The End of 'This Present Evil Age'

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The End of 'This Present Evil Age'

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“Now as [Jesus] sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’” (Matthew 24:3 Matthew 24:3And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world?
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). They wanted to know when the age of human misrule under Satan—which the apostle Paul refers to as “this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4 Galatians 1:4Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
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)—would give way to the Kingdom of God.

Jesus explained that His return would be preceded by “great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21 Matthew 24:21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
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).

It’s difficult to imagine the magnitude of suffering that will take place during a few terrifying years at the end of our age. Prophecy portrays that time as the most violent and tumultuous period in history. Jesus continued, “If that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive” (Matthew 24:22 Matthew 24:22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
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, REB).

Mercifully, that frightening time will quickly pass. Immediately after it will begin the wonderful era of the Kingdom of God, about which Daniel wrote. Christ will return at the conclusion of that violent era to establish permanent peace.

Why, then, will God allow those days of war and chaos to occur?

The unseen hand of the archdeceiver

As we’ve seen, the Bible warns us of Satan the devil’s deception of mankind. Through this deception he has made himself the ruler and god of this present age. Just before Jesus returns, God Almighty will permit Satan to finally bring about what he started with the original city of ancient Babel, or Babylon (Genesis 11:1-4 Genesis 11:1-4 1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelled there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach to heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad on the face of the whole earth.
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). Satan used a man named Nimrod to organize the many small but rapidly multiplying tribes of mankind into a system quite different from what God intended.

Nimrod’s kingdom was the first recorded attempt to unite all people into a single empire (Genesis 10:8-12 Genesis 10:8-12 8 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: why it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. 10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and built Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, 12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.
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). His ambitious effort, however, was contrary to God’s purpose. It was humanity’s first attempt to thwart God’s desire to give each family group its own territory as an inheritance (Genesis 10:32 Genesis 10:32These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.
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). God wanted man-kind to make use of the extended family as the foundation for organization and structure. Nimrod, however, persuaded the people of his time to reject God’s plan in favor of a single empire supported by a strong military force.

Nimrod’s followers lacked faith in God’s protection, leadership and way of life. They wanted to decide for themselves how the earth should be organized and governed. They preferred to remain as one people and organize themselves without family distinctions (Genesis 11:1-4 Genesis 11:1-4 1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelled there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach to heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad on the face of the whole earth.
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).

What was God’s reaction? He intervened in the incident at the Tower of Babel and, by confusing their language, compelled earth’s early inhabitants to scatter and form separate nations as He had intended (Genesis 11:6-8 Genesis 11:6-8 6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there on the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
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). Ever since, God’s prophets have used the term Babylon as a symbolic representation of Satan’s dominion through human government, culture and religion.

During the latter days of the kingdom of Judah, in the sixth century B.C., the ancient city of Babylon expanded its power to become the dominant regional empire under the leadership of King Nebuchadnezzar II (the Nebuchadnezzar of the Bible).

At the time of the end, Satan, for a brief time, will again organize several blocs of nations into significant world powers (Revelation 9:16-18 Revelation 9:16-18 16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them. 17 And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. 18 By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.
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; Revelation 17:12-13 Revelation 17:12-13 12 And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength to the beast.
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).

The symbolic beast will rise again

Chapter 12 of Revelation pictures Satan as “a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads” (Revelation 12:3 Revelation 12:3And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads.
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). It describes his attempt to destroy Jesus Christ shortly after His birth: “And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born” (Revelation 12:4 Revelation 12:4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
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; compare Matthew 2:13-21 Matthew 2:13-21 13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be you there until I bring you word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. 19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appears in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. 21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
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).

At length the scene shifts to the time of the end: “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12 Revelation 12:12Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
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).

Next Revelation 13 begins with a description of “a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name” (Revelation 13:1 Revelation 13:1And I stood on the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads the name of blasphemy.
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). This beast reflects characteristics of four similar beasts mentioned in one of Daniel’s prophetic visions (Daniel 7).

