In Christian mythology, Armageddon (Greek Αρμαγεδδων; [armageddôn] also spelled Har-Magedon in some modern English translations; also known as Mount of Megiddo), is the site of the final battle (or campaign) between God and Satan (whose name means 'adversary'), also known as the Devil. Satan will operate through the person known as the "Beast" or the Antichrist, written about in the Book of Revelation in the Christian New Testament. More generally, it can also refer to an apocalyptic catastrophe. (Contrast Joel 3:10 with Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3 "They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not raise sword against nation nor train for war any more." The Joel quote describes an event, Armageddon, where the Isaiah and Micah quotes describe a condition for the earth after Armageddon.)
The word Armageddon in Scripture is known only from a single verse in the Greek New Testament, where it is said to be Hebrew, and is thought to represent the Hebrew words Har Megido (הר מגידו), meaning "Mountain of Megiddo". Some critics may argue that the word Armageddon is an early example of a mondegreen. Megiddo was the location of many decisive battles in ancient times (see Battle of Megiddo).
In the Book of Revelation, God, ushering in the Great Tribulation judgments, commands seven angels to pour "seven vials of the wrath of God" upon the Earth. Armageddon then follows the pouring of the sixth vial (or bowl, depending on translation):
"And the sixth angel (angel of death) 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. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 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. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
A key prophecy: "And he [The Beast] shall make all, both little and great, rich and poor, freemen and bondmen to have a character (or mark) in their right hand or on their foreheads and that no man might buy or sell but he hath the character (or mark) or the name of the beast or the number of his name." (Rev. 13:16~17)
A look at the topography will reveal that Armageddon is a small rise among others on a small elevated plateau close to a large level coastal plain large enough to accommodate many thousands of troops.
Being that it doesn't dominate the surrounding area, it is not an obvious target, yet it is useful as a garrison and it has a water source. This explains why Josiah
used the terrain to mask his approach as he attempted to ambush the Egyptians who were on their way to attack the Chaldeans. The reason was he was allied with the Chaldeans and he had the obligation to attack them. Within only a few years, other Jewish kings would revolt with the promised support of the Egyptians, yet they were unsuccessful and Jerusalem would be destroyed.
As a historical matter, gatherings by enemies such as the Assyrians, Chaldeans and later the Romans occurred at Megiddo as a staging ground or assembly area for subsequent deployments toward the fortified garrisons uphill from the coast. This is consistent with the preterist interpretation that the seventh bowl of wrath refers to events culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. However, one indication that the book predicts a future event is the mention of an army from the east of 200 million, a number that would not have been possible in any battle of that period. In approximately 1952 the Chinese stated that, including their Militias, they could field an army of 200 million men.
Another interpretation is that the sudden death of Josiah, a religious reformer in his early 30s who showed great promise of renewing a theocratic Jewish state, resulted in myths of his triumphant return. Josiah is said to have died at the hands of the Egyptian pharaoh Necho II just as the Davidic monarchy was in ascendancy after a period of disarray and corruption. His death precipitated the decline of a strongly monotheistic faction in Judea in the years prior to the Babylonian captivity. The idea that a Davidic king would return someday to fight and win at Megiddo is an example of the belief of eternal return.
The Books of Kings and the Books of Chronicles
The Books of Kings
and Books of Chronicles
describe a battle that took place at Har Meggido
in 609 BCE
. This battle resulted in the death of Josiah, whose quick and untimely death precipitated the decline of the dynasty of David
, and may have inspired stories of the return of a Messiah
from this lineage. The valley is marked by the presence of the archaeological mound (tell
) representing the accumulated ruins of Bronze Age
and Iron Age
settlements that flourished between 5,000 years ago and 650 BCE.
The pre-millennial view (which is most common among Evangelical Christians) interprets these passages from Revelation as a reference to a future event that will take place near the end of the Tribulation Period.
Dispensational (Christian) teachings
viewpoint interprets biblical prophecy literally and expects that the fulfillment of prophecy will also be literal, depending upon the context of scripture.
