There are four earthquakes recorded throughout the Book of Revelation. This is the fourth and final one. The term ‘earthquake’ is used in the exact same way as we still use it today when describing world-shifting events. “Brexit Earthquake” read the headlines. But the earthquakes of Revelation are of an even bigger magnitude than any other world event. Given that this section speaks of international conflict and knowing the power of modern day weaponry, could this earthquake be literal as well – maybe. There are also many other Old Testament passages that could align with this event which speak of both war and a coming earthquake. Whilst the historicist school of thinking sees Revelation as first and foremost symbolic that does not preclude the possibility of physical manifestations coinciding.
The Armageddon earthquake is said here to be the greatest of all earthquakes. This event culminates in the removal of islands (independent powers?) and mountains (world superpowers?) and the pouring forth of the seventh bowl is accompanied by the words “it is done!” Whatever the interpretation here, and we must be more cautious as we travel forward rather than look back, something unimaginably world-changing is coming to our planet.
In considering the nature and range of Armageddon we must first backup a short way, and read again…
“For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world*, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
*Note that previously the sphere of operations has been focused on the earth/land (GK. GE – meaning a region in most uses). Now we read of the demonic forces going forth into the “whole world” (GK. HOLOS OIKOUMENE). This distinctly implies an up-scaling of events to a more international level. So, first note the more ‘worldwide’ emphasis now.
Next we see something else that is different from the previous bowls, trumpets and seals – this seventh, and final bowl, is poured out into the air. What can this mean? One very distinct possible interpretation, which has been noted especially by writers since the middle of the last century is that the world has entered the era of aerial warfare – of that there is no doubt. Commencing in the first world war and becoming devastatingly developed by the second world war air-power has become preeminent in warfare. Also, since the second world war man has progressed yet much farther with aerial technology in the form of rockets, nuclear bombs and the like. Other thoughts come to mind when considering this bowl poured into the “air.” Especially as I write this during the 2020 lock-down due to a worldwide virus. Perhaps the aerial nature of the seventh vial could indicate viral/chemical warfare? However, the particular mention of the destruction of the “cities of the nations” does incline ones thoughts back to aerial bombing, missiles and the like.
Looking back at the last century it would not be unreasonable to suggest that Armageddon is in fact already upon us and has been for numerous decades. All other seals, trumpets and bowls of judgement have a time span rather than just representing a singular event. Perhaps we are living in the age of Armageddon already? Alternatively, it would not be an unreasonable conclusion that perhaps Armageddon is one climactic, ultimate war – the real ‘war to end all wars’. Reading this passage in Revelation it does flow in a manner that seems like one final conflict and there are numerous Old Testament prophecies (found in Ezekiel, Zechariah, Joel and other places) that could perhaps be prophesying of the same event?
In attempting to summarise the battle of Armageddon it must also be noted that Armageddon is firstly an actual geographic location. Armageddon is literally the Har (hill) of Megiddo (aka Tel Megiddo). It’s where king Josiah fought with Pharaoh Necho (2 kings 23) and died there. So, the location itself could prove significant in some way. Or just the fact that it was a place of conflict could be all that is being symbolically referenced. This could be a global conflict over a period of time. Or, this could be a very specific, short war, centred very specifically in the Armageddon region. Or even some amalgamation of both. Personally, I do not know but in any case its occurrence is emphatically linked with the Lord’s return, as is the next event to come in chapters 17 and 18. The precise order and details of the nature and outworking of all these events, including the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, has not yet fully unfolded but once again I reiterate, as in the last segment… we are here!