While the term “Battle of Armageddon” has been commonly used, it is really a misnomer, for more than one battle will be taking place. For this reason, many prophetic teachers have stopped employing that term and are using the term “Campaign of Armageddon” . . . But this too, is a misnomer because there will be no fighting in Armageddon itself; all of the fighting will take place elsewhere. . . . It should be noted that the passage says nothing of a battle in this valley, for no fighting will take place here. The valley of Jezreel, guarded by the Mountain of Megiddo, will merely serve as the gathering ground for the armies of the Antichrist.3
Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ” (Ps. 2:1-9)Although the nations rage on an ongoing basis in their rejection of God and His Anointed (Messiah, Christ), there is a specific point in history when they will be given as an inheritance to Jesus Christ. They imagine themselves to be independent: “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.” This was the motivation of Babel: “let us make a name for ourselves lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:4). Their motivation was direct disobedience to God’s command to “fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1). This continues in our own day with institutions such as the United Nations which imagine they can bring world peace and unity while denying God. Their plan for peace does not acknowledge the “Prince of peace” (Isa. 9:6) nor the Millennial Kingdom during which He will reign:
Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isa. 2:3-4) [emphasis added]
The U.N. Building displays these words: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:4). A verse taken out of its context is only a pretext however. The first part of this verse reads, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people.” Until Christ the Messiah sits upon the throne of His glory and rebukes and judges the nations, there will be no permanent peace.5Psalm 2 records God’s response to the rebellion of man: He laughs at their puny plans, will hold them in derision (subject them to contemptuous ridicule), and distress them in His deep displeasure. This distress is the Tribulation period which culminates with the Campaign of Armageddon. His plan is to install “My king on My holy hill of Zion.” Jesus Christ, the very One whom they reject, will be installed as King on the throne of David reigning from the hotly contested city of Jerusalem! Such a plan will not come about by the will of man, but only by the zeal of God:
Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isa. 9:7)This bid by man to throw off his dependence upon God is empowered at the time of the end by Satan himself in the person of his final king, the Beast. Thus, the sinful will of man’s flesh will combine with the will of demonic powers in a last desperate attempt to thwart God’s plan.6 Since men will not willingly obey what God has foreordained, it becomes necessary to resort to force. “I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.” This dashing of the rebellious nations—empowered by Satanic forces—is the purpose of the Campaign of Armageddon. See Trouble Ahead.When the Lamb took the scroll from the right hand of the Father (Rev. 5:6-7‣), He initiated a series of events which ultimately lead to the fulfillment of His title to the earth. The Campaign of Armageddon represents the last great effort of Satan and the rulers of the world to forestall the inevitable—the Millennial Reign of Christ (Rev. 20:4‣). See commentary on Revelation 5:1.
For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land. (Joel 3:2)In this passage set within the context of The Day of the Lord (Joel 2:2, 31), Joel indicates all nations will be gathered to the Valley of Jehoshaphat (a compound from Hebrew Yahweh and shaphat, meaning “Jehovah has judged”7) where He will enter into judgment with them. For what reason will God gather the nations at this time—yet future to our day? “On account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land.” [emphasis added] This point is extremely important to understand: this passage is not talking about the Church! God is not talking about defending the faithful in general—in terms of some sort of “spiritual land” which the nations have trespassed! No, He is talking about His heritage Israel (cf. Jer. 50:11)! Notice that there will already be a gathering of Israel back into the land, but God is furious with all nations on account of their opposition to Israel’s God-given right to His land! We can hardly overemphasis the importance of understanding the issues surrounding possession of the land which God gave Israel. Our modern age is moving rapidly to embrace the mindset of Babylon of the end: “All who found them [the lost sheep of Israel] have devoured them; and their adversaries said, “We have not offended, because they have sinned against the Lord, the habitation of justice, the Lord, the hope of their fathers.”” [emphasis added] (Jer. 50:7) Even evangelical Christians, who should know better, embrace such a view. Many stand opposed to Israel’s struggle for her Promised Land. They see Israel’s rejection of her Messiah, Jesus Christ, to warrant her implacable opposition by God and as justification for their own latent anti-Semitism. They believe all her promises have passed or been forfeited and the secular state she is now is to be opposed. But Almighty God says otherwise: “For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his God, the Lord of hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel” (Jer. 51:5).A few verses later, Joel gives more detail as to the gathering of the nations. It will involve mighty men who are prepared for war:
