“And who shall be able to stand?”
There are four A’s of the end-time. 1) The Apostasy, a departure from the faith once delivered to the saints. 2) The Antichrist, the greatest apostasy of all, the renouncement of God and the worship of man. 3) Armageddon, the gathering of the nations to their destruction. 4) The Advent, the glorious return of the King of kings, who comes to vanquish all His foes and to take the throne.
When we think of Armageddon the question arises as to who will be doing the fighting. In the Olivet discourse the Lord said, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars … For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6,7). Who are these nations and kingdoms? Will the rule of Antichrist be worldwide? Revelation 13:8 does state that all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, except those whose names are written in the book of life. However, Scripture clearly teaches that the Roman empire, headed by Antichrist, will have powerful enemies. There will be four great world powers in the end-time. 1) The revived Roman empire, a ten kingdom federation with Antichrist at its head. This is the Western world including Europe and the Americas. 2) The Northern confederacy described in Ezekiel 38, which is Russia and her allies, including Iran (Persia), peoples north of the Black and Caspian Seas, and perhaps Germany and Turkey. 3) The Kings of the East. These are the populous nations of Asia. 4) The King of the South. Most believe this has reference to Egypt and other nations in the north of Africa. Regarding these great forces, reference is often made to the battle of Armageddon, whereas Scripture refers to it as “the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14). Also, the Greek word for battle (polemos) does not refer to a single battle but to a campaign, a series of battles over the three and a half year period. The prophetic Word reveals the movements of the four great forces during this time. We cannot consider these movements in detail but will endeavor to give a possible sequence of events.
The beginning of the Great Tribulation, the time of Jacob’s trouble, is occasioned by the casting down of Satan out of heaven and perhaps his first act against Israel is to move the King of the North to invade Israel. Having put their confidence in man instead of in the God of their fathers, Israel will have made a covenant with the Beast, who guarantees their protection, and they will have been lulled to sleep, thinking that peace has finally come to their troubled land. They will appear to the northern confederacy to be an easy target. The King of the North says: “I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates, to take a spoil, and to take a prey” (Ezekiel 38:11-12). In the two chapters of Ezekiel, 38 and 39, the invasion from the north is graphically described. As the northern armies come down on the land, the Antichrist, prince of the Roman Empire, makes a feeble protest (38:13) but does nothing more to aid Israel, thus breaking the covenant made with them. But God will do something, a work so great He will be magnified in the eyes of the nations (38:23) and a work so mighty that the house of Israel will know that He is the Lord their God from that day and forward (39:22). The invading hosts will fall on the mountains of Israel and will be annihilated by great convulsions of nature. There will be a great earthquake such as was never seen before, with islands and mountains disappearing, and great hail out of heaven. The destruction of the invading hosts will be complete and it will take seven months to bury the dead and clear up the devastation.
It would appear the King of the South moves in concert with the King of the North in their invasion of Israel’s land. Daniel 11:40 reads: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him; and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind.” The northern army, Russia and her confederates, being smitten of the Lord, the Beast-king turns his attention to the southern intruder and has little trouble in destroying him. It is then that the Beast and his armies move into Palestine and take over all the surrounding territory. It is then that he sets himself up in the temple of God, shewing himself as God and demanding that all take his mark and worship him. But while extending his domain into Egypt and Africa a report comes that causes alarm. “But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him” (Daniel 11:44). Perhaps the tidings that trouble him are that the Kings of the East are preparing to march against him. These Asiatic powers, disturbed that the Beast has taken over the Middle East and fearful of his plans, band together and move to challenge his authority.
The hand of God is in all this. We read that “the Lord hath a controversy with the nations” (Jeremiah 25:31) and He is gathering the nations together for the final showdown. He says: “Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about. … Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; come, get ye down; for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision; for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:11-14). God is bringing the nations to judgment. In fact, He miraculously dries up the waters of the river Euphrates to make a way for the eastern armies to invade Palestine (Revelation 16:12). Also we read: “And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (vs. 16). This is the only mention of the name Armageddon in the Bible. It has reference to the Mount of Megiddo in north central Palestine and is referred to elsewhere as the plain of Esdraelon. In view of the size of the armies involved, and in view of other Scriptures relating to this great climactic battle, it seems evident that the battle would not be confined to the valley of Megiddo. Ezekiel states that the armies would “cover the land,” the entire land of Palestine.
With the King of the South defeated and the northern hosts destroyed by the Lord, we now find two armies opposed to each other and ready for battle. They are the armies of the Beast and the armies of the East. But before any action begins they are interrupted by another invading host, and this invasion comes from above. This is described in Revelation 19 where the Apostle John writes: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. … And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (vs. 11,14). The two armies that had gathered to fight one another now join forces to fight this new threat. John says: “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army” (vs. 19). Puny man, who presumes to fight against the Almighty, and thinks he can prevail. The Rider on the white horse is none other than the meek and lowly Jesus returning as King of kings and Lord of lords, and though accompanied by the armies of heaven, He needs not their help in disposing of His foes. Speaking of that future day He has said: “I have trodden the winepress alone … for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments” (Isaiah 63:3). It was alone that He dealt with the sin of man at Calvary and it will be alone that He deals with sinful man at His return. The cry goes out to the fowls of the air to come and feast on the corpses of His enemies. “For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies; he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter” (34:2). He will not then be the Victim but the mighty Victor. It will indeed be “the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
The nations (heathen) had long ago, by their wickedness and idolatry, declared war against God and He was forced to turn away from them. It was then He raised up a new nation, the nation Israel. But they were no better and by their departure from God’s law, and by their rejection and murder of Christ, they also, in reality, declared war against God. But God, instead of issuing a counter declaration of war, declared a moratorium and brought in the day of grace. Instead of declaring war, He has declared an amnesty and has sent forth His ambassadors with a message of reconciliation. The day is soon coming, though, when He will recall His ambassadors, the Church, by way of the Rapture, and begin the process of bringing His enemies to His feet. It is then He comes to Armageddon to make war. The defeat of the nations at Armageddon will bring an end to “the times of the Gentiles.” It will mark the end of “man’s day” and the ushering in of “the day of the Lord.” Man has had plenty of opportunity and has always proved a failure. It has been noted that six is the number of man and he has had six days, of one thousand years each, to demonstrate that he is incapable of governing himself. The seventh day of one thousand years will be the great day of the Lord, a sabbath of rest when the earth will enjoy peace and a righteous rule.