Read This Week: Revelation 16
Then they gathered the kings together to the place in Hebrew called Armageddon. – Revelation 16:16 NIV.
One important thing to remember when taking in a portion of Scripture, like Revelation 16, is that God is, first and foremost, holy. We speak so much about the character of God and His eternal attributes, which are innumerable, glorious, and unrivaled. We often discuss His love, grace, mercy, goodness, patience, and faithfulness. We highlight His peace, comfort, strength, and omniscience.
All these things are true of the Father, but in recalling these characteristics, we must always recognize that the chief among them is His holiness. The supreme quality cascades, allowing the Lord to be the righteous judge. He is worthy of His seat of judgment and justified in His measures of expression because of His holiness. We must keep this in view always, but especially when trying to absorb parts of the Bible like this one.
There is no way to describe this chapter other than brutal and challenging to read. If you love people and care for others like Jesus does and calls us to, reading the ending account in the series of God’s final judgments is heavy and hard to digest. It tells of the Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath and the ultimate fall of Babylon, leading to the triumphant return of Jesus Christ to earth. It also brings forth a place (or word) known even in secular circles and referenced as a metaphor for fierce battles, destruction, and apocalyptic conflict. That place or word is Armageddon. It means the hill of Megiddo, “the place of soldiers and slaughter.”
Armageddon is a valley that is twenty miles long and fourteen miles wide. It forms a vast natural battlefield that can contain troops, horses, artillery, and combat tech as far as the eye can see. One can stand on the famed Mount Carmel, look out over Armageddon with its topographical grandness, and understand why it is the gathering place of the world’s armies. It also has historical significance, as it was where Gideon faced the Midianites (Judges 7) and King Saul died (1 Samuel 31). Additionally, many encounters happened here during the Crusades of the eleventh through fifteenth centuries and when the British defeated the Turks in 1917.
The nations’ armies assemble here according to God’s will and are led by the enemy and his demonic factions as they prepare for the final battle with Jesus. Before this occurs, God unleashes his final righteous judgment on the earth through the Seven Bowls.
The first is sores breaking out on people and not going away (v.2). The second and third are reminiscent of the Exodus, where the waters turn into blood and contaminate the water supply (v. 3-6). The fourth, the sun will scorch the earth and burn people (v. 8-9); the fifth will see the world covered in darkness and people begging for light with no relief (v.10-11), and the sixth will be the drying up of the Euphrates river (v. 12-16) that will allow for the invasion of the Holy Land by the armies of the east. The seventh and final judgment is a massive earthquake followed by hail that weighs in the neighborhood of a hundred pounds that falls on people (v. 17-21). This chapter is a harrowing and disturbing account of God’s justice for sin.
Take heart and be encouraged through the difficulty of this chapter. The King of Kings is and will be victorious over evil, darkness, sin, and death. The rage and wrath of the nations and the supernatural but limited power of the devil are no match for Him in our present day and will be no match for Him at Armageddon. We currently face threats of war and uncertainty among nations. Still, we can be confident that in our times and the ones to come, God will exact His holiness, righteousness, and triumph that we will take part in for eternity.