With what’s happening in the Middle East right now, I thought I should address these events a bit and take a little jump forward in Revelation’s prophecies. So, I’m “interrupting” the discussion on the trumpet judgments with this one on Armageddon.
I’m sure that, like most people, you have been following the events in the Middle East following Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel on October 7th. Many bloggers and podcasters jumped right into posting about this without waiting for true facts to emerge. I thought I’d wait several days at a minimum to see what shook out and how these developments evolved. Despite the expected conflicting reports about numbers killed, atrocities, how intelligence agencies missed it, etc. and the rise of “conspiracy theories” about whether or not these agencies actually missed it or allowed it to happen, one aspect of reporting in Christian circles seemed to rise to the top: are we about to see Armageddon?
Revelation 16:16 is the only biblical usage of the word Armageddon, and John specifically points out that it is a Hebrew name. The name comes from Har Magedon, which has been linked to Megiddo in northern Israel. You will find many teachers define har as a hill, so to them, Tell Megiddo, the ancient ruins of a palace and fortress, fits the bill. However, a tell is an artificial hill created by successive layers of building and occupation. It’s an archaeological term, not a natural topographic feature. Plus, according to scholars of ancient Hebrew, such as Michael Heiser and Meredith Kline, har actually means mount, or mountain, and was transliterated into hill in the Greek. In that broad Jezreel Valley there is no mountain, so Megiddo is unlikely to be the location of this battle.
So, if Megiddo isn’t the place, where is it? Again, we need to focus on this being a Hebrew place. Meredith Kline, in his 1996 article “Har Magedon: The End of the Millennium” (the Journal for the Evangelical Theological Society, Vol 39), wondered about the Hebrew spelling—M-G-D (recall there are no vowels in Hebrew; they’re assumed). There are two letters with a G sound—gimel and ‘ayin, which has a back of the throat G sound as in Gomorrah (spelled with ‘ayin). Using gimel for the G could lead a translator to Megiddo. Using ‘ayin, however, leads to mem ‘ayin daleth, which translates to har mō ‘ ed, the mount of assembly (Isaiah 14:13), and that’s Jerusalem or Zion, where God reigns.
Another curious aspect of Rev 16:16 is that Har Magedon is spelled with an ending N. In Zechariah 12:11, Megiddo is spelled with an ending N, which has strengthened the belief of those who see Megiddo as the location of this climactic battle. Yet, look at Zechariah 12:2-3, followed by 9-11:
2 “Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. 3 On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it. [Zec 12:2-3 ESV]
9 And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. 11 On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. [Zec 12:9-11 ESV]
Take note of “On that day . . .” in verses 3 and 9. On what day? The day of the Lord, the day of the Lord’s wrath. It’s a single day on which the Lord returns. And note where they’re fighting: Jerusalem. Israel will see the one whom they pierced, and their mourning occurs in Jerusalem. Megiddo is only mentioned in terms of mourning the death of Israel’s last godly king, Josiah, in the town of Hadad-rimmon near Megiddo. It is most likely that John added the N, as found in Zechariah, simply to tie what he saw to the prophecy of Zechariah.
Reference to this final battle is scattered throughout the prophets, but the most detailed account is in Ezekiel 38-39—what many refer to as the War of Gog and Magog. Many dispensational teachers will say that this mighty battle ends the seven-year tribulation period and results in the defeat of the Antichrist by Christ upon His return. Others teach that this war occurs after a 1,000-year reign of Christ and just prior to the Great White Throne judgment. If you’ve read my blog posts or Still Here! Surviving the End Times, you know that I don’t find a seven-year period of tribulation in scripture (and I’ll discuss that 1,000 years in a future post). There is mention of seven years where the inhabitants of Israel collect fuel from those armies that attacked Jerusalem, but that’s after the War of Gog and Magog.
I also don’t see an individual Antichrist, but instead a global spirit of antichrist that drives the global government, or Deep State (as we call it today), which is the beast from the sea (more on this in an upcoming post). The Deep State will drive the nations of the world to attack Jerusalem, and Christ returns to finally end it all, to defeat the spiritual enemies of God.
Look at Joel as well:
15 Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes. 16 Is not the food cut off before our eyes, joy and gladness from the house of our God? 17 The seed shrivels under the clods; the storehouses are desolate; the granaries are torn down because the grain has dried up. 18 How the beasts groan! The herds of cattle are perplexed because there is no pasture for them; even the flocks of sheep suffer. 19 To you, O LORD, I call. For fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and flame has burned all the trees of the field. 20 Even the beasts of the field pant for you because the water brooks are dried up, and fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness. . . . 1 Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near, 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations. [Joel 1:15-2:2 ESV]
Sounds a lot like Revelation. Note in 2:1 where the alarm is sounded: Zion, God’s holy mountain.
