Armageddon – Spiritual or Literal?

In the September 2004 edition of The Signs of the Times there appeared an article entitled “Armageddon and the Middle East Crisis”. In this article it is stated that, “Armageddon will be a ‘spiritual’ battle” and it calls “Armageddon, the sixth in a series of seven plagues”.

When we consider these two statements it is obvious that the author of the article in the Signs of the Times believes that Armageddon is both a spiritual battle and a plague.

In the book “Last Day Events” there appears a series of headings for each of the seven last plagues. One would think that between each of those headings is everything relating to each plague specifically. Therefore one would think that under the heading of “The Sixth Plague” before the heading of “The Seventh Plague” is everything relating specifically to the sixth plague. In that section there are statements about Armageddon and there are statements about a spiritual battle called “The Last Great Battle between Good and Evil.” In more recent versions of the book the heading “The Last Great Battle between Good and Evil” has been removed while all the same statements about Armageddon and a spiritual battle appear directly under the heading of “The Sixth Plague.” This again leaves the reader with the impression that Armageddon is both a spiritual battle and a plague.

However if that is the case there are some questions to be answered. Consider the following statements:

The Sixth Plague

1) There are only two classes in the world today, and only two classes will be recognized in the Judgment,–those who violate God’s law, and those who keep His law. Two great opposing powers are revealed in the last great battle. On one side stands the Creator of heaven and earth. All on His side bear His signet. They are obedient to His commands. On the other side stands the Prince of darkness, with those who have chosen apostasy and rebellion.  {E. G. White, The Review and Herald, May 7, 1901 par. 10}

2) Satan has combined and will continue to combine with the churches in making a masterly effort against the truth of God. Everything that is done by God’s people to make inroads upon the world will call forth determined opposition from the powers of darkness. The enemy’s last great conflict will be a most determined one. It will be the last battle between the powers of darkness and the powers of light. Every true child of God will fight bravely on the side of Christ. {E. G. White – Pamphlets 135, 5.1}

Are these statements speaking of Armageddon as a spiritual battle? If the answer is yes, then the children of God, who keep the commandments, will fight bravely on the side of Christ in the battle of Armageddon, against those who are in apostasy and rebellion. Will the children of God be engaged in this battle?

One might argue that the first statement is speaking of Armageddon while the other is not. How are we to tell the difference? When should we apply a statement to Armageddon and when not? We cannot apply statements at random. Therefore since both statements use the same terminology and both appear to be speaking of the same battle shouldn’t we apply both statements to Armageddon.

If we apply both statements to Armageddon it must be the case that the children of God will fight bravely on the side of Christ in the battle of Armageddon, the sixth in a series of seven plagues. There is a problem in saying this. Consider the following:

John beheld an angel flying through the midst of heaven, warning men of the final judgments of God. He proclaimed the position of those who heeded his warning, and who would escape the seven last plagues. He announced them as God’s people, and called attention to their peculiar character: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” {E. G. White, Review and Herald, January 31, 1888 par. 12}

The children of God, who keep the commandments, will escape the seven last plagues. They will escape the sixth plague, which must be included in the seven last plagues. If they escape the sixth plague, how can it be said that they will fight in the battle of Armageddon, the sixth in a series of seven plagues? If they escape they will not be “in” the sixth in a series of seven plagues. Why would they be in it if it says that they will escape it?

The article in the 2004 Signs of the Times states:

1) God’s people will have warned the world to worship only the Creator: [Rev 14:7 quoted]. By contrast, the powers opposed to God will require everyone to worship the beast and his image and to receive the infamous mark of the beast. Armageddon is the culmination of this battle – between true and false worship

2)  Christ didn’t show John the battle of Armageddon to terrify us. He showed it because He wants us to understand how the conflict of the ages between Christ and Satan will be concluded.

It appears that the author of the above article believes that Armageddon is the last great battle in the great controversy between truth and error. Therefore he must also believe that the following three statements refer to Armageddon, the sixth in a series of seven plagues.