The apostle John, who wrote the book of Revelation, further describes the beast as he saw it: “Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2 Revelation 13:2And the beast which I saw was like to a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
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).

Satan (the dragon) is the power behind the scenes. This end-time political and military alliance will reflect many of the features of the four ancient empires that began with King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

“The beast that you saw [having the same basic characteristics as the four beasts in Daniel 7, which represent ancient Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome] was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” (Revelation 17:8 Revelation 17:8The beast that you saw was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
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).

With the fall of Rome, that ancient system supposedly came to an end—as if mortally wounded. But its surprising revival, from the ashes of the Roman Empire, is described here in the book of Revelation: “And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast” (Revelation 13:3 Revelation 13:3And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
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).

Notice the power and influence this satanically guided governing system will wield in the last days: “So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’” (Revelation 13:4 Revelation 13:4And they worshipped the dragon which gave power to the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like to the beast? who is able to make war with him?
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). The world will fear and marvel at the enormous power of this alliance of nations.

Notice the configuration of this political and military alliance. “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour [a short time] as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast. These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them” (Revelation 17:12-14 Revelation 17:12-14 12 And the ten horns which you saw are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. 13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength to the beast. 14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
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).

Another beast

“Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb [as if inspired by or trying to impersonate Christ] and spoke like a dragon [Satan]. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed” (Revelation 13:11-12 Revelation 13:11-12 11 And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. 12 And he excercises all the power of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
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). This beast claims to represent Jesus Christ—the true Lamb of God (Revelation 13:8 Revelation 13:8And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
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)—but actually speaks for Satan concerning what people are to worship.

In Revelation 17 this beast is also pictured as a fallen woman, a harlot: “And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Revelation 17:3-5 Revelation 17:3-5 3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit on a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And on her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
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).

The fallen woman sits on and guides the first beast (the alliance of 10 kings, rulers of nations or groups of nations). She is the world’s chief advocate of Satan’s disgraceful doctrines. She artfully preserves the pagan mysteries—the fundamentals of ancient Babylon’s religion—in her traditions and teachings. She will be a fierce advocate of these ancient religious customs and practices at the end of this age, again making them internationally popular.

Who is this spiritual harlot? “And the woman whom you saw is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18 Revelation 17:18And the woman which you saw is that great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.
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). The ancient cities of Babylon and Rome controlled vast empires, subjecting many nations and kings to their traditions and culture. Prophecy reveals that a modern city will assume a similar role at the time of the end.

This city will be powerfully influential in this world’s religious, political and economic arenas. By the time the fallen woman—this Babylon the Great—is destroyed by Christ, it will be the case that “all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury” (Revelation 18:3 Revelation 18:3For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
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).

This is a religious power that will influence every level of society. For a time she will be the pacesetter for the world. She is “the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication” (Revelation 17:1-2 Revelation 17:1-2 1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying to me, Come here; I will show to you the judgment of the great whore that sits on many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
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).

Satan will employ the traditions and beliefs of this powerful city to deceive the world (Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
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). “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues [languages]” (Revelation 17:15 Revelation 17:15And he said to me, The waters which you saw, where the whore sits, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
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).

Satan will also use the leaders of these two beasts to convince the world that a new political and religious alliance is the key to lasting international peace. But the entire system will be built on concepts that appeal to human reasoning, lust and vanity while rejecting the revealed laws and ways of God. Partly for that reason, the book of Revelation aptly defines this end-time advocate of Satan’s traditions as “Babylon the Great” (Revelation 16:19 Revelation 16:19And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give to her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
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; Revelation 18:2 Revelation 18:2And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
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).

Psalms 2:1-3 Psalms 2:1-3 1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
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describes the attitude of rulers and other people who embrace Satan’s principles: “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’” Satan’s political and religious systems are rooted in the popular conviction that man has the right to decide for himself what is right and wrong.

