We have already noted that under the seven churches, seven seals and seven trumpets, God’s people are introduced in the sixth church, the sixth seal and the sixth trumpet. This sequence also applies to the seven last plagues. Under the sixth plague God Himself appears to deliver His people from destruction, and to administer the “slaughter of Armageddon.”
The popular idea of Armageddon is that it is going to be a battle. Which is reasonable because the Bible describes it as a battle (Rev. 16:14). However, when all the casualties of a battle occur on one side, and the other side suffers no casualties at all, it is perhaps more realistic to describe the battle of Armageddon as a slaughter. Undoubtedly, there will be a false Armageddon, and that will be a battle. But the true Armageddon will be a slaughter.
Literal or Symbolic?
The word Armageddon appears only once in the whole Bible. It is clearly a composite name intended to symbolize something. If one examines the word Armageddon in the original Greek, one will notice that there is an apostrophe before the first letter. This is called a “rough breathing mark,” and it is in this manner that the Greek language indicates the presence of the H sound. This is why some people prefer to spell Armageddon with an H, i.e. Harmageddon, and it is quite legitimate to spell it that way. However, John tells us that Harmageddon is a Hebrew word (see Rev. 16:16). Therefore if we are going to solve the riddle if the name we must look to the Hebrew language and incidents that occurred in Hebrew history.
In Hebrew the word “har” means mountain. The rest of the word seems to be derived from a combination of the words Megiddo and perhaps har mo’ed. Megiddo is the name of a valley in Israel where many ancient battles were fought. This has given rise to the popular notion that Armageddon refers to a literal battle between the nations of the earth, in the literal valley of Megiddo. This explanation totally ignores the existence of the word “har,” meaning a mountain. This is because the proponents of this view, are literalists, and they want to understand literally. However, when one recognizes that Harmageddon is a word, made up of several words ‑ words that are obviously opposites, such as mountain and valley, it should become instantly obvious that this word is a symbolic word.
“And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Rev. 16:16). Many believe that Armageddon will be a literal battle, at a literal place, in a literal Israel. As proof for this position, they site the fact, that the participants in the battle are gathered to a “place,” as the strongest evidence that their view is correct. However this is not necessarily correct because the word “place” does not always mean a literal place.
The word for place in the Greek is “topos.” Usually this refers to a literal place, but not always. For example, the Bible, when speaking about Esau selling his birthright says, “he found no place (topos) of repentance” (Heb. 12:17). This is not referring to a literal place, and the topos of Armageddon is not a literal place either. It should be understood as referring to the whole world reaching, “the place of no return.” In Esau’s case the word topos is used in the context of being in the situation where it was too late to obtain forgiveness for his sin. He had made his decision to sell his birthright and now it was too late to get it back – there was no opportunity (or place) for mercy, probation was over. The people of the world, at this time, are in the same “place.” They too have despised their birthright. Just like Esau they were aware of salvation, but they despised its value. As a result, they are now so deceived that they have come to the “place,” where they think that if they attack, and destroy the people of God, they will be doing the work of God – and the dreadful plagues they are suffering from, will cease.
The Significance of the Valley
After Elijah’s confrontation with the priests of Baal, on mount Carmel, the priests were taken down the mountain, into a valley, and put to death there. The actual place was called “the brook Kishon” (1 Kings 18:40). This brook Kishon is part of what was known Biblically as the “waters of Megiddo” (see Judges chapters 4 and 5, note 4:7,13; 5:19‑21). Historically, it is here at Megiddo, that we see God utterly destroying His enemies, so that “there was not a man left” (Judges 4:16). This slaughter by the waters of Megiddo, and the slaughter of the priests of Baal, are types for the antitype that is prophesied to occur in the last days. Why were the priest not killed on top of the mountain? Why were they taken down the valley to be killed by the waters of Megiddo? The answer is because God is trying to tell us something. God put the word Armageddon together like a riddle, and He expects us to unravel the puzzle.