Proclaim 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 you nations, and gather together all around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O LORD. Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow-for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness. The LORD also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake; but the LORD will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:9-16)Notice the motif of the harvest and especially the winepress. These are the themes of Revelation 14:17-20‣. (See commentary on Revelation 14:17 and Blood Stained Garments.) Notice too the nationalistic aspect of the passage. God will roar from Zion (Jerusalem) while he promises to be a shelter for Israel.Zephaniah also discusses an assembly of kingdoms in preparation for the campaign:
“Therefore wait for Me,” says the LORD, “Until the day I rise up for plunder; My determination is to gather the nations to My assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them My indignation, all my fierce anger; all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy. For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, the daughter of My dispersed ones, shall bring My offering. In that day you shall not be shamed for any of your deeds in which you transgress against Me; for then I will take away from your midst those who rejoice in your pride, and you shall no longer be haughty in My holy mountain. I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.” (Zep. 3:8-12)The context is prior to the Millennial Kingdom when God will restore to the peoples a pure language and when offerings will be brought and shame will be gone. He also mentions a purging where the prideful and haughty will be taken from their midst and humility shall prevail.
Here not only giving the millennial nations “cleansed” or “purified” lips, as regenerated peoples, but apparently also in the sense that “lip” signifies “language” (Gen. 11:1, 6-7, 9), and possibly indicating that the Hebrew language will be the one universal language of the Kingdom age (Zec. 14:9). That would be not all that surprising, since Israel will be the chief nation in that economy (Deu. 28:13) and Jerusalem in that day will be the religious and governmental capital of the millennial earth (Isa. 2:2-3; Zec. 8:20-23). Moreover, it is all the more probable since the judgment of the nations at the second advent will eventuate in the destruction of the satanic world system . . . That system had its beginning in ancient Babylon with its pride, idolatry, and rebellion (Gen. 10:8-10; 11:1-6). The gift of a pure speech will remove the curse of Babel, and it will anticipate the great millennial outpouring of the Spirit (Joel 2:28-32), of which Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11) was an illustration.8The nations will assemble with their own agenda. Being ignorant of the Scriptures, and rebellious in any case, they will not be aware that they have already begun to drink from the cup of God’s wrath. They are already intoxicated and on their way to fulfill their own destruction.Since all nations are involved, and the world is controlled by a ten-nation confederacy allied with the Beast, Scripture does not offer a great deal of additional information concerning the identity of specific nations. Nevertheless, some information can be gleaned from passages such as Daniel 11‣ and Revelation 16‣ which make general mention of some of the players:
There will be four great world powers: (1) the ten kingdom federation of nations under the Beast which constitutes the final form of the fourth great world empire; (2) the northern federation, Russia and her allies; (3) the Kings of the East, the Asiatic peoples from beyond the Euphrates; and (4) the King of the South, a north African power or powers. Another great power must be added, because of His active participation in the campaign; (5) the Lord and His armies from heaven. While the animosity of the first four is vented against each other and against Israel (Zec. 12:2-3; 14:2), it is particularly against the God of Israel that they fight (Ps. 2:2; Isa. 34:2; Zec. 14:3; Rev. 16:14‣; 17:14‣; 19:11‣, 14-15‣, 19‣, 21‣).9The degree to which Russia plays a part depends upon whether one views Ezekiel 38 and 39 as being part of the Campaign of Armageddon and on whether one takes “prince of Rosh” to describe the leader of Russia or a “chief prince.”10 It is our view that Ezekiel 38 and 39 describe a different conflict which is not part of the Campaign of Armageddon. See Gog Attacks Israel. Even if the Ezekiel passage is unrelated, Russia could still be involved since Daniel mentions a “king of the North” who attacks Antichrist at the time of the end (Dan. 11:40‣).11
The hill of Megiddo, located west of the Jordan River in north central Palestine, some ten miles south of Nazareth and fifteen miles inland from the Mediterranean seacoast, was an extended plain on which many of Israel’s battles had been fought. There Deborah and Barak defeated the Canaanites (Judges 4 and 5). There Gideon triumphed over the Midianites (Judges 7). There Saul was slain in the battle of the Philistines (1S. 31:8). There Ahaziah was slain by Jehu (2K. 9:27). And there Josiah was slain in the invasion by the Egyptians (2K. 23:29-30; 2Chr. 35:22).14The mourning of Israel when they realize they have pierced their own Messiah, is likened to the mourning associated with a historical event from Megiddo’s past: “In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo” (Zec. 12:11).
