An Exposition on the Book of Revelation -- by L. S. McCutcheon

Part 9 of 11

CHAPTER 7

THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON

John the Revelator charts the prophecies of the church from the first century until the Lord's appearing. The four Gospels reveal the lifetime of the physical body of Christ from birth to heaven's portals. In like manner the Revelation portrays the earthly lifespan of the spiritual body of Christ, the church, from birth to eternity. Most of John's prophecies have reached their fulfillment. The position of the church in this century is nearing the close of the age. To even pinpoint our position of today, we find ourselves as participants in prophetic fulfillment. Today we stand at Armageddon!

Literally, Armageddon is the name of an ancient battlefield at the foot of Mount Megiddo in Palestine. Here the Jews fought numerous battles. On this site Saul took his life; here Deborah and Barak sang a song of victory; and it marks the place where Sisera and his great armies were defeated. The Plain of Armageddon is only twenty miles wide and about forty-five miles long. Indeed, the whole country of Palestine is very small -- approximately 9,000 square miles, about one-fourth the size of the state of Indiana.

It is utterly preposterous to conceive of Christians fighting a literal battle in this small area when the battle of Armageddon is to be the greatest, largest, and final battle of the church.

Remembering that the Old Testament gave literal pictures, which serve as shadows of spiritual fulfillment in the New Testament church, let us discover an Old Testament story which symbolizes today's Armageddon.

In the year 164 B.C., the Grecian Empire endeavored to force the entire known world to become Hellenistic. Judas Maccabee, the Hammer, was a leader of Jewish priests who defended the Jewish religion. At Armageddon this small number of Jewish priests fought Lysias, General of Antiochus Epiphanes and his mighty army. It was a battle of horror and much bloodshed. Gog and Magog, referred to in Ezekiel, chapter 39, were enemies of the Jews who joined the forces of destruction against Jerusalem. But God was with His people, the Jews, and even though they were small in number they won the victory. The Grecian enemy was defeated and the Jewish kingdom was restored to a glory almost comparable to Solomon's splendor. This was known as the Asmonean dynasty. With the understanding of this literal battle as a type, it is not difficult to comprehend the spiritual antitype.

In the Revelation, chapters 15 and 16, John tells of seven vials of wrath being poured out upon the earth. Five of these plagues have already passed as judgments of God, and today we are encountering the sixth. In John's vision he beholds the vial of wrath being poured out upon the river, Euphrates. Literally this river flowed through the center of ancient Babylon. When Babylon, the mighty empire, was destroyed, the enemy gained entrance inside the city by diverting the course of the river and marching in on the riverbed. The vial John speaks of as being poured out on the Euphrates is indicative of God's wrath being poured out on spiritual Babylon preceding her final destruction.

John says, "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beasts, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon" (Rev. 16:13-16). It is evident that a spiritual battle is here indicated, since the foe is likened unto three unclean spirits -- slippery, slimy and sly -- like frogs. These evil spirits encounter the whole world; the arena encompasses the globe.

It is significant that the church was born on a battlefield; her warfare has filled the pages of history in every generation, and she is seen at the end of time entrenched in her most vicious battle -- Armageddon! Three great wars have been fought-and, won by true Christianity. The first was a struggle with the dragon of paganism; the second was with the beast of papalism; the third was an encounter with the evils of the false prophets. In the final conflict, the church is faced with all three as a trinity of evil. Satan has combined his forces in the final attempt to destroy the church.

The church is at war! -- War against all evil. God is gathering His Army preparing for the final conflict of the ages.

Christianity is the oldest religion in the world. Salvation is the "mystery angels desired to look into." It is written "…the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world" (Revelation 13:8 NIV). Jesus purchased the church with His blood at Calvary. Satan thought he had won the war when Jesus was crucified. God, our Father, had other plans and Jesus arose from the grave conquering death.

Satan tried to drown the church with martyrs' blood. Nero tried to MI the church by killing Christians. The powers of Romanism fought the church with persecution and death for the long period of more than twelve hundred and sixty years. This was the longest war of history. In the year A.D. 612 Mohammedanism attacked the church with severe punishment when the Christians refused to accept the Koran. Many false prophets, cults and Satan worshippers have deceived multitudes. A sectarian spirit has divided God's people, but the church still lives.

The true church includes every born again Christian. God keeps the record of membership. Paul, the Apostle, gives the requirements for all Christian soldiers: "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Ephesians 6:11-18 NIV).

