Sunday, March 11, 2012
Armageddon refers generally to end times or giant, apocalyptic catastrophes in various religions and cultures. It may also refer to any great loss of life in battle or use of weapons of mass destruction.
The word Armageddon is thought to be derived from the Hebrew words Har Megido (הר מגידו), meaning "Mountain of Megiddo". The site referred to is a valley plain called Megiddo, the location of many decisive battles in ancient times, including the Battle of Megiddo. There is no literal "mountain of Megiddo" anywhere in the Promised Land, although there is an archaeological mound nearby, representing the ruins of at least 20 cities that flourished between 5,000 years ago and 650 BC. Some would argue that the word Armageddon is an early example of a modegreen.
The only mention of the word Armageddon in the Bible appears in Revelation 16:16: "And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon" (KJV). The Bible includes many passages that refer to the concept of Armageddon, however. But this specific Bible prophecy reference is ambiguous as to whether any event actually takes place here, or whether the gathering of armies is only to be seen as a sign.
In fact, a gathering of the Roman army occurred at this place as a staging ground for one of their assaults on Jerusalem in AD 67. This is consistent with the preterist interpretation that the events of Revelation 16:17-21 refer to events culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. However, one indication that the book predicts a future event is the mention of an army from the east of two hundred million, a number that would not have been likely in any battle of that period.
Before the Second World War, the First World War was commonly referred to in newspapers and books as "Armageddon", in addition to "the Great War".
In the Jehovah's Witness religion, Armageddon is the battle when Satan unites the kings of the Earth against God's appointed King, Jesus. Thus, Revelation says it is the war of the great day of Jehovah Almighty. Unlike mainstream Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe an individual 'Antichrist' will be involved. Satan himself will move the kingdoms of the world to wage war on God's chosen people. Revelation says that "expressions inspired by demons" cause the kings of the entire inhabited Earth to gather together for the war of the great day of God the Almighty (Revelations 16:14). But then, the "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" because of his righteousness will defeat them for the glory of the Almighty God. (Revelation 17:12-14)
The Witnesses believe it is evident from this text that this war is not one of nation against another with nuclear, biological, or other weapons of mass destruction, since it says that the kings of the Earth "gather together" against Christ. It is also evident that there is no way that all of the armies of the world could gather around the relatively small area that is Megiddo in modern-day Israel. Finally, Revelation 16:16 calls Har-Mageddon (Mountain of Megiddo) "the place" where these kings are gathered for this final showdown.
Since the Mountain of Megiddo is not a literal place, they feel it is fitting the Bible uses Megiddo as the "symbolic" place of gathering of all the kings of the Earth where they will try to do battle against God and his forces. This action on the part of the kings of the Earth is provoked by expressions and signs inspired by demons. (See Revelation 16:13)
Jehovah's Witnesses believe the collective action to persecute God's chosen on Earth is what finally triggers this war. Chapter 38 of the book of Ezekiel has a prophecy in which a certain Gog from the land of Magog collects an army of many nations to attack God's people, believing them to be unprotected. God responds by causing them to fall one against another's swords; he strikes them with pestilence, floods, hailstones, fire, and sulphur. The chapter ends with God declaring that the nations "will have to know that I am Jehovah".
Armageddon is followed by the establishment of God's Kingdom over the earth — a period commonly referred to as "the Millennium", when "Satan is bound for a thousand years" (See Rev. 20:1,2).The final judgement and purification of the Earth's sin occurs at the end of the Millennium, when Satan is "loosed for a little season" and allowed to "go out to deceive the nations ... and gather them to battle" against "the camp of the saints and the beloved city". When Satan loses this battle he is finally cast into the "lake of fire and brimstone" (representing complete, eternal destruction). Those who join him will likewise be destroyed eternally.