THE spotlight of prophecy pinpoints a grand judgment scene at the end of time, when all the wicked of the earth will be brought into direct confrontation with God. "Come near, ye nations, to hear; . . . for the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: . . . he hath delivered them to the slaughter. . . . And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: . . . for it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion" (Isa. 34:1-8).
This Old Testament prophecy portrays the overwhelming cataclysmic destruction of the assembled wicked by the Lord, at His coming. The New Testament repeats this picture as the wicked are gathered against the Lord at the time of the sixth plague (see Rev. 16:13, 14). The kings of the earth and of the whole world are gathered at a place called Armageddon (see Rev. 16:16).
Armageddon a Gathering
"For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon" (Rev. 16: 14-16).
The main activity pictured in this text is a gathering, assembling, uniting, or confederating of the kings or political powers of the earth to the battle of the great day of God. Armageddon is used here to symbolize the final acts in the great controversy, "the controversy of Zion," in which Satan and the hosts of evil unite to fight against God by trying to destroy His remnant people.
A Gathering of Both Wicked and Righteous
The Bible consistently portrays a final separation of the righteous from the wicked, a gathering of the righteous for salvation and deliverance on the one hand, and the gathering of the rebellious wicked for punishment on the other. Several Old Testament prophets portray the gathering of the wicked and a final confrontation between them and God (see Zeph. 3:8; Joel 3:2, 11, 12).
At the same time God's people are assembled. "Gather your selves together, yea, gather to-gather, O nation not desired. . . . Seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger" (Zeph. 2:1-3). "Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children" (Joel 2:15, 16). When the wicked unite against God's people to destroy them, the righteous are to gather to seek the Lord that they may be preserved from the great wrath that will destroy all in whom sin remains.
This background helps us understand more clearly the Bible concept of the closing events and the final gathering referred to in Revelation 16:14-16.
Armageddon a Symbolic Name
This last development in the history of rebellious mankind is presented under the symbolic name of Armageddon. The meaning of the word, as evident in the variety of positions taken by scholars, is not conclusive, except that all of the possible derivations of the word point to the general meaning of gathering or assembling. They do seem to agree that the word har, Hebrew for "mount" or "mountain," is the source of the first syllable of Armageddon. The derivation of mageddon is uncertain. Following are some suggestions as to the source and meaning of Armageddon, with the understanding that har means "mountain":
Megiddo. This may be a possible reference to the ancient city of Megiddo with a Canaanite fortress at the foot of the Carmel range. (See The SDA Bible Commentary, on Revelation 16:16.) This area was famous as a battle field down through the centuries, and thus for our study would have the significance of "gathering" or "assembling" as of armies for attack.
Gadad. Another suggestion is that mageddon is from the Hebrew word gadad, meaning "to gather selves together," or "to assemble selves as by troops." Here again the connotation is an assembling, gathering as in troops, a possible prophetic foreshadowing of the gathering of the kings and their forces against God (see Strong's Analytical Concordance).
Har-mo'ed. This Hebrew word for "mount of the congregation" is also considered a possible source of the word Armageddon. (See The SDA Bible Commentary, on Revelation 16:16.) Mount Zion, the mount of the congregation, was the site of the gathering three times yearly by Israel for worship. The connotation here would be that of the wicked gathering against God's mount of the congregation, invading it, capturing and attempting to over throw it.
Mount of Megiddo. This time megiddo is assigned the meaning of "the place of God" (Young's Analytical Concordance, 1936 ed., p. 652). Thus har (mountain) and megiddo ("place of God") would signify "mountain of the place of God," which makes it practically equivalent to har-mo'ed, "the mount of the congregation," where God dwelt in Zion, in His temple.
Meged. Another suggestion is that mageddon may have come from the Hebrew word meged; this meaning is given in Young's Analytical Concordance (in the index-lexicon to the Old Testament, p. 25) as "pleasant," "precious things," "pleasant thing" or "pleasant fruits." This would then result in such phrases as "mountain of precious things," "precious mountain," or "pleasant mountain." This would be practically equivalent to "the holy mountain" or "glorious holy mountain" of Daniel 11:45.
Regardless of the inability to arrive at a single clear meaning for the word Armageddon, all at tempts to explain it lead to one conclusion. They result in a con notation of gathering, assembling, or bringing together as the prime significance of the word. Thus the main emphasis of the text has to be the idea of assembling, gathering, bringing together of the kings of the earth against God.
Gathering Not Geographical
The assembling of the kings of the earth is not necessarily a physical gathering of the armies of the world into one spot on earth. Further study reveals that this war fare against God is directed at His people, who are in all countries of the world, thus calling for a world wide war rather than one that will conclude with a major battle in one particular geographical place. The gathering of the kings of the earth and of the whole world must then transcend a simple physical gathering of armies into one battlefield. It must be the "climax of satanic planning for the unification of the world through a com pact between the apostate religious organizations of earth, as represented by the woman, and the political powers of earth, as represented by the beast." --The SDA Bible Commentary, on Revelation 17:12.
