World War 3 in Bible Prophecy

Since the end of World War 2, the stockpiling of nuclear weapons has proliferated worldwide; many countries now have the capacity to destroy all life on Earth many times over; and while World War 3 fears ignite across the globe after Taliban fighters take over the capital of Afghanistan, many Christians are wondering what the Bible says about World War 3. So, what does the Bible say? Will there be another world war?

World War 3 in Bible Prophecy
“And this shall be the plague wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.” (Zechariah 14:12)

The Tribulation Period

In the days of Noah, God poured out His judgment on an unbelieving world in a great flood (Gen. 6:17). The Bible makes it clear that God is going to judge the world again in the end times; only this time the world will be judged by fire, not by water (2 Peter 3:3-7). The final judgments of God are represented in the book of Revelation by the seven seals (Rev. 6:1-17; 8:1-5), seven trumpets (8:6-9:21; 11:15-19), and seven bowls/vials (16:1-21). These judgments, which are spread out over a seven-year period of time known as the “Tribulation”, are all connected to one another and get increasingly worse and more devastating as the end times progress. 

Until the nuclear age, the predominant view was that God, Himself, will bring about these judgments supernaturally. However, many Bible prophecy experts are beginning to think that John’s visions of the trumpet and bowl judgments may in fact be describing, in perfect chronological order, precisely what is understood to occur during and after a large-scale nuclear war. In his book “There’s A New World Coming” (1973), Hal Lindsey writes:

“Although it is possible for God to supernaturally pull off every miracle in the Book of Revelation and use totally unheard of means to do it, I personally believe that all the enormous ecological catastrophes described in this chapter (Revelation 8) are the direct result of nuclear weapons. In actuality, man inflicts these judgments on himself. God simply steps back and removes His restraining influence from man, allowing him to do what comes naturally out of his sinful nature. In fact, if the Book of Revelation had never been written, we might well predict these very catastrophes within fifty years or less!”[7]

It’s worth noting that many Bible passages actually suggest that the events of the end times involve man’s own doing. For example, “…every man’s sword shall be against his brother” (Ezek. 38:21) and “…unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved” (Matt. 24:22). Having said that, there’s no reason to believe that God won’t directly inflict most or all of the disasters of the Tribulation just like He did with the plagues of Egypt (Exodus 7-11). So, keep in mind that what follows is speculation not facts...

Seal Judgments

The first six seals are really a summary of the judgments encompassing the entire period of the Tribulation, culminating with the return of Christ, and they parallel Jesus’ chronology of the Tribulation events given in Matthew 24.[9]

The first four seals take place during the first half of the Tribulation, with the rise of the Antichrist in the first seal (Rev. 6:2) leading to a world war in the second seal (Rev. 6:4), which in turn causes famine and economic crisis in the third seal (Rev. 6:6) and calamity in the fourth seal (Rev. 6:8).

The sixth and seventh seals take place during the “Great Tribulation” (the last half of the Tribulation), which is pictorially described in Revelation chapters 8, 9 and 16 as a series of trumpet and bowl judgments, and appear to announce World War 3’s escalation from a conventional war into a nuclear holocaust...

Trumpet Judgments

The breaking of the seventh seal in Revelation 8 introduces the seven trumpet judgments, which cause even greater catastrophes to come to the earth, along with thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake:
5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
The “fire of the altar” is a symbol of God’s judgment, that is now coming upon the earth, and which appears to be farther opened in the sounding of the trumpets. The “thunderings” could very well be the start of nuclear bombs exploding, and the “lightnings,” missiles lighting up the skies. Keep in mind that the writer John, being a First Century man, was describing things he had no knowledge of in the only terms he knew to use!

The “voices” signify the resulting confusion, commotions, distresses, and miseries among the earth’s inhabitants, as people from every segment of society “hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains” (Rev. 6:15). Perhaps the population of Earth entering underground bomb and fallout shelters. Interestingly, in verse 1 John says...
1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
According to experts, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) take about 30 minutes to reach their target, no matter where they are launched from.[1] That’s also the same amount of time it takes for nuclear fallout (radioactive dust and ash) to fall from the sky after a nuclear blast, in a phenomenon known as “Black Rain.”[6] 

After this, the angels prepare to sound their trumpets... 

