The word Armageddon strikes a chord of both fear and fascination in Christians and non-Christians alike. Even in the entertainment industry, Armageddon has been the subject of countless movies, television shows and documentaries. Even the insertion of the word in casual conversation indicates something that is catastrophic, or disastrous in some manner. Statements like, “When he gets angry, it’s like Armageddon,” or “The damage left behind by the storm was like Armageddon,” are just some of the ways that the word has been used to lend its negative connotations.
But where do these negative connotations arise from, and what is the proper view of Armageddon? As in all things, we must go to the Word of God to find the truth.
What Does the Bible Say about Armageddon?
We find our first references to the word in the Old Testament, however, in another form. There it is referred to as “Megiddo” – the valley of Megiddo to be exact. It is here that the great king Josiah, who reigned in Judah from the age of eight, would meet his demise after thirty-one years. We read:
“Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, ‘Have me away; for I am sore wounded.’ His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchers of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah” (2 Chronicles 35:22-24, emphasis mine).
There is another possible reference to Armageddon in the book of the prophet Joel. It reads:
“I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land” (Joel 3:2).
The name “Jehoshaphat” here means “the Lord judges,” and while the location of this valley is unknown, the language in the verse may be indicating that it is being used symbolically to describe the future battle that will take place.
It is however, in the New Testament where we find our ultimate understanding of Armageddon when we read the book of Revelation. Prophetically, it is the place where the forces of evil will converge upon the people of God, with the intent of bringing about their destruction. John described what he saw in his vision:
“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, 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” (Revelation 16:13-14).
We find, among other things in this verse, that the traditionally named, “battle of Armageddon” is actually never referred to in Scripture as such; Armageddon is simply the gathering place of the nations. We read further in the book of Revelation, to find the only mention of the name in the entire New Testament:
“And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Revelation 16:16).
What Will Happen at Armageddon?
This gathering will culminate with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, for it is at Armageddon that the short and diabolical reign of the Antichrist, who deceived the nations, will come to an abrupt and fiery end. Once again, the book of Revelation provides us with the details of his demise:
“And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur” (Revelation 19:19-20).
Even Paul the apostle speaks prophetically about what takes place at Armageddon — speaking on this very same event, he states under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:
“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-9).
This all refers to the Antichrist, who will in essence, “go down in flames.” The results of this battle account for its close association with the end of the world; however, this battle does not end it all. Armageddon serves only as the place where the nations are gathered, defeated, and the Antichrist judged – but it also serves as the place where Satan will be bound:
“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Revelation 20:1-3).
During this ‘little season’, he will once again come to incite, through deception, the nations once again; causing them to raise an army, which will come against the object of his all-consuming hatred — the people of God. He will be able to amass an army, whose number will be as the sand of the sea, and lead a short-lived rebellion, which Scripture indicates will be thoroughly thwarted, almost before it can get fully underway. It won’t end well for this massive army, or for Satan himself:
“And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:9-10).
Should Christians Be Concerned about Armageddon?
When we read of these things, as Christians, how are we to respond? Should we be fearful? Absolutely not. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that we will not be present on earth during the reign of the Antichrist. 1 Thessalonians bears this out:
“For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
The prevailing truth is that as we live, we are to watch, wait, and to expect. Paul the apostle put it this way:
“Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13).
As we look to the Lord, anxiously awaiting His return for us, we realize that Armageddon, at least for us, will be nothing more than a steppingstone to the millennial kingdom and eternity. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Photo credit: Unsplash/Hasan Almasi
Michael Jakes is an Associate Pastor, Bible teacher, and writer. He is co-founder of That’s The Word! Ministries, a distinctly Cross-centered outreach. He hosts several live weekly podcasts, including "The Bible Speaks Live," and "The Cutting It Right Bible Study." Michael is also the author of two books, The Lights In The Windows, and Churchified Or Sanctified? He and his wife Eddye have been married for over 40 years, and reside in New York. You can follow him on Facebook and Youtube and listen to his podcasts on Spreaker.