Illusion of peace

The devil boasted to Jesus Christ of his power and control over “all the kingdoms of the world” (Matthew 4:8-9 Matthew 4:8-9 8 Again, the devil takes him up into an exceeding high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And said to him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me.
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). He will never willingly relinquish his powerful influence over mankind. This is why the world will experience the terrifying time prophesied by Jesus Christ—a time that, if not cut short, would lead to the extinction of human life (Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
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).

Satan, the master deceiver, often deludes human agents into marketing his deceptive arguments. He uses them to champion his basic concepts. At the time of the end, Satan’s philosophy will be vigorously promoted as mankind’s final hope for world peace and security (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes on them, as travail on a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
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). It will be championed as the world’s greatest opportunity to work together for the good of all.

Scripture refers to Satan’s main advocate in the time of the end as “the man of sin…, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
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).

His efforts will be “according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all delusion of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
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). This man’s persuasive powers will be enormous.

Tragically, multitudes from all nations will believe his clever lies. They will enthusiastically endorse the concepts Satan introduced at the Tower of Babel. They will be thoroughly deluded into believing deceptive assurances that these satanic concepts will produce world peace and harmony.

A time of worldwide conflict

But these false promises of lasting peace and security will be short-lived. Satan’s end-time political kingdom will have a fatal flaw that will rip its unity apart.

God revealed to the prophet Daniel that, in its final phase, “the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay” (Daniel 2:42-43 Daniel 2:42-43 42 And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. 43 And whereas you saw iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not join one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
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).

The nations involved will be unable to override their differences. At the very end “the ten horns which you saw on the beast…will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire” (Revelation 17:16 Revelation 17:16And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
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).

Adding to the turmoil and conflict will be kings from east of the Euphrates River who take part in “the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:12-14 Revelation 16:12-14 12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial on the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. 13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
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).

Also, many prophecies imply the end-time existence of people descended from the 12 tribes of Israel. Some of these prophecies indicate that these descendants of both the house of Israel and the house of Judah—the Jews—will become objects of Satan’s wrath (Daniel 12:1 Daniel 12:1And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
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; Jeremiah 31:7-10 Jeremiah 31:7-10 7 For thus said the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish you, praise you, and say, O LORD, save your people, the remnant of Israel. 8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travails with child together: a great company shall return thither. 9 They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. 10 Hear the word of the LORD, O you nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd does his flock.
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; Revelation 7:2-4 Revelation 7:2-4 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
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; Revelation 12:1-13 Revelation 12:1-13 1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. 3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. 5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up to God, and to his throne. 6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days. 7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brothers is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives to the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time. 13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
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).

Remember that the apostle John, in his vision concerning Satan’s part in end-time events, heard a voice exclaiming: “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12 Revelation 12:12Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
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).

Satan’s intentions embody no concern for the welfare of human beings. He wants to use the factions of humanity for war, not peace. The devil knows Jesus Christ will soon return. He is fully aware that his control over humanity will soon end. Therefore, Bible prophecy reveals, Satan plans to manipulate humanity’s efforts to achieve lasting peace and unity as a tool for venting his own anger against Christ.

Rather than enjoying peace and safety, mankind will fall victim to Satan’s desperation and wrath. The devil will once again pit mankind against the true God. The armies of many nations will gather in the vicinity of Jerusalem for the most terrifying military showdown in history. Jerusalem is considered a holy city by three of this world’s great religions. Geographically, it is in one of the most strategically important locations on earth—the crossroads of the continents of Africa, Asia and Europe.

The battle of the great day of God Almighty

To assemble these armies, Satan will send “spirits of demons, performing signs…to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14 Revelation 16:14For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
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). What the gathered generals, other officers and soldiers will not realize is that Satan plans to use them to fight Jesus Christ as He descends from heaven (Revelation 19:11-19 Revelation 19:11-19 11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the middle of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together to the supper of the great God; 18 That you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
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; Zechariah 14:3-4 Zechariah 14:3-4 3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. 4 And his feet shall stand in that day on the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall split in the middle thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
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).