In his discussion of Armageddon, Doctor J. Dwight Pentecost has devoted an entire chapter to the subject, titled "The Campaign of Armageddon", in which he discusses Armageddon as a Campaign and not a specific battle, which will be fought in the Middle East. Pentecost writes:
- "It has been held commonly that the battle of Armageddon is an isolated event transpiring just prior to the second advent of Christ to the earth. The extent of this great movement in which God deals with “the kings of the earth and of the whole world” (Rev. 16:14) will not be seen unless it is realized that the “battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Rev. 16:14) is not an isolated battle, but rather a campaign that extends over the last half of the tribulation period. The Greek word "polemo", translated “battle” in Revelation 16:14, signifies a war or campaign, while "machē" signifies a battle, and sometimes even single combat. This distinction is observed by Trench, (see Richard C. Trench, New Testament Synonyms, pp.301-2) and is followed by Thayer (see Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 528) and Vincent (see Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, II, 541). The use of the word polemos (campaign) in Revelation 16:14 would signify that the events that culminate in the gathering at Armageddon at the second advent are viewed by God as one connected campaign." (p.340)
Dr. Pentecost then discusses the location of this campaign, and mentions the "hill of Megiddo" and other geographic locations such as "the valley of Jehoshaphat" using Joel 3:2-13 as reference; "the valley of the passengers" quoting Ezekiel 39:11; a mention of the "Lord coming from Edom or Idumea, south of Jerusalem, when He returns from the judgment"; and Jerusalem itself (Zech. 12:2-11; 14:2) (p. 341)"
Pentecost then continues in his writing to further describe the area involved:
- "This wide area would cover the entire land of Palestine and this campaign, with all its parts, would confirm what Ezekiel pictures when he says the invaders will 'cover the land' (Ezek. 38:9, 16). This area would conform to the extent pictured by John in Revelation 14:20.
In mentioning the "participants in the campaign", Dr. Pentecost (p.342) lists the following:
- 1) The ten kingdom federation (see also European Community) of nations under the Beast
- 2) The northern federation consisting of Russia (see also Gog and Magog) and her allies
- 3) The kings of the East, the Asiatic peoples from beyond the Euphrates
- 4) The King of the South, a north African power (p. 342)
Dr. Pentecost then outlines the biblical time period for this campaign to occur and with further arguments concludes that it must take place with the 70th week of Daniel. The invasion of Palestine by the Northern Confederacy "will bring the Beast and his armies to the defense of Israel as her protector". He then uses Daniel to further clarify his thinking: (Dan. 11:40b-45).
Again, events are listed by Pentecost in his book: (p. 356)
- 1) "The movement of the campaign begins when the King of the South moves against the Beast-False Prophet coalition, which takes place 'at the time of the end.'
- 2) "The King of the South is joined by the Northern Confederacy, who attacks the Wilful King by a great force over land and sea (11:40). Jerusalem is destroyed as a result of this attack (Zech. 12:2), and, in turn, the armies of the Northern Confederacy are destroyed (Ezek. 39) (Zech. 12:4).
- 3) "The full armies of the Beast move into Palestine (11:41) and shall conquer all that territory (11:41-42). Edom, Moab, and Ammon alone escape. . . ."
- 4) ". . . a report that causes alarm is brought to the Beast (11:44). . . (Rev. 16:12)
- 5) "The Beast moves his headquarters into the land of Palestine and assembles his armies there (11:45).
- 6) "It is there that his destruction will come. (11:45)."
After the destruction of the Beast at the Second Coming
of Jesus, the promised Kingdom is set up, in which Jesus and the Saints will rule for a thousand years
. Satan is then loosed "for a season" and goes out to deceive the nations, specifically, Gog and Magog. The army mentioned attacks the Saints in the New Jerusalem, they are defeated by a judgment of fire coming down from Heaven, and then comes the Great White Throne
judgment, which includes all of those through the ages and these are cast into the Lake of Fire
, which event is also known as the "second death" or Hell. Pentecost describes this thusly:
- "The destiny of the lost is a place in the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14-15; 21:8). This lake of fire is described as everlasting fire (Matt. 25:41) (Matt. 18:8) and as unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43-44, 46-48, emphasizing the eternal character of retribution of the lost." (p. 555)
The Islamic Prophet Muhammad has prophesied about several events that will occur just before the advent of the Day of Judgment (Qiyamah). Among these, Muhammad has foretold the return of Jesus (Isa in Arabic), who will materialize when a false claimant to divinity (the Dajjal) will attempt to misguide humanity into worshiping him. Jesus will descend from the heavens in Damascus, pray behind one of the Muslims, pursue and kill the Dajjal, destroy the savage and unbelieving armies of Gog and Magog and bring peace and brotherhood to the world. Christians will recognize the truth and accept him only as a Messenger of God, the religion of God (Islam) will justly rule the world.
