Armageddon—God’s War to End All Wars
“They hold it atrocious to kill a fellow creature; therefore, war is in their eyes incomprehensible and repulsive, a thing for which their language has no word.”—DESCRIPTION OF THE INUIT PEOPLE OF GREENLAND BY NORWEGIAN EXPLORER FRIDTJOF NANSEN IN 1888.
WHO would not love to live in a society where war was “incomprehensible and repulsive”? Who does not long for a world where even the word for war does not exist because warfare is unknown? Such a world may sound far-fetched, especially if we put our hope in humans to bring it about.
However, in the prophecy of Isaiah, God himself promises to bring such a world into existence: “They will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”—Isaiah 2:4.
Clearly, the world today with its 20 million soldiers on active duty and some 20 wars currently raging would have to change enormously for this promise to be fulfilled. Not surprisingly, the almighty God, Jehovah, would have to intervene in human affairs. This intervention on Jehovah’s part culminates in what the Bible calls Armageddon.—Revelation 16:14, 16.
Although the word “Armageddon” has in recent years been used to signify a worldwide nuclear conflagration, one dictionary describes the principal meaning of the word this way: “The place of a great and final conflict between the forces of good and evil.” Will good ever conquer evil, or is such a battle the stuff of fantasy?
We can take heart by noting that the Bible repeatedly speaks of an end to wickedness. “The sinners will be finished off from the earth,” the psalmist foretells. “As for the wicked, they will be no longer.” (Psalm 104:35) “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it,” says the book of Proverbs. “As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.”—Proverbs 2:21, 22.
The Bible also makes clear that the wicked will not relinquish their power peacefully; hence the need for a conclusive act of God that eliminates all evil, including the evil of war. (Psalm 2:2) The name that the Bible assigns to this unique conflict, Armageddon, is highly significant.
Past Battles Fought Near Megiddo
The word “Armageddon” means “Mountain of Megiddo.” The ancient city of Megiddo, along with its surrounding Plain of Jezreel, has a long history of decisive battles. “Throughout history, Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley have been ground zero for battles that determined the very course of civilization,” writes historian Eric H. Cline in The Battles of Armageddon.
As Cline points out, the battles fought near Megiddo often proved decisive. Mongol armies, which overran much of Asia in the 13th century, suffered their first defeat in this valley. Not far from Megiddo, British forces under General Edmund Allenby defeated the Turks during the first world war. A military historian described Allenby’s victory as “one of the most quickly decisive campaigns and the most completely decisive battles in all history.”
Decisive Biblical battles were also fought near Megiddo. There, Judge Barak conquered the Canaanite forces of Sisera. (Judges 4:14-16; 5:19-21) Gideon, with a small band of 300 men, routed a huge Midianite army in the vicinity. (Judges 7:19-22) King Saul and his son Jonathan died on nearby Mount Gilboa when Philistine forces defeated the Israelite army.—1 Samuel 31:1-7.
Because of its strategic geographic location, Megiddo and the neighboring valley have seen dozens of battles over the last 4,000 years. One historian counted at least 34!
Megiddo’s history and its strategic location doubtless have a bearing on the figurative use of the word “Armageddon.” Although that word occurs only once in the Bible, its setting in the book of Revelation makes it very clear that Armageddon will touch the lives of everyone on earth.
Armageddon According to the Bible
Although many past wars fought near Megiddo proved decisive, none eliminated wickedness. None really pitted the forces of good against the forces of evil, in the absolute sense. Logically, that type of conflict must originate with God. As Jesus once said, “nobody is good, except one, God.” (Luke 18:19) Furthermore, the Bible specifically refers to Armageddon as God’s war.
In the Bible, the book of Revelation says that “the kings of the entire inhabited earth” will be gathered together “to the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” (Revelation 16:14) The prophetic account then adds: “And they gathered them together to the place that is called in Hebrew Har–Magedon,” or Armageddon.* (Revelation 16:16) Later on, Revelation explains that “the kings of the earth and their armies” will be “gathered together to wage the war with the one seated on the horse and with his army.” (Revelation 19:19) This horseman is identified as none other than Jesus Christ.—1 Timothy 6:14, 15; Revelation 19:11, 12, 16.
What are we to conclude from these verses? That Armageddon is a war between God and the forces of disobedient mankind. Why would Jehovah and his Son, Jesus Christ, fight such a war? For one thing, Armageddon will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Revelation 11:18) In addition, it will usher in a peaceful world, “a new earth that we are awaiting according to his [God’s] promise,” where “righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Peter 3:13.
Why Is Armageddon Necessary?
Do you find it hard to imagine that Jehovah, a “God of love,” would assign his Son, the “Prince of Peace,” to fight a war? (2 Corinthians 13:11; Isaiah 9:6) Understanding their motives will doubtless make matters clear. The book of Psalms describes Jesus as a mounted warrior. Why does he fight? Christ rides, the psalmist explains, “in the cause of truth and humility and righteousness.” He wages war because he loves righteousness and hates wickedness.—Psalm 45:4, 7.
Likewise, the Bible describes Jehovah’s reaction to the injustice that he sees in the world today. “The LORD has seen this, and he is displeased that there is no justice,” writes the prophet Isaiah. “He will wear justice like a coat of armor and saving power like a helmet. He will clothe himself with the strong desire to set things right and to punish and avenge the wrongs that people suffer.”—Isaiah 59:15, 17, Today’s English Version.
As long as wicked people hold power, righteous people will not enjoy peace and security. (Proverbs 29:2; Ecclesiastes 8:9) Realistically, we cannot divorce corruption and wickedness from the people who practice them. Thus, lasting peace and justice come at a price—the removal of the wicked ones. “The wicked is a ransom for the righteous one,” Solomon wrote.—Proverbs 21:18.
Since God is the Judge, we can be sure that in every case the judgments against the wicked will be righteous. “Is the Judge of all the earth not going to do what is right?” asked Abraham. The answer, Abraham learned, is that Jehovah is always right! (Genesis 18:25) Furthermore, the Bible assures us that Jehovah finds no delight in destroying the wicked; he does so only as a last resort.—Ezekiel 18:32; 2 Peter 3:9.
Taking Armageddon Seriously
Whose side will we be on in this decisive conflict? Most of us automatically assume that we are aligned with the forces of good. But how can we be sure? “Seek righteousness, seek meekness,” urges the prophet Zephaniah. (Zephaniah 2:3) The will of God is that “all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth,” says the apostle Paul.—1 Timothy 2:4.
Learning the truth about Jehovah and his purpose to rid the earth of wickedness is a first step toward salvation. Practicing righteousness is a second step, bringing us God’s favor and protection.
If we take these important steps, we can actually look forward to Armageddon, a war that really will bring an end to human warfare. When that battle is over, people everywhere will view war as incomprehensible and repulsive. “Never again will they learn war.”—Isaiah 2:4, New American Standard Bible.
For a discussion of whether Armageddon is a literal place, see the article “Our Readers Ask,” on page 31.
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God’s intervention in human affairs is called Armageddon
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Gideon and his men won a decisive battle near Megiddo
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When Armageddon is over, people everywhere will view war as incomprehensible and repulsive
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Learning the truth about Jehovah and his purpose is a first step toward salvation