The Significance of the Mountain
God, in these last days, is calling His people out of Babylon. He is gathering His people together into one place. Into a place of safety ‑ a mountain. The mountains have always been the place of safety for God’s people. When Abraham and Lot parted, Lot chose the valley, and put himself in great danger. Abraham chose the mountains, and he was safe and he prospered. God established His people on the mountains of Judea, based on Mount Zion, and Jerusalem. When the serpent (Satan) “cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman” (Rev. 12:15), during the Dark Ages, the people of God found refuge in the mountains of the earth (v.16) and they survived the persecution there. And in these last days, when God’s people will have to flee one last time, we have been told that the mountains will be the refuge of the remnant yet again (see GC 65,66, 626,635; 5T 465). Ellen White quotes Isaiah, where he prophesied that God’s people will thank Him for “the munitions of rocks” (Isaiah 33:16). The context of this quotation speaks of God’s love and care, during this wilderness experience: … “his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.”
Chapter seven of the Book of Revelation describes God’s sealing program for the last days. The angels are instructed, to hold back the winds so that this work might not be unnecessarily hindered. Later, in the Book of Revelation, we are told where these saved ones are gathered to: “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads” (Rev. 14:1). Why are they said to be gathered together on Mt. Zion? Because Mt. Zion has always been the place of safety, and a place of strength for God’s people ‑ the reason being, is that Mt. Zion is spoken of as being the dwelling place of God. The Psalmist wrote, “Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion” (Ps. 9:11). All through the Bible God is described as drawing or gathering His people to Zion where they might be safe with Him: “Blow the trumpet in Zion… call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation” – “For in mount Zion… shall be deliverance” (Joel 2:15,16,32).
However, Satan counterfeits everything that God does, and while God is gathering His people, so too is Satan. He is gathering His forces to counteract the work of God. God gathers His people to Mount Zion, and if God is gathering His people to a mountain for safety, then Satan will gather his people to that same mountain to attack God’s people there.
The Mount of the Congregation
Armageddon is but the climax of a 6000-year program to prevent God’s people from being saved. As the adversary, whose self-seeking caused him to be cast out of heaven, Satan declared his purpose was to overthrow God and take over His universal government. Listen to his boast recorded by Isaiah:
I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Isa. 14:13,14.
Here Satan says that it is his intention to “sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.” Now, just exactly why does Satan want to sit there? Simply because this is mount Zion: “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King” (Ps. 48:2).
Here is where we get to the heart of the matter. The word Armageddon appears to be rooted in the Hebrew expression “har mo’ed.” Har mo’ed means “mount of the congregation” or “mount of the assembly.” This same word (har mo’ed) was used by Satan when he said, “I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation.” This ties Armageddon to the original threat of Satan to capture and destroy the congregation of God ‑ in mount Zion. [This scenario finds its type in the 38th and 39th chapters of Ezekiel, where the final conflict between Christ and Satan was prophesied to be fought on the mountains of Israel].
The word Armageddon, therefore, tells us that the last great conflict is not a confrontation between the nations of the world, but between Christ and Satan. Undoubtedly, there will be a great battle in the Middle East, and it will be passed off, as being the long expected battle of Armageddon, and the whole world will be deceived. However, we need not be deceived, the real Armageddon is described in Rev. 19:11‑21, it is not a battle, it is a slaughter.
Elijah and Armageddon
Paul tells us that the reason why things are recorded in the Old Testament the way they are, is because: “…all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor. 10:11). What Paul is saying is “the things that have been, are going to happen again ‑ to us who live in the last days.”
When we put Paul’s statement together with the fact that God’s people are no longer a literal nation living in a literal land, but a spiritual nation living all over the world, we can come up with a very useful principle of interpretation, which is: there is a first, local, historical and literal application of Scripture which serves as a symbol (or type) for a second, future, worldwide, spiritual application (or antitype).
The life and experience of Elijah provide a graphic illustration of how this principle works. Elijah’s experience is in itself, a prophecy about the experience that God’s people will go through in the last days. The reason of course is because both Elijah and God’s remnant people are called to give the same message ‑ the Elijah Message.
