Final Superbowl: Battle of Armageddon
January 30th, 1994 @ 7:30 PM
FINAL SUPER BOWL: BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-30-94 7:30 p.m.
The battle of Armageddon; you read the text in the sixteenth chapter of the Revelation, The multitudes of the armies of the earth were gathered together in that great, you have it translated "battle," polemos, war. "In that great polemos, war of the great day of the God Almighty. . . . And he gathered them together in a place called in the Hebrew tongue Harmagedon," the mountain of Megiddo. And the Greeks put it together in a word, Armageddon [Revelation 16:14, 16].
One of the most unusual things that is revealed in the Bible is this, that human history ends in blood and in war. All civilization finds its climax in a terrible, agonizing catastrophe. The story of humanity ends in an awesome and indescribable confrontation. As I read through the Bible, there is no exception to that. Wherever prophecy is read, and wherever the future is untold that same revelation is unvaryingly made. All of the story of humanity ends in an awesome, bloody war.
I pray you will not be bored if I pick out some of the cogent, potent, pertinent, prophecies of the Bible and let you see how, without exception, wherever God prophesies, reveals to us the consummation of the age, without exception it always ends in blood, in war, in turmoil and tragedy. For example, in Isaiah 34:
Come near, you nations, to hear;
And heed, you people!
Let the earth hear, and all that is in it, The world and all things that come forth from it.
For the indignation of the Lord is against all nations, His fury against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them; He has given them over to the slaughter.
And their slain also shall be thrown out; And their stench shall rise from their corpses, And the mountains shall be melted with their blood.
All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, The heavens shall be rolled back like a scroll; And their host shall fall down, As the leaf falls from the vine, And as fruit falling from a fig tree. . . .
The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, the land is soaked with blood. . .
For It is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
That is the end of the world, according to Isaiah 34.
I turn to Isaiah 63:
Who is this that cometh from Edom,
With dyed garments from Bozrah – the capital of Edom. Bozrah was about twenty-five miles southeast of the Dead Sea.
And he asked,
"Why are Your garments red,
And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?"
And He answers,
"I have trodden them in My anger,
And trampled them in My fury;
Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments,
And I have stained all of My robes" with their carnage.
That is over two hundred miles from Bozrah to Megiddo. The Lord appears in that day of battle covered in blood.
I turn the page to Ezekiel, and I haven’t time to read chapters 38 and 39, Ezekiel’s vision of the terrible day of the consummation of human history. I turn to Daniel, chapter 7, verse 7:
After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, the fourth, the last beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue about its feet. It was different from all of the other beasts that were before it. . . .
This is the last one and the most terrible.
I turn to Joel chapter 2, oh, dear:
Blow the trumpet in Zion,
Sound the alarm in My holy mountain!
Let all of the inhabitants of the land tremble;
For the day of the Lord is coming.
It is at hand –
What kind of a day is this consummation of the age, the end of history?
A day of darkness and gloominess,
A day of clouds. . .
Like the morning clouds spread over the mountains.
A people come, great and strong,
The like of whom has never been;
Nor will there ever be any such day after it. . .
A fire devours before them,
And behind them a flame burns;
The land is like the Garden of Eden before them,
And behind them a desolate wilderness;
Nothing shall escape them."
And the whole chapter,
The earth quakes before them,
The heavens tremble;
The sun and moon grow dark,
The stars diminish their brightness.
The Lord gives voice before His army,
His camp is great;
Strong is the One who executes His word.
For the day of the Lord is great and very terrible;
. . .
I repeat, there is no exception to it.
says Joel –
this among the nations:
"Prepare for war!
Wake up the mighty men,
Let all the men of war draw near,
Let them come up.
Beat your plowshares into swords
And your pruning hooks into spears;
Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’"
Assemble and come, all ye nations,
And gather together all around.
Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O Lord. . .
"Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
Come, go down;
For the winepress is full,
The vats overflow –
Their wickedness is great."
I turn the page once again to Zechariah:
Behold, the day of the Lord is coming,
And your spoil will be divided in your midst.
For I will gather all of the nations to battle . . .
The houses shall be rifled,
And the women ravished.
. . .
The Lord will go forth
And fight against those nations,
As He fights in the day of battle.
I quote from our Lord in Matthew 24:
When you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place . . .
Let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Let him who is on the housetop not come down. . .
Let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
Woe to them who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
But Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.
For then shall be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world. . . .
And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, God will have pity upon us.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, the moon will not give her light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all of the tribes of the earth will mourn, when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. . .
What an awesome, indescribable day! And I will not take time to read the second chapter of Paul’s second letter to the church at Thessalonica, speaking of that day when the man of sin is revealed, and the son of perdition is judged, and the whole earth is thrown into consternation [2 Thessalonians 2:3-12].
