Saturday, October 31, 2020


 REVIEW OF PREVIOUS POST:  In the last post, I covered verses 19:17-19.  In that discussion I emphasized the following topics:

  • The invitation by a mighty angel to the birds to come and feast on the bodies of those who are in the armies that are opposed to Christ.

  • A review of the career of the Beast, who is the leader of the armies.

  • A discussion to establish that the Great Battle of chapter 19 is the Battle of Armageddon.

PRESENT POST:  In this present post, the following topics will be emphasized:

  • A discussion of the False Prophet and his function

  • A discussion of the Lake of Fire and Hades

  • A discussion of 20:21

VERSE 19:20:  There may be details of the Great Battle, but almost none are mentioned except the outcome for the enemies of the rider on the white horse.  First, the two leaders are disposed of:  the Beast and the False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire.  The narrative takes time to summarize the role of the False Prophet.  

The term “False Prophet” is mentioned two other times in Revelation:

  • 16:13:  In the narrative concerning the sixth bowl of wrath, three unclean spirits--which look like frogs--come out of the mouths of three persons who are intertwined as initiators of evil in the last days.  These three are the Dragon (Satan), the Beast, and the False Prophet.

  • 20:10:  The “Devil” (Satan) is thrown into the Lake of Fire, to join the Beast and the False Prophet.

The present verse (19:20) summarizes the activity of the False Prophet in such a way that it is obvious that this person is the same as the person who is described in 13:11-18.  In that passage he is designated “another beast.”  (13:11)  There are two words that may be translated “another.”  This instance uses “allos,” which generally emphasizes “another of the same type.”  (One cannot over-stress this nuance.)  So, this second beast has much in common with THE Beast of 13:1-10.  In 19:20, the False Prophet is described as the one who did signs “in the presence of” the Beast.  In a footnote in ESV, an alternative translation is given as “on behalf of.”  The word literally means “before” or “in front of.”  So, “in the presence of” seems to be an adequate translation.  The meaning that is conveyed is that the False Prophet does these signs in full view of the Beast.

The signs were to deceive “those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image.”  It is a minor point, but which came first--deception or capitulation to the Beast--is not clear to me.  Did the False Prophet deceive people and this led them to receive the Mark and to worship the Beast, or did the False Prophet lead those who had capitulated into deception?  If we follow the passage in 13:12ff, we find more details:

  • 13:12:  “It [the second beast or False Prophet)] exercises all the authority of the first beast [referred to, generally by me, as the “Beast”] in its presence,  and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed.”  [The False Prophet uses its authority to COMPEL worship of the Beast.]

  • 13:13:  “It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of the people,”

  • 13:14:  “and by the deceives those who dwell on the earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.” [The outcome of the deception is to follow the directive of the False Prophet to make an image.]

  • 13:15:  “...and [the False Prophet was given authority so that he] might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.”  

  • 13:16.  “Also it causes all, both small and great, be marked on the right hand or the forehead,”

  • 13:17.  “So that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark…”

If we recapitulate these verses in chapter 13, we have the following:

  • 13:12:  The False Prophet compels people to worship the Beast.

  • 13:13-14:  He performs signs which deceive the people.  In their deception, they construct the image of the Beast.  This, we might observe, is a further step in Beast-worship.  The idol is an image that people, in defiance of the Law of God, bow down to and worship; it is an outward and concrete expression of their inner Beast-worship.  This comes about through the deception initiated by the False Prophet.

  • 13:15:  Although he has used persuasion through deception, he adds compulsion through the threat of death to enforce worship of the idol.

  • 13:16-17:  He also uses compulsion through economic sanctions to enforce another outward, concrete sign of loyalty to the Beast--the taking of the Mark of the Beast.

