What do we mean by the defeat of the enemy? Simply the destruction of his forces, whether by death, injury, or any other means—either completely or enough to make him stop fighting. . . . The complete or partial destruction of the enemy must be regarded as the sole object of all engagements. . . . Direct annihilation of the enemy's forces must always be the dominant consideration. Carl von Clausewitz
Bible prophecy is more than some titillating story meant to tickle our imaginations. Bible Prophecy foretells the unfolding of God's war against sin, wickedness, and the father of lies- Satan. Prophecy is history told in advance.
The opening act began in heaven when Satan attempted an ill-planned coup d'état against his Creator. After being cast out of heaven, Satan began to stalk God's creation, sneaking in and luring them to commit rebellion against their Creator, thus, introducing sin and death into God's perfect world.
It was here that God, in issuing His judgments against Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, tells them ahead of time His plan to redeem fallen man, and destroy Satan in the process. The Protoevangelicum (Genesis 3:15) foretold the coming of a Redeemer out of the race of men. Not knowing who this "seed of the woman" would be, Satan turns to a "scorched earth" policy in his attempts to corrupt all of mankind. However, God always has His remnant and keeps the race of men alive through Noah and his family.
And so it was, every time God moved, Satan countered, and failed, badly. The arrival of Jesus Christ caught Satan and the world off guard. Not only was His arrival, birth, and life predicted in the Old Testament, it was done so in a manner that even the greatest, and most intelligent being in God's created order, Satan, couldn't figure it out. And before it was all said and done, Satan had the Jews and Romans convinced that killing Jesus was absolutely the right thing to do. Not realizing his blunder until it was too late, Satan was actually fulfilling God's plans for his own destruction. The death of Christ on the cross was actually Satan's coup de grâce (deathblow). The one event that sealed and doomed Satan and his fellow fallen brethrens' destiny forever.
But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1st Corinthians 2:7-8)
Thus, we need to look at the following prophecies, not just religious events. These are acts of war, being waged first in the spiritual realm, but finding their fulfillment in the physical. This is God, cleaning up the loose ends so that He can renew, then restore the relationship He had back at the beginning with His redeemed children. The following are listed in their chronological and sequenced order.
1. The Rapture of the Church
(John 14:1-3, 1 Thess 4-5, 2 Thess 2, 1 Cor. 15)
Defensive Operation: Recall Ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20)
Offensive Operation: Create the world's greatest crisis so that a fallen world unites into a singular government (Gen 11:1-9, Revelation 13).
What: The Rapture (Greek-harpazo, Latin- rapiemur, and English-catching up) of the Church was first taught by Jesus to His disciples in the Upper Room Discourse (John 14:1-3) the night before His crucifixion. The Holy Spirit, writing through the Apostle Paul, would later clarify this mystery in three of his epistles (1st and 2nd Thessalonians, and 1st Corinthians 15). The Rapture, as distinct and separate from the Second Coming, is the only truly signless prophetic event in Scripture. Its timing is the most highly classified secret in God's prophetic arsenal.
Although it is signless, the actual event will be neither secret nor silent. It is, for all intents and purposes, a rescue operation for all born-again believers to be taken out of this world before it enters into the final seven years of God’s wrath and judgment. Although the Rapture sets the conditions for the Tribulation, it does not initiate the official start of the Tribulation (Dan. 9:27).
Who: The Church (Greek- ekklesia, English- called out assembly). The universal body of born-again believers in Jesus Christ, irrespective of when they lived, denomination, ethnicity, age, etc. It is also believed (although not universally) that children under the age of accountability (age varies according to maturity), as well as the mentally invalid and those unable to make a conscious decision for or against Christ will be taken up as well. The believer who is alive when it happens will be translated (changed instantly) from mortal, to immortal. The believer who has already died will come in their spirit bodies with Christ, and be resurrected into their glorified, immortal bodies.
When: This happens before the 70th Week of Daniel (aka...The Tribulation). It is an imminent event, and since the 70th Week is the most highly chronicled week mentioned in Scripture, it can only be imminent, if it happens prior to the event, not after. When it occurs, however, is known only to God the Father [it could be argued that Jesus now knows (Revelation 1:1]). Although the imminence is purely from the perspective of mortal humans, it is likely tied to a specific event, such as one of the seven Jewish Feasts like Pentecost (Shavuot), or the Feast of Trumpets. In His Death, Jesus fulfilled the following spring feasts in order:
The Feast of Passover- His crucifixion
The Feast of Unleavened Bread- His burial
The Feast of First Fruits- His resurrection
If keeping to the same pattern, the next Feast (Hebrew-moadim, appointed time), to be fulfilled is the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost). This was the feast (back in 32AD) when the Church was conceived by the giving of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem (Acts 1-2).
