Armageddon: Man vs. God
For years, the conventional wisdom among those who study bible prophecy is that Armageddon is a human war in which Christ intervenes, rather than a war which human beings aggressively attack Jesus Christ.
Yet, the latter is more in line with the Word of God.
So why has this interpretation flourished?
Certainly the widespread spiritualization of the scriptures bears some responsibility, but it might well be that the concept of man physically attacking the Creator of the universe is so beyond reason that we're incapable of accepting it.
Nevertheless, the bible testifies to this human desire to physically assault the Lord.
In almost every instance in which the rebels of this world rejected Christ and His ministry, they weren't merely content to refute Him verbally. They also sought to physically harm Him.
The Gospel of John illustrates a number of these instances:
"So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God." John 5:18 (NLT)
"After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death." John 7:1 (NLT)
"Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me." John 7:19 (NLT)
"Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, 'Isn't this the man they are trying to kill?'" John 7:25 (NLT)
"Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there's no room in your hearts for my message." John 8:37 (NLT)
"Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing." John 8:40 (NLT)
"At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple." John 8:59 (NLT)
"Once again the people picked up stones to kill him." John 10:31 (NLT)
"So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus' death." John 11:53 (NLT)
Matthew, Mark, and Luke recount additional instances of human attempts to physically harm Jesus.
Each of them failed until Satan and his children succeeded (so they thought) in physically assaulting and overcoming Christ at the crucifixion.
Fallen man experienced the complete fulfillment of his basest desires on the day of the crucifixion. Yet, little did they know that their actions would open the door for many to be counted as righteous.
Knowing this, one must logically conclude that if Christ was physically assaulted following His First Coming, then it stands to reason that His Second Coming will elicit nothing less than a similar response from Satan, his fallen angels, and the humans who have joined them in rebellion.
Spiritual AND Physical Rebellion Against God
Perhaps because the notion strikes people as utterly preposterous, Christians throughout history have spiritualized prophecies which clearly point to a day when men will engage in physical battle against the Lord Almighty.
All around us, people are living in open spiritual opposition to God.
They mock His laws, and live their lives independent of His Word. However, the idea that a person would be arrogant enough, much less capable of, physically assaulting God is outside the boundary of an average person's thought process.
Therefore, many people simply dismiss the idea.
Yet the bible is filled with instances of those who have done just that.
Aside from the Gospel accounts, the Old Testament also mentions individuals rebellious enough to physically confront God.
For instance, Jacob - Abraham's grandson - dared to take on the King of kings. Genesis 32:22-32 catalogues his wrestling match with God. As a result, it's a grave mistake to simply spiritualize prophecies which clearly and plainly state that mankind will one day set out to wage open war against God Almighty.
For the day will come when mankind will attempt to cast off every restraint of God's authority:
"Why do the nations rage? Why do the people waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against His Anointed One. 'Let us break their chains,' they cry. 'And free ourselves from this slavery.' But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them." Psalm 2:1-4 (NLT)
Let there be no mistaking the purpose of this rebellion. Its timing provides us with great insight. It occurs in the aftermath of Satan being cast down to earth:
"Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon - the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world - was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, 'It has come at last - salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth - the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.'" Revelation 12:7-12 (NLT)
Satan, indwelling the Antichrist, will lead the world's kings and people against the Lord and His Anointed One:
"And I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs leap from the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. These miracle-working demons caused all the rulers of the world to gather for battle against the Lord on that great judgment day of God Almighty." Revelation 16:13-14 (NLT)
"He will even take on the Prince of princes in battle." Daniel 8:25 (NLT)
The purpose of this battle is no secret. Long ago, Lucifer's intentions came to light:
"For you said to yourself, 'I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God's stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.'" Isaiah 14:13-14 (NLT)
This isn't Satan's desire alone, but also that of the angels who joined his rebellion and a multitude of humans who have been co-opted to his purpose:
"'You won't die!' the serpent hissed. 'God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat it. You will become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil.'" Genesis 3:4-5 (NLT)
Humanity's fall in the Garden of Eden was the direct consequence of a human desire to be "just like God." Yet, despite eating the forbidden fruit, mankind is not like God. Despite the overwhelming desire of many, God is the Alpha and the Omega - man is not.
