War Between Heaven and Earth Precedes the Thousand Years
1. (a) According to the Revelation, what conflict must precede the coming of The Millennium? (b) Why must that battle be evidently yet ahead of us, and what should be our attitude toward it?
WE HAVE just read the description given us by the apostle John of the preview that he had of the thousand years. Such wonderful things are foretold for it that it is called The Millennium. Ah, but what did John describe as taking place immediately ahead of that glorious Millennium? It was a battle between heavenly forces and earthly human forces. Down till now such a fight has not taken place since the day of Pentecost of 33 C.E., the festival day when the Christian congregation came to life spiritually by being begotten of God’s life-giving spirit. True, Jesus Christ was in heaven and at God’s right hand at that festival time, more than sixty years before John got the Revelation of “what must shortly happen.” (Revelation 1:1, 2, NE) But even after John got the Revelation, no such battle occurred back there between the “King of kings” and the “kings of the earth.” That battle is yet ahead of us, and we ought to be interested in the advance account of it, because we are approaching it on a straight course.
2, 3. (a) What kind of battle will that be as regards the participants therein? (b) How does the glorified Jesus Christ contrast with the earthly Jesus as to carrying on war?
2 This approaching battle is not any dreaded third world war, in which the political superpowers, armed with an overload of nuclear and chemical weapons, will madly seek to annihilate one another. This is the coming battle in which all the “kings of the earth,” no matter of what political ideologies, unite their forces against their common Opponent, a king and lord who is superior to them all and who is therefore called “King of kings and Lord of lords.” He is not God, but, to quote Revelation 19:13, “the name he is called is The Word of God.” This is the title that was given to the only-begotten Son of God in his prehuman existence in heaven with his heavenly Father, Jehovah God.—John 1:1-3, 18.
3 During his human existence on earth as the man Jesus Christ, he did not lead any armies of fighting men on white horses, nor did he even choose to call twelve legions of heavenly angels to his aid. (Matthew 26:52-54) But now, since his glorification in heaven and since the end of the “times of the Gentiles” in 1914 C.E., he is authorized to act as the executional officer of the Supreme Judge, Jehovah God, and to do executional work upon earthly enemies just as that angel did, who, in the year 732 B.C.E., in one night killed off 185,000 soldiers of the Assyrian King Sennacherib, who had invaded the land of the people of Jehovah God, and this without the use of a nuclear bomb. (2 Kings 19:32-36; Isaiah 37:33-37) This explains why John was inspired to write concerning the heavenly Warrior Jesus Christ: “The one seated upon [the white horse] is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness.”—Revelation 19:11.
4. What will it mean for the nations that out of the mouth of their common opponent a sharp long sword protrudes?
4 This is far more than a third world war between the nations of earth now armed with nuclear and chemical weapons. This time the nations are fighting, not against blood and flesh, but against the one seated upon the symbolic white horse and against his heavenly angelic armies. And when he uses his tongue to speak and order an execution of his enemies, it is as if a long sword of an officer with authority were being applied. This is the meaning of the inspired words: “And out of his mouth there protrudes a sharp long sword, that he may strike the nations with it, and he will shepherd them with a rod of iron. He treads too the winepress of the anger of the wrath of God the Almighty. And upon his outer garment, even upon his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”—Revelation 19:15, 16.
5, 6. (a) At what location will the nations meet the King of kings in battle, and what crushing and breaking will take place? (b) What angelic invitation to the “great evening meal of God” shows whether the ones slain on earth will be buried with military honors?
5 Instead of being a third world war between irreligious radical humans on one side and irreligious radical humans on the other side, this is “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” The nations, having by then disposed violently of the international religious “harlot,” Babylon the Great, will then find themselves at that stage of world developments called Har–Magedon; just as it is written: “And they gathered them together to the place that is called in Hebrew Har–Magedon.” (Revelation 16:14-16) It is at this world situation that the King of kings and the Lord of lords crushes the defiant nations, like grapes in a winepress, thus treading the “winepress of the anger of the wrath of God the Almighty.” They will be like helpless sheep to him, upon whom he uses a “rod of iron” to break them to pieces like earthenware vessels of a potter. (Revelation 14:18-20; 2:26, 27; 12:5; Psalm 2:8, 9) There will be no dignified burial with military honors for those slain on earth in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” That is why God’s angel speaks of it as “the great evening meal of God” spread for the carrion birds:
6 “Come here,” cries out a sunlit angel to all the birds that fly in midheaven, “be gathered together to the great evening meal of God, that you may eat the fleshy parts of kings and the fleshy parts of military commanders and the fleshy parts of strong men and the fleshy parts of horses and of those seated upon them, and the fleshy parts of all, of freemen as well as of slaves and of small ones and great.” And the account of this “war of the great day of God the Almighty” closes with the remark: “And all the birds were filled from the fleshy parts of them.” (Revelation 19:17, 18, 21) From this description of the ones whose corpses the carrion birds are to devour, it appears that there is a total mobilization and regimentation of the peoples of the nations for this War of all wars.
