Can This World’s Armageddon Be Avoided?
ARMAGEDDON is a Bible word and in that book it is mentioned only once, but so strong has been the impression upon the minds of the people that it has become almost a household word. Many politicians have used it when they thought that the world was at a crisis. It has been considered something to be feared and to be avoided. Generally, it has been viewed by men as a final war to be fought by worldly forces. Today, politicians and statesmen feel that with the development of nuclear weapons, guided missiles and other scientific developments that could result in mass destruction, Armageddon, as they see it, is possible. Fear of starting such a war, which would result in loss to all and gain to none and might even result in the destruction of all mankind, has caused the politicians to make many moves and plans to avoid such a terrible holocaust.
Is such a feared war among the world powers really Armageddon? and can politicians by means of their peace talks, maneuverings, concordats, compacts and leagues avoid the Bible Armageddon? Can we rely upon them to steer us safely around it? The way to find out is to turn to the book that is the source of the term and see what it says about this battle and the forces involved. The word is found in the Bible, in Revelation, chapter 16, in connection with the pouring out of the sixth of seven plagues of the bowls of God’s anger on the earth. (Re 16 Vss. 12-16) Where is Armageddon to be located? Not on the Euphrates at Babylon, for Revelation 16:16 says: “And they gathered them together to the place that is called in Hebrew Har–Magedon.” This is after the mention of the drying up of the Euphrates. The name seems to mean “Mountain of Megiddo,” not only because the name is Hebrew, but also because it appears to contain the name of the Hebrew fortress city of Megiddo. The place named is to be associated with Hebrew territory.* It is reported that, near here, Heaven fought for the victory of Jehovah’s people under Judge Barak and the prophetess Deborah. In their victory song they sang:
“Kings came, they fought; it was then that the kings of Canaan fought in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo. No gain of silver did they take. From heaven did the stars fight, from their orbits they fought against Sisera. The torrent of Kishon washed them away.”—Judg. 5:19-21.
Says The International Standard Bible Encyclopædia, Volume 2, page 1340: “These low hills around Megiddo, with their outlook over the plain of Esdraelon, have witnessed perhaps a greater number of bloody encounters than have ever stained a like area of the world’s surface.” The name Megiddo enters very nicely into the matter, not merely because of its historical associations, but because, as Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon (1859 edition) suggests, the name may mean “the place of crowds” (locus turbárum).
WHAT ARMAGEDDON IS
Actually, in Revelation the name Har–Magedon does not refer to a geographical location. As a matter of fact, on no geographical map does a place named Har–Magedon (Armageddon) appear.* In Revelation 16:16 this name does not literally refer to the neighborhood of Megiddo in the plain of Esdraelon. It symbolizes the place where, within the realm of Jehovah’s witnesses’ experiences on earth, this final war is fought out. At exactly the right point of time and circumstances, when the great preaching work “in all the inhabited earth” has gathered in the “great crowd” who respond to the Kingdom message, the attack will come. The issues will be clear. God will doubtless give his people a very strong message to proclaim just before the enemy attack.—Matt. 24:14; Dan. 11:44, 45.
Armageddon is to be fought on the earth, which is shown by the fact that the earthly kings and their armies are said to be gathered together there. (Rev. 16:14) They are fighting against God’s kingdom. Of course, they cannot touch the heavenly, invisible kingdom of Jesus Christ, but they can fight those who represent his kingdom here on earth, namely, the remnant of Christ’s spiritual, anointed brothers. So the earthly kings under demon influence invade the holy estate that these Christian witnesses have in relationship with their God Jehovah and they try to destroy it, getting in an indirect way at Jehovah God and his Messiah. These kings are not gathered against one another for the purpose of killing one another off, but they are gathered against God. There they will come into collision with Jehovah’s holy, royal interests.
Jehovah’s people on earth will have no part in the fight and the destruction. It will be Jehovah’s invisible forces under his Field Marshal Jesus Christ who will come into violent conflict with his enemies and defeat them in a final, decisive war that will need no repeating. God will gain an everlasting victory, just as he did over the ancient “kings of Canaan” by the waters of Megiddo. Satan and his invisible forces, which are now cast out of heaven and down into the vicinity of this earth, will maneuver these forces and try to help them gain a victory. They will lose. However, Satan and his demon forces in the heavens will be put out of action, not at Armageddon, but immediately thereafter, when Jesus Christ hurls them into the abyss of deathlike inactivity.—Rev. 19:19 to 20:2.
