What Will Armageddon Mean for You?
Journalists and scientists, clergymen and politicians alike express fear of a “nuclear Armageddon.” What does the Bible have to say about Armageddon, and what can you do about it?
“SOMETIME between April 15 and 23, 1957, Armageddon will sweep the world! Millions of persons will perish in its flames and the land will be scorched.” So prophesied a certain California pastor, Mihran Ask, in January, 1957.1
Such false prophets tend to put the subject of Armageddon in disrepute. It would be a serious mistake, however, to dismiss Armageddon lightly on their account. Did not the religious leaders of Jesus’ day misunderstand and misapply God’s Word? But that did not justify anyone’s despising Jesus’ preaching of that Word, did it? So let none despise the subject of Armageddon merely because some misapply its prophecies. It is of the deepest concern to every living person, being one of the most important and timely teachings of the Scriptures. What it will mean for you will depend upon the course you take between now and Armageddon.
The term Armageddon is found but once in the Scriptures. “I saw three unclean . . . expressions inspired by demons. . . , and they go forth to the kings of the entire inhabited earth, to gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty. And they gathered them together to the place that is called in Hebrew Armageddon.”—Rev. 16:13, 14, 16, margin.
Armageddon literally means “Mountain of Megiddo,” or “mountain of the assembly of troops.” Situated some sixty miles northwest of Jerusalem, Megiddo has also come to be the name of an entire region, its plain, valley and city. Repeatedly, crucial battles were fought in this region, not only in Bible times but also since. There Judges Joshua, Barak and Gideon gained notable victories over the enemies of the Israelites. There also Kings Saul, Ahaziah and Josiah died in battle. Coming to modern times, there Napoleon, in 1799, handed the Turks a stinging defeat, even as did Lord Allenby in 1918.2
The subject of Armageddon is much misunderstood and that not only by extremists. Its importance is so little appreciated that a modern book on theology more likely than not will fail to make any reference to it. Even in certain voluminous Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias one looks in vain for any listing of it.
Then there are some, such as Allen P. Wikgren, chairman of the New Testament department of the University of Chicago, who said: “I don’t think anyone should try to apply these words to the future.” He applies the book of Revelation to the persecution of early Christians by pagan Rome.3 But the forces of evil back there were not defeated; they have kept on increasing to this very day.
“Armageddon is a symbol of the ever-present and continuous battle between good and evil,” is the view held by others, among whom is Dr. Robert F. Boyd of the Presbyterian Training School, Richmond, Virginia.4 But John’s words clearly indicate that Armageddon is in the future, whereas the battle between good and evil had been in progress some four thousand years at the time John wrote.
Then, again, still others, such as certain fundamentalist sects, teach that Armageddon will be a literal battle that will take place on the plains of Megiddo.5 To hold that, however, is to grossly misunderstand both the nature and scope of Armageddon, as we shall presently see. The region of Megiddo could not begin to hold all “the kings of the earth and their armies.”—Rev. 19:19.
And to refer to political battles fought within nations as Armageddon, as did Theodore Roosevelt back in 1912 when fighting vested interests and political machines, makes even less sense.6 Nor could anything be more ridiculous than to state, as did a certain governor of Georgia a few years ago, that the presence of a single Negro on a white football team was bringing the South of the United States face to face with Armageddon!7
Then will Armageddon be the next world war as fought with atomic weapons? Will it be a “nuclear Armageddon,” as journalists and others are wont to describe it?8 “There would seem to be no guarantee that some future Kremlin miscalculation may not plunge the world into Armageddon.”9 “Unresolved conflicts and incidents . . . are still capable of setting off Armageddon.”10 “We see immense armies massing . . . Perhaps we see the world hurrying to Armageddon from which no nation may hope to survive.”11
THE ARMAGEDDON FORCES
No, Armageddon will be greater than any nuclear war fought on a global or even on a “space” scale. The Bible shows that Armageddon will be a war between gods and universal in scope. In it “Jehovah God, the Almighty,” and the “Mighty God,” his Son, Jesus Christ, will do battle with “the god of this system of things,” Satan the Devil. Involved in that battle will be all intelligent creatures, seen and unseen.—Rev. 11:17; Isa. 9:6, AS; 2 Cor. 4:4.
Revelation 9:16 gives us an inkling of the size of Jehovah’s forces when it speaks of him as using, on a certain occasion, cavalry to the number of 200,000,000. And 2 Kings 19:35 tells of just one of these destroying a host of 185,000 warriors in one night. How many demon cohorts Satan has, the Word of God does not indicate, but from the description of the war in heaven at Revelation 12 their number can by no means be insignificant. That Satan’s demons are likewise powerful can be seen from the fact that one of them once hindered an angel of Jehovah for twenty-one days, until the archangel Michael came to his rescue.—Dan. 10:13, 21.
As for humans upon earth, on the side of Jehovah will be all those fully dedicated to him and who are faithfully following Jesus Christ; compared with earth’s billions these are indeed few. They are the few that walk the narrow way or cramped road that leads to life. These will not share in the fighting but will merely sing God’s praises.—2 Chron. 20:20, 21; 2 Cor. 10:4, 5; Matt. 7:13, 14.
On Satan’s side will be all the rest of mankind, more than 99.9 percent, even as we read: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” That includes all the governments of the world together with their supporters, the commercial, religious and social institutions. Even the professedly Christian organizations? Yes, because all such that are friends of the world are making themselves enemies of God.—1 John 5:19; Jas. 4:4.