This fact is the cause of great hatred within those who reject God.
One day it will result in humanity launching a physical war against God Himself, because they desire only pleasure and not righteousness:
"What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn't it the whole army of evil desires at war within you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can't possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don't have what you want is that you don't ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don't get it because your whole motive is wrong - you only want what will give you pleasure." James 4:1 (NLT)
Human beings, like Satan, want what they can't have - God's power and authority. So they conspire to take it. This desire is rooted in the same arrogance which prompted the fall of Lucifer. Every human being has a desire to reside in heaven, but many only harbor this desire because of the physical pleasure it will bring them. They otherwise disdain God and cannot fathom humbling themselves in order to receive His mercy.
Nevertheless, the Word of God is clear. Only one gateway into heaven exists - the blood of Jesus Christ. Without it, no human is cleansed of sin and capable of entering heaven. But this doesn't mean that many won't try. Human history offers a long list of false religions, false prophets, and futile human attempts to circumvent God's gateway, but all these efforts lead to the same destination - eternal destruction:
"'I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won't follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don't know his voice.' Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn't understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: 'I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.'" John 10:1-10 (NLT)
In the future, the hubris of mankind will reach such epic proportions that some will attempt to physically leap over the walls of heaven.
God can only laugh at such foolishness, and He will not tolerate the illegal entry of those who do not belong in His presence - not when the front door is wide open for anyone who chooses to enter legally.
The bible prophesies that one day men will plot against God, planning a campaign to overthrow His authority, thus prompting Christ to bring the Lord's vengeance:
"Then the Lord will go out to fight against those nations, as he has fought in times past. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem." Zechariah 14:3-4 (NLT)
These prophecies have much to teach today's believers. It's instructive to note the grave danger inherent in pride. God created Lucifer to be the Anointed Cherub, yet pride transformed him into the antithesis of everything which God created him to be. Likewise, when pride rears its ugly head in human lives, destruction and ruin soon follow.
"'What sorrow awaits my rebellious children,' says the Lord. 'You make plans that are contrary to mine. You make alliances not directed by my Spirit, thus piling up your sins.'" Isaiah 30:1 (NLT)
What joy, however, awaits those who humble themselves before the Lord. Those who accept the free gift of Christ's sacrifice as payment for their sins will have their robes washed clean and counted among the righteous:
"They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white." Revelation 7:14 (NLT)
But those who reject the free gift of Christ will die in their sins. At the end of this age, a great number of them will rise up in physical opposition to the Prince of Peace. Rather than having their robes washed white in the blood of the Lamb, their own blood will stain the robes of the conquering Messiah as He executes "the Day of God's anger against His enemies" (Isaiah 61:2):
"Who is this who comes from Edom, from the city of Bozrah, with his clothing stained red? Who is this in royal robes, marching in his great strength? 'It is I, the Lord, announcing your salvation! It is I, the Lord, who has the power to save!' Why are your clothes so red, as if you have been treading out grapes? 'I have been treading the winepress alone; no one was there to help me. In my anger I have trampled my enemies as if they were grapes. In my fury I have trampled my foes. Their blood has stained my clothes. For the time has come for me to avenge my people, to ransom them from their oppressors. I was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So I myself stepped in to save them with my strong arm, and my wrath sustained me. I crushed the nations in my anger and made them stagger and fall to the ground, spilling their blood upon the earth.'" Isaiah 63:1-6 (NLT)
God has given you free will to choose your own eternal destiny. Will your blood stain His garments, or will His blood cleanse you of sin and bring you eternal life? The choice is yours alone, but make no mistake - He is Coming! And when He comes, there will be nowhere to hide. He will come to bring judgment, and there will be no escape:
"Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down! How the mountains would quake in your presence! As fire causes wood to burn and water to boil, your coming would make the nations tremble. Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame!" Isaiah 64:1-2 (NLT)
Britt Gillette is the founder of End Times Bible Prophecy and the author of Coming To Jesus and Signs Of The Second Coming. Receive his book 7 Signs of the End Times for FREE when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.
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