THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
HYMAN J. APPELMAN
- The Reward of the Harvesters
- THE POWER OF INTERCESSION
- Intercession Will Convict and Constrain the Saints of God
- Intercession Will Comfort, Counsel and Encourage the Servants of the Cross
1. THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
(Revelation 19:11-21; see also Revelation 12:7-17; 16:13-16; 20:1-3, 7-10.)
Armageddon is “Har Megiddo” in the Hebrew. “Har” means mountain. “Megiddo,” in substance, means destruction. Har Megiddo, Armageddon, then, spells Mount of Destruction. Throughout the ages of Palestinian history, the general locality of the field of Megiddo has been the battle ground of that much fought-over land. Among many other tragedies, it was there that King Josiah was mortally wounded in the battle against Pharaoh.
Struggle Between Satan and Saviour
The preponderance of Scriptural testimony seems to indicate that the term “Armageddon” is used in Revelation both symbolically and literally. It is therefore perhaps the ultimate representation of the agelong struggle between Satan and the Saviour. In Revelation 12:7-12, we have what is certainly the beginning of this eternal warfare. Lucifer, the chief among the angels, rebelled against God. The result was of course a foregone conclusion. How long the battle lasted, what forces were involved, how many angels took part, there is no way of telling. Scripture is silent on these, after all, nonessential details. The record is that “they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
Satan was cast unto the earth. From that day to this, the paean of heaven has been, “Therefore rejoice ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.” From that day to this, the groaning, moaning, endlessly bitter sigh of earth has been, “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you having great wrath because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” From that day to this, the endless, bloody, torturous story has been that Satan has “persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.”
The war began in heaven but it will end upon the earth. The war began between God and Satan. God overcoming Satan will end it. The war’s first battle saw the casting down of Satan. The war’s last battle will witness the final crushing of Satan. The war began in a contest for the sovereignty of the heavenlies. It will conclude with the coronation of Prince Immanuel over all creation.
The Scripture reading for this sermon describes at least two, perhaps even three, battles before the end of time. In the one battle, “the beast… and the false prophet were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of Him that sat upon the horse.” In the second encounter, “fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.” Neither of these, in the mind of the Spirit, may be covered by the descriptive word “Armageddon.” It is all quite speculative and best left alone for the Lord to work out in His own good time and good pleasure. It is with the forces, the powers, the principles, the aims, the conclusions behind the titanic struggles that we are concerned. Consider then prayerfully with me this general historic panorama from the viewpoint of The Combatants, The Contest, The Conquerors and the Conquest.
“Now the serpent… more subtle than any beast… said unto the woman… ye shall be as gods… she took of the fruit… and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Gen. 3:1-6). That started it. The serpent had won the first skirmish. In all this it appeared as though the serpent and the human pair were the combatants. But no! In the back of the Serpent was Satan, while in the shadows was God biding His time, working out His agelong plan.
“And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me… and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark… Come thou and all thy house into the ark… And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him… that the waters of the flood were upon the earth… And all flesh died that moved upon the earth… And every living substance was destroyed… And God remembered Noah” (Gen. 6:13, 14; 7:1, 5,10, 21, 23; 8:1), In all this it appears that there was a lengthy spiritual disputation between Noah and the antediluvians. For one hundred and twenty years Noah hammered away on that ark, with every stroke warning the world about him of the coming doom, with every blow calling for repentance. Satan hardened the heart of the luckless multitudes. God preserved the holy seed. Again it seemed that the honors of the contest went to Satan.
“And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi… and bare a son: and… hid him three months… she took for him an ark of bulrushes… and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink” (Exod. 2:1-3). Murderous Pharaoh had prescribed the destruction of all Jewish male babies. Moses was doomed. Israel was groaning in the bondage of Egypt. Satan mocked in hell. Little knew Beelzebub how carefully God was watching the floating ark and tiny babe. What rejoicing there must have been in glory when Egypt’s princess, moved by God, rescued and reared Moses.
There came another day. Israel had gone awhoring after strange gods. Jehovah was shelved. Weak Ahab and idolatrous Jezebel reared their altars to Baal. One man lifted the standard of heaven. Elijah faced the 850 prophets on eventful Mt. Carmel. It was an uneven contest, one man against a nation. But Elijah was backed by Jehovah Sabaoth, and one man with God is a majority.
