Reading certain religious literature and listening to certain preachers on radio and television would almost make one think the word "Armageddon" is found in most chapters or books in the Bible. Those who believe and teach that Jesus is going to return to earth, set up an earthly kingdom, and rule the earth for 1000 years, vividly describe a great battle. They call it the "Battle of Armageddon", in which Christ will defeat the armies of the world, the forces of Satan.
People who are acquainted with the scriptures know the word is found only one time in all the Bible: "And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon" (Rev. 16:16). You will note that the word battle is not found in this text. However, the word battle is found in verse 14. In the context, John tells of unclean spirits that came from the mouths of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet. He calls them spirits of devils, miracle workers, who went to the kings of the earth to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
It is difficult to understand how one can take this information and picture all the armies of earth, gathered in one place, and the slaughter so great, the blood from it will run as water up to the bridle of a horse. Yet, some people do this, even though this is the only place in the Bible Armageddon is mentioned.
It would be wise to consider some additional information.
First of all, Revelation is a book of signs, symbols, figures. It was so declared to John (Rev. 1:1) and so revealed to him. Since it is imagery, or signs and symbols, it was not intended to be given a literal interpretation. To do so is to err, to fail to understand. This results in the condition just described. "Armageddon" in Hebrew means the "hills or mountain of Mageddon". Meggiddo was a small town or village located on the plain of Esdraelon just below the mountain. It is south of Nazareth and toward the seacoast. On this plain the armies of Israel were gathered several times, and many victories were won, with the help of God. Here Barak defeated the Cannanites and Deborah slew their king. It was here that Gideon, with 300 men, defeated the army of Median. Josiah, king of Judah, was slain in this place by Pharoah-nicoh, king of Egypt.
Among the Hebrews, Armageddon came to have the significance of a great battle or conflict, a far-reaching conflict. The use of the word here stands for conflict between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and error, or to state it as it is, between God and Satan. It should then be easily recognized that John did not refer to an earthly war or battle such as we usually associate with conflict, but a spiritual struggle. This struggle is now in progress. Hear Paul as he writes to encourage the Ephesian Christians: "For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual host of wickedness in heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). In the verses that follow, he reminds them that God has provided the armor and the weapon to be used. That weapon is the word of God. This alone should make one realize this battle is not physical or material, but spiritual. And every Christian is expected and required to arm himself and engage in this battle against sin, wickedness, false doctrine, those things that lead people to continue in sin and in Satan's service. With diligence and the help of God, he who desires to overcome sin in his own life can do so. At the same time, by word and example, others are to be taught the truth and in obedience to it, be translated out of the kingdom (power) of darkness into the kingdom of Jesus Christ. (Col. 1:12-13).
Those who teach the "soon to be great final war, Armageddon", do not find scripture for this teaching. It is the result of imagination, wresting scripture, denying what the Bible really teaches, by false prophets, who bring upon themselves the wrath of God (.2 John 9; 2 Peter 2:1-3; Gal. 1:8-9).
by R. L. Morrison
Return to the General Articles page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /