What Is the Battle of Armageddon?

Charles H. Dyer
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What is the Battle of Armageddon? Is it the end of the world? The Bible never actually describes a “battle” of Armageddon. Revelation 16:16 says the Antichrist, Satan, and the false prophet send out demons, and “they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.” It seems more accurate to describe this gathering as the beginning of the campaign of Armageddon.

Armageddon, which is a transliteration of the Hebrew words har Megiddo (“hill of Megiddo”), is the ideal staging area for the Antichrist and his army. Megiddo looks out over the strategic Jezreel Valley that cuts through Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. Ships can come from the west and dock at Haifa. The ancient International Highway connecting Egypt and Mesopotamia runs through the Jezreel Valley very near Megiddo. Before the Antichrist’s final campaign begins, he needs to gather and prepare his armies. Armageddon becomes that staging place.

The final “battle” itself, recorded in Revelation 19, takes place when Christ returns to earth. Verse 19 says, “And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse, and against His army.” The gap between the gathering of the armies (Rev. 16) and the actual battle (Rev. 19) allows for other events to take place. Four different scriptures suggest the final, climactic battle will take place in Jerusalem.

Before the Antichrist’s final campaign begins, he needs to gather and prepare his armies. Armageddon becomes that staging place.

Joel 3:9–16 describes the end times when nations will beat their plowshares into swords and “come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat” where God will “judge all the surrounding nations” (v. 12). Some believe the Valley of Jehoshaphat refers either to the Kidron or Hinnom Valleys on the edge of Jerusalem. Others think it might refer to the valley formed when the Mount of Olives splits in two in Zechariah 14:4–5. In either case, the judgment of the invading nations takes place at Jerusalem. In Joel 2:32 and 3:16 God specifically says His deliverance comes to “Mount Zion” and “Jerusalem.”

Daniel 11:36–45 describes the final campaign of the Antichrist. As part of his final campaign he “will also enter the Beautiful Land” (v. 41). This could be the initial “gathering” of his armies at Armageddon. He then invades North Africa (vv. 42–43), before pivoting in response to a threat “from the East and from the North” (v. 44). This could possibly parallel the destruction of Babylon described in Revelation 17–18. Finally, the Antichrist will “pitch the tents of his royal pavilion between the seas and the beautiful Holy Mountain” (v. 45). The “seas” refer to the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea, and the “beautiful Holy Mountain” is Mount Zion or the Temple Mount. That’s where the Antichrist “will come to his end, and no one will help him” (v. 45b). Daniel specifically places the final battle and defeat of the Antichrist at Jerusalem.

Zechariah 12:8–10 reveals God’s vow “to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (v. 9). He also promises to deliver the Jewish people when they “look at Me whom they pierced” (v. 10). Jesus’ return takes place as the armies are fighting in Jerusalem. 

Zechariah 14:2–5, 12 describes a time when God will “gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle” (v. 2). He then promises to “go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west forming a very large valley. Half of the mountain will move toward the north, and the other half toward the south” (vv. 3–4). God specifically vows to “strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem” (v. 12).

Rather than being the end of the world, the campaign that begins at Armageddon ends with Jesus returning to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords to defeat His foes and usher in His millennial kingdom.

For Further Reading:

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book cover for What Does the Bible Say About the Future?