“WE STAND at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord.” With those words, former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt applied the term “Armageddon” to a political battle in which he was involved. So, should we search for Armageddon in the political arena?
A few years ago, the Canadian magazine Business Life carried an article entitled “Economic Armageddon.” A subtitle asked: “Could Third World default on debt trigger our economic collapse?” But should we think of Armageddon as a financial disaster?
According to the journal Newsweek, the world’s end became a campaign issue during a 1984 presidential debate. On that occasion, then U.S. president Ronald Reagan “was asked if he truly believes that the world is headed for a ‘nuclear Armageddon.’ Reagan acknowledged ‘philosophical discussions’ about the coincidence between current events and Biblical signs portending the last days, but the commander in chief insisted that he has never said that ‘we must plan according to Armageddon.’” Yet, should our search for the meaning of Armageddon focus on military action that threatens nuclear holocaust?
Many religious people say that Armageddon is a battle. But early in the 19th century, Bible scholar Adam Clarke wrote: “How ridiculous have been the conjectures of men relative to this point! Within the last twenty years this battle has been fought at various places, according to our purblind seers and self-inspired prophets! At one time it was Austerlitz, at another Moscow, at another Leipsic, and now Waterloo! And thus they have gone on, and will go on, confounding and being confounded.”
Searching for the meaning of Armageddon clearly raises some vital questions. What is Armageddon? If it is a battle, who will be the participants? Why will it be fought? Where will it take place? And when will Armageddon occur?
What Is Armageddon?
The term “Armageddon” is derived from a word found in the Bible book of Revelation, known for symbolic language. Therein the apostle John wrote: “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.”—Revelation 16:13-16.
Armageddon, or Har–Magedon, is a transliteration of the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew expression Har Meghid·dohnʹ meaning “Mountain of Megiddo,” or “Mountain of Assembly of Troops.” It is linked with “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” So Armageddon is not a political skirmish, an economic disaster, a nuclear holocaust, or a human conflict. Rather, Armageddon is God’s war.
Who Will Be the Participants?
The three unclean froglike inspired expressions come out of the mouths of the dragon (Satan the Devil), the wild beast (his earthly political setup), and the Anglo-American false prophet. These expressions inspired by demons, or wicked angels, gather the earthly kings, or rulers, to Har–Magedon.—See chapter 32 of the book Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand! published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
On Jehovah’s side in the war of Armageddon is a vast army of invisible spirit forces led by the King Jesus Christ. The apostle John reported: “I saw the heaven opened, and, look! a white horse. And the one seated upon it is called Faithful and True, and he [Jesus] judges and carries on war in righteousness. . . . Also, the armies that were in heaven were following him. . . . And out of his mouth there protrudes a sharp long sword, that he may strike the nations with it, and he will shepherd them with a rod of iron. He treads too the winepress of the anger of the wrath of God the Almighty. And upon his outer garment, even upon his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:11-16) The sharp long sword represents Christ’s authority to order the execution of all who refuse to support God’s Kingdom. (Revelation 1:16; 2:16) Huge invisible forces are available for the war of Armageddon.
In opposition are Satan, his demon hosts, and the kings of the entire inhabited earth. But we should not think only of world rulers in the visible realm, for the people they govern are also involved. It was foretold: “Jehovah has indignation against all the nations, and rage against all their army.”—Isaiah 34:2.
Why Will It Be Fought?
Armageddon will be fought because God is righteous and will no longer tolerate evil. (Psalm 11:7) Satan the Devil’s organization, comprising both demons and rebellious humans, responsible for millenniums of wickedness and woe, must therefore be destroyed. (Compare Genesis 3:15.) Jehovah’s universal sovereignty will be upheld at Armageddon, and that war will clear his name of the reproach heaped upon it for centuries. As God declared through his prophet Ezekiel: “I shall no more let my holy name be profaned; and the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 39:7.
God’s war of Armageddon will actually prevent the destruction of all mankind. Jehovah created the earth to be inhabited, not destroyed in a thermonuclear war among humans or otherwise rendered unfit for life. (Isaiah 45:18) He will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Revelation 11:18) But the psalmist declared: “Jehovah himself has become king. The productive land [Hebrew, te·velʹ; the earth, as fertile and inhabited, the habitable globe] also becomes firmly established so that it cannot be made to totter.”—Psalm 96:10.
What God does at Armageddon will be in complete harmony with his principal attributes of justice, wisdom, power, and love. (Deuteronomy 32:4; Job 12:13; Isaiah 40:26; 1 John 4:8) He will act against “ungodly sinners,” not against the upright. (Jude 14, 15) Only ‘the wicked ones will be given to the sword.’ (Jeremiah 25:31) This will pave the way for the restoration of Paradise, fulfilling the divine purpose for the earth and humankind.—Luke 23:43.