This “great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14 Revelation 16:14For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
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) is also called the “Day of the Lord” in the Scriptures. These terms, in this context, refer to the time just before Christ returns when God will punish a defiant humanity for its rebellion. It is the time when the nations in Satan’s system will bring on themselves the just wrath of God (Revelation 14:9-10 Revelation 14:9-10 9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
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).

A large faction in this final battle—the beast power supported by a coalition of 10 rulers—will amass its armies on the plain near the ancient military stronghold of Megiddo in northern Israel: “And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon” (Revelation 16:16 Revelation 16:16And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
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).

The very word Armageddon (the Greek form of the Hebrew Har Megiddo or hill of Megiddo) has become a term for a vast and decisive battle that threatens all life on the planet. That was the point of Christ’s statement about the time of the end: Human survival is at stake! Weapons of mass destruction are so powerful that life on earth can be destroyed many times over.

As Daniel was told, “At that time…there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time” (Daniel 12:1 Daniel 12:1And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
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). Without Jesus Christ’s intervention to rescue the world from Satan’s cunning and man’s foolishness, human life would be extinguished.

Maybe this seems too outlandish to take seriously. But it is real. It will happen. The apostle Paul spoke plainly of this earth-shaking time: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night [at an unexpected time]. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes on them, as travail on a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
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).

When the world’s final effort for international unity to ensure “peace and safety” falls apart, a world war unlike anything man has ever seen will result. After a brief period of unimaginable destruction, Christ will intervene to prevent human annihilation (Matthew 24:22 Matthew 24:22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
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).

God will humble the nations

Why must the world come to this tragic state of affairs? What is God’s purpose in the cataclysmic events of what the Bible calls “the great and awesome day of the LORD”? (Joel 2:31 Joel 2:31The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come.
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).

God’s ultimate goal has always been to bring all people to repentance (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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). But a repentant humanity is impossible as long as most people follow Satan’s lead in proudly exalting human opinions and traditions above the teaching of the living God.

Long ago, through Isaiah, God explained what He plans to accomplish during the coming Day of the Lord: “For the day of the LORD of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up; and it shall be brought low” (Isaiah 2:12 Isaiah 2:12For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be on every one that is proud and lofty, and on every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
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). Before Jesus Christ returns to assume rulership over the earth, God plans to humble all people who will respond to His correction.

The survivors from this brief but devastating period—especially those descended from ancient Israel and Judah—will be primarily people whose hearts have softened and been humbled by their experiences (Isaiah 2:11 Isaiah 2:11The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.
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). Through their trauma God will prepare a humbled people who will willingly accept Christ’s leadership and teaching when He returns.

Through the prophet Zephaniah, God explained that He uses catastrophes to humble people: “My determination is to gather the nations to My assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them My indignation, all My fierce anger; all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy…for then I will take away from your midst those who rejoice in your pride, and you shall no longer be haughty in My holy mountain. I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people” (Zephaniah 3:8-12 Zephaniah 3:8-12 8 Therefore wait you on me, said the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour on them my indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. 9 For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call on the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent. 10 From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia my suppliants, even the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring my offering. 11 In that day shall you not be ashamed for all your doings, wherein you have transgressed against me: for then I will take away out of the middle of you them that rejoice in your pride, and you shall no more be haughty because of my holy mountain. 12 I will also leave in the middle of you an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.
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).

Though this passage is specifically directed toward the end-time remnant of Israel and Judah, it graphically illustrates how and why God humbles the proud and arrogant.

Through the prophet Ezekiel, God explained why He urges mankind to repent and turn from sin: “Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, … and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die” (Ezekiel 33:14-15 Ezekiel 33:14-15 14 Again, when I say to the wicked, You shall surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; 15 If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.
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). Isaiah 59:20 Isaiah 59:20And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and to them that turn from transgression in Jacob, said the LORD.
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illustrates the same principle: “ ‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,’ says the LORD.”

