President Ronald Reagan, during the threatening Cold War years, sometimes referred to a coming Armageddon. Considering the probability of a disastrous nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States of America and desiring to provide Americans with an all-inclusive defense against a major Soviet nuclear attack, President Reagan came up with a nuclear defense program called the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).
The president delivered a speech about this plan in 1983; the press referred to it as Star Wars, since SDI was conceived by Mr. Reagan to destroy incoming nuclear warheads in the heavens above. It was a masterful rhetorical device. He felt this might be a workable deterrent to Soviet aggression.
The Soviets reacted sharply and negatively, assuming that the United States had some military plan so extraordinary that it required their immediate attention (Margaret Thatcher Foundation, citing George Shultz, Cold War: Reagan's Star Wars Initiative (Shultz Memoirs), www.margaretthatcher.org/commentary/displaydocument.asp?docid=110632).
During the Reagan years (1981-1989), the president spoke various times of Armageddon. I often wondered how many millions of viewers thought that Armageddon literally meant the end of the world. It appeared they did and that he did. I know of no leader throughout modern history who didn't think this.
I also wondered how much President Reagan really understood about the ingredients that make up the Armageddon concept. Since Mr. Reagan was a man who had firm and insightful beliefs about people, God and the Bible, did he understand the truth about Armageddon? More importantly, do you understand the meaning and end results of Armageddon?
What is Armageddon?
The English term Armageddon comes from a combination of Hebrew words Har and Megiddo. Har means hill and Megiddo is roughly translated, "a place of troops." The valley of Megiddo is on the south and east side of the ancient city of Megiddo. The Bible calls the hill of Megiddo, Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).
Well-meaning people have taken the term Armageddon and morphed it into the final and all-destructive war of mankind. It's as if we've made this term into "armed-Megiddo," which is true in part, but not true linguistically (see above) and biblically: "And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon" (Revelation 16:16).
This then is what Armageddon is. Knowing what it is helps us to understand what it is not. Megiddo was and is a magnet for war.
Armageddon and war
It has been said that there have been more wars fought at or around either the valley of Megiddo or the hill of Megiddo than any other spot on earth. Megiddo is located at a very critical junction in Palestine; it lies at the intersection of most important trade routes also used by armies heading north or south. This is why there have been so many wars fought in, on and around the strategically located hill of Megiddo.
"Megiddo [was an] important town of ancient Palestine, overlooking the Plain of Esdraelon (Valley of Jezreel). It lies about 18 miles (29 km) southeast of Haifa in northern Israel. Megiddo's strategic location at the crossing of two military and trade routes gave the city an importance far beyond its size. It controlled a commonly used pass on the trading route between Egypt and Mesopotamia, and it also stood along the northwest-southeast route that connected the Phoenician cities with Jerusalem and the Jordan River valley" (www.britannica.com/eb/article-9051799/Megiddo).
An example of Megiddo's critically strategic location was addressed by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the article "Megiddo—The Solomonic 'Chariot City'" (Nov. 20, 2000). "Megiddo is mentioned many times in Egyptian royal inscriptions from the 15th to the 13th centuries BCE [before the common era]. They attest to the city's importance as the center of Egyptian administration in Canaan and as a logistical base on the road north" (www.mfa.gov.il/MFA).
So why does the Bible mention Armageddon in connection with an end-time event in the book of Revelation?
Armies will gather at Megiddo
The purpose of Armageddon in the very end time is to set the stage for the greatest battle ever fought. Yet that greatest battle will not be between the armies of the prophetic Beast and the army of 200 million soldiers of the kings of the East (Revelation 16:16)!
A cursory glance at Revelation 16 together with the morphed idea about Armageddon can cause people to assume this false notion. The truth of this great event is found in Revelation 16, and it tells the true story of Armageddon, which isn't the same as the mythical one.
The invitation to Jerusalem
Revelation 16 tells us that God dries up the mighty Euphrates River so that the great armies of the East can walk across it. "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 from the east might be prepared" (Revelation 16:12).
They will be headed straight for the larger Valley of Jezreel and on to the hill of Megiddo on its west side. Immediately south of Megiddo will be the great armies of the Beast power, identified in both Revelation 13 and 17, called the king of the North in Daniel 11:40.
The king of the North (likely a future incarnation of today's European Union and its leader) will have been in the Middle East after counterattacking the king of the South (which could well be a confederation of Islamic states and its leader). Europe's counterattack will come quickly.
The king of the North will surround Jerusalem after conducting a blitzkrieg on the king of the South and its confederated states.
"At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon.
"He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.
"But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many. And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him" (Daniel 11:40-45).
Jerusalem: the battle of that great day of God Almighty
If you read Scripture carefully, you will not find the final battle of this ageraging at the hill or valley of Megiddo. You will find that Armageddon is a staging place for all the armies surrounding Megiddo. "And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon" (Revelation 16:16). The operative word here is "gathered."
Two verses earlier you will find these critical words: "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" (verse 14, emphasis added). God allows lying spirits to persuade the kings of the earth to move down to Jerusalem. Har-Megiddo (Armageddon) is where they all meet. Jerusalem is where the returning Christ will confront and destroy them. The battle of that great day of God Almighty takes place at and around Jerusalem (Zechariah 14).
Armageddon sets the stage for global peace
Christ will declare war on all these kings and destroy them and their armies (Revelation 19). The birds will pick clean their bodies and the Beast and False Prophet will be burned up in the lake of fire (verse 20). God's great day of battle will bring unprecedented carnage on the tyrants that moved from Megiddo (Armageddon) to Jerusalem. The blood will run as deep as the height of the bridle on a horse (Revelation 14:20). God reveals in graphic terms how the tyrants will die: Their flesh, eyes and tongues will dissolve while they stand (Zechariah 14:12).
Only then can global peace come about, beginning at Jerusalem. Armageddon is not the final battle between great kingdoms of armies but the staging place where they are motivated to go up to Jerusalem for the battle of that great day of God Almighty! In truth, Armageddon signals the final countdown to global peace foretold centuries ago in the pages of your Bible. WNP