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Many Christians today are convinced that Armageddon—Revelation’s name for earth’s last battle—is due to break out in the very near future. Armageddon is presumed to refer to the valley of Megiddo in Israel (though the word itself means “Mount Megiddo”), and all the conflict that’s gone on in that region of the world the last few years makes it attractive to suppose that Armageddon is, indeed, about to happen. Consider:

  • Terrorism, emanating from the Middle East, is a global threat.
  • The Israelis and the Palestinians seem to be in a life-and-death struggle.
  • Afghanistan is embroiled in conflict.
  • Iraq has become the scene of an intractable war with no apparent end in sight.

Armageddon suddenly begins looking like an attractive explanation for all that’s going on! But is global terrorism and the current conflict in the Middle East what Armageddon is all about? I’ll begin our examination of this important topic by quoting the four verses in Revelation where we learn about Armageddon:

Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; . . . They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. . . .

Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon (Revelation 16:13, 14, 16).

War in heaven

For starters, notice that Revelation calls it the battle of Armageddon, not the war of Armageddon. That’s because a battle is always part of a war, not the other way around. We speak, for example, of the Battle of the Bulge, which was part of the larger conflict we call World War II. And just as the Battle of the Bulge can’t be fully understood apart from the larger context of World War II, so Armageddon can’t be understood apart from a much larger conflict that dominates Revelation and, indeed, the entire Bible.

This war began in a place you’d never expect—in God’s own home, a place we call heaven. We read about it in Revelation 12: “There was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.”1 Michael is the name the Bible gives to a heavenly being who’s also called “the archangel.”2 The dragon is a symbolic name that Revelation gives to Satan, “the devil.”3 Revelation goes on to say that Michael prevailed over the dragon, and the dragon and his angels were cast out of heaven.

All wars involve a spiritual component, especially the desire on the part of the aggressors for power, control, and perhaps material gain. This was particularly true of the war in heaven, for Isaiah informs us that Lucifer coveted political power—he aspired to take over God’s throne, His government.4 He wanted authority over the angels. That’s why he was fighting Michael and His angels. And from Ezekiel we learn that Satan was very proud.5

Thus, the opening battle in a war that began thousands of years ago in heaven, continues to this day, and will culminate with Armageddon, was incited by powerful spiritual issues.

War on earth

Revelation informs us that when Satan and his angels rebelled against God in heaven, they were “cast out into the earth”6—to our planet, no less! Shortly after arriving here, the devil used one of his favorite spiritual tricks on our first parents: deception. He told them two lies, with which he seduced them into joining the war on his side. You remember the story—the tree, the serpent, the fruit. In the first lie, Satan told Adam and Eve that they wouldn’t die from eating the fruit of the tree when God had said plainly that they would.7 And second, he promised that if they ate the fruit, they would become like God Himself.8

That same day God came down, and He brought Adam and Eve and the devil together for a conference. Addressing Satan, He said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”9

Strange words, the devil must have thought. Does this mean that Eve and her descendants will hate me? Will they love God and Michael after all and join the war on Their side?

That’s exactly what God meant—not that every human being would abandon Satan’s side and join back up with God, but that everyone would be given the opportunity to do so. And ever since then people in every age, all over the world, have indeed been rejoining God’s side.

That, of course, has made the devil horribly angry. Revelation says that he pursued the woman (a symbol for God’s people, the church) and persecuted her,10 and he’s “filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”11 That’s exactly what God predicted in Eden: that He would put enmity—hatred—between Satan’s followers and God’s followers. Revelation goes on to say that “the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”12

Again, the issue is spiritual. The devil is filled with fury. He’s angry, enraged. Anger that’s out of control leads to harsh words, strained relationships, and sometimes even physical violence. Dealing with an angry person is a major spiritual challenge. It takes a strong character to resist responding to anger with anger. And the Bible informs us that in earth’s final battle, we’ll have to deal with a very angry devil and his angry human agencies. Armageddon will test our characters to the limit!

