The Gathering Storm of Armageddon
A HURRICANE is a frightening force of nature. It batters everything in its path. Terrifying, high-velocity winds rush violently over land and sea, smashing anything not solidly constructed. Warnings are issued days in advance to protect life and property. Even hydrogen bombs cannot duplicate the powerful forces unleashed in such a storm.
However, a far greater storm approaches, one that will encompass the entire inhabited earth. No one will be able to elude it or be unaffected by it. Titanic, awe-inspiring forces will be loosed at that time, dwarfing any yet experienced by man. This storm is Armageddon.
Many have been the opinions as to the nature, participants, location, time and effect of this war. Some conclude that it refers to events in past history. Others believe Armageddon to be the continuous battle between the forces of good and evil, whether world-wide or in one’s mind. Theodore Roosevelt once applied it to a political battle in which he was involved, saying: “We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord.” A great number feel that Armageddon will be a nuclear war between communism and the Western world.
Are any of these views supported by the Scriptures? If not, then just what is Armageddon? Who fights it? Where will it be fought? What weapons will be used? How will we know when it has begun? What will be the results? Is there hope for survival?
The word “Armageddon” is derived from the word used at Revelation 16:16, which states: “And they gathered them together to the place that is called in Hebrew Har–Magedon.” The context tells us what kind of war it will be: “Expressions inspired by demons . . . 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.”—Rev. 16:14.
Thus, Armageddon, from the word Har–Magedon, is a Greek transliteration or equivalent of the Hebrew expression Har Megiddo, and is inseparably linked with “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” This precludes its application to mental conflicts, political battles, past wars, nuclear or space wars between Communist and democratic blocs. Armageddon is God’s war.
A battle or war indicates the joining in conflict of opposing sides. On Jehovah’s side is a vast army of invisible spirit forces, led by Jesus Christ. “And I saw the heaven opened, and, look! a white horse. And one seated upon it is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness. Also the armies that were in heaven were following him.” (Rev. 19:11, 14) Revelation 9:16 mentions the use of heavenly armies numbering 200,000,000 on one occasion, showing the huge invisible forces at God’s disposal.
Arrayed in opposition are Satan the Devil and his demon hosts, the invisible enemy. A visible, earthly part also stands opposed to God: “the kings of the entire inhabited earth.” Not only world rulers, but the people they govern are involved: “Jehovah has indignation against all the nations, and rage against all their army.”—Rev. 12:9; 16:14; Isa. 34:2.
The battle is fought because of Jehovah’s righteousness. No longer can he tolerate wickedness in the universe. Satan and his demonic and human organization, responsible for 6,000 years of increasing woe, must be destroyed. Jehovah’s universal sovereignty and good name must be cleared once and for all. Then the way will be paved for restoring the Paradise originally founded in the garden of Eden, fulfilling God’s purpose for earth and man on it.
Men, despite their lofty claims and promises, have proved incapable of righteous, peaceful rule. They have brought misunderstanding, hostility, hate and war. Our generation finds the whole world out of kilter, beset by worry and strife, plagued with the worst distress of nations in human history.
Only the God of the universe can clear out this global weed patch and its sower, Satan the Devil. He does so at Armageddon in harmony with his attributes of wisdom, justice, power and love. His fight is righteous because he comes to “execute judgment against all and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds that they did in an ungodly way and concerning all the shocking things that ungodly sinners spoke against him.” “As regards the wicked ones, he must give them to the sword.”—Jude 15; Jer. 25:31.
Since “Armageddon” comes from the Hebrew expression Har Megiddo, meaning “Mount of Megiddo,” some have concluded that the battle would be fought at the location bearing that name. However, there is not, and never has been, a place called Armageddon, Har–Magedon, or Har Megiddo. There has never been a mountain named Megiddo. But a place used to exist called Megiddo, a hill city southeast of Mount Carmel and some sixty miles northwest of Jerusalem. Megiddo also had its dependent towns. (Josh. 17:11) The broad valley that it overlooked was called the “valley plain of Megiddo.”—2 Chron. 35:22.