I was delighted recently while reading an article about revival in Christianity. It was startling to learn how many religions were being revived. The Shinto priests have persuaded many Japanese to return to the pagoda. Eighty percent of converts were not Japanese. The worldwide charismatic movement has tripled in the last decade to nearly 300 million, including millions of Catholics. Jews are expecting their Messiah in the year 2000. Mormons report their large gains in membership. The New Age movement is expanding. New approaches are made by the Arab world. Islam fundamentalists see revival. In Buddhism there is new life. Bahaism, a cult offshoot from Mohammedan- ism originating in Persia, is making rapid growth. It is reported the United States alone has 3000 different religious beliefs. This is, just a few statistics about our Religious World. John, the Revelator, describes his vision about Armageddon. To my knowledge the name Armageddon" appears only this one time in the Bible (Rev. 16:13).

Three Evil Spirits

1. Communism

The first of the unclean spirits is breathed out of the mouth of the "dragon." This presents another description of the dragon being "loosed" for a little season. The dragon of paganism breathed out of its foaming nostrils the deadly spirit of communism. More satanic than Pagan Rome, this treacherous force of iniquity is determined to exterminate Christianity.

We thank the Lord for the great change in Russia. The door has opened to let Christianity in. The Berlin Wall is broken. However, Communism is still alive. The deadly red dragon of atheism continues in North Korea, China, Cuba, Vietnam and other places of persecution. Don Hillis writes concerning his missionary work in China regarding Pastor Wang:

Even his congregation wouldn't recognize him from a little distance. His face is unshaven, his hair disheveled, and his clothes are shabby and smelly as if he hadn't had a good bath for some time. He is wandering aimlessly down one of Peiping's narrow, noisy alleys. His name: Wang Ming Tao-beloved pastor of the largest congregation in this capitol city of Communist China.

This man of God is muttering over and over to himself, "I am Judas, I am Judas!" There is something haunting about the dark, drawn lines on the old man's face. His dark restless eyes stare out of their deep sockets with fear and suspicion. His agonizing, monotone repetition of "I am Judas, I am Judas," tears at your heart, and sends chills up and down your spine.

Desiring to comfort him, you say, "But Wang Ming Tao, you are not Judas. Your mind is simply playing tricks on you as a result of many weeks of imprisonment, slander, torture, false accusations, and brainwashing. You and your fellow Christians have been brutally treated by the Communists." "Oh, but I am Judas. I am Judas. I have denied my Lord," is his reply.

Pastor Wang was recently released from his prison cell after signing a "confession" of crimes he never committed. In a couple of months he recovered his physical and mental faculties. He then returned to the Communist authorities and renounced his 4i confession and declared his loyalty to Jesus Christ. As a result, Pastor Wang Ming Tao and his wife were back in a dark Communist prison.

2. Catholicism

The second unclean spirit comes out of the mouth of the beast of papalism. After more than a thousand years of papal supremacy throughout the world, the true church conquered and the mighty Reformation of the sixteenth century released true Christians from papal bondage. What a victory, was wrought by the Holy Spirit and Sacred Scripture. The prophecies tell that just before the end of time, this papal power will strike again against the true church in a final lunge for power. Anyone who is aware of conditions in Catholic-controlled countries couldn't be ignorant of the fact that Catholicism is an enemy of true Christian faith, and the real Christian church is her target.

I am confident God has a number of sincere Christians in Catholicism. They have done many good humanitarian deeds.

Politically, the Roman Catholic regime endeavors to train a Roman Catholic person for every political post in local, state, and federal offices. The Catholic church has always been known as a political power as well as a religious power. Catholics are taught not to believe in separation of church and state. They maintain that the pope should rule all civil powers. Indeed, they believe the pope is Lord of the earth.

Educationally, already some twenty-one states have Roman Catholic nuns and priests on the public school payroll. Incidentally, these have to pay not one penny of income taxes -- the church gets it all; whereas all Protestant ministers and teachers have to pay income tax. Nineteen states already give free transportation to parochial school students. In Chicago, 70 percent of the teachers are Roman Catholic, while in New Orleans the percentage is 90. Roman Catholics are instructed to defeat all public school bond issues in order to force public schools to close. They exercise a large control over school curriculum. Catholic efforts have been successful in "purging" school books of historical events, which present truth of Roman Catholic evils of the Dark Ages. More than four million boys and girls are enrolled in Roman Catholic schools. However, they are not content to supervise their own schools and scheme to receive educational funds, but they usurp authority in public school circles, dominating them also. It is estimated that the Roman church spends more than one billion dollars annually on its United States educational system alone.

