Plato once said, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Perhaps the philosopher was uttering a prophecy because historians have tabulated that since 3,600 BC the world has known only 292 years of peace. In fact, since 1495, no 25-year period has been without war.
The 20th century was the bloodiest in human history. In Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century, Jonathan Glover estimates that 86 million people died in wars fought from 1900 to 1989. That means 2,500 people every day, or 100 people every hour, for 90 years. What’s even more staggering is that more people were killed during conflicts in the 20th century than the previous 19 centuries combined.1
According to the U.S. Army Military Institute, in its brief existence as a nation the United States has been involved in twenty-nine wars or military conflicts which led to the demise of 1.4 million troops who have died for their country.
Dr. David Jeremiah has written, “The fact is 50% of all research scientists today are involved in arms development. Despite all the arms limitations and treaties, there is at least one military weapon and four thousand pounds of explosives for every man woman and child on earth. Most of us are simply hoping somebody doesn’t get careless. But the Bible says that as we move towards the end times war will become an industry unto itself.”2
Jesus pointed out in the Olivet Discourse that in the last days no one will be exempt from the fallout of war. There will be hot wars and cold wars, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt. 24:6-7). In other words, as we draw closer to His return we should expect to see more bloodshed.
A buzzword in our culture for war is "Armageddon," yet few people realize its biblical connection. All they know is that Armageddon will be the war to end all wars and draw the final curtain on modern civilization. Actually, Armageddon is not really a battle, but more so a place. The name translates from the Hebrew to mean “Mount of Slaughter,” and it corresponds to an actual geographical feature located about ten miles southwest of Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus.
Megiddo, as it is properly called, includes an extended plain that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea across northern Israel. According to scholar Alan Johnson, “More than 200 battles have been fought at or near Megiddo.”3 In 1799 General Napoleon Bonaparte stood at Megiddo and declared, “All the armies of the could maneuver their forces on this vast plain…There is no place in the whole world more suited for war than this…It is the most natural battleground on the whole earth.”4 No wonder that God chose this place to defeat His enemies.
Earth's final battle will end abruptly. The Antichrist will deploy the armies of the world from his headquarters at Armageddon, planning to destroy the nation of Israel once and for all. In the nick of time, Jesus Christ will burst from heaven with a shout, with a word of power, and He will win the victory--instantly, decisively, gloriously. Paul commented on this event saying, "And then the lawless one [the antichrist] will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming" (2 Thess. 2:8).
As Christians, we'll have a front-row seat to the action. Until then, we can visualize and anticipate victory every time we read Revelation 19 and its description of Him whose name is called Faithful and True. Such an epic scene calls to mind scenes from great fantasies such as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, where humans fight alongside otherworldly creatures to defeat the forces of evil. It's a thrilling picture to think of the Church side-by-side with Jesus Christ, the God-man, defeating evil once and for all. The only question is whose side are you on?
1. Jonathan Glover, Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century (Yale University Press, 2012).
2. David Jeremiah, Sings of the Second Coming (San Diego: Turning Point, 2005), 22.
3. Alan Johnson, The Expositors Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 12:551.
4. J. Vernon McGee, Through the Bible, vol. 3 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), 513.