Where: Global and simultaneous
Why: The final seven years (from Daniel’s 70 Weeks prophecy- Daniel 9:24-27) is appointed to discipline Israel (for rejecting her Messiah Jesus), bring her back into a relationship with God, and destroy all the nations (Jeremiah 30:7-11). The Church does not fit into any of those categories. Furthermore, since the Church was not in the previous 69 Weeks, logic follows we will also not be in the 70th.
Takeaway: The reason the Rapture of the Church has remained such a mysterious, imminent event, is because God chooses not to reveal His game-changing hand to the enemy (the Devil). Sun Tzu once stated in his epic “The Art of War,” Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt. If Sun Tzu could figure out the value in keeping your movements a guessing game for the enemy, surely, God can.
If the Rapture happens just after midnight Jerusalem time (my personal theory), it would hit the western hemisphere right around 5:00 PM (or 1700 military time). The sudden removal of millions of people at rush hour would be devastating to a nation like the United States. While some nations would be impacted more severely than others by the loss of millions of citizens, the collapse of the United States would be an impact felt on a global scale (economically speaking). Aside from the immediate devastation caused by millions of driverless vehicles and pilotless planes, emergency services, as well as law enforcement, will be overwhelmed immediately. Furthermore, the Rapture also serves to remove the Holy Spirit’s restraint over evil in the world thus triggering a general and exacerbated period of lawlessness and societal unrest the world has never seen.
2. The War of Gog-Magog
Defensive Operation: God supernaturally protects Israel against overwhelming coalition
What: Capitalizing on the collapse of the United States and the subsequent global chaos triggered by the Rapture of the Church, a multinational coalition led by Russia attempts a massive military invasion of Israel. Although Israel is unprepared, the coalition is supernaturally destroyed by God (Psalm 121:4).
Who: Ezekiel 38-39 lists the aggressor nations by their ancient names. The modern equivalents are as follows: Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya, Ethiopia/Sudan, plus the former Soviet-satellite nations (aka…the Stans). By-standers who oppose the attack, but are helpless to stop it- Saudi Arabia, the US, and Western Europe.
When: This particular coalition of nations has never attacked Israel before, so this war is yet future, presumably between the Rapture and the official start of the 70th Week of Daniel.
Where: Geographically speaking, the invaders will come from the furthest parts north of Israel, as well as from the south. The furthest north of Israel is Russia. Interestingly, Russia, Turkey, and Iran are all militarily involved in Syria today and have built up forces there significantly in recent years. Turkey and Russia are also tied up in the reestablishment of Libya (Put). At present, Iran (Persia) is attempting to create a landbridge across Iraq so that it has direct access to attack Israel. The actual war takes place in the mountains north of Israel, potentially being in the vicinity of the Golan Heights and Mt. Hermon. This is where God destroys the enemy forces.
Why: The Iranian leadership want to destroy Israel and their hatred for the Jews is their motivation, pure and simple. However, the other nation's motivations seem to vary. Both Russia and Turkey have been cut out of the energy markets since Israel's recent discoveries of massive natural gas fields off their coast (Leviathan and Tamar). More recently, Israel has worked an economic deal with both Cyprus and Greece, to ship natural gas directly to Europe. Consequently, this cut both Turkey and Russia out of the energy game. As for the Libyans, Sudanese, and other nations, they are likely used as mercenaries meant to bolster this coalition's overall numbers to overwhelm Israel.
Takeaway: Gog and Magog. The fact that we are seeing this coalition form before our very eyes in Syria is a sure sign that the Rapture of the church is extremely near. The reason why this is during this particular war is that God’s “full attention" turns back towards the nation of Israel (Ez. 38:16). Actions by the former Trump administration (halting the European Gazprom pipeline, Abraham Accords, Iranian sanctions, etc.) have financially put Russia, Iran, and Turkey into dire economic straits.
Russia, Iran, and Turkey (all former rival empires) have never, historically, collaborated economically, militarily, and politically together with a common goal in mind. Listed by their ancient names, modern-day Russia, Turkey, and Iran have formed an anti-Israel/US alliance that are currently building their forces literally tens of miles from the Israeli border (to her north). They are not there because they care about Basher Assad, or his regime. They are there because of their proximity to Israel and wealth (spoils). Two things about this stand out to me:
a. Israel’s allies are either unable or unwilling to help (Ezekiel 38:13)
b. God defeats this coalition so spectacularly, that spiritual Israel finally awakens, and the people
finally demand to rebuild their third temple (Ez. 39:22, 28-29)
3. The Four Horsemen
Offensive Operation: God unleashes His wrath against a Christ-rejecting world; 1/4 of the world's population dies in 1-3 years
What: In the opening salvo against a Christ-rejecting world, Jesus takes the sealed scroll from the right hand of the Father, and opens the First four Seal Judgments against the earth and her nations. The two reasons why we know this is the wrath of God and not man is that Jesus is the only one, in all of creation, found worthy enough to open the Seal Judgments, thus triggering the subsequent 21 divine judgments.
