Is This The Battle Of Armageddon?
January 13th, 1991 @ 10:50 AM
IS THIS THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON?
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-13-91 10:50 a.m.
In the Book of the Revelation, chapter 16, beginning at verse 12, Revelation 16:12:
And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates—where Baghdad is the capital—and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
For they are the spirits of demons, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings and rulers of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty . . .
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
The attention of the world in all history has been riveted on the Near East, on the Middle East. There is the denouement of story. There is the climax of all human history. For one reason, Israel is there. A sign of the true prophecy of God of that great confrontation around Israel is the fact that he, the Jew, is still here. You never saw of anyone who ever heard of anyone who ever looked upon a Hittite or an Amorite or a Jebusite or any other of those ancient tribes. But God said the Jew will be here until the end [Matthew 24:34-35; Jeremiah 30:11], and the climax of history will concern him. That is the first reason why. The attention of the world has always been riveted on the Near East. The Jew may be hounded, he may be persecuted, he may be scattered, he may be despised and hated, but he will always be here, God says.
A second reason why the attention of the world is concentrated ever on the Middle East, because there is fought the great final battle of human history, the battle of Armageddon [Revelation 16:12-16]. In these years past when I used to be invited by several succeeding presidents to go to the White House, I was there upon this occasion with the Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. And as we were speaking, of course, a large part of the conversation concerned our war at that time in Vietnam. And I asked him, because Russia was on one side of it and China was on the other side of it, and we and other Allies were involved in it, I asked him, ”Do you think this will be a great and final world-wide climactic confrontation?”
And he replied to me, “No, not at all.”
Well, I said. “Where do you think it ultimately will be?”
And he said, Henry Kissinger said to me, “It will be in Palestine.” The great final gathering of the nations, our Secretary of State said to me, will be in Israel.
There is another reason why the attention of the world is focused on the Middle East. It is in the text that I read: “I saw three unclean spirits come out of the mouth of the dragon” that is Satan the enemy of God, “and out of the mouth of the beast,” that is the political ruler, “and out of the mouth of the false prophet,” that is the leader of the religious world used by the political leader to advance his political purposes [Revelation 16:13]. Saddam Hussein has heretofore looked with indifference upon the religion of his people. But now, he is seeking by fanatical measures to stir up the fervor of religion in behalf of the cause that he represents. The Bible, the Revelation without exception, depicts for us the end time of the world. And without exception every great section of the Apocalypse ends in a war of the Lord God Almighty. For example, in the ninth chapter:
[And] the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God,
Saying to the sixth angel…Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates—
where Baghdad is capital—
And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, a day, a month, a year for to slay the third part of men.
And the number of the army of the horsemen were duo muriades muriadōn, translated here two hundred thousand thousand, two hundred million: and I heard the number of them.
I turn to the pages of the Revelation to the conclusion of the fourteenth chapter:
And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, gathered the vine of the earth, cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs, two hundred miles.
This is a quotation from Isaiah 63:1-6. From Bozrah in Edom to Armageddon, two hundred miles, in this final battle, the blood is splattered up to the bridles of the horses.
I turn again to the sixteenth chapter that I have just read. “And they were gathered together in that great final battle of God Almighty into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon, the plain of Megiddo. [Revelation 16:16] And I turn to the seventeenth chapter, and the closing climatic verses:
And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these hate the whore, shall make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh, and burn her with the fire.
For God hath put in their hearts to fulfill his will. . .and give their kingdom unto the beast . . .
And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
And the concluding part of the great nineteenth chapter:
I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all of the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come, gather yourself 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, horses . . .
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war. . . .
The remnant were slain by the sword of Him that sat upon the horse…and all of the fowls were filled with their flesh.
[Revelation 19:17- 21]
There is no exception to it. History finds its denouement in a great and final war.
Well, how is it that they are there in Megiddo by the Plain of Esdraelan to battle the war of God Almighty, Armageddon? [Revelation 16:16]. It is not by the genius of human government. It is not by the rulers of the nations. It is not by the officers of armies. There is no genius in humankind that could gather such a vast throng together. Over that river Euphrates from the east will march an army one day, God says, of two hundred million men [Revelation 9:16]. How could such a vast, indescribable, multitudinous force ever be gathered together? It is not by human genius. It is by the unclean spirits of the judgment of God that come out of the abyss of hell, “out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the Beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet,” these unclean spirits of deception [Revelation 16:13-14]. They gather together the great forces and armies of the nations of the world [Revelation 16:16].