It seems to me that there is an interplay between compulsion and deception.  People are compelled to worship the Beast.  They are deceived into making an idol.  They are compelled to worship the idol.  They are compelled to receive the Mark of the Beast.  We can see this kind of interplay in ordinary life.  A person may feel pressure to “go along” with activities or attitudes that are disobedient to God’s will.  But those activities are intermixed with deception.  So, maybe the gang of business associates indulges in pornography.  The newcomer feels the pressure--especially business pressure--to go along with the indulgence.  At the same time, the pornography is regarded as really “good for you.”  It releases tensions, helps you appreciate women, builds your masculinity.  It may even be portrayed as “spiritual.”  Eventually, the newcomer has “bought into” pornography as an essential part of his life.  Somewhere down the road, he finally realizes that he is an addict who is serving what he thought was supposed to serve him, and he may see his marriage destroyed and his life a shambles.  So, compulsion and deception have teamed up to pull the victim away from God into a destructive lifestyle.  

As I consider the False Prophet, I ask:  what is the function of the False Prophet?  Why is it necessary to have a second person involved in this great deception of the world?  

Before discussing that question, I should correct myself about the number of persons involved.  In fact, Revelation makes clear that there are three persons involved:  Satan, the Beast, and the False Prophet.  In 12:17 the Dragon, or Satan, is standing on the sand of the sea (I take that to mean on a beach.).  Then, in 13:1, John sees a beast rising out of the sea.  This is THE BEAST or Antichrist, whom Satan is welcoming.  He is described in 13:1-10.  The description makes clear that the Dragon is the one who motivates and empowers the Beast.  13:2b says “And to it [the Beast] the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority.”  Moreover, the Beast brings glory to the Dragon.  See 13:4:  “And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast…” The False Prophet receives its authority from the Dragon indirectly through the Beast (see 13:12).  Finally, notice how this unholy trinity is united in deceiving the nations.  See 16:13-14:  “And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs.  For they are demonic spirits...who go abroad to the assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.”

Back to the question of the function of the False Prophet:  I think that he performs the role of a prophet, but on behalf of evil rather than righteousness.  A prophet is a human who speaks on behalf of God.  He or she has human frailty, but also has a connection to God through prayer.  See James 5:16-18.  It describes the power of prayer and uses Elijah as an example.  James emphasizes that Elijah is human, yet he controlled the weather pattern (lack of rain and then rain) of a whole region.  Of course he did not do this, God did so, but Elijah’s prayers were intimately involved.  We know that, in connection with that whole episode, Elijah contested with the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel and called fire down from heaven.  Before he did so, he challenged the people of Israel:  serve the true God.  See I Kings 17-18.  In his powerful contention with Ahab and Jezebel and the prophets of Baal, Elijah was, as James says, only human.  In fact his human frailty is illustrated in his fear of Jezebel and his fleeing to Sinai, as it is depicted in I Kings 19.  But the significance of Elijah for the people was his very human persona.  He is sold out to God, powerful in his proclamation of truth, effective in prayer--and all of this is coming from a human just like us.  THAT GETS PEOPLE’S ATTENTION.  

And so, here we have a man who is sold out to the Beast, powerful in his proclamation of lies, able to perform Elijah-like signs--and he is a human just like us.  People are drawn into the web of deception that is centered in the Beast, who is inspired by the Dragon.  They are drawn by this sold-out prophet, the False Prophet.  So his role supplements the role of the Beast.  And the Beast himself, though he will declare himself to be god (II Thessalonians 2:4), is really not the final resting place of the affections of the masses.  Ultimately they are worshiping the Dragon (Revelation 13:4).

The punishment for the Beast and False Prophet is to be thrown alive “into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.” The following are the mentions of this lake in Scripture  (all in Revelation):

20:10:  The devil (Satan--vss 20:7-8) is thrown into the same lake of fire.

20:14:  Death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire.  This probably a figurative way of saying that those persons who are spiritually dead and are in Hades are cast into the lake.

20:15:  Anyone whose name was not found in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake.  

Most of us use the term “hell” to refer to this place of eternal punishment.  There is another place--Hades--which is also referred to as “hell.”  It is most vividly described in Luke 16:23ff, which is in the story of the rich man and Lazarus.

The following are uses of “Hades” in the New Testament:

Matthew 11.23:  Capernaum will not be exalted but brought down to Hades

Matthew 16:18:  Peter:  on this rock Christ will build His church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it

Luke 10.15 see Matthew 11.23.

Luke 16.23:  rich man in Hades in torment

Acts 2.27:  You will not abandon my soul to Hades

Acts 2.31:  Peter commenting on David’s Psalm, which is quoted in 2.27

Revelation 1.18 Jesus has the keys of Death and Hades

Revelation 6.8 Fourth seal:  pale horse; rider was Death and Hades followed:  given authority to kill with sword, famine, disease, and beasts

Revelation 20.13-14:  sea, Death, and Hades all give up their dead...Death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire = second death

It appears that Hades is a place where the unrighteous dead souls/spirits go and are held until the final judgment.  Note the fourth seal in Revelation 6:8.  Death is the rider of the horse, indicating it is the chief actor.  But Hades comes along.  It is as though Death deals its blows to kill people and Hades captures their souls to hold them.  Note that this is depicting a particular time and is not necessarily a broad statement of all history.  Nevertheless the close relationship between Death and Hades would apply to all history.  Hades is not an eternal condition.  Rather, its role ends at the “Great White Throne Judgment” of Revelation 20:11-15.

In the description of the Great White Throne Judgment, “books were opened.” (20:12)  People are judged by “what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” (20:12)  They also are judged by the Book of Life. (20:12, 15)  Most evangelical Christians believe that one’s name is written in the Book of Life through faith in Jesus Christ.   (People have some variations on that theme.)  Those who are judged are said to be “the dead.”  Yet, they are standing before the throne.  (20:12)  The inference that is drawn by many is that they have been resurrected.  They have been resurrected and, if they are found deserving of eternal punishment--according to the “books” and the “Book of Life”--they are thrown into the Lake of Fire.  The implication is that their bodies as well as their immaterial selves--soul and spirit--are thrown into this Lake of Fire.

I have dwelt on this only to make a contrast between these humans and the punishment of the Beast and False Prophet.  Notice that they are cast into the Lake of Fire well before the Great White Throne Judgment.  Notice that there does not appear to be a trial in which “books” are opened.  Rather, they are summarily cast into the Lake.  Obviously, the punishment is a just punishment.  Moreover, just because “books” and a trial are not mentioned does not mean such a process will not occur.  I think the narrative of the stark, rapid dispensing of punishment to these two men accentuates their evil.  

Notice also that there is no death and resurrection for these men.  They, as living humans, are brought up short.  They have been having a good time deceiving the world and pretending that the Beast is god.  It’s over in 30 seconds.  Wherever the Lake of Fire is located, beyond the three dimensions that we live in, the Beast and False Prophet are transported there and, for an instant, they are staring into that horrific place and then find themselves hurtling down into eternal damnation.

VERSE 19:21:  The final verse of chapter 19 ties up a loose end.  “The rest” are the armies of the world and their leaders.  The armies have been led by the kings to Armageddon, and now they must pay the price of following the Beast.  They are slain by the sword that protrudes from the mouth of the One on the White Horse.  This is Jesus Christ.  I believe the sword represents His word.  His word is life, but it is also death for those who will not receive His life.  This death comes in this case in a violent defeat of these armies.  What that  will look like we have no idea.  We are only told that the bodies will be food for the birds that were invited in 19:17.  

This is the end of the Battle of Armageddon.  It is, I believe the completion of the “appearance of his coming.”  (II Thessalonians 2:8)  This phrase is translated “brightness of His coming” in King James Version.  The word “coming” translates “parousia,” which is a common term often used for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  And so this Parousia of Jesus includes the Battle of Armageddon.  Obviously, it involves a great deal more.  I shall deal with some of that “great deal more” in the next post.  In that post, I hope to make the case that this Battle of Armageddon is indeed a component of the Parousia.  