Hadad-Rimmon is not mentioned in Scripture in the brief account of Josiah’s defeat and death, but evidently tradition preserved the exact locality of the good king’s fatal wounding, here recorded by inspiration. It has been identified with the village of Rummaneh, located four miles southeast of Megiddo.15
The reference can be nothing else than to the national mourning over the pious young king Josiah, who was slain by Pharaoh Necho “in the valley of Megiddo,” as recorded in 2K. 23:29-30 and more fully in 2Chr. 35:20-27. His death was the greatest sorrow which had till then befallen Judah, inasmuch as he was “the last hope of the declining Jewish kingdom, and in his death the last gleam of the sunset of Judah faded into night.” In that great mourning for Josiah the prophet Jeremiah took part, and wrote dirges for it (2Chr. 35:25), and the national lamentations over him continued and became “an ordinance” in Israel, which survived the seventy years’ captivity and continued “to this day,” when the chronicles were closed.16Megiddo overlooks the western part of the Jezreel Valley and controls a strategic access point to the plain below.
The plain of Megiddo has five gates. One is the defile leading to the Bay of Acco, and another the threefold gate to the plain of Sharon, formed by narrow valleys across Carmel and guarded by the three fortresses of Jokneam, Megiddo, and Taanach. Of these Megiddo was by far the most important, because it controlled also the narrow volcanic causeway leading across the easily flooded plain.17
Megiddo was in the plain of Esdraelon, “which has been a chosen place for encampment in every contest carried on in Palestine from the days of Nabuchodonozor king of Assyria, unto the disastrous march of Napoleon Bonaparte from Egypt into Syria. Jews, Gentiles, Saracens, Christian crusaders, and anti-Christian Frenchmen; Egyptians, Persians, Druses, Turks, and Arabs, warriors of every nation that is under heaven, have pitched their tents on the plain of Esdraelon, and have beheld the banners of their nation wet with the dews of Tabor and Hermon” [“Clarke’s Travels,” cited by Lee.]18See Jezreel Valley. See commentary on Revelation 16:16.
Its identification with the Kidron Valley, which began in the fourth century, is somewhat uncertain since no actual valley of this name is known to pre-Christian antiquity. Eusebius in the Onomasticon (ed. Klostermann, p. 70) located the valley of Jehoshaphat in the Valley of Hinnom, possibly because of the judgments that were associated with that place in connection with the idolatrous kings of Judah (cf. Jer. 7:31f; 19:5f, where it is called “the valley of Slaughter”). Since the time of the Pilgrim of Bordeaux (A.D. 333), however, the Kidron has become increasingly the site popularly accepted.22Others suggest the name is descriptive of what God will accomplish (judgment) at the location rather than any association with an event in the life of King Jehoshaphat. Perhaps it is to be associated with the plain of Esdraelon:
It is clear both from the contexts of Joel 3:2, 12 and from the term used twice in Joel 3:14, “the valley of decision” (cf. Zep. 3:8), that the name is to be interpreted as the scene of judgment, and not taken from the king of the same name. Eze. 39:11 and Rev. 16:16‣ seem to locate it in the plain of Esdraelon (Armageddon).23
The very fact that messengers must be sent out to inform the king of Babylon that his city is destroyed [Jer. 50:43; 51:31-32], is a clear-cut indication that he will not be there when it happens. . . . So where is he? . . . it would appear that while the Antichrist is meeting his forces in the Valley of Jezreel, his enemies take the opportunity to gather and destroy his capital city.30Unger assumes these texts describe the delivery of the news of the surprise capture in the day of Cyrus: “Couriers and messengers scurried to report Cyrus’s surprise capture of the city to the king of Babylon.”31 But the king of Babylon at the time of Cyrus was Belshazzar who resided in Babylon on the night of its capture and was slain (Dan. 5:30-31‣))See The Identity of Babylon.