Numbers of Negro citizens, have been swept away in Catholic belief, due to the educational evangelism program by Catholics for the south. Negro children denied education in white schools hive been welcomed into Catholic institutions, increasing Catholic membership in America at an alarming rate.

Economically, the Roman church is one of the richest and most efficiently organized institutions in the world. Her wealth is fabulous! She counts her income in the billions of dollars and values her properties in the tens of billions. American Catholics send more money to support the Vatican than Catholics anywhere else in the world. There are 1,661 Catholic hospitals in the United States. The Roman church owns breweries, wine distilleries, hotels, factories, business establishments, laundries, bakeries and untold others. This is a dangerous, un-American policy to permit a foreign country to possess so much of America's wealth and real estate. The Vatican Estate in Italy is confined to 110 acres, but in America her property is unmeasured. Rome's coffers are filled with money for penitence assessments, masses for purgatory victims and fees for religious services rendered. She also becomes rich on slave labor of her nuns, monks, and priests. But a chief source of revenue is from her liquor and gambling agencies. Her expenditure in America is comparatively small. She refuses to pay taxes. At this writing, thousands of dollars are owed to the United States government for taxes on California Breweries alone. She is always on the beggar side demanding the public to support her.

Socially, Rome is determined to force her way of life upon every phase of American living. She is making rapid strides to control the press. Almost every secular magazine or newspaper carries pictures, news comments and numerous articles of Catholic religion. She gets more free publicity than any religion in the world. It is also alarming to find that the Roman Catholic church exerts authority over the freedom of the press in many areas. Rome's church has invaded the fields of television and radio in a preposterous measure. Most of the film and television personalities are Roman Catholic and use this opportunity to press their pattern of life upon the listening audience. Many Christians were shocked when the Catholics exerted sufficient power to keep the Martin Luther film off television in some areas.

The moral laxity of Roman Catholics is quite notorious in America as well as in foreign countries. Where true Christianity has consistently taken her stand against gambling, liquor intoxication, and sexual immorality, the Roman Catholic church has often winked at these sins.

It is also astounding to realize the power Catholicism wields in labor unions and business circles. Some businesses have been boycotted by Roman Catholics because they refused to donate money for Catholic building programs, fund raising projects, etc.

Religiously, the Roman Catholic church binds her subjects to ancient superstitions and heathen idolatry. The doctrine of purgatory is Satan's scheme to pour money into Rome's treasury, but worse still, it leads souls to believe they can attain salvation only after they die. It holds the sword of fear over its subjects until they are held by its dreadful power. To teach America's multitudes, that salvation is attained by the individual's works, is to preach false religion.

It is at this point that the Roman Catholic church is even more treacherous than communism. The Communists openly express no belief in God; the Roman Catholics claim the power and approval of God upon all their evil works. Through all ages they have been guilty of atrocious crimes, which they claim have been done in the name of the Almighty God.

3. Confederacy

The least recognized of the three unclean spirits is the one breathed out of the mouth of the false prophet. Satan is a master at counterfeits. Communism is his counterfeit for God; Catholicism is the counterfeit for the church; and confederacy is the devil's counterfeit for Christian unity. The true church should be aware that Satan always comes to confuse the multitudes as soon as any truth has been revealed. When the sixteenth-century Reformation revived the truth that man is justified by grace through faith -- a personal encounter with God as a new birth -- then Satan presented church membership, a formal ceremony replacing a spiritual experience. When the Wesleys' teaching of the Holy Spirit infilling was sweeping the nations, Satan immediately set Christians at confusion regarding the experience. The church recognized a great revival of divine healing but has been confronted now with numbers of ministers who endeavor to bring healing through psychiatry. It is true that psychiatry has its place in our world, but it is disturbing to find ministers who deal more with their parishioner's minds than they do with their hearts and souls. Observing Satan's attack upon every truth restored to the church in the evening of time, it is not strange that a counterfeit for Christian unity should appear immediately following the revival of genuine truth concerning the oneness of God's children. It is always true that the counterfeit nearest to the genuine article is the most deceptive and dangerous.

Is this confederacy of denominations, the answer to our Lord's prayer -- "that they all may be one"? Is the nature of the combined Protestant body of the nature of Christ? The Protestant body has chosen to make human creeds. Is the church to be humanly governed? Almost any Protestant church of any size will readily admit that they include in their membership some who are sinners and others who make no claim of being saints at all. Is the body of Christ composed of sinners and leaders who deny holiness?

The mouth of the false prophet utters all kinds of errors, cults, Satan worship, and division in the church. There is a spirit of independence, rebellion, and self will. Even church people are influenced by errors of humanism.

