Three fifths of the world’s population killed. Two thirds of the Jews annihilated. The earth ravaged with horrible conflagrations, pestilence, and famine. The worst conflict the world has ever seen. It will make WWI and WWII look like a "picnic." It is the holocaust of Armageddon: and it is not far off…or so we are told. But is it?
What does the Bible really say about Armageddon? Well, actually, a good bit, but, not in the manner or at the time that popular prophecy teachers are telling the story.
Revelation 16:14 speaks of how the kings of the earth would gather to a place "Har-Megiddo" for "the war." The use of the Greek article "the" war, informs us that what is being discussed is a well known event. In fact, the Old Testament is the source for the prediction of "the war." While several passages speak of that event, one particular last days prophecy specifically foretold "the war."
Isaiah 2-4 is a singular, united prophecy, and is parallel with Revelation. Both deal with the last days (Isaiah 2:2f). Both foretold the Day of the Lord when men would run to the hills (Isaiah 2:9f, 19f; Revelation 6:12f). Revelation 6:12 is a direct allusion to Isaiah. (By the way, if this Day of the Lord is an earth-burning, time-ending event that takes place "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye," there would hardly be time to run to the hills, would there?) Both prophecies foretold "the war" (Isaiah 3:25/ Revelation 16). Both prophecies foretold that in the last days, Israel would be "Sodom" (Isaiah 3:9f; Revelation 11:8). And, both prophecies said that in the last days, Israel would be judged for her guilt of shedding innocent blood (Isaiah 4:4f; Revelation 11:8; 18:20, 24). Take a closer look at this last point.
Isaiah said that in the last days, Israel’s guilt for shedding innocent blood would be purged "by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of fire." John foretold the judgment of the city "Babylon," the city, "where the Lord was slain" (Revelation 11:8). Any doubt about where Jesus was crucified? The time of this judgment, when Israel would be judged for shedding the innocent blood of Jehovah’s saints, would be "the war," it would be Armageddon (Revelation 16:6f)! Take a look now at Revelation 6:9-17.
John saw under the altar “the souls of those slain for the Word of God and the testimony that they held. And they cried, “How long, O Lord, do you not avenge our blood on those on the earth? And they were given white robes and told to rest for a little while until their fellow brethren who should be slain as they were, should be fulfilled.” Notice that we have here the martyrs. These are the ones Jesus spoke of in Matthew 23, all of the martyrs all the way back to Creation.
Heaven’s response to the prayer of the martyrs is found in Revelation 6:12f; it is the Great Day of the Lord. It is significant that John’s prediction of the Great Day of the Lord in Revelation 6:12f is drawn directly from Isaiah 2-4.
The question remains: when would "the war" to judge Israel for her blood guilt be? Is it past or still future? The answer is given by Jesus himself.
In Matthew 23:29f, Jesus castigated the Jews "you bear witness against yourselves that you are the sons of those who killed the prophets." He said that Israel had killed all the prophets sent to her in the past. He also said they were going to kill him (Matthew 21:33f). And, they were going to kill the apostles and prophets that Jesus sent (Matthew 23:34f). In continuing in the bloody ways of her forefathers, Israel would fill up the measure of her sin, and be judged for that blood guilt. When would this take place? When would "the war" foretold by Isaiah and Revelation, the war in which Israel would be judged for her blood guilt take place? Read the words of the Master: "Verily I say unto you, all of these things shall come upon this generation!" (Matthew 23:36). Jesus’ "this generation" is not some future generation, nor our generation. Israel was judged for all her blood guilt, in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. and is no longer under any kind of curse today.
So, how does all this relate to Armageddon?
The battle Armageddon is described by John as "the battle of the Great Day of God Almighty" (16:14). Of course, this is not the first time we have read of the Great Day of the Lord in the Apocalypse. We noted above that the Great Day of the Lord was to be heaven’s response to the martyr’s prayer for vindication (Revelation 6:12f). For brevity, I offer the following argument.
|Major Premise:||The Great Day of the Lord is the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:14f).|
|Minor Premise:||But, the Great Day of the Lord is the time when the martyrs of God would be vindicated (Revelation 6:9-17).|
|Conclusion:||Therefore, the battle of Armageddon would be the time when the martyrs of God would be vindicated.|
To follow up on this:
|Major Premise:||The battle of Armageddon would be the time when the martyrs of God would be vindicated.|
|Minor Premise:||But the time when the martyrs of God would be vindicated would be in the judgment of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (Matthew 23:34-36).|
|Conclusion:||Therefore, the battle of Armageddon would be in the judgment of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.|
There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that John predicted a different time, a different occasion or different martyrs than foretold by Isaiah 2-4 or by Jesus in Matthew 23. John is foretelling the same thing as foretold by Isaiah. In fact, he cites Isaiah. Furthermore, Jesus posited fulfillment of his prophecy at the judgment of Israel in A.D. 70. Unless one is able to demonstrate conclusively that John, although he cites Isaiah and writes about the same them as Jesus, is in fact speaking of a totally different time and situation, then this is prima facia proof that Babylon of Revelation was Old Covenant Jerusalem, and that Armageddon was God’s judgment on her for killing His saints. It proves that Armageddon was in the first century, and related to God’s judgment of Israel.
Jesus said "the war" (Armageddon) would be in his generation, and it happened just as he said. Armageddon is past.