There are a number of theories as to the events in the campaign of Armageddon: (1) Armageddon will be a conflict between the Roman empire and the northern confederacy [Sale-Harrison]; (2) it will be a conflict between the Roman empire and the kings of the east, or the Asiatic powers [Ironside]; (3) Armageddon will be a conflict between all nations and God [Pettingill]; (4) it will be a conflict between four great world powers [McClain]; (5) it will be a conflict between the Roman empire, Russia, and the Asiatic powers [Lindberg]; (6) it will exclude Russia, but will take place between the Roman, eastern, and northern powers which will exclude Russia [Feredy], based on the theory that Ezekiel 38 and 39 takes place in the millennium; (7) Russia is the only aggressor at Armageddon [Rimmer], based on the theory that there will be no revived form of the Roman empire. One can see what a wide divergence of opinion there is as to the chronology of events in this campaign.3234
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, and His fury against all their armies; He has utterly destroyed them, He has given them over to the slaughter. Also their slain shall be thrown out; their stench shall rise from their corpses, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; all their host shall fall down as the leaf falls from the vine, and as fruit falling from a fig tree. “For My sword shall be bathed in heaven; indeed it shall come down on Edom, and on the people of My curse, for judgment. The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made overflowing with fatness, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Edom. The wild oxen shall come down with them, and the young bulls with the mighty bulls; their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust saturated with fatness.” For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, the year of recompense for the cause of Zion. Its streams shall be turned into pitch, and its dust into brimstone; its land shall become burning pitch. It shall not be quenched night or day; its smoke shall ascend forever. From generation to generation it shall lie waste; no one shall pass through it forever and ever. (Isa. 34:1-10)This is not a judgment against the Edomites, but against all nations. It is attended by cosmic signs, “all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll,” which brings to mind the cataclysmic convulsions which were previewed in the opening of the sixth seal (Rev. 6:12-14‣). The reason for the slaughter is “recompense for the cause of Zion,” God will be defending His chosen nation in this time of the end. The destruction which comes upon Edom is described in the strongest possible terms, the land will become burning pitch, never to be quenched, and shall lie waste forever. Every reader of the text now has a choice: does God mean literally what He says? Or is He employing hyperbole and exaggeration for effect in these scenes of judgment?41 A related question: if God really meant to describe absolute devastation, how would it be portrayed differently? We believe this speaks of a final literal eschatological judgment. “The call is worldwide and can refer ultimately only to the judgment of the nations (Mat. 25:31-46), Israel’s enemies (Rev. 16:13-16‣), preceding the establishment of the Kingdom (Rev. 20:4-6‣).”42Micah speaks of a time of threshing, a theme of judgment throughout Scripture. The motive for the nations which shall be threshed is their desire to interfere in God’s plans concerning Zion:
Now also many nations have gathered against you, who say, “Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.” But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord, nor do they understand His counsel; for He will gather them like sheaves to the threshing floor. “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion; for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hooves bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples; I will consecrate their gain to the Lord, and their substance to the Lord of the whole earth.” (Mic. 4:11-13)Notice the ignorance of the nations in regard to God’s plans concerning Zion: “They do not know the thoughts of the Lord, nor do they understand his counsel.” This is evident even in our own day. We study the book of Revelation and these related passages which make it abundantly clear that God has a future plan for the nation Israel and that plan includes her ownership of His land with Jerusalem as her eternal capital. Yet, the daily news indicates great confusion on the part of the nations as to the status of Jerusalem and the Promised Land in general. People the world over wonder what the big fuss is about the Jews and Jerusalem, but it is all so clear to any student of the Scriptures. Alas, the nations of the world are almost completely ignorant of God’s Word concerning the subject—as they will be in the day of their demise seen by Micah. “This prophecy envisioned Nebuchadnezzar’s armies that were composed of many nations, but it is to be fulfilled in the armed forces of the nations gathered at Armageddon (Rev. 16:13-16‣), who will be determined to destroy Israel and do away with God’s plan and take over the earth.”43Most puzzling of all are the preterist interpreters who twist clear passages so that instead of relating God’s overthrow of the nations in the defense of Jerusalem, they are said to indicate just the opposite: God’s judgment and overthrow of Jerusalem. Although it is true that Jerusalem will undergo great casualty and turmoil during the time of Jacob’s Trouble, ultimately, Jerusalem will be the victor with the help of God. Such passages can in no way be contorted to describe the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70:
The burden of the word of the LORD against Israel. Thus says the LORD, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.” “In that day,” says the LORD, “I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength in the LORD of hosts, their God.’ In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place-Jerusalem. The LORD will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah. In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them. It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves.” (Zec. 12:1-12)When interpreting such passages as this, we must bear two things in mind: (1) this is the time of Jacob’s Trouble, Israel is to be disciplined and refined so as to call out to Messiah Jesus; (2) nevertheless, God will judge the surrounding nations by defending Israel because of His eternal promises made to her (see commentary on Revelation 12:1). Zechariah’s passage opens as “the Word of the LORD against Israel,” yet in the midst of the passage, it is the nations gathered against Jerusalem who will “surely be cut to pieces.” In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem. If this was A.D. 70, then Titus overthrew our Almighty God! Hardly! And when did the Jews experience a national repentance and convert to Messiah Jesus, whom they pierced, as predicted here? No, this is yet future, during the Campaign of Armageddon.The battle involving Jerusalem involves several stages. During the first stage, the city is taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished:
Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with You. (Zec. 14:1-5)But, before the smoke clears: “the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with you.” He will “fight against those nations” and stand upon the Mount of Olives. When this occurs, all His saints (holy ones) will be with Him. Again, this has not been fulfilled, but concerns the Second Coming (cf. Rev. 19:14‣).
Then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the LORD’S side-come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’ ” So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. (Ex. 32:26-28)Those who followed Moses’ instructions were approved and highly honored of God. Because of their zeal in this matter, the tribe of Levi was selected for the highest honor of ministering to God. We would do well to remember that the God who spoke through Moses and commanded the slaughter of family members is the same unchanging God Who went to the cross in mercy, but is also coming again in judgment! Jesus is not a peacenik, but the Everlasting, Holy, Eternal One (Rev. 1:17-18‣). His return in judgment is a major theme of Scripture to which we should pay close attention. Scripture records that Jesus Himself is intimately involved in the great blood-letting of this time of judgment, for mention is made of the blood of His enemies staining His robes. Jacob, in prophesying over his sons prior to his death, included an intriguing statement concerning Judah, the tribe from which Jesus would come forth (see commentary on Revelation 5:5):
Binding his donkey to the vine, and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes. (Gen. 49:11)Although many have taken this prophecy to denote the great abundance of vineyards which Judah was to enjoy, others understand this passage to be consistent with Isaiah 63 which describes the blood-letting associated with the coming of Messiah. The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan states, “How beautiful is the King Messiah who is destined to arise from the house of Judah! He has girded his loins and gone down to battle against his enemies, destroying kings and their power, and there is neither king nor power that can withstand him. He reddens the mountains with the blood of their slain. His garments are saturated with blood, like those of him who presses the grapes.”44 Whether this is what Jacob meant is uncertain, but Isaiah’s passage is undeniable on this point:
Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, This One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength? -“I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me. For 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 My robes. For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come. I looked, but there was no one to help, and I wondered that there was no one to uphold; therefore My own arm brought salvation for Me; and My own fury, it sustained Me. I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, made them drunk in My fury, and brought down their strength to the earth.” (Isa. 63:1-6)Notice the mention of Edom and Bozrah as His place of origin. This speaks of His sheep, the Jewish remnant which fled from Jerusalem and are now in their place which was prepared by God. (See Sheep in Bozrah.) God is seen coming from there, having already trodden the winepress. His garments are red, having been stained with their blood. These are His garments of vengeance worn when He repays His adversaries in judgment:
He saw that there was no man, And wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; And His own righteousness, it sustained Him. For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, And was clad with zeal as a cloak. (Isa. 59:16-17)The winepress motif of Isaiah is also familiar to us, having seen it in the second judgment described in Revelation 14‣ (see commentary on Revelation 14:18):
And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs. (Rev. 14:18-20‣)John sees an angel harvest the grapes from the earth and throw them into the winepress of the wrath of God. Then the winepress is trampled. But no mention is made of who it is that tramples the grapes. From the previous passage in Isaiah, we know that it is God Himself who tramples. Yet the question still remains, is it the Father or the Son who tramples? Later in a series of visions, the identity of the One treading is revealed. It is Jesus Himself:
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now 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 Himself 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. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” (Rev. 19:11-18‣)The one on the white horse is called “Faithful and True” and mention is made of His righteous judgment. He is specifically identified as “The Word of God” which we know to be the unique title of Jesus Christ (John 1:1; 1Jn. 1:1; 2:14; Rev. 1:2‣; 19:13‣). Out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, another identifying characteristic of Jesus (Rev. 1:16‣). He is also the One destined to rule with a rod of iron—the Anointed One Whom the Father said would inherit the nations (Ps. 2:8-9, see commentary on Revelation 2:27). He has a name which no one knew except Himself, yet another identifying aspect of the Son of God (Pr. 30:4 cf. Gen. 32:29; Jdg. 13:6, 18; Rev. 3:12‣). His robe is “dipped in blood.” Is it His own blood, the atoning blood of the perfect Lamb shed upon the cross (Lev. 14:51)? This seems unlikely, for that would speak of His first coming whereas this is a scene of great judgment and bloodshed more directly tied to the previous passage in Isaiah. It is the blood from the grapes in the winepress for “He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”45See commentary on Revelation 19:11.
First, in Ezekiel there are definite allies mentioned and they are limited in number, while other nations stand in opposition. In the Campaign of Armageddon, all nations are allied together against Jerusalem without exception. Second, the Ezekiel invasion comes from the north, but the Armageddon invasion comes from the whole earth. Third, the purpose of the Russian invasion is to take the spoil; the purpose of the Armageddon Campaign is to destroy the Jews. Fourth, in the Ezekiel invasion, there is a protest against the invasion; in the Armageddon Campaign, there is no protest because all the nations are involved. Fifth, the Ezekiel invasion is destroyed through convulsions of nature; the Armageddon invasion is destroyed by the personal Second Coming of Jesus the Messiah; Sixth, the Ezekiel invasion is destroyed on the mountains of Israel; the Armageddon Campaign is destroyed in the area between Petra and Jerusalem. Seventh, the Russian invasion takes place while Israel is living securely in the Land; the Armageddon Campaign takes place while Israel is in flight and in hiding.46
There are a number of considerations that make it clear that this invasion by Gog (Eze. 38) is not the same as the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16:16‣). (1) In the battle of Gog definite allies are mentioned, while in Armageddon all nations are engaged (Joel 3:2; Zep. 3:8; Zec. 12:3; 14:4). (2) Gog comes from the north (Eze. 38:6, 15; 39:2), while at Armageddon the armies come from the whole earth. (3) Gog comes to take spoil (Eze. 38:11-12), while at Armageddon the nations assemble to destroy the people of God. (4) There is protest against Gog’s invasion (Eze. 38;13), but at Armageddon there is no protest for all nations are joined against Jerusalem. (5) Gog is the head of the armies in his invasion (Eze. 38:7 R.V.), but at Armageddon the Beast is the head of the invasion (Rev. 19:19‣). (6) Gog is overthrown by convulsions of nature (Eze. 38:22), but the armies at Armageddon are destroyed by the sword that goes out of Christ’s mouth (Rev. 19:15‣). (7) Gog’s armies are arrayed in the open field (Eze. 39:5), while at Armageddon they are seen in the city of Jerusalem (Zec. 14:2-4). (8) The Lord calls for assistance in executing judgment on Gog (Eze. 38:21), while at Armageddon He is viewed as treading the winepress alone (Isa. 63:3-6). Two diverse movements must then be acknowledged.47It is our view that Gog does not contribute to the campaign at the Second Coming of Christ, but takes place some time before the Tribulation. For a more extended treatment of this subject, see [Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 106-125].
