Politics & Prophecy: A Lawyer’s View of the End Times
Part 2 – Judgment of the Nations
by Gerald R. Thompson
After all of the trial proceedings that is the Tribulation, after all the witnesses have been called and the evidence presented, there will be a guilty verdict. God will then move to execute judgment on the forces of evil. From their perspective, the forces of Satan and the Antichrist will declare war on Jehovah, His people and His Holy Land, and prepare for battle.
In a sense, the armies of evil will be battle hardened. They will be the principal survivors of God’s wrath poured out on the earth in Rev. 6-18, but they will not have repented. Instead, they will rally their forces and in one grand gesture, attempt to unseat the Almighty from His throne. Get ready for Armageddon.
As we have seen, many persons, places and nations in the Bible are known by several names. So it is with Armageddon, which is also known as the Day of the Lord, sometimes the Great Day of the Lord or the Great Day of God, the judgment at the Valley of Hamon-gog, the Valley of Jehoshaphat or the Valley of Decision, and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. If you do not realize these are all referring to the same event, with only slightly different emphases, you will be confused.
The Day of the Lord refers to Armageddon from the perspective of judgment against the enemies of Israel immediately preceding the restoration of Israel. It, along with the great earthquake unequaled in world history, will be the final events of the Tribulation. In effect, the Day of the Lord will usher in the Second Coming, since the close of battle and judgment will be brought about by the return of Jesus Himself.
Isa 13:1-16 (summary) – Kingdoms and nations in an uproar gather on the mountains. The Lord is mustering a host for battle, from the end of the heavens. The Lord will destroy the land, destroy the sinners, and wipe most people out (make people as rare as fine gold). Every human heart will melt, and their faces will be aflame. The sun and moon will be darkened and the heavens will be shaken. The survivors will flee to their own countries.
Isa 14:1-23 (summary) – The people of Israel will be restored to their own land and will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them. The Jews will taunt the King of Babylon (Satan). An account is given of the pride and fall of Satan. The Lord will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity.
Joel 2:1-32 (summary) – vv. 1-11: The Day of the Lord is a day of darkness, clouds and gloom. An army is spread on the mountains unlike any army before them, or ever will be. Fire devours in front of them and burns behind them. Weapons arrayed against them do not stop them. They enter the city and climb its walls. Then the earth quakes and the heavens tremble. The sun, moon and stars are darkened.
vv. 19-29: The restoration of Israel described.
vv. 30-32: The sun will be darkened and the moon turned to blood. Some people will escape the Day of the Lord, “and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.”
Amos 5:18-20 (summary) – “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!” That is, woe to those who seek to war with God. The Day of the Lord is one of gloom and darkness, and not of light.
Obad 15-18 (summary) – “The day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.” Jacob will be a fire, and Joseph a flame, and they shall burn them and consume them. Some in Mt. Zion will escape, but “there shall be no survivor for the house of Esau.”
Zeph 1:1-18 (summary) – God says He will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth – man, beasts, birds and fish. God will judge Judah and Jerusalem because of the remnant of those who worship Baal, those who bow down to the host of heaven, and those who swear by Milcom (Molech). The Day of the Lord is called the Day of the Lord’s Sacrifice. The Lord will search out Jerusalem for unbelievers. The Day of the Lord is called a day of wrath, devastation, darkness, gloom and clouds – a day of trumpet blast and battle cry. “In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.”
Zeph 2:1-15 (summary) – Judgment is pronounced on Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Canaan, Philistines, the seacoast and the Cherithites (all of these essentially being the Palestinians living in or near the Gaza Strip). God says no inhabitant of those lands will be left. The lands of Moab and Ammon (Jordan) will be laid waste forever. Cush (N. Sudan & Somalia) will be slain. Judgment is also pronounced on Assyria and Nineveh (Iraq), which will be made a dry waste.
Zeph. 3:8 – “Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord, “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed.”
Zech. 13:1-9 (summary) – God will open a fountain in Jerusalem to cleanse the people. Idols and false prophets will be removed from the land. Two thirds of the people will perish, and one third will survive, who will be God’s people.
