Fire, Smoke, and Brimstone
The Battle of Armageddon is predicted to be the last and greatest conflict of mankind. Even the non-believing world has adopted this Biblical term to describe the ultimate world war. Today, most people including the media closely associate Armageddon with the modern view of World War III, including massive armies doing battle on a global scale and a fiery nuclear holocaust that ends up destroying the entire world. Do you think it is just a coincidence that a similar picture of worldwide destruction by fire is described in the Bible whenever the final battles of the end times are predicted? The Bible calls this period The Great Tribulation, because there will be no other time like it. In this section, we will see just how incredibly precise the Bible is when it comes to the prophecies of the final wars and the eerie correlation these predictions have to our current view of World War III and the known effects of nuclear explosions.
Fire Associated with Russia’s Attack
When Ezekiel predicted the descent of Magog (or Russia) through the Middle East (see The Attack of Russia), the Lord clearly said that there would be fire associated with their attack:
“And I will enter into judgment against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his hordes, and upon the many peoples that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
“And I will send a fire on Magog, and among those who dwell securely in the coastlands; and they shall know that I am the Lord.”
In past generations, most people probably believed that the fire mentioned in these passages would be completely supernatural in origin; coming directly from God. After all Ezekiel does quote God as saying that He will cause this fire to be sent upon Magog and the other nations. Certainly it is possible that the fire and brimstone will be miraculously created and directed upon the countries which attack Israel as a judgment; however, with the development of nuclear weapons in our time, I am now convinced that the fire won’t be supernaturally created, but will be preternaturally produced from man’s predisposition for applying scientific knowledge for evil intent. Given the military technology of our day, it is more likely—in fact almost certain—that these prophecies are describing the start of a devastating nuclear exchange, which will be initiated out of a desperate conflict in the Middle East as Russia attacks Israel in the last days and the forces of the Antichrist respond. This doesn’t mean that God is not involved with these events. In fact, God’s Spirit will be the primary controlling force that will bring the nations to the point of Armageddon, because the people of the world have refused to repent of their sins.
The Bible actually indicates that there will be both supernatural forces engaged in the final battles as well as man-made forces that will come into play. When Russia attacks Israel, Ezekiel quotes the Lord as saying, “I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains” (Ezek. 38:21). At the same time he also says, “…every man’s sword shall be against his brother”. What these passages (and others) are saying is that on the one hand the battle will be supernaturally planned and orchestrated by God to gather the nations to the Valley of Megiddo for judgment, but on the other hand the battles will also be propagated by man’s own evil nature, which will cause the war to rapidly spiral out of control. As the Bible says, it is definitely in God’s heart to gather the nations to do battle at Armageddon (Zeph. 3:8) and he is planning and controlling the course of events to make this happen; however, it will also be the war-like nature of sinful men that will quickly escalate the final battles to the point of global destruction.
Think about this scenario for a moment: if Russia and her allies actually invaded the Middle East and attacked Israel and the forces of the Western Alliance led by the Antichrist, what would be the world’s response? After desperate attempts at reaching a diplomatic resolution (which Ezekiel also predicted; Ezek. 38:13), the only other viable action by the Western nations would be an all-out counterattack against the invaders. According to Ezekiel, however, God will actually be the one bringing the opposing armies into play. The Lord will work behind the scenes and call for a “sword” among all nations to defend Israel and defeat Russia. That sword will come from the West as well as from the East. The battle that will ensue also will consume and destroy the Antichrist’s kingdom unto the end, just as Daniel predicted (Dan. 7:26). It will also serve to bring all armies to the Middle East and Armageddon for judgment when Christ Returns!
As the armies of the world converge in the Middle East the battle will soon develop into the most devastating war of all time. For the first time in history, the Western Alliance will face the Russian Alliance face to face. This is a battle that both sides have purposely avoided because of the danger of going nuclear. Faced with a desperate battle where the superpowers have engaged in a major conflict with every conventional weapon at their disposal, logic tells us that the battle will quickly turn to weapons of mass destruction. When the Lord mentions that fire, hail, and brimstone will be sent against Russia as well as many other distant nations, it turns out to be an incredible description of how nuclear warfare would actually occur between the major powers today.
