Summary: For anyone wondering what a great end-times battle has to do with your life, here are some implications.
If you’ve been with us throughout our study in the book of Joel, you’ll remember the main theme of the book is the great and terrible day of the Lord. The great and terrible day of the Lord is the time that immediately leads up to the second coming of Jesus. It’s a time that starts with the rapture of the church and ends with the second coming of Jesus which enters us into His 1000 year reign in the Millennial Kingdom. During the time known as the Day of the Lord, the final event before Jesus returns is a great and final war. You probably know it as the Battle of Armageddon. Here’s how the book of Revelation describes the Battle of Armageddon:
Do you know what’s amazing to me? What’s amazing to me is despite all the ways God pours out His wrath during this great and terrible Day of the Lord… even then, when God’s holiness and righteousness and omnipotent power will be so graphically on display… even then, people will still reject Him. You’d think the more God shows His strength and righteousness that would cause more people to follow Him. But that’s not the way it happens. The more openly God displays His righteousness, the more openly defiant people become in their rebellion. That’s what’s going to happen at the Battle of Armageddon. At the Battle of Armageddon, all the nations of the world will assemble to make war against God Himself. Joel tells about that war from Israel’s perspective. Revelation tells about it from the church’s perspective. Israel’s perspective is that they’re the boots on the ground, being attacked from all sides. By this point, they will have finally recognized Jesus as their Messiah and they’re desperately waiting for Him to come and rescue them. And we—the believers who have been raptured—will be the armies led by Jesus, returning from heaven. As I said, Joel is describing it from Israel’s perspective. And while he’s using the imagery of war from Israel’s perspective, he’s also mixing in the imagery of a courtroom from God’s perspective. That only makes sense, doesn’t it? Because the Day of the Lord is a time of justice. All the wrong things of history will be made right. We will finally see “fairness” brought to creation. Throughout the passage, God uses judicial language. Verse 2 says, “I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land.” The Valley of Jehoshaphat is the place where all the nations will come out to make war against God and He will pass judgment on them. Jesus will lead the armies of heaven out against them—including us. But the battle is going to be over in no time. And the victory will be decisive. And the best part of all is that none of us is going to have to fire a shot. Because Jesus is going to win the battle with His Word. Revelation 19:14-15 describes it like this, “And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.” Joel describes the same scene from Israel’s perspective like this in verse 16: “The LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth quake. But the LORD is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel.”
This Battle of Armageddon is the capstone event of the Day of the Lord. It’s the time when Jesus comes back to pour out the last bit of God’s wrath on sinful creation. It’s the time when He will usher in a 1000-year period of physically ruling and reigning on earth—free from the tyranny of Satan and his demons. And understanding all that is great—I think it’s necessary. I think understanding end-times events leads us to worship and wonder and awe. But besides all that—Monday’s still coming. Bills are still due. Work is still hard. Pain still hurts. Is all of that end-times stuff just good academic knowledge? Or does it really make a difference today? Let me tell you that it does—and here’s how. I think our understanding of the end-times and the Battle of Armageddon has six implications that directly impact each of our lives every day.
The first implication is the most basic and the most profound one—Jesus is coming back. The first thing that all of this talk about the Day of the Lord should remind us is—Jesus is coming back. For the past several years, I’ve noticed a trend. The majority of good, strong, biblical preachers aren’t preaching on the end-times. In one way, I understand that. I understand it, because I’ve been hesitant to preach on the end times, myself. I think there’s a lack of end-times preaching because the end-times can seem confusing. I’ve told you before that I have good, godly friends who are far better preachers than I am, who disagree with me about our understanding of the end-times. But here’s what we all agree on—Jesus is coming back. The tragedy is—when we shy away from studying the end-times, it’s easy to forget that, isn’t it? But the hope of Jesus’ return should shape everything we do! Listen to how Paul put it in his letter to Titus in 2:11-14: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” As a believer, the way you live your daily life needs to be impacted by the unquenchable hope that Jesus is coming back! And I believe He’s coming back soon! The first implication of Joel’s message about Armageddon is that Jesus is coming. And because Jesus is coming, that brings us to the rest of our implications. The first implication is that Jesus is coming. The second implication is that our mission is critical.