Notice the common themes of these scriptures about the Day of the Lord:
1) The armies of the nations will gather on the mountains of Israel;
2) It will be a day of great darkness and clouds blocking the sun, moon and stars;
3) Many people in Israel will die, but some will survive;
4) Very few of the nations of the invaders will survive – some nations will be wiped out completely;
5) The invading armies will be destroyed by fire from God;
6) Many of the nations surrounding Israel will be laid waste and made desolate; and
7) Israel will possess and control the former territories of its enemies. Can you say, West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights?
Ezek. 38 and 39 foretell a great battle against Gog and Magog, generally understood to refer to Armageddon. The battle is said to take place in what is variously named the Valley of Hamon-gog, the Valley of Jehoshaphat and the Valley of Decision.
Ezek. 38:1-23 (summary) – vv. 1-16: A prophecy against Gog, of the land of Magog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and all his allies: Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah from the north. After many years these nations will be gathered for war against Israel after its people have been regathered and are living securely in the land restored from war. The invading armies will be like a cloud covering the land, all of them riding on horses, come to plunder Israel.
vv. 17-23: God says, “Are you he of whom I spoke in former days by my servants the prophets who prophesied for years that I would bring you against them?” God’s wrath will be roused against Gog, et al., and on that day there will be a great earthquake. All the birds, beasts, fish and men on earth will quake. The mountains will be thrown down and every wall will fall. God will summon a sword against Gog on the mountains, and every man’s sword will be against his brother. God will send torrential rains, hailstones, fire and sulphur against Gog and his armies to destroy them.
Ezek. 39:1-20 (summary) – God will bring Gog and his host from the uttermost parts of the north against the mountains of Israel. The enemy hordes will fall, and the birds and beasts will devour them. God will send fire on them. Israel will burn the weapons of Gog & Magog for seven years and seize great plunder. It will take 7 months to bury the dead. Gog and his multitudes will be buried in the Valley of the Travelers, also called the Valley of Hamon-gog. Israel will know that God is Lord from that day forward, and all the nations will see it. God says, “Speak to the birds and to all beasts, Assemble and come, gather from all around to the great sacrificial feast that I am preparing for you on the mountains of Israel.'”
Joel 3:1-17 (summary) – In the days when Israel is restored, God will gather all the nations in the Valley of Jehoshaphat and enter into judgment with them there for what they did to the people of Israel. Judgment is pronounced specifically on Tyre, Sidon and Philistia (modern Lebanon and Gaza). “The day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” The sun, moon and stars will be darkened. The heavens and the earth will quake in that day.
Zech. 12:1-9 (summary) – All the nations of the earth will gather against Jerusalem to lay siege to it. The Lord will strike every horse with panic and every rider with blindness. Judah will be like a fire in the midst of the nations. God will seek to destroy the nations, but protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Zech. 14:1-12 (summary) – All the nations will gather to battle against Jerusalem. The city will be taken and half the people exiled. Then the Lord will stand on the Mt. of Olives and fight the nations, with his holy ones with him. The Mt. of Olives will split in half – half moving north, half moving south, creating a wide valley. It will be a unique day – no light, cold or frost. Living waters will flow from Jerusalem to the east and to the west. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. The whole land will be flattened except for Jerusalem, which will still “remain aloft.” The Lord will strike the nations so that their flesh will rot while they stand, and the animals with them will suffer the same plague. Every man’s hand will be against his neighbor – even Judah will fight against Jerusalem.
Notice the common themes of these scriptures about Gog and Magog:
1) The armies of the nations will gather on the mountains of Israel;
2) Every man’s hand will be against his neighbor;
3) There will be a great earthquake felt around the world that will change the earth’s surface;
4) Many people in Israel will die, but some will survive;
5) Very few of the nations of the invaders will survive;
6) The invading armies will be destroyed by fire, sulphur and hailstones from God; and
7) The birds and beasts will feed on the flesh of the invading armies and their horses.
The tie-in of these scriptures with the Day of the Lord is unmistakable. Both the Day of the Lord and the battle of Gog and Magog involve:
1) the judgment of many or “all” of the nations (I have already pointed out which nations are specifically named, that is, the nations surrounding Israel in the Mideast);
2) nations arrayed on the mountains of Israel against Jerusalem;
3) the destruction of the enemy armies not by man, but by God, and with fire; and
4) the restoration of Israel.