There will be no oppression and no need to fight oppressors (war will be abolished) and no need to collect Jizyah (since there will be no non-Muslim to collect this tax from). Every human being will be well-off and no one will accept charity. Jesus will perform Hajj (pilgrimage), marry, remain married for 19 years, beget children, and die after living on earth for 40 years. His death will signal the beginning of the last days.
Some verses from the Quran relating to the Second Advent of Jesus:
- And there is none Of the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him (i.e. Jesus as a messenger of God and as a human being) before his death. And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness against them. (Quran, An-Nisa, 4:159)
- And (Jesus) shall be a Sign (for the coming of) the Hour (of Judgment): therefore have no doubt about the (Hour), but follow ye Me: this is a Straight Way. (Quran, Az-Zukhuruf, 43:61)
As part of the overall theology of the Bahá'í Faith
, Bahá'í literature and research interprets the fulfillment of the expectations surrounding the Battle of Armageddon in three ways, all of which have happened.
The first interpretation deals with a series of tablets written by Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith, to be sent to various kings and rulers.
The second interpretation relates to the detailed events near the end of World War I of the Battle of Megiddo (1918) - a kind of literal fulfillment wherein World Powers were in battle. Specifically, General Allenby's victory at Megiddo, which prevented the Ottoman Empire from crucifying `Abdu'l-Bahá, then the head of the Bahá'í Faith, is viewed by Bahá'ís as having been the literal Battle of Megiddo.
The third interpretation reviews the whole progress of the World Wars (though these can be viewed as one process in two phases), and their derangement of the means and norms of the world before and after.
believe that Armageddon is a battle where Satan unites the kings of the Earth against God's appointed King, Christ. In the Bible it is called "the battle of that great day of God Almighty." Unlike many Christian groups, Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe that an individual 'Antichrist' will be involved. Satan himself will move the kingdoms of the world to wage war on God's chosen people. Revelation says that "expressions inspired by demons" cause the kings of the entire inhabited Earth to gather together for the war of the great day of God the Almighty (Revelation 16:14). But then, the "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" because of his righteousness will defeat them for the glory of the Almighty God. (Revelation 17:12-14)
The Witnesses believe it is evident from this text that this war is not one of nations fighting against one another with nuclear, biological, or other weapons of mass destruction, since it says that the kings of the Earth "gather together" against Christ. It is also evident that there is no way that all of the armies of the world could gather around the relatively small area that is Megiddo in modern-day Israel. Finally, Revelation 16:16 calls Har-Mageddon (Mountain of Megiddo) (mountain of the assembly of troops), "the place" where these kings are gathered for this final showdown.
Since the Mountain of Megiddo is not a literal place, they feel the Bible uses Megiddo as the "symbolic" place of gathering of all the kings of the Earth, where they will try to do battle against God and his forces. This action on the part of the kings of the Earth is provoked by expressions and signs inspired by demons.
Jehovah's Witnesses believe the collective action to persecute God's chosen people on earth is what finally triggers this war. Ezekiel
38 prophesies that Gog, king of Magog will collect an army of many nations to attack God's people, believing them to be vulnerable and unprotected. God responds by causing them to fall one against another's swords; he strikes them with pestilence, floods, hailstones, fire and sulphur. The chapter ends with God declaring that the nations "will have to know that I am Jehovah".
Armageddon is followed by the establishment of God's kingdom over the earth — a period commonly referred to as "Christ's Millennial Reign", when "Satan is bound for a thousand years" (See Rev. 20:1,2). The final judgment
and purification of the earth's sin occurs at the end of the Millennium, when Satan is "loosed for a little season" (20:3, 7-9) and allowed to "go out to deceive the nations ... and gather them to battle" against "the camp of the saints and the beloved city". When Satan loses this battle he is finally cast into the "lake of fire and brimstone" (representing complete, eternal destruction, Rev 20:14). Those who join him in this battle will, likewise, be eternally destroyed. The Jehovah's Witnesses believe a prelude to Armageddon will be the attack on all religions by the Prominent World Powers very soon under their own laws and statutes left to be put into effect.
According to the Rastafari it is Haile Selassie who appears in the Book of Revelation. Armageddon (or rather "Amagideon") is a slightly different theological concept, meaning not so much a specific battle, but rather the general state the entire world is in now, and has been getting progressively deeper in since 1930, and especially since 1974. However, Selassie's role in the Second Italo-Ethiopian War is in many ways seen as a fulfillment of some prophecies.
