What Is Armageddon?

Few subjects in the Bible receive more attention, yet almost no one knows its meaning.

What is Armageddon? Is it World War iii? Will it be America and Britain fighting against Russia? Television commentators and other pundits bring up this word often, but few people understand its true meaning.

Yet if we do not understand this subject, we cannot understand the Bible’s most critical prophecies, and we can easily believe fables. When you fully understand what Armageddon means, you will be astonished.

You might be surprised to learn that Armageddon is mentioned in the Bible only once: “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils [demons], working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Revelation 16:13-16).

This is talking about a time when three demons will emerge—one from Satan (the dragon), another from a bloody political empire (the beast), and the third from a fraudulent religious leader (the false prophet). This is alarming imagery!

Demonic spirits are already stirring up worldwide warfare. Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). He and his demons have been cast down and confined to Earth in this end time (Revelation 12:9). He and his demons infest the Earth. They have never been more wrathful. They are the cause of the unprecedented problems now facing humanity. If people understood this, they would be very afraid!

Revelation 17 paints a terrifying prophetic picture of an evil empire coming on the world scene. If you are going to understand that empire, then you must understand Armageddon. A fascist government is rising in Europe today—a revival of the Babylonian system pictured in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 and 17. It will plunge the world into a holocaust like we have never imagined!

These prophecies show that these men who are bringing the world into war are influenced—even possessed—by demons! This is a serious problem! Think: Satan has the power to influence people heavily, even to possess them, speak through them, and infuse them with his power! He will work through the political leader of this “beast” and through the “false prophet” of Revelation 16, to perform deadly miracles.

This is the truth of your Bible. Do you have the courage to face it?

A Gathering Place

In a November-December 1955 Plain Truth article, “What Is Armageddon?” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote: “First, notice that ‘Armageddon’ is a Hebrew word, not an English word. Actually, the Hebrew word is ‘Har Magedon’ or ‘Har Megiddo.’ In the Hebrew, the H’s are usually not pronounced, and so are often omitted in the spelling in English. Megiddo is in the Valley of Jezreel, some 70 miles northwest of Jerusalem, just in from the port of Haifa.

“The Hebrew prefix ‘Har’ means ‘fortified,’ or ‘fortified hill.’ Between World War i and World War ii, the British fortified Haifa at a cost of many millions of dollars. Consequently, Megiddo (or Magedon) has now become, in fact, Armageddon!”

People talk about the “battle of Armageddon,” but it’s really the “battle of the great day of God Almighty”! There is no battle of Armageddon. Armageddon is a specific location. It will be a gathering place for the great armies of this world. God will then lead them down to Jerusalem and fight them there.

As we will see, other Bible prophecies show that this “Day of the Lord” is the climax of the coming worldwide destruction!

Yet this wholesale warfare and destruction is tied to the greatest news you could hear.

Great Tribulation

Matthew 24 reveals the sequence of end-time events that precedes the return of Jesus Christ to Earth in power and glory. It reveals one key sign of looming trouble: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” (verse 15).

Luke’s Gospel account provides more clarity: “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh” (Luke 21:20). The abomination of desolation is when European armiesnot Arab armies—surround Jerusalem! This European power is a resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire, poised to destroy the world! Led by Germany, it will start World War iii. This time, however, it will be destroyed forever by God Himself.

“[F]or sore anguish will come upon the land and Wrath on this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword, they will be carried prisoners to all nations, and Jerusalem will be under the heel of the Gentiles till the period of the Gentiles expires” (verses 23-24; Moffatt translation).

God asks in Ezekiel 33:11, “[W]hy will ye die, O house of Israel?” All nations on Earth will be punished, but God will punish the nations of biblical Israel—primarily America, Britain and the Jewish nation in the Middle East—first.

Continuing in Matthew 24, Christ said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (verse 21). This nightmarish period is described in many other prophecies. The coming “tribulation” is the climax of Satan’s wrath against humanity, and will involve nuclear destruction!

