Most of the world views this end time battle as some catastrophic event that will take place at the end of time. Christ is going to come back to the earth and defeat the Antichrist in this battle. Vernard Eller a retired college professor suggests selling tickets to this battle; it would bring in millions.
In Hebrew the term is Harmageddon and is known as Armageddon in several versions of the Bible. Harmageddon means mountain (or hill) of Megiddo or Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible reads Mount Megiddo. It is a battleground situated at the south rim of Esdraelon. Megiddo is a plain situated between two mountains. It was a place for many bloody battles throughout history. Not just biblical history but secular battles as well. Let’s take a look at some of the Old Testament accounts on the battlefield.
The bible first mentions Megiddo where a king was defeated by Joshua. (Joshua 12:21).
Another war that took place near the waters of Megiddo that Deborah and Barak defeated the Canaanites. (Judges 5:19).
Gideon won over the Midianites on the plains of Megiddo. Judges 7.
Ahaziah died on Megiddo after being stabbed by Jehu’s arrow. II Kings 9:27.
Megiddo is where the Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt killed King Josiah. II Kings 23:29-30.
Another battle during in the last few decades and in some of our readers’ lifetime was fought there. In 1918 the allied forces under General Allenby entered northern Palestine, through the Megiddo pass to take it from the Turkish forces, after which the British commander was named Viscount Allenby of Megiddo. So it can be concluded that it is a battlefield used during bible times as well as during some of our life times. This is the verse below that most take this doctrine from.
And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the almighty. Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his garments, lest he walk about naked and men see his shame. And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Harmageddon. Revelation 16:13-16.
Can we conclude there is going to be a great battle on the last day just from these few verses? Is there some doubt here to what this means? Does this actually make any sense at all? What are these frogs coming out of a beast and then out of a false prophet? Sounds like some movie in Hollywood. We may not know the answer to all the questions but if you consider who this was actually written for the truth will become clear.
This verse about Harmageddon is found in the highly symbolic book of Revelation. To try and make this verse something that will happen in our life time goes against the real message of the book of Revelation.
The Christians of Asia Minor were being severely persecuted by the Roman Empire and the whole book is based on the hope that they will have victory over their enemy and that their relief from persecution would come swiftly. Do you think these first century Christians were thinking of a war in Iraq while trying to persevere through the most trying of times?
I don’t want to cover too much into about the book of Revelation as we will cover some on that later. But I must tell you of the when, the audience and why. The book of Revelation was written by the apostle John sometime in the latter part of the first century. John was exiled to the isle of Patmos because of his belief in Christ. Rev 1:9. Being exiled was the lesser of the punishments that Rome would inflict on Christians. He was made to work in the rock quarries and they were basically starved to death with little food, water and rest. However this book was meant to fall in the hands of the early Christians and more specifically the seven churches of Asia. They were the audience. They too were being persecuted for what they believed. Some were tortured and put to death in an inhumane manner. Nero an emperor in the middle to latter part of the century use to put animal skins on the privates of Christians so that the animals would attack them. Church historians say that even for some who were involved it was too much for them. This is the under what conditions. The book was written kind of like a code. The book of Revelation is very deep in the Old Testament roots and Hebrew. The purpose was to conceal and reveal to the intended audience. The Romans if they came across it would not understand because of the Hebrew roots. This is no different then other codes used in secular history.
The African slaves use to sing while working. Their masters must have thought they were very religious people. The songs they use to sing meant something to the others. Wade in the Water was one of them and there were many more. They sung about escaping slavery and traveling north to freedom. Unless I was the recipient of the message then I wouldn’t understand. Since we weren’t the actual recipients of the book of Revelation, it too would be and is hard to understand. Take a first century Christian and sing to him, Wade in the Water and see if they would understand. Show them a road sign on one of our major highways or tell them that someone has “road rage” and see if they would be quite perplexed. This is how Christians today are concerning the battle of Armageddon.
If there is no battle of Armageddon and it is totally symbolic then does it have any meaning at all? How do we go about figuring it out? One correct interpretation that no one can deny is, Whatever it meant to them (i.e. First Century Christians) is what the battle of Armageddon was or is or shall be, (W.B. West, Revelation Through First Century Glasses, [TN: Gospel Advocate], 109).
What was the message to first century Christians? Just like a battleground in Palestine it is a battleground in the heart. It is the war of and in the heart. It is not a physical war with guns and tankers. It is a spiritual emotional war. God shows us in the book of Revelation who is victorious. The church is victorious and is so prophesized by the prophet Daniel as well as Jesus saying the same thing about the kingdom. See Daniel 2:44 and also Matt 16:18. Jesus on trial says that his kingdom is not of this world. John 18:36. If Jesus kingdom is not of this world then why would anyone believe that the battle is of a physical nature? Additionally it isn’t a question of who wins the war but rather how many Christian’s God will take with him.
Christ foretold that some would fall away from the faith because of the persecutions. Their love would grow cold. Just read about the seven churches and their struggles in the first chapter of Revelation. The ones who stayed fought this battle of Armageddon everyday. Christians today fight the battle of Armageddon everyday, the battle between right and wrong. God’s battle didn’t have anything to do with a physical battle, but a spiritual one. II Cor 10:3-6. “Perhaps it suggests the place of decision,” (James Burton Coffman, Revelation [TX: ACU Press], 367). This battle is much more stressful then a physical battle in which it’s an emotional type of battle within the hearts and minds of Christians.