PREPARING FOR THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
PREPARING FOR THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Have you ever thought much about the Battle of Armageddon, the conflict that will take place when the Lord Jesus appears from Heaven to set up His Kingdom? His saints, those who are called, chosen, and faithful, will ride behind Him on the white war stallions.
That Christ will come with an army of saints is probably pretty well known by Christians. What has not been discussed to any great extent, as far as I know, is the preparation that will be required for being a soldier in the army of the Lord.
Table of Contents
Introduction Why a Battle Is Necessary The Principle of Multiple Application Joel's Army Other Descriptions of the Battle of Armageddon The Revealing of the Sons of God Called, Chosen, and Faithful What We Are Learning Now Conclusion
PREPARING FOR THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. (Revelation 16:16—NIV)
All Christians can see that the earth is filled with spiritual darkness. It appears, however, that not all Christians understand God is going to redeem, or buy back, the earth to Himself.
But He is! The price has been paid—the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. But the landlord will not surrender the property even though the price of redemption has been paid.
The answer is force. The earth and its nations must be taken from Satan by force.
The battle in which Satan and all his followers will be driven from the earth is termed the Battle of Armageddon. Armageddon is an area near Jerusalem, probably a plain somewhat to the north although there is some dispute over this.
The exact location of Armageddon is not important to know in the present hour. What is important is the preparation of Christ's soldiers, His holy ones, for the battle.
We may think all believers will appear with Christ and battle the enemy in that day. This is not the case. The army of the Lord will be an elite striking force, highly trained in spiritual combat.
There will be an actual battle. Most Christians in America today are nowhere near being ready for the Battle of Armageddon. But God is calling to us now, and whoever will choose to do so may enter the preparations for the Battle of Armageddon.
In the symbolism of the Old Testament the giving of the Law of Moses on Mount Sinai represents the outpouring of the Holy Spirit we term "Pentecost." The law of the new covenant is the Holy Spirit Himself.
Two events took place after the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. One event was the constructing of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The other event was the organizing of the tribes of Israel into an army in preparation for the invasion of Canaan, the land of promise.
Obviously Canaan cannot symbolize Heaven, since the Lord's people will not be organized into an army in order to invade Heaven. Canaan represents all that God intends to give His people, including change into the image of Christ, rest in the center of God's Person, and then the earth and its nations. These are the goal of our redemption, not eternal residence in the spirit Heaven that surrounds us and is above us. The spirit Heaven is rather a staging area for the army of the Lord.
The Christian churches have been at Pentecost during the twentieth century. Now it is time to build the Body of Christ, the counterpart of the building of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and to organize the Christians into the army of the Lord. I think this building and organizing is taking place among the deceased believers also, for we all shall ride together behind Jesus Christ in the Day of the Lord.
We need to get a sense of the whole Body of Christ, those of us on the earth and the great majority with Christ in the spirit realm. I believe what happens to the one happens to the other. Otherwise we could not all come together to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Because we are moving past Pentecost to the Jewish feast of Trumpets (to be followed by the spiritual fulfillments of the Day of Atonement and the final climax of the feast of Tabernacles) there will be an increasing emphasis on war. Our hymns and choruses, while we already possess, "Onward Christian Soldiers" and the like, will increasingly emphasize the spiritual battle of the last days.
The Jews did not have to fight when they left Egypt. God did all the fighting. The Jews did have to fight when they entered the land of promise. God helped them but they did the fighting.
So it is that Christ did all the fighting for us when He died on the cross. But in order for us to enter our land of promise we ourselves will have to fight, and God will help us.
As we have stated, the landlord, Satan, will not surrender the earth and its nations even through the price of redemption was paid on the cross of Calvary.
Satan and the fallen angels heavily affect the peoples of the earth. Their thrones are in the air above us. This is why the army of the Lord will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. The thrones in the air must be occupied by Christ's kings before the earth can be cleansed from the powers of darkness.
When we come to the Lord today He forgives our sin. The blood has redeemed our soul. But Satan fights for control of our body. We want to serve God but Satan looks for every door in our personality that he can find in order to deceive us into sinning against the Lord.