Not having a “Thus saith the Scriptures” to bring against the advocates of the Bible Sabbath, they will resort to oppressive enactments to supply the lack. To secure popularity and patronage, legislators will yield to the demand for Sunday laws. But those who fear God, cannot accept an institution that violates a precept of the Decalogue. On this battlefield will be fought the last great conflict in the controversy between truth and error. {E. G. White, Prophets and Kings, 605.3}

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–a battle between the laws of men and the precepts of Jehovah, between the religion of the Bible and the religion of fable and tradition.  {E. G. White, Great Controversy, 582.2}

The Sabbath is a test, not a human requirement, but God’s test. It is that which will distinguish between those who serve God and those who serve him not; and upon this point will come the last great conflict of the controversy between truth and error.  {E. G. White, Historic Sketches, 215.2}

If the above statements are speaking of the battle of Armageddon, it must involve spiritual fighting between those who hold the truth and those who hold error as remember, the author of the article in the Signs of the Times believes that Armageddon is both a spiritual battle and a plague, the question can be reiterated as follows. How can the children of God, who keep the commandments, be involved in spiritual fighting and at the same time escape the sixth plague? If the spiritual battle and the plague are one and the same thing how can they be involved in one and escape the other? The answer:

The conflict is between the requirements of God and the requirements of the beast. The first day, a papal institution which directly contradicts the fourth commandment, is yet to be made a test by the two-horned beast. And then the fearful warning from God declares the penalty of bowing to the beast and his image. They shall drink the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation.  {1T 223.2}

The Sabbath is the Lord’s test, and no man, be he king, priest, or ruler, is authorized to come between God and man. Those who seek to be conscience for their fellow men, place themselves above God. Those who are under the influence of a false religion, who observe a spurious rest day, will set aside the most positive evidence in regard to the true Sabbath. They will try to compel men to obey the laws of their own creation, laws that are directly opposed to the law of God. Upon those who continue in this course, the wrath of God will fall. Unless they change, they can not escape the penalty.  {RH, April 20, 1911 par. 16}

There is a spiritual conflict between truth and error. It is the last great conflict of the controversy. The children of God will be involved in this spiritual battle fighting bravely on the side of Christ. However children of God will not be involved in the penalty. They will escape the penalty. While those on the side of Satan in this spiritual battle will not escape the penalty. They can not escape the wrath of God in the seven last plagues. (see Early Writings 44.2, Revelation 15:1).

Then I saw that the seven last plagues were soon to be poured out upon those who have no shelter; yet the world regarded them no more than they would so many drops of water that were about to fall. I was then made capable of enduring the awful sight of the seven last plagues, the wrath of God. I saw that His anger was dreadful and terrible . . . . Then I realized, as never before, the importance of searching the Word of God carefully, to know how to escape the plagues which that Word declares shall come on all the ungodly who shall worship the beast and his image and receive his mark in their foreheads or in their hands. It was a great wonder for me that any could transgress the law of God and tread down His holy Sabbath, when such awful threatenings and denunciations were against them.  {EW 64.2}

A book has been given us to guide our feet through the perils of this dark world to heaven. It tells us how we can escape the wrath of God, and also tells of the sufferings of Christ for us, the great sacrifice that has been made that we might be saved and enjoy the presence of God forever. And if any come short at last, having heard the truth as they have in this land of light, it will be their own fault; they will be without excuse. The word of God tells us how we may become perfect Christians and escape the seven last plagues. {1T 125.3}

If we search the Bible we may know how to escape the seven last plagues. Thus the Bible tells us how to escape Armageddon, the sixth in a series of seven plagues. On the other hand the Bible also tell us that we will NOT escape the last great spiritual battle. The following clearly shows this:

Satan is marshalling his forces for the last great struggle, “to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” [Revelation 12:17] If we would be true to God, we cannot escape the conflict. {RH, July 18, 1882 par. 26}