How could these be two different events? How many times is God going to judge all the nations personally by sending fire upon them on the mountains of Israel as they attack Jerusalem?
There are also noticeable parallels with other scriptures, namely:
1) A great earthquake that shakes the entire world (not just a local event) and levels the surface of the earth. See the previous discussion of Rev. 16:18 (the 7th bowl).
2) Judgment via hailstones (Rev. 16:21).
3) Signs in the heavens, or the heavens trembling, along with darkening of the sun, moon and stars (Rev. 6:12; Mat. 24:29).
4) The slain enemies of God treated as a sacrificial feast for birds and beasts (Rev. 19:17, 21). See the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, later.
5) The exile of half the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the deaths of many Jews and the role of the tribe of Judah are all discussed in more detail under the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, later.
I find it interesting that this gigantic battle, whether fought in the near term or in the distant future, will be fought by the Antichrist “old school.” With all the technology at our disposal, why are the forces of the Antichrist using soldiers and horses? Where are all the tanks and rockets?
If I were to guess, it would be because the enemy armies don’t want merely to destroy Jerusalem, they want to personally trample on it, in a perverted sense of honor. They will want to urinate on the city, rape its women, and desecrate the city religiously, not merely reduce it to rubble from some remote place. And they will feel it is their duty to do this. Hence, all the wicked will want to be there personally. Merely launching a rocket won’t bring them personal honor.
Some people have speculated that when God sends fire on the armies, this is a reference to an atomic bomb. Rubbish. God doesn’t need a bomb. Fire is used as a symbol for God so often in the Bible (primarily to indicate his holiness) that we might say God is an unquenchable fire. See Mat. 3:12, Luk. 3:17. He’s got it in him. He doesn’t need any assistance from the inventions of man, thank you very much. Now on to more serious questions.
Who are Gog and Magog? Ezek. 38 seems to treat Gog as a person and Magog as a place, literally the place of Gog. Gog is said to be the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. This leads me to believe Gog is the name for a fallen angel, probably Satan.
Eph 6:12, which says that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, authorities and cosmic powers, is rendered in the KJV as principalities, powers and rulers of darkness. The definition of a principality is a state or territory ruled by a prince, so this verse is universally understood as referring not merely to spiritual warfare generally, but angelic warfare specifically.
Hence, a prince is an angel. For example, the archangel Michael is referred to both as a prince himself and as contending with the prince of Persia, which is generally understood to mean he was engaged in angelic warfare with a fallen angel. Dan. 10:13.
Satan is referred to as the prince of the power of the air. Eph. 2:2. Beelzebul (or Beelzebub), another name for Satan, is called the prince of demons, which I guess makes him the chief demon. Mat. 9:34; 12:24. When you put this together with the fact that the throne of Satan is said to be in modern-day Turkey (Pergamum – Rev. 2:13), and both Meshech and Tubal are located in Turkey, all the indicators are that the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal is probably Satan.
If Gog is Satan, it also explains why he is mentioned again in Rev. 20:8 as rallying the wicked in the final battle of history after the Millennium. Since Armageddon takes place before the Millennium, no human could be Gog in both instances. On the other hand, Satan will figure prominently in both battles.
Of course, there are alternate explanations. Some people think Gog is merely a type of person, or a generic name for the leaders of these battles. However, the indicators for identifying Gog with Satan are pretty strong. Others conclude that Ezek. 38 and Rev. 20 refer to the same event, but this is primarily a view held by amillennialists and post-millennialists because they see no intervening period of 1,000 years that would make them separate events.
If you are wondering where “Rosh” comes in – supposedly signifying Russia as the key national player in this drama – Rosh is the word chief, as in “Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.” Ezek. 38:2. Some translations render the original language as “Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.” I’m not a linguist – I don’t speak or write Hebrew – so I have to defer to others for translation. But it is well documented that the word Russia comes from the word Rus, not Rosh. The idea that Rosh means Russia, as I view the evidence, is extremely thin and speculative.
