THE word “Armageddon” is used in the Bible only once, and that is in Revelation 16:16. The text reads, “And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” Verse 14, speaking of the same “gathering” of “the kings of the earth and of the whole world,” says that it is “to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” In verse 15 there is a reference to the return of Christ, as if to emphasize that Armageddon is in some way associated with that event.

While the word Armageddon is used only this once in the Bible, the prophecies abound with various symbolic references to this final struggle of the ages. In Daniel 12:1 it is described as “a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.” This “time of trouble” is shown to be the result of the standing up of one called “Michael.” This is one of the titles the Bible applies to Christ, particularly at his second advent.

Daniel says that Michael will then “stand up,” signifying the exercise of authority and power. He “stands up” for the salvation of God’s people, for the rectification of error and wrong, for the establishment of right and truth, to bring to the world of mankind the great kingdom of God which has been preached from the days of Abraham.

In answer to questions asked by his disciples concerning the sign of his second presence, Jesus quotes Daniel’s prophecy concerning a time of trouble, our English translation using the word “tribulation” instead of trouble. It seems clear, therefore, that this great tribulation referred to in Revelation 16:16 under the symbolic term Armageddon, is the final great struggle of the ages. Jesus, in fact, said that there would never be anything like it again.—Matthew 24:21,22

The prophecies use various symbols to illustrate different aspects of this tribulation, for no one symbol could describe all that it involves. Among the symbols used are “earthquake,” “fire,” “storm,” “tempest,” and “flood.” None of these are to be understood in a literal sense. It is simply that the trouble that brings about the destruction of Satan’s social order is in some respects like these various upheavals of nature.

The Armageddon symbolism illustrates an aspect of this great and final struggle not contained in any of the others used in the prophecies. In the Hebrew, Armageddon means “mountain of Megiddo.” Megiddo occupied a very marked position on the southern edge of the Plain of Esdraelon and commanded an important pass into the hill country of Galilee. Here many of the battles of ancient Israel were fought. It was here that Gideon defeated the Midianites.

What made these battles different from others is the fact that God took a hand in them and directed the outcome. We think this is the principal lesson conveyed by the symbolism of Armageddon. It is the battle of the great day of God Almighty. In this struggle God directs the issue for the destruction of Satan’s world, in preparation for the establishment of Messiah’s kingdom.

Armageddon will result in much destruction of human life, but many will pass through the struggle alive and be the first to enter into the blessings of the kingdom which will then be available. But those who die in Armageddon will not be deprived of the kingdom blessings; for later they will be awakened from the sleep of death, that they, too, under the laws of the new kingdom, may be given an opportunity to live forever.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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