The Coming War

Several times the Book of Revelation describes “the war,” the coming final assault by Satan and his vassals against the followers of Jesus, the “saints.” In each case, the Greek term rendered “war” is singular in the original text, and its noun form is accompanied by the definite article or “the.” It is “THE war.” And both the Greek noun and verb are applied repeatedly to the same future event.

In part, the language is derived from the book of Daniel, specifically, the description of the war against the saints by the malevolent figure known as the “little horn”:

  • I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints and prevailed against them until the ancient of days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most-High, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom – (Daniel 7:21-22).

And in the Book, this “war” is found in the vision of the “Two Witnesses,” and its description uses language from the passage in Daniel. After the “Two Witnesses” complete their “testimony,” the “Beast” ascends from the “Abyss wages war with them and overcomes them and kills them.”

And the “Two Witnesses” are identified as “two lampstands,” and elsewhere in the book, “lampstands” represent churches – (Revelation 1:20, 11:7).

THE DRAGON AND THE BEAST


This same war is described from another perspective in Chapter 12. John saw “war in heaven” between Satan and “Michael and his angels.” The Devil was represented as the “Great Red Dragon” with seven heads, ten horns, and “crowns” on each of his seven heads. He was defeated and expelled from heaven.

But Satan was not out of the picture. Consigned to the Earth, the “Dragon” set out to destroy the “woman clothed with the sun,” but he was thwarted from doing so. Next, he waged “war” against the woman’s “seed,” and once more, the conflict is described with the same clause from Daniel – “And the dragon waxed wroth with the woman and departed TO MAKE WAR with the rest of her seed, they who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus.” And as before, the targets of his assault are the followers of the “Lamb” – (Revelation 12:17).

This last vision ended with Satan standing on the seashore summoning his “seed” to execute his “war” against the “seed of the woman,” namely, the “Beast from the Sea” and the “Beast from the Earth,” the latter also identified as the “False Prophet.”

John saw the first “Beast ascending from the Sea,” an image that parallels its previous “ascent from the Abyss.” It possessed ten horns and seven heads, with a “crown” on each of its ten heads. This “Beast” had all the political authority of the “Dragon,” which it used to “WAGE WAR AGAINST THE SAINTS and to overcome them.” And once again, the passage echoes the same words from the seventh chapter of Daniel.

For his part, the “False Prophet” uses religious deceit by mimicking the “Lamb,” along with economic control and sanctions to compel men to render homage to the first “Beast from the Sea” – (Revelation 13:1-16).

BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON


The “war” is described again when the angel is seen emptying the Sixth Bowl of Wrath “on the great river, Euphrates.” The water is dried up so that the “kings of the east” and their armies can attack. The intended target of their assault is not identified in the passage.

Demons released from the mouths of the “Dragon,” the “Beast,” and the “False Prophet” orchestrate the “gathering together” of these “kings” to “the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” at Armageddon. Once there, this force is destroyed.

Moreover, the Sixth Bowl is part of the series of judgments that “complete the wrath of God” and conclude with the final destruction of the world city, “Babylon the Great.” Her downfall results in terrestrial and celestial upheaval pointing to the end of the present age – (Revelation 16:12-21).

In Chapter 17, the “ten horns” of the “Beast from the Sea” represent “ten kings” who give their political authority to it so it can “wage war against the Lamb.” However, Jesus as the “Lamb” overcomes them, “for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings,” along with those who are with him, the “called and chosen and faithful. This picture anticipates the victory of the one who is seen “riding the white horse” and his “army” in the nineteenth chapter - (Revelation 17:14).

And in Chapter 19, Jesus is the “rider on the white horse” who is followed by his “armies in heaven.” On his thigh the designation is written, “King of kings and Lord of lords.” The resulting battle is described with language from the Book of Ezekiel that originally applied to the army of “Gog and Magog” and its attack on Israel.

Just as the “kings of the earth” were “gathered together” at Armageddon for destruction, so the “Beast and the kings of the earth and their armies” were “gathered together to make war” against the one sitting on the “white horse” – (Revelation 19:10-21).

The passage provides no descriptions of the actual battle, only its aftermath when the “Beast” and “False Prophet” are thrown alive into the “Lake of Fire,” and the rest of their unholy force are destroyed by the “sword of him that sat upon the horse.”

FINAL ACT


Finally, in Chapter 20, Satan is released from the “Abyss.” His release is conceptually parallel to the “ascent” of the “Beast from the Abyss,” as well as its “ascent from the Sea.” The Devil then “gathers” the nations “from the four corners of the earth to the war, Gog and Magog.” Here, the link to Ezekiel’s vision is explicit.

And once again, using language from that same vision, Revelation describes this force as “ascending over the breadth of the Earth to surround the camp of the saints.” The extent of this final assault is global, not regional.

And as in chapter 19, no description of the actual battle is provided. The passage simply states that “fire came down out of heaven and devoured them.” This is followed immediately by the final judgment at the “Great White Throne.”

The verbal parallels in Chapter 20 with the preceding passages are clear. This is the same “war” portrayed in Chapters 16 and 19, only here, the targeted victims of this final assault are identified as the “saints,” the same group against which the “Beast from the Sea” waged “the war” – (Revelation 13:7).

The use of the same language from Daniel and Ezekiel to describe this “war” in these several passages, the verbal links (e.g., “gathered together”), the conceptual parallels (e.g., ascent/release from the “Abyss”), and the identity of Satan’s victims (the “saints,” those who have the “testimony of Jesus”), all demonstrate that the same final “war” is in view in each passage.

Prior to the end of the age, Satan will launch his final assault against the “saints,” those who “follow the Lamb wherever he goes,” that is, the church. This “war” will include deception and deceivers active within the church, economic pressure from without, and outright persecution, including martyrdom.

The war” will be the Devil’s last-ditch effort to destroy the people redeemed by the “blood of the Lamb,” which is the only way he can even hope to wage an effective campaign against Jesus, the “ruler of the kings of the earth.”


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