Critical events in the Middle East today suggest that the grim Biblical prophecy of Armageddon may be fulfilled.
by Robert N. Webster
In the middle of November, William H. Stoneman, famed war correspondent of the Chicago Daily News, stood upon a promontory in Northern Israel. A few hundred yards to the east, across the narrow valley of the Upper Jordan, were the fortifications of the Syrians.
At the point where Stoneman stood were the ruins of an Israeli village which the Syrians destroyed in May 1948. The trenches of the Israelis faced those across the Jordan.
To the southwest lay the lush valley of Esdraelon.
And above it commanding the valley, rose the heights of Armageddon.
Armageddon—a name to strike terror in the hearts of all students of the Bible and of prophecy. Armageddon—scene of the last and greatest battle that the world will ever know.
And as Stoneman surveyed the fateful scene he too recalled that here the battle to end all battles is due to be fought—if prophecy be true.
Anyone who read Stoneman’s dispatch in newspapers subscribing to the Daily News Foreign Service throughout the world must have been sobered as he was. For he wrote:
“The question before the world at this moment is whether the men in and behind those positions, with the backing of the Russians, are going to start something that might make the old prophecy come true.”
Stoneman could hear Syrian artillery practicing in the distance. There were other explosions as the Syrians blasted out new military emplacements. This was but a symptom of what was going on.
Events were moving with climactic swiftness. After repeated provocation, the Israelis had invaded Egypt. At the same time, the French and British embarked upon their seizure of the Suez Canal.
To the North, in Russia, the Great Bear fumed and sputtered and threatened Britain, France and Israel alike. And the Russians did more than fume. They supplied Egypt with planes and arms; they trained Egyptian officers in Russia. They poured aircraft and arms into Syria and piously denied it. They violated treaties, sending shiploads of arms through the Dardenelles.
The Arab states met to consider the Israeli-British-French attack upon Egypt and the Suez but most of them held back because of a greater fear of Russia. This is a fear not only of Communist domination but the even greater fear of Russian godlessness. The Mohammedans of Arabia and northern Africa are God-fearing men.
Two held out, Egypt and Syria. Both have been increasingly Russia. The Russians, meanwhile, have capitalized on the Arab hatred of the Israelis in an attempt to gain a foothold in the oil-rich Arabian peninsula.
The French-British-Israeli military action against Egypt was the least dangerous of the things going on in the Middle East.
Most dangerous was the Russian arming of the Syrians. At press time no one knew how many Soviet officers and men were in Syria. No one knew how many shiploads of Soviet arms had been unloaded in Syrian harbors. It was reliably reported that at least two shiploads per week were coming in.
It seemed that the Middle East was a powder keg, waiting only for a careless match to explode it.
To the north of Syria and Lebanon the Turks stirred restlessly when they heard Soviet planes flying high overhead at night, bound for Syrian airfields. Bordering Syria on the east is Iraq. Iraq is an Arab brother-state, it is true, but one increasingly fearful of Soviet domination in Syria.
Iraq and Turkey are allies. If Iraq attacked Syria, Turkey was bound to help Iraq. Turkish soldiers were already in Iraq to aid their allies as this was being written.
And if Turkey joined Iraq in war against Syria, the British by treaty were bound to aid the Turks. Thus the patterns of world disaster and destruction were being laid in the Middle East. Events were rushing toward a last tragic finale—toward the end that the Bible foretells.
The pieces of the puzzle were coming together. If war is to come the most likely place for it to start today is Armageddon. It would not be a war confined to that age-old battleground but one that would spread inevitably over the entire world—an atomic, world-destroying war.
No wonder William Stoneman was afraid as he stood, with Armageddon at his back, looking out at the Syrian fortifications.
The Bible reports many bloody battles at Meggido, which is Armageddon. Here is the interpretation that some modern Biblical scholars give to the 16th Chapter of Revelations, which foretells the fearful struggle:
1. And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.
The angels signify bombers, flying through the skies, dropping missiles of destruction.
2. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.
This seems to imply that war will be started at God’s order by His followers. If we assume that His followers are the rest of the World, as opposed to the Soviet and communist countries, it would appear that we, or the people with whom we eventually become allied, will start the war, and undoubtedly by bacteriological means.
3. And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
For the first time atomic weapons give man the capabilities of creating such destruction.
4. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
Again, for the first time man possesses the capacity for such destruction.
5. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou are righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou has judged thus.
6. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou has given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
7. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
8. And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
This eighth verse clearly suggests the use of hydrogen bombs. The hydrogen bomb works by fusion—using the identical process that creates the heat of the sun—instead of fission as the uranium bombs.
9. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not, to give him glory.
It would appear that the Soviets continued to fight bitterly, and that they continued their well-known denunications of every ideal that Western man holds dear, including God.
10. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain.
Moscow (“seat of the beast”) is bombed and Russian cities are destroyed—turned into darkness.
11. And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
Even so, the war continues.
12. 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.
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 unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
15. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
16. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
17. And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, it is done.
18. And there were voices and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
19. And 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 unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
20. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
21. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the width of a talent; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceedingly great.
And so it seems that the battle which starts at Armageddon will destroy the earth as we know it. This too is within the capabilities of men today and does not need the direct help of God.
The prophecy of Revelation is the prophecy of St. John the Apostle, believed written on the Island of Patmos. Revelation is fittingly the final book of the Bible—just as the Battle of Armageddon, the fiery Day of Judgment, would be the last of the world we know.
The interpretation set forth above is not one with which everyone will agree.
One religious group in this country bases its major doctrine upon a belief that Armageddon is close at hand. This group is Jehovah’s Witnesses. A recent issue of Awake, one of the publications of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which is the printing organization of Witnesses, states:
“It is clear that the war of Armageddon is near. Universal in scope will be the Armageddon war, which the Lord God Almighty will fight. It will involve the visible earth and the invisible heavens.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses put a much more literal interpretation on Armageddon than that previously suggested in this article. They believe literally that the war will be between the followers of Jehovah and those of Satan. As such it will vastly transcend any mere atomic-hydrogen bomb, bacteriological war.
To the Witnesses, all nations are equally guilty. “Satan, the god of this system of things, is preparing for a final fight against Jehovah and his Christ, and so are the nations under Satan’s invisible leadership,” declares Awake.
Men who call themselves Christians may deny this, but God’s revelations reveal it. The prophecies in Ezekiel and the Revelation disclose that all worldly nations are invisibly led by Satan and his demons to the attack against God’s side, say the Witnesses.
“It is not to fight among themselves that the demons under Gog (Satan) lead them to Armageddon. They do not go there to fight against a mere theory, a mere political ideology, a mere religious doctrine. They go there to fight against the real kingdom of God under Christ.”
The Witnesses believe that God’s forces will prevail. All the modern worshippers of Baal will be doomed, not a human will be saved.
On the winning side will be the remnant of “spiritual Israel” and a crowd of “other sheep,” their companions, all backed by the unseen hosts of heaven under Christ. It is they, say Jehovah’s witnesses, who will populate the new heavens and the new Earth.