There are only two parties upon the earth–those who stand under the blood-stained banner of Jesus Christ and those who stand under the black banner of rebellion. Those who stand under Christ’s banner bear the sign of obedience spoken of in Exodus 31:12-18. Please read this Scripture carefully. In the twelfth chapter of Revelation is represented the last great conflict between the obedient and the disobedient. [Rev. 12:17; 13:11-17, quoted].  {14MR 161.3}

There are only two classes in the world today, and only two classes will be recognized in the Judgment,–those who violate God’s law, and those who keep His law. Two great opposing powers are revealed in the last great battle. On one side stands the Creator of heaven and earth. All on His side bear His signet. They are obedient to His commands. On the other side stands the Prince of darkness, with those who have chosen apostasy and rebellion.  {E. G. White, The Review and Herald, May 7, 1901 par. 10} (also from “Last Day Events” under the title “The Sixth Plague”)

Are the above statements speaking of the same conflict? The Bible tells us that there will be a conflict between those who keep the commandments and the dragon inspired host (See Revelation 12:17). The people of God cannot escape this conflict and yet they will escape the destruction wrought by the sixth plague.

It might be argued that God’s people will be involved in the sufferings of the seven last plagues and therefore they will be involved in Armageddon, the sixth plague. It is true that the righteous will suffer during the seven last plagues but they are not being punished and destroyed as are the wicked. They will escape the punishment that is coming upon the wicked.

Then my eyes were taken from the glory, and I was pointed to the remnant on the earth. The angel said to them, “Will ye shun the seven last plagues? Will ye go to glory and enjoy all that God has prepared for those who love Him and are willing to suffer for His sake? If so, ye must die that ye may live. Get ready, get ready, get ready. Ye must have a greater preparation than ye now have, for the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate and to destroy the sinners thereof out of it. {EW 66.2}

The people of God will not be free from suffering; but while persecuted and distressed, while they endure privation and suffer for want of food they will not be left to perish. That God who cared for Elijah will not pass by one of His self-sacrificing children. He who numbers the hairs of their head will care for them, and in time of famine they shall be satisfied. While the wicked are dying from hunger and pestilence, angels will shield the righteous and supply their wants. {GC 629.2}

For Armageddon to be both a spiritual battle and a plague involves some difficultly. Those who this, the challenge is to prove that the last great spiritual battle (or the last great conflict between truth and error) and the sixth plague (a judgment causing the destruction of the wicked) are one and the same thing.

Being a compilation, the statements used in the book “Last Day Events” under the heading “The Sixth Plague” are not put there by inspiration. It is possible that there are statements used under the heading “The Sixth Plague” which do not necessarily belong there. The same could be said of another heading in the same book. Under the heading “The Fifth Plague” there appears a statement that more likely belongs under the heading of the seventh plague, where the people of God are rescued by the voice of God.

We need to be careful when we read compilations. Quotes written by inspiration can be placed in a wrong setting. The sixth plague is the penalty of God’s wrath poured out upon the wicked, which the people of God will escape. However the last great spiritual battle, which we are now entering upon, we cannot escape.

“Revelation indicates that the issues in earth’s final war will be global, not local. And the issues (and combatants) will be spiritual, not political as they are at present in the Middle East. The battle of Armageddon will pit the nations of the world against the armies of heaven. Revelation 13 says that the second beast will use false miracles to deceive the inhabitants of the world (verse 14). It is possible that one such deception will be a counterfeit battle of Armageddon; after all, the spirits of demons will gather the entire world to this battle (16:12-14). In this respect the Bible gives two important details that can prevent us from being deceived. According to popular Christian culture, Armageddon finds the nations of the world taking sides against each other, arrayed in battle on a dusty Palestinian plain.  In Revelation, on the other hand, the nations of the world assemble to make war against Christ, not against each other. Moreover, it appears that virtually all nations participate. So, no matter how terrifying a world war in the Middle East may be, if the nations of earth are fighting each other, that war is not the biblical Armageddon.” {Signs of the Times, September 2004} Armageddon and the Middle East Crisis.

