Monday, 10 May 2021
For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Revelation 16:14
These words of a brief interlude between the sixth and seventh bowl judgments began in the previous verse where three unclean spirits, like frogs, came out of the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. Now, those unclean spirits are further described by John, saying, “For they are spirits of demons.”
As seen in the previous verse, these are probably influencing spirits that issue forth perverse doctrines and instruction. Of these demons, John says they are “performing signs.”
The idea here is probably that these three great worldly entities speak forth things that champion their cause. For example, Hitler spoke forth things that he would do in the great power of the Third Reich. Not only did he speak them forth, but then he also followed through with what he spoke.
The word translated as “sign” is something that stands for something else. A miracle is its own thing. But a sign is a token of something, pointing to that thing. For example, in the Gospel of John, Jesus is said to perform signs. Each may be miraculous, such as turning the water into wine, but the point of the sign was not the thing itself, but to demonstrate that Christ is the Messiah. The sign was a pointer to this fact.
Thus, performing signs equates to these three entities saying they have a certain power, and then demonstrating that power, fulfilling the sign. This is what is happening here. Just as Hitler did these things, bringing his words to a state of actual occurrence, so these will also do. In this, the demonic influence is that which goes “out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world.”
One can think of a tit for tat war of words: “We will take this land, and we will possess it.” “No! You will never get that. We will destroy you if you try.” Back and forth, each side maneuvers and postures to gain the advantage. Eventually, the posturing is done and the whole world is brought to the point prophesied in God’s word. It all has led to the time and place where the result is understood. These warring factions have been led by these demonic influences in order “to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
Of these words, Albert Barnes rightly states, “To the battle of that great day of God Almighty – Not the day of judgment, but the day which would determine the ascendancy of true religion in the world – the final conflict with those powers which had so long opposed the gospel.”
This is not the day where God will judge, except in the sense that judgment is poured out. In the book of Joel, this battle is said to be in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, or “Yehovah Judges” –
“For behold, in those days and at that time,
When I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem,
2 I will also gather all nations,
And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
And I will enter into judgment with them there
On account of My people, My heritage Israel,
Whom they have scattered among the nations;
They have also divided up My land.” Joel 3:1, 2
“Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.
13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
Come, go down;
For the winepress is full,
The vats overflow—
For their wickedness is great.” Joel 3:12, 13
This is a battle where wickedness will be destroyed, but it is not the final judgment of those who are in the battle. That will occur when all people are brought forth before the throne of God. For now, it is a day where a great battle will occur and the Lord will defend His people, coming to rescue them from utter annihilation. The name of this location is given in verse 16:16, Armageddon. The final description of it is given in Chapter 19. Jesus Christ, God Almighty, will be victorious on that Day.
Life application: There is a battle coming which will make every other battle in human history seem pale in comparison. It is termed the “battle of that great day of God Almighty.” The term “God Almighty” comes from the Hebrew El Shaddai. This revelation of God demonstrates He is unchangeable, and yet He causes change in His creation.
In the books of Isaiah and Joel, He is the destructive power that is transcendent over all things. In Isaiah, we read this –
“Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand!
It will come as destruction from the Almighty.
7 Therefore all hands will be limp,
Every man’s heart will melt,
8 And they will be afraid.
Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them;
They will be in pain as a woman in childbirth;
They will be amazed at one another;
Their faces will be like flames.” Isaiah 13:6-8
In the day of the Lord, which is coming during the tribulation, the workings of God are as “destruction from Shaddai.” There is both judicial and punitive power and performance in this terrifying name. Because of this, holiness is the hallmark of this revelation of Himself. In contrast to this is the spirits of the demons that perform signs.
These spirits resemble frogs, an unclean animal under the Law of Moses. In other words, they are anything but holy, and they are filled with deceptive signs. The world will be ripe for this judgment when it comes because they will have forsaken the truth and pursued the lie –
“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
The world will have rejected the “love of the truth” and their only possible means of salvation – Jesus Christ. Because of this, their eyes will lust after the deceptive signs which proceed from these unclean spirits. They will gather together in order to fight against God’s purposes.
In the end, they will perish because of their rebellion. This will come about because they have rejected His word. It is that precious word that tells of God’s saving power as is found in the giving of His Son, JESUS.
Lord God, we pray that You will work greatly now to change hearts from hatred to love. Change minds from deception to the truth. Change attitudes from unbridled emotion to reason and considered thought. Help us to see clearly now, before it’s too late. May You be glorified through the changing of many people from darkness to light. Amen.