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 The Battle of Armageddon (Part 3) (Part 72 of our series)

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PostSubject: The Battle of Armageddon (Part 3) (Part 72 of our series)   The Battle of Armageddon (Part 3) (Part 72 of our series) EmptySun Sep 02, 2018 9:34 pm

The Battle of Armageddon (Part 3) (Part 72 of our series)

Although the Battle of Armageddon does not end until we get to Revelation 19, I think it is best to study it now in detail while we are here in chapter 16 since this is the place that it is officially announced. We will tackle Revelation’s version of the conclusion of the battle when we get to chapter 19 in our study, but today I would like to study what the rest of the Bible has to say about Armageddon.

There may be some confusion as to where exactly Armageddon takes place. What’s confusing is that the Bible describes the Battle of Armageddon as occurring in several locations. So where exactly does the Battle of Armageddon take place? In our last lesson we talked about har Megiddo, which refers to the mountains of Megiddo. But the Old Testament points to other locations. Joel, for example, says that Armageddon will take place in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. At the end of Joel chapter 2, Joel speaks of the sun being turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And then in Joel 3:1-2 it reads, “In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgement against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.” And also, Joel 3:12 says, “Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side.” We’ll look at another location for Armageddon soon, but let’s first explore this one. This same place in Joel 3:14 is called the Valley of Decision. That verse says, “Multitudes, multitudes in the Valley of Decision! For the Day of the LORD is near in the Valley Of Decision.”

Ironically, the name Jehoshaphat in Hebrew means “The LORD judges.” While I believe that this passage is referring to a particular place where it says, “Valley of Jehoshaphat;” since Jehoshaphat means, “the LORD judges,” it is possible that the phrase “Valley of Jehoshaphat” is a general statement meaning whatever place the LORD will have His judgement take place. But in the Old Testament, the Valley of Jehoshaphat was a particular place. It was where Jehoshaphat and his army defeated Moab and Ammon. And I believe that it was this particular place that Joel is referring to in his prophesy of a future battle at the end times. To identify the specific location, we should turn to the Old Testament account where this takes place.

2 Chronicles chapter 20 describes this battle. Verse 1 says, “After this, the Moabites and Ammonites with some of the Meunites came to make war on Jehoshaphat.” I should note that in some passages of the Bible, the Moabites and Ammonites are used to personify all of God’s enemies. I should also note that Jehoshaphat was one of the few righteous kings of Judah. This entire battle therefore is a precursor to the Tribulation, where the Tribulation is Righteous God battling all of His wicked enemies on Earth in judgment. Let’s not get confused by verse 2. It says, “Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A vast army is coming against you from Edom from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar that is, En Gedi.’” We are trying to identify where exactly the Valley of Jehoshaphat is. This verse is not saying that this is the location of the battle, but rather it discloses where the enemies are coming from and the path that they are taking. Wherever this valley is, it is near Edom and the En Gedi, as these men are travelling by foot (walking distance), not by train or plane, of course. And as a side note, Jehoshaphat in verse 10 names his enemies as coming from Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, making Mount Seir, it seems (if the translation is accurate—confer with some Septuagint manuscripts on 20:1), equivalent to the Meiunites. In verse 16, Jahaziel, who had the Holy Spirit come upon him, prophesied to Jehoshaphat: “Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel.” So the Desert of Jeruel is the location of the Valley of Jehoshaphat. I’m sorry to have to say that the exact location of the Desert of Jeruel is unknown, but I can say that it is located somewhere just southeast of Tekoa going into the En Gedi. Verse 20 says that early in the morning, Jehoshaphat and his army left for the Desert of Tekoa to meet Ammon, Moab, and the Meunites in the Desert of Jeruel.

Jehoshaphat’s battle plan is laid out for us in verse 21. It says, “After consulting the people [and after praying to the LORD], Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise Him for the splendor of His holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying, ‘Give thanks to the LORD, for His love endures forever.’” Imagine that being the battle plan of our current day warfare. If I were a betting man, I’d bet on the nation that did that over the nation with the bigger army and more powerful weapons. Any nation that says, “Not even God can sink this ship” is a nation headed for imminent catastrophe; conversely, any nation that relies on God to fight their battles is a nation that God will make secure because He will be their protector. The next two verses describe how God defeats His enemies without the help of His army. This battle of Jehoshaphat is very important because God predicts in Joel that this entire battle will be played out again in the end times. And just like the original battle, God will be the one who will do all of the fighting. In both battles (the original and the end times one) God’s army will be there, but will have no part in the actual fighting. So I believe that the battle of Armageddon will take place in the Desert of Jeruel, somewhere southeast of the Desert of Tekoa (about 11 miles from Jerusalem)...but wait, the Bible also says that the Battle of Armageddon will take place in a different place.