7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth... 8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea... 10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters...
The use of simile suggests that John was trying to describe literal things that he had never seen before by comparing them with things he was familiar with. His descriptions of “hail and fire,” “a great mountain burning with fire,” and “a great star… burning as it were a lamp,” sound a lot like nuclear weapons. A hydrogen bomb exploded in the ocean would look like a huge, flaming mountain smashing into the sea, and ICMBs re-entering the atmosphere would indeed look like stars.

John’s description of “hail and fire mingled with blood” (v. 7) is especially interesting. In a nuclear explosion, humidity in the air is instantly compressed into water and driven straight up into the freezing temperatures of the upper stratosphere—along with the blood of millions of people, who have been vaporized by the heat. It is then instantly frozen and falls back to Earth as giant chunks of ice mingled with bloodRevelation 16:21 tells us there’ll be gigantic hailstones weighing up to 100 pounds (or 45.35 kilograms). Did you know that hailstones weighing fifty kilograms were found during the nuclear tests in the 1950s?[7]

The effects of these three trumpets...

7 ...and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
Nuclear driven firestorms could easily burn one third of the trees and all the grass on planet Earth. In describing the consequences of a nuclear war, secular author Jonathan Schell predicts “… a significant decrease in photosynthesis in plants around the world; the scalding and killing of many crops…”[11] in his book “The Fate of the Earth.”
8 ...and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
The blood John describes may not be blood at all, but rather black rain. This could easily wipe out one third of all sea life. Schell also predicts, “… the extinction of many ocean species, among them some at the base of the food chain…”[11] At the same time, a third of the world’s warships may be destroyed, which is exactly what happened in World War 2![8]

11 And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
“Star of Wormwood” memorial in Chernobyl
The reference to “wormwood” hints at poison, and may refer to radiation poisoning. It’s also interesting that the star is called “Wormwood.” Did you know that the most infamous incident of radioactive contamination in human history-to-date occurred in 1986 at Chernobyl, which literally means wormwood in English?

12 ...and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
This sounds very much like what is commonly called “nuclear winter,” where the smoke and material ejected into the atmosphere by even a limited nuclear exchange obscures the light coming in from luminous objects in space. This could also be why John describes the moon as looking like blood (Rev. 6:12). In their book “A Path Where No Man Thought,” two nuclear winter theorists actually suggest that, in a nominal nuclear winter, noon sunlight will be only one-third what it was before the war.[10] 

John describes another effect in Revelation 6...
14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
During a nuclear blast the wind is rapidly pushed out [displaced] for several miles, creating a vacuum at the center of the blast site. Suddenly, this wind, like a giant tidal wave, rushes violently back into the vacuum. The atmosphere literally rolls back on itself like a scroll![12]

At the same time, the explosions of these weapons can shake, displace and disrupt the earth’s surface for miles away, triggering earthquakes and moving mountains and islands.

The first four trumpets are blown in sequence about the same time, and the remaining three trumpets occur sometime later, at various times during the Great Tribulation (Rev. 8:13). They introduce the locust swarm (Rev. 9:1-12), 200-million-man army (Rev. 9:13-21), and declaration of the Kingdom of God (Rev. 11:15-19).

Bowl Judgments

The seven bowl or vial judgments, which are the final judgments of the Tribulation period, appear to parallel the above but show an intensifying of the judgments—likely the lingering effects of nuclear war. So incredibly dangerous is the potential of radioactive fallout that in fact the long-term cumulative effects of lethal radiation would far exceed the immediate blast effects of the exploding bombs. In Revelation chapter 16, we read:

2 And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast...
According to Schell, “In the weeks after the [Hiroshima] bombing, many survivors began to notice the appearance of petechiae—small spots caused by hemorrhages—on their skin. These usually signaled the onset of the critical stage of radiation sickness.”[11] Contact with beta-emitting fallout dust caused horrible, festering sores that would not heal.[5] It is possible that this “noisome and grievous sore” is the result of radiation sickness.

In fact, the RFID chip (which may be involved with the Mark of the Beast) is powered by a tiny lithium battery; and if this was to leak inside the body due to atomic radiation, a sore would form at the implantation site.[2] Interestingly, everyone who receives the Mark of the Beast will have this sore (v. 2).
3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea. 4 And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
This could refer to the lingering effects of the third part of the oceans, and fresh water supply of the earth, being contaminated by radiation. By this point in time, ALL sea life will be dead, and ALL of “the rivers and fountains” will be contaminated. 