Thursday, October 15, 2020


 REVIEW OF 19:11-16:  In verse 19:11, John saw a rider and His horse.  Verses 19:11-13, 15-16 are mostly devoted to a description of this rider.  From the description, we can infer that He is the same person that John saw and heard in 1:9ff, the Son of Man, who is also the “first and last...and [is] alive forevermore…” (1:17-18).  Moreover, we can infer that He is the Lamb, whom John saw in 5:6ff.  From these references and others throughout Revelation, we can infer that this rider is the Lord Jesus Christ.  

Moreover, considering various references to the Second Coming, or Parousia, of Jesus, we can identify the appearance of this rider and His armies (19:14) with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  This conclusion would need considerable study to verify.  I write that because the references to Jesus’ Parousia each are unique in detail.  They do not necessarily contradict the description in Revelation 19, but they do contain material that gives a different emphasis or impression than the present description.  For example, consider the statement of the angels in Acts 1:11:  … “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?  This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”  Notice that the statement in Acts does not mention a horse nor armies nor a battle.  We can say, however, that the Acts statement does not rule those details out.  The emphasis in Acts is simple:  The physical presence of Jesus was removed from those witnesses.  Someday that presence will be restored.  The description in Revelation 19 emphasizes the fact that the Jesus that Christians have believed in and followed as Lord is the Almighty Lord of all the earth who will destroy His enemies and reign supreme.  He will do that when the promise of Acts 1:11 is fulfilled.

Verses 19:11-16 have mostly been descriptive.  The following verses focus on action.  The great King of kings and Lord of lords has come with His armies.  Now let us see what happens!  

VERSE 19:17-18:  The picture that John draws is worthy of an epic movie:  an angel standing in the sun.  This figure for a moment dominates the scene.  First, he dominates by his position:  he is in the sun.  That is to say, he stands tall and broad with his back to the sun.  All who are there see him and their attention is fixed.  Second, he dominates by shouting.  All can see and all can hear.  Third, he dominates by those he addresses.  For he does not address people, though people are the subject.  He, rather, addresses the birds.  

Birds always seem to be around.  They have a very unique ability, one that is singled out in John’s description:  they fly.  This enables them to escape predators, espy sources of food, be aware of the entire physical situation of the environment--having a bird’s eye view.  And birds seem to be in constant motion.  They are flying, alighting, pecking, taking wing, calling to others of their species, building nests, feeding young, ever, ever in motion.  Jesus called our attention to them, reminding us that our heavenly Father feeds them (Matthew 6:26).  It is obvious that birds have to work to make a living, but they are never laid off, for their Employer sees to it that they always have something to do.     

So, this powerful, dominant figure, upon whom all eyes are focused, chooses to address the lowly birds and to issue to them an invitation.  They are invited to a unique opportunity:  to feed at God’s banquet table.  This is not the banquet that is referred to in Revelation 19:9, the “marriage supper of the Lamb.”  Rather, it is a “great supper” that will serve up the bodies of humans.  The birds will be the means by which death becomes the great leveler.  For they will feast without discrimination on kings, high-ranking officers, powerful individuals, whether they are military or civilian, ordinary freemen, and slaves, along with the horses that carry the mighty into battle.

This invitation is an ironic and dramatic statement of what is about to occur:  The enemies of the Lamb of God will be utterly defeated.  A very similar passage may be found in Ezekiel 39:17-20, in which Ezekiel is told to speak “to the birds of every sort and to all the beasts of the field, ‘Assemble and come, gather from all around to the sacrificial feast that I am preparing…”  There is controversy about when the battle of Ezekiel 38-39 occurs and whether it corresponds to this great battle of Revelation 19.  I, with frankness, must say that I cannot answer that question.  Nevertheless, when one considers the language in the invitation to wildlife to feast on the dead, the similarity between the two passages is intriguing.  