We are fighting the good fight of faith today as we keep going to God for the wisdom and strength to subdue the lusts of our flesh and soul and to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. If we are faithful in putting to death the deeds of our body through the Spirit of God, then, when the Lord comes, He will redeem our body and we will be able to appear with Him and help install the Kingdom of God on the earth.
But if we are not faithful in putting to death the deeds of our body through the Spirit of God, then, when the Lord comes, He will not redeem our body. Rather we will reap corruption, the Scripture says. Just what will be included in reaping corruption I am not certain, but I am certain we will not be resurrected, glorified, and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. I am certain of this because of what Paul taught about the Kingdom of God and what Jesus taught us in the parable of the ten virgins and the parable of the talents.
If we have not been faithful in the little entrusted to us now we would not be faithful in the greater and we will not be assigned the greater. Our talent will be taken from us and given to another and we ourselves will be placed in the outer darkness.
If we have not learned to overcome the enemy in this world we are not a candidate to ride behind the Lord Jesus.
Satan will not release the nations from his chains and he will not release the Christians. He is determined to maintain control of the earth. That is why we have such doctrines in the churches as "As long as we are in this world we have to sin" and "Christ is coming at any moment to remove us from the world."
This is precisely what Satan desires—to keep people sinning and to remove the Christians from the earth. Satan wants the earth and its peoples, particularly the bodies of peoples, for himself. It is through the bodies of people that Satan and his followers in the heavens are able to enjoy themselves in the earth.
Once the Christian people decide to take back their bodies and the earth for God and Christ, the battle will begin in earnest. Every inch of the material realm will be contested. Satan and his angels for so long have regarded the material realm as their possession they will use every resource to keep us from invading it.
The creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God, for it is only through the sons of God that the creation can be released into the liberty of the Spirit of God. And the sons of God are not able to release the creation until they themselves have been released. This is the struggle we are having today, and it is going to intensify in the days ahead and attain its climax in the return of Jesus Christ and the Battle of Armageddon.
Before we turn to the Old Testament passages that describe the coming of the Lord and the Battle of Armageddon, I would like to explain a principle of biblical interpretation. I would term it "the principle of multiple application."
By this I mean many of the prophecies found in the Old Testament apply to the immediate conditions and dangers of the Israelites and their land. But as one reads the prophecy he becomes aware there is a message overriding the immediate application, a message that has to do with the Kingdom of God. It is my opinion that these secondary messages are read and understood by God's angels, both the fallen angels and those who were obedient to God.
Ever since the rebellion of the angels God has been bringing to pass a plan He made at the time. God did not immediately confine all of the wicked angels but left some of them on thrones in the air above us to test the peoples on the earth.
All of the revelation of God, as far as I know, the knowledge of God's plan, comes forth through people in the earth. Then the understanding is given not only to us on earth but also to the angels as well as the saints who live in the spirit realm. They in addition to us are profiting from the Spirit of revelation that operates in the earth. The revelation is continually unfolding, especially now as we approach the climax of the Church Age.
Let me point out a passage from the Book of Ezekiel as an example of multiple application.
Beginning in the twenty-sixth chapter, Ezekiel prophesies against the ancient city of Tyre. Tyre was a coastal city north of Mount Carmel and south of Sidon.
Evidently Tyre was an outstanding city. But Tyre had displeased God, just as America is displeasing God today, and God warned that He would send Nebuchadnezzar against Tyre and destroy it. The Lord announced that Tyre never would be rebuilt. Usually the prophecies against the cities and nations of old ended with a promise that God would restore them. But not Tyre!
Say to Tyre, situated at the gateway to the sea, merchant of peoples on many coasts, This is what the Sovereign LORD says: You say, O Tyre, "I am perfect in beauty." Your domain was on the high seas; your builders brought your beauty to perfection. (Ezekiel 27:3,4—NIV)
What a great coastal city Tyre was! I suppose every great nation imagines it will last forever. But, as God warned, Tyre was destroyed, never to attain its former glory.
The prophecy against Tyre continues in Chapter Twenty-eight, but now we see clearly that there is a second message addressed to Satan.
You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. (Ezekiel 28:14-17—NIV)
I believe it would be reasonable to say that the Spirit of God had gone far beyond the earthly king of Tyre and now was addressing Satan, telling him that he was to be driven in disgrace from the mount of God, expelled from among the fiery stones, and thrown to the earth.