Zechariah describes a great final battle taking place in Jerusalem. So far we have Revelation saying that the Battle of Armageddon will take place in, well, Armageddon, which we looked at that already; and, we have Joel saying that the final battle will take place in the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and, now I am about to show you where Zechariah says that the final battle will take place in Jerusalem. Which one is it? How can we have one final battle, but several locations? It is not uncommon for one battle to have several locations. WWII took place in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific with the Battle of Midway. Locations in Europe consisted of Russia, France, Britain, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, and Italy. So to answer the question, the Bible mentions several locations for the Battle of Armageddon because the battle will be spread out over each of these locations. Each of these passages is describing the same battle from a different perspective (and location). Some try to contend that the Bible is contradicting itself because it has different locations for the final battle, but we know that the Bible does not contradict itself.

Zechariah chapter 12 describes this same end-time battle, but from the perspective of within Jerusalem. Verse 1 is introduced with “An Oracle,” and it says, “This is the word of the LORD concerning Israel. The LORD, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the Earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares: [verse 2:] ‘I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem [Judah’s capital].” Verse 3 continues: “On that day, when all the nations of the Earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.” Here we see that in that day all of the nations of the Earth will team up against Jerusalem. The Bible declares in many places that any nation against Judah and Israel will not stand because God has chosen them and has vowed to protect them forever. Underneath it all, Satan is the orchestrator of deceiving all nations to team up against Jerusalem. But Satan is just a pawn of God who God uses to accomplish His greater will.

We are going to cover the entire chapter 12 of Zechariah here. I want us to get a clear picture of what is going on because this is an amazing chapter of the Bible. At this point here, all of the nations of the world have gathered to Jerusalem to destroy it. Something will prompt the world to want to destroy Jerusalem. Exactly what prompts them is speculation and unknown, but we do know some underlying reasons just from knowing the Bible. We know that Satan hates Jerusalem. Satan has always hated God’s chosen people and has always wanted to destroy Israel and Judah. Satan was successful in splitting the nation by causing certain kings to do evil, but he will never be successful in destroying the nation. Nevertheless, Satan will be the one who influences the world to destroy Judah. Even today, Israel is a hated nation by much of the world. The media today often sides with Palestine over Israel. The media is run by the world, which is influenced by Satan, and we therefore should never be influenced by the media. We, as God’s people, ought to be able to keep a holy discernment and perceptiveness and be able to filter Truth from Satan’s influence whenever we watch the news or any television program. Judah has sinned throughout its entire history, but despite its shortcomings, God is always on the side of Judah and we should therefore be sympathetic towards them if indeed we claim to be on God’s side. Truth does not hand out ballots. It does not care about the Gallup poll. God wants us to side with His opinion, and not fall to our own or even be swayed to the popular opinion of the world.

Verse 4 continues, “On that day, I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will keep a watchful eye over the house of Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations.’” The Reader should know by now what the horse and rider represent. This is a prophecy that has not yet occurred and will take place sometime in our future. These words are the ancient way of prophetically describing military warfare. The horse and rider represent tanks, fighter jets, aircraft carriers, submarines, etc. They represent the transportation of the military. God is going to strike all of these with panic. I don’t know how, but I can suggest one thing. There is something in common to all of these: fuel. Again, I don’t know how God will do it, and it is only a suggestion, but it could be that God will somehow restrict the fuel supply of all of the military vehicles. Without fuel, none of these are going anywhere. Note how it specifically says, “I will blind all the horses of the nations.” Our so-called “horses” are blinded if they are devoid of fuel. But also note that the rider will also be struck with madness. God is going to frustrate the people as well as their transportation.

Verse 5 says, “Then the leaders of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the LORD Almighty is their God.’” The people of Judah will know that God is the one who is protecting them. This is an interesting verse because it gives us a little insight. It reveals to us that these people are God-minded. This is important to know because we know that this section is describing the Tribulation period. Now we get to date when this section of Zechariah is taking place. Please recall that in Revelation, all saved Christians are raptured off of the Earth from Revelation 14:16 onward. But here in Zechariah, we see godly people during the time of the Tribulation. So this entire scene has to take place sometime during the Tribulation but before Revelation 14:16. The Battle of Armageddon heats up, according to Revelation, in Revelation chapter 16, but that comes after the final rapture of the saved. That might seem contradictory, except that Armageddon does not begin in Revelation chapter 16 where the term is first mentioned. Armageddon began way back in Revelation chapter 9. For example, Revelation 9:15-16 say, “And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number.” This is the first explicit reference to the battle of Armageddon in the book of Revelation and it takes place well before the Christians are raptured off the Earth in chapter 14.

