The term Armageddon has taken on a life of its own, with meanings not indicated in the Bible. The word has entered every type of media and pop-culture as a generic term to describe the destruction of the world by any event or means thought up by an author or director. All that a writer has to do to conjure up a concept of utter destruction is to mention the term Armageddon. However, to understand Armageddon correctly, we need to go back to the source, to the Bible itself, to find out what Armageddon is all about.
The word Armageddon comes from two separate Hebrew words; Har and Mageddon. Har is the Hebrew word for hill or mountain. Mageddon refers to the ruins of the ancient city of Megiddo (a fortified city built by King Solomon) that overlooks the area located in northern Israel known as The Valley of Esdraelon. It is approximately 50 miles north of Jerusalem and 20 miles southeast of Haifa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_of_Esdraelon).
While the name Armageddon comes from a place, it is a term given to what may be the most widely heard of and misunderstood prophetic event in the Bible. After almost seven years of wars, famine, natural and supernatural disasters, and of the unbelievably harsh, tyrannical rule of the Antichrist; this age will conclude with a gathering of all the armies of the world followed by the return of Christ and his destruction of these gathered armies. It is this event that will usher in the Millennial Reign of Christ.
Distinction From Gog and Magog
Quoted from Thomas S. McCall, Th.D. (Zola Levitt Ministries)
There is considerable confusion, even among sincere Biblical scholars, as to what is involved in Armageddon, and what is not involved in Armageddon. Among the most difficult questions is how the war described in Ezekiel 38-39, known as Gog and Magog, fits into the end times scenario. Many writers about Bible prophecy understand this enormous conflict is fulfilled in the Armageddon War at the end of the Tribulation. It is our conviction, however, along with a growing number of students of Bible prophecy, that the Gog and Magog war must be considered as a separate and distinct conflict from Armageddon. Furthermore, it probably will occur before or very near the beginning of the Tribulation.
Suffice it to say here that the Gog and Magog war indicates specific countries (Russia—the extreme north country, Persia (Iran), Ethiopia and Libya, with a few others) that will come against Israel and will be thoroughly defeated. Seven years are needed to clean up the debris and use it for fuel (Ezekiel 39: 9-10), fitting well with the time and conditions of the Tribulation.
Armageddon, on the other hand, is the final war involving the Antichrist and includes all the nations of the earth coming against Israel, Jerusalem (which at the time of Armageddon, Jerusalem will be the Antichrist’s capital), and the Lord God Almighty. It is terminated by the direct intervention of the Lord Himself, who destroys the Antichrist and his armies, imprisons Satan in the Abyss, and establishes His kingdom on the earth. The similarities between the Ezekiel 38-39 war and Armageddon are that they both involve nations attempting to destroy Israel and the Lord, and
are destroyed, but they are sufficiently different that they must be separated. One occurs before the Tribulation, while the other comes about at the end of the Tribulation
The Unfolding Events
When Armageddon is mentioned, people usually think of a one-time gigantic conflagration. The Scriptures do present Armageddon as a massive conflagration, but it is a process, a series of events and battles that span a relatively short period of time at the end of the seven year Tribulation. Furthermore, these conflicts range over a wide area in the Middle East, including the Valley of Megiddo, but also several other places.
Biblical scholar Arnold Fruchtenbaum has divided The Bible’s prophetic statements of Armageddon into 8 stages.
- The assembling of the allies of the Antichrist (Joel 3:9-11; Psalm 2:1-6; Revelation 16:12-16)
- The destruction of Babylon (Isaiah 13-14; Jeremiah 50-51; Revelation 17-18)
- The fall of Jerusalem (Micah 4:11, Micah 5:1; Zechariah 12-14)
- The armies of the Antichrist at Bozrah (Jeremiah 49:13-14)
- The national regeneration of Israel (Psalm 79:1-13, 80:1-19; Isaiah 64:1-2; Hosea 6:1-13; Joel 2:28-32; Zechariah 12:10, 13:7-9; Romans
- The second coming of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 34:1-7, 63:1-3; Habakkuk 3:3; Micah 2:12-13)
- The battle from Bozrah or the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Jeremiah 49:20-22; Zechariah 14:12-15; Joel 3:12-13)
- The victory ascent upon the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:3-5; Joel 3:14-17; Matthew 24:29-31; Revelation 16:17-21, 19:11-21)
Following the Antichrist's initial victory over three of the ten nations of the revived Roman Empire (whether it be a military or political victory), the armies of the Antichrist will be concentrated initially in Europe and the Middle East. In the final three and half year of Tribulation, with the world suffering under the brutal rule of the Antichrist, a series of wars will be unleashed. A number of nations will rebel against the tyranny of the Antichrist, and those nations will wage war against the Antichrist’s armies. Many devastating battles will be fought leading up to Armageddon.