On the other hand, God promises no such rescue for those who reject His correction and refuse to repent of their arrogant and rebellious ways. They will receive no divine protection from the horrendous destruction that will ravage the earth: “Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it” (Isaiah 13:9 Isaiah 13:9Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
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).

Preparing the world for Christ’s return

Many prophetic passages describe the time of God’s preparation of the world to accept the rule of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. As Creator of the universe, God will demonstrate His authority and power over everything He has created. Mankind will have no excuse for refusing to honor Him with the respect due His name.

Why are such drastic measures necessary?

Notice Paul’s description of humanity’s prevailing attitude at the time of the end: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 2 Timothy 3:1-5 1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
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).

Mankind’s attitude and motivation must change. The haughty, headstrong, unloving and brutal attitudes dominating the world at the time of the end must be altered. God knows that only the destruction of this world’s society—ironically, mostly by man’s own treachery and violence—will adequately shock hardened human minds into realizing that “this present evil age” is too corrupt to be preserved.

Our society is rapidly deteriorating morally and spiritually into the ungodly attitudes and practices that Paul warned would characterize the last days. Jesus gives this warning to people perceptive enough and willing to listen: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35 Luke 21:34-35 34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come on you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
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).

Not willing to repent

Even in the terrifying midst of the dying and destruction of the end time, most people will cling to their evil ways: “But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons…And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Revelation 9:20-21 Revelation 9:20-21 20 And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: 21 Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
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).

The task of bringing mankind to repentance is neither simple nor quick, and it cannot happen without suffering. People have demonstrated throughout history that most will not face up to their sins unless they personally and immediately experience sin’s devastating consequences.

The world we know will reap the full penalty of its sins. God compares end-time events to an angel harvesting a vine loaded with grapes: “So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:19 Revelation 14:19And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine press of the wrath of God.
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). God will no longer limit the destructiveness of man or Satan—except to intervene just before human annihilation would occur.

The prophet Zephaniah described that day of reckoning for mankind’s collective evil and rebellion: “The great day of the LORD is…a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation…’I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like refuse.’ Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’s wrath” (Zephaniah 1:14-18 Zephaniah 1:14-18 14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hastens greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. 15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, 16 A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. 17 And I will bring distress on men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’s wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.
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).

Jesus describes this time as one of “great distress in the land and wrath upon this people…They will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations” (Luke 21:23-24 Luke 21:23-24 23 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath on this people. 24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
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). He also explains that “Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (verse 24). God will allow gentiles to “tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months”—a period of 3 ½ years—just before Jesus returns (Revelation 11:2 Revelation 11:2But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
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).

How the past relates to the future

Jesus ties the future to the roots of the crisis at the close of the age. To understand the importance of Jerusalem at the time of the end, we need to go back in history to the first fall of Jerusalem to gentile control. Jerusalem’s fall back then directly relates to events at the end of the age.

In 586 B.C. the Babylonian Empire captured and destroyed Jerusalem. This momentous event, along with the capture and exile of Jerusalem’s residents, was the final punishment God meted out on the ancient nations of Israel and Judah. It brought to an end the direct rule of King David’s dynasty over the Holy Land and the city of Jerusalem. Jesus Christ will permanently reestablish and rule from David’s throne there at His return (Luke 1:32-33 Luke 1:32-33 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give to him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
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).

Psalms 106:40-42 Psalms 106:40-42 40 Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, so that he abhorred his own inheritance. 41 And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them. 42 Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.
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summarizes the captivity of Israel and Judah: “Therefore the wrath of the LORD was kindled against His people, so that He abhorred His own inheritance. And He gave them into the hand of the Gentiles, and those who hated them ruled over them. Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.”