I seriously doubt that the earthly king of Tyre would be termed a guardian cherub who was to be driven in disgrace from the mount of God and thrown to the earth. How do you feel about this?
If we can accept that there is a double meaning in Ezekiel, Chapter Twenty-eight, part of the text being addressed to the earthly king of Tyre and part addressed to Satan, we can proceed to the Old Testament prophecies concerning Armageddon and the coming of the army of the Lord.
The first and perhaps the most important of these prophecies has to do with Joel's army. Remember, when Peter stood up on the Day of Pentecost he said, "This is that which was prophesied by the Prophet Joel." We see therefore that while the Book of Joel has an immediate application to the people and land of Israel it also contains a secondary message concerning the development of the Kingdom of God.
The first chapter of Joel describes a plague of locusts. The second chapter appears to be continuing with the description of the plague of locusts but then, as in the case of the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, the language seems to be referring to something beyond locusts, in this instance the Day of the Lord, the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, the Battle of Armageddon.
Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? (Joel 2:10,11—NIV)
I don't know about you but it seems to me that the above two verses are a bit heavy for a description of locusts.
The shaking of the earth, the trembling of the sky, the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars, are the leaves of the fig tree that tell us the return of the Lord and the resurrection of the dead are at hand. It it likely that at no other time in the history of the world, past, present, or future, have these signs appeared or will they appear. They are the Lord's calling card.
Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31—NIV)
Of particular interest is the following statement:
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand— A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. (Joel 2:1,2—NIV)
The second chapter of Joel is the sounding of an alarm. The alarm is directed toward the Lord's people—Zion. The alarm concerns the coming of the Day of the Lord.
Perhaps the important thing to notice is what characterizes the return of Christ. The primary aspect of the return of Christ is the appearing of a large and mighty army such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. This, to our knowledge, is the coming of the sons of God, those who have been prepared to return with Jesus Christ and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.
This passage of course fits many other descriptions of the return of Jesus Christ. When the Lord comes He will not be alone. He will be followed by His army on the white war stallions.
Jude informs us that one of the main targets of the judgment of the Lord, performed at the hands of the saints, will be the hypocrites in the churches.
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men [the sinners in the churches]: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones To judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 1:14,15—NIV)
Let us now examine some of the other passages, Old Testament and New, that discuss the return of Jesus Christ and His army of saints, and the Battle of Armageddon.
You will notice that the context of these prophecies in the Old Testament are warnings concerning immediate dangers to the Israelites.
See, the day of the LORD is coming—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. (Isaiah 13:9-11—NIV)
Although the above passage is contained in a context referring to an invasion by one of Israel's enemies, it is clear the words transcend the immediate situation and reach forward to the Day of the Lord. We have the familiar leaves of the fig tree—the darkening of the stars, their constellations, the sun, and the moon. Also the whole world is to be punished for its evil, not just Israel.
The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the LORD, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for man or linger for mankind. The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which mauls and mangles as it goes, and no one can rescue. Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed. (Micah 5:7-9—NIV)
The above seems to go beyond the Assyrians and reach to a larger scene. How do you feel about this?
And then the following from the Book of Habakkuk.
You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from head to foot. Selah With his own spear you pierced his head when his warriors stormed out to scatter us, gloating as though about to devour the wretched who were in hiding. You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters. I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. (Habakkuk 3:13-16—NIV)
That the above warning is more than the assault of an earthly army is implied in the opening verses of Chapter Three.
God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed. His ways are eternal. (Habakkuk 3:3-6—NIV)
I think it is clear the third chapter of the Book of Habakkuk is referring to more than an attack by physical armies.
"Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things," says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 4:1-3—NIV)
The New Testament is not without its declarations of the day that is coming in which the saints will appear with the Lord and destroy evil from the earth.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20—NIV)
Then comes the description of Christ and His army descending from Heaven to fight the Battle of Armageddon.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Revelation 19:11-15—NIV)
Satan and the kings of the earth will attempt to repel Christ and His saints. Satan regards the material realm as his special possession. However, Satan's defeat is written in the Scriptures, and the Scriptures shall never pass away.