VERSE 19:19:  The invitation to the birds has been issued, and now the promise of their feast is to be fulfilled by the defeat of a vast army.  We have already seen one side in this conflict--Jesus Christ and the armies of heaven.  Now we see the other side.  In command is the Beast.  This Beast has been mentioned in the following passages:

  • 11:7:  The Beast from the Abyss kills the two witnesses who are described in 11:3-6.

  • 13:1-10 and 12, 14, 15, 17, 18:  A description of the Beast and his activities:

    • He has 10 horns and 7 heads and 10 diadems. 

    • He has the characteristics of a leopard, a bear, and a lion.

    • He receives a mortal wound, which is healed, which gives the world wonder.

    • The world worships the devil because of the Beast.

    • He (the Beast) has a reign of 42 months.

    • He utters blasphemy.

    • He fights the saints.

    • A second Beast has great authority and forces worship of the first Beast.

    • The second Beast brings in worship of the first Beast by deception.

    • An image of the first Beast is made.  It can speak.

    • Everyone must bear the Mark of the Beast, which is the name of the Beast or its number.

  • 14:9-11:  An angel warns that anyone who worships the Beast and receives its mark will experience torment forever.

  • 15:2 John saw a group of people standing beside a sea of glass; these people had conquered the Beast, its image, and the number of its name.

  • 16:2 When the first bowl of wrath is poured out, those who have the Mark of the Beast and worship the image of the Beast will be given harmful and painful sores.

  • 16:10  When the fifth bowl of wrath is poured out, the throne and kingdom of the Beast is plunged into darkness.

  • 16:13  When the sixth bowl of wrath is poured out, three unclean spirits come forth, one from the mouth of each of the following--the dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet.

  • 17:3-17 The great Prostitute is seen riding on the Beast.  The Beast has a timeline:  it was, is not, and is about to arise from the Abyss, and then it will go to destruction (perdition).  The earth-dwellers will marvel at the Beast.  The seven heads of the Beast represent seven kings.  But the Beast himself is an eighth king, who will go to destruction.  The Beast and the 10 kings will rebel against the Prostitute and destroy her.  In league with the Beast, they also will make war on the Lamb, but He will conquer them.

Together with the Beast are the kings of the earth.  In 17:12-14, and 17:16-17 the focus is on ten kings.  These are involved with the Beast in the following ways:

  • They receive royal power for “one hour” along with the Beast.

  • They put their power at the disposal of the Beast.

  • They make war on the Prostitute, also known as Babylon,  and destroy her.

  • They make war on the the Lamb, who will conquer them.

This last action of the ten kings is very likely alluded to in 19:19.  However, the appellation “ten kings” is not used.  Rather, simply the “kings of the earth” are pictured as in league with the Beast.  We can resolve this in one of three ways.  (a) It could be that many more kings join with the ten kings and the Beast.  (b) It could be that the “ten kings” of 17:12-17 is a representation of the “kings of the earth.”  I believe that the first solution is more likely.  The “ten kings” seem to be a special group who come to power within their countries for a brief period in association with the rise of the Beast.  These form a powerful bloc of nations that enhance the power of the Beast.  One result is that many other nations--most of those on earth--join with the Beast and the “ten kings.”  It is this entire group, with their armies, which is now arrayed against the One on the white horse and the armies of heaven.

THE LOCATION OF THE GREAT BATTLE:  In 16:12-16 the results of the sixth bowl of wrath is described.  Those verses are summarized below:

  • 16:12:  The bowl of wrath is directed to the Euphrates river so that it is dried up.  This “prepares the way for the kings from the east.

  • 16:13:  Three evil spirits procede from the the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet (the “second beast”).  

  • 16:14:  These spirits “perform signs” for the kings of the earth to bring them together for a battle on “the great day” of God.

  • 16:15:  In the midst of this narrative there is a sudden interjection, that is very likely coming from Jesus.  He warns that He is coming like a thief.  He commends those who stay awake and will not be caught naked when He comes.

  • 16:16:  The narrative resumes by stating the place of the battle:  a place called Armageddon.