7. What is the “wild beast” that is found in the battle lineup of the kings of the earth at Har–Magedon?
7 Concerning the battle lineup at Har–Magedon the apostle John writes: “And I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage the war with the one seated on the horse and with his army.” (Revelation 19:19) Is this “wild beast” a mere mascot, an animal supposed to bring good luck, for the armies of these “kings of the earth”? Of what value would a literal wild beast be to the fighting forces at Har–Magedon? Of no value at all! And a literal wild beast is not to be understood here. It is a symbolic wild beast. It is really a world figure of historical importance. How so? Because it is the symbolic wild beast described in Revelation, chapter thirteen, verses one to eight, concerning which Re 13 verse two says: “And the dragon gave to the beast its power and its throne and great authority.” It is the worldwide political system that the “dragon,” that is, Satan the Devil, established long ago as his visible instrument for governing all the people of the world. It has carried on its beastly practices throughout the earth for more than a thousand years, yes, for more than four thousand one hundred years, since the twenty-second century B.C.E.
8. When did that symbolic wild beast begin its activities, to spread its authority to what extent?
8 This symbolic wild beast began ravaging the earth’s inhabitants in the days of Nimrod, a hunter of literal wild beasts. It was about the year 2189 B.C.E. that this Nimrod began engineering the building of the Tower of Babel in the land of Shinar, in the valley of Mesopotamia. Becoming world famous, he came to be called “Nimrod a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.” He established the old or original Babylonian empire, and about this Genesis 10:10-12 tells us: “The beginning of his kingdom came to be Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land he went forth into Assyria and set himself to building Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah and Resen between Nineveh and Calah: this is the great city.” (Genesis 10:8-12; 11:1-9) From that small beginning this symbolic wild beast continued extending its power and authority over more and more people until finally it has its political throne established over all the earth.
9. (a) What do the seven heads of the symbolic wild beast picture? (b) Against whom has it used its “ten horns”?
9 Throughout the past millenniums this symbolic wild beast has had various members of its political system act as the dominant world power. That is why Revelation, chapter thirteen, pictures this symbolic wild beast as having seven heads, to represent seven world powers in succession, namely, (1) Egypt, (2) Assyria, (3) Neo-Babylonia, (4) Medo-Persia, (5) Greece, (6) Rome, and (7) the dual world power of Britain and America. With its symbolic “ten horns,” this seven-headed wild beast has horned, gored and pushed around the worshipers of Jehovah God, including the genuine followers of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, since the days of the enslavement of the sons of Israel in Egypt until now. No wonder, then, that Revelation 19:19 pictures the “kings of the earth and their armies” as lined up with the “wild beast” in battle array against the heavenly angelic army of the “one seated on the horse,” Jesus Christ!
10. (a) What is the “false prophet” in the battle lineup of the kings of the earth, and what does it prophesy? (b) What is the “image of the wild beast” the making of which it proposes?
10 Revelation 19:20 mentions also as being with the “kings of the earth and their armies” what is called “the false prophet that performed in front of [the wild beast] the signs with which he misled those who received the mark of the wild beast and those who render worship to its image.” This is not a religious prophet belonging to religious Babylon the Great, but is a political prophet. It is the same political organization that is pictured in Revelation 13:11-17. There it appears as the two-horned wild beast that proposed the making of the image of the wild beast and then gave breath to that image so that it spoke authoritatively. That two-horned wild beast is the dual world power of Britain and America, or the Seventh World Power, and the political “image” of the seven-headed wild beast is today the organization for world peace and security, the United Nations. The whole world knows today that this Seventh World Power of Britain and the United States of America endeavors to dictate to the world of mankind and makes impressive prophecies concerning the future of mankind. But it is not the prophet of Jehovah God, inspired by Him. It is “false.”
11, 12. (a) What spirit moves the kings and their armies to the war at Har–Magedon? (b) Why must the tide of battle go only one way, and what outcome of it does John show in his preview?
11 The symbolic wild beast has reached its full state of development, having had its seventh head since the year 1763 C.E. By now we have also had more than a quarter of a century of the United Nations (not to speak of its predecessor, the League of Nations). Under the driving force of pursuing their own national goals and preserving their own national sovereignties in defiance of God’s kingdom as rightful government for the earth, the “kings of the entire inhabited earth” are irresistibly being gathered to the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” The time for the unparalleled battle at Har–Magedon, which the apostle John saw in pictorial preview, should be quite near, nearer than the self-occupied people of the world think! With God the Almighty and his King of kings being the ones against whom the “kings of the earth and their armies” are drawn up in total warfare, the tide of battle can go only one way, from its very start. We can have confidence, therefore, that the apostle John is correct in his prophetic description of the battle, as follows:
THE BATTLE AT HAR–MAGEDON
12 “And I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage the war with the one seated on the horse and with his army. And the wild beast was caught, and along with it the false prophet that performed in front of it the signs with which he misled those who received the mark of the wild beast and those who render worship to its image. While still alive, they both were hurled into the fiery lake that burns with sulphur. But the rest were killed off with the long sword of the one seated on the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth. And all the birds were filled from the fleshy parts of them.”—Revelation 19:19-21.