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. (Revelation 19:19,20—NIV)
"Thrown alive" means they were thrown in in their bodies, for they never had spiritual life.
The end of the wicked is assured. This does not mean, however, that the Battle of Armageddon will not be a genuine battle requiring a great and strong people. We must be prepared for such terrible conflict. We are being prepared today if we truly are following the Spirit of God and are not just average American churchgoers.
That it is the saints who will execute judgment on the wicked of the earth is revealed as follows:
Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, To inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, To bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, To carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD. (Psalms 149:5-9—NIV)
Do you not know the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (I Corinthians 6:2,3—NIV)
We do not usually think of Christ and His saints as being the judges and destroyers of the evil found in the earth, but they shall be in the Day of the Lord. Today Christians are as sheep for the slaughter. But in that Day of days the tables will be turned on the wicked. The righteous shall rule!
We have been describing the terrific onslaught and destruction of the Battle of Armageddon. It is through this invasion of the earth that the decent people of the nations will receive release so they can enjoy the freedom and glory of life in the Spirit of God.
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21—NIV)
Notice carefully that the material creation is not waiting for the Son of God. Of course, it is God in the Son in the sons, but it is important to think about the participation of the sons and that it is they for whom the creation is eagerly waiting.
The thousand-year Kingdom Age will be a time when the Glory of God covers the whole earth as the waters cover the sea. Perhaps we had supposed that such Divine Glory would rain down from the heavens.
Not so! All the Glory will come to the saved peoples of the earth, all who are willing to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, at the hands of the sons of God.
The reason we are buffeted day and night as God probes our personality is that we who are called to be the brothers of Jesus Christ might be changed into His image. Such change requires a long drawn-out process of death to our adamic nature and the implanting of Divine Life in our new born-again personality.
We often grow tired of the seemingly endless demand of the Lord that we submit to change, that we rise above our sinful nature. But change into the image of Christ and entrance into untroubled rest in the Heart of God are absolutely necessary if we are to bring the Holy Spirit to the nations of the earth, if we are to be the covenant of God with people.
The Glory of God will rest on His people during earth's darkest hour and the nations will come to them. All who do will be able to partake of the Glory of God and will be set free to walk in the Spirit of God. What a wonderful Day is at hand!
"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:1-3—NIV)
We hate to think of the violence that must be exercised against the wicked when the Lord returns, but the wicked must be destroyed and cast out of the earth if we are to bring the Holy Spirit to the nations of saved people.
The creation, perhaps without realizing it, is anxiously awaiting the saints who will appear with Jesus Christ at His return to earth. The creation was subjected to frustration and decay with the hope that one day it can be released into the freedom of the children of God.
It reminds us of the story of Gideon, when a small group of people won a battle on behalf of a much larger population.
Truly a marvelous day is coming to the earth at the hands of the sons of God, but first there will be the violent onslaught of Armageddon.
They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. (Revelation 17:14—NIV)
The only saints who will appear with Christ in the Day of the Lord are those who are called, chosen, and faithful.
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4—NIV)
Our calling as saints originated when God formed the world.
And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:30—NIV)
We have been called to be saints, holy ones of God.
To be chosen requires that we take our calling very seriously and seek God with our whole heart. Only a few Christians do this. This is why the Lord said many are called but few are chosen.
"For many are invited, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14—NIV)
Jesus was referring to the fact that some who were invited to the wedding did not bother to dress properly. Numerous Christians of our day are not dressing for the wedding. They still are wearing their old worldly clothes and expect to be received "by grace." Either we dress for the wedding or we will be thrown into the outer darkness, as in the case of the man who buried his talent.
Jesus chose those who remained with Him after the thousands left.
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know you are the Holy One of God." Then Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!" (John 6:68-70—NIV)
So if we are to ride behind the Lord in that Day we must have been called and then demonstrate we are worthy to be chosen. We must dress for the occasion. The marriage of the Lamb is not a come-as-you-are party.
But what about being faithful?
After we have been called and chosen we must be proven faithful. Faithfulness is one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. Faithfulness is another name for integrity. To be faithful is to do what we say we are going to do.
We Americans used to place a high value on faithfulness, on integrity. Not any more. From the government on down people get by with what they can. They give their word, and then if what they promised proves to be uncomfortable or inconvenient they go off in another direction. This happens often in marriages.