The following is part of a brief entry on “Armageddon” in the on-line Britannica encyclopedia.  It was written by Robert E. Lerner:

“The Palestinian city of Megiddo, located on a pass commanding a road connecting Egypt and Syria, was probably chosen as a symbol for such a battle, because it had been the scene of many military encounters owing to its strategic location. (Megiddo was also the site of a crucial battle in 1918 during the First World War and lent its name to the victor: Lord Allenby of Megiddo.) The term Armageddon has often been used by Protestant fundamentalists to refer to an impending cataclysmic struggle between the forces of good and evil. (See apocalyptic literature.) It has also been used figuratively, often by peace activists, to describe a possible nuclear world war.”

My focus in this post is on the Great Battle of Revelation 19:11-21.  This great battle is described without mention of Armageddon.  Yet, it seems a natural conclusion that this battle takes place at the place where the armies of the earth are gathered--a site that is designated in 16:16 to be Armageddon.  This is the only mention of Armageddon in the Bible, yet it is a focal point for our imagination.  However, I do need to provide evidence that Armageddon is the location of the Great Battle in  chapter 19.

The lengthy discussion which follows, I hope, accomplishes the following:

  • It defends the idea that the great battle of 19:11ff occurs at Armageddon.

  • It defends the literary integrity of the book by demonstrating that the proleptic devices that are mentioned serve important purposes in the arrangement of material in the book.

The armies are gathered at Armageddon (16:16) at the completion of the sixth bowl of wrath.  The material that follows this moves the focus away from these armies.  In 16:17-21 the consequences of the seventh bowl of wrath are described.  Those consequences do not involve the Great Battle nor Armageddon; instead, they include:  lightning and thunder, an earthquake, the breaking apart of the “great city,” the fall of the cities of the nations.  Then, God will make Babylon to drink of the cup of His wrath.  Then there is hail with hailstones that weigh 100 pounds.  The material that follows the seventh bowl of wrath focuses mostly on BabylonChapter 17 is a detailed description of Babylon and information about the Beast that supplements the information of chapter 13.  There is a brief mention of the defeat of the ten kings by the Lamb. (17:14)  The mention of their defeat is a forward look at the Great Battle.  Chapter 17 ends with the destruction of Babylon, and chapter 18 celebrates that destruction.  Chapter 19 continues the celebration and then refers to the Marriage of the Lamb and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.   Finally, in 19:11-21, comes the Great Battle.  

The problem of interpretation is that the description of the gathering of the armies which are arrayed against the Lord is found before the destruction of Babylon:  the gathering is in 16:16, but the material on Babylon and its destruction is in 16:17-21 and chapters 17 and 18 and the first part of 19.    

I believe that this depiction of events is consistent with “proleptic” statements that are found throughout the book.  It is my observation that such anticipatory statements create two results.  One result is to complete the information at hand.  So, in 16:17-21, the main focus is on the deception that leads to an amalgamation of world forces.  The deception and amalgamation will ultimately lead to the kings’ gathering at Armageddon.  However, the destruction of Babylon--which employs the Beast and his allies, the ten kings--occurs first.  The second result of a proleptic statement is to develop anticipation.  This anticipation is not merely artistic.  It is a powerful communication that helps hold the book together.  

Verses 16:17-21 anticipate a battle.  It provides information that links to two passages.  In chapter 17:12ff, the ten kings are discussed.  The kings are linked closely to the Beast to whom they make their power available (17:13).  They rebel against Babylon, the Prostitute, and destroy that city (17:16).  And they make war on the Lamb, who conquers them.  (17:14)