The above article is presented as a spiritual battle that takes place at the end of the world. One can be left with the impression that any literal wars at the end of the world are only side issues or deceptions. However are we as the people of God to ignore any literal wars at the end of the world as deceptions?

Indeed the seven last plagues come at end of the world. At the very same time at the end of the world the four winds are let loose (see Revelation 7:1). Therefore Armageddon the sixth plague (according to the Signs of the Times) comes at the very time the four winds are let loose.

The nations are now getting angry, but when our High Priest has finished His work in the sanctuary, He will stand up, put on the garments of vengeance, and then the seven last plagues will be poured out.  {EW 36.1}

I saw that the four angels would hold the four winds until Jesus’ work was done in the sanctuary, and then will come the seven last plagues. {EW 36.2}

Soon He will say to the angels who are holding the four winds, “Let the plagues loose; let darkness, destruction, and death come upon the transgressors of my law.” {RH, October 8, 1901 par. 15}

The above statement from Early Writings says two things;

1) when Jesus’ sanctuary work is finished then the seven last plagues will fall

2) when Jesus’ sanctuary work is done then the four winds will be released (no longer held).

When the sanctuary work is over, both these things occur. Therefore the seven last plagues and the four winds are either one and the same thing or at the least concurrent events.

What do the four winds represent? The four winds represent both the elements of nature gone awry and political strife and war.

If such scenes as this are to come, such tremendous judgments on a guilty world, where will be the refuge for God’s people? How will they be sheltered until the indignation be overpast? John sees the elements of nature–earthquake, tempest, and political strife– represented as being held by four angels. These winds are under control until God gives the word to let them go. {TM 444.3}

Then I saw the four Angels cease to hold the four winds. And I saw famine, pestilence and sword, nation rose against nation, and the whole world was in confusion. {DS, March 14, 1846 par. 2}

Therefore, during the time of Armageddon (the sixth plague) when the four winds are released there will be political strife. Nation will rise against nation. The nations of the earth will be fighting each other.  If the people of God believe that the nations fighting each other is the four winds let loose there is absolutely no deception in that. The Middle East is the place of the greatest political tensions in the world.

The nations of the Middle East are some of the most volatile on the earth. If the nations of the Middle East are going to fight each other it is not a deception to believe that this is the four winds let loose. The nations could even fight each other on the very ‘dusty Palestinian plain’ and there would be absolutely no deception in believing that this is the four winds let loose.

Four mighty angels are still holding the four winds of the earth. Terrible destruction is forbidden to come in full. The accidents by land and by sea; the loss of life, steadily increasing, by storm, by tempest, by railroad disaster, by conflagration; the terrible floods, the earthquakes, andthe winds will be the stirring up of the nations to one deadly combat, while the angels hold the four winds, forbidding the terrible power of Satan to be exercised in its fury until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. {RH, June 7, 1887 par. 13}

Everything in our world is in agitation. There are wars and rumors of wars. The nations are angry, and the time of the dead has come, that they should be judged. Events are changing to bring about the day of God, which hasteth greatly. Only a moment of time, as it were, yet remains. But while already nation is rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, there is not now a general engagement. As yet the four winds are heldThen the powers of earth will marshal their forces for the last great battle.  {6T 14.1} until the servants of God shall be sealed in their foreheads.

Four mighty angels hold back the powers of this earth till the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. The nations of the world are eager for conflict; but they are held in check by the angels. When this restraining power is removed, there will come a time of trouble and anguish. Deadly instruments of warfare will be invented. Vessels, with their living cargo, will be entombed in the great deep. All who have not the spirit of truth will unite under the leadership of satanic agencies. But they are to be kept under control till the time shall come for the great battle of Armageddon.  {7BC 967.8}

How should we understand the three preceding statements? Since the four winds represent political strife and the nations of the earth fighting each other, we can draw the following three conclusions.

