A Study of Revelation 16:15-16
In Revelation 16 we read about the assembling for the Battle of Armageddon.
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
What kind of a battle is this?
Who will fight this battle?
Who will be on either side?
There are those who speak about this as some kind of a political battle, that is, a battled engaged in by nations of this world, where there will actually be tanks and rockets and guns, and so on, employed in this battle.
Of course the first question we must ask is, Who will be on God’s side?
What nation in the world is really on God’s side?
There really is no nation, is there?
Except the nation of born again believers. But when we’re on God’s side, then we’re not asked to take up the sword in defence of the Gospel.
Oh yes, there is a sword we do take up.
But it’s the Sword of the Spirit, isn’t it?
And rather than fight with weapons, guns and literal swords and what have you, we are rather to endure persecution. We are rather to die for the sake of the Gospel. The idea of Christians, of any nation that really belongs to God taking up physical weapons is reprehensible, is contrary to the Bible altogether.
Well then, what is this?
Well, when we look at the context in the light of anything else we can find, we know immediately what it is. It’s speaking of Judgment Day. We read in verse 14 that the kings of the whole world will be assembled for battle on the “Great Day of God the Almighty.”
Now what’s the Great Day?
Well, in Revelation 6 the Great Day is the day of God’s wrath, when the unbelievers are quaking in fear because of the return of Christ, when the earth itself and the universe itself is collapsing because it’s the end of time. And then we read in verse 17, “For the Great Day of their wrath has come, and who can stand before it?”
The Great Day of God the Almighty has got to be Judgment Day.
Now this is reinforced by the next phrase. “Lo, I am coming like a thief.”
Anywhere in the Bible where it speaks about Christ coming like a thief, it is referring to the end of time. It speaks of this in Matthew 24, when He’s talking about the Rapture and Judgment Day, “Lo, I am coming like a thief,” or words similar to that.
He speaks about this in I Thessalonians 5, when He says, “Men will say there is peace and security, and sudden destruction will come upon them,” because Christ comes as a thief.
But then He goes on and says, “But He will not come as a thief for you, brethren, because you are children of the light.”
1 Thessalonians 5:2
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
1 Thessalonians 5:3
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
1 Thessalonians 5:4
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
1 Thessalonians 5:5
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
1 Thessalonians 5:6
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
In other words, He comes as a thief for the unsaved because they’re not ready. They’re not born again. They are not at all prepared to face Judgment Day and hell. And also in 2nd Peter chapter 3, where it talks about the elements being melted with fervent heat, it’s in the context of Christ’s coming as a thief. That also emphasizes the fact that it’s talking about Judgment Day.
And then it also says, “Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Revelation 16:15)
Who will be those who are naked and exposed?
The unbelievers. They will be spiritually naked before God. Nakedness again and again is used in the Bible as a figure of being spiritually naked. They will be seen in their spiritual nakedness and will be judged for their sins and cast into hell. They are not awake. They are asleep. They are dead in their sins.
Now the believers, they have kept their garments. That is, we are clothed by the garments of Christ’s righteousness. And therefore we are covered. We do not stand exposed before God. And therefore we do not come into judgment.
Now why is this spoken of as a battle?
The reason is that in the Bible God constantly makes reference to the warfare that exists between Satan and his forces on the one hand, and Christ on the other. Before we are born again, we are at war with God. We are enemies of God. And Satan, who is our master, is doing anything he can to destroy the work of Christ.
Now Christ came as the Prince of Peace. He came with the peace treaty, to provide a way of reconciliation with God. And when we are born again, we are no longer at war with God. As Isaiah 40:1 puts it so beautifully, “Comfort ye, comfort ye, speak comfortably to Jerusalem, that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been pardoned.” You see, when our sins are paid for, when we are pardoned of our iniquity, we are no longer at war with Christ. We have joined Him. We are at peace with Him.
Now this warfare comes to conclusion at Judgment Day. Ordinarily, when two nations are at war with each other, the end of that warfare is with a final decisive battle. And the vanquished foe lies in the field with all the corpses there, and the birds of prey feeding on them. And the victor stands on the necks of the enemy and is forever victorious. It’s the final battle. And God frequently uses the figure of a final battle in speaking of Judgment Day, because it is at Judgment Day that Satan and all the wicked will be removed into hell. The end of the warfare has come, because once they are removed into hell, never again can they do battle with the body of Christ. And so this is spoken of as a battle.
That’s the reason that in Revelation 19 it speaks about Christ coming to do battle. And it speaks about the birds of prey feeding upon the corpses. That’s the reason in Matthew 24:28 it says, “For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together,” the body referring to the unsaved, who are vanquished at that point, when Christ comes. And the figure follows that they will be prey for the vulture. This is speaking about Judgment Day, even as the Battle of Armageddon is speaking about Judgment Day.