The Warrior-King Triumphs at Armageddon
Vision 13—Revelation 19:11-21
Subject: Jesus leads the armies of heaven to destroy Satan’s system of things
Time of fulfillment: After the destruction of Babylon the Great
1. What is Armageddon, and what leads up to it?
ARMAGEDDON—a fearsome word to many! But to lovers of righteousness, it betokens the long-awaited day when Jehovah will execute final judgment on the nations. It is not man’s war but “the war of the great day of God the Almighty”—his day of vengeance against earth’s rulers. (Revelation 16:14, 16; Ezekiel 25:17) With the desolating of Babylon the Great, the great tribulation will already have started. Then, urged on by Satan, the scarlet-colored wild beast and its ten horns will concentrate their attack on Jehovah’s people. The Devil, more wrathful than ever at God’s womanlike organization, is determined to use his dupes in waging war to a finish with the remaining ones of her seed. (Revelation 12:17) This is Satan’s last opportunity!
2. Who is Gog of Magog, and how does Jehovah maneuver him to attack His own people?
2 The Devil’s vicious assault is vividly described in Ezekiel chapter 38. There, the debased Satan is called “Gog of the land of Magog.” Jehovah puts figurative hooks in Gog’s jaws, drawing him and his numerous military force to the attack. How does he do this? By causing Gog to see His Witnesses as a defenseless people “gathered together out of the nations, one that is accumulating wealth and property, those who are dwelling in the center of the earth.” These hold the center stage on earth as the one people to have refused to worship the wild beast and its image. Their spiritual strength and prosperity enrage Gog. So Gog and his numerous military force, including the wild beast out of the sea with its ten horns, swarm in for the kill. Unlike Babylon the Great, however, God’s clean people enjoy divine protection!—Ezekiel 38:1, 4, 11, 12, 15; Revelation 13:1.
3. How does Jehovah dispose of Gog’s militarized forces?
3 How does Jehovah dispose of Gog and all his crowd? Listen! “‘I will call forth against him throughout all my mountainous region a sword,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. ‘Against his own brother the sword of each one will come to be.’” But neither nuclear nor conventional arms will avail in that strife, for Jehovah declares: “I will bring myself into judgment with him, with pestilence and with blood; and a flooding downpour and hailstones, fire and sulphur I shall rain down upon him and upon his bands and upon the many peoples that will be with him. And I shall certainly magnify myself and sanctify myself and make myself known before the eyes of many nations; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 38:21-23; 39:11; compare Joshua 10:8-14; Judges 7:19-22; 2 Chronicles 20:15, 22-24; Job 38:22, 23.
The One Called “Faithful and True”
4. How does John describe Jesus Christ in battle array?
4 Jehovah calls forth a sword. Who is it that wields this sword? Returning to Revelation, we find the answer in still another thrilling vision. Before John’s eyes the heavens open to reveal something truly awe inspiring—Jesus Christ himself in battle array! John tells us: “And I saw the heaven opened, and, look! a white horse. And the one seated upon it is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness. His eyes are a fiery flame, and upon his head are many diadems.”—Revelation 19:11, 12a.
5, 6. What is signified by (a) the “white horse”? (b) the name “Faithful and True”? (c) eyes like “a fiery flame”? (d) “many diadems”?
5 As in the earlier vision of the four horsemen, this “white horse” is a fitting symbol of righteous warfare. (Revelation 6:2) And who of God’s sons could be more righteous than this mighty Warrior? Being “called Faithful and True,” he must be “the faithful and true witness,” Jesus Christ. (Revelation 3:14) He makes war in order to execute Jehovah’s righteous judgments. Thus, he is acting in his capacity as Jehovah’s appointed Judge, the “Mighty God.” (Isaiah 9:6) His eyes are fear inspiring, like “a fiery flame,” looking to the coming fiery destruction of his foes.
