Nearly everyone has heard of “Armageddon.” Hundreds of authors have written books on the subject and dozens of movies have been produced depicting the “final battle between good and evil.” Scientists and world leaders alike use the term to refer to the end of the world as we know it—the annihilation of mankind through nuclear, chemical and/or biological warfare.
Some believed that Armageddon would be the final battle of World War I. They were wrong! Others thought that World War II would end with the final battle being Armageddon. They were also wrong! Even more recently, during the Gulf War, Bible “experts” were announcing, “Armageddon is here!” Once again, they were wrong!
What exactly is Armageddon? Is it a place or an event? Who will take part in it? Few really know what it is. Now you can understand!
While a prisoner on the island of Patmos, off the Greek coast, the apostle John recorded (more than 1,900 years ago) in the book of Revelation what would happen in the very near future—in our time!
The Greek title of the book, apokalupsis, means “disclosure: appearing, coming, [en]lighten, manifestation, be revealed, revelation” and “a disclosure of truth, instruction, concerning divine things before unknown.” Some suppose that the symbols used in Revelation are for the purpose of clouding its meaning. But why would God title the book “to reveal,” if it really means “to hide”?
The Apocalypse, or Revel-ation, begins, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God [the Father] gave unto Him [Jesus], to show unto His servants [true Christians] things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John” (Rev. 1:1). This revelation originated with God the Father, who passed it on to Jesus Christ. Then Christ, through a vision, passed it to John. What he recorded for us was “the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw” (vs. 2).
John was thrust ahead in time into what is described in Chapter 1, verse 10 as the “Lord's Day,” or the “Day of the Lord.” He was given messages by Christ regarding “…things which are, and things which shall be hereafter” (Rev. 1:19).
The Day of the Lord is the time at the close of this age when God will intervene in mankind's affairs and bring to a close 6,000 years of misrule. This day is described in several places throughout the Bible (Isa. 13:9; Jer. 46:10; Joel 1:15; Zeph. 1:14-18; Mal. 4:5; Luke 21:34).
Most of what John saw in the vision was foreign to him. He had to describe things in a way that he could communicate to others. How does someone from the first century A.D. describe a helicopter gunship, since he obviously has never seen one? How does he describe a fighter jet—or a nuclear explosion? By using symbols or items that are familiar to him!
The Bible mentions the word Armageddon in only one verse: “And He gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Rev. 16:16). Though the New Testament was written in Greek, this is not a Greek word. It comes from two Hebrew words—“har” and “megiddo.” The word “har” means a mountain or range of hills (sometimes used figuratively)—hill country.
Megiddo, or Megiddon, was one of the royal cities of the Canaanites until Joshua captured it. Afterwards, it was given to the Manassites. It is located on the southern edge of the great plain of Issachar (also known as the Plain of Esdraelon and Valley of Jezreel). It was a fortified city that guarded the strategic passes of the Mt. Carmel area.
The Bible says that Armageddon is a place, not an event. It is not a battlefield, but a gathering place.
The site is within the borders of the modern state of Israel, about 55 to 60 miles north and east of Jerusalem and about 20 miles east of the port city of Haifa. Today, it is nothing more than a 13-acre pile of historic rubble. In ancient times, this area was part of a main highway between Africa and Asia. It provided a natural gathering place due to the flatness of the surrounding topography. Archaeology shows evidence of frequent, extremely heavy defense facilities there.
Megiddo is a famous setting for several great slaughters throughout history and is first mentioned as one of the Canaanite cities conquered by Joshua (Josh. 12:21) in the early 1400s B.C. When Deborah was judging Israel, she ordered Barak into battle against the Canaanites led by Sisera in this area (Judges 4 and 5). The entire army of Sisera was destroyed—every last soldier.
The famous story of Gideon and his defeat of the Midianites may also have taken place at Armageddon. See Judges 6:33, where the valley of Jezreel is mentioned. Chapter 7 details how God reduced Gideon's army from 32,000 to 300 and yet still defeated their enemy.