This fact is important in order to understand the rest of Zechariah chapter 12. Armageddon is first mentioned in Revelation chapter 9, and the battle is described in intermittent scenes or small snippets dispersed in the following chapters of Revelation. Armageddon does not play out in a day. By the time it really heats up, all saved Christians will have been raptured off the Earth. At its very beginning, Christians, and moreover, the 144,000 saved Christian Jews are on the Earth when the battle first begins. And of course, the timeline is as follows: the Day of Grace (that’s us right now) --> Return of Christ/ Rapture of the Saints --> Tribulation --> conversion of new saints (i.e. the 144,000 Jews) --> soon after that, Armageddon begins --> Final Rapture (rapturing of all of those saved during the Tribulation, thereby no more saved on the Earth) --> Armageddon continued, but intensified --> Christ returning Himself to fight (we’ll look at this soon) --> Christ returning with all of His saints and ending the Tribulation period (and Armageddon) --> Millennium --> Gog and Magog coup attempt --> Judgment of the dead --> Eternity. With this timeline in mind, let’s continue with Zechariah.

Zechariah 12:6 says, “On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume right and left all the surrounding nations, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place.” God is going to give strength to the leaders of Judah to be able to withstand the assault of all of the nations of the world who are at their doorstep. If I am correct (which, I don’t have to be on this conjecture), it might be that the nations of the world will run out of their fuel supply while Judah still has theirs. This would make it where Judah’s tanks work, but everyone else’s not work. This conjecture is really just a meaningless point. What we know for sure is that Judah will win because God is there to fight for them. Zechariah 10:4-5 reads as follows: “From Judah will come the Cornerstone [Jesus], from him [that is, Judah] the Tent Peg, from him the Battle Bow, from him every ruler [those who will ultimately rule with Christ]. Together they will be like mighty men trampling the muddy streets in battle. Because the LORD is with them, they will fight and overthrow the horsemen.” This verse tells us that Judah is going to defeat the horsemen because the LORD is with them. God is known to use supernatural miracles to defeat His enemies.

Verse 7 says, “The LORD will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem’s inhabitants may not be greater [or “may not have greater honor” as some versions say] than that of Judah.” Hmmm... This is a difficult verse to interpret. It sounds like Judah is being compared to itself. The word “dwellings” would be more accurately translated as “tents.” The ancient Israelites dwelt in tents. “Tents” here likely refers to the outskirts of Judah. The NLV translates this verse as: “The LORD will give victory to the rest of Judah first, before Jerusalem, so that the people of Jerusalem and the royal line of David will not have greater honor than the rest of Judah.” The tents, it appears, represents the country land and the villages: those places outside of the major city of Jerusalem. In other words, what this verse seems to be communicating is that God is going to save the weaker first. I like how we read above in Zechariah 10:4 it calls Jesus the Tent Peg—the One who holds the tents together. God is going to first save those in the poorer areas, who have no claim of political power or prestige. He is going to save first the lone peasants and shepherds. It appears that He is going to do this in order to keep the leaders of Judah humbled. God’s motto is the first will be last and the last will be first. So going back to verse 5, which says, “Then the leaders of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the LORD Almighty is their God,’” we now see that this is a humbled statement, as these leaders are observing how God is protecting the peasants and lowly people. They are not referring to themselves here. God is going to save Judah from the outside in (inward towards the city of Jerusalem). David, of course, had set his kingdom up in Jerusalem about 5 centuries prior to Zechariah’s ministry. This eschatological verse is referring to a future generation of Jews (that is, the leaders) who will be occupying Jerusalem, where David once reigned.

