Armageddon -- Actual Or Assumed?

Will the present crisis in the Middle East usher in “the Battle of Armageddon?” You know the very word “Armageddon” presents the mind with a ambiguous and mystifying feeling -- at least to those who have heard of it. And if you have been listening to preachers you have probably heard of it. Today on our program, it is my intention to look at this topic from just what the Bible says. I hope you will stay tuned through the entire program. But first, let me mention some other matters.

One of the most fantastic things on the premillennial agenda is called “a great global war.” It is also named “The Battle of Armageddon.” Sometimes you hear preachers mention this alleged great battle and ask if people are ready for Armageddon. Most of those who believe in a literal reign of Christ on earth during what they call “The Millennium” are thoroughly convinced that just before that glorious event occurs the world will be engulfed in this great war. Mr. Hal Lindsey’s book, “The Late Great Planet Earth” describes the battle as follows:

“According to the Bible, the Middle East crisis will continue to escalate until it threatens the peace of the whole world. The focus of all nations will be upon this unsolvable and complex problem which keeps bringing the world to the precipice  of a thermonuclear holocaust. This is apparently the first major problem that the incredible Roman leader will solve after taking over the ten-nation confederacy of European nations.” (page 140).

Mr. Lindsey, and many others, believe strongly that Italy will rise to a world dominance again and another “Fuehrer” will command a European army and make a covenant with the Israelis. This dictator will allegedly dominate the world and at that time, in Jerusalem, call himself God Almighty. War almost immediately will supposedly erupt and Russia will somehow revive and invade Israel from the north. This purportedly will bring in the Chinese with what Mr. Lindsey calls an “incredible Oriental army of 200 million soldiers” marching over land to the eastern banks of the river Euphrates. (Are you following this?) At that time theoretically the battle shifts to a valley in north-western Israel known as Megiddo. It is at the entrance of the port of Haifa and it is in this area that the imaginary final battle of all time is to be fought.

I have tried to give you just an accurate but brief capsule of the theory of this make-believe Battle of Armageddon. It is to be the most devastating of all wars. Lindsey also said, “As the battle of Armageddon reaches its awful climax and it appears that all life will be destroyed on earth -- in this very moment Jesus Christ will return and save man from self-extinction.” (page 156). This all sounds so exciting and astonishing -- and that is one reason why it is so dangerous. Most of us are prone to be attracted to the spectacular rather than the real things of life. But no matter how much such a thing as this appeals to us, what really matters is what the Bible says.

All of these notions relative to Armageddon come from a single verse found in the Book of Revelation, chapter 16:16. It reads, “And they gathered them together to the place called in the Hebrew, Armageddon.” This statement was made in connection with various symbols and figures designed to show God’s wrath against evil and His help to those who are righteous. The context begins with verse 12 in which John sees the angel pour out the sixth bowl of God’s wrath on the river Euphrates. The river dried up and frog like creatures emerged from the mouth of a dragon and John said they were the false prophet and the “beast.” He also saw these spirits working signs and inviting the kings of the earth to “gather them together unto the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (verse 14). You will not read of any “battle” actually being fought in all of this symbolism.

Though Mr. Lindsey and others think they read of H-bombs, great nuclear exchanges of ballistic missiles in the Bible, these things are their imaginations. Nothing in the Bible anywhere mentions even symbolically such things as modern day weapons of the nuclear age. Furthermore, there is really no expression such as “the Valley of Armageddon” or “the Battle of Armageddon.” The Bible mentions the valley of Megiddo but not the Valley of Armageddon.

It is impossible for there to be a Valley of Armageddon where this alleged battle is to occur. The prefix “Har” which has been shortened to “Ar” in the word Armageddon is the Hebrew way of designating a mountain. Megiddo is the biblical city situated on Mount Carmel. It has never been a large town. In fact, it measures only about 15 acres in all. How 200 million Chinese with all the necessary logistical support and the combined armies of this figmentary Italian Fuehrer can  fit into a space no larger than 15 acres is a problem. It might be the way to end war -- for soldiers so tightly packed together could not even slap each other, much less kill each other.

There are several reasons why such a “battle” is a speculative imagination and not a reality. Please note them with me:

1. Jesus denied that His kingdom was of this world and therefore denied it would fight like world kingdoms. “My kingdom is not of this world, if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight...” (John 18:36). Those who believe there is to be an Armageddon contradict what Christ Himself said of His own kingdom. They say it will fight -- Jesus said it would not fight. Which would you accept?

2. Paul denied that the Lord’s army has carnal weaponry. He wrote the church at Corinth and said, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds); casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5). Our weapons are not “of the flesh.” That means they are not literal weapons of warfare. The only fighting the Lord wants His people to engage in is a struggle to bring world-wide thinking into captivity to Him. Anyone who knows the difference in straight up from sideways sees the difference in the truth of the Lord’s weapons and these speculative flights of over active minds.

3. The prophecies with figurative symbols cannot be interpreted and applied literally. Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 are the prophecies that are misused and pressed into service to get Russia, Italy, China and the European confederacy into this imaginary battle. To get Russia, the advocates of Armageddon use “Gog” of the land of “Magog.” They also opine that “Meshech” is somehow “Moscow.” The truth is that these are names found in the table of nations in Genesis 10. It is pure speculation of the rankest sort to claim them as ancient names for modern Russia. This mistake is clear. They take a word that does not designate Russia and apply it to Russia. They forsake their “literal” approach to prophecy just here and everyone can see it.

The prophecy in Ezekiel 39 mentions such weapons as “shields, bucklers, bows and arrows, handstaves and spears” (verse 9). Can anyone get from these primitive weapons such things as nuclear missiles? In fact the weapons of the prophecy were to be burned seven years. Who among those who apply this to the future Battle of Armageddon can tell us the import of this seven years of weapon burning? Remember, those who think they see a prophecy of a literal battle interpret this literally -- or do they really? Those who cannot see the folly of this fantastic, unrealistic and unscriptural speculation probably do not want to even try and see. There is no war such as these speculations assume -- not for the Lord’s people.

Armageddon is a word that is much like the word “Waterloo.” Waterloo always calls to mind the event that took place there. It was when “Napoleon met his Waterloo.” He was defeated. Mention of the Battle of Waterloo signifies defeat. Revelation chapter 16 does speak of the “place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” but this signifies nothing more than a historic place associated with the events that occurred there. Notice that at Megiddo Sisera was defeated by faithful Barak  (Judges 5:19) and the Midianites were conquered by Gideon here (Judges 7. King Saul was defeated by the Philistines (1 Sam. 28:4) and then Josiah was defeated by Pharaoh Necho (2 Kings 23:29-30). This then became, in the Bible, a symbol of defeat in battle. It is the battle between good and evil, between the force and power of Christ and the force and power of Satan. Paul said that our warfare is “not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against spiritual hosts in heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12ff).

Slogans such as “someone met his Waterloo” and “Remember Pearl Harbor” suggest defeat. That is all that is meant in Revelation 16:16. It is a symbolic way of assurance. God will provide the victory of truth over error. It is in the church that this victory is possible for Christians “have been delivered out of the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13).

Do not be misled, confused, or deceived by false teaching. The important thing is to obey Christ right now, join the attack against sin and evil now, and be prepared to go with Him when He comes to be admired of all His saints into the eternal bliss of heaven. Do not fear some alleged world war that exists only in the figmentary machinations of speculative false teachers.

If you have a question about any of these things that have been said -- please contact us.

Back to Religious Issues