13. (a) How much of the enemy organization does Almighty God take on as his battle opponent? (b) While doing what is the “wild beast” caught, and who runs it down?
13 This battle account makes it certain that God the Almighty takes on as his opponent the entire visible organization of the symbolic dragon, “the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan.” In support of that visible worldwide organization, symbolized by the seven-headed wild beast, go all its component parts, namely, the “kings of the earth and their armies,” the military commanders, the strong men, the horse riders, the freemen and the slaves, the small ones and the great. The “false prophet” is also a part of that visible planetary system, for it is the dual world power of Britain and America, the dominant part of the whole visible organization of this world. The whole world system is not wily enough to elude the execution of divine judgment for all its ungodly deeds and the way it has preyed upon the people. The symbolic wild beast, along with its false prophet, is “caught,” yes, caught while committing its last misdeeds against the faithful worshipers of Jehovah God. The King of kings, Jesus Christ, is the one who runs down this ferocious wild beast. Like a maneater, it is destroyed.
14. What does the hurling of the “wild beast” and the “false prophet” signify for them?
14 Never again will this beastly world system of political rule, along with its political “false prophet,” victimize mankind. Not as dead, nonfunctioning political institutions, but, as Revelation 19:20 states, “while still alive, they both were hurled into the fiery lake that burns with sulphur.” Never will they come out of this “fiery lake” alive, for their death in battle is not due to the death that the sinner Adam brought upon all his human offspring. The “fiery lake” symbolizes another kind of death, an endless death from which there is no resurrection. Revelation itself (Re 20:14) explains it, saying: “This means the second death, the lake of fire.” All human efforts in patriotically fighting to perpetuate this political system for running human affairs will fail!
15. What shows whether there will be a resurrection of the dead for the rulers and the ruled people slain at Har–Magedon?
15 Will there, then, be a resurrection for the others, who as rulers or as ruled people fight for the symbolic wild beast and false prophet against God’s kingdom in the hands of his King of kings? There is a total extermination of them. The tongue of the militant King of kings, which proceeds out of his mouth like a sharp long sword, orders the execution of them all, and the angelic armies of heaven carry out his royal orders. So those willful opposers of God’s Messianic kingdom are all killed off. They are not counted as having suffered an honorable death, making the “supreme sacrifice” for country and government. They are not buried in memorial tombs, in nationally maintained military cemeteries to be visited annually on a Memorial Day or Decoration Day. As undeserving of a resurrection, they are pictured as having their corpses left lying exposed on the battlefield of Har–Magedon, their stinking bodies attracting all the birds that live on carrion flesh. It is foretold: “All the birds were filled from the fleshy parts of them.” They gorge themselves to bursting on the “great evening meal of God.”—Revelation 19:17-21.
16. What must be said of survival of the war at Har–Magedon, as to (a) the earth, (b) the birds, and (c) exceptions to the worshipers of the wild beast?
16 It is to be noted that the account does not say that the literal earth over which the “kings” have reigned is burned up. No, but the earth survives the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. Also, “all the birds that fly in midheaven” survive, to feast upon the fleshy parts of the bodies strewn over the earth. But there are also human survivors on earth after the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” This is not shown here directly in this battle account. Yet this must be so! Why? Because not all the inhabitants of the earth at the time of the battle will be misled by the “false prophet.” There will be exceptions, though comparatively few, to “those who received the mark of the wild beast and those who render worship to its image.” (Revelation 19:20) What about the “great crowd,” whom the apostle John saw earlier in the vision and who were seen standing before God’s throne and before the Lamb Jesus Christ? They are not among those fighting against God’s Messianic kingdom at Har–Magedon.
17. What does Revelation, chapter seven, show regarding the attitude of the “great crowd” toward God and his Messianic kingdom?
17 Telling about these, John says: “They keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” After making inquiry about these, one of the twenty-four heavenly elders tells John: “These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-14) This “great crowd” that comes “out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues” was definitely not against the Messianic kingdom of God. It refused to receive the “mark of the wild beast” and to “render worship to its image.”
18. Why will the earth not be found empty of human life when Christ’s thousand-year reign begins?
18 So the “great crowd” will not fall slain with people executed at Har–Magedon, but will “come out of the great tribulation,” the grand climax of which will be the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” Surviving that “great tribulation” and hailing victorious Jehovah God and the Lamb Jesus Christ, the “great crowd” will, as with palm branches, look forward joyfully to the thousand years ahead. So the earth will not be found empty of human life as the glorious thousand years of Christ’s reign begins.