God is going to protect all of Jerusalem. Verse 8 says, “On that day, the LORD will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the Angel of the LORD going before them.” “The house of David” is a synonym for Jerusalem. This is saying that God is going to make His presence known in Jerusalem and will completely protect that city from those who are trying to attack it. The city of Jerusalem does not start off with complete protection. The enemies will first attack the city and then God will intervene to protect it from further attack. Zechariah 14 speaks of the success of God’s enemies when they first attack Jerusalem. Zechariah 14:2 says, “I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.” And verse 3 says, “Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle.” So it is important to realize here that Jerusalem does start off being attacked and in the beginning it appears that God’s enemies will have their way with Jerusalem, but their success will be temporary. Chapter 12 and 14 are describing the same time period. Zechariah 12:9 says, “On that day I will set out to destroy all nations that attack Jerusalem.” This verse is stating the same as Zechariah 14:3.

Zechariah 12:10-14 is interesting. Zechariah 10 is a long verse and says the following: “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on Me, the One they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” There are several clues that this verse is referring to Jesus. One glaring clue is the clause, “the One they have pierced,” of course, referencing the Cross. Another clue is the mention of “a firstborn son,” which becomes a parallel reference to the Firstborn Son of God, who is stated in the New Testament as also being the firstborn of all of creation in the book of Colossians. This passage is referring to the Jews and is indicting them as the ones who crucified the Messiah, which is indeed what happened. An interesting point about this passage is that this is the Father talking and He is saying that the Jews pierced Him. The same pronoun “I” that was used this entire chapter to refer to the Father Yahweh, is now being used to refer to Jesus, the One who the Jews pierced. This verse reveals (as we already know) that Jesus and the Father are one and that Jesus is therefore God. And if we put everything together that we have learned so far, we realize precisely who these people are.

It might be somewhat confusing to be reading about the Tribulation times and then suddenly see the Cross mentioned as if the text is jumping around in time periods. But I would like to point out that the text did not jump time periods at all. This entire chapter is still talking about eschatological times. This scene has not yet occurred in history. The Cross of course has occurred, but not this scene in Zechariah 12. This is not talking about the actual time of when Jesus was crucified, rather, it is talking about a future generation of Jews who are reflecting and realize that their ancestors crucified the Messiah. This is truly a spectacular passage if we really understand what is going on here. I believe from the context clues, and from the time period that it is referring to, and from the successive events of what we have recorded in Revelation that this verse in Revelation 12:10 is specifically referring to the 144,000 Jewish Christians at their point of conversion from Judaism to Christianity. This passage here is describing the actual moment of their conversion to Christianity and them realizing what the Jews did to the Messiah that they had been rejecting all of this time. One day in the future (the Tribulation), 144,000 Jewish men will together discover that Jesus Christ is the True Messiah that they had been rejecting for centuries. The revelation of this fact will hit them hard. They will mourn on the fact that their ancestors were the ones who crucified the Son of God. They will mourn on the fact that they turned a deaf ear to Christianity all of this time.

Way back in lesson 25 I raised the question: “If all Christians got Raptured off the Earth just prior to the Tribulation, who then is left to convert anyone to Christianity? How is it that we even have 144,000 Jews who discover Christ and other Gentiles discovering Christ during the Tribulation?” The obvious answer we concluded was that the Church will leave behind its works: Christian books, online Christian forums, audio and video tapes of sermons, Christian bibles and commentary, etc. From those relics, we said, the 144,000 Jews will discover Jesus and become saved. This passage in Zechariah is describing the actual moment of the 144,000’s conversion to Christianity. It will be a somber one. This passage does not change or conflict with our initial conjecture of how they get saved (from today’s Christian relics), but rather, it adds details of what happens when they get saved. Their discovery of Christ seems to coincide with the beginning stages of Armageddon. God is going to cause great fear and instability to the Jews when He allows Jerusalem to get attacked. Then He will reveal to at least 144,000 of them who Jesus Christ really is and they will call on the True LORD who will then save them from the attack of their enemies.

Interestingly this passage is only partially quoted in John 19:37. By it being only partly quoted implies that it was only partly fulfilled. (There is another clear-cut example like this that we covered elsewhere where Jesus read in the hearing of the synagogue a partial fulfillment of prophesy, but ended His quote in the middle of a sentence because He fulfilled only the first part of the sentence, but the rest of the sentence was yet to be fulfilled. I’m only alluding to it, but am not going to cover that example here.) In John 19:36, regarding the immediate death of Jesus on the Cross, it says, “These things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of His bones will be broken, and, as another Scripture says, ‘They will look on the One they have pierced.’” Please notice that John did not quote the rest of Zechariah. He stopped in midsentence at “They will look on the One they have pierced.” He did not even complete the sentence by saying “and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” John did not quote the rest of the sentence because the second part of the prophecy has not yet been fulfilled; only the first part of the sentence has been fulfilled: just the part of them looking on the one who they pierced. The Jews up to today, have rejected the Messiah that they have pierced and have not mourned for Him. One day in the future, during the Tribulation, the entire verse of Zechariah 12:10 will be fulfilled and the Jews will realize the culpability of what they have really done: crucifying Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, and they will mourn.

