Let me then remind you of the fact that in the literal sense the riverflowing through Mesopotamia and Chaldea for hundreds of miles, wide and deep, and emptying itself in the Persian Gulf—that this river in the old dispensation formed the boundary line between the nation of Israel and the heathen nations, the boundary line, therefore, between the people of God in the outward sense of the word and the nations of heathendom. As such it is a fit symbol of the boundary line between the Christian nations and the heathen nations in the new dispensation, the line of demarcation and separation between Christendom and Gog and Magog. At this time, when Christendom shall be Antichristendom, it will naturally be the boundary line between Antichrist and the nations that live on the four corners of the earth. Some take it that with his sixth vial the river Euphrates shall be literally dried up, so that the nations may pass through it. Of course, there is nothing against such an explanation. It is very well possible for God to do so if it pleases Him. No one can doubt this. But this is not very likely the explanation. Evidently we again must think of symbolism in connection with the sixth vial. If the nations wish to gather for battle, a river would surely not keep them from it, even if it is never dried up. And therefore, the drying up of the river merely refers to the removal of all obstacles from the external point of view. There shall come a time that these nations on the four corners of the earth shall be capable of meeting the armies of the civilized world. They shall gradually be prepared, till all external obstacles shall have been removed.
At the same time, however, there is a spiritual agency at work among these nations. We read: “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. For they are spirits of devils, working miracles.” Many attempts have been made to ascertain definitely what these three evil and unclean spirits might signify. And often they have had personal application. But naturally the very question is irrelevant, is at least impossible to be answered definitely from the text. And therefore the answers that have been suggested are naturally absurd. All we can do is follow the text and gather from it the information that it affords. In the first place, it tells us that the unclean spirits proceed from the mouth of the infernal trinity—the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. The dragon, you recognize, is the devil, the old serpent, who is after all the real king over the kingdom of Antichrist. The beast is the monster with its ten horns and seven heads, Antichrist from its political aspect. And the false prophet is the same as the second beast, that has the two horns, as a lamb, but speaks like the dragon. And we may also remember that the relation between these three is such that the beast, or Antichrist, is the representative of the dragon upon the earth, exists for him and works for him, and that the false prophet in turn labors and deceives the nations in behalf of the beast and its image. The Christian nations have been deceived by their work. They make an image for the beast, and worship him. They are filled with enmity against God and His Christ and His saints. But the nations that live at the four corners of the earth are not so easily converted. They do not understand this establishment of the kingdom of Antichrist. They are heathen. They serve their idols. They cannot erect the image of the beast and fall down before it. And therefore the infernal trinity work together to convert the whole world for Antichristendom. Just as it is the task of Christianity to preach the gospel to all nations, so that they all may bow before the God of heaven and His Christ, so the dragon and the beast and the false prophet cannot rest before all the nations of the earth have come under the influence of their antichristian principles. The principles of that kingdom must be spread. They must be disseminated among the Gentiles. They must be preached far and wide over the whole world, so that finally all the world shall have been won for Antichrist. It is to my mind this antichristian missionary work which is symbolized in these unclean spirits proceeding out of the mouth of the infernal trinity. They are unclean spirits, demons in nature, naturally, for they preach opposition against God and His Christ. They spread and sow the seed of infidelity and conscious opposition against Almighty God and His people. They go forth unto the kings of the whole earth, our text tells us, evidently referring to the kings that rule at the four corners of the earth. Everywhere they preach their infernal doctrine, that the whole world may be civilized in the antichristian sense of the word. But God also uses evil spirits to reach His purpose. For the text tells us that in very fact they gather the nations for the great day of the war of God Almighty. Of course, that is not the dragon’s purpose. His purpose was to gain these nations for his own kingdom. But through these evil spirits the Almighty gains His own purpose. For Christ rules the world, and rules all things for the completion of His kingdom.
What then is the relation of things? At the same time that these evil spirits sow the seeds of hatred against Christ and against God Almighty and against His people in the hearts of all the nations outside of the pale of Christianity the throne of the beast is darkened, and the terrible plagues, from which also Gog and Magog suffer, are upon the earth. As I have suggested before, I imagine that the darkening of the throne of the beast will consist of an uprising in the antichristian world itself among the nominally Christian nations against the central government of Antichrist. But at the same time the nations that live at the four comers of the earth shall fully wake up. They shall look upon these nominally Christian nations, that fight against the throne of the beast, as being true Christendom, against which their hearts have been filled with hatred by the three unclean spirits. They shall come up for war against the civilized nations. They shall gather their armies, and so shall the nations of Europe and America. All the world shall fly to arms. And all the nations of the world shall gather for battle, so our text tells us, at the place which is called Armageddon. Armageddon literally means “Mount Megiddo.” Historically and geographically it is the mount situated on the great plain of Esdraelon in Issachar, near the famous valley of Jezreel. It was one of the great battle fields of Canaan. It was on that field that Josiah, the God-fearing king of Judah, was slain when he went to war against Pharaoh-Necho, king of Egypt,. It was there too that Ahaziah, king of Judah, fleeing together with Joram before the face of Jehu, was killed. But in connection with the words of our text it must be taken in a different significance. It was on the battlefield of Megiddo that Deborah and Barak had their great victory over the Canaanites that had opposed the people of God. Of it Deborah sings: “The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo,” . And it is undoubtedly in the light of that historical event that the field is mentioned in this connection. Whether the last battle of the nations shall be literally fought in that neighborhood, which is very well possible, or not, fact is that the symbolical significance of the battlefield of Megiddo is such that it represents the defeat of the enemies of the kingdom of God. The unclean spirits, therefore, although their purpose is far different, gather the armies of the nations on the battlefield of their final defeat by Christ and His saints. The devil is ultimately but an instrument in the hand of God to work his own destruction. And all things must work together in such a way that the plan of the Almighty is carried out to the full.
There, then, are the nations gathered. It is the last battle that shall ever be fought on earth. It is the battle that shall finish all. It is the battle that shall lead to the destruction of all the enemies of God and of His Anointed. Terrible is the bloodshed that shall then be witnessed. And the nations shall destroy one another. They are in the great winepress of the wrath of God. But still more: as they are battling, the seventh vial is poured out into the air, and a voice is heard, “It is finished.” The voice proceeds from the temple of heaven, from the throne. It is no doubt the voice of Christ that is here heard. Once before He used these very words when the battle was finished in principle on the bloody cross. Then He fought the battle as the suffering Servant, and finished it. But since then He has been exalted. And as the exalted Son of Man He continued the work throughout the ages of the new dispensation.