These chapters will be examined in a future article but, having to face such a serious change of understanding for two other subjects, it was decided to treat them separately in the light of the whole Scripture.
First of all we must realize that the Revelation speaks of the resurrection at the end of the millennium, and not during the millennium. This will be dealt with in detail in due course. For the moment, accept this possibility only to make the theme of this article comprehensible, which must answer the question, in fact, "which nations actually disappear at Armageddon?".
It is clear that here we return to the usual "problem" if the book was written in chronological order or not but meanwhile we saw that the seven seals are sequential, the seven trumpets must be sequential (the apostle Paul calls the seventh trumpet “the last trumpet") and so also the seven bowls of the anger of God. If all this is sequential is it consistent to think that the last chapters are not?
Let us read the whole chapter 20 of Revelation and follow the order of events.
Satan is released from his prison, then misleads the nations that are at the corners of the earth, these nations encircle the camp of the holy ones and then are consumed by the fire coming down from the heaven. After this event death and the grave return the dead that are in them. – Revelation 20:11-13
The scripture of Revelation 20:5 says that the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This would mean that in these thousand years the holies would rule over the survivors of Armageddon and their families, but not the resurrected ones. The same term, "until", used in Matthew 1:25, we have always used it to show that Joseph did not have relations with his wife Mary until the birth of the child. This should be sufficient to show that the resurrection will take place after the end of the millennium, a concept that seems to be repeated in verses 12 and 13. We will deepen these verses but now let's focus on these "rebels" who attack God's people. Who are they? Where did they come from?
Now as soon as the 1,000 years have ended, Satan will be released from his prison, and he will go out to mislead those nations in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Maʹgog, to gather them together for the war. The number of these is as the sand of the sea. And they advanced over the whole earth and encircled the camp of the holy ones and the beloved city. But fire came down out of heaven and consumed them. And the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur, where both the wild beast and the false prophet already were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. – Revelation 20:7-10
At the end of the thousand years, Satan is released to "to mislead those nations in the four corners of the earth," and gathers them for the war. It seems really incredible that something like that happens! Is it possible that in the new world people still organize themselves in political nations, that create divisions and that even attack the part of that people remained faithful? This is the first hypothesis and roughly represents the current teaching.
Before thinking that it is nonsense, is it possible to hypothesize that during the war of Armageddon a part of the earth is spared also to allow the survival of the people of God? In several parts of the Bible it is said that during the judgment time his faithful people escapes by finding shelter to Edom, Moab and Ammon (which are also the cities spared from the world war – Compare for example Daniel 11:41 and Isaiah 16:4, Psalm 108:8-10 and Jeremiah 40:10, 11) These three nations (Edom, Moab, and Ammon) were mountainous / hilly, and this recalls the words Jesus spoke to his disciples. – Matthew 24:15, 16
Does Scripture warn all Christians in the world to flee to the nearest mountains as soon as they see the disgusting thing on Israel? Indeed, if the destruction of Babylon the Great gave rise to Armageddon (as we have seen) and not to the great tribulation, "fleeing to the mountains" would mean that Jehovah would save these mountains by force of things. In fact these "mountains" could be a specific locality of the earth where Jehovah will lead his people just before Armageddon. This or these locations would then be "preserved from the judgment". It would not be the first time that Jehovah, in his love and mercy, avoids destroying a certain people because of his servants. According to the account of Genesis 19:21, 22, the angels of Jehovah avoid destroying Zoar for consideration of Lot, and yet, from what is understood by reading the whole story, that "little city" was part of Sodom or Gomorrah and therefore had to be destroyed.
The war of Armageddon actually destroys the satanic system composed of the wild beast, the false prophet and his supporters. All those nations that are compact in fighting against the Lamb also fall. The vast majority of people die in this war because blinded and branded by the wild beast but will die all those who are not Christians? The Philadelphia congregation is told that it would be "keep you from the hour of test, which is to come upon the entire inhabited earth" and in order that this can be done we can hypothesize that some Christians find shelter in a "free zone”. – Revelation 3:10
If we can hypothesize this, then the nations that at the end of the millennium decide to attack the God's people could be born from these surviving strains. Why, in fact, would one make a distinction between them and "the camp of the holy ones"? Are not all the inhabitants of the new world holy? In the new world will there be a "camp of the holy ones" and a "camp of the non-holy"?
Another confirmation could come from the very protection of the Jerusalem above; it is said that she "flies into the wilderness", "away from the face of the serpent". When Satan tries to cause her to be drowned 'the earth comes to her aid' and this means that at least until the last moment of the divine judgment there is still a "stable" part of the world. – Revelation 12:15
This could also explain why the resurrection does not take place during this millennium; simply because we are not yet in that new world that we imagine even if it will already be a new world and we will already have many reasons to be happy. We should probably make a distinction between "millennial kingdom" (which will bring many blessings to faithful humanity) and "new world" that will begin after the resurrection, at the moment when Christ returns the kingdom to his God and Father. This period could simply be a period of transition during which human beings can live in peace without the influence of Satan and under the guidance of divine teaching for all those who wish to obey.
