While exiled to the isle of Patmos, the apostle John was the recipient of a wondrous revelation from God concerning future events. Thus, the name Revelation is given to his prophetic writings. One out of every twenty-five verses in the entire New Testament refers either to the Rapture or to Christ's second coming.
God, however, uses vivid language to portray not only the beauties of heaven but also the heinousness of the last battle, the battle of Armageddon.
For instance, an angel summons all the birds to clean up the carnage left behind. The buzzards are to be ready to eat the flesh of the rotting bodies (Revelation 19:17-18). Blood will flow "up to the horses' bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles" (Rev. 14:20 NASB). This battle will signal the end of this world as we know it. It is the final battle between good and evil.
The whole subject of eschatology--or the study of things to come--is vast and complex. It is difficult to single out one aspect or event because all are interrelated; each builds upon the other . . .
The word battle is a modest description. This is not a little skirmish; this is a war. The war. The big one. The last one.
Lest some saints wonder if they will be forced to hold out during all of this, let me hasten to add that I believe the Bible teaches we won't be here. I believe the Bible teaches that we will have been raptured. Paul writes, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
Although the actual word rapture is not in the Bible (the word is from the Latin, which means to be "caught up"), Paul is telling us that we are going to be caught up-raptured-before this final war breaks out. That is why we can "comfort one another with these words." Besides, the very fact that when He comes back to set up His kingdom, He is bringing us back with Him leads to one conclusion-we are with Him, not down here in the carnage. More on that later.
So, we need not fear that we might have to hold out. I am not saying we will not be persecuted for our faith because as the end of the age draws near, that is surely more and more a distinct possibility. But I am saying we will not be here when the Antichrist rules, breaks his peace covenant with Israel, and the war breaks loose. Praise God for the blood of Jesus Christ, which provides the way of escape for those who trust Him!
As the stage for this last war is being set, it is interesting to see that the Middle East has risen to world power in an unusual way.
That spot on the globe finds its way into the headlines just about every day. From the standpoint of prophecy, that is electrifying evidence that the scene is getting set for Armageddon.
John F. Walvoord writes that a unified Europe will need more than 2.8 billion barrels of imported oil. He further emphasizes that a staggering amount of oil will be needed to guarantee Europe's prosperity as it moves into the twenty-first century. What part of the world has the oil and the bargaining power that it affords? The Middle East.
The oil crisis of 1973 was a drop in the bucket compared to what may be coming. In our country, fights broke out because people were irritated that they had to stand in a line to pump gas into their cars. If tempers flare that quickly over such a small thing, imagine when oil is tightly controlled throughout the whole world. The Antichrist will use this bargaining tool to the hilt.
Remember several years ago during the Persian Gulf crisis how Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi president, literally burned the precious oil in the fields. He knew the black billows of smoke would get the attention of the world. And he was right.
Not only will the Antichrist have economic power and political power, he will have religious savvy.
Because of the Antichrist's ecclesiastical influence, the apostate church, so blind and so deceived, will follow along. This leader will break his peace covenant, not only with Israel but with his religious following as well.
During this explosive reign of the Antichrist, as demonic forces motivate kings and generals, the whole world will go to war. Because the saints of God had been raptured before all this, the restraining power of the Holy Spirit is gone (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8). It is hard to imagine what the world will be like when the salt and light of the saints are no longer here and the Holy Spirit is no longer at work to restrain. Utter evil will reign. Human depravity will go unbridled.
Plagues. Mourning. Famine. Torment. Blood flowing two hundred miles four and one-half feet deep. Chaos. Earthquakes. Screams. Fire.
The pot will be boiling over. Spewing.
And the good news is this:
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 spilt 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 (Zechariah 14:3-4).
There is a fault running east to west right through the Mount of Olives. It would take only one small earthquake for it to be split.
When the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives, two angels asked those gazing into the clouds, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
I think it is extremely significant that He was sitting on the Mount of Olives when the disciples asked, "When will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3).
Zechariah tells us that not only will the Lord Jesus come back, but all the holy ones will come with Him (14:5). One angel smote 185,000 men dead (Isaiah 37:36). We can only imagine what all the accompanying heavenly hosts can do when they come back with Him.
The language of Scripture is vivid as Christ descends from heaven to launch the final assault against the Antichrist.
"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" (Revelation 19:11-16).
What an ending! What a beginning!
Satan will be bound for one thousand years, and we will reign with the Lord Jesus Christ during the Millennium. Righteousness will flourish, peace will be universal, and productivity will be greatly increased.
After this one-thousand-year reign, Satan will be loosed and given one last opportunity to regain his power (Revelation 20:7-9). But in the end he will be defeated: "The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10).
Politically, the stage is being set today. Economically, the stage is being set today. Religiously, the stage is being set today.
After we are raptured, the Antichrist will wield his power, break his treaties, and the war will begin.
We know who will win.
Actually, He already has.
This material has been adapted from: The Glorious Journey
IN TOUCH MINISTRIES®, ITM, Inc.
All rights reserved
Used with Permission