What Is Armageddon?

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What Is Armageddon?

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Most people believe Armageddon is about the end of the world. But what does the Bible actually reveal? Learn the real truth.

Transcript

 

[Darris] On the hills outside the city of Nazareth in Galilee of Israel, you can stand and look out over the flat plain of the Jezreel Valley. To the west, at the end of the valley you can make out a hill, the site of a place called Megiddo. I have been to both places and there is a connection.

Nazareth is where Jesus was raised by His parents, Joseph and Mary. It is not hard to imagine Jesus as a youth spending time in these hills overlooking the valley. Jesus, who was God in the flesh - knew the history of the land before Him, both past and future. He knew one day, on that spot, armies would gather to fight Him at His glorious second coming.

Jesus grew up near a place called Armageddon. Armageddon carries a powerful message for the world - a message that comes straight from Jesus Christ.

Join us on Beyond Today as we examine a message straight from God's Word, "What is Armageddon?"

[Announcer] Join our host Darris McNeely, and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today!

[Darris] Armageddon! What do you think when you hear that word? Most of us probably think of the end of the world - or a movie.

But what most people believe is not accurate. Armageddon is actually just an old city. It's a real-life place on the map and you can travel there today. It's a place no longer inhabited and it's surrounded by a long and wide valley.

In future prophecy, Revelation reveals that armies will gather in this valley to fight Jesus Christ when He returns in glory and power.

There's a powerful message for each of us in the prophecy of Armageddon. If you heed that message, it can change your life and prepare you for Christ's return.

For every person you ask about Armageddon, you'll get a different answer. But what's the truth? What do the Scriptures say? Let's look in the book of Revelation.

In chapter 16, we see seven devastating plagues that represent God's final judgment on the world - a world that has rejected Him. They are symbolized by bowls being poured out upon the earth.

The fifth of these bowls brings darkness on the throne of the evil ruler of the final superpower of mankind, which is depicted as a beast. The impenetrable darkness will be so frightening that people will be gnawing their tongues out of despair. In their anger and their pain they are going to curse God. And instead of turning to Him for help, they will refuse to humble themselves or to repent. Tension in the world will escalate (Revelation 16:11 Revelation 16:11And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
American King James Version×
). Satan, of course, is pulling out all strings behind that evil leader called the Beast, and in his rage against God, he prepares to maneuver the world and its armies into a box canyon. There will be no way out.

Notice what it says in verse 12. "Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared." In other words, great armies from the east will be on the move toward Israel. It continues, "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet." Who is the dragon, the Beast and this false prophet? The dragon is Satan. The Beast is the leader of the final, evil superpower of mankind. And the false prophet is an evil religious leader who will deceive the whole world with his false religion. The Scripture continues: "For they are spirits of demons performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty" (Revelation 16:12-14 Revelation 16:12-14 [12] And the sixth angel poured out his vial on the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. [13] 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. [14] For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
American King James Version×
).

What we're reading is an incredible peek into the invisible spirit world. With hints like this throughout the Scriptures, we know that there is another dimension that we really can't see, feel, touch or taste. But it is very real. It's inhabited with good spirits - angels, servants of God - and evil spirits, Satan and his demons. In this verse, it gives us a metaphorical vision of what is going on in the spiritual dimension. It shows the dragon - Satan - spewing from his mouth evil spirits - represented here by frogs. What happens in the spirit realm has always had a connection with what happens in our own physical realm. What we're reading here are evil spirits causing chaos in the spirit realm. These evil spirits directly influence events in our physical world.

In other words, Satan's rage behind the scenes will be what causes the armies of the world to gather in the land of Israel. Armageddon is not the name of the battle that will be fought. It is the place where they will gather for what is possibly the largest, and certainly the most conclusive, battle in all world history - The Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty. Of all the great battles in history - battles such as Gettysburg, Thermopolye, or Normandy - this battle is more significant than all the others combined. It's been named two thousand years in advance.

