new covenant, of course, right? “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”

Now, you know, some of the ancient Jews, wanting to make sure they didn’t misunderstand, they literally took passages of scripture and they wrapped them with leather around their right hands or they hung phylactaries – little boxes with a piece of scripture – on their forehead. Some of you have probably seen the pictures of the Orthodox Jews that they’ve got a little something hanging in their forehead. That’s supposed to have the Word of God on their forehead and they’ll have one on their hand and they do that because Moses said, ‘In your hand and in your forehead.’ It’s obviously a symbol because, in the same passage, he says it’s to be in your heart too. So how do you do that? Are we supposed to, like, open up our chests and stuff passages of the word in like you do – stick your prayers in the cracks of the Wailing Wall? No, in your heart means in your affections, in your mind, in your actions.

>>Don’t go anywhere, friends, we’ll be back in just a moment with the rest of today’s presentation.

>>Have you read what the Bible actually says about the last-day events? Are you familiar with the signs of the Second Coming – the last plagues and the final judgment? Anyone who’s even glancing at the headlines today probably wonders if our world is plunging toward Armageddon. But I want to let you know that, even in the face of all that’s happening, you can still live with peace and assurance for your future. Would you like to know how? Amazing Facts wants to share with you the Final Events of Prophecy magazine. It features 32 pages of captivating, colorful, and biblically accurate information. This one-of-a-kind sharing resource covers the seven key events of the last days and it unveils the astonishing predictions about our planet’s final days and how you can be ready for them. To get your free copy, call the phone number on the screen and ask for offer #856 or visit the web address. And, after you read this incredible resource, be sure and share it with a friend. Let’s return now to today’s presentation and learn some more amazing facts from the word of God.

Let me give you a few more verses that bear this out. You find this phrase so often in the Bible, we shouldn’t miss it. So I’m always surprised when people come up with these zany ideas about what the Mark of the Beast is and what it means when it says, ‘in the hand and in the forehead.’ Here’s another one: Deuteronomy 11, verse 18, “Therefore you shall lay up these words of Mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” That’s your forehead. Exodus 13:9, “It shall be as a sign to your on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth;” – and it says, ‘Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.’ It means the Lord’s law in your heart. – “for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt.”

Now go to Exodus 13:6 – I’m giving you four – “in the mouths of two witnesses it should be established” – here’s four – Exodus 13, verse 16, “it shall be as a sign on your hand and as frontlets between your eyes, for by strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.” In the hand, in the forehead; in the hand, in the forehead – every Jew knew what that meant. It meant that it’s to be close to you – in your actions – it’s to be in your thoughts.

Now, very simply if you do not have the Seal of God in your hand and in your heart and in your head, you will have the Mark of the Beast in your hand and in your head, because everyone’s going to have one or the other. You’ll have your Father’s name in your forehead – and I’ll talk more about the seal next week – what – some of the specifics of it. So, what is the seal? I’m going to give you one aspect: there is a seal – I’ll give you a couple of aspects – there’s a seal in the law of God where you find the name of God. You know, they say there are three components to any seal – a government seal – when the president gives a speech it’ll have the seal of the United States of America. I was just in Nashville a few weeks ago and Karen and I got to shake hands with Vice President Pence and he came up – they brought out his own podium – it’s just the vice president – when he speaks, they’ve got his own podium they bring with him and they set it up and they put the seal there. I remember one of the attendants, he did all this fiddling with the microphones, made everything perfect, and then he took out a cloth and he polished off the seal. And so, a government seal contains three things: it’s got the name of the individual, it’s got the title or office that they hold, and then it’s got the territory over which the office has authority. The presidential seal would say, ‘Donald Trump’ – that’s his name – ‘President’ – that’s his title – ‘United States’ is the territory. You have several seals in the Bible. There was a seal placed on the tomb of Jesus by Pontius Pilate and it would have read, ‘Pontius Pilate, Governor, Judea’. There was a seal placed on the stone when Daniel was put in the lion’s den. Remember, the king sealed it and it would have said, ‘Darius, King, Medo-Persia’. And so, you find those three characteristics. Now, where in the law of God do you find the seal of God? It’s in only commandment where you also find the word ‘Holy’. It says, “for in six days the Lord” – Jehovah, that’s His name – “created” – he is the Creator and the sustainer – that’s His title – “the heaven and the earth” – that’s everything above and everything below. That’s His territory. You’ve got the name of God, you’ve got the seal of God, in that commandment that talks about who do you worship? That’s why it is an important deal. I know some don’t feel that way, but that’s not the only seal. That’s a seal in the law. You know what the most important seal is? Those who have the Mark of the Beast have whose spirit?


