What’s the Rosh? – Back to the Future

31Mar11

We conclude our look at Ezekiel 38 and 39 and the infamous Battle of Armageddon by looking at the different options that have been made available to the serious student to understand just what should be done with these passages. First, though, it would be of some value to “bullet” review the previous information.

ARMAGEDDON

  • The Battle of Armageddon is mentioned only once in the entire Bible and is found in Revelation 16
  • Many expositors have tried to attach the Ezekiel 39 and 39 passages to the battle of Armageddon
  • Commentators have disagreed on where to place the Battle of Armageddon in the historical time line
  • Some say it takes place at the beginning of the Tribulation
  • Others argue tit takes place in the middle of the tribulation and ushers in the “Great Tribulation” commonly argued to be the second 3 1/2 years
  • Others argue it takes place at the end of the Tribulation and is found in Revelation 19
  • Others argue it takes place at the beginning of the Millennium and takes place at the Second Coming of Christ
  • Finally, others argue it takes place at the end of the Millennium
  • The battle in Revelation 16 is one of judgment and tribulation while the one in Revelation 20 is one of rescue
  • Armageddon is most commonly translated the Mount of Megiddo, but there is no mountain near Megiddo. The closest would be Mt. Carmel, the place where God defeated and made a mockery of the prophets of Baal

EZEKIEL 38 and 39 BATTLE

  • Some expositors argue this is the Battle of Armageddon and it’s placement can be any of the ones mentioned above
  • The battle is described using ancient names of tribes and nations that no longer exist
  • The battle described used ancient weapons that in no way compare to contemporary or modern warfare
  • Some popular expositors try and use the names of nations and people to point to modern day Russia. This has proved fruitless and baseless
  • The names of the participants in this battle are referenced in Revelation 20.

So, with the above review close at hand let us now walk through the many options for each of these battles.

The first thing that must be discussed is that there is no reason whatsoever to argue these battle passages are discussing the same event. In fact, it will be argued later that the Rev 20 passage only alludes to the Ezekiel passage and that they are not related as well. But it is important to note the the battle described as taking place at Armageddon is separated by a Millennium the battle described in Rev 20 involving Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 39 and 38.

So, let us examine each battle separately and determine which explanation best fits the context of the passages and the truth of history.

THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON EXPLAINED

There are three basic views that best fir the passage in question. Though there is some disagreement amongst futurist as to the timing of the event in question, most would argue that it takes place sometime within the Tribulation. Many find the most feasible explanation in placing this battle in the middle of the Tribulation as the Antichrist takes over and through his work creates a peace in the Middle East. Others, as has been stated, believe this battle initiates the entire Tribulation.

The first two positions cannot logically combine this with the Ezekiel passage (though many do) as the Battle of Armageddon is foreboding and denotes destruction, wrath and loss, while the Ezekiel passage portrays this event as a rescue of Israel, which gives credence to the “end of the Tribulation” proponents. What all this means as that one wants to combine these two events they need to find a placement that would show the rescue of Israel and not her destruction, which the two earlier views would support.

I should note that those who argue for the beginning of the tribulation view argue that they are rescued, but by the Antichrist who then will make a covenant with Israel and bring peace to the Middle East. This, of course, like the previously discussed “Second Humiliation of Christ” and “Prince who is to come in Daniel” makes the work of Christ the work of an Antichrist!

The other options come from the preterist perspective. The first of the two preterist options is that this in regards to the eventual destruction of Rome. The use of the term “Babylon” at the end of Revelation 16 leads many commentators to assume this is related to Rome.The difficulty here is that the picture of the invading army appears to be more representative of Rome itself than Rome’s enemies. This army employs the “kings of the earth” which would look more like Rome’s multi-national army that those that opposed Rome at it’s fall.

This leads to the idea that the Battle of Armageddon pictured in Revelation 16 is related to Rome’s siege and sack of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The use of the term Babylon is seen as being related to Jerusalem. In fact, the book of revelation uses many of Israel’s most hated enemies as descriptions for Israel. This includes Babylon, Egypt and Sodom.

Another clue is found earlier in the same chapter where we are told who is the recipient of these bowl judgments.

Rev 16:4 The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood. 5And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,

“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,
for you brought these judgments.
6For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
and you have given them blood to drink.
It is what they deserve!”

Notice who is the recipient? Does this description sound familiar?

Matt 23: 31Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33You serpents,  you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!

The similarity of cursing is without question. Those Revelation bowl judgments are directed against those who shed the blood of the saints and the prophets. This is a clear indication that Jesus and John are referring to the same people. They both refer to the Jews of the first century! As a result it is by no means a stretch to consider the Battle of Armageddon being a symbolic reference from the Old Testament of Israel’s destruction. This is surely the most consistent and easy to understand of the views. There is no need to make a leap into the far future when the book of Revelation declares that “these things must shortly come to pass…”

In the next post we will consider the Ezekiel and Revelation 20 passages and see how best to understand them in light of our current discussion.

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One Response to “What’s the Rosh? – Back to the Future”


  1. 1 Revelation 20: Four Views of Gog and Magog « Pursuing Truth at 2909 (Minneapolis)

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