From that time forward the hope of Israel’s and Judah’s descendants has been expressed in this prayer: “Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the Gentiles, to give thanks to Your holy name, to triumph in Your praise” (Psalms 106:47 Psalms 106:47Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks to your holy name, and to triumph in your praise.
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). Through His prophets God promised ancient Israel and Judah He would bring them back to their land at the coming of the Messiah.

But the prophets also reveal that, immediately before the rule of the Messiah, Jerusalem will once again be under the rule and influence of gentiles. Even today, with a Jewish state reestablished in the Holy Land, many other nations, along with the native Arab population, contest Jewish authority over the original city of Jerusalem (East Jerusalem). The Temple Mount remains under Islamic control. Jerusalem is still a troubled and divided city, a constant source of international friction.

Jerusalem at the time of the end

Jerusalem is the focal point of many significant end-time events foretold in the Bible. “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies,” warned Jesus, “then know that its desolation is near…For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (Luke 21:20-22 Luke 21:20-22 20 And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is near. 21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the middle of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
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).

Many prophecies seem to indicate these events will be triggered by the Jews designating a “holy place” in which they will again offer morning and evening animal sacrifices. This could so inflame other nations that the leader of the coalition of 10 rulers forming the beast power might intervene, setting up an “abomination” in this designated holy place (Daniel 11:31 Daniel 11:31And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that makes desolate.
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; Daniel 12:9-11 Daniel 12:9-11 9 And he said, Go your way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. 11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that makes desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
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)—a defilement that included an idolatrous image in the earlier, prototypical fulfillment of this prophecy. This scenario seems to be the most likely way these prophecies could be fulfilled in light of current conditions.

Notice the terrible significance Jesus places on this event: “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:15-21 Matthew 24:15-21 15 When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray you that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
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, NIV).

Witnesses for God and Satan

Jerusalem will be the focus of other crucial events during this fateful time. God will send to Jerusalem two prophets—as His two witnesses—to prophesy and perform miracles on His behalf. Like the prophet Elijah in ancient Israel, they will testify to the whole world that it is deceived, that it has rejected the true God in favor of an idolatrous lifestyle reflecting Satan’s evil influence.

“ ‘And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days [ 3 ½ years]…And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut heaven [as did the prophet Elijah of old], so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood [like Moses in Egypt], and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire” (Revelation 11:3-6 Revelation 11:3-6 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devours their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
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).

But Satan has anticipated this and is prepared to resist God. He will ready his own counterfeits of God’s two witnesses. These two tools of Satan are prophetically designated as “the beast” and a “false prophet who worked signs in his [the beast’s] presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image” (Revelation 19:20 Revelation 19:20And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
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).

Set against each other for 42 months, or 3 ½ years, will be these opposing pairs of spiritual leaders—one pair representing God, the other pair representing Satan and his system.

The beast of Revelation

It’s important at this point to understand that in the book of Revelation the term beast can designate either Satan’s governmental or religious system or the charismatic leader who is the human head of the governmental system. As in prophecies of Daniel, both the structure and its leader are represented as a beast that devours opponents.

Notice the influence the leader of the coalition of 10 rulers forming the beast power will wield over the world at that time: “And all the world marveled and followed the beast. So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’ And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them” (Revelation 13:3-7 Revelation 13:3-7 3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. 4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power to the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like to the beast? who is able to make war with him? 5 And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given to him to continue forty and two months. 6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 7 And it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
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).

The offense of these saints in the eyes of Satan is their allegiance to God in the face of the devil’s domination of the world. Satan will “make war with…[those] who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17 Revelation 12:17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
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), persecuting and killing those faithful Christians (Matthew 24:9 Matthew 24:9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
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).

Putting it in context

The events at the time of the end are the climax of trends that began in the Garden of Eden. There Satan persuaded Adam and Eve to defy God’s commands. At the time of the end, God will draw a clear distinction between people who live by His commandments and those who devise their own religious practices and rules of life under Satan’s influence. When all is said and done, the winners will be “those who do His commandments” and therefore “have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city [New Jerusalem]” (Revelation 22:14 Revelation 22:14Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
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).