This gathering of the kings of the earth to war seems also to be described in Revelation 17:13 and 14, where the ten kings "have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb." This statement literally reads, "These have one purpose, that is, they shall give their capacity and authority to the beast. . . . The nations of earth, . . . here purpose to unite with the 'beast' in forcing the inhabitants of earth to drink the 'wine' of Babylon, . . . that is, to unite the world under her control and to obliterate all who refuse to cooperate." --Ibid. (Italics supplied.)
"There will be a universal bond of union, one great harmony, a confederacy of Satan's forces. . . . In the warfare to be waged in the last days there will be united, in opposition to God's people, all the corrupt powers that have apostatized from allegiance to the law of Jehovah." The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, on Rev. 17:13, 14, p. 983.
The whole world will be united in one great evil harmony and purpose, to fight against God by destroying His remnant people. No wonder this gathering or uniting of the world is called Armageddon, the mount of the gathering or assembly! God's people are all gathered into His remnant, while the whole world is gathered or united against His remnant to destroy them. This is the gathering of the nations. This is Armageddon.
Uniting on Common Points
The work of gathering the kings of the earth and of the whole world is done by three unclean spirits. "The spirits of devils will go forth to the kings of the earth and to the whole world, to fasten them in deception, and urge them on to unite with Satan in his last struggle against the government of heaven." --The Great Controversy, p. 624. (Italics supplied.)
The unclean spirits that bring about this uniting of all forces are understood to come from pagan ism, the Papacy, and apostate Protestantism and are symbolized by the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet.
The actual steps taken in uniting the whole world under the domination of the Papacy are portrayed in Revelation 13. Here the two-horned beast, the United States, is the great agency that exercises all the power of the first beast, the Papacy. It causes the setting up of the image to the beast, in the union with apostate Protestantism, and the worldwide enforcement of its worship. The outstanding aspect of the worship of the image will be the receiving of the mark of the beast. The kings of the whole earth are brought to the point where they "have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb" (Rev. 17:13, 14). This is the uniting described in Revelation 16:14 as gathering "them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty."
Here is pictured a uniting of the world on common points. "The line of distinction between professed Christians and the ungodly is now hardly distinguishable. Church members love what the world loves and are ready to join with them, and Satan determines to unite them in one body and thus strengthen his cause by sweeping all into the ranks of Spiritualism. . . . Papists, Protestants, and worldlings will alike accept the form of godliness with out the power, and they will see in this union a grand movement for the conversion of the world and the ushering in of the long-expected millennium." Ibid., pp. 588, 589. (Italics supplied.)
"All who have not the spirit of truth will unite under the leader ship of satanic agencies." --The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, on Rev. 5:11, p. 967. "Yet under one head the papal power the people will unite to oppose God in the person of His witnesses." --Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 182.
The servant of the Lord applies the very words of Revelation 16:14 to this uniting of the kings under Satan: "The spirits of devils will go forth to the kings of the earth and to the whole world, to fasten them in deception, and urge them on to unite with Satan in his last struggle against the government of heaven." --The Great Controversy, p. 624. (Italics supplied.) Again, "Satan is also mustering his forces of evil, going forth 'unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world,' to gather them under his banner, to be trained for 'the battle of that great day of God Almighty.' " --The SDA Bible Commentary, on Revelation 16:14-16.
Can we not see that the gathering process has already begun? "The last great conflict between truth and error is but the final struggle of the long-standing controversy concerning the law of God. Upon this battle we are now entering. . . . The agencies which will unite against truth and righteousness in this contest are now actively at work." --The Great Controversy, p. 582.
Consider the ecumenical movement, the uniting of the churches, the National and World councils, the seeking for points of common interest, the minimizing of differences. Undoubtedly, the most startling and ominous development in this uniting process is the phenomenon of the "tongues" movement, which has erupted from the original narrow confines of Pentecostalism, to sweep across the boundaries of the mainline denominations and the Roman Catholic Church as well, bringing Protestants and Catholics together in unprecedented fellowship.
The increasing favor with which Rome is not only viewed but actually courted by Protestants is most significant, for this is the very direction that prophecy re quires. Rome, under Whose leadership the whole world is to be gathered under one head, has been silently coming into power. If the full extent of her influence and power in both Protestant and government circles in the United States were known, we might well conclude that very little re mains for the full development of the prophecy.
What is now taking place is clearly portrayed in these prophetic words: "The principalities and powers of earth are in bitter revolt against the God of heaven. They are filled with hatred against those who serve Him, and soon, very soon, will be fought the last great battle between good and evil." --Review and Herald, May 13, 1902.