Who: Jesus initiates all of the judgments that unfold in a sequential, telescopic manner
~Rider on the White Horse- this rider is identified as the Antichrist (the Beast, lawless one, son of perdition, etc.). He initially takes control of the final world government, at a time of great crisis (after the Rapture) promising peace and security (what the world is clamoring for). However, his motives are that of hiding his iron hand in a velvet glove; death and destruction follow in his wake with the subsequent riders. The Antichrist heads up the Beast, which is the final, global government ruling over the entire earth. (Revelation 6:1-2, 13:1-4)
~Rider on the Red Horse- Presumably, the world entire is not in love with the idea of being brought into global governance. The resistance against him triggers worldwide revolts, and he quickly uses his piecemealed, but highly armed (thanks to a collapsed US) army, air force, and navy to quell dissent. His greatest weapon though is he has the full-backing of Satan and the satanic forces to help destroy any resistance. Thus, peace is taken from the earth. (Rev. 6:3-4, 13:7)
~Rider on the Black Horse- In the wake of war and the collapse of the global economic stabilizer (the United States Dollar), economic calamity strikes the earth with a vengeance, causing severe shortages and catastrophic economic inflationary conditions everywhere. The Antichrist, aided by technology, uses this crisis to introduce a "mark" to be worn by those loyal to himself. This biometric mark bears the number of his name, and will likely gain the bearer with full rights and privileges to buy and sell. It will also likely make the bearer a "hotspot" for internet connectivity and neuro links the bearer to the world wide web. (Rev. 6:5-6, 13:16-18)
~Rider on the Pale Horse- The final rider finds his fulfillment by providing gratuitous death; power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth. The beasts of the earth, as the late Chuck Missler once noted, include microscopic beasts in the form of pandemics. (Rev. 6:7-8)
When: After the Rapture, and after the gap in time (potentially months to three years) between the Rapture and the official start of the 70th Week
Why: The judgments found in Revelation are amplified echoes of previous judgments we see elsewhere in the Old Testament (Sodom, Exodus, etc.) A fourth of mankind is killed in these first four judgments. By today’s standards, this would mean nearly 2 billion persons are killed in just the first two to three years.
Takeaway- After the Rapture, the United States will utterly collapse due to the loss of millions of its citizens. This will trigger a cascading series of events that have global ramifications- economic collapse, militaristic opportunism (taking advantage of the chaotic destabilization), geopolitical posturing, lawlessness, and general breakdown of the old world order. This sets the stage perfectly for the proponents of a singular global government to take over.
4. The Kings of the East
Offensive: The kings of the east initially march against Jerusalem and the Antichrist
Offensive: Antichrist is able to get them to declare war against Christ
What: 200M man army mobilizes and uses the Iron-Silk road to move eastward against the Antichrist. After the 2nd Trumpet and Bowl Judgments, the world's waterways will be rendered unusable, thus limiting (or canalizing) these forces to strictly move by land as the rivers, seas, and oceans are turned to blood. (Rev. 8:9-11, 16:3-4)
Who: Presumably China, India, Japan, a united Korea, Malaysia, and Mongolia
When: Toward the end of the seven-year Tribulation
Where: East Asia moves toward Israel.
Why: Presumably, the Antichrist‘s iron-fisted control over the nations starts to break down toward the end of the seven years. The Kings of the East sense weakness, and rally their forces to move against him while he is preoccupied with destroying the remaining Jews.
Takeaway: Historically speaking, China has never attempted to expand its massive empire westward beyond Nepal. One could argue that against all logic, there has been a supernatural restraint of sorts, holding her mighty nation back. Even though other great powers have crossed the Euphrates in the past (i.e., Alexander the Great, Persians, Genghis Khan), that will change. China's move westward greatly troubles the Antichrist, even though the froglike demons summon all the world's forces towards the Valley of Megiddo (Dan. 11:44, Rev. 16:12-14).