I will give you an illustration of that. In 1 Kings 22, the Lord God asked, “Who will deceive Ahab, the king of Israel, that he come to Ramoth Gilead,” to be slain? And an unclean spirit of deception and lying said to God, “I will put my spirit of evil in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets, and they will persuade him to come to Ramoth Gilead, there to be slain.” [1 Kings 22:20-22] That is why these multitudinous millions of the armies of the world will be gathered in Megiddo. It is a deception perpetrated by the evil demonic spirits of hell itself [Revelation 16:13-14].
Why is it then, now, and especially, our attention is riveted on the Middle East? Did you read, as I sought to emphasize what God says? “The sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates” [Revelation 16:12]. I turn back to the ninth chapter, “The sixth angel sounded. He blew his trumpet and cried, saying, “Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates” [Revelation 9:13-14]. Our attention willingly or no is everlastingly riveted there. The great river Euphrates, with Baghdad its capital, and Saddam Hussein its political leader.
What about Israel? We cannot escape our involvement with Israel. I see these critters, inane, unthinking, march up and down the streets of Dallas, and before the White House, and in Washington, our capital. And they will have big signs saying, “No blood for oil,” as though we are involved in this confrontation because of the high cost of oil. They are without thinking. What will happen is this, plainly stated. If Saddam Hussein becomes the conqueror of the Arab world, the first thing that will happen is that there will be destruction of Israel. Their bombs, their planes, their soldiers, their vast hundreds of thousands of men in the army will completely destroy Israel. And they go marching up and down the streets, saying, “No blood for oil.” It is beside the point. We are in a great confrontation for the very life of the people of God.
Of course, our thoughts are riveted in the Middle East because of the vote of the United Nations. And because now, yesterday, of the vote of our Senate, and of our House of Representatives. We are committed with our great president.
A question: why don’t we take a plane, or maybe two planes, and send those flying destructions of death over Iraq and drop down a hydrogen bomb or an atomic bomb and get it over with in a moment? Why don’t we do that? Why do we need a great army? Why? Why these hundreds of thousands of American boys over there? I learned the answer in an unusual way.
I was in LA, in Los Angeles, on a flight to Chicago to change planes to Detroit, where I was to speak through the days of the Northern Baptist Conservative Convention. When I went out to the get on the plane, I was stopped there at the gate, saying the plane was full and I couldn’t get on it. But, they said, right there’s another plane going to Chicago, you just get on that plane. I saw my plane pull out, and I went to get on my plane, and as I did, I learned that it was a slower kind of a vehicle and would get there an hour after I was to change planes, and I had missed my appointment in Detroit. I was furious! I was livid with anger! When I got on my plane to go to Chicago, I didn’t even look. There was one seat that was vacant; second seat back from the front. I stalked through the plane and plopped down in that one seat and sat there, just furious. When finally I cooled off enough to look around, there was a colonel. There was a brigadier general. There was a man with one star on his shoulder. And I looked to see the critter that I had sat down beside. He had five stars on each one of his shoulders. Five stars, no wonder the seat was vacant. I looked at him and there sat Omar Bradley, our chief of staff and the head of the armed forces of America.
To summarize it, his boy had just been killed. He was a test pilot and he had just been killed. That’s why Omar Bradley was there. And when he learned that I was a Baptist pastor, he poured out his heart to me, with tears. The little children, and he said to me, look at me so aged, old. And I have those grandchildren. Well, anyway, as the flight continued, he began to talk to me about the war in Korea and about the dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur from command.
And as he began to speak and to talk about the world in which he lived, the world of war, I said to him, “General, why do you need an army? Why do you need an infantry? Why do you need these great numbers and forces? Why don’t you just take these planes and these atomic bombs and these hydrogen fissions and just blow the thing out. Why do you need an army?”
He had already taken out a long piece of paper and fought through the war in Korea. He took that paper again and said, “There are two reasons why you have to have an army, two reasons. Number one,” he said, “when you conquer a country, you have to administer it. There has to be an occupation force. There has to be police. There has to be all the directive of government. You have to have an army when you conquer a country. But” he said, “The main reason is this. An atomic bomb is ineffective in winning a war.” He said, “You may have ten soldiers here, and you may have thirty enemy soldiers there, and you may have fifty enemy soldiers there.” And he said, “An atomic bomb for ten, or thirty or fifty would be ineffective. You have to have an army to push the enemy together so that the atomic bomb is effective. And that’s why you have to have a tremendous army.” That’s what General Omar Bradley said to me. “So, no matter how we may have these fighter planes, no matter what the arsenal in our atomic warfare, these boys, God bless them, still have to be sent to Arabia and to Iraq and to the Middle East. There is no other way to fight a war,” so General Bradley said to me.