1At the time of writing, a search on the phrase “battle of Armageddon” on the website www.google.com yielded about 21.300 hits on web pages across the Internet.
2“The difference between polemos and machē is the same as that between the English words war and battle.”—Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), 337.
3Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 317-318.
4Only Adam rebelled, Eve was deceived.
5The Christian Research Journal, vol. 24 no. 2, p. 38. [http://www.equip.org]
6“By the end of the 70th week, Satan and his forces will have drawn all the rulers and armies of the world into the land of Israel for the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16:12-16‣), which will take place at Christ’s Second Coming and will pit Satan and his ungodly allies against Christ and His forces (Rev. 19:11‣-20:3‣). This will be Satan’s ultimate challenge to Christ’s right to take tenant possession of the earth and rule it. The combined military might of rebellious mankind will be gathered to the precise location to which Christ will return to take possession of the earth, because Satan will want all the help he can get to try to prevent Christ from exercising His right (Ps. 2:1-3).”—Renald E. Showers, Maranatha, Our Lord Come (Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1995), 94.
7James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996), H3092.
8Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), Zep. 3:9.
9J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 342.
10Rosh means head, chief, or leader in Hebrew.
11“The chronology of Daniel 11:36-39‣ refers to the period of world rule, and, therefore, is later than Ezekiel 38 and 39. Hence, it may be concluded that the battle described here, beginning with verse 40, is a later development, possibly several years later than the battle described in Ezekiel. If a Russian force is involved in the phrase, ‘the king of the north,’ it would indicate that, in the period between the two battles, Russia is able to reassemble an army and once again participate in a military way in this great war.”—John F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation (Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1971), 278.
12Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 74.
13Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament, Jdg. 5:19.
14Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology, 340-341.
15Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament, Zec. 12:11.
16David Baron, Zechariah: A Commentary On His Visions And Prophecies (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1918), 451.
17D. Baly, “Jezreel, Valley Of,” in Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979, 1915), 2:1060.
18M. R. Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies (Escondido, CA: Ephesians Four Group, 2002), Rev. 16:16.
19W. S. Lasor, “Jehoshaphat, Valley Of,” in Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979, 1915), 2:979.
20“Joel 3:2, 13 speaks of events taking place in ‘the valley of Jehoshaphat,’ which seems to be an extended area east of Jerusalem.”—Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology, 341.
21Merrill Frederick Unger, R. K. Harrison, Frederic F Vos, and Cyril J. Barber, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1988), s.v. “Jehoshaphat, Valley of.”
22Lasor, Jehoshaphat, Valley Of, 2:979.
24Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 318.
25Jezreel Valley from Muhraqa to Moreh and Gilboa. Copyright © 2003 www.BiblePlaces.com. This image appears by special permission and may not be duplicated for use in derivative works.
26Baly, Jezreel, Valley Of, 2:1060.
