Life, Hope & Truth

What Is Armageddon?

Many people describe the final battle at the end of the world as the battle of Armageddon. But is that really what the Bible teaches?

For centuries, the name “Armageddon” has been understood as the final battle at the end of the world between the forces of good and evil. Yet in Revelation 16:16, the only place in the Bible where this word is found, we see a different explanation: “And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.”

“They,” according to verses 13-14, are the three unclean “spirits of demons, performing signs,” who go out to the leaders of the earth “to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” Notice that the name of the battle is not called “Armageddon.” It is called the battle of “that great day of God Almighty.” Armageddon will be the gathering place for the armies.

Armageddon was the site of many battles in history

The Hebrew word for Armageddon is actually “Har Megiddo,” which means hill or mountain of Megiddo. It also referred to the plain and valley of Esdraelon. It was in this area where Pharaoh Necho of Egypt, on his way to aid the king of Assyria, was attacked by King Josiah of Judah, who then was defeated by the Egyptians at Megiddo (2 Kings 23:29-30).

According to a historical marker at the site of Megiddo, “The city of Megiddo played a prominent role in the history of the ancient Near East. Strategically located at the mouth of the Nahal ‘Iron Pass,’ Megiddo controlled access to the road that linked Egypt with Mesopotamia and Anatolia—the most important trade and military route of that time. Megiddo is the only site in the Land of Israel mentioned in the records of all Near Eastern ancient powers and was one of the most fought-over cities of the region.”

Armageddon will be the staging area for the future battle

Even though this valley has seen many major battles in the past, Har Megiddo (Armageddon) is only going to be the staging area for the armies in the future. Those armies, once gathered, will travel south to Jerusalem. ...Even though this valley has seen many major battles in the past, Har Megiddo (Armageddon) is only going to be the staging area for the armies in the future. Those armies, once gathered, will travel south to Jerusalem, and the actual battle of the “great day of God Almighty” will take place in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Kidron Valley) just to the east of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Notice Joel 3:2: “I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land.”

Also notice verses 12-14: “‘Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; for the winepress is full, the vats overflow—for their wickedness is great.’ Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.”

The same phraseology of Joel 3 is used in Revelation 19:11-20. These verses describe the battle of the great day of God Almighty, in which Jesus Christ returns to the earth and will defeat the armies sent against Him. Zechariah 14:1-4 also prophesies of this time.

Armageddon’s place in end-time prophecy

So, in summary, Armageddon is the place where the armies of the earth will be gathered. Those armies will then march toward Jerusalem to battle against Jesus Christ in the battle of the great day of God Almighty. Christ, of course, will defeat those armies. Christ will then establish the Kingdom of God on the earth, which will rule forever.

For assistance in fulfilling Christ’s command to “watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36), subscribe to the Life, Hope & Truth Weekly Newsletter, which contains our World Watch Weekly section. It’s free and comes directly to your email inbox each week.

About the Author

John Foster

John Foster

John Foster grew up in the Chicago, Illinois, area and began attending the Church of God with his parents in 1958.

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