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Grant Jeffrey 2015 |The Battle of Armageddon

Where and When will it happen?

By John Ramsden

Armageddon!!! The very word strikes terror into the minds of many people! It was the description given to the Gulf War: before that to Vietnam, and before that to Hitler's attempted conquest of Europe. Even today media correspondents from the former Yugoslavia talk about a coming "Armageddon" in the Balkans if the current Bosnia crisis is not resolved.

On the other hand, Bible-thumping televangelists, popular preachers, and writers of Christian paper back books warn of a time when the world will come to an end with what Sadam Hussein once called the "Mother of Battles"!

So what, where and when will Armageddon be? Does the Bible have the answer?

What does the Bible have to say?

In order to present what the Bible has to say we must first clear away a lot of misinformation on the subject. Considering that the word "Armageddon" occurs only once in the Bible, it is amazing how well it is known -- whilst at the same time so little understood! This is simply because it has been taken completely out of context and applied to pretty well any major battle in the history of mankind. Popular belief is that it refers to some forthcoming battle involving Russia, Arabs, Israel and others on the plain of Esdraelon in Northern Israel which is also described as Jezreel or the valley of Megiddo. When Napoleon visited the place in 1800 he agreed it would make a fine battle ground for the world's armies. In 1874, Lord Kitchener (the man whose picture adorns the poster which says "Your country needs you!") reported to the Palestine Exploration Fund that "this is the greatest battle field in the world where the last great battle of Armageddon is to be fought". In 1918 it was the site of the British General Allenby's final defeat of the Ottoman Turkish forces which resulted in the liberation of what was then known as Palestine. Map of Megiddo

Experts cannot agree

Unfortunately so-called "experts" in linguistics and religious studies seem unable to agree about the location of Armageddon. Some say that it was originally spelt "Har-Megiddo" and therefore means a Hill at the end of the Megiddo valley. The problem with that is that we never read in the Bible of a battle on any such hill. On the contrary the Biblical battles fought at Megiddo were on a plain -- such as when Josiah was killed by Pharoah Necho (see 2 Chron 35:22). Meanwhile, another expert assures us that even though in the 1881 Revised Version of the Bible the word Har-Mageddon appears (and it is the only major version of the Bible to carry this description), the earliest know interpretation extant is in Arabic and means "a level trodden place". Nevertheless, the general consensus among popular writers and preachers is that Armageddon refers to the place in Northern Israel where a future battle is to be fought out.

So is there another way of approaching the matter? Yes, there is...but it requires careful reading of very many passages of Scripture.

A Bible Based Alternative

Although the word "Armageddon" occurs only once in the Bible, it does so in a very significant place -- the book of Revelation. This is a book of signs and symbols which have to do with the continuous unfolding of God's purpose with -- and management of -- world affairs from the end of the First Century AD (when the book was written) through to the establishment of God's kingdom on earth at the return of Christ.

Here is the reference:

"For they are the spirits of devils, 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. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon. (Revelation 16:14, 16).

From this it will be seen that God, working through the evil spirit of world leaders(1) draws the nations together for the purpose of executing his judgement upon them. There is nothing new about this: time and time again we read of this future event in both the Old and New Testaments. So the interesting question to ask is: "Why is it in a book of signs written in Greek, that we are told that if we really want to understand what it is about, we must do so in the Hebrew language?" There are a number of possible answers, but they all amount to the same thing in the end, namely the need to realise that Armageddon will focus world attention onto Israel and that it involves God's people and God's land. It refers us back, for further information, to the Hebrew prophets. In short, it is a "coded symbolic signal" to the Bible believer who must now turn to his Bible for further enlightenment. When he does so he soon realises how much the Bible tells us of this future event. Studying the contexts of the following passages leave the reader in no doubt that they apply to that great day of God Almighty referred to in Revelation -- the day when God settles his account with the nations of the world.

A good place to start is with the prophet Zephaniah:

"Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy." (Zephaniah 3:8)

Clearly an echo-in-advance of Revelation 16:14! But the really amazing thing about that verse is that it is the only sentence in the Bible that contains all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet! Truly the Hebrew tongue is telling us about Armageddon. Even more interesting is that, as v. 9 tells us, the time is coming when God will create a pure language to be used by everybody in the Kingdom of God.

Look at some more ways in which Hebrew prophets speak of the coming great day of God Almighty.

"Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors, and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." (Daniel 2:35)

"Now also many nations are gathered against thee that say, Let her be defiled and let our eye look upon Zion. But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor. Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth." (Micah 4:12-13)

"Put ye 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." (Joel 3:13-14)

The striking thing about these passages (and there are many others we could turn to) is how they all use the metaphor of "the harvest being ripe"; or, "a time of threshing" or the "gathering of nations as sheaves" etc. Other passages which use similar symbology are Habbakuk chapter 3 and Isaiah chapter 63. Indeed, Isaiah in chapter 41 shows how Israel itself will be used as a sharp threshing instrument in bringing judgement on its detractors. One further intriguing point about this particular quotation is how the prophets talk about threshing mountains. Now, how can mountains be threshed? Literally speaking, they can't! But when we realise how often the prophets (e.g. Daniel chapter 2:35 above) refer to nations as "mountains" we can see a beautiful example of the sort of symbology involved.

Appropriately enough, the book of Revelation takes up the same symbology in chapter 14:14-16 and speaking of a time when the son of man will bring about God's judgements on the earth:

"And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped."

From these few extracts we can see that the great day of God Almighty involves gathering the nations of the world together. This will be when, in God's plan, both the time and the harvest are ripe: when the time will have arrived for threshing and judgement.

So that would be a simple way of describing this event? Can we think of one descriptive, symbolic word, given in the Hebrew tongue, consistent with what the Hebrew prophets have told us and which adequately describes this event? Yes!...It is Armageddon.


Posted by George Freund on July 10, 2016 at 9:03 AM 1840 Views