Now take note of something remarkable in the Scripture in verse 15. It says, "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed" (Revelation 16:15 Revelation 16:15Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
American King James Version×
). Right in the middle of this description of end-time armies, spiritual deception and the wrath of Satan is this little gem of a statement.

Then it continues right on after this as it did before with descriptions of more dramatic signs and events. It would be easy to just gloss over it, but that would be a critical mistake. I'm going to come back to this verse later in the program and I'll explain it a bit more.

Let's go on to verse 16 and see what it says, "And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon" (Revelation16:16). The word, "Armageddon" is just the combination of two Hebrew words: the word, "har" and the word, "megiddo." Of all the places, why then is this so significant? Why do the armies gather there? Well a brief look at the history of the area can help us answer that question.

On a map of the State of Israel, you can see the site of Megiddo. For thousands of years, it was a city where people lived. Every time it was destroyed in war, they'd fill in the dirt and they'd build on top. Today it is a hill popping up out of the flat plain called, Jezreel. Archaeologists have excavated the site for several decades. Their work has exposed ancient secrets long hidden beneath its soil.

Megiddo has seen more battles than any other place on earth. Why? Because whoever controlled Megiddo controlled a narrow strategic stretch of road called the Via Maris, which was a major international highway in the ancient world. This road stretched from Egypt all the way to Babylon, which is today, more or less, the modern nation of Iraq. In ancient times, this was the link - this Via Maris - between the major empires and the trade routes of the day. In the ancient world, any nation who wanted control of this region had to control Megiddo.

Over the years, many battles took place at Megiddo. In 1479 B.C., the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III launched a campaign near Megiddo to assert dominion over territories in- and north of Canaan.

In the Bible, King Solomon stationed troops, and chariots and horses in Megiddo, using the city as a northern fortress (1 Kings 9:15 1 Kings 9:15And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the LORD, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer.
American King James Version×
). Today there are massive gates still standing at the entrance to the ruins in Megiddo, and they date from this period and they are evidence of the city's strategic regional location. Later, during the reign of Judah's King Josiah, pharaoh Necho from Egypt came to Megiddo to fight against Assyria. Even though God told Josiah not to get involved in this battle, he did and he was killed (2 Kings 23:29 2 Kings 23:29In his days Pharaohnechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.
American King James Version×
).

And in modern times both Napoleon (1799) and the British General Allenby (1918) defeated Turkish forces at Megiddo. The area has never lost its significance as a battleground for control over this crucial crossroad of empires.

So we see that Megiddo is the place where armies have gathered in the past and it is where armies will gather in the future before the Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty. Does the Bible show us then where the actual battle will ultimately be fought? It does, and I will show you where in a minute.

Conflict in the Middle East dominates the news today. In my lifetime I do not know of any period when problems in Egypt, Iran, Syria, Israel or Lebanon have not focused attention on the region. Why does this part of the world matter to you? The answer lies in Bible prophecy.

To help you better understand the biblical and the historical background of current Middle Eastern events and what the future holds, be sure to order your personal, free copy of the booklet we are offering today: The Middle East in Bible Prophecy. You can receive a copy by calling toll free: 1-888-886-8632. Again, that's 1-888-886-8632, or you can go online to BeyondToday.tv.

This essential, free Bible study aid will help you better comprehend Bible prophecy and how future events will affect your life. So please, don't wait to order your free copy. Just call now: 1-888-886-8632. Again, 1-888-886-8632. Or you can go online to BeyondToday.tv - download, read or order your free copy of this study aid: The Middle East in Bible Prophecy.

We have seen that armies from all over the world will gather at Armageddon in the "time of the end" to fight Christ at His coming. Armageddon is a place. The battle is the event. And, there is an important spiritual lesson that connects events that took place in ancient Megiddo to what is happening today. It has immediate importance to your life. What is it? Stay with me - I'm going to explain about that in a moment.

But right now, let's look at a couple of scriptures to set the stage.

