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Imagine a bunch of people running from a city scared, the ground is cracking beneath their feet and fire is coming down from heaven. I'm sure you've seen the picture(s).

Traditionally we think "Armageddon!" with imagery such as this. Yet the only reference to Armageddon I'm aware of involves armies meeting together at the place called "Har-Magedon" to duke it out in one final war, which doesn't seem the same as "fire from heaven." Interestingly, within a paragraph of the Har-Magedon we see not fire coming from heaven, but ice!

On the other hand, Revelation mentions false prophets calling down fire from heaven! And false prophets are known to proclaim messages in our day regarding fire from heaven! Jesus of course condemned his disciples for even having the idea of calling down fire from heaven on a city. (Luke 9:54, 55)

So the question is: What is the biblical basis to say Armageddon has anything to do with fire from heaven?

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The Biblical basis for the belief that fire will fall from heaven during the end times

For Christians that take some or all of Revelation literally, Revelation 20 covers the Battle of Armageddon and includes the following verse:

They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
Revelation 20:9 (NIV)

The wicked were just raised up and have assembled to make war with the people of God, the righteous who just ruled for a thousand years. But God destroys them with fire from heaven.

Revelation 8:6 - 9:6 contains quite a few portions that refer to the Earth, sky, and fire in interesting ways as well.

This section of Revelation covers the first five of seven Trumpets, which when sounded by the angels carrying them, horrible plague-like travesties befall the Earth and mankind.

The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.
Revelation 8:7 (NIV)

8:7 is probably the most definitive verse of them all. Very clearly, the verse says that hail, fire, and blood are "hurled down on the Earth", then a third of it is burned up.

The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea.
Revelation 8:8 (NIV)

Again, something involving fire is hurled at the Earth, specifically the sea in this case.

The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water
Revelation 8:10 (NIV)

This is a bit more ambiguous, but still, something on fire falls from the sky.

The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark.
Revelation 8:12

This doesn't speak about fire from heaven, but the Sun is 'a great fire in the heavens'. It is keeping with the theme of the previous three, involving fire and the sky.

The fifth angel sounded his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth.
Revelation 9:1 (NIV)

Another star falls. People tend to imagine that including fire.

Who believes this?

The Christians who would believe there will be a literal fire from heaven falling to the Earth during or around the Battle of Armageddon are mostly the ones whose eschatology is a very short, premillennial, LaHaye style tribulation. Revelation 13:13 and 20:9, however, could be taken by pretty much any literalist. The Seventh Day Adventists are the first that come to my mind (SDA eschatology is unique and very interesting.)

There's quite a few issues with that belief, but that is outside of the scope of this question.

Sources

  1. The Old Testament includes a lot of Holy Fire too.
  2. Some believe there will be meteors and comets that make this fire.
  3. Here's a random blogger who takes this interpretation.
  4. Another random blogger.

A similar event

Less about the same thing, the Beast from the Earth purportedly makes great signs to show its power. Fire from heaven is one of them:

And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people.
Revelation 13:13 (NIV)

If I took this literally, I would envision fire in small quantities coming down and lighting a pile of wood, much like Elijah did. That's different than a sort of cosmic event like you were describing, but similar enough that it is worth mentioning.

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    This is a very good and well-researched answer. – user9485 Jul 3 '15 at 10:06

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