Revelation 16:16
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Gathering the kings

     "For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." (Rev. 16:14-16)

    The gathering described in our passage is in preparation for the cataclysmic end seen in the seventh plague. It happens just before the end when Christ returns. The three-part alliance will enforce the death and privation decrees described in Rev. 13:15 (linked below). We will look at this gathering first. Then we will explore the more obscure mention of the Hebrew language and what the term "Armageddon" means.

Gathered for a surprise
   The kings are gathered or joined in an alliance for battle. In the next chapter we see the vile woman on a beast and we are told that the beast's ten horns are "ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. 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." (Rev. 17:12-14) 1714. Although in a different setting, the kings there are the same as those here in the sixth plague. They are gathered to enforce the demands of the the beast carrying the woman but instead of killing the righteous who do not bow to the false religion Rev. 13:15, they find themselves overcome by the Lamb.

A place called Armageddon
   "And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." (Rev. 16:16).
   The meaning of this mystery word has always intrigued scholars and curious readers. For a good understanding of a text we must see the context and similar passages. And, as in all Scripture interpretation, we must seek the Lord and be submissive to the Holy Spirit (Rev. 1:3; John 7:17).
    In considering Armageddon, the eyes of the Christian world tend to focus on the Arab-Israeli tension or other world powers in a great battle. This is a false concept according to the way I read the Scriptures in the larger context. First of all, we are looking at symbols. A physical battle may be involved, in a sense, but the war is between the kings of the earth and the King of kings as we have seen in parallel passages above.
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Sources of imagery
   The Greek represents the word "in the Hebrew tongue." Armageddon is Har-Magedon in some manuscripts. "Har" is mountain. "Magedon" could be the same as "Megiddon," the name of a Canaanite fortress from very early times. It was located in what is now the plain of Esdraelon (east part of the Valley of Jezreel) which is bordered by the ridge of Mount Carmel.
    Not far away is Mount Carmel where Elijah confronted the priests of Baal and God sent fire from heaven (1 Kings. 18:17-41). We may see this conflict between false and true worship as a type (or symbol) of the conflict where Christ comes and takes over the kingdoms of this world (Rev. 11:15). As I developed my interpretation, I realized that there is no mountain of Megiddo. Why didn't the text say "Har Carmel"? Maybe because the valley is actually the location of the scene representing the destruction of the end-time kings and people.
....In Elijah's time, Israel had fallen into apostasy and truth had been obscured. People were worshipping idols and following the priests of Baal while having a form of following the true God. When the fire came down, it was clear to all that the God of Israel was the true God. So it will be at in the final test brought on by the image to the beast, Rev. 13:15. When all understand and will have made a choice for Christ or for Satan, probation will close. That was represented in the scene on Mt. Carmel. Then at Elijah's command, the people grabbed the priests of Baal who had deceived them and herded them down to the valley to the river Kidron where Elijah killed them under the direction of God (1ki1840). Consider that this represents the seventh plague where the wicked are destroyed at the coming of Christ. Thus the mountain and the valley "Har-Megiddo."
    Was this story of Elijah's witness intended by the cryptic Hebrew word? Evidentially, but we have more options. There are slight variations in the term in the Greek manuscripts for Revelation and other stories come to our attention.

More scenes providing a general understanding
In Judges 4 and 5, we find a prophet-inspired call for Israel to face its enemies jg0404ff. Sisera, the Canaanite general came to fight and the Lord, by the hand of the two faithful tribes of Israel, quickly overcame the enemy jg0415. The kings of Canaan came to fight near "the waters of Megiddo" jg0519 apparently called by Sisera.  We also have a mountain besides Carmel near Megiddo Mt. Tabor jg0406.
The Bible gives another location for the gathering for the final conflict the Valley of Jehoshaphat. See Joel 3. The significance of the Valley of Jehoshaphat is clarified in the story of his victory over three enemies 2 Chron.20:10. There the king trusted God who fought for him and the people 2 Chron. 20. So will God do for His people in the final time of trouble Ps. 91:9.
Instead of Armageddon we may read har-mo'edth. This term is used in Isaiah 14 for the mountain of God's throne, Isa 14:31. Lucifer, later Satan, presumed to take it over. The gathered kings will, in a similar way, attempt to take from God the control of the faithful remnant just before the coming of Christ.
    We can see concepts of the final conflict in these three scenes as well as the one on Mt. Carmel.