“UNCLEAN INSPIRED EXPRESSIONS”
But what about the political efforts of men? Are they helpful to the nations in staving off this battle as long as possible? Let us see what God says through his angel. At Revelation 16:13 we read: “And I saw three unclean inspired expressions that looked like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the wild beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are, in fact, expressions inspired by demons and perform signs, 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 Har–Magedon.”—Rev. 16:13-16.
In the Law covenant God made with Israel, he classified frogs as unclean animals. The use of frogs here would indicate that the inspired expressions are something unclean in God’s sight. Being inspired by demons, it is certain they are directly against God and detrimental to those who follow such expressions. The “inspired expressions” do not originate with men. So, whoever on earth are the human mouthpieces, they are not speaking altogether of themselves but as inspired by the adversary of God, the Devil, the prince of the demons.
Frogs make a croaking noise. They come out of the mouth of three creatures, and so must symbolize official proclamations, announcements, predictions or propaganda, especially to influence kings or rulers of this world. The froglike inspired expression out of the mouth of the symbolic dragon, who is Satan the Devil (Rev. 12:9), must say that Jehovah God is not the Sovereign of the universe and that his rightful Messianic kingdom over earth is not to be recognized or surrendered to, even if the Gentile Times ended in 1914. Satan is the one who challenged Jehovah God in the beginning, and right down to the war at Armageddon he makes efforts more and more desperate as the end nears, in an attempt to prove his assertion. So this frog would say also that Kingdom preaching by Jehovah’s witnesses must therefore be stopped, and if they refuse to stop preaching Jehovah’s kingdom by Christ, we must war against them.
The “wild beast” out of the sea is the Dragon’s visible political organization for governing mankind. In Daniel’s vision of four of the world powers, represented as beasts, he recounts: “I happened to be beholding in my visions during the night, and, see there! the four winds of the heavens were stirring up the vast sea. And four huge beasts were coming up out of the sea, each one being different from the others.” (Dan. 7:2, 3) So Satan the Devil by means of his demons, represented by the four winds, was stirring up the sea of mankind alienated from God to great turbulence, forming his political organization from this sea of restless people who rely upon what the politicians say to guide them.
Now, the “wild beast” is loyal to the Dragon, to whom it is indebted for its political power, throne and great authority. It worships the Dragon. So the inspired propagandistic expression out of the wild beast’s mouth backs up what the Dragon says. It argues for the sovereignty of the various national groups and tells them to conspire against Jehovah and his Anointed One or Messiah and to break all bands, restrictions and limitations that these would impose on them, now that the Gentile Times have ended. (Ps. 2:1-10) Certainly nationalism is at present one of the greatest menaces to mankind’s welfare.
The third frog came out of the mouth of the “false prophet.” Who is this “false prophet”? He is a new figure introduced in this chapter 12 of Revelation. But he is new in name only and is used in Revelation as a separate figure because of the prominent part he plays in world affairs and the way he performs with great influence before the rest of the political governments represented by the beast. He is really the other “wild beast” that ascended out of the earth and that had two lamblike horns. It is no one else than the dual world power of Britain and America who cooperate economically, politically and militarily, in English, and largely on the Protestant side of religion. But since Revelation 13:11 says that this two-horned beast speaks as the Dragon does in blasphemies of God and his heavenly residence, and since it makes the “image of the wild beast” speak, the two-horned beast is here cast in the role of a prophet, not for Jehovah, of course. So it is a “false prophet.” As it is the seventh head of the seven-headed “wild beast” out of the sea, it assumes to speak nowadays for the entire “wild beast.”
From its position of economic, political and military strength, the two-horned beast or “false prophet” speaks very impressively, for it predominates today as the Seventh World Power. This Seventh World Power has always appeared lamblike in its pretentions, for it claims always to fight on the side of liberty and freedom. It claims never to fight in an aggressive, but only in a defensive, protective war. At the same time it speaks like the Dragon who is the great deceiver and it roars out with a fear-inspiring voice that has cowed smaller nations into subjection so that it could pursue its commercial, selfish exploitations in many countries of the earth.
This political “false prophet” system, speaking like the Dragon, also speaks against God’s kingdom but in favor of human sovereignty of the earth and now advocates self-determination of the peoples and an international alliance. First it recommended the League of Nations and now backs the United Nations, to keep a nuclear-powered world from destroying itself in world war.