Indeed, one of the questions Satan raised in the Garden of Eden was precisely that man was able to govern himself, but man, with the interference of Satan, never really ruled alone. Can man direct his steps without God and without Satan? Also this must have an answer.
This is related to the words of Revelation 20:2, 3; Satan is bound "so that he would not mislead the nations anymore" and this is necessary to give a definitive answer to the question raised in Eden. However, if all the nations were destroyed at Armageddon, how could he mislead them? Would it make sense to say that Satan is bound to prevent him from misleading nations that no longer exist?
Eventual nations in the four corners of the earth, born of these spared strains, could show if man is really able to govern himself in favorable conditions, that is without the influence of Satan. After this last human rebellion, which will have consciously shown that they prefer Satan's government to that of Jehovah, both Satan and the disobedient humanity will be eliminated forever.
Only after the resurrection of the dead and after their judgment "death and the grave will be hurled into the lake of fire" and therefore should we assume that, throughout the millennium, despite having favorable conditions, we will continue to age and die? It is unthinkable because the anointed rulers will fulfill their priestly functions by expiating the sin of humanity and thus preventing the death of their subjects. Death that, however, will always be lurking and not yet permanently eliminated until the end of the millennium. It will be "the last enemy" to be eliminated in fact. If at the end of the millennium there will still be "enemies to be eliminated" (the nations surrounding the holy camp), this should demonstrate that the resurrection, and therefore the definitive elimination of death, will only happen after that event. (I Corinthians 15:26) In this regard the writing of I Corinthians 15:24, 25, if read carefully, seems to specify the order of events, that is, Jesus Christ will “hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father, when he has brought to nothing all government and all authority and power". Obviously if every government and every authority and power were reduced to nothing during the war of Armageddon, he (Jesus Christ) would have to hand over the government at that very moment, that is, as soon as he took power.
Let's reread these last lines and try to understand their meaning even if "this meaning” definitely goes against our deepest convictions.
Verse 25 says: "he must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet". This would seem to mean that there will still be enemies during the millennial reign. So the Kingdom ruled by Christ will be a temporary provision for Jehovah's praise to bring humanity back to perfection and this can also include the destruction of the last governments, authorities and powers, which will ultimately refuse to submit. – Revelation 20:8
Who will actually encircle the "camp of the holy ones"? In Ezekiel chapter 38, the verses from 8 onwards, it is said that attention will be given to Gog of Magog after "many days" and therefore suggests that these had been left out, that is not taken into consideration or spared during the trial. Does not it seem a contradiction that Gog of Magog exists at the end of the satanic system of things and exists again in the new world at the end of the millennium? Does it not make us reflect that this "coalition of nations" has the same name and indeed, in the description of Ezekiel, the subject does not change at all? If Gog of Magog is a coalition of nations, does it not seem strange that nations are formed under the reign of Christ? It is a contradiction only if we take for granted that all governments and all people are really destroyed in Armageddon. Evidently Gog of Magog does not exist again but it still exists (ie it has never ceased to exist). If attention is paid to him after many days it means that he is always him and the "many days" are all the years of the millennial reign. Gog of Magog always has the same name because it is always the same subject. The people who "accumulate wealth and property" are obviously the people of God (the "camp of the holy ones" according to Revelation) and this indicates the many blessings that God's people will have during the millennial reign and the contrast with other peoples (why specify that there is a people that accumulates wealth if all accumulate the same wealth?). Blessings that, apparently, Gog of Magog will not have, otherwise there would not be this contrast and there would be no reason to feel envy. – Ezekiel 38:12; compare Proverbs 10:22
Why, moreover, would there be this contrast with those who do not even have “bars, or gates" if we are all in a new world of peace, without thieves or other criminals? (Ezekiel 38:11) The scripture really seems to indicate that, during the millennial reign of Christ, there still exist peoples who have bars and doors and they are evidently those who have never been interested in the will of God. This is the reason why they must put "bars and gates" and turn their attention to their own brothers.
The events related to Gog of Magog, described in chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel, are full of interesting details but one of the things that stands out immediatly is the distinction between them and Israel. It therefore seems that Israel, or the holy people of God, will live together with these other peoples for a thousand years. – Ezekiel 39:6, 7
At this point the scripture of Isaiah 2:2-4 acquires a particular meaning. Up to now we have applied this scripture to people who, by accepting the truth today, change their behavior and "beat their swords into plowshares" by becoming peaceful people. We have also applied it to the instruction that will be given to the resurrected in the New World, but let us now try to reread it by accepting the possibility of what we have just described.
In the final part of the days, the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will be raised up above the hills, and to it all the nations will stream. And many peoples will go and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For law will go out of Zion, and the word of Jehovah out of Jerusalem. He will render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, nor will they learn war anymore.