What is the focus of the sixth plague?
    Let's return to the text of the sixth plague. "And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs...." (Rev. 16:12, 13). The initial issue is not on the meaning of Armageddon. It's on the drying up of the Euphrates for the kings of the East. The river ran through the literal city of Babylon providing her support. The evil woman as Babylon thus sits on many waters (Rev. 17:1). The river was "dried up" by diverting the water and marching under the walls of the city then entering through river gates left open (Isa. 45:1). The literal kings of the East would be Cyrus and the king under him, Darius. Darius conquered literal Babylon (Dan. 5:30). Cyrus came later and liberated God's people from the city (Ezr. 6). The two kings were from Persia which was East of Babylon. This represents protection from the end-time coercive forces.
    Looking at the water of the river as the world's support system, we can see economic, political, and other chaos. This is the time of the loud cry (Rev. 18:1), the last call to leave spiritual Babylon (Rev. 18:4) before she is destroyed by plagues at the hand of God (Rev. 18:7).
    At the same time, the kings of the earth the political powers are united by deceptive miracles from the earth beast (Rev. 13:15-17). Satan can impersonate Christ or Mary or others 2co1114. When chaos leads to the breakup of the three-part alliance (Rev. 16:19), these kings lament (Rev. 18:9).

Note 16 a2
Who gathers the kings? (To skip this paragraph and accompanying note, jump)
   The three evil spirits of verse 14 gather the kings for Armageddon, while verse 16 says "he" gathered them. The word "he" could represent the one who keeps his garments or Christ who comes as the thief. In verse 14, however, neither of these gather the kings. "The spirits of devils" gather them. Many translations show "they" instead of "he" for who gathers the kings, making the gathering, in both verses to be by the evil spirits. This is an acceptable translation. I have chosen to follow the singular, "he" because it finds a closer antecedent he, indicating God or the one who keeps his garments. The truth of the text is unchanged by the pronoun although choosing "he" brings a little more information.

Translation Note

In Greek, as in other languages, the subject (he or they in verse 16) must agree with the verb (gather or gathers). The verb is singular so we expect a singular subject (he). A special rule, however, allows a plural subject in this case. Verbs (and nouns) in Greek may be masculine, feminine, or neuter. Here the verb (gather/s) is neuter. The special rule allows a neuter, singular verb to accompany a plural subject.

   "For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." (Rev. 16:14-16)
   At first the spirits gather the kings as Ahab gathered the priests of Baal. At the end of the showdown, Elijah ordered the gathering under divine inspiration. The text says, "And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." I believe God should be seen in a second gathering this time for destruction. (Notice that the gathering is mentioned twice.)
   The deceptive spirits sent out by the three-part religious coalition will induce the kings into a union to destroy those who are faithful to Christ and who keep God's law 1217c. God will allow the wicked to believe the lie of the coalition because that is their choice (2 Thess. 2:8-12). Thus He gathers kings and people for destruction. We will see it in chapter 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. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought 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. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh." (Rev. 19:19-21)

How God's people will be ready for the final battle

   The final day of the Lord is pictured in the Battle of Jehoshaphat 2 Chron.20. Did you notice that, in the battle of Jehoshaphat, the people drew close to God and He gained the victory for them. During the time of trouble, God will save His people while He will slay the wicked, partly by allowing them to destroy themselves. This is not the final end of the wicked, however. They will live again as we will see in Revelation 20.
   During the time of the sixth plague, the religious leaders of the world will have chosen to believe falsehood gathered by the deceptions of the three-part coalition of evil (1613b) as were the priests who had chosen to practice idolatry. The battle of Armageddon is decided on the mountain in the hearts of the people some for God and some against. It is executed under the seventh plague in in the valley. This is the battle of the mountain which is above the valley of Megiddo the battle of Har-Megiddo.
    Let's remember that the three-frog deception is for the whole world. The focus is on its results, not its location. We see it in several stories including the account of Elijah on Mt. Carmel. The deception will include acting like Elijah and performing miracles calling fire from heaven, 1313.

In the Hebrew tongue

     "And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." (Rev. 16:16)
   John, along with other New Testament authors, wrote in Greek. Why did the Holy Spirit, through him, direct us to think in terms of the Hebrew language? When the armies of Sennacherib surrounded Jerusalem after conquering the other cities within their reach, they talked in the people's language and said bad things about their godly leaders who were wishing that they would use the Syrian language instead of Hebrew. Isaiah 36. In the end-time gathering of the kings, we may expect to the religion of the remnant to be despised and great pressure exerted on them to abandon their minority, Bible-based convictions.

So what happens under the sixth plague?

   The text sequence is as follows:

verse 12 Plague 6. Vial emptied. Way for kings of East prepared.
verse 13 Three spirits come from enemies of God
verse 14 Devil spirits do deceptive miracles to gather kings of earth
verse 15 Christ comes as a thief. Keep ready
verse 16 Kings gathered to Armageddon
verse 17 Plague 7. "It is done." World comes apart. Punishment and slaying of the wicked.

   At the end of chapter 15 we learned that there would be no intercession during the plagues 1508. The righteous are sealed at this time and do not need to have sins forgiven. Then why the admonition to be ready? We concluded that verses 13 to 15 1615c explain what happened earlier for the gathering of the kings. Now the job is completed.
   The sixth plague describes the work of the image to the beast 1315.

    Let's remember that God's people will be saved out of the time of trouble. It is for the wicked. Let's each determine to remain faithful in every way to our Lord Jesus.

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