Now, I beg of your clemency to take time to read just some of the Revelation. Remember what we are doing. There is no exception to this. In the entire Word of God, the prophecy is always that the end time is full of war and blood, and turmoil, and trial and terror and destruction. For example, here in the ninth chapter of the Revelation, and "In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire death. . . and death will flee from them" [Revelation 9:6]. So the four angels who had been prepared for that day and hour and year, were released to kill, and the number of the army in that awful conflagration, the number of the army was two hundred million, one army. I heard the number of them in that great assembly in the battle of Armageddon [Revelation 9:15-16]. Then you read the text:
War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,
and they did not prevail, and no place was found for them.
So the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. . .
"Rejoice O heavens, and you that dwell in them! But woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time,"
facing the battle of Armageddon.
And in chapter 14:
An angel came . . . who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Thrust in your sharp sickle, gather the clusters of the vine out of the earth . . ."
So the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, threw it into the winepress of the wrath of Almighty God.
And the winepress was trampled outside of the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.
Blood from Bozrah to Megiddo, over two hundred miles. It is beyond my imagination, beyond my thinking.
I have to close reading. In the nineteenth:
And I saw heaven opened. . . and a white horse. And He who sat on him is called Faithful and True, in righteousness He judges and makes war.
His eyes were like a flame of fire, on His head were many crowns. . . .
He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood – the coming of our Lord – His name is called The Word of God.
And the armies in heaven, clothed in linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.
And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
I have been overwhelmed as I have prepared this message for tonight. There is no exception to that prophecy in the Word of God. All history ends in blood, and in war, and in awesome confrontation. So I think through this word from our pastor, standing on Mount Megiddo. To your left, the range of Carmel reaches to the Mediterranean Sea, and to your right, the great valley of Esdraelon and Jezreel drops off into the Jordan, Arabah. And that vast plain before you is the scene of more battles than any one place on this planet earth. There Barak and Deborah slew Sisera, the king of the Canaanites [Judges 4:10-21]. There Gideon and the Midianites faced one another in awesome conflict [Judges 6-8]. There Saul, king of Israel, was slain by the Philistines [1 Samuel 31]. And there, Ahaziah, king of Judah was killed by the arrows of Jehu [2 Kings 9:27]. And there the greatest sorrow that, apparently, Judah ever knew; Josiah took his little army at the pass of Megiddo to stop Pharaoh-Necho, who was on his way to confront the king of Assyria, and Josiah was slain [2 Chronicles 35:20-25].
In Zechariah it says at this end time there is a lamentation like that of Hadad Rimmon in Megiddo [Zechariah 12:11]. That refers to the cry of all Judah at the slaying of King Josiah in that geographical place. So following after, the wars of the Drusus, and the wars of the Turks, and our pastor mentioned Napoleon Bonaparte, who fought in that plain of Megiddo. What an awesome thing in human history, this last great and ultimate war! From Bozrah, two hundred miles up to Megiddo, and the whole land covered in human blood [Revelation 14:20]. It is such a little country to us. Israel is not bigger than one of our Texas counties. At one place it is less than six miles wide. And yet, God says in that place is the consummation of the age, the war of all history [Revelation 16:16].
So for a moment, to look at it. It is an actual battle, the war of Armageddon. There the contrary forces that we feel in our human lives are face to face, Satan and the Lord, the demons and the angels of God, these who love Christ and follow in His train and those who serve the darkness of evil. They are there as the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation says, led by the beast, the Antichrist, the false prophet, and by the infidel kings of the earth [Revelation 19:17-21].
And how is it that all of those armies are in that place at that time? May I take a little paragraph out of my own life? I was preaching in Los Angeles. And that night I was to deliver the main message at the convention of the Conservative Baptists of the North meeting in Detroit. I made a reservation on a plane and was to change in Chicago. And I had time to make it to the convention in Detroit. When I went out to get on my plane, I was met by the representative of the airline who said they’d oversold and had no seat for me. But right there was a plane going to Chicago, would I just take that one. I said, "Well fine, it made no difference to me." And as I got on the plane I learned it was a different kind and a different make and got to Chicago too late for me to catch my plane to Detroit, and I was furious! Never was more mad in my life. So it wasn’t anything for me to do but to get on the plane, and I got on. And went up there to the seat assigned me, the second row up there, and sat down, just furious.