Also, notice that there are no lingering effects of the third part of the trees being burned up (Rev. 8:7). This is probably because trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen.
8 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. 9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
Gamma radiation from a nearby burst would quickly deplete much of Earth’s protective ozone layer, allowing increased ultraviolet radiation from the sun to reach the surface. At first, this would not be a problem, as the smoke and ash layer would protect us from ultraviolet radiation. But after it clears, one to two years later, we will be left with almost no protection from ultraviolet radiation and suffer the full extent of its harmful effects. Schell says, “‘incapacitating’ sunburn would occur in several minutes.”[11] 

10 And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, 11 And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores,
The expression “full of darkness,” which is literally translated “to blind or to obscure,” may be referencing the painful effects of photophthalmia (UV-induced eye damage). Paul Ehrlich and other biologists wrote, “Protracted exposure to increased UV-B may induce corneal damage and cataracts, leading to blindness in human beings and terrestrial mammals.”[4] 

At the same time, cancerous melanomas could compound the festering sores from radiation burns.[3]

Is it merely coincidence that John described the effects of nuclear warfare in sequence?

  1. Sky rolls apart like a scroll (mushroom cloud) - Rev. 6:14
  2. Earth trembles and shakes, moving mountains and islands (nuclear shock waves) - Rev. 6:14
  3. Men hide in caves and rocks of the mountains (nuclear bunkers) - Rev. 6:15
  4. Stars fall to the earth (ICBMs landing) - Rev. 8:10
  5. One third of the earth is burned (nuclear firestorms) - Rev. 8:7
  6. One third of the oceans become like blood (black rain) - Rev. 8:8
  7. One third of the earth’s drinking water is contaminated (radiation poisoning) - Rev. 8:11
  8. Sun is darkened and moon becomes like blood (nuclear winter) - Rev. 8:12
  9. Horrible sores break out on Antichrist’s followers (petechiae sores/melanomas) - Rev. 16:2,11
  10. Men are scorched by the sun (ozone depletion) - Rev. 16:8-9
  11. Antichrist’s followers are blinded (photophthalmia) - Rev. 16:10


Bible prophecy actually speaks of several wars that will occur in the end times, including the Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38 wars. It is likely—in fact almost certain—that the conventional war of the Tribulation, which may escalate into a nuclear holocaust, will come to be known as World War 3.

Whatever method it may be that God uses to bring judgment, whether man inflicts it on himself or God does, it’s clear that a catastrophic time of upheaval and suffering—unlike anything the world has ever seen before—is coming (Matt. 24:21). I actually think the fact that we have not yet seen a nuclear war since 1945 can be attributed only to the restraining hand of Almighty God, which is going to be lifted very soon!

If you haven’t already repented of your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, now is the time to do so—so that you can escape all these things which are about to come to pass (Luke 21:36).
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10)


1 Anissimov, M. (2008). How does a Ballistic Missile Work?. Wisegeek.
2 Anonymous. (2013). Dr. Carl Sanders, Microchip Inventor. TelepathHero.
3 Ciappetta, W. (2005). Final Reckoning. Xulon Press.
4 Ehrlich, P., Harte, J., Harwell, M., Raven, P., Sagan, C., Woodwell, G., Berry, J., Ayensu, E., Ehrlich, A., Eisner, T., et al. (1983). Long-term biological consequences of nuclear war. Science, 222(4630), 1293-300. 10.1126/science.6658451
5 Jeys, M. S. (2010). Revelation for the Common Man: Book 1. AuthorHouse.
6 Kelley, J. (2000). New Atomic Radiation Factors in RMA SOPS Interim Advice. Consolidated Library of Information and Knowledge (CLIK).
7 Lindsey, H. (1973). There's a New World Coming: "a Prophetic Odyssey.". Vision House Publishers.
8 Lujack, G. B. (2017). Mysteries of the Scriptures Revealed - Shattering the Deceptions Within Mainstream Christianity Deciphering and Revealing End Times Prophecies Making a Straight Path for the End Times Saints. Scripture Truth Ministries.
9 MacArthur, J. F. (2006). Revelation: The Christian's Ultimate Victory. HarperChristian Resources.
10 Sagan, C., & Turco, R. P. (1990). A Path where No Man Thought: Nuclear Winter and the End of the Arms Race. Random House.
11 Schell, J. (2000). The Fate of the Earth: And, The Abolition. Stanford University Press.
12 Tate, N. M. (2002). Revelation. Xulon Press.