At first conventional weapons will be used to intercept and defeat the Russian forces, including a full response by the military might of Israel. Next, tactical nuclear weapons might be employed to give battlefield advantage to the ground forces, especially against the massive movements of armored divisions descending from the north. However, this limited use would rapidly expand to the point of no return. Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) would soon race across the globe striking the advancing armies as well as every major military and civilian target within the Russian bloc. Russia would rapidly respond with a similar nuclear attack against the Western Alliance, which would primarily include Europe and the U.S., but also possibly Japan.
Ezekiel predicted that there would be a “great shaking” accompanying Russia’s attack where mountains and buildings all around the world will fall and be destroyed. Nuclear weapons could easily be responsible for the damage the Bible describes. When Robert Oppenheimer (the head of the Manhattan Project during World War II) witnessed the first atomic bomb explode on July 16, 1945, in his shock and horror he quoted from Hindu writings and said, “I am become death, the shatterer of worlds”.
Only a small group of physicists before that day could possibly have imagined the incredible power trapped within the atom. When Einstein published his famous equation E = mc2 it was realized for the first time that even the tiniest amount of matter was equivalent to an almost unbelievable amount of energy. Einstein’s equation said that the energy (E) ‘frozen’ within matter is equal to its mass (m) times the speed of light (c) squared. Since the speed of light is 299,792,458 meters per second (m/s), c2 squared is equal to 8.98 x 1016 m2/s2. This number is over 89 quadrillion; a number so huge it is beyond comprehension, even in the age of trillion-dollar budget deficits. What this calculation means is that even in the smallest amount of matter (expressed in units of kilograms) when multiplied by c2 would yield a fantastic amount of energy if the mass was completely converted into free energy. In fact, if only 1 gram of matter (0.001 kg) was totally converted into energy it would give the equivalent of any one of the following measures of energy or heat (from Wikipedia):
E = mc2 = (0.001 kg)(8.98 x 1016 m2/s2) =
25 million kilowatt-hours (≈25 GW·h),
21.5 billion Kilocalories (≈21 Tcal),
85.2 billion BTUs, or
the equivalent energy released by the complete combustion of one of the following:
21.5 kilotons of TNT (≈21 KT) or
568,000 U.S. gallons of gasoline
The energy from only 1 gram of matter is thus equal to the explosive yield of the Fat Man atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. That bomb had a plutonium-239 core with a yield of about 21 kt and killed as many as 80,000 people. It exploded with a fireball estimated to be at a temperature of about 3,900 °C (7,050 °F) and generated outward winds of about 1,005 km/h (624 mph). The previous bombing of Hiroshima three days earlier used a bomb with a uranium-235 core having a yield of approximately 15 KT, and it resulted in up to 166,000 deaths in a more populated city. If a modern nuclear bomb was used on an even more densely populated city today, the greater yield of the weapon combined with the greater urban population would easily result in the deaths of millions of people within seconds. The predictions in the Bible concerning the Great Tribulation are accurate descriptions of a nuclear holocaust the likes of which we have never seen before!
Clearly, the energy trapped within the atoms and molecules of matter is far greater than the energy we use on a daily basis from burning fossil fuels. That’s why even a relatively small atomic bomb will provide a far greater explosive blast than any conventional bomb. As trillions and trillions of atoms are split in the core of an atomic bomb within milliseconds, a very small amount of the mass is lost due to what is called the “mass defect” property of atoms. This is based on the fact that the mass of the protons and neutrons within the nucleus of atoms is slightly different depending on what element they are a part of. For instance, the mass of a proton or neutron within a carbon atom is slightly different from the mass of a proton or neutron within a nitrogen atom. This is due to the changes in binding energy within the nucleus of different atoms. It is only a very slight difference, but just enough so that every time an atom is split into smaller atoms some mass is lost as energy. The mass lost as uranium undergoes fission in the core of a nuclear weapon is thus released as pure energy—a combination of kinetic energy, heat energy, and light. Multiplying the quantity of mass present times the speed of light squared results in the vast explosive release of energy from an exploding atomic bomb (see The Effects of Nuclear War for more information on the fission process).
Putting this power in the form of a weapon was the most dangerous thing the human race has ever done. Daniel and Jesus both said that at the time of the end the world situation would develop into a period of trouble unparalleled in history. It is exceedingly clear that even a partial nuclear exchange would cause such severe destruction that the entire fabric of life would be threatened. Remember, the Lord himself prophesied that “except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matt. 24:22). This generation is heading for a time of Great Tribulation the likes of which has never been seen before!