We have brought doom upon ourselves through our sinful ways—and by creating weapons of mass destruction. Every weapon mankind has made, we have always used! Unsound strongmen are rising today who are eager to use nuclear weapons. But these madmen will not conquer this world as they plan to. They are no match for God’s infinite power.

Like Matthew 24, the violent events of the book of Revelation follow a precise time sequence. The 2½-year period of “great tribulation” is described in Revelation 6:9-11.

Next will come the heavenly signs: God will disrupt the heavens and Earth. The sun, moon and stars will become complete darkness. Earth will convulse with tidal waves and earthquakes (verses 12-17; Luke 21:25-26).

This is also described in Joel 2:31: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.” God sends these supernatural signs just before the Day of the Lord. This is no routine warning! God is warning this world in ways that it cannot ignore!

Immediately after the heavenly signs, suddenly and unexpectedly comes the one-year period of God’s wrath, the Day of the Lord.

The Day of the Lord

The Prophet Zephaniah describes this event: “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zephaniah 1:14-15).

The “great tribulation” is the time of Satan’s greatest wrath. It will be followed by a period of God’s wrath! It will be a time of indescribable suffering! But it also leads to the most hope-filled, exciting event ever.

the Valley of Megiddo
This wholesale warfare and destruction is tied to the greatest news you could hear.

“Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt: And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible” (Isaiah 13:6-11).

Yes, God is going to punish this world for its evil! Human beings will be howling like suffering wolves because of the intense agony! God does not want anyone to have to go through such suffering. This is why He warns and warns and warns; even after the Great Tribulation, He warns through the spectacular heavenly signs. Yet mankind still refuses to repent! (Revelation 11:10).

Those who are not protected by God will be petrified—fear will seize Earth. Anyone who fails to turn to God will be shaking with fear! We need Him to solve our problems!

There is only one way to be protected from this dreadful future: Submit to God now and help deliver His warning message. He gives each and every one of us a way to escape this coming suffering. Human suffering is the result of unwillingness to obey God.

Jesus Christ is tired of mankind’s wickedness! He will soon return and stop all suffering, ruling with a rod of iron: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

Christ’s Return!

Yes—Christ Himself is going to return! “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. … And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God” (Revelation 19:11, 13).

What an awesome, inspiring sight! Yet how will the Satan-inspired beast power and false prophet respond when they see Christ returning in the clouds with great glory? How will the armies of the world respond?

Remember, in Revelation 16, they had gathered in the plains of Armageddon, just north of Jerusalem.

The Prophet Zechariah foretells what is about to occur: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle …” (Zechariah 14:1-2).

They will have congregated in Armageddon—but then will proceed to Jerusalem! And take note of the very next event: “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east …” (verses 3-4).

Revelation 19:19 gives more detail: “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war”—against whom?—“against him that sat on the horse, and against his army”—which is composed of angels on horses! (verse 14).

This battle will not happen at Armageddon! That is where the armies gather, then God takes them to Jerusalem and fights them there. Revelation 14:18-20 say the blood from this battle will fill the Valley of Jehoshaphat that cuts through Jerusalem with blood up to the horses’ bridles!

“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him …. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Revelation 19:20).

The “battle of that great day of God Almighty”—commonly misnamed “Armageddon”—will be a complete victory for God! What leads up to it is the worst news you could hear. Yet spiritually, it is the best possible news! The coming suffering and curses are tied directly to the return of Jesus Christ and His assuming the throne of King of kings! By declaring the bad news, we are also declaring the good news of the coming Kingdom of God!

Soon, God will fill the Earth with happiness and joy forever! This will happen after He has ended the massacre of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. All plagues, misery and suffering will be removed from Earth. Christ will stand on the Mount of Olives and institute abundant blessings, happiness and joy for all eternity. This is reality—you can be sure of it!