The king of the south (Egypt and her African allies) will attack the Antichrist’s forces
gathered in Israel. Then the king of the north (Russia, Turkey, Syria) will join the devastation by bringing their forces from the north in a lightning attack on the armies of the Antichrist (again, don’t confuse this with the war of Gog & Magog. That will have already happened and God himself destroys those forces.)
At the time of the end, the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood.
However, the Antichrist will swiftly counterattack, annihilating the enemy armies from both the north and the south. The Antichrist will decisively win the first round of the war against the armies of the king of the north and south.
As one author writes:
Reasserting his authority, he will set up his capital in Jerusalem — “The Beautiful Holy Mountain”. The Antichrist will consolidate his armies in Israel, moving his headquarters to the Mount of Olives opposite Jerusalem (see Daniel 11:45), knowing that the final battle will be fought there. Daniel foretold, “He will also invade the Beautiful Land. Many countries will fall, but Edom, Moab and the leaders of Ammon will be delivered from his hand. He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape.”
11: 41-42). Edom, Moab, and Ammon in present-day Jordan will somehow escape. It is possible that they will willingly ally themselves with the Antichrist who will conquer Libya and Ethiopia as his armies consolidate his control over North Africa (See Daniel 11:43).
Subjugated under the Antichrist authority, nations will grow dissatisfied and will rebel “at the end time” (Daniel 11:40). In a two-pronged attack, the kingdoms of the south and north will march against the Antichrist, who will pour over countries like a torrential flood to meet these armies in the “Beautiful Land” of Israel (Daniel 11:40-41)
The nations of the eastern world (Revelation 16: 12-14) will unite in a desperate attempt to secure their political freedom by attacking the Antichrist’s armies. Enormous armies of a size never seen before in human history will arise from several nations in Asia. These armies will march westward toward the Middle East, where they will engage in a cataclysmic struggle with the western armies of the Antichrist. An alliance between Japan, China, India, and developing nations of Asia could
produce the armaments and manpower for such an unprecedented army from the East. The prophet John wrote:
12 The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.
For thousands of years the Euphrates River has stood as a military barrier between the east and the west. The river runs for more than a thousand miles from its headwaters in the mountains of Turkey. It flows south through the territory of ancient Babylon until it empties into the Persian Gulf.
During the 1980s and 90s, Turgut Ozal, Turkey’s president, built a series of 22 dams on the Tigris and Euphrates river system. The Ataturk Dam is part of this system and is more than a mile long and 600 feet high. It is capable of blocking the head waters of the Euphrates. In 1990, at the opening of the dam, the president of Turkey pressed a button, the dam closed, and the water level of the Euphrates dropped 75%. Never before in history has this been possible. The great river Euphrates can now be dried up, exactly as prophesied by John, to allow the Asian army to march toward Israel across the battlefields of ancient Mesopotamia.
13 Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
15 "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."
16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
These satanic spirits will call the “kings of the earth” to gather their massive armies to march toward Israel to engage the armies of the Antichrist in the final conflict of the age.
Initially victorious, the Antichrist’s forces will pursue his enemies through Egypt, plundering the country’s treasure, and then continue the pursuit into Libya and Ethiopia (Daniel 11:42-43). Pressing his advantage in the south, the Antichrist will hear disturbing rumors of armies from the east and north amassing against him.
But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him.
The Antichrist will receive intelligence reports that enormous armies are mobilizing far to the east and north in Asia. These reports will create a great disturbance because the huge armies of the kings of the east will contain two hundred million soldiers.
Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates. 15 And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. 16 The number of the mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number.
The end is now near. This will be the beginning of the end of Tribulation which will conclude with the return of Christ and the destruction of the Antichrist and False Prophet.