The years sped past. Once again Lucifer marshalled the hosts of Tophet. Sennacherib and his myriad-headed host beleaguered the Holy City. Hezekiah, of the progeny of David, was seemingly destined to perish. This was the end of the Messianic line. But, no! In one frightful night, 185,000 Assyrian warriors died the death of God’s wrath visitation. God had again checkmated Satan.
Centuries paraded past in their stately march. A nation of iron ruled the world. A hated Idumean usurped David’s throne. A boy child was born to a Galilean maiden in a Judean manger. “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof… But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel” (Matt. 2:16,19, 20). Once more the Eternal had triumphed. That was indeed a bitter pill for Satan to swallow. The child Jesus was almost in his grasp. The fate of the world hung in the balance as at no other time in all of its chequered history. But God overruled the plan of Hell.
Jesus Christ, Virgin Born, Matchless Son of God, lived out His mighty life. He prayed, taught, worked, wept. He saturated Gethsemane’s dust with the blood of His passionate intercessions. He sprinkled Pilate’s judgment court with the drops of His cruel scourging. He hung on bleak, bitter Calvary’s Cross. The dark maw of the grave swallowed Him up. Angels dropped their harps to their sides in awful gloom and mourning. Was this to be the end of all of God’s plannings and purposings? Came the third day and the miracle of the Resurrection. That is the day on which the song of Moses and of the Lamb was born. Prince Immanuel had met Satan on Satan’s own battle terms and had conquered.
Jesus Christ sent out His apostolic band to tell a world of the glad tidings of redemption. Pentecost came with the fire baptism in the Holy Spirit. The disciples scattered over the face of the earth, singing, preaching, testifying to the saving grace of Heaven. The Old Serpent stirred up Roman, Jew, Greek. Prisons were filled.
“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; there stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us” (Acts 16:9). Macedonia was the door into Europe, the first really great opening to the Gentiles. Satan was aroused. This must never be. Paul and Silas were scourged and thrown into the Philippian prison. Was Europe to be denied the Gospel? Were the Gentiles to languish in hopeless darkness? But, hark, what is that strange shaking, that awful quaking, that groaning travail of Mother Earth! God has again taken a hand. The doors are opened. The bands are loosed. The first European Gentile convert and his whole believing family rejoice in the new-found marvelous light.
The centuries sweep on, and on, and on. Satan changes his tactics. He will work from within. A church octopus, ponderous, Cyclopean throttles the pristine vigor of the evangel. Ceremony, hierarchy, paganism, vestments, rubrics, processionals replace the fervency of the Spirit, the burning compassion for souls of men. A German miner’s son is possessed of the Spirit. “The just shall live by faith” becomes his stentorian challenge. Samson-like he places his two hands of prayer and preaching on the foundations of the strangling beast and shakes them apart for the light of the Gospel to enter. Here again it was not Luther and the Pope, but God and Satan joined in battle.
Time marches on. The fires of the blazing Reformation die down. Infidelity – Rosseau, Voltaire, the Encyclopediasts, the illuminati – holds sway. Even Christian England, Protestant England, grows dry, cold, formal, dull, dead. America is infested with the blight. A golden-tongued, God-intoxicated man takes to the hustings. George Whitefield proclaims the terms of the Gospel. Another man, a little, dainty man, takes up Whitefield’s cry. Together, not always eye to eye, but of one blazing purpose, in the name of the Lord, in the power and the demonstration of the Holy Spirit, they turn the tide against atheism, infidelity, formal, heartless religion. Satan beats a retreat for the time.
We come to our own day. Once again the dogs of hell have been let loose. This time war, bloody war, tyranny, bestial inhumanity, are the tools of the Enemy of God and of souls. Demon-possessed men, using every ingenious, hellish, scientific invention, are battling the forces of God and of right. Satan is at the wheel. Satan is directing the juggernaut of destruction. It is all aimed against God. By every murderous, barbaric, atavistic brutality, the hordes are allied against Christ, the Bible, the Church.
These then are the combatants, not Adam and Eve and the serpent, not Noah and the antediluvians, not Moses and Pharaoh, not Elijah and the Baalites, not Paul and the Philippians, not Luther and the Catholics, not Wesley and the atheists, not the United Nations and the Communists, but God and Satan.