Where Will It Take Place?
Since the term “Armageddon” comes from a Hebrew expression meaning “Mountain of Megiddo,” some may conclude that this war will be fought on a lofty eminence bearing that name. However, there never was a mountain named Megiddo. Some 60 miles [100 km] northwest of Jerusalem there was a hill town, or city, called Megiddo, but only a mound about 70 feet [20 m] high now marks its site.—Joshua 17:11.
That ancient city overlooked “the valley plain of Megiddo.” (2 Chronicles 35:22) Associating Armageddon (or Har–Magedon) with that vicinity is apropos because it was the location of decisive battles. For instance, there God enabled Judge Barak to inflict a crushing blow upon Canaanite king Jabin and his military forces commanded by Sisera. (Judges 4:12-24; 5:19, 20) In that vicinity Gideon and his small band routed the Midianites. (Judges 7:1–8:35) There too Kings Ahaziah and Josiah were killed.—2 Kings 9:27; 23:29, 30.
It is noteworthy, however, that this valley plain, also called the Plain of Esdraelon, is only 20 miles [32 km] long and 18 miles [29 km] wide at its eastern end. The kings of the entire inhabited earth and their military forces could never fit into such a small area. Besides that, neither a mound (the tell of Megiddo) nor a plain is a mountain. Clearly, then, Armageddon will not be confined to some mountainous location in the Middle East. Rather, Armageddon (or Har–Magedon) is symbolic of a worldwide situation, although it draws some of its significance from Megiddo and what took place in that area.
When Will Armageddon Occur?
Since Megiddo was in the land of God’s ancient people, what happens at Armageddon relates to Jehovah’s Witnesses in this “time of the end.” (Daniel 12:4) Har–Magedon applies to “the place” to which the earth’s political rulers are gathered in opposition to Jehovah and his Kingdom by Jesus Christ. (Revelation 16:14, 16) But that “place” (Greek, toʹpos) denotes a world situation. Armageddon will occur when a certain situation develops that affects Jehovah’s Witnesses around the earth.
The spiritual prosperity of Jehovah’s Witnesses infuriates Satan the Devil, who will soon launch an all-out attack against these seemingly defenseless Christians. This worldwide assault by Satan, or Gog, is described in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. Under the Devil’s influence, the nations will march against Jehovah’s peace-loving people gathered out of all nations. Yes, satanic opposition will be manifested by global action against Jehovah’s earthly servants, the visible representatives and proclaimers of God’s Kingdom.
A battle is often known by the place where it is fought. Thus, God’s mighty defense of his people can be called the battle, or war, of Armageddon. When Jehovah rises up to defend his servants against Gog’s attack, Armageddon will be in progress! Human governments will collapse. Flooding cloudbursts, devastating hailstones, streaking fire and sulfur, raging pestilences—truly acts of God—will cause world panic outside the ranks of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their human foes will turn their weapons against their own ranks. And those whom this suicidal warfare does not kill off, Jehovah will annihilate.—Ezekiel 38:18-23; Daniel 2:44.
In terror, every man’s hand will be turned against his neighbor in a frenzied but futile struggle for survival. (Zechariah 14:12, 13) “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.” (Jeremiah 25:33) Any attempt to remain neutral in God’s war will cost you your life at Armageddon! And as so often proved Scripturally in this journal, the present generation will not pass away before Armageddon occurs!—Matthew 24:21, 34.
What Armageddon Will Accomplish
Armageddon will remove the last vestige of Satan’s earthly organization. Moreover, the Devil and his demons will be abyssed. (Revelation 20:1-3) What blessings will then flow to Jehovah’s people, the joyful survivors of his great war of Armageddon! They will happily proceed with reconstruction that will transform the entire earth into a paradise, free from pollution, pain, mourning, tears, and death. (Revelation 11:15, 18; 21:3, 4) And you can be there if you take to heart the psalmist’s words: “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.” (Psalm 37:34) Indeed, you may live to see the war of the great day of God the Almighty and become a happy survivor when Armageddon strikes!
“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.”—2 Peter 3:11, 12
[Blurb on page 4]
Armageddon is not a political skirmish, an economic disaster, a nuclear holocaust, or a human conflict. Armageddon is God’s war
[Blurb on page 5]
God’s war of Armageddon will prevent the destruction of all mankind
[Blurb on page 6]
Any attempt to remain neutral in God’s war will cost you your life at Armageddon!