>>Satan’s spirit. Those that have the Seal of God have Whose spirit?


>>See, you already knew that. Doesn’t that kind of go without saying? But it’s in the Bible too. 2 Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 21. “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” There is a sealing that happens with the Holy Spirit. If you say, ‘I keep the commandments of God’ and you don’t have the Spirit of God, you’re not saved by the commandments. And, by the way, you can’t really keep the commandments without the Holy Spirit.


>>You know, it doesn’t matter how hard you might try, if the Lord is not first in your life, you might say, ‘Well, I don’t pray to statues,’ but if He’s not first in your life, you’re – it’s idolatry. If the Lord is not first in your heart, then you’re worshiping other gods. If the Lord is not first in your heart, then you’re really not worshiping God, you take His name in vain. You say you’re a Christian, but it’s in vain. And you can’t really keep the Sabbath – if you were to sit down and fiddle your thumbs and not do anything and say, ‘I kept the Sabbath holy.’ if the Lord’s not first in your heart, you’re missing the whole spirit of it. It’s for those who have the seal of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,” – if that’s clear, say, ‘Amen.’


>>If not, I’ve got one more: Ephesians 4:30, “and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” And then you’ve got Ezekiel 20:12, which says, “Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign” – and that word, ‘sign’ can mean ‘token’ or ‘seal’ – it’s interchangeable – “between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.” Sabbath is a sign that God is our Creator and it’s a sign, also, that He recreates us and He sanctifies us.


>>Now, when that work is finally complete – when all the servants of God are sealed – is it clear to you from chapter 7, it says, ‘Don’t release the winds until I’ve sealed My servants’? Wouldn’t that sound, to you, like after they are sealed, the winds are released? So, why does this church exist? We get together because we’re social creatures and we need to interact with each other. That’s good. I love coming to church and you see friends and you fellowship and that’s great. But why do we really exist? What is our mission? Jesus gave it to us: go and teach the gospel to every creature. We’ve got a work to do. We need to feed the hungry with food, but we need to feed them with the Bread of Life. We need to clothe the naked, but they need the robe of Christ’s righteousness. We need to give water to the thirsty, but they need the Living Water. We’ve got a mission to dispense the gospel. We’re to be a light to the world. And I know this church takes it very seriously, because what you do now is preparing people to live when probation closes.

Now that thought used to make me shudder. It still does make me tremble a little bit. Right now we’re so thankful that we mess up and we pray and God forgives us and we can try it again. And we’re so glad for the grace of God, but you realize that you can reach the point of no return. There’s a time – it happens in people’s lives – it can happen for a world, it can happen for a nation – when probation closes. You know what I mean by probation? It’s a trial period. God has given us mercy. He’s given us a period of time – it is a limited period of time, it will not last forever – when we can choose to come to Him and we can find mercy and forgiveness and transformation. But someday, God is going to say, ‘Enough!’ the day is going to come when Michael stands up. The day is going to come when the sanctuary is silent because there’s no more intercession there.

It happened in the life of King Saul. God was so merciful to him for years – he reigned forty years – probably ten years into his reign he began to get rebellious and he started resisting and not listening to Samuel the prophet and doing his own thing. He became proud. You’ve heard the expression, ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’? He became corrupted by the power. He became proud and he became rebellious and the prophets would talk to him and the priests would talk to him and he killed the priests. Finally, God said, ‘look, you’re not listening. I’m not talking anymore.’ and when he was being attacked by the Philistines, he went to talk to the prophets. There was no word. The priests – no word. He prayed – no answer. Finally, he went to a witch. Saul had grieved away the Holy Spirit and he fell on his own sword.

Judas resisted the patient pleading of Jesus for three and a half years, walking with Christ and never fully surrendering. And Jesus got down and He’s washing Judas’ feet, hoping that Judas’ll repent and confess he’s about to betray the Lord. But he hardened his heart. He thought, ‘If He was really the Messiah, He wouldn’t be down there washing my feet.’ His pride – he gave into his pride. And the Bible says ‘Satan entered him and he went out and it was night.’ And the Bible warns us that there can come a time where you reach the point of no return.