Let’s next put Satan’s determination to destroy God’s people in a larger context. In a vision the apostle John watched God the Father give Jesus Christ, in the presence of many witnesses, the greater part of the book of Revelation. It was in the form of a scroll. This scroll contained descriptions of significant events related to Christ’s second coming. But it was sealed with seven seals. Only Jesus Himself was found worthy to break the seals and open it to our understanding (Revelation 4-5).

John had made it clear in Revelation 1:10 Revelation 1:10I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
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that the “Lord’s Day,” or Day of the Lord, is the primary subject of these visions from Christ. They strip off the veil from the Old Testament prophecies that speak of God’s judgment on the nations.

Opening the seals

In Revelation 6 Christ breaks the seven seals and unveils their meaning. The first four represent the religious deception, wars, famines and epidemics that lead up to the time of the end (Revelation 6:1-8 Revelation 6:1-8 1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. 2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given to him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. 3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given to him a great sword. 5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and see a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. 6 And I heard a voice in the middle of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see you hurt not the oil and the wine. 7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
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). Satan’s end-time persecution and martyrdom of God’s people, as described in the fifth seal (Revelation 6:9-11 Revelation 6:9-11 9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, do you not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given to every one of them; and it was said to them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brothers, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
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), and the heavenly signs of the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12-16 Revelation 6:12-16 12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, see, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every slave, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
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) also begin before “the great day of His wrath” (Revelation 6:17 Revelation 6:17For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
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)—before the Day of the Lord.

The first six seals correspond to the signs Christ described in His Olivet prophecy, recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Jesus calls them “the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:8 Matthew 24:8All these are the beginning of sorrows.
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, NIV). These precede the time of God’s wrath, the Day of the Lord. Once these conditions and events begin, they continue to the very end of the age—increasing in frequency and severity like labor contractions. The intensity of destruction rapidly escalates from their cumulative effects as the end approaches.

The first six seals in Revelation 6 summarize major events and conditions that lead up to the Day of the Lord. The remainder of the book of Revelation concentrates primarily on what happens during the Day of the Lord. At that time God’s judgment will fall on the nations, which are deceived by Babylon the Great. This will occur just before Christ establishes the Kingdom of God.

Persecution, tribulation and heavenly signs

It’s important that we understand the relationship between the fifth, sixth and seventh seals. The fifth seal describes Satan’s war on God’s people, the end-time persecution and martyrdom of many of those who remain faithful to God: “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then … it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed” (Revelation 6:9-11 Revelation 6:9-11 9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, do you not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given to every one of them; and it was said to them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brothers, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
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).

Jesus further described the persecution and martyrdom of His faithful servants at this bloody and dangerous time: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:9-13 Matthew 24:9-13 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.
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).

Christ describes this frightening time as one of “great tribulation,” an era unparalleled in history. “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
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).

Jesus explains what must happen next. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29 Matthew 24:29Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
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).

Now notice how this corresponds to the sixth seal in Revelation 6:12-16 Revelation 6:12-16 12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, see, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every slave, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
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: “I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place” (Revelation 6:12-14 Revelation 6:12-14 12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, see, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, even as a fig tree casts her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
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).

“And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!’” (Revelation 6:15-16 Revelation 6:15-16 15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every slave, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
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).

The sixth seal announces and introduces the Day of the Lord: “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17 Revelation 6:17For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
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). The prophet Joel confirms that the time of great tribulation and the heavenly signs precede the Day of the Lord. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD” (Joel 2:31 Joel 2:31The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come.
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).

The Day of the Lord arrives

The Day of the Lord is the time of God’s wrath—His judgment on any who have set themselves against Him and His people. It is the time of his judgment and punishment of the world for its arrogance and disobedience to His commandments.

Notice what happens when Christ opens the next seal: “When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets” (Revelation 8:1-2 Revelation 8:1-2 1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
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).

