What Will Armageddon Really Mean for Mankind?
THE word “Armageddon” keeps showing up in the news. “On to Armageddon” headlined the New York Times editorial page when India exploded her first nuclear device last year. “Oil Armageddon,” “economic Armageddon,” “the winter before Armageddon” and similar expressions have also appeared during recent months.
The ultimate disaster—that is what flashes through the minds of most persons who hear the word “Armageddon.” Many of them envision in its wake a charred, radioactive cinder of an earth, with few, if any, survivors.
But is that what Armageddon really means? Does it spell only bad for the future? The answer may surprise you.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The source of the word “Armageddon” is the Bible book of Revelation. There it appears only once, in a description of a great gathering of all the “kings,” or rulers, of the earth “for the war of the Great Day of God the Almighty.” The prophecy includes these significant words: “They called the kings together at the place called, in Hebrew, Armageddon.”—Re Chap. 16, vss. 13 to 16, Jerusalem Bible.
There is no actual geographical location, past or present, that is specifically named Armageddon. Hence, the Revelation must be depicting something far more significant than just a literal place. The Encyclopædia Britannica (1974) suggests that “the Palestinian city of Megiddo was probably used as a symbol” because of its strategic location as “a famous battlefield in Palestinian history.” King Thutmose III of ancient Egypt reportedly declared that the “capture of Megiddo is the capture of 1,000 towns.”
Therefore, the events associated with Megiddo point to Armageddon as symbolizing a confrontation far more significant than any that occurred there in Palestine in ancient times. The full Hebrew expression is Har Meghiddohn, meaning “mountain of rendezvous” or “mountain of assembly of troops.” Armageddon, then, must refer to the situation to which all the kings or governments of the world “rendezvous” against a common adversary.
But what could present a threat to all the presently feuding nations so that they would join unitedly in order to oppose it?
Well, for what do governments usually fight? Is it not to maintain their own national sovereignties, the right to run their own affairs without outside interference? However divided the nations are otherwise, they hold this nationalistic stance in common. What else but nationalism could account for such a lack of international cooperation when such cooperation is obviously so essential to human survival in the critical years ahead? Almost universal hostility greets any attempts to create a world authority with real power to act.
“The failure to create a genuine basis for world peace and justice,” writes editor Norman Cousins in Saturday Review magazine, “is directly chargeable to the refusal of nations . . . to accept an authority that can tell them what to do in the international arena.” What is the only way, then, to bring “world peace and justice”? Cousins declares:
“This, then, is the basic challenge today—how to create a world authority to keep the peace that has behind it the confidence of the world’s peoples.”—May 3, 1975, p. 5.
Can you imagine the nations conceding any of their powers to such a “world authority”? In fact, are they even headed in that direction? Answers Ceres magazine of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization: “We are running in the wrong direction . . . we are very far from that utopian idea of decision-making on a worldwide level.” Why? “National entities always looking after themselves” refuse to cooperate. It is a stalemate.
That is why the war at Armageddon is a must. Political nations are powerless to break the stalemate. Moreover, they stand now at Armageddon, aligned against and refusing to yield sovereignty to God, whose time has come to exercise his Kingdom rule for the common good of all mankind.
That is why the Bible says that God the Almighty will act decisively at Armageddon: “[His kingdom] will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” For those aligned against God’s kingdom, Christ Jesus predicts that this will mean “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”—Dan. 2:44; Matt. 24:21; see also Jeremiah 25:31-33.
BENEFITS OF ARMAGEDDON
God’s war against the unyielding rulers will no doubt result in loss of life and extreme hardships. This may sound shocking to you. But is not what the nations have already done, and yet would do to the earth if given the opportunity, far worse?
The shortsighted, self-centered policies of nationalistic rulers have truly ruined the earth. Growing pollution, crime and violence, nationalistic and racial hatreds, exploitation and cruel warfare demonstrate their failure to govern effectively. Clearly, the only sound basis for bringing true peace and justice to all of earth’s people is first to eliminate the bad systems that have fostered these things, together with their supporters.
Those who recoil at the idea of such a terrible conflict should think about the gruesome wars of recent years, to which so many of mankind gave physical or moral support. Did the horrors of World Wars I and II, for example, clean up the bad system of things and provide the foundation for a righteous world? God’s war at Armageddon is the best thing that could possibly happen to our globe, because it will do just that! Only Armageddon can clear the way for a righteous earthly state where man-made causes of sorrow, pain and death will be permanently removed.—Rev. 21:1-4.
The word “Armageddon,” then, should not cause fear or dread to well up, but, rather, anticipation and hope, both for it and for what lies beyond it. Those who appreciate its real meaning and nearness will join those foreseen in Bible prophecy who gratefully say: “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king. But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time . . . to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”—Rev. 11:17, 18.