Humanism in the whole world has made its mark. The exaltation of the human self and debasing God is a tragic sin. It denies the deity of God, the inspiration of the scriptures, and the divinity of Jesus Christ. It denies the existence of the soul, life after death, salvation and heaven, damnation and hell.

Humanism believes there are no absolutes, no right and wrong, that moral values are self-determined. It believes in sexual freedom between consenting individuals, regardless of age, including premarital sex, homosexuality, lesbianism, and incest. Humanism believes in right to abortion, euthanasia, and suicide. It believes in equal distribution of America's wealth to reduce poverty and bring about equality. America's schools are contaminated with this philosophy. The world seeks a civilization without God, Christianity without Christ.

There needs to be an honest study made, concerning Christ's attitudes, toward religious sects existing during His earthly ministry. Jesus believed many things the Pharisees believed, but He was not a Pharisee. He never excluded the Sadducees from His ministry, but He never became a Sadducee. Although He was sometimes identified with the sect of the Essenes, He never became one of them. Simon, the Zealot, became a follower of Christ, but Jesus never became a Zealot. He challenged Herodians to follow the way of the cross, but Jesus never became a party member of the Herodians.

Confederacy is an effort of a horizontal direction on the human level. Christian unity comes only by the perpendicular pull by the magnet of the Holy Spirit on a divine level.

Now the passage in Revelation is easily understood which reads: "…Satan [paganism] shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog [Catholicism] and Magog [Protestantism], to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city [the church]" (Rev. 20:7-9a).

Remember that Jesus warned His disciples concerning the destruction of literal Jerusalem saying, "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh" (Luke 21:20). We, as Christians, also know that when the armies of Satan are compassed about the church as a trinity of evil, the end of the world is nigh.

The trinity of evil is not confined to only its three unclean spirits. The dragon of paganism is evident in many other ways. There has been a revival of pagan Shintoism. Heathenism has been stirred again in Africa. The Mohammedans have erected a mosque in Washington, D.C., and consider America their most promising mission, field. According to the Christian Herald, Hawaii is the first state in the U.S. to be a Buddhist stronghold with a number of Shinto shrines and several non-Christian sects.

Trends toward atheism are evident in many American colleges and institutions of learning. America becomes fertile for pagan beliefs when she forgets God. It is most certain that our nation will either be governed by God or choose the rule of a dictator, domestic or foreign born.

It is noted that even though the trinity of evil is of the same evil spirit, and controlled by Satan, each unclean spirit retains its own identity. When the end is pictured, there is still a dragon, a beast, and a false prophet. "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev.20:10).

The Columbus, Ohio Dispatch Newspaper, Friday, March 27,1998 front page headlines read: SCHOLARS PLAN AUDACIOUS NEW TESTAMENT REWRITE. Excerpts are as follows:

"The Jesus Seminar, a group of scholars searching for the historical Jesus, plans to publish a 'new' New Testament next year that is likely to exclude the virgin birth, the resurrection and the entire book of Revelation.

"The seminar includes Bible scholars from Protestant, Roman Catholic and secular backgrounds.

"Other scholars disagree with the Jesus Seminar. Some contend the New Testament should be taken literally as history. Others believe the seminar has gone too far in casting out many Biblical traditions.

"Seminar co-founder Robert W. Funk, who will speak at Capital University tonight, also said the Jesus Seminar will participate in a 2000 A.D. 'canon council' on questions about dogma, including the Trinity, Jesus' divinity and formulation of new ways to think about God."

"Among members of the organization, the council is likened to the fourth-century Council of Nicea which adopted the Nicene Creed and established other church traditions. Unlike the Council of Nicea, the gathering in New York will have no power to set the policies of any church.

"Funk is former president of the Society of Biblical Literature and is director of the Westar Institute in Santa Rosa, Calif., where the Jesus Seminar is based.

"He said in an interview that scientific developments mean a new language is needed for references to God.

"'Whoever or whatever God is has not changed. The majority of the people I know still believe in God in some sense.'

"A traditional, layer-cake view of the theological world with heaven above and hell below the earth 'can no longer be supported by what we now know of the structure of the universe,' he said.

"Most of the seminar's conclusions have originated with other scholars' findings, some dating back centuries.

"'There is nothing new in what we are doing,' he said. Scholars used to keep the research to themselves, because 'we have been afraid of the public outcry, afraid of losing our jobs. A group of us got together and decided it was time to come clean. Our big aim was to get back into the public domain with serious Biblical scholarship.'

