The Three-in-One Battle
Picture this: Lions playing with lambs. Babies playing with snakes. Arabs and Jews worshiping together. Christ reigning from the rebuilt Jerusalem Temple. This is the millennium, heaven on earth, perfect peace and prosperity. And they all lived happily ever after.
But wait. Near the end of 1,000 years of this earthly paradise, multitudes of people in the Kingdom of Christ again succumb to Satan and become sinners who join Gog and Magog in a great rebellion against God. Is this man’s second Fall into sin? From where did these people come?
If you think this is an untenable scenario, think again, because this is most probably what you have been taught and believe. Why is this scheme implausible? Let’s begin with Dr. Kim Riddlebarger’s “The Two-Age Model as Interpretive Grid.” We live in this age which will come to an end when Christ returns from heaven to judge the living and the dead. His return is the beginning of the age to come.
Since judgment occurs at Christ’s return, there can only be two kinds of people after he returns: (1) the righteous who participate in the blessings of the age to come; and (2) the wicked who are burned in the fire. This means that there are no unresurrected sinners in the age to come, only perfected people, as can be seen in this comparison of the nature of the two ages:
|This age||Age to come|
|has an end (Mt 24:3)||eternal (Mk 10:30)|
|families and material rewards given
|reward is eternal life (Mk 10:30; Lk 20:35)|
|marrying and giving in marriage (Lk 20:34)||no marrying (Mk 12:25)|
|the wisdom of this age will pass away
(1 Co 1:20, 2:6-8)
|heavenly wisdom (1 Co 1:20; 2:6-8)|
|Satan, the god of this age, blinds people’s minds to the truth (1 Co 4:4)||Satan (Rv 20:10) and all evildoers
(Mt 13:41; 2 Th 1:7-9) thrown into the fire
|evil (Ga 1:4; Ep 2:2)||no evildoers (Mt 13:41; 1 Co 6:9-10; Ga 5:21)|
|Christ reigns (Ep 1:20-21)||Christ reigns (Ep 1:21)|
But the Rapture crowd insist that even if there will only be perfected saints at the beginning of the thousand-year reign of Christ, they will bear descendants who will be the sinners who rebel against God at the end of the millennium. This is indefensible.
First of all, it is evident from the chart above that in the age to come, there will be no marrying, and therefore no children and families. Secondly, even granting that there will still be marriage, how is it possible that perfected, heavenly humans who are unable to sin can produce people who will later fall into sin? Thirdly, is it really possible that in this heaven on earth, perfect, heavenly humans will co-exist with people who are able to sin? And all of these, under the perfect, holy and righteous reign of Christ!
Again looking at the chart above, the age to come immediately follows the end of this age. Where is the intervening millennium? This 1,000-year scenario comes from the literalistic interpretation of Revelation 19:11-21 and Revelation 20:7-10 as two separate battles: one called Armageddon when Christ returns, and another one called the Gog and Magog rebellion after his millennial reign. But a careful analysis of both texts results in the chart below:
|Revelation 19:11-21||Ezekiel 38-39||Revelation 20:7-10|
|Gog & Magog (38:2; 39:1, 6)||Gog & Magog (8)|
|“to gather them for the battle” (ton polemon) in v. 19 (cf. 16:14, 15a)||“to gather them for the battle” (ton polemon) in v. 8|
|birds feast on defeated humans (“kings” “captains” “mighty men” “horses and their riders”) (17-18)||animals and birds feast on defeated humans (“mighty men” “princes” “horses” “charioteers” “warriors”) (39:4, 17-20)|
|fiery judgment on nations, beast, and false prophet (20)||fiery judgment on Gog & Magog (38:22; 39:6)||fiery judgment on Gog and Magog and Satan (9-10)|
|total cosmic destruction by earthquake, hail, rain, and fire (38:19-22)||total cosmic destruction (11)|
|total destruction of wicked (19-21)||total destruction of the wicked (9-10)|
As seen from the above comparison, those two texts from Revelation describe the same endtime “battle” between God and evildoers. Revelation 20:7-10 is a recap—a “replay—of Revelation 19:11-21.
What is even more glaring is the striking similarity of the description of the Gog and Magog rebellion in Ezekiel 38 and 39 to the Gog and Magog rebellion in Revelation 20.
Scripture interprets Scripture. The New Testament interprets the Old.