Revelation 16:12-21: The Seven Bowls: Part Two
- The end
The battle of Armageddon is a famous notion found in the portion we are considering today that has caught the imagination of many people. The typical picture that we have in our minds due to the popular dispensational teachers we have all heard is a picture of a confederation of nations united to wipe out Israel. In modern times countries like Iran with their nuclear program and their hate for Israel have been an apparent confirmation of this sort of notion. But I hope to show you that all our cinematic literalistic approach are wide of what actually intends to convey by this very encouraging portion. The message of the battle of Armageddon is the same in the words Christ said to Peter, that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church in Matt. 16:18. Christ forewarns us in His mercy that things are going to get more difficult towards the end, even hopeless. The devil will in the end be able to unite the world against the church. However, Christ will come a rescue us.
The portion that we have before us which talks about the battle of Armageddon is the only reference in the NT to that particular place, 16:16. This battle is mentioned several times in the book of Revelation. In 11:7 we have a very succinct account summarising the beast who rises up to kill the two witnesses who represent the church, ‘And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them.’ The portion before us, 16:12-16, adds more details with regards to the devil’s influencing of the nations and it includes a call to faithfulness. This perspective is emphasises the darkness lined up against the church and our responsibilities when it comes. In Rev. 19:19 we have another perspective on the battle but looming large over it all is the Rider on the White Horse who comes in unbeatable power and conquers the enemies of the church. And finally we understand Rev. 20:7-9, where Satan is released and no longer hindered from deceiving the nations, he influences the nations to one final united effort to wipe out the church which is overcome by the coming of Christ. We have 4 windows into this one event; each one is a puzzle piece which adds information to our picture. The first two emphasise the church as a victim, against great odds and our need for faithfulness in difficulty; the last two remind us of our conquering King, the inevitable victory and the end coming with the church being snatched from the jaws of defeat. Our portion paints for us a picture of the satanic conspiracy to wipe out the church.