Let's look at Zechariah chapter 14, where it tells us: "Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem... Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle" (Zechariah 14:1-3 Zechariah 14:1-3 [1] Behold, the day of the LORD comes, and your spoil shall be divided in the middle of you. [2] For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. [3] Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
American King James Version×
).

The prophet Joel adds some detail to this. It says: "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" (Joel 3:2 Joel 3:2I 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.
American King James Version×
).

Jerusalem is where the battle of the great day of God Almighty is fought. Specifically, the focal point of battle will be in the steep valley that is today called, Kidron located between the Old City of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. Christ will descend with a spirit army and tread the winepress of His wrath. Revelation 19 says this: "And the winepress was trodden without the city, and [the] blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs" (Revelation 14:20 Revelation 14:20And the wine press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the wine press, even to the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
American King James Version×
). As human armies fight God the carnage will be so great that the blood will run several feet deep. It will be a terrible battle - one that will end in the peace of the Kingdom of God.

Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley provide an ideal staging point for this battle. We can imagine forces flowing in through the port of Haifa, a few miles to the northwest. Transport planes, and helicopters, troop carriers and tanks will ferry men and materiel into the region. Jet fighters and missiles will no doubt be engaged in a battle that suddenly turns its attention to a force coming from an unexpected location - the heavens above Jerusalem. In their folly and deception, they will fight Christ, never recognizing Him as the Messiah.

Today, this is difficult, very difficult to imagine. We read these scriptures and we ask, "How could political leaders be deceived to fight Jesus Christ, the Son of God?"

The answer may lie in one verse we skipped over in Revelation 16. Let's go back and read it. Notice that verse 15 is a thought injected by Jesus Christ, who is the author of the book of Revelation. It says this: "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame" (Revelation 16:15 Revelation 16:15Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
American King James Version×
). Here is Christ saying to those with ears to hear - there is a way to avoid being part of this great end-time deception.

What is Christ saying to us? What is in this message that we must understand? What is the spiritual lesson that Armageddon represents? It's this: That unless you obey Jesus Christ and His teachings every day, you too may be fooled into resisting Him on that day along with everybody else. See, the Bible says that the deception will be so subtle and so powerful that even somebody looking for it will be deceived. How? Look again at what Jesus says: "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame" (Revelation 16:15 Revelation 16:15Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
American King James Version×
).

What are the "garments" mentioned? They are keeping God's commandments, knowing right from wrong, discerning between good and evil. Garments are worshipping God instead of the devil, who is the god of this age. Garments are the "righteous acts" of God's people (Revelation 19:8 Revelation 19:8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
American King James Version×
). In the final confrontation between God and Satan, God wins! And Christ is summoning us to a life where we stand with Him - today - against the powers of darkness. That is what it means to keep one's garments.

What do your "garments" look like?

Are you standing with Jesus Christ today? Do you stand with God in truth when we see signs of spiritual and moral decay all around us? Have you looked at popular culture lately? The signs of inner-cancer are plain to see. Of course, we would all say that we try to stand our ground and keep our morals intact. But it's so easy to slowly allow tolerance of sin to seep into our lives.

Megiddo was a place where empires sought to control the ancient world. In this prophecy, it represents sinful man's final effort to control the world apart from the righteous creator God. And, there is a parallel to our society today. Let me explain why. Let me give you just one example.

There is one vivid lesson from the old city of Megiddo that illustrates my point. At the edge of the city is a large circular altar. Throughout history people would offer sacrifices on this altar in the worship of a fertility god. Now some historians even believe that human sacrifices were made here. This would also include child sacrifice. Imagine what one of those worship services might be like. Loud music. Worshippers dancing, shouting and calling out to the fertility god. A large fire roaring on the altar. And then they throw a small child into the embers to die an excruciating, senseless death in service of a fake god. It's difficult to imagine how people could do such a thing. Today, we recoil in shock and horror at the thought.