1) The winds will be the stirring up of the nations to one deadly combat in which they will fight each other.

2) The powers of earth will marshal their forces to fight against each other.

3) the nations of the world are eager for conflict against each other.

The issues (and combatants) will be spiritual, not political as they are at present in the Middle East. The battle of Armageddon will pit the nations of the world against the armies of heaven. . . .

What “weapons” would the beast and the rulers of earth employ in warfare against Christ and heaven? Will they deploy weapons of mass destruction or laser beams? The Bible doesn’t say, but it’s interesting to think about it. {Signs of the Times, September 2004}

The article in the Signs of the Times entirely ignores the fact that at the very time of Armageddon the nations of the world will be fighting against each other as plainly represented by the four winds. Instead they say that nations of the world will be fighting against the armies of heaven and not each other. They question how earthly nations could fight the armies of heaven perhaps with laser beams.

This is ludicrous. The armies of heaven will fight as they have always done, not in a visible manner, but as the angel Gabriel fought in Daniel 10:20 “and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.” The angels fight behind the scenes influencing nations to fight each other as Greece fought to overcome Persia.

The power of the Holy Ghost must be upon us, and the Captain of the Lord’s host will stand at the head of the angels of heaven to direct the battle. Solemn events before us are yet to transpire. Trumpet after trumpet is to be sounded, vial after vial poured out one after another upon the inhabitants of the earth. Scenes of stupendous interest are right upon us (Letter 112, 1890).  {7BC 982.7}

Jesus and the angels are not fighting, they are directing the battle.  This is to do with what Jesus is doing and the angels of God and the wicked people are there in contest.  The contest is deception to deceive the people and bring them together for destruction. This is the coming of Jesus.

Revelation 7:1-4 says that the seal of the living God is given to the people of God so that they can be protected when the four winds are let loose. The reason for this is so that they can be protected from the winds of political strife and war.

Satan is now using every device in this sealing time to keep the minds of God’s people from the present truth and to cause them to waver. I saw a covering that God was drawing over His people to protect them in the time of trouble; and every soul that was decided on the truth and was pure in heart was to be covered with the covering of the Almighty.  {EW 43.2}

Satan was trying his every art to hold them where they were, until the sealing was past, until the covering was drawn over God’s people, and they left without a shelter from the burning wrath of God, in the seven last plagues. God has begun to draw this covering over His people, and it will soon be drawn over all who are to have a shelter in the day of slaughter. God will work in power for His people; and Satan will be permitted to work also. {EW 44.2}

The people of God will be protected from the political strife and wars of the four winds.  Early Writings quoted that the seal of God is given to protect the people of God from the burning wrath of God in the seven last plagues. The seal of God is given to protect the people of God from both the seven last plagues and the four winds.  As they are protected from both, we can say the seven last plagues and the four winds are one and the same thing or at the very least they are events that bear a remarkable similarity.

The four winds represent earthquake, tempest, political strife, famine, pestilence, sword, and nation rising against nation. Can we distinguish between the earthquake and tempest of the seventh plague and the earthquake and tempest of the four winds? Can we distinguish between the incurable sores of the first plague and the pestilence of the four winds? Can we distinguish between the heat of the fourth plague which brings famine and the famine of the four winds? Can we untangle the events of the seven last plagues from those of four winds and say they are something different? Also we recognise that the four winds represent political strife and war but is there nothing to represent political strife and war in the seven last plagues?

As the people of God, we are to be prepared for the time when there will be political strife and wars at the end of the world, at very time of Armageddon. The article in the Signs of the Times ignores these facts and is itself a dangerous piece of deception. It is a ‘peace and safety’ message, which attempts to set people at ease in regards to any political strife and especially that which is occurring in the Middle East at the moment.

Adapted from the article at http://www.imsmessenger.org/search?q=armageddon

Posted on September 22, 2009, in Armageddon and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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