Revelation 16:13-16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

13 And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs;  14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole inhabited earth, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. 15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”) 16 And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.[1]

ARMAGEDDON Hebrew word in Revelation 16:16 meaning “Mount Megiddo.” It is generally thought that the term refers to the town of Megiddo, strategically located between the western coastal area and the broad plain of Jezreel in northern Palestine. The area of Megiddo was important commercially and militarily and was the scene of many important battles in Israel’s history. There the Lord routed Sisera before the armies of Deborah and Barak (Jgs 4–5); Gideon was victorious over the Midianites and Amalekites (Jgs 6–7); King Saul and his army were defeated by the Philistines (1 Sm 31); and King Josiah was slain in battle by the Egyptian army of Pharaoh Neco (2 Kgs 23:29). Because of that long history the name seems to have become symbolic of a battlefield. Such is the depiction in the book of Revelation.

Revelation 15 and 16 describe seven angels who pour out seven bowls of the wrath of God upon the earth. The sixth angel pours out his bowl upon the great river Euphrates, and its waters are dried up (Rv 16:12–16), preparing the way for the coming of the “kings of the East.” Also three demonic spirits go forth to cause the kings of the whole world to gather for a battle on the great day of God the Almighty (16:13–14). Their gathering takes place at Armageddon (16:16).[2]

It would seem that there was not a literal place called “Mountain of Megiddo,” either inside or outside the Promised Land, before or during the days of the apostle John. Hence, Har–Magedon clearly draws its meaning from the events linked with the ancient city of Megiddo.

MEGIDDO, MEGIDDON City standing at the southwest edge of the plain of Esdraelon on the main route between Mesopotamia and Egypt. It overlooks the historic route where a pass through the Mt Carmel range led from the plain of Sharon into the plain of Jezreel. This strategic position made Megiddo one of the most important commercial and military centers of Palestine in the second millennium and the early first millennium B.C. From earliest times, the environs have been the scene of major battles. Great military men, such as Thutmose III of 15th-century bc Egypt, Napoleon in 1799, and General Allenby during World War I, have fought for mastery there.


Aerial View of Megiddo

At the time of the conquest, Joshua defeated the king of Megiddo but did not take the city (Jos 12:21). In the subsequent allotments to the tribes of Israel, Megiddo was assigned to Manasseh, but they could not conquer it from the Canaanites (Jos 17:11–12; Jgs 1:27). During the days of the judges, Deborah and Barak defeated the forces of Hazor under the command of Sisera near Megiddo (Jgs 4:15; 5:19) but did not take the city either. Perhaps David conquered it as part of his program for establishing the kingdom. At any rate, by the time of Solomon, Megiddo served as the headquarters of one of his 12 administrative regions (1 Kgs 4:12). Solomon rebuilt it to serve as one of his chariot and garrison cities (9:15–19).

Revelation 13:1 (UASV)

And the dragon stood on the sand of the sea. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names.

What or who do these seven heads represent? The seven heads are seven world empires throughout Bible history that have had some kind of impact on God’s people, five of which were before John’s day: Egypt Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. The sixth of those world empires was in existence during John’s day, Rome, with the seventh world empire yet to come. Look at John’s reference again in the same book.

Revelation 17:9-10  (UASV)

Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, 10 and they are seven kings; five have fallen [Egypt, Assyrian, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece], one is [Rome], the other has not yet come [?];and when he comes, he must remain a little while.

We can conclude that the first wild beast from the sea (vss. 1-10) and the second wild beast from the earth (vss. 11-18) of Revelation 13 represent two governmental powers.

Continued …

King Ahaziah of Judah died there (841 BC) after being wounded by Jehu while on a visit to the northern kingdom (2 Kgs 9:27). King Josiah of Judah met and intercepted Pharaoh Neco of Egypt (609 bc) at Megiddo in a vain effort to prevent him from going north to aid the Assyrians; he was mortally wounded in the battle (23:29–30). The plain of Megiddo (KJV “valley of Megiddon”) is referred to in Zechariah’s prophecies of restoration for Israel and Jerusalem (Zec 12:11). Revelation predicts a great future war that will take place at Armageddon (Har Megiddon, the “mount of Megiddo,” Rv 16:16).[3]

Interpretation of Revelation 16:13-16

Revelation 16:13-14 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

13 And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; 14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole inhabited earth, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.

