Text: Rev 16:12-16
OT Text: Zech 12:10-14 and 1 Kings 18:19-46
Featured Verse: Rev 16:16 And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
Main Idea: John's vision of a final battle sets the stage for God's victory over the unified forces of evil.
We will cover verse 15 tomorrow. It is a parenthetical comment about "staying ready" and awaiting the return of Christ, which deserves its own day to consider.
The OT prophets predicted a final climactic battle in which the enemies of God would surround Israel for a final conflict. This last battle idea is described in several places in the book of Revelation. In each place, it is best to understand that the visions use symbolic language to describe the same last battle. There are clear depictions of this in Rev 19:19 and 20:8. There are also references to armies gathering for war in other places, which also seem to be talking about the same thing. (See 9:16 and 11:7.)
This last battle is clearly described in symbolic language. The demonic powers of the dragon, beast, and false prophet are pictured as "frogs." Commentator Greg Beale suggested that the croaking of the frogs was a picture of the confusing, but empty noise produced by demonic deception. But the location of the last battle is also symbolic. The name "Armageddon" is a combination of two historic locations.* The plains of Megiddo are the site of important battles for the Israelites as they moved toward the promised land.** Technically, there is no "mountain" of Megiddo, as the name suggests, but close to the plains of Megiddo is the famous Mount Carmel, where Elijah had his showdown with the prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18:19-46.)
Conclusion and Application
I will add a personal note and say that when I visited Israel five years ago, our tour took us to Mt. Carmel, where we could look out over the plains of Megiddo. It is certainly possible that God intends to have a final battle on these plains, but the point of Revelation is not to give us that sort of information. Rather, the point is to see that a pattern threads throughout all of Scripture. Time and again, God brings his people to a place in which they are surrounded by enemies who are stronger than they are. Their only deliverance is God himself. Certainly, this pattern will play out again and again in church history, and we expect that it will conclude in a dramatic way as history draws to a close. In the final battle, the theme is always the same. God is our deliverance. When we are out gunned, and out manned, God provides the victory.
* Har-Megiddo means Mountain at Megiddo.
** "Megiddo became proverbial in Judaism as the place where righteous Israelites were attacked by evil nations." Greg Beale, Revelation: A Shorter Commentary, p 346.