The mountain of the house of Jehovah will be firmly established and will be raised up. When? Evidently when Satan’s system is eliminated and it is clear that Jehovah's way of governing is the best ever.
"To it all the nations will stream"; in what sense and which nations? Many nations have indeed streamed into God's people, so it is possible that this fulfillment could have something to do with our days; nevertheless, it is possible that, at the end of Armageddon, people of the nations who have escape the judgment of God (the peoples at the four corners of the earth) decide to stream to the mountain of Jehovah. After the incredible events of Armageddon, it should by now be clear who the True God is and who His people is. In this way, too, Jehovah is sanctified in the midst of the nations.
Many peoples will go and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths", so it is describe as their initiative and not as someone who has been persuaded through the preaching of the good news. Indeed, they themselves are saying "He will instruct us about his ways". We can imagine that many surviving people will go up to the mountain of Jehovah once they have seen the great signs of Armageddon, abandoning their old nation and making the necessary changes to be accepted by God. – Compare Revelation 11:13 and Joshua 9:8-11
Yet it is easy enough to imagine that, despite these unequivocal signs of Jehovah's blessing on his people, not everyone will decide to be part of it. So many people will continue to stay in their nations, with their governments, refusing to rush to Jehovah's mountain. Seen from this point of view, it is no longer so unbelievable to imagine that, at the end of the millennium, when God's people have accumulated riches and blessings to no end, these nations organize themselves to "take much spoil" – Ezekiel 38:10-12
Surely a good part of humanity will be killed during the war of Armageddon, because the ruler of the world will make sure to have as many people as possible on his side, but will this mean that all kingdoms and all people will be destroyed except for Christians? Even those insignificant, small realms? Even those isolated from the rest of the world, like islands or small ethnic groups, including those people who, living in restrictive countries, have never had the opportunity to know the marvelous truths of God's word? (See Ezekiel 39:6) These are questions to ponder. It is true that the "good news" was preached throughout the inhabited earth before the end of the Satanic system, but did this really encompass all people and did everyone really get the same opportunities?
Beyond any human hypothesis the words that should make us reflect more are those reported in Daniel 7:11, 12. The scripture says: "I kept watching at that time because of the sound of the arrogant words that the horn was speaking; I watched until the beast was killed and its body was destroyed and it was given over to be burned in the fire. But as for the rest of the beasts, their rulerships were taken away, and their lives were prolonged for a time and a season.".
What does this mean and how long does last "a time and a season"? Meanwhile, from the context we see that the horn that speaks arrogant words is referred to the "fearsome and terrifying beast", that is, the last beast of Daniel's vision. It is in a period in which "thrones are set in place" and "the Ancient of days" sits to judge and therefore can only refer to the time when Jehovah and Christ take power. (Revelation 11:15-18) It is said that the beast is killed and its body is given to the burning fire. (Compare Revelation 19:19, 20) It is evident that the scripture refers to the wild beast of Revelation at the time of its judgment and yet, after specifying that the beast is given to the burning fire (hence it has been destroyed), verse 12 says, "But as for the rest of the beasts, their rulerships were taken away, and their lives were prolonged for a time and a season". This specifies very clearly that the other rulerships are not destroyed but are allowed to continue to exist for some time after the judgment of Armageddon.
Let us pause for a minute and reread these last lines carefully comparing the cited scriptures.
In fact, if we read Revelation 19:19-21 carefully, we see that the wild beast, the kings of the earth and their armies gather to make war against Jesus Christ and his army, but who is destroyed among all these? The scripture says that the wild beast and the false prophet are caught and hurled into the fiery lake. Then, verse 21 says: "the rest were killed off with the long sword that proceeded out of the mouth of the one seated on the horse". The rest of who? There are two subjects involved: the kings of the earth and their armies. By saying "the rest" does the vision refer to kings, their armies or both? If it also refers to both, Daniel's writing specifies that the rulerships of these kings are simply taken away, not destroyed.
Surely those who die are those who are in that position (armies, generals or kings) in fact the scripture says that "they are killed" but does not say that they end up in the fiery lake. We know that the fiery lake means the second death and that is a place from which nobody returns so we have the assurance that the wild beast is destroyed so as not to return again but the "rest" are not uprooted from the earth. Not yet. Those who are waging war against the Lamb are killed, but evidently there will remain something of their kingdoms, that is, the nations belonging to this “rest" who have been granted an extension for a time and a season. These will have a thousand years to recover and at least a part of them, quite numerous according to the words of Revelation 20:8, will attack the people of God at the end of the millennium.
Gog of Magog existed before Armageddon and will exist even later.
Finally, as we have seen, after the destruction of these enemies there is still "one last enemy" to be eliminated: death. (See I Corinthians 15:26) This confirms the sequence of events of Revelation.