5. The Armageddon Campaign
(Zechariah 12, 14, Matthew 24:15-31, Revelation 19)
Offensive Operation: Christ and His heavenly armies open the sky and destroy all the armies of the world who are gathered at the Valley of Megiddo
What: Last great battle during the age of man
Who: All the world‘s military forces
When: 1,260 days from the midpoint of the 70th Week (where Antichrist desecrates the newly rebuilt Jewish temple).
Where: Israel. Valley of Megiddo. Bozrah. Jezreel Valley. Jerusalem
Why: The Antichrist, who, from the midpoint of the 70th Week onward, is personally indwelt by Satan himself, realizes that he is running out of time. He tries one last “Hail Mary” (pardon the pun) attempt at wiping out Israel. The reason he is so determined to destroy Israel is if he can then he can break prophecy, and prove God a liar. It will not work. (Rev. 12:13-17)
Takeaway: While Armageddon is the ultimate assemblage of military forces in human history, with some estimating more than one billion soldiers gathered, there is no actual fighting in the Valley of Megiddo itself. It is simply the place where the Antichrist’s forces assemble, to go and attempt to wipe out the nation of Israel for the last time. The actual fighting will take place along a nearly 200-mile stretch, beginning in Bozrah down to the Red Sea. (Source: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 317-318).
Another common misconception associated with the word Armageddon is that it is the greatest battle in human history. Not true. It is the greatest defeat in all of history. The moment that Christ tears open the sky and rides into view with the host of the heavenly armies behind Him, the battle is already over. He simply speaks a word and all before Him melt from the inside out.
The fleeing forces of the Antichrist spread out over 1,600 furlongs (a furlong is about an eighth of a mile). Thus, the carnage is so extensive that the blood from the bodies of a billion soldiers form a river nearly 200 miles long (Rev. 14:20). That, along with the previous judgment of one hundred pound hailstones (which are melting by this point into a watery mess), and the rivers (freshwater) turned to blood, creates a river of blood up to the horses' bridle (around four feet high). This will most likely flow from the Kidron Valley (Jehosophat) down to the Jordan River Valley, down south through the Dead Sea to the Red Sea.
The war that began in the heavens, with Satan's ill-fated revolt, will end with his utter defeat at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. His human and demonic forces are decimated, his two henchmen (the Antichrist and the False Prophet) are cast alive into the Lake of Fire, and he himself is bound in chains and tossed into the abyss for a thousand years. After liberating Jerusalem and saving the Jewish people (this after they cry out for Him to save them- Zech. 12:10-14, Luke 13:35), Jesus will step foot on the Mount of Olives, splitting the mountain into two. This causes the mountain to split north-south and forms a large valley opening up east and west.
After the Judgment of the nations, and the subsequent cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem, and presumably, a large-scale global restoration from the previous 21 judgments, the earth will be renewed back to its paradisiacal state (similar to that as found in Genesis 1-2). Those survivors will enter into what is known as the Millennial Reign of Christ (Rev. 20), and will finally enjoy true peace on earth with Christ physically ruling the nations. Man's lifespans will go back to centuries, instead of years. The animal kingdom will be restored back to its peaceful state (Isaiah 65:25). The earth will yield its full strength again. Every inch of the earth will be fertile and thriving, there will no longer be wastelands or other unusable areas (Romans 8:20-22). The New Jerusalem will come down and remain in a low-earth orbit, from which, the Church will live and rule and reign with Christ. The Church (the immortal and glorified believers) will finally "inherit the earth" and will be able to move back and forth between the New Jerusalem and the earth via teleportation (1 John 3:1-3). Thus will be life for 1,000 years.
Doorstep to Eternity
At the end of the thousand years, Satan is loosed once again for "a season" (we are not sure how long this means). He is able to gather an army "whose number is as the sands of the seas." Presumably, these are the offspring of those who survived Armageddon and were born into the Millennium and have no idea what the world was like with Satan loosed in it. These are deceived and march with Satan to their eternal doom. Revelation 20:7-10 says:
Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
After this, all the world's population who have ever lived (save the Church and redeemed Old Testament Saints) will stand before the Great White Throne for judgment. This means everyone from Cain (of Genesis 4) through the last Millennial rebel, will stand before God and give account for their relationship with their Redeemer. For those who are not found written in the Lamb's Book of Life, these are cast into the Lake of Fire which burns day and night forever and ever. For those who are found in the Lamb's Book of Life, these are granted entrance into the Eternal State- a future filled with the wonders and glory of God for all eternity, forever and ever. Just as there will be no end to the eternal torment for those who reject Christ, likewise, there will be no end to wonder and enjoyment and happiness in this final stage of our existence. In closing, John's final words from our Lord Jesus Christ say this in the last book of the New Testament (Revelation 22:20-21):
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.”
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.