Scriptures

Armageddon!

Introduction

Have you heard the news? We hear of earthquakes, flood disasters, bombings, wars and time and time again we always get some religious group telling us the world of going to end this year, whatever year that happens to be!

Well, there is no doubt that the world has, in recent times, experienced alarming and even terrifying events which have caused many to wonder just where mankind is heading.

Man’s potential for self-destruction has never been more evident than it is today, and the half-veiled threat of the use of nuclear weapons, that was recently made once again by world leaders, has fuelled people’s anxiety. Are we indeed heading for the end of the world?

Is ‘Armageddon’ just around the corner?

In any time of international unrest, uncertainty or conflict, there have been those who have raised the age-old spectre of ‘Armageddon’. Not so very long ago the word frequently appeared in the literature of the Watchtower magazine of the self-styled ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ as they attempted to arrest people’s attention and scare them into professing some sort of religious belief. Furthermore, the very word ‘Armageddon’ has become something of a byword; a synonym used to describe any cataclysmic event, whether real or imaginary.

But what do the Scriptures really tell us about ‘Armageddon’?

Does the word, indeed, warn us of a mighty battle which will bring our world to an end? Does ’Armageddon’ really relate to a conflict, either literal, and or figurative, in the 16th chapter of the Revelation where the word occurs?

The explanations and theories which have been proposed in attempts to explain ‘Armageddon’ are like the demons in the demoniac of Gadara, their name is ‘Legion’. Some expositors have boldly claimed that it represents

‘the last great conflict between East and West’.

Others explain it as

‘the great universal conflict before the return of Christ’.

And others describe it as the conflict involving

‘all the nations against the church’.

But, do the scriptures, really, speak of a mighty, literal battle in which huge armies will take to the field and fight, employing all the sophisticated weapons of modern warfare?

The ‘Revelation’; the Most Figurative Book in the Bible

I think we should bear in mind, whenever we read the ‘Revelation’ in which this ‘conflict’ is said to be described. It is the most figurative and symbolic Book in the scriptures. Remember, also, that every single figure, symbol or illustration that we find in the Book, comes from elsewhere in the scriptures.

In other words, and this is of crucial importance, not one symbol, or illustration, used in the ‘Revelation’ comes from outside of the Bible itself. This means the Bible is our only source of reliable information, and that to understand the term ‘Armageddon’ it is essential to begin in the Old Testament scriptures for guidance and enlightenment.

A Brief History

Before we do this, let us notice one more vital fact; namely, that the chapter already referred to, Revelation 16, contains the one and only reference to ‘Armageddon’ found in the entire Bible. In Revelation 16:14 is described ‘the war of the great day of God, the Almighty’, and in Revelation 16:16, this day is given the name ‘Armageddon’.

So, Armageddon is God’s Day! And this is hinted at again in Revelation 19:19-21, where it is described in terms which remind us of Ezekiel 39:19.

‘AR’, or ‘HAR’ mageddon?

Please look closely at the actual word. The first two letters, ‘Ar’, mean ‘city’, so that ‘Armageddon’ indicates the ‘City’ of Megiddo. When the word begins with ‘Har’, because ‘har’ means ‘hill’, ‘Harmageddon’ describes the ‘Hill’ on which the city of Megiddo was built.

And, when these two words are used symbolically, they remind us of the fact that, just as there are, in world-history, names of physical locations that tell dramatic stories; cities such as ‘Masada’, and places such as ‘The Alamo’, ‘Waterloo’, ‘Trafalgar’, etc., the name ‘Armageddon’, reminds us of a great or special event.

About 60 miles north of Jerusalem, there is a valley about 10 miles long, stretching from the River Jordan to the Coast and enclosed by mountains at one end. This valley has several names. It is called the ‘Plain of Jezreel’, but Bible maps will also use the name ‘The Valley of Megiddo’, the valley which is famous in the Old Testament as the site of some of the bloodiest battles in Israel’s history.

‘Harmageddon’ – the Hill of Megiddo – is still there. It is the hill upon which are the ruins of ‘Armageddon’, the City of Megiddo, which is the ancient city that was formerly a Canaanite stronghold.

The Significant of the ‘Armageddon’ area

A brief examination of the Old Testament will reveal how significant this place was in those days. Judges 5:19 tells us that it was here that Barak defeated the Canaanites. Judges 7:33 records that it was here that Gideon fought against the Midianites. 2 Samuel 1, tells us that Saul and Jonathan died in this area.

2 Kings 23:29, reports that the good King Josiah also died here, when he intervened in a battle with which he really should not have become involved. Here, too, King Ahaziah was killed by Jehu. In a word, the Valley of Megiddo was renowned as the location of great battles and terrible conflicts, so that it came to symbolize conflict.

Look at the events described in Judges 4

Jabin, king of the Canaanites, had oppressed Israel for 20 years, and the reason for his apparent superiority and invincibility was the fact that his army commander, Sisera, had at his disposal 900 war-chariots which supported his army.

And what weapons did the Israelites have?

