Today’s readings.. (1 Samuel 9), (Isaiah 54), (Revelation 15,16)

There is only one place in the Bible that uses the word ‘Armageddon’ – it is in our reading today (Rev.16). It occurs at the climax of the pouring “out on the earth of the seven bowls of the wrath of God” [v.1] It is the outpouring of the last two bowls that attract our particular attention.

As the final bowl is being poured out, “a loud voice” proclaims “It is done!” [v.17] There are “flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder; and a great earthquake … and the cities of the nations fell” [v.18,19] This follows the act of pouring out the sixth bowl when “The kings of the whole world …assemble … for battle on the great day of God Almighty.” [v.14]

“Three unclean spirits like frogs (V13) … go abroad to the kings of the whole world” to assemble them for this battle … they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” [v.16] The word means “a heap of sheaves (arema) in a valley (gai) for judgement (dun). It is the place of the outworking of the great conflict with Got will occur(Ezek 38) leading to God’s declaration “It is done”..

What are these “unclean spirits”? We think of them as human attitudes of mind – in contrast to spiritual attitudes. We suggest that they are, The cry of the French revolution.. Liberty, Equality and Fraternity – these have stirred up great friction within and between nations.

Whatever we might think they are, we are awed by this picture of the final days of human rule on earth. The key result of the pouring out of the final bowl is that “God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.” [v.19] Babylon! In Hebrew it is the word ‘Babel” – and we remember what happened to Babel (Genesis 11 v.1-9).

While we see the destruction of a corrupt religious system we can be sure of the wonderful meaning in today’s 53rd chapter in Isaiah. It pictures the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ – so obvious is this that before the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered sceptics were sure it must have been written after the event of the great work of salvation Christ achieved.

Christ’s last words on the cross were “It is finished” [John 19 v.30] or “It is done.” Let us make sure that, for us, he did not die in vain, and we can be part of the time described from Revelation chapter 19 onwards,