Understanding The Apocalypse

Revelation 19:17-21
Chapter 34

On April 6, 1893, in New Orleans, Louisiana, Jack Burke and Andy Bowen put on boxing gloves and fought each other for 110 rounds--a record 7 hours and 19 minutes.

Interestingly, some people think Armageddon will be a similar situation where the forces of Satan unleash their fury against the Lord and slug it out with Him and His armies for hours on end.

However, the battle of Armageddon will be more like the fight that occurred in Minnesota, on November 4, 1947, when Mike Collins floored Pat Brownson with the first punch and the contest was stopped without a count, 4 seconds after the starting bell.

Surely, the "battle of Armageddon" has a lot of pre-game hype but the war will be over before it begins. Actually, the terms "war" and "battle" when applied to Armageddon, are misnomers. This will not be a war in the classic sense where two armies fight it out with both sides taking casualties. Only one side will suffer loses and only one participant will strike the blows.

Though the army of the Antichrist gathers for what is thought to be a battle, John reports that Armageddon is actually,

I. The Supper of the Great God

"And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God, that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and enslaved, both small and great" (Revelation 19:17-18).
John begins this text by describing "an angel standing in the sun" issuing an invitation to "the supper of the great God." To understand the significance of the angel standing in the sun we need to read again, Matthew 24:29-30.
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give its light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven; and then shall the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
Jesus said plainly the sun would be darkened following the tribulation and because the moon is not a light source but a reflector of sunlight, it too will be darkened. Also, the stars, which are the only other heavenly light sources will fall from the sky. The obvious result is the earth will be in total darkness.

This is the direct fulfillment of Isaiah 13:9-10, which says,

"Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and he shall destroy the sinners out of it. For the stars of heaven and constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in its going forth, and the moon shall not cause its light to shine."
Perhaps, the "sign of the Son of man in heaven" will be the angel standing in the sun, his glory illuminating the world, so all attention is focused on him when he makes his announcement "to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God."

Imagine the effect on the army gathered at Armageddon. The earth will be enveloped in darkness, emotions will be high in anticipation of the coming conflict, and suddenly, as when someone turns on a light switch, the sun begins to shine. Immediately, all attention is focused skyward and the booming voice of the angel tells the birds of the air they will eat the flesh of the army gathered on the earth.

No wonder, Jesus said the tribes of the earth will mourn. There will be much mourning when the army of the Antichrist realizes what is about to happen. The buzzards are invited to supper and the army gathered at Armageddon by the Antichrist, is the meal.

How different this "supper of the great God" from the "marriage supper of the Lamb." The marriage supper is a time for rejoicing and celebration in heaven, to which the Saints and heavenly hosts are invited, while the "supper of the great God" is a time for judgment and death on the earth, to which the buzzards are invited.

II. The Purpose of the Armageddon Army

"And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army" (Revelation 19:19).

Though it is the beast or the Antichrist with the kings of the earth and their armies that gather at Armageddon, they are in reality, merely willing pawns in the hands of Satan, who is using them for his own purposes. Satan's desires are revealed in Isaiah 14:12-14.

"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, who didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the North, I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High."
Isaiah lists five different things Satan desired in his heart to do and these resulted in his expulsion from heaven. However, he did not give up on his objectives and from the beginning of human history he has sought to use mankind in his quest to fulfill his five deadly "I will" statements.

During the tribulation he will be allowed to pursue his selfish desires. He will conquer the world and with the exception of the believing remnant of Israel, all the people on the earth will bow before him.

Pride will cause him to think he has snatched his moment of glory from the hands of the Almighty. He will not realize God has permitted him to go unchecked as an instrument of judgment on the earth.

Consequently, Satan will assemble an army at Armageddon, to defend his kingdom on earth, against the coming of the true King of kings and Lord of lords. Although this army will gather, thinking they will do battle with the Lord and His armies, they will in reality be gathering for the "supper of the great God" that is, their own destruction.

One of the things we see demonstrated here is Satan's hatred of mankind. He is always willing and even eager it seems, to sacrifice humans in his never-ending rebellion against the Lord.

Jesus said in John 8:44, that Satan was a murderer from the beginning and the truth is not in him. The great promises he makes to lure people into rebellion are always lies and the result is always death or separation from God.

Satan knows from personal experience the results of sin. Yet, he continues to use sin, to entice mankind to destruction. Surely, he must hate God and people created in God's image, to do such evil.

Armageddon is a continuation of the destruction Satan has brought on mankind from the beginning. Satan's purposes at Armageddon will be to defy God and destroy humans.

III. The Judgment of the Armageddon Army

"And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth; and all the fowls were filled with their flesh" (Revelation 19:20-21).
Before exploring the judgment of Armageddon we need to discuss the false prophet. This is the second of only three times the false prophet is mentioned in the Revelation. The other two mentions are in Revelation 16:13 and 20:10. The former speaks of his demonic possession and influence, while the latter confirms his destiny is the Lake of Fire.

Because there is little mention of the false prophet there is little information concerning him. Perhaps, this is an indicator of his lack of importance, as a major player in the tribulation events.

However, because of this reference to the false prophet working miracles and thereby deceiving those who receive the mark of the beast and worship him, many believe the false prophet is the "beast out of the earth" revealed in Revelation 13:11-18.

You may recall that in our study of Revelation 13, the "beast out of the earth" was identified as the Antichrist and the "beast out of the sea" is the kingdom or empire the Antichrist will use in his rise to power. There is no conflict with this understanding of Revelation 13, and the information revealed in Revelation 19:20.

The false prophet is identified in this text as the agent the Antichrist will use to work miracles and deceive the nations into worshipping his image. Clearly, the beast or Antichrist and the false prophet are two separate individuals, though one in purpose. Because the false prophet serves the purposes of the Antichrist as if they were his own, does not mean he is "the beast out of the earth."

Notice, the first two judged, at the return of the King of kings and Lord of lords, are the beast and the false prophet. Because their sins are so vile, in that the beast proclaimed himself god and the false prophet testified for him, they are cast directly into the "lake of fire burning with brimstone."

Their blasphemies will earn them the infamous distinction of being the first condemned to that place of torments and they will not be dead but will be alive when cast into the burning lake, indicating the state of all who go to that horrible place.

Then, the "remnant" or remainder of the army gathered at Armageddon, will be slain by the sword coming out of the mouth, of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Then, the fowls of the air will be filled with their flesh as they partake of "the supper of the great God."

It is the spoken word of God coming from the mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ that will destroy this army. The Creator of the universe has only to speak and the mightiest of forces fall down before Him.

Ezekiel 39 describes the aftermath of this judgment at Armageddon. It will take Israel seven years to burn the weapons of war and seven months to bury the bones of the dead. The time required for Israel to cleanse the land of the results of Armageddon indicates not only the numbers of people standing against God on that day, but the power contained in the Word of God. It is believing the Word of God that saves mankind and it is the Word of God that will judge all who do not believe it.

Armageddon will not be a war or a battle. It will be a time of judgment, when the Lord Jesus Christ will purge the earth of all who resist His authority, in preparation for the establishment of His Millennial Kingdom.

From "Understanding The Apocalypse"
A book of sermons by Pastor Jim McColloch, Th.M., Th.D.
© Copyright 1994, 1999