Armageddon has been taken to be a world war between East and West. Rev 16:12-16 says, "Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. 'Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.' And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon."
Two different views on Armageddon exist among Bible scholars: One regards it as a military engagement between East and West, another believes it to be a spiritual conflict. The first view also has many theories. During the Sino-japanese war, some thought that Japan would be the chief, and China would be second of the "kings from the east." Now some think that China would lead out in a war with the West. Some use Ezek 38,39 to predict that Russia would fight with Israel. All these views are mistaken.
1) According to your view, the spiritual interpretation is true. am I right? Please explain.
Answer: Note first that: (a) the seven seals, seven trumpets and seven plagues all have a peculiarity. The first five elements take up a few words, while the sixth element is described in greater detail. (b) A peculiarity of the seven last plagues is that six are literal calamities, using no symbols, but the sixth plague uses symbols--the water of the Euphrates and the frogs. (c) The drying up of the waters of the Euphrates is an event of short duration, but the "three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, . . . going "out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty," is a campaign that takes months, if not years for global coverage. So the sixth plague comprises two events, the drying of the waters, which is the plague itself, and the campaign to rally the nations, which is the political background of the plague. Yet both events are the focus of the war between good and evil. The final result of the campaign of the three evil spirits will be a union of the kings of earth "These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful." Rev. 17:13,14. .
2) Rev 13 says that the wicked power prospers for a time, "and it was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Then it says that the Lamb will overcome them. Could it be that this refers to two different periods of time?
Answer: Yes, the war between good and evil began in heaven, but will end on this earth. Rev 12:7 says, "War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil, . . .he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."
Rev 13 foretold that a great geo-political power would prevail in Europe for 1260 years. It received a deadly wound in 1798, and according to prophecy, this wound has healed. Now this contest will soon come to an end, when the dragon will again be a prominent figure. The beast and false prophet are close allies of the dragon, and will unite in the final struggle. They will rally all the nations of the world to launch their last offensive. The sixth plague will mark the closing victory of Christ. The activities of the three unclean spirits mark Satan's last effort. The drying up of the waters is the beginning of his end. At present the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are arrayed against the devil, the beast and false prophet. The false prophet is the second beast of Rev 13, which has two horns like a lamb, but speaks as the dragon.
The church is Christ's body. It is to share in Christ's sufferings and also in His glory. He said to His disciples, "You will indeed drink My cup and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with." "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?" "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Matt 20:23; Luke 24:26; Rom 8:18.
3) That means that the church is to receive the baptism of blood, and then gain her final victory. Is that correct?
Answer: Yes. Rev 12 says that the true church of God flees to the wilderness twice, and their distinction is that they "keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus." Rev 12:17. The fact that they will be victims of the dragon's wrath means that they will suffer persecution. Chapter twelve does not describe the nature of the persecution. It is foretold in chapter 13. Rev 12:12 says, "The devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time." The devil's wrath and cunning is seen in his plot to make man change the day that God made, into a day man invented under a pious pretext. The purpose is the same as when he tempted man to sin at first: It is Satan's studied effot to make man violate every command issued by God..
In Rev 13 we see the two opposing sides: On one side are those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of Life (Rev 13:8), on the other side are those whose names are not written there. These who oppose God will force all to worship the image of the beast and receive his mark. (See Dialog 34) Although Rev 13 does not mention Babylon, yet because she is involved in the same warfare, the drying up of the waters of the Euphrates will be a signal of the defeat of Babylon. This helps us to see that the going forth of the three unclean spirits to rally the world to fight against God (Rev 16:14) refers to the prophecy in Rev 17:12, 13. "The ten horns which you saw are ten kings . . . they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast."
4) What is the historical background of the drying up of the waters of Euphrates? How is it related to the destruction of Babylon?
Answer: The fall of modern Babylon was typified in the fall of ancient Babylon. Isa 45:1 says, "Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held--to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut." Cyrus was the commander of the combined armies of Medo-Persia. He diverted the waters of the Euphrates that flowed through the center of Babylon, so that the water level at the city became shallow enough for his troops to wade along the river bed and climb up the banks onto the bridges that linked the two parts of the city, and walk into gates that were open. Jer 50:38 foretold the end of Babylon in these words, "A drought is against her waters, and they will be dried up." In Jer 51:36 God says of Babylon, "I will dry up her sea and make her springs dry."
The virtuous woman in Rev 12 is a figure of God's church, and the harlot of Rev 17 represent the worldly churches that have improper relations with earthly governments. Rev 17:15 says, "The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues." So the drying up of the waters of the Euphrates is a figure of the people that support worldly churches. They would eventually see the true condition of things and turn against the religious leaders whom they once followed and admired.
5) According to the sequence of the Bible record, the drying up of the waters of the Euphrates come first, and the three unclean spirits going out to gather the kings of the earth happens later. How do you explain that?
Answer: Note that the fall of Babylon happened suddenly. Rev 18:10,17 says, "In one hour your judgment is come! . . .for in one hour such great riches came to nothing." On the other hand, it takes a longer time for the three unclean spirits to gather the nations to oppose God, so we conclude that this forms the political backdrop of the fall of Babylon.