Clearly, then, Armageddon is symbolic, but it draws some of its significance from Megiddo and what was done there.
Megiddo was blood-saturated ground. Crucial, decisive battles were fought there. Under Judge Joshua the Israelites defeated the king of Megiddo. (Josh. 12:21) Judge Barak inflicted a crushing defeat on the Canaanite King Jabin and his military forces under General Sisera. (Judg. 5:19) In this neighborhood Gideon and his small band routed the enemy Midianites.—Judg., chaps. 7, 8.
What made these victories highly significant was the fact that they were not achieved by Israelite strength of arms alone. Help came in a manner explained at Psalm 44:1, 3: “O God, with our ears we have heard, our forefathers themselves have recounted to us the activity that you performed in their days . . . For it was not by their own sword that they took possession of the land, and their own arm was not what brought them salvation. For it was your right hand and your arm and the light of your face.” Because Jehovah fought in behalf of his name people, these pagan armies were defeated.
For these reasons, then, symbolic Armageddon, or Har–Magedon, can properly be associated with the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” At Armageddon Jehovah God inflicts on his enemies a decisive, crushing defeat that affects all nations and peoples.
HOW THE STORM BEGINS
The kings of the earth are not spiritually-minded. Their gathering for the final battle cannot mean they challenge God’s heavenly forces. The forces they challenge must be visible.
The deeper meaning behind the Hebrew expression Har Megiddo, meaning “Mount of Megiddo,” helps us to determine who these forces are. The name Megiddo means “rendezvous or assembly of troops.” Since Megiddo was in the land of Jehovah’s people, the people or troops assembled there now, at this time of the end, must be Jehovah’s modern people. These are engaged in spiritual warfare, preaching the good news of the established kingdom of God, and of the impending doom of this corrupt old system of things.
Because of the spiritual prosperity and growth of these peaceful witnesses of Jehovah, Satan the Devil becomes infuriated and is lured into an all-out attack on these seemingly defenseless Christians. Under his influence the nations march to attack these troops already assembled and gathered out from all nations, not to a literal place, but to Jehovah’s visible organization. Because they are the ones assembled there, they are represented by the place, the symbolic Armageddon, the mountain of Megiddo. The symbolic Armageddon, then, represents in effect the assembled, gathered witnesses of Jehovah now on earth who are engaged in spiritual warfare, preaching Kingdom truths.
The name of a battle is frequently known by the name of the place where it is fought. Hence, the battle fought by God in defense of his people can be called by that name: the battle of Armageddon. The world-wide assault on Jehovah’s people, described in Ezekiel, chapters 38 and 39, provokes that war called Armageddon, “the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” “the day of vengeance on the part of our God.” “And it shall come to pass in that day . . . , saith the Lord Jehovah, that my wrath shall come up into my nostrils.”—Isa. 61:2; Ezek. 38:18, AS.
Jehovah, rising up to defend his people, brings terror to the hearts of the wicked. The battle at Armageddon is on! Governments collapse, fiery showers strike the earth, tidal waves, upheavals of earth, cloudbursts, electrical storms, burning missiles all strike down Satan’s visible hordes. In sheer horror, every man’s hand is turned against his neighbor in a frenzied, selfish fight for survival, all in vain; for Jeremiah long ago declared: “And those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be in that day from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth. They will not be bewailed, neither will they be gathered up or be buried. As manure on the surface of the ground they will become.”—Zech. 14:12, 13; Jer. 25:33.
With the destruction of Satan, his demons and earthly organization, the way is cleared for the battle’s survivors, Jehovah’s people, to begin reconstruction that will transform earth into a paradise, free from sorrow, sickness, pain and death.—Rev. 21:4.
As with a hurricane, those heeding the warning now being sounded of Armageddon’s approach will take steps for safety and survival, for the devastating storm is certain to follow shortly. “Hope in Jehovah and keep his way, and he will exalt you to take possession of the earth. When the wicked ones are cut off you will see it.”—Ps. 37:34.