These demon-inspired expressions from the three sources “perform signs.” This is in order that they may clothe themselves with authority and impressiveness before the people. At times they call for action on the part of the Dragon, the “wild beast” and the “false prophet” to enforce what the inspired expressions say. The Devil backs up these expressions and maneuvers the “wild beast” in holding peoples under subjugation. And as for the two-horned beast, or “false prophet,” it appears to “make fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the sight of mankind.” (Rev. 13:13) The Seventh World Power has used its might to bring about its will, with the backing of the clergy of Christendom. This makes the inspired expressions seem to be coming true and having the god of this world backing them up.
No matter how much these expressions may croak on the subject of international peace, they are really for war, war against Jehovah God the Almighty and his Messiah. Therefore, their political promises and arrangements are not sidestepping Armageddon but steering the nations directly into it. John says that the inspired expressions go forth to the worldly rulers, who today possess mass-killing weapons, to gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty. Yes, they are really gathering them together to fight Jehovah, who is the Almighty God, a fight about which Jehovah’s witnesses are warning the nations. The nations plainly show that they are marching to that final war, for in these last days they fight against Jehovah’s witnesses who preach the good news of God’s kingdom.
We should not waste vital time listening to the political promises or looking to this or to that political party to stave off or avoid Armageddon. The warning concerning this battle has been going out for many years and the day is fast approaching. As long ago as 1897 the publishing agent of Jehovah’s witnesses, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, published the book called “The Battle of Armageddon” (at first called “The Day of Vengeance”). This book presented a certain understanding of what this final war would be. However, it was not till the Watch Tower magazine’s issue of July 15, 1925, that Jehovah’s modern Christian witnesses got better understanding, that this final war would be, not a mere anarchistic human struggle for domination here on earth, but a universal war. It would be really a war with God Almighty, in which he would destroy the Devil’s entire organization. “This is the fight of God Almighty; and the fight is led by his beloved Son,” said page 280 of the book Deliverance, issued in 1926.* This information has since been expanded and enlarged upon Scripturally. It has plagued the sensibilities of world rulers.
“YOU MAY BE CONCEALED” SAFELY
There is a place of safety in which one can be preserved, in effect, hidden, at the great battle of Armageddon. This is by placing oneself under the protection of Jehovah’s kingdom now established under his Son Jesus Christ. It means that those who will receive protection will be neutral as to this world’s politics, having no share in it. They will be active in proclaiming the established kingdom of God by Jesus Christ. One doing this is in a favored position, and the Scriptures say: “Before the statute gives birth to anything, before the day has passed by just like chaff, before there comes upon you people the burning anger of Jehovah, before there comes upon you the day of Jehovah’s anger, seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”—Zeph. 2:2, 3.
It will require courage to take such a position and maintain it because of the opposition of the Dragon, the “wild beast” and the “false prophet” and the inspired expressions that come forth like unclean frogs from their mouths. But those who diligently study God’s Word, trust in him and maintain faithful integrity, will have help, they can endure, to be hidden, covered over, or preserved during that time. They will enjoy the fine privilege of seeing Satan’s complete organization on earth and all wickedness destroyed off of it and the dawning of a righteous new day in which a new world order under the peaceful kingdom of Christ will be ushered in to rule everlastingly.
For a consideration of all seven plagues of Revelation, chapter 16, see the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules! by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn, New York.
In an article on Har–Magedon, Dr. Eb. Nestle says: “Upon the whole, to find an allusion here to Megiddo is still the most probable explanation. . . . the place seems to be mentioned . . . because of the victory over ‘the kings of Canaan’ (Judges 5:19).”—Page 305a of Volume 2 of Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, edition of 1903.
The author and Bible translator, Hugh J. Schonfield, identifies Har–Magedon (Armageddon) with Ramoth-Gilead, possibly known in John’s day as Rama-Gad-Yavan, meaning “Rama of Gad of the Greeks,” the place Gad-Yavan being mentioned in the Jewish Mishnah of the second century.—See pages 181-184 of his book The Bible Was Right; also the comment on Revelation 16:16, on page 546 of his translation The Authentic New Testament.
At any rate, Schonfield associates Armageddon with Jewish territory, although east of the Jordan River, in the aforetime territory of the tribe of Gad. He does not locate it near the Euphrates.
See The Watchtower, as of December 1, 1961, pages 721, 722.