But you know what? It happened in Megiddo way back then - and it happens today. We don't call it child sacrifice, we call it abortion. Every year we sacrifice millions of babies to our modern gods - the gods of convenience and personal choice. We can't bring ourselves to call it murder. We call it planned parenthood. And instead of calling it a child, we call it a fetus. We deny that the child is a life and then we deny the child its life. We have corrupted our sense of right and wrong. We call good evil, and evil good. The stain of abortion today is but one of many sins that will bring God's judgment on our country and the whole world.

Yet abortion is just one sin that we've allowed to control us - greed, gluttony, adultery, drunkenness, and much more convict us before God. We are a society turned inside out, incapable of discerning righteous judgment.

Mankind's sin and rejection of God's way is exactly why this battle - that many people call "Armageddon" - why that battle must take place. This final battle represents God's judgment on a world that has forgotten and rejected Him in favor of their own desires.

We have forgotten God and abandoned His spiritual law. We are a people who do not want to admit that God has a sovereign claim on our lives. We are unwilling to submit to Him in obedience. What the apostle Paul wrote applies to us: "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting" (Romans 1:28 Romans 1:28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
American King James Version×
).

Megiddo was a key city in the ancient world. Whoever controlled it controlled a vital link in world commerce. And in the end of the age, Megiddo - or it's other name, Armageddon - represents man's last effort to control the world without God. Let God's words motivate us to discern this time and not be caught unaware, naked and ashamed.

Up next, the Beyond Today panel will discuss Armageddon and what it means to you. But first, let me tell you about today's free offer.

When you request our free study aid, The Middle East in Bible Prophecy, we'll also send you a free subscription to The Good News. The Good News gives you articles that help you understand your Bible. Every issue carries articles providing understanding about our changing world - and it does so in the light of the Bible. Other articles show you how to use the Bible as a tool to deal with challenging life issues like depression or addiction.

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I'm joined now by my fellow Beyond Today hosts, Steve Myers and Gary Petty.

Gentlemen, we covered a very important prophecy - Armageddon, a place, an event of the battle of the Great Day of the God Almighty. This prophecy is a culminating prophecy, and yet, I am struck by verse 15 of Revelation 16 and Jesus' words. I want to read it one more time.

He says, "behold I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches and keeps his garments. Lest he walk naked and they see his shame" (Revelation 16:15 Revelation 16:15Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
American King James Version×
). And the author of the book of Revelation says that here, interjects this thought. What exactly does He mean when He says watch?

[Gary] Well you know what's interesting is what He said before that. He said He would come as a thief, so you'd have to watch. Now when you look at this Book, and all the things that are in this Book, telling you what is going to happen before the return of Jesus Christ, how could anybody not know what is going to happen? All these events are there. Everybody has a Bible. Why will they not see it?

Well He says to watch, because something's going to happen that deceives people so profoundly that they won't even recognize what's happening. So He's telling us to watch world events in light of the Bible.

[Steve] He even tells us that the elect could be deceived. You go back to Matthew 24, He tells them, be careful, you could be deceived. So there is something that looks like it's real, looks like it's religious, looks like it's right but in actuality it is not.

[Darris] We have a great false religious teacher pictured here in this false prophet, and deception - spiritual deception. I am struck by what you both said about the elect and people with a Bible actually not seeing and understanding that it is Jesus Christ. Other people understand these Scriptures, they read them seeking understanding and they are looking for these things even within the context of what we are talking about today, and what is it though that is missing that causes them to be deceived? Could it be false teaching, false doctrine, false belief today?

[Gary] Well yes, but it's going to be even greater than that. When you look at the description of the false prophet, it says he looks like a lamb, but he speaks like a dragon which is Satan (Revelation 13:11 Revelation 13:11And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon.
American King James Version×
). Of course Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. So it's not only a false doctrine, it's going to be a mixture of false doctrine. It says he does all kinds of miracles, so he is going to see people through miracles (Revelation 13:13 Revelation 13:13And he does great wonders, so that he makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
American King James Version×
). This is going to look like a great Christian leader because he is going to speak as the Lamb. That's what's very important. So it's false doctrine, it's miracles, it's going to be working together with the Beast power to exert an attempt at world government. So it's, you know, it's going to be very confusing for people if they don't' know this and they aren't watching.