6 Diadems crown the head of this Warrior-King. The wild beast that John saw coming out of the sea had ten diadems, picturing its temporary rulership of the earthly scene. (Revelation 13:1) Jesus, though, has “many diadems.” His glorious rulership is unmatched, since he is “King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords.”—1 Timothy 6:15.
7. What is the written name that Jesus has?
7 John’s description continues: “He has a name written that no one knows but he himself.” (Revelation 19:12b) The Bible already speaks of God’s Son by names such as Jesus, Immanuel, and Michael. But this unstated “name” appears to stand for the position and privileges that Jesus enjoys during the Lord’s day. (Compare Revelation 2:17.) Isaiah, describing Jesus since 1914, says: “His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) The apostle Paul associated Jesus’ name with His very high privileges of service when he wrote: “God exalted [Jesus] to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend.”—Philippians 2:9, 10.
8. Why is it that only Jesus can know the name written, and with whom does he share some of his lofty privileges?
8 Jesus’ privileges are unique. Apart from Jehovah himself, only Jesus can comprehend what it means to hold such a high position. (Compare Matthew 11:27.) Therefore, of all God’s creatures, only Jesus can fully appreciate this name. Nevertheless, Jesus does include his bride in some of these privileges. So he makes this promise: “The one that conquers . . . I will write upon him . . . that new name of mine.”—Revelation 3:12.
9. What is indicated by (a) Jesus’ being “arrayed with an outer garment sprinkled with blood”? (b) Jesus’ being called “The Word of God”?
9 John adds: “And he is arrayed with an outer garment sprinkled with blood, and the name he is called is The Word of God.” (Revelation 19:13) Whose “blood” is this? It could be Jesus’ lifeblood, shed for the sake of mankind. (Revelation 1:5) But, in this context, it more likely refers to the blood of his enemies that is spilled when Jehovah’s judgments are executed upon them. We are reminded of the earlier vision in which the vine of the earth is reaped and trodden in the great winepress of the anger of God until the blood reaches “as high up as the bridles of the horses”—signifying a great victory over God’s enemies. (Revelation 14:18-20) Likewise, the blood sprinkled on Jesus’ outer garment confirms that his victory is decisive and complete. (Compare Isaiah 63:1-6.) Now John again speaks of Jesus’ being called by a name. This time it is a widely known name—“The Word of God”—identifying this Warrior-King as Jehovah’s Chief Spokesman and Champion of truth.—John 1:1; Revelation 1:1.
Jesus’ Fellow Warriors
10, 11. (a) How does John show that Jesus is not alone in the battle? (b) What is denoted by the fact that the horses are white and that the horsemen are clothed in “white, clean, fine linen”? (c) Who make up the heavenly “armies”?
10 Jesus is not alone in fighting this battle. John tells us: “Also, the armies that were in heaven were following him on white horses, and they were clothed in white, clean, fine linen.” (Revelation 19:14) The fact that the horses are “white” denotes righteous warfare. “Fine linen” is appropriate for the King’s horsemen, and its glistening, clean whiteness indicates a pure, righteous standing before Jehovah. Who, then, make up these “armies”? Doubtless, they include the holy angels. It was early in the Lord’s day that Michael and his angels hurled Satan and his demons out of heaven. (Revelation 12:7-9) Further, “all the angels” will attend upon Jesus as he sits on his glorious throne and proceeds to judge the nations and people of earth. (Matthew 25:31, 32) Surely, in the decisive war, when God’s judgments are executed to a finality, Jesus will again be accompanied by his angels.
11 Others too will be involved. When sending his message to the congregation in Thyatira, Jesus promised: “To him that conquers and observes my deeds down to the end I will give authority over the nations, and he shall shepherd the people with an iron rod so that they will be broken to pieces like clay vessels, the same as I have received from my Father.” (Revelation 2:26, 27) Without a doubt, when the time comes, those of Christ’s brothers already in heaven will have a part in shepherding people and nations with that iron rod.