King Solomon turned the city into a fortified camp that housed several hundred horses for his fleet of chariots (I Kgs. 9:15-19). The remains of the foundation of Solomon's enormous stable are still visible today. When Jehu, king of Israel, wounded Judah's King Ahaziah in battle, Ahaziah fled to Megiddo and died there (II Kings 9:27).
This valley has seen military battles in modern times, as well. On September 19, 1918, British General Allenby won a decisive battle there, defeating the Turks. Because Megiddo is identified as a place of decisive conflicts, and because more battles have been fought there than at any other place in the world, it has become emblematic of any decisive battlefield—as much as Waterloo, Gettysburg or Normandy.
The Bible prophesies a series of catastrophic events to occur just before Christ returns to earth. In the midst of these are the Seven Trumpets. Throughout history, trumpet blasts have been used as warnings of imminent danger, such as war or another calamity (Zeph. 1:16; Jer. 4:19; Ezek. 33:2-6).
However, the seventh (last) trumpet will announce to the world that Christ is coming to establish His rule on earth (I Cor. 15:52; I Thes. 4:16; Rev. 11:15). Also heralded by this last trumpet are the seven last plagues (also called bowls, or vials, of wrath), to punish a rebellious mankind. Seven angels will “pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth” (Rev. 16:1).
The first vial will be poured out upon the earth, “and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them who worshipped his image” (Rev. 16:2). These individuals belong to the great false church-state system.
The second plague is similar to that suffered by the Egyptians just prior to the Exodus (Ex. 7:14-25). Notice: “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” (Rev. 16:3).
Read for yourself the next three plagues. The rivers and fountains will turn to blood; the sun will become so hot that it will scorch men with fire; darkness and pain will become unbearable. Now look at verse 11. After all these plagues from God, men will continue to “blaspheme the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.”
This last generation is so vile, corrupt and contemptuous that God will subject them to the worst punishment possible—and they still will not understand.
Christ compared these days to that of Noah's time: “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark” (Matt. 24:37-38).
How did God view that time? “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). We are very close to that time again!
The sixth of these last plagues sets the stage for the final battle to resist Christ at His Return. Forces of spiritual wickedness are released to force destruction and devastation on the inhabitants of the earth.
Notice how these forces are allowed to gather: “And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared” (Rev. 16:12).
The Euphrates River's head is in Turkey and flows south through Syria and Iraq, finally reaching the Persian Gulf. God will cause this river to dry up, enabling the “kings of the east” to easily cross over into the Holy Land. This is just a prelude—the setting of the stage of even more significant events to come.
Verse 13 continues, “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon [devil; Rev. 12:9], and out of the mouth of the beast [civil end-time ruler influenced by the devil], and out of the mouth of the false prophet [religious leader associated with end-time ruler].” In Revelation 17:5, this system is called BABYLON THE GREAT.
Verse 14 states, “For they are the spirits of devils [demons], working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” These “spirits of devils” are the fallen angels who followed Lucifer (now Satan) in his insurrection against the Creator (Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:12-17; Rev. 12:4).
Notice! This leader will be accompanied by a great religious leader, who, with the power and influence of the devil, will perform miracles (Rev. 19:20; 13:11-14). When the peoples of the earth witness these miracles, they will be deceived into thinking that this false system is of God and that they are able to fight what they will perceive as supernatural invaders! These two men will be either influenced or possessed by demon spirits, driving this religious-political-military system toward the final battle.
The beast power will have already conquered some parts of the Middle East. He will have established a foothold in Jerusalem (Dan. 11:41-43). Daniel refers to the beast as “the king of the north.” This is the same as the fourth beast of Daniel 7—the resurrected Roman Empire! Prophecy tells us that this final resurrection will be a united political, military and religious power that will dominate the world. It will invade the Middle East under the pretense of bringing peace. Undoubtedly, oil will also be a major factor in prompting the beast power into seeking control of the region.