Part of the mythology that treats Rosh as Russia also treats Meshech as Moscow. But this simply is not true. Meshech and Tubal are clearly historical regions in Turkey. You can easily find them on most Bible maps of the region. Similarly, “Gomer and Beth-togarmah from the north” are also regions in Turkey. And if you look at a map of the Middle East, what country (besides Lebanon) is due north of Israel? Turkey.
Persia, Cush, and Put are, of course, Iran, N. Sudan and Libya. If these are allies with Magog, is Magog more likely to be Russia or Turkey? Is not the area of the earth from Iran to Turkey to Libya and back to Iran essentially the greater part of the Muslim world today, with Israel in the center? Are they not the most unified nations on earth in terms of their hatred of Israel, a desire to conquer Jerusalem, and a hatred of Jehovah? Is Russia truly like any of these?
Conspicuously absent from the list of nations participating in Armageddon is Egypt. Egypt, as noted in Dan. 11:43, will be defeated by the Antichrist, which may explain its absence here, as the battle over Egypt will undoubtedly occur first (Armageddon is by definition the last battle of the Antichrist). Dan. 11 also tells us that N. Sudan and Libya are subdued by the Antichrist, but apparently not militarily defeated by him – they just hand over their sovereignty to him. So when Armageddon comes, those two nations still have their national identities intact. Egypt does not.
One last question remains, namely, where will Armageddon take place? The location is uncertain, because there is no actual place called Hamon-gog now or in the past. It is undoubtedly somewhere in central Israel (“east of the sea”), or possibly just across the Jordan River in Jordan. Some people place it near Jericho (northeast of Jerusalem), others identify it with Megiddo (far north of Jerusalem), still others place it just east of Jerusalem near the Mt. of Olives.
The relevant clues are these: the battle of Armageddon will be an attack against Jerusalem and it will be mounted by many nations. Gog will come from the north, but be joined by forces coming from the east. Rev. 16:12. Joel 3 refers to the place as the valley of Jehoshaphat, which is a historical location immediately east of Jerusalem in Israel. We know that Jesus will defeat the forces at Armageddon when He stands on the Mt. of Olives. Thus, I conclude that the most likely location is immediately east of Jerusalem near the Mt. of Olives.
Acts 2:20 – The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
1Th. 5:2-3 – The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them.
2Th. 2:2-4 (summary) – The day of the Lord will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, who takes his seat in the temple proclaiming himself to be God.
2 Pe. 3:10 – But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Rev. 16:12-21 (summary) – The 6th and 7th bowls, which we already discussed and linked with the great day of the Lord.
Rev. 19:6-21 (summary) –
1) Jesus will come riding on a white horse, clothed in robes dipped in blood, ready to make war.
2) He will be accompanied by the armies of heaven, wearing white linen and riding white horses.
3) Jesus will personally strike down the nations with a sword coming from his mouth.
4) The kings of the earth are all gathered to make war against God.
5) The birds of the air will feed on the flesh of the invading armies and their horses
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb refers to the great day of the Lord from the perspective of the Bride of Christ (the Church) and the vindication of the Tribulation Saints. The only actual use of the phrase Marriage Supper of the Lamb is in Rev. 19.
But it sounds to me like this is Armageddon. How many times is God going to judge all the nations personally, accompanied by His holy ones, where the enemies of God are all riding horses, and where the birds of the air will devour the slain armies (men and horses)? Is this not the same event described in Rev. 16:12-16 (the 6th bowl) as well as Ezekiel 38 & 39 (Gog and Magog)?
The other N.T. scriptures listed above simply tie in the expectation of the Church with the expectation of Israel, so that they occur at the same time. In other words, when Israel is restored and turns to Christ, the Church is translated (“married”) by Christ. This event is accompanied by all the signs and wonders of the Second Coming – so it must actually be the same event.
Israel and the Church are not merged (they do not become one entity), but the Second Coming fulfills the expectations of both – for the Jews, that the Messiah has come as a conquering hero and they accept him as Savior; for the Church, that the saints are translated and reign with Christ. Who says God can’t do two things at once?