Return of the King
Armageddon ends with the magnificent return of Jesus Christ in the mountain wilderness of Bozrah. He will return to Earth in the clouds in the same manner in which He departed (Jude 14-15; Revelation 19:11-16). He will be accompanied by an army of angels and with the church saints (robed in white at the marriage of the Lamb).
Revelation 19:17-18 describe something that occurs just as the Lord and His army of believers appears in the skies. With the earthly powers of satan gathered (at Armageddon) and the supernatural force of God and his host gathered in the sky, an angel stands in the sun, and delivers a warning. His message is gruesome and powerful, guaranteeing that before the battle has even begun that the end result is certain. The angel commands all the birds to gather for gruesome feast after the inevitable slaughter (using ironically the same verb used in Revelation
the false trinity that gathered together all the nations for the final battle). Jesus alluded to this during His earthly ministry when he said to his disciples.”For just as lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather”. (Matthew 24:27-28)
In this battle, Jesus will fight alone on behalf of Israel destroying the satanically indwelt Antichrist (Habakkuk 3:13, 2; 2 Thessalonians 2:8) and his armies in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:12-13; Zechariah 14:12-15; Revelation 14:19-20).
19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
Dr. Dave Breese writes:
“Since the beginning of the Tribulation, where will the Church have been? In heaven. The Church will have gone through an experience called the Judgment Seat of Christ, and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. At that time, it is "clothed in fine linen, white and clean." But then the announcement is made to Christians (the Church in heaven with God), that there's still a very serious piece of unfinished business that needs to be done in the world. That is to depose the Antichrist, and to pronounce the judgment of God upon the devil. They will be instruments in bringing that to pass.
So Jesus Christ comes back, not alone, but He brings the Church with Him (as spectators).
How do we know this? Well, Jude quotes Enoch as saying about Jesus: "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints" (Jude 14).
By this time, the armies that surround the city of Jerusalem have every reason to expect that they will conquer the place. Yet, they look up, and see a massive military contingent coming back from heaven, sweeping down out of the skies, and taking them out of the way like nothing! They will be utterly destroyed. That army will be scattered all over the place. There will be millions who die. And there will be a special thing that is done with reference to the
devil and the Antichrist. The Scripture says that the Antichrist and the False Prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20), and the devil will be thrown into the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-3). He is kept prisoner there for 1000 years.
You may say, "That's a lot of arrogant presumption. Christians returning with Jesus Christ? Who do you think you are to say that?" Well, the Scripture says that. In fact, did you know that the Bible says that the saints, that is, Christians, shall judge the world? Did you know that the Bible says that the saints shall judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3)?
The devil, as you know, is an angel. Therefore, the devil will be a part of this group that is judged by you, and by me. There are people who have been done to death by the activity of Satan. But they will see him again, standing in judgment before them. We will be a part of that tribunal that makes right everything
that is wrong in the world. As a part of the army of Jesus Christ we will return to conquer. We will inherit the universe. The Bible says:
1 Corinthians 3:22,23
Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours, And ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.
It's no small thing to be a Christian. It is to be an inheritor of the universe!”
During the Tribulation, there will have been many who have accepted the Lord, and believe the Gospel of the Kingdom. And what will happen as a result of that faith for them? When the Tribulation ends by the return of Christ, He will come, and not only deliver the nation of Israel, but He will set up His Kingdom. Where will the capital of that Kingdom be? Jerusalem, the Holy City, called the "city of the great King" (Psalm 48:2) in the Old Testament. He will establish His throne there, and He will reign over the world for 1000 amazing and remarkable years."
Great days lie ahead for planet earth. Jesus, on the throne, will control the world which at present is subject to the prince of the power of the air. The deceiver of people and of the nations will be powerless to control people as he does now. The Millennial Reign will begin!
Charles Swindoll: Daniel, Volume 2: God’s Plan for the Future
Charles Swindoll: Revelation—Unveiling the End
Grant Jeffrey: Countdown To The Apocalypse
David Jeremiah: Turning Point
Ed Hindson: Is the Antichrist Alive and Well
Thomas S. McCall, Th.D: Zola Levitt Ministries
Dr. Dave Breese: Christian Destiny Ministry
Tim LaHaye: Revelation Unveiled; Are We Living in the End Times
Jerry Jenkins: Are We Living in the End Times
Arnold Fruchtenbaum: Ariel Ministries