27Edward Hindson, “Battle of Armageddon,” in Mal Couch, ed., Dictionary of Premillennial Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 56.
28The gathering in preparation for the Campaign takes in response to the pouring of the sixth bowl (Rev. 16:12-16‣), but the destruction of Babylon and the Second Coming are probably associated with the seventh bowl (Rev. 16:19‣). Perhaps the Campaign begins during the sixth bowl judgment and ends at the seventh. Or perhaps only the gathering takes place during the sixth bowl with the actual warfare occurring during the seventh.
29The passages cited by Fruchtenbaum could also find fulfillment in the events of the capture of Babylon by Cyrus in 539 B.C. At that time, Belshazzar was ruling as a co-regent king in Babylon (cf. Dan. 5:29‣), while the primary king, Nabonidus, was absent: “The new evidence confirming the theory that Nabonidus was absent is found in the statement in the ‘Prayer of Nabonidus’ that Nabonidus was at the oasis of Teima in Arabia at this time.”—Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation, 115n. If so, Jeremiah may be describing the runners which journeyed from Babylon to Teima in Arabia to notify Nabonidus concerning the capture of Babylon. Either way, it is clear that in the fall of Babylon to Cyrus, it was not destroyed as it will be at the time of the end. See The Destruction of Babylon. See commentary on Revelation 17:16.
30Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 327.
31Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament, Jer. 51:30.
32Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology, 343.
33Copyright © 2003 Ariel Ministries (www.ariel.org), P.O. Box 792507, San Antonio, TX 78279-2507. This image appears by special permission and may not be duplicated for use in derivative works. [Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 314].
34Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 315-364.
35“Since the main purpose of the Campaign of Armageddon is the annihilation of the Jews, the armies of the world will move southward from Jerusalem to Bozrah, as Jeremiah 49:13-14 makes clear.”—Ibid., 336.
36“It must be noted that the angels did not prophesy that Jesus would return to the same place [Acts 1:9-11], but rather in the same manner in which He had left. Jesus left in the clouds of Heaven and according to Matthew 24:30, He will return in the clouds of Heaven.”—Ibid., 349.
37“Zechariah 14:12-15 describes the manner in which these massive hordes of Antichrist’s armies will be destroyed . . . the fight continues all the way back to Jerusalem, coming to an end in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:12-13). The nations that have gathered against the Jews (Joel 3:9-11) will now find themselves being trodden by the King of the Jews. It is of this treading in the Valley of Jehoshaphat that Revelation 14:19-20‣ speaks . . . The city spoken of in these verses is Jerusalem, and the winepress is just outside the city, meaning it is in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. From here the armies of Antichrist will leave for Bozrah, and they will return here as the conflict comes to an end.”—Ibid., 359.
38Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology, 343-358.
39The ultimate destruction of Babylon would appear to involve forces from the north (Isa. 13:17; Jer. 50:3, 9; 51:11, 27-28, 48). Although Babylon was captured “from the north” (by the Medes, Jer. 51:28) in 539 B.C. (Dan. 5:31‣), her fall did not involve physical destruction as these passages indicate.
40See [Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 315-363].
41“If any be deposed to ask why we look upon the present chapter [Rev. 16‣] as literal when we have given rules for understanding previous chapters as symbolical, we would answer that the symbols always point to passages in the Old Testament which clarify them. The concordance takes us back to literal judgments, whether we look at ‘plague,’ ‘sore,’ ‘blood,’ ‘darkness,’ or other words in the passage while there will be two or three words which will take us back to symbolism.”—Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 288.
42Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament, Isa. 34:1.
43Ibid., Mic. 4:11.
44Tom Huckel, The Rabbinic Messiah (Philadelphia, PA: Hananeel House, 1998), Gen. 49:11.
45A related typological association may be found in the dipping of Joseph’s tunic in blood (Gen. 37:31). This most likely speaks of the death of Messiah at His First Coming rather than the blood of His enemies at His Second Coming.
46Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, 119.
47Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology, 344.