Rev. 12:1-17 In John’s vision, the Satan (Hebrew ‘the Accuser’ i.e. the one who accuses people on the ‘Day of Judgement’ – see Job 1:1-12 & Zechariah 3:1 – symbolised by a fire-breathing dragon) rebels against God and tries to kill the infant Jesus when he is born (see Matthew 2:16). The Satan is attacked by an angel host led by the Archangel Michael and is flung out of heaven down to earth, where he attacks the followers of Jesus.
The Cathedral church of St Michael, Coventry (Revelation 12:7)
Rev. 13:1-18 Two more ‘beasts’ (probably signifying Roman emperors) rule on earth and terrorise the people of God.
Rev. 14:1-5 In his vision, John sees Jesus – the ‘Lamb of God’ – standing on Mount Zion – the City of David in Jerusalem (see 2 Samuel 5:7), with the symbolic twelve thousand believers from each of the twelve tribes of Israel (see Revelation 7:1-8).
Gentiles turn to God
Rev. 14:6-13 John sees three more angels: The first encourages the Gentile nations of the earth to give glory to God. The second announces the overthrow of pagan empires (Babylon the Great symbolises Rome and the pagan worship of the Roman Empire) (see Map 30). The third warns against worshipping the ‘beast’ (at a time when emperor worship was common in the Roman Empire, and the emperor Domitian was insisting on being called ‘Lord’ (i.e. God) – while Christians insisted that ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’) (see Philipians 2:11 & Revelation 13:15).
The Forum at Rome (Revelation 14:8)
Rev. 14:14-20 Jesus – the ‘Son of Man’ – sends the angels out with sickles to bring in the ‘harvest’ of faithful souls before the ‘Judgement Day’, when all mankind will be judged according to their faith and their deeds.
Plagues during the ‘end times.
Rev. 15:1-16:21 John witnesses the spread of seven more plagues before the final ‘Day of Judgement’ comes (compare the plagues in Exodus 7:14 – 11:10). The sixth angel brings a plague on the River Euphrates in Mesopotamia, and kings gather their armies at Armageddon – the hill of Megiddo, the great fortified city guarding the main route from Egypt to Mesopotamia (see 1 Kings 9:15 & 10:26) (see Map 30).
Megiddo – the Biblical Armageddon – was situated near an important crossroads where the Pass of the Nahal Iron coming from the coastal plain (the Plain of Sharon) crossed the Carmel Ridge and met the Vale of Jezreel (see Map 30).
It was a key stronghold on the main route from Egypt to Mesopotamia, and was fought over numerous times. Pharoah Thutmose III of Egypt recorded a great victory at Megiddo on the walls of the Temple at Karnak in the 14th century BC.
Solomon recognised the importance of Megiddo by building one of his ‘chariot cities’ here on the site of an earlier Canaanite stronghold in c.950BC (see 1 Kings10:26-27). Over three hundred years later, King Josiah of Judah was killed at Megiddo by Pharoah Neco of Egypt in 610BC (see 2 Kings 23:29).
By New Testament times, Megiddo had seen so many battles that John, the author of the Book of Revelation, used the name Armageddon (Hebrew, ‘Har Megiddo’, the ‘Hill of Megiddo’) as a symbol of the final war preceeding the return of Christ and the ‘Day of Judgement’ (see Revelation 16:16).
Excavations at Tel Megiddo (Revelation 16:16)
Today, visitors to the site of ancient Megiddo enter the city by an impressive triple-entry gateway dating from the Late Bronze Age – the time of King Solomon. Visitors can also see the ruins of King Solomon’s Stables (see 1 Kings10:26-29) and an underground water tunnel built in the time of King Ahab (see 1 Kings 17:1), as well as the remains of an earlier Caananite altar dating from c.1500BC.
Excavations beginning in 2003, a mile / 1.6 km south of Tel Megiddo on the site of a Roman military camp, revealed some of the earliest Christian mosaics ever discovered. Builders preparing the site for an extension to Megiddo prison, on the Roman legionary site of Legio, stumbled upon a beautifully preserved series of mosaics bearing the early Christian ‘fish’ symbol and two inscriptions, one dedicating the communion table to ‘God, Jesus Christ’.
Excavations are ongoing, but archaeologists believe the mosaics date to the early 3rd century, a hundred years before Christianity became the ‘official’ religion of the Roman Empire. The room housing the mosaics (part of the officers’ quarters) and the ‘table’ at its centre pre-date any formal church buildings, and were used by Christian soldiers serving in the Roman army, and by the local Christian community. They reflect the early Biblical worship pattern of sharing the ‘Lord’s Supper’ informally at an ordinary dining table, rather than the later, more formal, distribution of the eucharistic elements from an altar in the institutionalised Roman / Byzantine church.