Note that the two military actions that the ten kings are involved in are presented out of order in chapter 17.  It is obvious that the kings cannot defeat Babylon after the Lamb has defeated them.  In this case, the defeat by the Lamb is part of the “career arc” of the ten kings, an arc that ends in their defeat by the Lamb.  The defeat of Babylon is part of the “career arc” of Babylon.  The subject of Babylon is returned to in 17:15 and is largely in focus to the end of the chapter.  In 17:16 the ten kings are the primary actors who destroy Babylon.  The Beast, of course, maintains the leadership role in 17:16-17.  So, in the rhythm of the chapter, which mostly swings back and forth between Babylon and the Beast, the ten kings are included, first to round out the description of the Beast, in 17:12-14 (in which the Beast’s ten horns are described as ten kings), and then to complete the story of Babylon, in 17:16-17 (in which Babylon is rebelled against by the ten kings and the Beast).  So, we see, not carelessness, but well-designed description that provides the logic of placing the defeat of the ten kings out of order. 

In the same way, the gathering of the kings at Armageddon (16:16) seems out of order in the chronology that includes the destruction of Babylon (which is mentioned in 16:19b).  However, the gathering completes the current subject, which is the demonic deception of the kings of the earth--a component of the sixth bowl of wrath 16:12-16).  This picture also produces anticipation of the final battle.  The fact that all the armies of the world are gathered in one place appears to be a giant “power play” of the Beast, but it also creates the opportunity for the defeat of the evil forces throughout the world.  

There are, of course, seven bowls of wrath.  The seventh bowl and its effects are described in 16:17-21.  It is a complex series of events that includes the destruction of Babylon.  If we are thinking of chronology, we can think of these events occurring after the events of the sixth bowl.  However, we should recognize that the sixth bowl includes the sending forth of the three demonic spirits (16:13).  The outcome of their deception is the gathering of the armies at Armageddon.  This outcome, it seems obvious from chapter 19, takes place after the events of the seventh seal.  The outcome is included in the description of the sixth seal in order to complete the subject matter--which is the sending forth of the demonic spirits.  The description of the gathering also creates anticipation for the final battle.  In the list of rhetorical devices of literature, this would be labeled “preparation-realization.”  The following table presents a summary of the observations from the preceding material:


Focus of material

Proleptic material

Purpose in context

Anticipa- tion


Sixth bowl of wrath

16:16:  Gathering of armies at Armaged-


Complete results of demonic deception

Armies of the Great Battle are gathered


Description of ten horns of Beast

17:14:  Defeat of ten kings by the Lamb

Complete the career ark of ten kings

The Great Battle in which the Lamb is the victor


Focus of material

Material seeming out of order

Purpose in context


Seventh bowl of wrath

16:19c:  Fall of Babylon (after mention of armies in 16:16)

Complete the seven bowls 


The fall of Babylon

17:16:  Fall of Babylon (after mention of defeat of ten kings in 17:14)

Complete the career arc of Babylon

CONCLUSION:  I realize that I have devoted much space to this subject.  I do believe that it is important.  From this study, I make the following conclusions:

  • The gathering of the kings and their armies to Armageddon in 16:16 appears to be “out of order,” but it is a proleptic statement which completes the description of the deception of the demonic spirits by explaining that the outcome is the gathering of the armies.  It anticipates the Great Battle of chapter 19:11ff.

  • The defeat of the ten kings in 17:14 appears to be “out of order,” but it is a proleptic statement that completes the description of the ten kings.  It anticipates the Great Battle of chapter 19:11ff.

  • From the viewpoint of the gathering of the armies, two events in the narrative appear to be out of order:

    • The fall of Babylon in 16:19c is listed after the gathering of the armies.  However, this completes the description of the seventh bowl of wrath.  It is in the correct order, but the gathering of the armies is out of order in 16:16.  This gathering is a proleptic statement.  

    • The defeat of Babylon in 17:16 also is listed after the defeat of the ten kings in 17:14.  The defeat in 17:16 completes the career arc of Babylon and is consistent with the arrangement of the material of chapter 17.  

  • The gathering of the ten kings in 16:16 at Armageddon is part of the preparation for the material of 19:11ff.  Thus, it is consistent with the narrative of the book to identify the place of the Great Battle as Armageddon.  The Great Battle is, indeed, the Battle of Armageddon.