Decoding Armageddon (Part 1) (12-10-17)

In 1998, Touchstone Pictures released the hit film Armageddon. The plot of the film is that NASA had identified a “Texas” sized asteroid en route to collide with earth, threatening to exterminate all of creation. En lieu of this approaching catastrophe, the US. president in the film notifies the world via a universal broadcast and references Revelation 16:16. His reason for doing so is to claim that their upcoming extinction is labeled by that passage as the day of Armageddon. The association made in this film between Armageddon and the end of times has been made several times before. Truth be told, a plethora of books whose pages are devoted to the sole subject of deciphering the “cryptic meaning” of Armageddon have been in circulation for many years now. This topic of discussion is very popular in great part because of the sensationalism created by mainstream media. Needless to say that this tactic is used by them to link pandemonium with Armageddon in an effort to enlarge their bank accounts. They succumb to these cunningly devised fables because they have dismissed God’s truth as unamusing, grievously mistaking the Bible as a source of entertainment. Thus, Paul’s warning to Timothy comes in to plain view as he wrote, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1st Timothy 4:1-2, emphasis added). Paul’s instruction continues as he declares that these people are strongly motivated by being “lovers of themselves, lovers of money” and “whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame-who set their mind on earthly things (2nd Timothy 3:2a and Philippians 3:19). Indeed, it is extremely important to realize that these men who have tragically authored this confusion about John’s inspired words concerning Armageddon have done so for the sake of selfish gain. Thus, in an earnest effort to be “a worker who does not need to be ashamed” let us explore the Divine truth to discover the true significance of Armageddon by “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2nd Timothy 2:15, emphasis added). It is eminent to begin by bringing back to our memories some fundamental principals pertaining to the book of Revelation. First and foremost, remember that this book forms a part of God’s inspired Word known today as the Bible. This is extremely valuable to maintain in our minds because this means that its content was authored by the Holy Ghost and therefore its teaching is spiritual in nature (2nd Timothy 3:16-17). Since it is God who inspired John’s words, then the lesson will coincide with the rest of the Bible in its entirety, “for God is not the author of confusion but of peace” (1st Corinthians 15:33, emphasis added). Next, let us not forget that this book is highly symbolical. Because this is so, the majority of the images and scenes described by John must not be interpreted literally; doing so will mislead the diligent reader from the correct interpretation of the Holy Scripture found in this book. Thirdly, it is wise to understand the purpose for it being written in symbolic form. According to Biblical history, during the period that this sacred book was written the church was being heavily persecuted by Rome. Roman imperial law ruled Christianity as illegal and anyone caught practicing it would be accused of treason against the crown, punishable by death. Due to this atrocity, any form of literature promoting Christian doctrine was deemed unlawful and would be immediately destroyed. The person caught carrying and distributing these treatises would be condemned to death by horrible torture. Therefore, the Holy Spirit deemed it necessary to inspire John to write this book in the form of coded language. This style of apocalyptic language was used to prevent the enemies of God from comprehending the message held in the pages of this book. Also, this style of apocalyptic writing had been used before in the Old Testament. The prophets Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah all wrote their books in a similar style and have several of the same symbols found in John’s book of Revelation. Irrefutably, our brethren alive during this tumultuous time were very well versed and familiarized with these symbols. Thus, their knowledge of what these images represented made it possible for them to fully grasp John’s entire message. Biblical scholars manifest that from the 403 verses found in Revelation, approximately more than sixty-five percent of them are written using in Old Testament language. It is also imperative for the adequate understanding of what Armageddon represents to know the central theme and setting of the book. This cardinal rule of literature is especially valuable when it is applied correctly to the study of the Bible. The book of Revelation was written to Christians who were victims of Rome’s violent and deplorable persecution. Members of the church of Christ were victims of an awful propaganda spearheaded by the Roman government that slandered Christians by labeling them as a dangerous threat to society. It was the intent of this movement to spread fear and hate against the Lord’s church. For this reason, to be a member of the church of Christ during that time frame was daunting and burdensome due to society’s disdain for them. To be a Christian during that lifetime was very similar to being a Jew in Nazi Germany during World War II. Thus, we have as the setting for this book the imagery of warfare. John illustrates an ensuing war between Rome and the church of Christ. A fitting description since Cesar had declared all Christians as his enemies because they would not acknowledge or worship him as a god. Hence, this became the “justification” for the unmerciful slaughter of our brethren. However, the church and Rome are both metaphors that represent God and Satan, truth and error. Therefore, the message being transmitted by the Holy Spirit through John is the assurance of victory in Jesus. It is a message of encouragement to all Christians (past, present, and future) to continue fighting the battle for salvation, for in Christ there is guaranteed victory. With this fundamental knowledge in mind, let us then move forward and begin to decode the true meaning of Armageddon. To be continued…

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