[Steve] And very convincing.

[Gary] Yes.

[Steve] Not only confused but convicting that this must be right because it looks right. But if you don't get beyond just appearances, I think the important part is, if you don't get beyond that and really have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you're going to be in trouble.

[Darris] You know on Beyond Today we cover a lot of teachings from the Scriptures to explain to people that what they believe and think they understand regarding the Sabbath, regarding holidays verses God's Holy Days, regarding heaven or hell is not what the Bible teaches. False doctrine today can cause people to be deceived in this day and in this time. That's how I see it.

[Gary] You better believe it. In fact, it's a false worship of God is what it is. And one of the great…

[Darris] Today.

[Gary] Yes.

[Darris] …by false practices.

[Gary] …Absolutely. That's right.

[Steve] Well even Christ said, many will call me, "Lord, Lord." They will say, "Lord, Lord," but what will Christ's response be? His response is, "I never knew you" (Matthew 7:21-23 Matthew 7:21-23 [21] Not every one that said to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
American King James Version×
). That's a scary thing. So that people could be worshipping Christ but not really the true Christ, the true God.

[Darris] You mentioned earlier, Steve, about having a right relationship with God. Is that what Christ says by keeping our garments lest we walk naked and they see the same?

[Steve] Absolutely. Absolutely. The watching also means watch yourself. Keep an eye on yourself, not just world events, but I better be watching myself. Paul even tells us, the apostle Paul, it's high time to awake out of sleep and that we're to put on Christ. Clothe ourselves in Christ. Become more Christ-like, have a relationship with God. Those things are so critical when it comes to this time.

[Gary] All through the entire Bible, especially in the New Testament, Christians are described as people who have cleaned garments. They are not spotted. And in all those passages, it's talking about righteousness (Ecclesiastes 9:8 Ecclesiastes 9:8Let your garments be always white; and let your head lack no ointment.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 3:5 Revelation 3:5He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
American King James Version×
; Revelation 19:8 Revelation 19:8And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
American King James Version×
). And so, it's our faith in God and our obedience to God that is so important, and that those are the two things that are going to keep us focused as the world heads into a very deceiving time.

[Darris] It seems like obedience to God and understanding His commandments, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, as another scripture points out, is what is going to separate people who are deceived from those who actually understand this particular event that is taking place.

[Steve] What Christ emphasized is that you can't have faith without obedience. They go hand in hand.

[Darris] Remember our free offers today: The Middle East in Bible Prophecy and The Good News. You can order them both by calling: 1-888-886-8632 or go online to BeyondToday.tv.

And remember that all of our publications are absolutely free of charge, offered as an educational service. So, please call right now. We're looking forward to hearing from you!

And, the United Church of God has hundreds of Sabbath-keeping congregations meeting on Saturday across the United States and around the world. Go online to again, BeyondToday.tv - click on the "Contact" tab to find a congregation near you. Call one of our pastors and share your story with them. Find out more about how the "place called Armageddon" will impact your life.

What is Armageddon? It is a place in the land of Israel that has a powerful and direct message for you and all in today's world. The message is this: Watch and understand today's world. Watch and understand how this culture of death is leading to a time of confrontation with God in a day and a place of judgment. Watch and understand how you can avoid its deceptions. In that day, you want to be able to stand before your Creator God.

Today's world events are leading to the day of the final battle for earth - the battle of the Great Day of God Almighty. That's why understanding today's world events matters. Here on Beyond Today we give you understanding about today's world and where we are headed. Join us next time as we continue to explain how to use the Bible as a guide for your life. Join us please in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today, I'm Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.

[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today's program, go online to BeyondToday.tv. Please join us again next week on Beyond Today!