No believer, even though called and chosen, will appear with Christ if he or she is lacking in integrity, in faithfulness. We have promised to follow Christ, to be married to Him, to be His slave. Now we never, never, never change. No matter what happens to us, no matter how we are inconvenienced or suffer, we stay true to Christ.
The Apostles stayed true to Christ, except for Judas. Judas was called and chosen but he did not remain faithful.
Most Christians in America are hoping for an unscriptural "rapture" to take them to Heaven. It is not going to happen. They have been called but they have not demonstrated enough diligence in the things of Christ to be chosen. Neither are they faithful. They are not dressed for the marriage of the Lamb. They do not have the radiantly white clothes that reflect the righteous behavior that always is formed in those who are faithful to Christ.
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8—NIV)
What we are saying is, if you are not a diligent Christian remaining faithful to Christ in every circumstance, you will not be raised from the dead and caught up to meet the Lord when He appears. Being saved by grace does not mean you do not have to exercise diligence in order to be chosen. Being saved by grace does not mean you do not have to be proven faithful, although this is what is preached today.
Does this mean if I ever am deceived and stumble I have lost my chance of being in the army of the Lord?
No, when we stumble we get back on our feet, receive our forgiveness, and press on in the Lord. We return to the fight stronger and wiser.
Rather I am referring to the average Christian churchgoer in America. He or she is not diligent in the things of God, living primarily in the ways of the American culture although making a profession of belief in Christ.
He or she is not faithful to Christ and will remove himself or herself from painful circumstances even though to do so is to break God's laws.
Such have no chance whatever of being raised when the trumpet sounds. We are sounding the alarm. Multitudes of American Christians are not prepared to meet the Lord when He returns. They will not follow Him on the white war stallions. They would cause the Lord's army to be defeated when it faces the enemy, just as they themselves are defeated today whenever they face the enemy.
Those who ride with Christ in that day will be called, chosen, and faithful. This is the great and strong people described in the second chapter of the Book of Joel. This is the Gideon's army that will destroy the enemy in the Day of the Lord. They will sit on thrones and serve the Lord as the royal priesthood during the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The believers who are not chosen and faithful will not be among them. If they were the Scripture would be broken, and this can never be.
If you are not a fervent, faithful Christian you will not be raised from the dead and ascend to meet the Lord in the air when He returns. Do not let anyone deceive you. It shall not happen. It is not too late for you to change. But tomorrow may be too late.
No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. (I John 3:6,7—NIV)
The subject of the present article is preparation for the Battle of Armageddon.
What are some of the virtues that must be present in our personality if we are to be qualified and competent to ride behind Christ in the Day of the Lord?
Several required characteristics may be found in the second chapter of the Book of Joel.
First, we must be courageous with the courage of Christ, and strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Joel's army is no place for fearful, weak believers. The Lord is teaching us courage and giving us strength today as we wrestle against the powers of darkness.
Many believers become fearful at the thought of spiritual battle. The Lord will help us overcome such fear if we ask Him. But there is no place for the fearful in the army of the Lord.
A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. (Joel 2:2—NIV)
They will attack the wicked nations with the speed and fury of a cavalry charge. Whether their glorified bodies are able to take on the appearance of a horse (which is entirely possible) or whether they will actually ride horses remains to be seen. The horse in the Scripture is a symbol of speed and strength, especially in war.
They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. (Joel 2:4—NIV)
With a noise like that of chariots they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle. (Joel 2:5—NIV)
These are not a weak, timorous people who are easily cowed. They are not spiritually sluggish as so many are today. They are not "fools and slow of heart to believe." They are warriors, a mighty army. They are drawn up for battle.
The Lord Jesus must create such characteristics in us today, and also in the saints who are in the spirit realm, for we are all one army. There will not be opportunity later. We are approaching the end of the age and the return of the Lord. The time to prepare yourself for the Battle of Armageddon is now—today. Tomorrow may be too late for you.
At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale. (Joel 2:6—NIV)
The unscriptural teaching of the "rapture" declares that God will carry us up to Heaven so we do not have to face Antichrist and the great tribulation. Do such teachers have no idea of the terrifying appearance of the resurrected and glorified sons of God? Do they not realize the wicked will be stricken with horror when they see Divine light as a thousand-watt bulb streaming from the saints, realizing that such cannot be harmed?