None! Not a sword, shield or spear! Judges 5:8.

This is because the Canaanites had followed the example of the Moabites before them who, having conquered the Israelites had disarmed them. They had stripped them of their weapons, a course of action that was the usual practice in those days, designed to make rebellion impossible.

In 1 Samuel 13:19 we are told that there was ‘no smith in Israel’. At that time, the Philistines, who were oppressing the Israelites, did not allow them to work in metal, because they did not want them to be able to make weapons for themselves. Indeed, there was even a time when Israel’s farmers had actually to go to the Philistines and pay to have their tools sharpened, because the Philistines had obtained the secret of iron smelting.

This explains why Judges 3:16 records that Ehud ‘made himself a sword’, an act which, under normal circumstances, would hardly have been regarded as a startling event! And Judges 3:31, tells us that Shamgar fought the Philistines armed only with ‘an ox-goad’, a stick with a point on the end! It is, therefore, not surprising that, when Sisera’s army attacked the Israelites, they turned and fled.

So, what followed?

Read Judges 4.

In the mountains, there lived a woman named Deborah, a prophetess, to whom the Israelites turned for advice. She stated plainly,

“You are not able to deal with this enemy. But God is!” For this is the day when YAHVEH will deliver Sisera into your hands. Is not YAHVEH gone up before you?”

The two armies faced each other; the mighty army of the Canaanites and the unarmed men of Israel. They met in the Valley of Megiddo, and the seemingly impossible happened! The Canaanites were defeated. Not by Israel, but by God. In Judges 5 we read Deborah’s song of victory, in which she makes it very clear that God Himself fought for His people. Notice Judges 5:20.

The Day and the Victory is God’s

Now, this is the first Bible reference to ‘Megiddo’, and it is a story which reveals that, when the need of His people was greatest and His time was right, God Himself defeated their enemy, without the His people lifting a finger to defend themselves.

Consequently, whenever the ancient Israelites, and the Jews in later years heard the word ‘Armageddon’, far from striking fear into their hearts, it was a word of comfort and encouragement, just as in New Testament times, the word ‘Maranatha’ became a word of comfort for Christians.

Therefore, when, in Revelation 16:18, where ‘Harmageddon’ appears again, God is telling the Christians that opposition raised against His people and His cause will meet with the same overwhelming defeat that was inflicted on Sisera. It will be God’s Day and His conflict once again! God Himself will inflict the final defeat on evil!

This means that the word ‘Armageddon’ found only in the 16th chapter of the Revelation, has nothing to do with a mighty, literal, physical conflict. Nor should Christians be afraid of the word. The reference should be seen properly as God’s assurance that the victory lies with His cause and His people, because His great purpose must be accomplished.

Gog and Magog?

But someone asks,

“Is there not something in the Bible about Gog and Magog”?

Indeed, there is. You will find it in Revelation 20:8, and, here again, we are carried back to the Old Testament, where the reference to these two names is found in Ezekiel 38.

‘Gog’ is said to be the ruler, and ‘Magog’ his kingdom; and, as we might expect, there has been a great deal of speculation as to the meaning of these two names, as people have attempted to identify a particular individual and a particular nation. However, they are not identified for us by the prophet Ezekiel himself. He merely predicted that a nation would come ‘from afar’ to fight against Israel.

But, the thing to notice is that the prophet said that God would destroy this enemy, without any fighting on Israel’s part, and the outcome would be that the Nations would see His glory. Perhaps it helps us to understand this passage if we know that the word ‘Gog’ is an ancient Sumerian word ‘Gug’, which means ‘darkness’.

Therefore. ‘Gog’ is the Prince of Darkness, and ‘Magog’ his kingdom, the Kingdom of Darkness.

Is further identification really necessary?

Here, then, in Revelation 20, we see that, once again, a piece of Old Testament history involving God’s ancient people, is used to bring comfort to the Church of the New Testament.

The important and very significant fact which should always be remembered, is that this persecution by ‘Gog and Magog’ predicted in the prophecy of Ezekiel, represents the last persecution of God’s ancient people in Old Testament times.

When the names re-appear in the New Testament, in the ‘Book of the Revelation’, they are used to predict the end of the persecution of the Church and the defeat of Satan, the prince of darkness, and those who serve him.

A Final Question

How can these references to Armageddon possibly relate to a literal, great, world-conflict? Remember that the Valley of Megiddo is a very small valley in a very small country.

I suggest, therefore, that common-sense should tell us that the idea of a literal battle, involving modern armies with modern weapons, fighting in a real geographical location such as the Valley of Megiddo, is nothing short of ridiculous.

The scene is symbolic. It declares that, although the church may experience difficult times as she faces persecution and false doctrine, her final victory is guaranteed. Not because she becomes numerically or politically or financially strong, or strong in any other conceivable way, but because this is God’s War and God’s Victory.

If you know this, you will realise that, whatever the future holds in store for the world, the Church has nothing to fear, because her future is secure.

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."

2 Timothy 3:16

MENU