Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2017
God’s Seal or the Beast’s Mark?
Babylon and Armageddon
Texts: Revelation 14:8; 16:19; Isaiah 52:9; Revelation 18:1-10; 16:12-16; 1 Kings 18:1-40; 1 Corinthians 15:1, 2
June 23, 2018
The word “Armageddon” gets bandied about to describe all kinds of cataclysmic clashes, from the current special budget session in the Louisiana legislature to cheesy Hollywood blockbusters. This month marks the 20-year anniversary of the release of “Armageddon” the second highest grossing film of 1998. It contains such riveting dialog as the words of Harry Stamper (played by Bruce Willis) to his fellow oilrig workers: “NONE of you have to go. We can all just sit here on Earth, wait for this big rock to crash into it, kill everything and everybody we know. United States government just asked us to save the world. Anybody wanna say no?”
With an asteroid hurtling towards Earth, the blue-collar deep-core drillers trained as astronauts in just 11 days, then flew into space to use their drilling skills to plant a nuclear bomb on the asteroid, hopefully diverting it off its dangerous course. Even Ben Affleck didn’t think the storyline was believable. “I asked Michael (Bay, the director) why it was easier to train oil drillers to become astronauts than it was to train astronauts to become oil drillers.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Armageddon isn’t exactly scientifically accurate. It’s rumored that NASA screens the movie for their trainees who have to try to spot all 168 scientific errors in the film. A NASA spokesperson dismissed this as an internet myth, but did not dispute that there are 168 scientific errors! Michael Bay explained, “We had to do the whole movie in 16 weeks. It was a massive undertaking. That was not fair to the movie. And still today, Armageddon is one of the most shown movies on cable TV.”1
Our lesson this week tackles one of the most misunderstood topics in all of Scripture: the battle of Armageddon. Is it an actual battle for world supremacy between land forces in the Valley of Jezreel, below Mount Carmel, as some have suggested? Is it more of a spiritual battle between the forces of apostasy, represented by the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18 and Babylon in Revelation 18, and God’s faithful remnant represented by Elijah? Or is it the personal battle each of us wrestles with when we decide to whom we will declare our allegiance in the last days, Christ or Satan?
We can be certain regarding some things. Babylon, as described in Revelation 14, 16 and 18, is a false, confusing religious system reminiscent of the story of the Tower of Babel. There was an actual showdown on Mount Carmel (equated today with the Mount of Megiddo) between God’s true and faithful people and the forces of idolatry. Today we can know for sure that, just as God won the showdown on Carmel, God will win the battle of Armageddon in these last days—no matter what form it takes.