Another question is the actual manner in which the nations are gathered to fight God. It is difficult to imagine how man will dare to oppose God. It is even harder to think how churches who claim to know God would even think of fighting against Him. Some argue that "the battle of that great day of God Almighty" is not man fighting against God, but a battle between East and West. That is not true. For the Bible here does not mention the kings from the west.
As for men fighting against God, there is such a precedent . Ps 2:2 says, "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, 'Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.' " The disciples quoted this text when they were persecuted by the Jews, and prayed, "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word." Acts 4:29. It can be seen from this text that men oppose God because they hate His law that binds them. They refuse to keep His Sabbath, so want to break out of what they regard as "bonds" and cast away His "cords."
Don't some Christians today also chafe under God's law, and want to enjoy the "freedom" of having no law, and dub those who observe God's commandments as "legalists?" If so, they are fighting God.
6) You mean that people who insist on keeping Sunday and don't want to obey God, but invent a pious pretext to disregard the Sabbath, are in fact fighting against God?
Answer: Yes. False christs and false prophets will be very cunning. Revelation says that three unclean spirits will gather the nations against God. This indicates that their delisive tactics are very subtle, so that the majority will be deceived. But their deception will finally be exposed. Rev 17:12-18 says, "ten kings . . .receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb. . .And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled."
7) The Bible only says that the ten kings give their power to the harlot, but does not say what causes them to hate her, eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
Answer: Note these three points: (a) The dragon, beast and false prophet are opposed to Christ. (b) Babylon is the harlot that sits on the beast. (c) The ten kings of the beast hate the harlot and destroy her. This is plainly the same event as the drying up of the waters of the Euphrates. The "many waters" on which the harlot sits are dried up. It prepares the way for the coming of Christ.
Who are the kings from the east? The word "kings" is a plural word that could apply to two kings. Jesus is KIng of kings. In Matt 26:64 we read, "Hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." At the fall of ancient Babylon, two kings came from the east to sack her. One was Cyrus as foretold in Isa 45:1. The other was Darius the Mede mentioned in Dan 6:1. They typified the Father and the Son who will come from the east to destroy modern Babylon.
8) Please explain the meaning of "Armageddon," give its historical background and the reason for the three unclean spirits to gather the kings to that place.
Answer: The first Hebrew syllable of that name is Har, meaning "mountain." "Megiddo" is the name of a city (see 1 Kg 9:15) in the valley of river Kishon (see Judges 4:13; 5:19). That is the place where Barak defeated the heathen general Sisera. (see Judges 4:4-22) It is also called the plain of Jezreel where Gideon defeated the Midianites and Amalekites. (see Judges 6:33) To the north is Mount Carmel. Here prophet Elijah confronted 450 prophets of Baal. In answer to his prayer, God sent fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice he offered. (see 1 Kg 18:20-40)
So Armageddon is a symbol of God's victory and Satan's defeat. But the encounter in the last days will severely try the faith of God's people. The false prophet "performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men." Rev 13:13. Only those who diligently study their Bibles and "receive the love of the truth" 2 Thess 2:10, will be protected, and not be fooled by the false prophet who replicates Elijah's miracle and deceives the whole world. God's people have the testimony of the Scriptures, and will recognize the true features of the deceiver. .
This test will come to all. By the sifting of temptation the genuine Christian will be revealed. Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His word that they will not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible and the Bible only? Satan will, if possible, prevent them from obtaining a preparation to stand in that day. He will so arrange affairs as to hedge up their way, entangle them with earthly treasures, cause them to carry a heavy, wearisome burden, that their hearts will be overcharged with the cares of this life and the day of trial may come upon them as a thief.
9) I see that the drying up of the waters of the Euphrates is a figure of the people of many churches turning against their ministers. What is it that brings about such a change?
Answer: Preachers fall into two categories: One kind is like Jeremiah. God said to him, "Whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you." Jer 1:7,8. Another type caters to popular demand. People say to the prophets, "Do not prophesy to us right things, speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. . . .for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves." Isa 30:10; 28:15. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." 2 Tim 4:3,4. "They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace." Jer 6:40.
10) I can see that people who are accustomed to such hollow sermons and live according to their inclinations will have a rude awakening when the last plagues start to fall.
Answer: Yes. Isa 28:17 says, "The hail will sweep away the refuge of lies." Hail is the last of the seven plagues, and the false preachers who have made lies their refuge will see their hiding places demolished. When the plagues start to fall, their cries of "peace, peace" will show up to be lies, and their followers will ask, "Where is the peace you foretold?" They can only confess that they were just trying to please the public with claptrap and spoke not the truth. The people see that they have been deluded, and ; all unite in heaping their bitterest condemnation upon the ministers. Unfaithful pastors have prophesied smooth things; they have led their hearers to make void the law of God. Now all blame them for being the cause of their doom. The very ones that once admired them most will pronounce the most dreadful curses upon them. Widespread indignation will cause the ministers to fall under the hatred of their members. This is the drying up of the waters of the Euphrates. The ten kings of the beast will "hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire." Even so, they will not truly repent, but will flee from the presence of Jesus when He comes.
The events of Revelation 16 to 18 will bring on the scenes of Revelation 19. And the fact that Rev 19:20 still mentions the image and the mark of the beast, indicates that the focus of the last great struggle will still be whom you worship and what day you keep.