Dr. Ed Hindson shares that the time of tribulation is clearly identified in the book of Revelation as the wrath of the Lamb and the wrath of God the Father. Therefore Hindson believes that the church is taken out first, because the church has always been an object of persecution - of the wrath of man and the wrath of Satan but the Bride of Christ is not the object of the wrath of Christ. You don't beat up the bride and then take her to Heaven for the marriage. He takes the bride home to heaven first, and then all hell breaks loose on planet earth. He's pouring out wrath and judgement on the earth in the meantime that finally culminates in Armageddon. At the time you have 7 seals of judgement that are open, 7 trumpets that are sounded, and 7 bowls that are poured out, by the time you get to the last one then Revelation 16:16 says, "He's gathering them together, to a place called Armageddon". That's the only place in the Bible where that name appears. The description of it is given in the 19th chapter, when Jesus returns with the raptured bride at his side and he comes to battle of Armageddon, speaks the word, and slays the army of the Antichrist, not with guns and tanks and bombs but with the power of His spoken word. The Beast and the False Prophet are cast live into the lake of fire and Jesus rules on earth for 1000 years.
When talking about the key players? Armies are coming from every direction. The world coming against Jerusalem at the time of the end. Then you have to sort out the prophecy of Ezekiel where He clearly is identifying Magog (Ancient Russia) with Persia (Ancient Iran) and then He talks about Cush (Southern Africa), Sudan, and the name for Libya and Turkey. There is a final battle called the battle of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38, 39 that may take place before the rapture or after but is a major end time battle but that's not Armageddon. Armageddon is the Antichrist, the leader of the Western Nations, against Jesus Christ himself. In that battle Jesus comes to defeat the world powers. You have at least two major battles in the future but both are centered in the Middle East. We want to pray for peace, work for peace, hope for peace in the Middle East because we don't know the timing of God but we also have to be realistic that when the Bible talks about the future, the two big battles of the future are both centered in the Middle East.