12. (a) Will God’s servants on earth take part in the fighting at Armageddon? (b) How are Jehovah’s people on earth involved in Armageddon?
12 What, though, of God’s servants here on earth? The John class will have no active part in the fighting at Armageddon; neither will its loyal companions, those peoples out of all nations who have been streaming to Jehovah’s spiritual house of worship. These peaceable humans have already beaten swords into plowshares. (Isaiah 2:2-4) Yet, they are very much involved! As we have already noted, it is Jehovah’s seemingly defenseless people that are viciously attacked by Gog and all his crowd. That is the signal for Jehovah’s Warrior-King, supported by the armies in heaven, to start fighting a war of extermination against those nations. (Ezekiel 39:6, 7, 11; compare Daniel 11:44–12:1.) As spectators, God’s people on earth will be most interested. Armageddon will mean their salvation, and they will live for eternity as having been eyewitnesses of Jehovah’s great war of vindication.
13. How do we know that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not against all government?
13 Does this mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses are against all government? Far from it! They obey the apostle Paul’s counsel: “Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities.” They realize that as long as the present system lasts, those “superior authorities” exist by God’s permission for maintaining a measure of order in human society. Thus, Jehovah’s Witnesses pay their taxes, obey the laws, respect traffic ordinances, comply with registrations, and so forth. (Romans 13:1, 6, 7) Further, they follow Bible principles in being truthful and honest; showing love of neighbor; building a strong, moral family unit; and training their children to be exemplary citizens. In this way they pay back not only “Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.” (Luke 20:25; 1 Peter 2:13-17) Since God’s Word shows that the governmental powers of this world are temporary, Jehovah’s Witnesses prepare now for the fuller life, the real life, soon to be enjoyed under Christ’s Kingdom rule. (1 Timothy 6:17-19) Though they will have no part in overturning the powers of this world, the Witnesses experience reverential awe at what God’s inspired Word, the Holy Bible, says regarding the judgment Jehovah is about to execute at Armageddon.—Isaiah 26:20, 21; Hebrews 12:28, 29.
To the Final Battle!
14. What is symbolized by the “sharp long sword” protruding from Jesus’ mouth?
14 By what authority does Jesus complete his conquest? John informs us: “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.” (Revelation 19:15a) That “sharp long sword” represents Jesus’ God-given authority to issue orders for the execution of all who refuse to support God’s Kingdom. (Revelation 1:16; 2:16) This vivid symbolism parallels Isaiah’s words: “He [Jehovah] proceeded to make my mouth like a sharp sword. In the shadow of his hand he has hidden me. And he gradually made me a polished arrow.” (Isaiah 49:2) Here Isaiah foreshadowed Jesus, who proclaims God’s judgments and executes them, as with an unerring arrow.
15. At this point in time, who will already have been exposed and judged so as to mark the start of what?
15 At this point in time, Jesus will already have acted in fulfillment of Paul’s words: “Then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence.” Yes, Jesus’ presence (Greek, pa·rou·siʹa) has been demonstrated from 1914 onward by the exposing and judging of the man of lawlessness, the clergy of Christendom. That presence will be strikingly manifested when the ten horns of the scarlet-colored wild beast execute that judgment and ravage Christendom, along with the rest of Babylon the Great. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, 8) That will be the start of the great tribulation! After that, Jesus turns his attention to what remains of Satan’s organization, in line with the prophecy: “He must strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the spirit of his lips he will put the wicked one to death.”—Isaiah 11:4.