It is not the saints who will have to flee Antichrist and the great tribulation, it is the wicked who will flee from the sight of the saints!
They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course. (Joel 2:7—NIV)
We are being trained to fight like this today. The Lord will help us to charge against the enemy, to climb over every difficulty.
The church people of today have a difficult time marching in a straight line, not swerving from their course. They are all over the place as the fancy strikes them. In numerous instances they are almost completely unaware the Lord Jesus demands strict discipline from His disciples.
As long as we are living in our sinful adamic nature we will never march in a straight line. Fear, personal ambition, lust, pride, jealousy, self-will, seeking to be preeminent, and a thousand other motives and drives will keep us from proceeding for very long in a straight line. Only those who are putting to death the deeds of their body are able to walk a straight line with Jesus.
They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks. (Joel 2:8—NIV)
You have never been in a Christian church in your life where the people did not jostle each other and break ranks. The churches are filled with gossip and slander, criticism and envy—believers demanding that they have their own way.
Am I correct?
In time past we may have accepted such behavior as being normal and acceptable for Christians. It is not acceptable. It is proof that the walls against sin have been broken down so the enemy can attack us at his pleasure.
Every pastor and leader is to make it clear that gossip and slander, criticism and envy, are absolutely not tolerated in the Kingdom of God, in the army of the Lord. These behaviors are not acceptable!
But can they be overcome? Of course they can be overcome by the unlimited authority and power of Jesus Christ. But first the people must realize such actions and attitudes will no longer be tolerated. These behaviors belong in the Lake of Fire, nowhere else.
Believers who refuse to reject and renounce gossip and slander, criticism and envy, will be driven from the ranks of the true Christians in the days to come. Such people make it utterly impossible for the enemy to be conquered.
We are in a new day. What was acceptable yesterday may no longer be acceptable today. We are preparing ourselves for the historic confrontation between Jesus Christ and Antichrist; between the Holy Spirit and the False Prophet; between God and Satan. Do we imagine there is any place in the Lord's army for gossip and slander, criticism and envy? These actions are of Satan, the accuser of the brothers. Whoever participates in them is aligning himself or herself with Satan, whether or not he or she claims to have saving faith in Christ.
At one point in history the English infantry was trained to bayonet the attacker on their right. When they swung to bayonet the man in the side who was attacking their comrade to the right of them, the left side of their body was unprotected. They escaped death only if the comrade to the left of them did the same thing—swung to his right and bayoneted the enemy attacking his comrade on the right. Do you get the picture?
How many Christian churches in America are mature enough that the believers can trust their fellow worshipers to this extent? Well, every soldier in the army of the Lord will be this trustworthy. Each one has been called, chosen, and proven faithful.
They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows. (Joel 2:9—NIV)
We may not imagine ourselves behaving in the above manner. But we shall if we appear with Christ. The wicked must be driven from every place where they are entrenched. As we said, deliverance and blessing will come through the saints, not poured down from Heaven.
The Lord Jesus said He would return as a thief. Now we understand what He meant!
All of the above characteristics are absolutely essential if we are to participate in the Battle of Armageddon.
In addition we must be conformed to the moral image of Jesus Christ. We must have the fruit of the Spirit abounding in our personality. We must develop iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.
How can we do this? By obeying, through the Spirit, the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. As we obey the numerous commandments found in the New Testament, Christ, the Day Star, is formed in us. We cannot ride with Christ in the Day of the Lord unless He has been formed in us. We cannot rule the nations with a rod of iron until the Day Star has risen in our heart.
He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery —just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:27,28—NIV)
There is no place here for the sinful nature or the carnal mind of the human being. These are the sons of God and He is with them. He has begotten them by His Word and has trained them until they are ready to assume the government of the nations.
The only people who will be raised to the slain Lamb when He appears in the sky above us are the eagles who have learned to live by His body and blood. Where the Carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered.
We have known the Lord Jesus as the Good Shepherd of the twenty-third Psalm. Now He is coming to us as the Lord of Hosts of the twenty-fourth Psalm.
Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty—he is the King of glory. Selah (Psalms 24:7-10—NIV)
The ancient doors are the doors of the human heart. We are told in the Book of Revelation that if we open our heart to the Lord He will dine with us. We eat and drink His body and blood, for they are our eternal life. He eats and drinks from the worship and obedience of our personality.
Through the strength we receive from eating and drinking His body and blood we are able to overcome the sin of the world. Then we are permitted to sit in the throne with Christ as He sits in the throne of His Father. This means the Father and the Son are enthroned on our personality, and after we have been proven faithful we are permitted to sit there with them
The Lord who enters us is the Lord of Hosts, the Lord strong and mighty in battle. We would not expect this. We would expect the Good Shepherd. But Moses is dead and now it is Joshua's turn. Christ was our Moses and now He is our Joshua.
It is war from now on. The trumpets are blowing announcing the Day of Atonement, the season lasting from now until the end of the Kingdom Age, during which the Church and the saved nations will be reconciled to God.
When we receive Christ as our Savior we die to the world and are resurrected into the Kingdom of God.
When we walk in the Spirit of God we die to sin and are resurrected into the freedom of life in the Spirit.
When we decide to become God's servant we die to self-will and are resurrected into fruitfulness and dominion.
We have known Christ. We have known the Holy Spirit. Now it is time to learn obedience to the Father. It is time now to prepare ourselves for the tabernacling of God and Christ in us, the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles.
All of what we have written may seem to you to be far above your reach. It is not. It would be if it were left up to you to accomplish. But it is not left up to you to accomplish.
Christ died on the cross for your sins. You did not have to accomplish this, just enter the blessing by faith.
The Holy Spirit was poured upon you from Heaven. You did not have to accomplish this, just enter the blessing by faith.
Now the Lord Jesus Christ is ready to bring you to maturity in Himself and complete the work of redemption. You do not have to accomplish this, just enter the blessing by faith and do what He tells you to do. He will be with you and not fail you. He will bring you to the perfection and strength He requires.
But if you are the careless, casual churchgoer of our day, let me be clear that you are not prepared to participate in the Battle of Armageddon. You are neither qualified by the Word nor competent by training. This means you will not be raised from the dead or transformed at His coming. You will not be caught up to meet the Commander in Chief in the air because you have not been chosen or proven faithful.
What your end will be I cannot say. Perhaps you will be saved by the tormenting flames of the fire of Divine judgment. This is not impossible but not a pleasant prospect. Perhaps the door will be shut in your face because you did not keep enough oil on hand. Perhaps your talent will be taken from you and given to another while you are thrown into the darkness.
Perhaps you will be weak enough to cooperate with the Antichrist world system. In this case your end will be torment in the presence of the angels and of the Lamb.
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:11—NIV)
This is no joke. Jesus Christ died on the cross to purchase you as His slave—that is correct, His slave. As loving and gentle as He is, He demands your unqualified obedience.
If you regard the coming of the Lord as a time of revelry you have not studied your Bible. It will be a time of darkness. That darkness fell on Christ while He was on the cross. He overcame all by faith in His Father.
Now it is time for us to demonstrate that we love Jesus. We are to come out of the enticing world of today and pray, read our Bible, put to death the deeds of our sinful body, present our body a living sacrifice, deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus, assemble with fervent believers, give, desire the gifts of the Spirit, and in all matters be obedient and look to the Lord for every decision of life.
This is only the normal Christian life and our reasonable service of worship.
The present life is short at best. We have this one opportunity in eternity to show God that we really love Him. The world of the present is not designed to be a happy place. It is cursed. Happiness will come later—all the happiness we could ever desire.
The present world is a place of testing, a proving ground. It is here that we are taught and tested, taught and tested, taught and tested. There is no opportunity for retirement from the program of change, for we have been predestined to be changed into the moral image of Jesus Christ. Only then will we be bread for the nations.
If you have a heart for God, then look up. He has kept the good wine until now.
But if you are sitting in a carnal church, being fed with grace, rapture, Heaven, grace, rapture, Heaven, grace, rapture Heaven, then you are not being prepared for the soon-coming Battle of Armageddon. You will be tossed about like a straw in a hurricane during the age of moral horrors that is approaching.
It is time to serve the Lord!