Well, I lifted up my face and there was a colonel, and there was a one-star general, and there was a major, and I looked over to see the man whom I had plopped down by. He had five stars on his shoulder. And I looked at him and it was General Omar Bradley, head of the armed forces of America under the president of the United States. To combine the story, he had been out to California. His son had been killed in an airplane. He was a test pilot. And when he found that I was a preacher, you would have thought I was an emissary from heaven; talked to me out of his heart. Oh, if I lived a thousand lifetimes I could not forget that long several-hour visit with General Omar Bradley.
Well anyway, he had just dismissed General Douglas MacArthur. And the president of the United States had acquiesced and, of course, the country was furious. So he fought that Korean War. Got him a long piece of paper and went through it all, explaining to me why it was he dismissed General Douglas MacArthur. Then as time went on I asked him the question that I am raising here. How is it that in this day of atomic hydrogen bombs we need armies? Why don’t we just fight a war with those explosives? And he answered, and you listen to it. He said, "You cannot fight a war just with the atom bomb." And he gave two reasons. One, he said that you have an atomic bomb, and you have ten people here and you have twenty people and you have a dozen people there; you can’t fight a war with atomic bombs, just killing ten or twelve. You have to push the people together. They have to be pushed together in great multitudes on which you can drop the bomb, and that means you have to have an army to push them together. Then he said the second reason is, you have to have an army to occupy the land, to occupy the country. Somebody has to take it over, and that means you have to have an army. So he was explaining to me why it is we will never have war without armies. You can’t do it, he said.
And that is the Word of God exactly. The armies of the world are there. And how is it that they are there? They are there according to the text that you read; the lying spirits deceive them and bring them to Armageddon [Revelation 16:13-16]. It is exactly as Jehosaphat asked, how is it that we will get Ahab to Rammoth Gilead where God says he is to be slain? And an evil spirit said, I will go and possess his prophets. And they said, Go. And the evil spirit and the prophets persuaded Ahab to go to Ramoth-gilead, and there wicked King Ahab was slain [2 Chronicles 18:33-34]. That is what is going to happen in this world. These evil spirits of lying and deception will visit the entire world and in deception will persuade them to send their armies to the Near East. And there they are [Revelation 16:13-16]. One army from the East numbers two hundred million men [Revelation 9:16]. And the war from Bozrah to Megiddo and the blood flowing for two hundred miles [Revelation 14:20]. It is unimaginable.
I haven’t time to speak of the terror of that war. It is described in these prophecies. Men crying for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them, "to hide them from the face of Him that sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who shall be able to stand?" [Revelation 6:16-17].
If you have read the story of the War Between the States, William Tecumseh Sherman was a Roman Catholic. And he hated the Protestants, and he burned their churches and the homes of the people. I preached, for example, I imagine you have, in the First Baptist Church of Columbia, South Carolina. And I said, "How in earth did this church escape the wrath and the fire of General Sherman who said, "War is hell," and he illustrated it? And they said, "they pointed out another church and he burned that one instead." That is the reason that one is still there. Oh, the terror and the horror of this confrontation in Megiddo! A strange thing about it, there is no such thing as a compromise in that war. Just as today, you are either saved or lost, you are not in between. It is one or the other. So it is in that war. You are on one side or the other. There are no disinterested spectators. There are no newsmen writing for both sides. There are no munitions factories selling guns and ammunition to both armies. It is one or the other.
I must close. Let me close as the prophecies close, with the coming of Jesus. As you know, first He comes secretly, clandestinely, furtively and takes up into heaven these who place their loving trust in Him, you [1 Thessalonians 5:2]. And up there with Him, we are at the judgment seat of blessed Christ, receiving the reward of our works [2 Corinthians 5:10], and we are seated with Him at the marriage supper of the Lamb [Revelation 19:6-10], all of that up there in heaven. And down here in earth, the awful tribulation! [Matthew 24:3-31]
Dear me, the horror of those days. I twice went through a preaching mission in Russia in the days of the communists. And while I was there I was shown a cartoon. It was an awesome thing. In that cartoon there was a communist with a ladder leaning up against the clouds of heaven. Down here in the earth, with a hammer in his hand, a cudgel, a club, he had destroyed the churches and slain the clergy down here in the earth. And he was climbing the ladder up there leaning against heaven itself, and beyond, on the clouds, that cartoonist had drawn a caricature of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And I had a man translate for me the caption below. And the caption below said, "As we have destroyed this God-business in earth, we are going to destroy God Himself in heaven!" That was that cartoon. When I read it, you know what I thought? I thought of the second Psalm:
Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
The rulers take counsel. . . Against the Lord. . . saying,
"Let us break His bonds in pieces
And cast away His cords. . ."
He who sits in heaven shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
He will speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His. . . displeasure. . .
You, Christ, shall break them with a rod of iron:
You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
That is the end of civilization. These who are gathered to destroy God’s name in the earth and to destroy God’s people on this planet, the Lord shall laugh, shall hold them in derision, and the great consummation shall arrive.