16. How do the Psalms and Jeremiah describe the role of Jehovah’s appointed Warrior-King?
16 The Warrior-King, as Jehovah’s appointee, will make a distinction between those who will survive and those who will die. Jehovah, speaking prophetically to this Son of God, says: “You will break them [earth’s rulers] with an iron scepter, as though a potter’s vessel you will dash them to pieces.” And Jeremiah addresses such corrupt governmental leaders and their lackeys, saying: “Howl, you shepherds, and cry out! And wallow about, you majestic ones of the flock, because your days for slaughtering and for your scatterings have been fulfilled, and you must fall like a desirable vessel!” However desirable those rulers may have appeared to a wicked world, one blow from the King’s iron scepter will shatter them, as if smashing an attractive vessel. It will be just as David prophesied concerning the Lord Jesus: “The rod of your strength Jehovah will send out of Zion, saying: ‘Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.’ Jehovah himself at your right hand will certainly break kings to pieces on the day of his anger. He will execute judgment among the nations; he will cause a fullness of dead bodies.”—Psalm 2:9, 12; 83:17, 18; 110:1, 2, 5, 6; Jeremiah 25:34.
17. (a) How does John describe the executional action of the Warrior-King? (b) Relate some prophecies that show how calamitous the day of God’s anger will be for the nations.
17 This mighty Warrior-King appears again in the next scene of the vision: “He treads too the winepress of the anger of the wrath of God the Almighty.” (Revelation 19:15b) In a previous vision, John had already seen the treading of the “winepress of the anger of God.” (Revelation 14:18-20) Isaiah also describes an executional winepress, and other prophets tell how calamitous the day of God’s anger will be for all the nations.—Isaiah 24:1-6; 63:1-4; Jeremiah 25:30-33; Daniel 2:44; Zephaniah 3:8; Zechariah 14:3, 12, 13; Revelation 6:15-17.
18. What does the prophet Joel disclose as to Jehovah’s judging of all the nations?
18 The prophet Joel associates a winepress with Jehovah’s coming to “judge all the nations round about.” And it is Jehovah who issues the command, no doubt to His associate Judge, Jesus, and his heavenly armies: “Thrust in a sickle, for harvest has grown ripe. Come, descend, for the winepress has become full. The press vats actually overflow; for their badness has become abundant. Crowds, crowds are in the low plain of the decision, for the day of Jehovah is near in the low plain of the decision. Sun and moon themselves will certainly become dark, and the very stars will actually withdraw their brightness. And out of Zion Jehovah himself will roar, and out of Jerusalem he will give forth his voice. And heaven and earth certainly will rock; but Jehovah will be a refuge for his people, and a fortress for the sons of Israel. And you people will have to know that I am Jehovah your God.”—Joel 3:12-17.
19. (a) How will the question asked at 1 Peter 4:17 be answered? (b) What name is written on Jesus’ outer garment, and why will it prove to be appropriate?
19 That will be a day of doom, indeed, for disobedient nations and humans but a day of relief for all who have made Jehovah and his Warrior-King their refuge! (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9) The judgment that started with the house of God in 1918 will have run through to its climax, answering the question at 1 Peter 4:17: “What will the end be of those who are not obedient to the good news of God?” The glorious Victor will have trodden the winepress to a finish, demonstrating that he is the exalted One of whom John says: “And upon his outer garment, even upon his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:16) He has proved to be far, far mightier than any earthly ruler, any human king or lord. His dignity and splendor are transcendent. He has ridden “in the cause of truth and humility and righteousness” and has triumphed for all time! (Psalm 45:4) Upon his blood-sprinkled garments is written the name bestowed on him by the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, whose Vindicator he is!
The Great Evening Meal of God
20. How does John describe “the great evening meal of God,” bringing to mind what earlier, but similar, prophecy?
20 In Ezekiel’s vision, after the destruction of Gog’s crowd, the birds and the wild animals are invited to a feast! They rid the landscape of carcasses by eating the dead bodies of Jehovah’s enemies. (Ezekiel 39:11, 17-20) John’s next words bring that earlier prophecy vividly to mind: “I saw also an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice and said to all the birds that fly in midheaven: ‘Come here, 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.’”—Revelation 19:17, 18.