You know, army helicopters, they’ve got a light that comes on. If they’re going out over the ocean – the coastguard helicopter – and they’re going to make a rescue at sea, they’ve got to pay very close attention to their fuel because however far out they get, they can’t land like a plane, you know, just anywhere, they need solid ground. And they’ve got to make sure that they don’t use more fuel going out than they have to come back. As soon as they’re going out on a rescue, they’ll set what theIr point of no return is and they’ll get to a certain point, if that red light goes off, even if they see the person they need to rescue is just a half a mile away, they turn around. They say, ‘If we rescue you, we’ll never make it back. We’re all going to go in the brink together.’

It can happen for a person where you reach the point of no return. How do you know when you’re pushing God’s mercy too far? You keep saying, ‘Oh, thank you, Lord, I’m glad you’re a merciful God. Forgive my sin, but I plan on doing it again tomorrow, so thanks for Your mercy today.’ is that real repentance? You keep doing that and, it’s not that God won’t forgive you, it’s that you can get where you lose your capacity to really repent and you can reach the point of no return someday by persisting in your sin.

We take God’s mercy for granted sometimes and that’s a very dangerous thing to do. Matter of fact, most people do. ‘He is so merciful, He is so patient, He is so long suffering. After all, He’s our heavenly Father, how could He ever say ‘No’?’ Well, the time comes where He just is not able to save you because you’ve just gone too far. You don’t want to go to that point.

It not only happened in the time of Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah. Finally, the angels came and said to Lot and his family, ‘Get out, for God is going to destroy this place.’ And, you know, when the sun came up in Sodom, they thought everything was fine. The flowers were smelling sweet and the birds were singing and you would never know that that was their last day.

It happened in the days of Noah. The world had reached the point of no return. Are you aware that God told Noah and his family to get on the ark, after it was built – and God shut the door – and after God shut the door, life went on outside just like every other day, for seven days? But probation had closed and they didn’t realize it. It kind of – isn’t that a troubling thought? So how do you know what’s the best time to repent? Someone asked a rabbi, ‘What would be the best time to repent?’ he said, ‘The last day of your life.’ He said, ‘Okay, how do I know which day is the last day?’ and the rabbi said, ‘Exactly.’ (Laughter) Since you don’t know, the best time to give it all to the Lord and take those classes on how to keep your garments clean is now.

See, you come to the Lord through justification – He accepts you just like you are. You turn to Jesus like the thief on the cross and He promises you He’ll accept you, He’ll forgive you. Then, if you really love the Lord and you’ve come to Him, He says, ‘Okay, phase 2, sanctification. Now we want to teach you how to live a holy life.’ So many people stop at justification – they are so thankful that God offers to forgive them, but they have no interest in being holy. That’s kind of a frightening thing to consider, that some people just want the mercy, they don’t want the power to be changed. But you’ve got to be changed, friends, because some day the laundromat’s going to close. That’s when probation closes. You can read about that in Daniel chapter 12, verse 1, “At that time Michael shall stand up,” – you know, when a judge stands up in a court, that means, ‘I’m done listening to evidence, I’ve issued my verdict. Cases are closed. It is over.’ – “…Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time.”

When there’s a time of trouble, such as never has been, that’s hard to imagine. Revelation 22 – you can read about this where Jesus said, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.” There’ll come a time when the saved are saved and the lost are lost. The saved are sealed – they’ve got their father’s name written in their foreheads. They’ve got their Father’s name written in their hearts and their hands and their heads. And the lost, they have the Mark of the Beast.

Have you read what Revelation says about the Mark of the Beast? The most fearful denounciations and curses in the Bible falls on them. So we don’t want to wait until it’s too late. The Bible talks about a time in Amos 12, where they’ll “…wander from sea to sea , and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it.”

Am I living where I need to be living? Am I just taking advantage of God’s justification, or am I really wanting Him to sanctify me? Am I wanting to be a Christian in name or do I want to be a Christian in deed? Right now the doors of mercy are open, but in everybody’s life – probation closes for everybody, eventually. You want to walk in the light while you have the light, amen, friends?

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