The pouring out of the wrath of God is concluded in this chapter. Once more, these are the same signs that we read of in chapter 4 with the opening of the seven seals. In the pouring out of the seventh bowl judgment is now set to “Babylon” (v.19), the source of judgment is the one now to be judged. As with the earlier pronouncements of judgment these are designed to bring about repentance, which, in this case, is not going to be produced (v.11, etc.). The only particular variance from the signs introduced in the earlier chapters occurs in verses 12 through 16, with the preparation of “the way for the kings of the East.” The sign itself refers to the same judgment introduced in the passage in chapter 9:13 – 21, identified when “the sixth trumpet sounded.”
The kings of the East are gathered to Armageddon or Har-Meggido (there are several English spelling variations), where apparently, the preparations for battle begin (v. 16). Not a battle but the preparation for a battle of good against evil; and not a literal battle of Christ against the forces of Satan (which had long before been concluded in heaven as was recorded in chapter 12). Here, it clearly stated that this is the preparations for the battle.
These kings are called together to begin the preparations for the battle “of that great day of God Almighty.” This is the obvious prelude to the events of chapter 20:7-10. So, we must note that the coming battle never takes place. At this point, God ends the situation by destroying the gathered armies of men. It obviously refers to Judgment Day — not to some call to arms for another battle at the storied Megiddo Pass. This is the picture of the final avenging of the Apostles and Prophets. Nonsense is piled upon nonsense by weak and formless theories from instructors to confused students and pure dreamers who make up things far above and beyond anything found on, in or around the pages of the Revelation of Christ or anywhere else in any Bible. No battle, of any kind, is mentioned here or beyond this point in the New Testament.
The passage on Armageddon has been commented upon well enough. There is no Old Testament equivalent to lean upon, so the most natural interpretation owes to the strategic battles fought near Megiddo (the Megiddo Pass) even into the early Twentieth Century. Either Ferrel Jenkins in his study guide, or H. H. Halley in Halley’s Bible Handbook, (pg.206) give as good a simple history and explanation of Armageddon as is available. Both are in keeping with the theme and purpose of the images in the book. The image of a gathering of arms is reminiscent of a coming decisive victory, which is here a symbol of the victory of God over the empire of persecutions and godlessness known as Rome: the fourth kingdom of Daniel 2 (where God first forecast the fall of Rome).
I must conclude: No actual battle is ever mentioned (here or anywhere else), and the decisive battle between God and Satan had already been concluded. Therefore, Armageddon can only refer to a single incident: the encompassing of the Holy City by the armies “of the Kings of the East.” Now, who could that be identifying? There is no alternate rendering to allow looking a thousand years further on, to include or reference the first Caliphs of Islam in the east, and their assault on and seizure of Jerusalem issuing from their continuing claims to it religiously. None of that is in keeping with the signs. And it is six-hundred years beyond anything in Revelation.
The battle is noted as figurative of a spiritual conflict. The beast and false prophet are “captured” – judged – by the Word of God (not slain or destroyed in some massive bloodletting – indicating the overcoming of the pagan empire by the Kingdom of Heaven – the Church). They are then cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, while the “…remnant were slain with the sword of him which sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth.” As noted earlier, this figure “…which sword proceeded out of his mouth,” represents teaching and doctrine, here, there and everywhere else – it is the Word of God. The text then clearly indicates that the Word of God is the destroying element used against this evil empire. It is neither describing a spiritual nor a physical battle. Also, please notice (again) that Satan is not named here. His final judgment is to be found at the end of the next vision in chapter 20, following the figurative 1000-year period; and he will then join the beast and false prophet who have already been cast into Gehenna/ Hell. Therefore, the judgment of the beast Rome, and that of the false prophet – the empire’s worship/paganism, is to precede the final punishment of Satan by a lengthy period known only to God, listed as a thousand years.
Once more: The sword proceeding from the mouth is not some mystical new weapon or form of swordplay – it represents the Word of God. It is a sword proceeding from the mouth of God which cuts in every direction. Bad pictures come out of bad theories. There is no physical war forecast here. No millennial bloodbath — nothing at all like the general accepted presumptions and noise concerning the nonexistent Battle of Armageddon.