21. What is indicated by (a) the angel’s “standing in the sun”? (b) the fact that the dead are left lying on the surface of the ground? (c) the list of those whose corpses would be left lying on the ground? (d) the expression “the great evening meal of God”?
21 The angel is “standing in the sun,” a commanding position for attracting the attention of the birds. He invites them to be ready to gorge themselves on the flesh of those about to be slain by the Warrior-King and his heavenly armies. The fact that the dead are to be left on the surface of the ground indicates that they will die in public shame. Like Jezebel of old, they will not have an honorable burial. (2 Kings 9:36, 37) The list of those whose corpses would be left lying there shows the range of the destruction: kings, military commanders, strong men, freemen, and slaves. No exceptions. Every last trace of the rebellious world in opposition to Jehovah will be eliminated. After this, there will no more be a restless sea of confused humans. (Revelation 21:1) This is “the great evening meal of God,” since it is Jehovah who invites the birds to share therein.
22. How does John summarize the course of the final war?
22 John summarizes the course of the final war: “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.
23. (a) In what sense is “the battle of that great day of God Almighty” fought at “Armageddon”? (b) What warning have “the kings of the earth” failed to heed, and with what consequence?
23 After the pouring out of the sixth bowl of Jehovah’s wrath, John reported that “the kings of the earth and of the whole world” were gathered by demonic propaganda to “the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” This is fought at Armageddon—not a literal location, but the global situation that calls for the execution of Jehovah’s judgment. (Revelation 16:12, 14, 16, King James Version) Now John sees the battle lines. There, ranged against God, are all “the kings of the earth and their armies.” They have stubbornly refused to submit themselves to Jehovah’s King. He gave them fair warning in the inspired message: “Kiss the son, that [Jehovah] may not become incensed and you may not perish from the way.” Not having submitted to Christ’s rule, they must die.—Psalm 2:12.
24. (a) What judgment is executed on the wild beast and the false prophet, and in what sense are they “still alive”? (b) Why must “the lake of fire” be figurative?
24 The seven-headed, ten-horned wild beast out of the sea, representing Satan’s political organization, is tumbled into oblivion, and along with it goes the false prophet, the seventh world power. (Revelation 13:1, 11-13; 16:13) While still “alive,” or still functioning in their united opposition to God’s people on earth, they are cast into “the lake of fire.” Is this a literal lake of fire? No, not any more than the wild beast and the false prophet are literal animals. Rather, it is a symbol of complete, final destruction, a place of no return. Here is where, later, death and Hades, as well as the Devil himself, will be hurled. (Revelation 20:10, 14) It is certainly not an inferno of eternal torture for the wicked, since the very idea of such a place is detestable to Jehovah.—Jeremiah 19:5; 32:35; 1 John 4:8, 16.
25. (a) Who are those “killed off with the long sword of the one seated on the horse”? (b) Are we to expect that any of those “killed off” will have a resurrection?
25 All others who were not directly part of government but who were nevertheless an irreformable part of this corrupt world of mankind are likewise “killed off with the long sword of the one seated on the horse.” Jesus will pronounce them deserving of death. Since in their case the lake of fire is not mentioned, are we to expect that they will have a resurrection? Nowhere are we told that those executed by Jehovah’s Judge at that time are to be resurrected. As Jesus himself stated, all those who are not “sheep” go off “into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels,” that is, “into everlasting cutting-off.” (Matthew 25:33, 41, 46) This climaxes “the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.”—2 Peter 3:7; Nahum 1:2, 7-9; Malachi 4:1.
26. State in brief the outcome of Armageddon.
26 In this way, all of Satan’s earthly organization comes to an end. The “former heaven” of political rulership has passed away. The “earth,” the seemingly permanent system that Satan has built up over the centuries, is now utterly destroyed. The “sea,” the mass of wicked humanity opposed to Jehovah, is no more. (Revelation 21:1; 2 Peter 3:10) What, though, does Jehovah have in store for Satan himself? John goes on to tell us.