Wednesday, 12 May 2021
And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. Revelation 16:16
The thought now returns to the words of verses 13 & 14. Taken without the parenthetical insert, it would say –
“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. 14 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. … 16 And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.”
The word “they” is referring to the unclean spirits. The word “them” is referring to “the kings of the earth and of the whole world.” These unclean spirits of demons, through the performing of their signs, have brought the world to a point where they are drawn into a conflict that will encompass these kings of the earth (meaning the armies under their control). In this, they have brought “them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.”
The Hebrew name is transliterated into Greek as Harmagedón. Of John’s words, two things seem certain. The first is that there is a comparable word in the Hebrew because he specifically states that it is so. Secondly, that place is identifiable. Almost all scholars identify this name as resulting from two separate words. The first is har, the Hebrew word for “mountain.”
This does not necessarily mean a grand and exalted mountain, but it can refer to hill country, or a mountain in a figurative sense (such as in Exodus 15:17). The second word is from the Hebrew Megiddon, or Megiddo. This word comes from the location known in the Bible as Megiddo. That, in turn, comes from the verb gadad, to penetrate or cut, or from the noun gedud, meaning a marauding band. Both find their origin in gud, to invade or attack.
As such, the NOBSE translates this as Place of Troops. Jones’s Dictionary of the Old Testament Proper Names calls it Place of Multitudes (an apparent confirmation of this would be Joel 3:14). On the other hand, Abarim includes the beginning letter mem (the m at the beginning) to indicate an ongoing action. Thus, they make it an active word, translating it as Invading or Intruding.
No matter which choice is made, the location fits the idea of what lies ahead there. Abarim, however, finds that the word Armageddon may not refer to this location at all. They go into a long and airy analysis of why this word should be taken in a different way. To read that, this link will take you there – https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Armageddon.html
Their analysis is weak in this regard, and it fails to take into consideration the biblical context, instead relying on ideas of their own fancy. The place known as Megiddo in the Old Testament Scriptures is referred to one time as Meggidon (in the Hebrew) (https://biblehub.com/text/zechariah/12-11.htm). That is found in Zechariah 14:11 –
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. 11 In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.” Zechariah 14:10, 11
Because Hadad Rimmon is named, its definition should be explained. Hadad comes from a word signifying shouting or cheer. Rimmon signifies a pomegranate. That, in turn, comes from a word signifying “to be exalted.” The idea then is that of harvesting ripe fruit. From there, Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names translates this as Bursting of The Pomegranate. In this, one gets the same idea as the book of Revelation when it describes grapes thrown into a winepress.
There is a harvest of that which is abundantly ripe, and there will be a massive flow that issues from it. Zechariah’s words appear to anticipate the same scenario as that of Revelation, and it does so in the same area and using the same form (in the Hebrew) of the name of Megiddo (Megiddon). It is a time of God’s judgment day. In other words, it seems that this is what John is thinking of when he uses the term “called in Hebrew.”
It is true that the term har, or mountain, is never used to describe Megiddo in the Old Testament. But to dismiss John’s words is an argument from silence. He says the place in Hebrew is (as transliterated into Greek) Harmagedón. Two identifiable words from the Hebrew Scriptures can be derived from this: har (a mountain) and the other one exactingly matching a known location (Hebrew Mgiddon).
If there is a plain of Megiddo, then there is something that identifies that plain, meaning Megiddo. If Megiddo is an elevated area in the plain, it can be assumed – without any damage to the context – that this mount is what identifies the plain. And this plain, or valley has already been described in Revelation –
“And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.” 19 So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.” Revelation 14:18-20
That winepress, meaning the battle described there, is then reexplained in Revelation 19:11-21. The description of the location of the battle (a plain suitable for warfare), having it described as “outside the city” (a clear reference to Jerusalem in 14:20), and the idea of the plain being identified by the prominent mount on that plain (Megiddo), is suitable to justify that this is, in fact, the correct location.
Joshua identifies it as a place of great mourning, meaning that many Jews died there. That mourning will be comparable to the knowledge that they realize they have missed the One they pierced as their Messiah for so long. The fact that the center of Scripture during this battle is focused on Israel, seems to make it clear that this is exactly what John is referring to.
Life application: The term “Armageddon” has become synonymous with any worldwide calamity – whether it is a great battle, destruction by an asteroid, or some other major event. However, there is only one “Armageddon” that fulfills the plan of God’s workings in human history.
Megiddo is first noted in the Bible in Joshua 12:21. There it merely notes that this fortress was conquered, along with many other locations, by Joshua and the army of Israel during the conquest of Canaan. In Judges 1:27, it is noted that the people of Megiddo weren’t driven out despite being conquered, and thus they continued to dwell in the land.
Great battles are noted as having been fought there in the area during biblical times (2 Chronicles 35:22), and even into modern history the area has seen conflict. The valley by the mountain is large and spacious, and immense armies can join in battle there. Today if one goes to Israel, a person can stand on top of the mountain – where ancient ruins can still be explored – and they can look over the valley which peacefully lies below. It is filled with agriculture and is a delight to the eyes. A fun short video on some of the things to see at this mount can be found at this link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55vwL1wDGbA
Looking over the beautiful expanse, it is hard to imagine the battles of the past. It is also hard to picture that the final great battle before Jesus returns will be held in this exact location. But this is the spot God has said it will occur, thus fulfilling not only this passage in Revelation, but numerous Old Testament passages as well. The word of God is sure, and it is sealed.
The day is coming, and it will come about exactly as stated. Until then, the world continues to make movies and write stories about this legendary name, not really realizing its true significance because they have failed to check the source of the use of the name, meaning Scripture. As they have ignored Scripture, they are also ignoring the One whom Scripture highlights. Without knowing Him, there will only be sadness, destruction, and condemnation. How terrible for the world that they will miss God’s offer of peace. They will have missed JESUS.
Lord, time is marching on and we are ever closer to the coming Day when the world will meet in the great valley of Armageddon. Until then, help each of us to hold fast to Your word and to tell others about what is coming so that they will be prepared for the rapture and escape the calamitous events which have been prophesied in Your word. Amen.