By Cougan Collins


Please Read Revelation 16:13-16.

Armageddon is mentioned in Revelation 16:16. As most things are in the book of Revelation, the term Armageddon is symbolic and has no reference to a literal, physical war to occur between the forces of Christ and the forces of Satan. Any view of the book of Revelation that fails to recognize its highly symbolic nature and seeks to literalize its images, is doomed to absolute failure. For example, if we take our verses (Rev. 16:13-16) literally, then we have three unclean spirits that look like frogs that will come out of a dragon’s mouth leading the kings of the earth and all the people of the world into a great battle. When we consider that the plain of Megiddo is only about twenty miles long by fourteen miles wide, it is too small to accommodate a battle of the magnitude (hundreds of millions of soldiers) demanded by modern dispensational writers. Obviously, our verses are symbolic and not to be taken literally.

Armageddon refers to Megiddo, a large valley in which many historic battles were fought by the Israelites. Because of these many battles, the word “Armageddon” came to be used very much as we use the word “Waterloo” today. When using the word “Waterloo,” we often have reference to some defeat, either in our lives or that of others. In similar fashion, “Armageddon” came to represent various types of “struggles.” Revelation 16 refers to the spiritual struggle between Christians of that day and the evil they were confronted with.

The use of geographical points to emphasize spiritual truths is a common biblical phenomenon. For example the word “hell” (Grk. gehenna) relates to the Hebrew gehinnom, which was the Valley of Hinnom just south of Jerusalem. Idolatrous Jews offered their children as burnt sacrifices there (2 Kgs. 16:3; 21:6). Later, because of its connection with pain, weeping, and burning, gehenna became a symbol for the final punishment of hell. Certainly, it would be absurd to contend that on the Day of Judgment the wicked will be cast into the literal Valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem.

Some associate Armageddon with the destruction of Jerusalem or the downfall of Rome, but most likely it is used symbolically of the final overthrow of all the forces of evil by almighty God. Revelation 16 actually says nothing about the battle of Armageddon taking place at that point. There, the forces merely are gathered together, awaiting “the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” when He comes “as a thief” (16:14-15). Note: the great day of God is “the day of God’s final judgment” (A&G), at which time the earth will be destroyed (2 Pet. 3:12). Moreover, the expression “come as a thief” is repeatedly employed in connection with Christ’s Second Coming (Mt. 24:43; 1 Thes. 5:2; 2 Pet 3:10). The battle scene itself is pictured in Revelation 19:11-16 (Please read).

We learn the following: First, the one coming from heaven is clearly Christ, the Word (Jn. 1:1, 14), and the white horse is a symbol of His victorious conquest. Second, He is coming to judge and make war. But judgment will take place at His Second Coming (Mt. 25:31ff); hence, His war against the enemies of Jehovah will occur at that time. Third, the Lord smites the rebellious nations with a sharp sword that proceeds out of His mouth. Elsewhere, Paul shows that at the time of His “coming” (Grk. parousia — a technical term for the Lord’s final coming in judgment), Jesus Christ will slay His foes “with the breath of His mouth,” and bring them to naught (2 Thes. 2:8). Therefore, Armageddon is the punishment inflicted by Christ at His Second Coming.

Though some make Armageddon out to be some literal battle that takes place at the end of seven years of tribulation per the rapture theory, we have nothing to fear of an impending political Armageddon. However, all who are out of Christ (Gal. 3:26, 27), or who are unfaithful to the Lord (2 Cor. 11:2), had better prepare against the awful day of spiritual Armageddon! Want to learn more? Come worship with us at the Lone Grove Church of Christ.

Adaped in part from Wayne Jackson Armageddon: The Next of the “Left-Behind” Series