ARMAGEDDON (19:17-21) is the Great Supper of God; the Sixth Bowl Plague (Revelation 16:12-16). No battle is described, just the results!
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill” (Psalm 2:1-6).
Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow—so great is their wickedness! Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision (Joel 3:12-14).
The Valley of Jehoshaphat will be called the Valley of Decision because the great deciding issue of life and death for the nations will be determined there. The armies of the world will gather to do battle. At first, they are drawn to do battle against each other, than against Israel, and finally against Christ who suddenly descends from Heaven.
The Great Supper of God contrasts with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (19:9). One denotes the blessed fellowship and glorious destiny of the righteous in heaven. The other symbolizes the destruction of Christ’s enemies on earth.
For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather (Matthew 24:27-28).
AN ANGEL STANDING IN THE SUN cried in a loud voice, inviting birds to this supper so they can gorge themselves on flesh. Armageddon will be a vivid demonstration of the sinfulness of the flesh (Romans 7:18); its temporariness (Isaiah 40:6) and shamefulness (Ezekiel 39:4, 17-20). Flesh (sarkav) appears five times in verse 18 — the Bible has nothing good to say about the fallen human nature.
The Beast and the False Prophet
HELL OPENED (19:20). The beast will be captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs, he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them will be thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulphur. Hell is still waiting for its first occupants—the king, who is the Antichrist, and its second, the False Prophet.
Topheth has long been prepared; it has been made ready for the king. Its fire pit has been made deep and wide, with an abundance of fire and wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of burning sulphur, sets it ablaze (Isaiah 30:33).
“Topheth” (htpt) means “a place of fire.” Topheth was located in the southeast end of the Hinnom Valley of Jerusalem. In Jesus time, this valley was called Gehenna (geenna). It was the receptacle of the refuse of the city, to consume which fires were constantly burning. Hence, Jesus used it to express Hell—the place of darkness, gnashing of teeth, and fire—the Lake of Fire.
But anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell (Matthew 5:22).
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Mt 10:28).
DOOM OF THOSE WHO WAR AGAINST CHRIST (19:21). Will there be survivors? Most likely, there will be none at Armageddon. Not all nations will participate in this battle, however. There will be the separation of the survivors of the Tribulation Period when Christ returns.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world (Matthew 25:31-34).
The purpose of this judgment is to deal justly with the inhabitants of the earth who survive on the earth after Armageddon. Individuals from all nations will be judged by Christ, not national governments. Those on His left will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life (Matthew 25:46). Whether these survivors will be cast into the Lake of Fire or sent to Sheol/Hades to await the Great White Throne Judgment is not clear.
Those who go to eternal life will enter the Millennial Kingdom in natural bodies and repopulate the earth. The Gospel message will have been preached to all nations in the Tribulation and each nation will be represented in the Kingdom.
Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16).
Nations (probably new ones) and kings will exist in eternity.
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it (Revelation 21:24).
Historicists hold that Christ riding forth on the white horse signifies the victories accomplished by the militant Church through the Word of God, the sharp sword that proceeds from His mouth. The end of the beast and false prophet is the end of Papal power.
Preterists for the most part expect Christ actually to come again, but some do not. They apply Christ on the white horse as the continuing warfare of the Church through the proclamation of the Gospel following the fall of Babylon the Great. They perceive that the preaching of the Word of God will defeat the nations and end with their virtual conversion. Those nations who do not submit to Christ the King will perish.
Idealists view Christ riding on the white horse in His Second Coming, when the persecuting power embodied in the government is directed for the final time against the Church. Armageddon symbolizes the end of the Christian dispensation. Some hold that since the Beast and False Prophet are thrown alive into the Lake of Fire, they are not humans but purely ideal forms since according to them a human individual cannot enter Hell alive. Spiritual death is inflicted upon those who have proved themselves hostile to God. In the end, the nations succumb to the power of Christ either at His Second Coming or gradually through the preaching of the Gospel.
Futurists see Christ coming forth on the white horse with the armies of heaven to establish a literal kingdom on earth for one thousand years. Some hold those who come with Him are only the Church, while others include holy angels, OT saints and Tribulation saints. The only weapon involved in Armageddon is power and authority of the spoken word coming from Christ’s mouth.