As noted above (see Bible references), the term 'Armageddon' occurs only once in the Bible - in Revelation 16:16.
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. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 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. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that the terms "Armageddon", "Day of the Lord" and "The Second Coming of Christ" all describe the same event. They teach that the Apostle John borrowed what was local and literal in the Old Testament and gave it a global and spiritual application in the New Testament. The historical event John borrowed to explain Armageddon is Cyrus the Great's conquest of Babylon. The historical Cyrus came from the East, dried up the river Euphrates to conquer Babylon and thus enabled the Jewish people to return from exile. Literal Cyrus represents Christ, literal Israel represents spiritual Israel (God's commandment keeping church) and literal Babylon becomes an end-time spiritual coalition. The water of the river Euphrates represents "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues" (Revelation 17:15) or the inhabitants of the entire earth. The "3 unclean spirits" represents the method used to persuade the earth's inhabitants ("miracle working") and is countered by the messages of the 3 angels of Revelation 14. Seventh-day Adventists further teach that the current religious movements taking place in the world are setting the stage for Armageddon. They believe that the end-time spiritual coalition will threaten religious liberty, and are particularly concerned about the growing unity between spiritualism, American Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. A further significant difference in Seventh-day Adventist theology is their teaching that the events of Armageddon will leave the earth desolate for the duration of the millennium. They teach that the righteous will be taken to heaven while the rest of humanity will be destroyed, leaving Satan with no one to tempt and effectively "bound" (Revelation 20:1). The final re-creation of a "new heaven and a new earth" (Revelation 21:1) then follows the millennium.
Armageddon in Literature and Movies
Books on Christian eschatology
- The Coming Prince by Robert Anderson (Scotland Yard) - claims to prove the precision of Biblical prophecy.
- The Invisible War by Donald Grey Barnhouse; ©1965; Zondervan Publishing House (Ministry Resources Library).
- How to Recognize the Antichrist' by Arthur E. Bloomfield ©"1975; Bethany Fellowship.
- Number in Scripture by Ethelbert W. Bullinger, D.D.; ©1967; Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49501 Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 67-26498; ISBN 0-8254-2204-3
- The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow by Constance Cumbey ©1983; Huntington House Inc.
- A Planned Deception: The Staging of A New Age Messiah by Constance Cumbey ©1985; Pointe Publishers, Inc.
- Hidden Prophecies in the Psalms by J.R. Church; ©1986; Prophecy Publications, Oklahoma City, OK 73153; ISBN 0-941241-00-9
- Gorbachev: Has the Real Antichrist Come? by Robert W. Faid ©1988: Victory House Publishers.
- The Coming Epiphany by William Frederick - Your guide to understanding the end times.
- The Man The False Prophet and The Harlot, subtitled "The Name of the Antichrist Finally Revealed" by Dr. Anthony M. Giliberti ©1991; Published by "This Is The Generation" Library of Congress Catalog Number 90-93451 ISBN 0-9628419-0-0
- Send This Message to My Church: Christ's Words to the Seven Churches of Revelation by Terence Kelshaw ©1984; Thomas Nelson Publishers.
- The Truth About Armageddon by William Sanford Lasor ©1982; Harper & Row Publishers.
- A Survey of Bible Prophecy by R. Ludwigson ©1951; (1973, 1975; The Zondervan Corporation).
- The Late, Grate Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey
- The Morning of the Magicians by Louis Pauwels & Jacques Bergier, Part Two, "A Few Years in Absolute Elsewhere" Many details about Adolph Hitler and his Guru, Hans Horbiger. A good basis for understanding how The Antichrist and False Prophet will operate.
'Code'-type books discussing biblical prophecy
- The Bible Code by Michael Drosnin; ©1997; Published by Simon & Schuster, 1230 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. ISBN 0-684-81079-4
- Bible Code II: The Countdown by Michael Drosnin; ©2002 One Honest Man, Inc. Published by Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0R1, England.
The Book of Daniel compared to the Book of Revelation
- Daniel and Revelation subtitled "A Study of Two Extraordinary Visions" by James M. Efird ©1978; Judson Press, Valley Forge, PA 19481 ISBN 0-8170-0797-0
- Daniel's Prophecy of the 70 Weeks by Alva J. McClain; 1940, ©1969; Academie Books/Zondervan House. (See http://www.believersweb.org/ Believers Web; and Grace Theological Seminary.