War in Revelation

Revelation 13 introduces us to two beasts—end-time political powers that are Satan’s human agents to carry out his war against the woman and her offspring. This is the same war that began in heaven and quickly moved to our earth, and is even now in its final phase. And in this phase of the war, Satan will succeed in gaining the political control that he failed to achieve in heaven, for Revelation says that he will be “given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.”13

The second beast power will also use deception to win most of the human race to his side. Revelation says that “he [the second beast] performed great and miraculous signs, . . . [and] because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth.”14 That’s identical to Jesus’ warning that deceptions from end-time signs and miracles by false christs and false prophets will be so subtle that they will “deceive even the elect—if that were possible.”15

Worst of all will be Satan’s attack on God’s people during the final stages of this war. Revelation 13 says that the first beast will “make war against the saints and . . . conquer them,”16 and the second beast will cause anyone who refuses to worship the first beast to be killed!17


Finally, Revelation says that in the last remnant of time, Satan will incite his human agencies to “make war against the Lamb [Jesus].”18 This is Armageddon.

Let’s take a closer look at this final battle, the most detailed description of which is found in Revelation 19. John said that he saw Jesus riding out of heaven on a white horse to “make war.”19 “The armies of heaven were following him,”20 and “the kings of the earth and their armies [were] gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army.”21 The war that began in heaven between Michael and Satan will  end on our world as a battle between Jesus and the kings of the earth.

Fortunately, God will win the battle of Armageddon, and with that victory He’ll win the whole war that’s been going on since Satan rebelled in heaven. For Revelation shows the kings of the earth and their armies being devoured by the birds of the air; it shows the beast powers that had conquered God’s people being “thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.”22

Preparing for Armageddon

So should you and I be preparing for earth’s final battle? Absolutely—but not by stocking up on food, guns, and ammunition in some wilderness hideaway!

Armageddon will be a profound challenge to our spirituality, our relationship with Jesus. Therefore, the preparation we need to be making today is also spiritual. For I can assure you that in earth’s final battle, Satan will use every spiritual tool he has ever devised, especially deception and force, to get you and me to surrender our faith in Jesus.

So how can we make that spiritual preparation? I suggest we begin by asking God to show us the defects in our characters that would cause us  to yield to Satan’s deceptions and his persecution during the battle of Armageddon. Keep in mind that one of the best ways God teaches us these lessons is through the trouble these character defects get us into. So the next time trouble comes into our lives, instead of complaining and perhaps even blaming God, we can ask Him to show us the spiritual lesson we can learn from the trial.

Tremendous challenges to faith exist in today’s world, especially secularism, materialism, and entertainment. These temptations especially tend to draw you and me away from faith in the Bible. But it’s our familiarity with the Bible that will protect us from Satan’s deceptions during the final conflict. So another way to prepare for Armageddon is to strengthen our faith by spending a significant amount of time each day in Bible study and prayer.

Armageddon will catch many people off guard, and they’ll lose their  eternal life. But if we are making the right preparation each day today, we’ll pass through that time safely on God’s side. If you haven’t been making that preparation, I encourage you to begin today.

1Revelation 12:7. 2Jude 9. 3Revelation 12:9. 4See Isaiah 14:12–14. 5See Ezekiel 28:17. 6Revelation 12:9, KJV. 7See Genesis 3:4; 2:16, 17. 8See Genesis 3:5. 9Genesis 3:15. 10See Revelation 12:13, NIV, NKJV. 11Revelation 12:12. 12Revelation 12:17. 13Revelation 13:7. 14Revelation 13:13, 14, italics added. 15Matthew 24:24. 16Revelation 13:7. 17See Revelation 13:15. 18Revelation 17:14. 19Revelation 19:11, KJV. 20Revelation 19:14. 21Revelation 19:19. 22Revelation 19:20.

Marvin Moore is editor of Signs of the Times®.

Armageddon: Is It About to Happen?

by Marvin Moore
From the August 2005 Signs