"The Rev. William C. Dettling, associate professor of dogmatic theology at the Pontifical College Josephinum, is a critic of the group.

"Funk knows the seminar's views on resurrection will be controversial.

"'It has always amazed me that people believe they are entitled to live beyond death. It seems to be the thing, which makes people unusual in the animal kingdom. We have no idea what happens after death. (The scriptures) are expressions of human aspiration.'

"The Jesus Seminar consists of more than 70 scholars from respected academic institutions.

Jesus Seminar Views:

"Jesus' public career lasted one to three years and He was not well received in His hometown. He infringed social codes, consorted openly with social outcasts, did not observe kosher or regularly practice fasting, did not observe purity codes and was at odds with His family, some of whom thought Him mad.

"In His lifetime, He was considered a healer but by modern, standards the hearings probably were of psychosomatic ailments.

"Something Jesus said or did in the temple probably led to His arrest and execution, not His claims to be the Messiah. The scholars believe there was no trial and New Testament stories about the trial were taken from Psalm 2 -- He probably was flogged by the Romans. The Romans, not the Jews, were guilty of Jesus' death.

"The story of Peter's denial is fiction.

"There was no resurrection of Jesus' body. It went the way of all corpses. Some of His followers did see visions of Him, but not until long after His death.

"Jesus was a Jew, not the first Christian. The real founders of traditional Christianity are Peter and Paul. Jesus did not intend to found a new religion and did not claim to be the son of God."

THE TERM antichrist is quite popular in the vocabulary of the current religious world. It excites sensationalism, breeds apprehension, and creates appetite for mystical prophetic fore- cast. The media, study groups, evangelistic campaigns, and tape ministry, provide massive communication channels to spread strange concepts of antichrist. Some define antichrist as the Devil incarnate, half man and half beast. Others conclude the term refers to a political figure, who will make a covenant with the Jews. There are those who believe it is old Lucifer himself. Indeed each generation labels individuals as their personification of antichrist!

The Antichrist in Scripture

Rather than speculate and add more confusion, it will be best to let the Bible itself identify antichrist. It may be surprising to learn that only one author of the scriptures gives any mention of antichrist and that very briefly. It is difficult to conceive how the imagination could create such a wide variety of myths from only four short texts of scripture. John, the beloved disciple, never gives reference to antichrist in the Revelation or the Gospel that bears his name. Only in John's first and second epistle is it considered, as follows:

"Little children, it is the last time: and ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time" (I John 2:18). "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son" (I John 2:22).

"And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world" (I John 4:3).

"For many deceivers are entered into the world, who con- fess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist" (2 John 7).

Many Antichrists

Let us note the following observations:

1. John explains when antichrist would come by saying it would be characteristic of the "last time." The Scriptures define the "last time" or "last days" as beginning with the first coming of Christ. "God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things…" (Heb. 1: 1, 2).

Since anti means "against" we observe that as soon as Christ was revealed in human flesh there were those who opposed Him. John explains that there were already many antichrists in the first century.

2. Nowhere in the Scripture does antichrist appear with a capital A or ever refer to a single individual as "The Antichrist." It does give reference to the "spirit of antichrist and the pronoun it is used.

3. John gives three marks of identification. He describes antichrist as a liar, denier, and deceiver. One major purpose of John's epistles is to give warning to the believers to beware of false teachers and erroneous doctrines. He is especially concerned with the heresy that denied Christ's coming in the flesh. John identifies false teachers as antichrists who deny the divinity, the incarnation, the atonement, the resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus Christ.

The basic fundamental of Christianity is established on who Christ is. Jesus was greatly concerned with "whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" (Matt. 16:13). More important is the truth of who Christ is than what He said or did. He was not crucified because He healed the sick or spoke in parables but because "He made himself the Son of God" (John 19:7).

According to John's identification of antichrist, it is an inclusive term applied to all persons or religious beliefs lying, denying, and deceiving concerning who Jesus Christ really is.

When you add crime, drug addiction, murder, divorce, illegitimate sex, drunkenness, abuse, and the entire catalog of sins you see the battle we fight is against sin and Satan. You remember John saw in his vision "Spirits of devils working miracles, which go forth to the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle, of that great day of God Almighty" (Rev. 16:14). You will note the battlefield is the whole earth. The kings of the earth are in contrast with the kings in our Lord's Army. "And has made us kings and priests unto God" (Rev. 1:6). The Lord's Army is cautioned to watch and keep their garments. The Christian's garments are the whole armor of God.

 

 
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