Dispensationalism view of biblical prophecy
- A Cup of Trembling by Dave Hunt ©1995; Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402; ISBN 1-56507-334-7.
- Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist by Dave Hunt ©1990; Harvest House Publishers Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publishing Data; ISBN 0-89081-831-2
- How Close Are We? by Dave Hunt ©1993 Harvest House Publishers.
- Peace, Prosperity, and the Coming Holocaust by Dave Hunt ©1983; Harvest House Publishers.
- Whatever Happened to Heaven? by Dave Hunt ©1988; Harvest House Publishers. ISBN 0-89081-698-0 (paperback)
- Not Wrath but Rapture! by H.A. Ironside; NO DATE; published by Loizeaux Brothers, Inc.
- Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis Revised, by John F. Walvoord ©1974, 1976, 1990; Zondervan Publishing House, 1415 Lake Drive, S.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506; ISBN 0-310-53921-8
- Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey with C.C. Carlson ©1972; Zondervan House.
- The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey with C.C. Carlson ©1970; Zondervan House.
- The Liberation of Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey ©1974; The Zondervan Corporation.
- There's a New World Coming by Hal Lindsey ©1973; Vision House.
- The Rapture by Hal Lindsey ©1983; The Aorist Corporation Bantam Books.
- The Terminal Generation by Hal Lindsey with C.C. Carlson ©1976; Fleming Revell.
- The Revelation Record by Henry M. Morris ©1985; Tyndale House Inc. and Creation Life Publishers.
- Things to Come by J. Dwight Pentecost ©1958; Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506. ISBN-10: 0310308909 and ISBN-13: 9780310308904
- Dispensationalism Today by Charles C. Ryrie ©1965; The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.
- Israel In Prophecy by John F. Walvoord ©1962; Zondervan Publishing House.
- The Church in Prophecy by John F. Walvoord ©1964; Zondervan Publishing House.
- The Millennial Kingdom by John F. Walvoord ©1959; by Dunham Publishing Co. Academie Books published by Zondervan Publishing House, 1415 Lake Drive. S.E., Grand Rapids Michigan 49506. (See Millennium on Wikipedia).
- The Nations in Prophecy by John F. Walvoord ©1967; Zondervan Publishing House. (NOTE: this book may have been combined with other similar titles by Walvoord into one new volume).
- The Return of the Lord by John F. Walvoord ©1955; Zondervan Publishing House Library of Congress Cat. #77-106423.
- The Rapture Question" by John F. Walvoord (Revised & Enlarged) ©1974; The Zondervan Corporation.
Post-Tribulation view of biblical prophecy
- The Church and the Tribulation (subtitled: "A Biblical Examination of Post-tribulationism") by Robert H. Gundry ©1973; Zondervan Corporation.
- The Tribulation People by Arthur Katterjohn with Mark Faculer ©1975; Publisher - Creation House.
- Lord, When? by Arthur Katterjohn with Mark Faculer ©1976; Publisher - Creation House.
- The Incredible Cover-Up by Dave MacPherson ©1975; by Logos International.
- Christians Will Go Through the Tribulation by Jim McKeever ©1978; Alpha Omega Publishing Company.
- Now You Can Understand the Book of Revelation by Jim McKeever ©1980; Omega Publications.
- City of Revelation subtitled "A Book of Forgotten Wisdom" by John Michell ©1972; Ballantine Books (first printing: 11/73 Library of Congress Cat. No. 72-88116 SBN 345-23607-6-150. (NOTE: this book contains information on Gematria, a mathematical science).
- The Secret Book of Revelation (subtitled: "The Last Book of the Bible") ©1979; by Gilles Quispel, Collins St. James Place, Comdon, 1979.
- The Pre-Wrath Rapture of The Church by Marvin Rosenthal ©1990; Thomas Nelson, Inc. ISBN 0-8407-3160-4.
A millennial view of biblical prophecy (non-literal, allegorical)
- We are Almost There! by Harold Camping; Feb. 2008 self-published by Family Stations, Inc., 290 Hegenberger Rd. Oakland, CA 94621.
- Shock Wave 2000! subtitled "The Harold Camping 1994 Debacle"; by Robert Sungenis, Scott Temple, and David Allen Lewis; ©1994 New Leaf Press, Inc., P.O. Box 311, Green Forest AR 72638; ISBN 0-89221-269-1; Library of Congress: 94-67493