This is the time written about since the beginning of written prophecy (Luke 21:22 Luke 21:22For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
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). Even the angels in heaven are silent while Jesus Christ breaks the awesome seventh seal. What it reveals is recorded in symbols portraying the major events of the Day of the Lord.

The judgments and punishments of the Day of the Lord are announced by seven angels blowing seven trumpets. The seven trumpets represent the totality of God’s intervention in the affairs of man at the time of the end. Let’s briefly look at the nature of the punishments that make up that intervention.

The seven trumpet plagues

The punishments announced by the first four trumpets devastate the earth’s ecology—mankind’s environmental support system. A third of the trees are destroyed in the first trumpet disaster, a third of ocean life is destroyed in the second, a third of the world’s freshwater supply becomes unusable in the third disaster, and it appears that the atmosphere is polluted and darkened in the fourth trumpet catastrophe (Revelation 8:6-12 Revelation 8:6-12 6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. 7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast on the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. 8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; 9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. 10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell on the third part of the rivers, and on the fountains of waters; 11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter. 12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
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).

Though many die during these catastrophic events (verse 11), God is impressing on mankind that life on the planet exists at His pleasure. As the apostle Paul told the Athenians, “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 Acts 17:28For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
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). God is reminding the world in the only language everyone can understand that He, the Creator of life, can also take life away.

The calamities of the last three trumpets are then directed specifically toward the inhabitants of the earth, rather than just toward their surroundings: “And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!’” (Revelation 8:13 Revelation 8:13And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the middle of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
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). Now God begins to punish people directly.

Under the punishments of the fifth trumpet, men are not killed but are tormented “for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man” (Revelation 9:5 Revelation 9:5And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he strikes a man.
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Then the command is given “to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million” (Revelation 9:14-16 Revelation 9:14-16 14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. 15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. 16 And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
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).

Though these prophecies are couched in symbolic language, the astounding number of deaths caused by smoke, fire and brimstone indicate that the world’s armies will finally unleash their horrifying weapons of mass destruction. God will allow this to happen. Then the massive devastation of human life will begin.

The indescribable carnage from the warfare is part of God’s judgments on rebellious mankind. Shortly, His angels will also release “the seven last plagues” in which “the wrath of God is complete” (Revelation 15:1 Revelation 15:1And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
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). This time coincides with Christ’s warning that nothing would survive if He did not return (Matthew 24:22 Matthew 24:22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
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A triumphant announcement

Finally, the most important event of all occurs at the time the final trumpet is blown: “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’” (Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
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At that time Christ will “destroy those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18 Revelation 11:18And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
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). This includes that entire system called Babylon the Great, whose satanic roots thread back to the dawn of human history: “Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore’ ” (Revelation 18:21 Revelation 18:21And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
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).

John describes Christ’s victory at Jerusalem in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (see also Joel 3:2-14 Joel 3:2-14 2 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. 3 And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink. 4 Yes, and what have you to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will you render me a recompense? and if you recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompense on your own head; 5 Because you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things: 6 The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have you sold to the Grecians, that you might remove them far from their border. 7 Behold, I will raise them out of the place where you have sold them, and will return your recompense on your own head: 8 And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD has spoken it. 9 Proclaim you this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: 10 Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. 11 Assemble yourselves, and come, all you heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause your mighty ones to come down, O LORD. 12 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. 13 Put you in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
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) in the accompanying battle: “Now I saw [in a vision] heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war … And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

“Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19:11-21 Revelation 19:11-21 11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the middle of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together to the supper of the great God; 18 That you may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. 20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that worked miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat on the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
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).

Something else must happen before Jesus Christ can begin His earthly reign: Satan must be restrained and removed from his dominance over the world. “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:1-2 Revelation 20:1-2 1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
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).

With organized opposition removed, Christ will then begin the work of bringing genuine peace and righteousness to mankind. In the next chapter we will see God’s prophets’ description of the incredible world Jesus Christ will build as He restores the rule and ways of God.