Notice what Daniel says in 11:44: “But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him [the beast]…” While this beast power is in the holy land, another military muscle will move in to oppose it.
What country today is east and north of the holy land? Russia, with its capital, Moscow! That's right! The eastern hordes led by Russia, and allied with China, India and Japan, compose the two-hundred-million-man army mentioned in Revelation 9:16. Again, oil will undoubtedly be a key factor for this war machine from the east.
The “kings of the east” will march into the holy land. This causes the beast, who is already there, to “…go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.” The beast and his allies will close in on the kings of the east to confront their armies. The world will stand at the brink of total annihilation.
We are now at the point in world events that Jesus referred to in Matthew 24:22: “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved [alive; Moffatt translation]: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.” They position for war, but a common enemy comes on the scene.
Notice Revelation 11:15: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, THE KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD ARE BECOME THE KINGDOMS OF OUR LORD, AND OF HIS CHRIST; AND HE SHALL REIGN FOR EVER AND EVER.”
There is no battle planned at Armageddon! The battle that will take place is called THE BATTLE OF THE GREAT DAY OF GOD ALMIGHTY (Rev. 16:14). This last great battle will be fought by all those who will have already gathered at Armageddon. These two major forces will see Christ coming out of the clouds (Acts 1:11-12). Considering Him a threat, they will join together, forming an alliance to fight their common enemy. These men will be angry. They will not submit to God's government. They will think Christ is actually the “Antichrist” and will “make war with the Lamb” (Rev. 17:14). (You may wish to read our free booklet The Antichrist– Who, What and When!)
Jesus Christ's feet will rest on the Mount of Olives just outside of Jerusalem. Notice Zechariah 14:1-4: “Behold, the day of the LORD comes, and your spoil shall be divided in the midst of you. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a great valley; and half the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”
Where then will this battle of the Great Day of the Lord take place? Read in Joel 3:9-14: “Proclaim you this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all you heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: there cause Your mighty ones to come down, O LORD. Let the heathen be weakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put you in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.” Compare these verses with Revelation 14:19-20.
The Valley of Jehoshaphat is also known as the valley of decision. This is the name of the valley that lies just to the east of Jerusalem, between the city and the Mount of Olives. Today, the Jews use this area, called the Kidron Valley, as a burial ground for their dead.
Jehoshaphat means “the Eternal judges” or “valley of the judgment of the Eternal.” It is here that King Jehoshaphat overthrew the people of Moab, Ammon and Mount Seir when they came up against the city of Jerusalem (II Chron. 20). God fought this battle without Jehoshaphat lifting a finger.
Verse 17 is the central (middle) verse of the Old Testament. Notice what it says: “You shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand you still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.” When tomorrow came and they went out, every single one of the enemy was dead! God did the fighting and wiped them all out.
How will this last battle end? What is the final outcome? Continue in Zechariah 14:12-13: “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. And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold everyone on the hand of his neighbor, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor.”
Puny human beings, who think they can oppose God with the most advanced weapons of war the earth has ever seen, will be utterly destroyed by God. It will be quick and decisive. It will leave the armies in complete destruction.
So we see that the final battle to end man's rule on earth is not Armageddon. Nor will it be fought at Armageddon. It will be fought just outside Jerusalem. Christ is not going to bring the battle to the individual nations—the battle will come to Him. The armies of the world will march south to battle Christ as He stands on the Mount of Olives.
The events described above will take place in our lifetime—perhaps even sooner than you think!
The good news is that after this horrific battle, Christ will establish His kingdom here on earth—not in heaven! (Read our free booklet How World Peace Will Come!)
All those who have qualified to rule with Him will be resurrected as immortal spirit beings. His kingdom will bring peace and prosperity to a planet that has seen nothing but war and strife for the past 6,000 years!