He will come not on an animal of domesticity. He is coming on a white conquering charger. And He is followed by the angels of God [Revelation 19:11-14]. The Revelation uses the word muriades muriadon, myriads, "ten thousand times ten thousands and thousands of thousands," you translate it [Revelation 5:11]. Do you remember one angel when Hezekiah prayed God, and Sennacherib the Assyrian was surrounding the city, he prayed God, and one angel, one angel slew one hundred eighty-five thousand Assyrian soldiers [2 Kings 19:35] muriades muriadon, ten thousands times ten thousands. Even our Lord said, I have [twelve] legions of angels" [Matthew 26:53]. Dear me, ah, the power! Besides the saints, Moses spoke and the Red Sea, opened and then closed [Exodus 14:21-28]. David, one stone slew the giant [1 Samuel 17:-50]. Samson with his own hands tore the lion to pieces [Judges 14:5-6]. The saints coming with Him.
And of course, above all, the Lord Himself. The first chapter of the Revelation: "Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword" [Revelation 1:16], and there in the text you read in the nineteenth, dear me, "that with the sword of His mouth, He slays His enemies" [Revelation 19:15].
As you cannot kill God, as you cannot kill His glorious angels, as you cannot kill His resurrected saints, so you cannot kill the enthroned and resurrected Lord Jesus. He is forever triumphant. And there are no more liberal preachers. And there are no more pulpiteers making fun of the Word of God. And there is no one discarding the inerrant, infallible, inspired holy prophecies of the Lord.
So it closes, after chapter 19, chapter 20, the glorious millennium. Our Lord is present, the Ruler of all creation. Then chapters 21 and 22, a new heaven and a new earth, and the new city of God, the glorious Jerusalem coming down from the Father in heaven, our home [Revelation 21:1-3]. On some beautiful golden street, our mansion [John 14:2-3], where we shall live with one another in love for ever, and praise our Savior world without end.
It may be at midday, it may be at twilight,
It may be, perchance, that the blackness of midnight
Will burst into light in the blaze of His glory,
When Jesus comes for "His own."
O, what joy! what delight! should we go without dying,
No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying.
Caught up through the clouds with our Lord into glory,
When Jesus comes for "His own."
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long
Ere we sing the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Amen.
["Christ Returneth," H. L. Turner, 1878]
That is the consummation of the age and our ultimate victory in Him.
FINAL SUPER BOWL – THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. The universal, consistent, unvarying prophecy of the Bible
A. Human history ends in blood and war
1. No exception to this in the revelation and prophecy of the Bible(Isaiah 34:1-8, 63:1-3, Ezekiel 38, 29, Daniel 7:7, Joel 2:1-3, 10-11, 3:9-11, 13, Zechariah 14:1-3, Matthew 24:15-22, 29-30, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10, Revelation 9:6, 12:7-9, 12, 14:18-20, 19:11-21)
B. The geographical scene
1. Standing on Mt. Megiddo, to the left the range of Carmel reaches to the Mediterranean Sea, to the right the valley of Esdraelon and Jezreel drops off into the Jordan, the plain before you is the scene of more battles than any one place in earth(Zechariah 12:11)
2. From Bozrah to Megiddo is two hundred miles – covered in blood
C. The little country, at one place less than six miles wide – yet this is the place of the consummation of the age, the war of all history
II. The war itself
A. A literal war
1. Satan vs. Christ; evil demons vs. angels of God; powers of darkness vs. God’s saints
2. Powers of darkness led by the Antichrist, the false prophet and the infidel kings of earth(Revelation 19:18-20)
B. The armies of the nations are there
1. With atomic power, why do we need soldiers, armies?
a. General Omar Bradley answered – to push people together, and to occupy the land in order to take over
C. How are the armies there?
1. According to the text lying spirits deceive them and bring them to Armageddon(Revelation 16:13-14, 2 Chronicles 18:19-22, 1 Kings 22:20-23)
D. The vastness and terror of it (Revelation 6:16-17)
1. War Between the States – General William Tecumseh Sherman burning Protestant churches
E. There are no neutrals – on one side or the other
III. The end of the war – Christ triumphant
A. God in heaven looks down
1. Russian Communist cartoon (Psalm 2:1-5, 9)
B. Christ shall return, coming on a great white horse
C. He is followed by the armies of God
1. Myriads of angels(Revelation 5:11, 2 Kings 19:35, Matthew 26:53)
2. The saints of the Lord
D. The sword of His mouth(Revelation 1:16, 19:15)
E. After the battle, the glorious millennium (Revelation 19, 20)
2. Hymn, "Christ Returneth"