Thus, Acts 2:20 quotes from Joel 2. 1Th. 5:2-3 refers to the Day of the Lord, and notes that sudden destruction will occur when people are saying “peace and safety.” 2Th. 2:2-4 links the Day of the Lord with the Second Coming, and says it will not occur until after the Antichrist is revealed and the Abomination of Desolation occurs. 2Pe. 3:10-12 affirms the Day of the Lord will come suddenly and that the earth will be judged with fire. The O.T. and N.T. agree.
Notice one other thing, if you will. When the armies of heaven (consisting of the saints) arrive on the scene riding white horses, they will essentially be a very large, very threatening … peanut gallery. All the destruction of the enemy forces will be done by Jesus personally. The saints will be there, but all they will do is watch. They will not draw the sword, or fire any weapon.
It is a truth that God never has, and never will, command His followers to take up the sword for the cause of Christ. I say this as someone who believes in, and believes the Bible supports, capital punishment, just wars, and the lethal defense of family and self-defense. But God never authorizes us to wage a religious war on His behalf, a holy war, or a jihad, to punish religious offenses or to coerce religious conversions.
Yes, God authorized ancient Israel to conquer Canaan. But that was for the purpose of national conquest and the establishment of a civil government. It was not for the purpose of gaining converts or punishing unbelief. God punished the Canaanites for their sins, but He punished Israel for the same things, and in pretty much the same way. By God’s own judgment, the Jews were nearly wiped out, and their homeland destroyed.
By this the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan are distinguished: Satan authorizes his followers to kill unbelievers solely by reason of their unbelief, whereas God has never authorized such a thing, and never will. God punishes only for wickedness, not for mere unbelief. If that doesn’t draw a sharp line between the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of God, I don’t know what does. Is this a new concept to you? I will elaborate on it later.
Isa. 63:1-6 (excerpt) – Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah? … Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come. … I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”
Rev. 14:17-20 – Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.
Rev. 19:15 – From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
We should also take note of other prophetic scriptures referring to wine and God’s wrath, such as Jer. 25:15 (“Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it”); Rev. 14:10 (he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger); and Rev. 16:19 (God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath).
A symbolic word picture associated with Armageddon in scripture is the great winepress of God. The fact it appears in both the Old and New Testaments indicates a unity as between what God is doing for Israel and what He is doing for the Church. This is one event and one act of judgment which happens to pertain to them both.
Wine, of course, is a symbolic representation of blood. It is a familiar symbolism with respect to the blood of Christ, as per Mat. 26:27-28 (And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”) Also see, 1Cor. 11:25 (“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.”)
In prophecy, wine symbolizes the bloodshed which the wicked have caused, and when it is said that they will drink the wine of God’s anger or wrath, it means they will reap what they have sown. That is, since the wicked have shed the blood of God’s people, they will suffer bloodshed when the time of God’s wrath arrives.
The winepress symbolizes God’s wrath and the fact He will squeeze the lifeblood from His enemies down to the last drop. So the symbolism is not merely that the wicked will be repaid in kind – they will be crushed like grapes, i.e., utterly destroyed.
People often talk about what it will take to bring peace to the Middle East. Will it take a treaty? Will education, economic assistance, jobs or other government programs do the trick? Maybe we need to hear their complaints and pay damages or provide other remedies? Perhaps persistent evangelism and/or religious revival will make the difference? Wait, I know! We just have to wait for the White House to get its messaging right and start a respectful dialogue.
The answer is that none of these – none – will actually ever work. Peace in the Middle East will not be achieved through negotiation or appeasement. God – when He finally does bring peace to the Middle East – will not be interested in or entertain any notions of negotiation or appeasement. Only the military conquest and utter destruction of the enemies of God, i.e., the enemies of Israel and the true Church, will ever work.
Ultimately, it is not God’s plan to convert the nations of the Middle East and bring personal salvation to them as a means of achieving peace. It is a hard thing to accept, that although God is willing that none should perish and is extremely patient (2Pe 3:9), there are very many people who never will accept Him no matter what. Individuals can, of course, be saved but this will not ever bring international peace.
Only one thing will actually bring peace to the Middle East nations: when God kills all their people. I know this sounds harsh. But this is God’s program. Are you surprised that evangelism is not the key to world peace?