The rest of the passage in Zechariah 12 describes the 144,000’s mourning. It says, “On that day, the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David, and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives.” Revelation 7:5-8 goes into more specific detail of the identity of “each clan,” as this is indeed the 144,000 that this passage is referring to. This mourning is the commission of the 144,000’s calling. It is where Jesus introduces Himself to the 144,000 and the 144,000 become convicted and committed to serve Jesus to the end.

Some final clarifying notes: Hadad Rimmon is a place near Megiddo, where the people mourned the death of King Josiah in 2 Chronicles 35:20-27. The “clan of the house of David” refers to the kingly division of the Jews. The “clan of the house of Levi” refers to the priestly division of the Jews. Nathan was David’s third child since he became king of Israel (2 Samuel 5:14). Shimei is Levi’s grandson. It is peculiar that Nathan and Shimei are singled out. The Bible does not say much about Nathan, the son of David (not to be confused with Nathan the prophet). It is likely that Nathan represents David’s descendants and Shimei represents Levi’s descendants. Moreover, it is also likely that this is merely a poetic convention. There are tons of examples of Biblical poetic synonymous parallelism, where a verse says the same thing 2 different ways. For example, Psalm 120:2 says, “Save me, O LORD, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues.” This is a poetic convention of saying the same thing two different ways. Another example is Proverbs 17:25, which says, “A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the one who bore him.” This again is saying the same thing two different ways and the Bible is filled with such examples. So it appears that the mention of Nathan, a kingly descendant of the Jews and Shimei, a priestly descendant of the Jews is just a poetic device of stating what it previously stated: “the clan of the house of David” and “the clan of the house of Levi” respectively. Of the 144,000, it appears that the priestly and kingly tribes will be mourning the greatest when they first get saved and discover Christ. Though they will be mourning, it will be a joyous occasion because their mourning is depicting their conversion to Christianity. The Bible says that the angels rejoice over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10).

And finally, it is also important to keep in mind that Zechariah 12 parallels with Zechariah 14 (which we will look at next time). The Jews do not come to Christ during the Tribulation simply because they wake up one day with a new revelation. Rather, a cataclysmic event first brings them to their knees and then God clearly reveals Jesus Christ to them. Sadly, too often, it takes a cataclysmic tragedy to bring us to our knees to discover more about God that we were previously blinded to. In this study we saw that the nations of the world will initially be successful in their attack on Jerusalem. We saw that Jerusalem will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. We read that half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Zechariah 13:8 (which leads up to chapter 14) adds more insight into the destruction of the Jews and their humbling before a remnant gets saved. We looked at this passage earlier in our study. In verse 13:7, the Shepherd was struck (that is Jesus at the Cross) and then the sheep scattered (that is the Jews who rejected the struck (and resurrected) Shepherd scattered by rejecting God by rejecting the Messiah). Verse 8 says, “‘In the whole land,’ declares the LORD, ‘two-thirds [of Jews] will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’”

Sometime near or during the Tribulation, two-thirds of Jews will become annihilated, leaving only 1 third of survivors. Out of that third that is left will come the 144,000 Christian Jewish converts. Although Hitler did kill 2 thirds of the Jews at that time in history, we concluded earlier in our study that this is a separate event because of what the verse says. This is not describing the same as what happened during Hitler’s regime. In fact, what this is describing has not yet occurred in history. It says that not only will 2 thirds of the Jews be struck down, or killed, but that the third that is left will turn to Christ—the third that is left will turn to the struck Shepherd that they rejected. During Hitler’s regime, the third left remained Jewish and did not receive Christ. During the Tribulation, something devastating is going to occur that will again greatly decrease the Jewish population, but this time, the remaining Jews will repent and receive Jesus Christ. So these new converts will therefore be completely humbled and will be totally dependent on Jesus to fight for them. They will have no strength of their own and will rely completely on God’s for His. They will be completely devoted to serving Him wholeheartedly. Theirs will be the greatest revival in human history. Their conversion to Christianity will truly be a somber one, but once they convert, they will be insurmountable to their enemies and God is going to protect them and use them for great things.

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The Battle of Armageddon (Part 3) (Part 72 of our series)
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