When Moses was being used by the Father to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, he brought a disgusting plague of frogs on Pharaoh’s Egypt, so that “the land stank.” (Exodus 8:5-15) Satan with his “three unclean spirits,” will bring misleading propaganda intended to maneuver all human rulers, “kings,” into opposition to God. This is the beginning of “the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.”

The first wild beast “the dragon [Satan, Rev. 12:3, 9] gave it his power and his throne and great authority.” The second wild beast “exercises all the authority of the first beast on his behalf and compels the earth and those who live on it to worship the first beast.” Therefore, these beasts or governmental powers are against Christ, consequently, they are antichrists.

We must not overreact to this, believing that everyone within the government is somehow a tool, being possessed and used by Satan or his demons. We must realize that God uses the human governments for his own purposes as well.

SEE Mark of the Beast – 666

The dragon is the devil; the beast is Antichrist [“anti” “Christ” governmental powers against Christ, see Box]; the false prophet is the one previously called the beast “out of the earth” (13:11). With all the persuasive speech they can muster, assisted by ingenious evil spirits (literally, “unclean spirits”), they summon all their forces together. John sees these spirits of demons in the guise of frogs. Frogs are a reminder of another of the Egyptian plagues (Exod. 8:1–13). In fact, the only time the Bible mentions frogs is in reference to the plagues on Egypt—and here in a plague at the end of the world.

Not only are these evil spirits persuasive in speech; they are persuasive in deeds. With one final triumph of wicked deception, they perform miraculous signs, perhaps even going beyond the miracles that first brought the beast to power (13:13). This time their goal is to counter the threat of the eastern armies. They must meet force with super force. The kings of the whole world are enlisted.

Perhaps the world’s armies will suppose they are simply on the march to restore their beloved beast to power. What John tells us is that they are actually being gathered for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. The more common biblical reference to God’s judgment on the nations is the day of the Lord. In the Old Testament, it appears only in eight prophetic books (Isa., Ezek., Joel, Amos, Obad., Zeph., Zech., Mai.). In the New Testament it occurs six times.[4]

  • Acts 2:20—The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:8—He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • 1 Corinthians 5:5—Hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:14—As you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:2—For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:2—[You are] not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.
  • 2 Peter 3:10—But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.[5]

In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), there is a very common phrase, “the day of Jehovah.” (ESV, “the day of the LORD,” LEB “the day of Yahweh”, or ASV “the day of Jehovah”) This day of Jehovah is detailed in the Scriptures as a time of battle, a day of distress and anguish, a day of darkness, a day of wrath and fierce anger, a day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, and a day to destroy its sinners. – Amos 5:18-20; Isaiah 13:9; Zephaniah 1:15; Ezekiel 7:19; Zephaniah 1:18

The work that John the Baptist did was to prepare the Israelites to accept the Christ, as a day of Jehovah was very near. The apostle Peter quoted the prophet Joel right after Pentecost, explaining that the miraculous events they had just seen unfold, were a fulfillment of the words of Joel, i.e., a fulfillment of the words God’s inspired Joel to pen. Peter showed that the words of Joel were to come to pass before “the great and glorious day of the Lord comes.” (Acts 2:16-21; Joel 2:28-32) The prophecy of Joel was fulfilled in 70 C.E. when General Titus of the Roman army, destroyed Jerusalem, executing divine judgment on the nation of Israel for their centuries of rebellion, false worship, and finally, the rejection of the Son of God, in that they had him executed by way of the Roman government.—Daniel 9:24-27; John 19:15.

Now, to tie all of this together, the day of the LORD (Jehovah) that took place in 70 C.E. when Jerusalem was destroyed was just one of many times of destructive judgment by God. For example, we had the first destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Malachi had prophesied that God would send the Jews Elijah-like prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. This came true with John the Baptist coming to prepare the way for Jesus, who prepared the way for the Christians, before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., where one million Jews were killed and one hundred thousand taken captive. So at that time a “day of the LORD” was near at hand. Joel tells us that there would be an outpouring of Holy Spirit before this same “day of the LORD,” which Peter quotes. (Ac 2:17) Again, that “day of the LORD” came in 70 C.E. when God used the Roman army to execute divine judgment on the nation of Israel for their centuries of rebellion, false worship, and finally, the rejection of the Son of God.