Yes, today the earth is filled with wickedness, much innocent blood has been and is being shed, both in war and in peace. Godless men are persecuting Jehovah’s servants and ruining the earth. Jehovah will express “indignation against all the nations” and “against all the inhabitants of the earth,” because “there is nought but swearing and breaking faith, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery.” At Armageddon Jehovah “will cause justice to be done” speedily to “his chosen ones who cry aloud to him” because of being persecuted. At that time he will also “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”—Isa. 34:2; Jer. 25:30; Hos. 4:2, AS; Luke 18:8, 7; Rev. 11:18.
God’s Word likens Armageddon to the Flood, to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and to the battle at Gibeon, where God rained down great blocks of ice upon his enemies. Armageddon will be the worst thing ever to hit this earth in the history of man. It will be marked by shocking surprise, consternation, fright, collapse of government, tremendous upheavals of earth, landslides, cloudbursts, overflowing flash-floods, rain of corrosive liquid fire and terror in the air, on land and in the sea. No wonder that “the slain of Jehovah shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the face of the ground.”—Jer. 25:33, AS.
WHY NOT BEFORE
Many a lover of righteousness, such as Job and Habakkuk, has wondered why an almighty, wise, just and loving God has permitted evil all these years. (Job 21:7; Hab. 1:13, AV) At the same time wicked men have scoffed: “Jehovah will not do good, neither will he do evil.”—Zeph. 1:12, AS.
Jehovah God has permitted evil for very good and sufficient reasons. As with Pharaoh in Moses’ day, God delays in destroying his enemies and ending evil so that the greatest possible glory will come to his name when he does act. (Ex. 9:16) Also involved, as the book of Job shows, is the challenge that Satan made that God could not put men upon earth that would keep integrity toward Him under test. Once Jehovah has fully proved that He can, then he is bound to take action in vindication of his sovereignty, even as he destroyed Pharaoh and his hosts at the Red Sea. Thus in the book of Ezekiel alone more than sixty times we are told that God will take action so that men may know that he is Jehovah. At Armageddon he will take action, and then the psalmist’s prayer will be answered that God may cause his enemies to “perish, that people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.”—Ps. 83:17, 18; Ezek. 24:24, AS.
IT DEPENDS UPON YOU
Fulfillment of Bible prophecy warns that Armageddon is near. Since 1914 we have seen unprecedented wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes and suchlike, all in fulfillment of Jesus’ great prophecy regarding these last days. The good news of God’s established kingdom is being “preached in all the inhabited earth,” and the generation that has seen these things, Jesus further said, “will by no means pass away until all these things occur.”—Matt. 24:3-34.
What will precipitate Armageddon? The prophetic account regarding Gog of Magog reveals that God will maneuver his enemies to stage an all-out attack upon his apparently unprotected people on earth. Then Jehovah’s forces under Jesus Christ will take them by surprise, as we read: “Whenever it is that they are saying, ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them.” And first to go down at that time will be organized false religion, because of its greater guilt: “Slay utterly the old man, the young man and the virgin, and little children and women; . . . and begin at my sanctuary.”—1 Thess. 5:3; Ezek. 9:6, AS.
After all the visible enemies of Jehovah have been destroyed, then Jesus Christ will take Satan and his demons and cast them into the abyss of death. There they will remain for a thousand years, to be loosed briefly to test mankind before being finally destroyed.—Ezek. 38:1 to 39:7; Rev. 19:11 to 20:10.
Today a great dividing work is going on. The “three unclean inspired expressions that looked like frogs” that John saw represent the selfish propaganda that is gathering the people on the side of Satan. On the other hand, the preaching of “this good news of the kingdom” is gathering all lovers of righteousness on the side of Jehovah God.—Rev. 16:13; Matt. 24:14.
What will Armageddon mean for you? That will depend upon which side you take your stand. Jehovah will protect and deliver those on his side, even as he protected and delivered Noah, Lot and other faithful servants in times past. To be among that comparatively small number of happy persons you must obey God’s command: “Get out of her [modern Babylon, Satan’s organization], my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” You must ‘do justly, love kindness and walk humbly with your God,’ seeking Jehovah, meekness and righteousness.—Rev. 18:4; Mic. 6:8; Zeph. 2:3.
Surviving Armageddon, you can look forward to everlasting life in Jehovah’s new world of righteousness, in which he “will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more.” All earth will become a paradise and will be “full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea.” The death of Jesus Christ as a sacrifice made all this possible; and by means of his kingdom, for which Christians have so long prayed, all this will come about.—Rev. 21:4; Isa. 11:9, AS.
Will Armageddon mean everlasting destruction or everlasting life in happiness for you? That will depend upon the course of action you take from now until Armageddon!
1 Evening Free Lance, Hollister, Calif., Jan. 30, 1957.
2 The Bible as History, Keller, p. 202.
3 Miami, Florida Herald, Nov. 18, 1956.
4 Richmond, Virginia, Times-Dispatch, Nov. 17, 1956.
5 Prophetic Footnotes, Armageddon, p. 2.
6 Chicago, Illinois, Sunday Tribune, Mar. 7, 1954.
7 Time magazine, Dec. 12, 1955.
8 New York Times, Sept. 8, 1957.
9 New York Sunday Times, Nov. 11, 1956.
10 The Christian Century, Sept. 26, 1956.
11 Cardinal Spellman, London News Chronicle, May 29, 1952.