Fire Associated with China’s Attack
The Bible predicts that fire and brimstone will be a part of not only Russia’s attack, but John also predicts similar conditions when the Kings of the East advance into the battle. After he describes the 200 million-man army advancing toward Israel in chapter 16 of Revelation, the Apostle goes on to symbolically reveal the destructive force that will be unleashed when the Eastern Bloc attacks.
“And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions, and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
“By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.”
It is no mere accident that China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea have all developed nuclear capabilities in our day. The Lord says that the Kings of the East will have the ability to issue forth fire and smoke and brimstone. When the Russian alliance and the Empire of the Beast are engaged in a nuclear battle in the Middle East, the subsequent attack by the eastern countries won’t include anything less potent despite their overwhelming numerical advantage. In fact, John indicates in the above passage that the attack from the east will cause the death of fully one-third of mankind!
Chapter 6 of Revelation also contains some frightening descriptions of the conditions and casualties of these final battles. The entire chapter consists of the consecutive opening by Christ of seven seals on a scroll, each one of which revealing some dire event that will happen in the last days (particularly in the final 7 years). In the first seal, a white horse appears that has a rider on it that goes forth throughout the world to conquer. The appearance of this rider has always reminded readers of Christ’s appearance in chapter 19, as therein he too is described as riding a white horse as He returns.
However, it is not Jesus who is in view in Rev. 6, but the Antichrist himself. The Antichrist will appear to the world as some kind of savior, but in reality he will be an evil false Christ. His similarity to the real Christ in this passage fits in perfectly with his predicted deception. Remember the Antichrist was previously described in Revelation 13 to have 2 horns like a lamb and also be a lamb who speaks like a dragon (Rev. 13:11). In Revelation 6, he actually appears to be the fulfillment of the Second Coming of Christ. It is also curious that this horseman has a bow with which to do his conquering, but he has no arrows. This is also an accurate description of how the Antichrist will become the ruler of this world—conquering all nations with a deception and facade of world peace.
Thus, the first seal and the appearance of the white horse symbolically represents the Antichrist’s rise and reign during the first half of Daniel’s 70th Week, where the general conditions in the empire will be euphoric and relatively peaceful, but also ironfisted totalitarian at the same time (especially for Christians who don’t go along with his plan). It is during this period when he will take full control of the world and institute the Mark of the Beast.
However, in the very next seal opened in Revelation 6 we find a description of the sudden end of this false peace in the coming of the red horse. John says…
“…there went out another horse that was red; and power was given to him that sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another; and there was given unto him a great sword.”
The second seal marks the beginning of the wars that will start at the time of the end—in other words precisely at the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th Week, which is also exactly 30 days following the Abomination of Desolation. The next two seals in Revelation also continue in this theme and describe some of the aftereffects of these wars. For instance, John describes in Rev. 6:5-6 that the magnitude of the coming conflict will cause worldwide food shortages in which it will cost up to a whole day’s salary just to buy enough food for one day’s meals. He then goes on in Rev. 6:7-8 to record the coming of the pale horse, which has written on its side the names of Death and Hades. The Apostle John says concerning this fourth seal that…
“…power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”
Notice, John says that fully one-fourth of the world’s population will be killed as a result of these initial battles. With a current world population at just over 7.2 billion, this prophecy thus predicts that more than 1.8 billion people will perish at that time. In addition, John also tells us later in Revelation that a further one-third of the remaining population will be killed when the Kings of the East attack. If at first one-fourth of the world is killed leaving three-fourths remaining alive, and subsequently one-third of those remaining are killed when the Kings of the East attack, then the final casualty figure from both phases of the war is fully one-half of the population of the world as it exists today! Thus, we a talking about a total devastation of the planet where more than 3.6 billion people will lose their lives and most of the civilized world will be destroyed! Only global thermonuclear war could possibly cause so many deaths in such a short period of time.
In fact, these descriptions are not the only evidence for a nuclear exchange. The prophecies get very specific as to the exact conditions that will develop during the course of these wars. Some of these descriptions are among the most terrifying prophecies in the entire Bible. In the coming sections, we are going to look at what the Bible says concerning these events, and then correlate this information with what is currently known about the effects of nuclear war. As will soon become evident, the correlation between prophecy and modern science is truly frightening.
Next: Effects of Nuclear War: The Mushroom Cloud