A comparison between the two different, but essentially the same experiences, of God’s servants provides the following:
- Elijah was called to carry a message to an apostate people who had turned from the truth, to a religion based on idols, and sun worship. God’s people in the last days are called to do the same.
- The faithful followers of God were persecuted and killed in the time of Elijah, the same applies in the last days (see Rev. 13:7, 15‑17; 20:4).
- Elijah had to flee before the combined wrath of Ahab and Jezebel, representing church and state. Those who are not killed in the last days will also have to flee, from the woman riding the beast, representing church and state.
- Elijah was miraculously feed by God, as will God’s people also be in the last days (see Isa. 33:16).
- There was a confrontation on a mountain, symbolizing the similar confrontation of Armageddon in the last days.
- The Sabbath verses Sunday issue will result in the same confrontation, with the same result – the slaughter of the wicked at Armageddon.
- Soon after this confrontation Elijah was translated, without seeing death, to heaven, typifying the reward of the righteous after Armageddon.
The True and the Counterfeit
In all probability, before the seven last plagues commence, there will be major crisis in the Middle East. This crisis will fulfill most of the expectations, that the literalists have about Armageddon – it will be touted as the end of the world. But “miraculously” the crisis will most likely be a pathway for the implementation of the long awaited “new world order.” This new order will be “sold” to the people of the world, as the only solution for “peace.” It will be heralded as the only solution to avert a similar crisis happening in the future, and it will be introduced as the beginning of the heralded 1000 years of peace on earth.
Unfortunately, for the inhabitants of the world, the seven last plagues are still on the agenda, and under the sixth and seventh plagues the slaughter of Armageddon commences. This is the true Armageddon and it is vividly described in Rev. 19:11‑21. This is also the time that the prophet Joel describes as the Lord roaring out of Zion to defend His people (see Joel 3:11‑16).
Armageddon brings the history of this world to an end. There is nothing but death and destruction in its wake – worldwide – not just in the Middle East. “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them” (1 Thess. 5:3).
It is done!
Quickly the seventh angel followed and poured out his bowl into the earth’s atmosphere. Then the One who sat on the throne spoke as Sovereign of the universe, saying, “It is done!” and announced the coming of His Son. The efforts of the dragon, the huge beast and the animal – that wicked trinity – came to an end. The global city they had tried to build lost its cohesion and split up into its three different parts. God remembered what this great spiritual city of Babylon had done and gave her the cup filled with the wine of His wrath. Rev. 16:17,19. TCW.
Destruction from beneath, in the form of a great earthquake, and destruction from above in the form of great hail “every stone about the weight of a talent” (about 100 pounds or about 50 kilos), destroys the earth. The earth is left utterly desolate. When the Jews rejected Christ, He said to them, “Behold your house is left unto you desolate” (Matt. 23:38).
The destruction of Jerusalem was a type for the antitypical destruction at the end of time. As the Jewish nation was left desolate, so also is the earth left desolate. As the Christians heeded the words of Christ when He said they should flee to the mountains (see Matt. 24:15,16), they escaped the destruction of Jerusalem, when they saw the signs being fulfilled. So too, at the end of the world Christ’s people will escape the worldwide destruction by being evacuated to Mount Zion. Just as the Christians in the time of Jerusalem’s time of visitation were able to be ready and prepared by understanding “the signs of the times” so too, are we able to be ready and prepared for the end of the world by being “faithful and wise servants” who understand “the signs of the times” for our generation and therefore able to give the people “meat in due season” (Matt. 16:1-3; 24:33,45).
“Today the universal common good presents us with problems which are worldwide in their dimensions: problems, therefore, which cannot be solved except by a public authority with power, organization, and means coextensive with these problems, and with a worldwide sphere of activity. Consequently, the moral order itself demands the establishment of some general form of public authority”. Pope John XX111, the encyclical Pacem in Terris, (Peace on Earth). (Italics supplied).