Now in this closing moment: is this the battle of Armageddon? Is this the final great confrontation of the Lord God Almighty? I read from the Book of the Apocalypse, chapter one, verse nineteen, The Lord God said to the sainted apostle John, verse nineteen, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter” [Revelation 1:19]. This is God’s outline of the Revelation. Men have all kinds of outlines of the Apocalypse. This is God’s, three parts. “Write the things which thou hast seen” [Revelation 1:19], that is chapter one, the scene of the exalted and glorified Christ [Revelation 1:9-18]. “Write the things which are” [Revelation 1:19], present tense, John lived in our day of grace. The things which are, the churches. We are in this age, this dispensation. “Write the things which are” [Revelation 1:19]. And John wrote chapter 2 and chapter 3 [Revelation 2:1-3:22], this age of grace, this dispensation, the age of the church. It is unified. It is not sectional or fragmented. It is one continuous story, the age in which we live [Revelation 2:1-3:22]. And third: “And write the things which shall be meta tauta,” after the age of the church, after the dispensation of the grace. “Write the things,” third, “which shall be meta tauta” [Revelation 1:19]. And after chapters 2 and 3, I come to chapter 4, and there is that meta tauta, meta tauta, after the age of grace, after the dispensation of the church. And in chapter 4, John is raptured to heaven [Revelation 4:1-2], a picture of the rapture of the church, and the church disappears. It is not seen. It is not heard. The church is up there with God at the great judgment bar of the Almighty [Revelation 20:11-15], and at the marriage supper of the Lamb [Revelation 19:7-8]. And down here, from chapter 4 through chapter 19 [Revelation 4:1-19:2], there is hē thlipsis hē megalē, the tribulation the great [Revelation 7:14]. When the church is taken out of the earth and the people of God are raptured up to heaven [Revelation 4:1], down here in this earth is that awesome, horrible, indescribable visitation of judgment from Almighty God [Revelation 4:2-19:21]. And it is in that day of the age of the tribulation that Armageddon is fought, that the nations of the world are gathered together in that final battle of the Lord God Almighty [Revelation 16:13-16]. And in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, in that war, in that battle, Jesus comes and establishes His millennium in the earth [Revelation 19:11-20:3]. Is this the battle of Armageddon? It could not be because you are still here. You are here. I see you and you and you and you. We are still here. This is still the age of grace, the age of the church [Revelation 2:1-3:22]. We have not been raptured. It is only after we are gone [2 Thessalonians 2:6] that these awful judgments of the Apocalypse fall upon the nations of the earth [Revelation 4:1-19:21].
Now, one other. May I point out in the midst of that awful visitation of the wrath of Almighty God? In the passage in the sixteenth chapter of the Revelation, the unclean spirits speaking for the dragon and the beast and the false prophet, and they gather the whole world together to the great battle of the day of God Almighty [Revelation 16:13-14]. Look at the next verse, “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, that keepeth his garments,” [Revelation 16:15], and looks in faith and repentance and turns to Me. Even in the day of the awful judgment of God Almighty, Jesus is there with His arms extended and His heart of grace and love open wide, inviting us to come to Him [Matthew 11:28]. What mercy and what love indescribable, care and goodness on the part of God. Why listen to the voice of the beast and the false prophet and of Satan? Why not listen to the voice of Jesus who says, “Come unto Me and be saved”? [Matthew 11:28].
The chapter ends: “and men blasphemed God because of the plague” [Revelation 16:21]. Why turn aside from the love and grace and mercy of Jesus to blaspheme God? Now is the day of salvation [2 Corinthians 6:2]. Now is the day of welcome. Now is the day to receive the love [John 3:16], and grace [Ephesians 2:8], and mercy of Jesus [Titus 3:5]. And however the whole earth may do or be, you and I can accept the love, and forgiveness [1 John 1:9], and salvation [John 14:6; Acts 4:12], and grace of Jesus our Lord, and we’re doing it. God help us in His name and for His sake. And to you who have listened to the service on television, would you this moment open your heart to the blessed Jesus? Accept Him as your Savior [Romans 10:9-13], and if you don’t know how to accept the Lord as you Savior, there’s a number on the screen. There’s a godly man or woman there to answer that telephone and tell you how to enter into the kingdom of God. This is the day of salvation [2 Corinthians 6:2], this is the day of grace [2 Corinthians 6:2]. Call and God bless you as you open your heart to the love of our Lord Jesus.
And to the great throng of people in this great sanctuary, down one of these stairways, down one of these aisles, “Pastor, this is God’s day for me and I’m answering with my life,” [Romans 10:9-13; Ephesians 2:8]. On the first note of the first stanza, come, and welcome while we stand and while we sing.