However, there is another “day of the Lord” to come. The apostle Paul associated this “day of the LORD” with the second coming of Jesus Christ. Paul writes,

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

1 Now we request you, brothers, with regard to the coming[6] of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a word or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

The apostle Peter associates this same “day of the LORD” with,

2 Peter 3:10, 13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and its works will be exposed.[7] 13 But according to his promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

When we look at all of this, we can see a future “day of the LORD.” We know that Elijah prepared the way for “the day of the LORD” in the first century, with his evangelism, as did Jesus. Moreover, Jesus said that Christians would do an even greater work that he (John 14:12). We do so because we are to prepare the way for the greatest “day of the LORD,” namely, the return of Jesus Christ. Jesus disciples asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus’ said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Ac 1:7) The apostle Paul wrote the Thessalonians, who had been inclined to worry excessively about the second coming of Christ. He said, “Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2.

Like a thief (v. 15)

During his days on earth, Jesus had warned that “the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matt. 24:44). Both Peter and Paul had compared the “day of the Lord” to the surprise arrival of a thief (2 Pet. 3:10; 1 Thess. 5:2, 4). Jesus had warned the almost-dead church of Sardis that he was about to come like a thief in judgment on them (Rev. 3:3).

The image of Christ returning as an unexpected thief is sometimes accompanied by the picture of his return being as unexpected as labor pains on an expectant mother (Matt. 24:8; Mark 13:17–18). The classic text is 1 Thessalonians 5:3: “While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”

When some people have learned of my interpretation that the New Testament—and Revelation in particular—teaches that Christians are destined to endure end-time tribulations, they have responded with the following. “Oh, then, so you don’t really believe in the imminent return of Christ.” To which I must always reply, “Of course I do. The day of the Lord is imminent.” I always go back in my thinking to the eighth and ninth months in my wife’s pregnancy. There were certainly signs that a baby was coming. Labor was imminent. Yet the highest degree of medical technology was totally helpless to predict the onset of labor.

It is like that with the return of Christ. Certainly many signs show that the Lord is about to return. His coming is, indeed, imminent. Nothing keeps him from returning at any moment. What this means is that the final sequence—grain harvest (Rapture) to grape vintage (wrath)—may begin at any moment. His coming—the day of the Lord—covers these two and all points between.

While Revelation seems reasonably clear about the sequence of events before the grain harvest, none of the information is sufficiently precise to enable us to say “this marks the specific time of the seven trumpet judgments.” This calls for humility on our part. It is perhaps parallel to a woman knowing that she is, in fact, pregnant but not knowing quite how far along in the process she is. The times have been “pregnant” since John’s visions. Nothing hinders birth pains from beginning (the Great Tribulation) and the arrival of the male child who will rule the nations (the Lord Jesus).[8]

Revelation 16:16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

16 And they [the expressions inspired by demons] gathered them [the earthly kings, or rulers] together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.[9]

Armageddon has been connected also with the ancient city of Megiddo, the site of many significant battles in Bible times. It is for this reason that Armageddon is commonly associated with a World War III by Hollywood, where a nuclear holocaust takes place. It is because of the battles fought in ancient Megiddo, many Bible scholars see Armageddon taking place in the “Middle East site of the final battle between the forces of good and evil (Rev. 16:16).”[10] However, rather than being literal, it is simply being used to represent the situation in which the world finds itself, in opposition against the Creator, who will destroy the wicked, with a great multitude of Christians surviving. – Jeremiah 25:31-33; Daniel 2:44.

Review Questions

  • Who are the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet?
  • What can we say about the “unclean spirits like frogs”?
  • From what three sources does satanic propaganda come?
  • How is it like a thief in the night?
  • Where is Armageddon to take place?

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[1] Two early MSS read Armagedon

[2] Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale Reference Library (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 111.

[3] Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale Reference Library (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 876–877.

[4] Kendell H. Easley, Revelation, vol. 12, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 289.

[5] Kendell H. Easley, Revelation, vol. 12, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 295–296.

[6] Or presence (Gr parousia), which denotes both an “arrival” and a consequent “presence with.”

[7] Gr heurethesetai (“will be discovered”) is attested to by א B KP 424c 1175 1739txt 1852 syrph, hmg arm Origen. Gr katakaesetai (“will be burned up”) is attested to by A 048 049 056 0142 33 614 Byz Lect syrh copbo eth al.

[8] Kendell H. Easley, Revelation, vol. 12, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 296–297.

[9] Two early MSS read Armagedon

[10] Kenneth Hubbard, “Armageddon,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 114.