Likewise, Isaiah 24-27 is considered Isaiah’s “Mini Apocalypse” where the whole earth is judged. In 24:23, we read:
Then the moon will be confounded and the sun ashamed, for the LORD of hosts reigns on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and his glory will be before his elders.
Again, Mount Zion and Jerusalem. In 25:6-7, we also read:
6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.
Which mountain? Mount Zion.
So, where could this latest Hamas incursion into Israel with all of its atrocities lead? Could it lead to Armageddon, the final battle in history, and Christ’s return? Many of today’s evangelical leaders are coming out and saying, yes, it could. I agree. Timing becomes the real issue.
Could Israel’s retaliation against Hamas go so far as to provoke all of the Arab and Muslin world? Perhaps. But what about the non-Muslim world?
If we read Ezekiel 38, we see a conglomerate of nations listed: Magog (possibly Russia), Persia (Iran), Cush (Sudan and Ethiopia), Put (Libya), Gomer and all his hordes, and Beth-togarmah and all his hordes. Smith’s Bible Dictionary equates the land of Gomer (eldest son of Japheth) with the Cimbri of the north and west of Europe during the Roman Empire (Denmark, between the Elbe and the Rhine, and Belgium), the whole of the British Isles at one period, and now the Gael of Ireland and Scotland, and the Cymry of Wales. However, other sources show Gomer covering most of modern Turkey, which seems to fit this scenario better. Beth-togarmah is usually identified as the region around Armenia (eastern Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and northern Iran).
With respect to Russia’s involvement, that’s not so clear. Gog—who might be a spiritual “prince” just as Michael is Israel’s chief prince—is associated with Meshech (a son of Japheth) and Tubal. Some translations use Rosh instead of Meshech, and that leads some to identify Russia. However, maps of the early 19th century show Meshech and Tubal as the lower Caucasus (descendants of Japheth) and includes all of Turkey (Cappadocia). Josephus identified Meshech with the Cappadocian “Mosocheni”, also known as the Mushki and their capital Mazaca. Ancient Assyrian tablets also identify Meshech with the Muska. These were also associated with the Phrygians. Hippolytus of Rome’s chronicle (234 AD) listed the Illyrians as Meshech’s offspring. It wasn’t until the 16th century that Moscovites were considered descendants of Meshech. So, today’s nation of Russia might not be involved, but its Muslim “satellite” nations and Turkey are likely to be.
This is certainly an unusual group and consists of several countries we would not suspect of joining forces. Concerning Russia, never in history, until recently, has Russia joined with Iran for any reason, but the war in Ukraine, along with western sanctions, has led to recent trade deals between the two, mainly for weapons. It’s also easy to see Beth-togarmah aligning with Russia. Georgia and Armenia are allied with Russia already, but such an alliance isn’t necessary for them to be involved. And it’s quite easy to see Cush and Put joining with Iran. But what about Gomer?
True, Western Europe is becoming increasingly antisemitic. However, it is also becoming increasingly energy starved. Despite its drive toward renewable energy sources, it’s still heavily reliant on oil and natural gas. The loss of Russia as their major source of both has hurt. The EU’s other major oil suppliers are within either the Russian sphere of influence or that of Iran—Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Libya. Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait would be directly affected by an expanding Middle East conflict. So, if Europe must choose between having no energy to survive or joining forces against Israel, which do you think the EU would choose? This seems reinforced by Ezekiel 38:10-12:
10 “Thus says the Lord GOD: On that day, thoughts will come into your mind, and you will devise an evil scheme 11 and say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will fall upon the quiet people who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having no bars or gates,’ 12 to seize spoil and carry off plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places that are now inhabited, and the people who were gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell at the center of the earth.
Note their motive—” to seize spoil and carry off plunder.” Maybe as in oil and gas, both of which Israel is developing offshore in the Mediterranean. The Hamas-Israel conflict has led to increased prices of both.
As such, we may not be looking at a purely ideological hatred of Israel. At least not on the human side of things. Of course, this final battle is a spiritual one, and the enemies of God, the supernatural forces driving these nations, will do whatever is necessary to spur on their human chess pieces. If it’s energy to heat homes and power industries that convinces the people of the beast to move against Israel, then so be it.
Many might say that this isn’t the beginning of the War of Gog and Magog because they expect three things: to be raptured out before a seven-year tribulation, for an Antichrist to make peace with Israel and to break that peace 3.5 years into the seven years, and for this war to end those seven years. They can’t, or won’t, accept the idea that those things haven’t and won’t happen, and that Armageddon could be right around the corner.
In an upcoming post, I’ll go into the beasts of Rev 13, the forty-two months during which they’re given full reign, and both the mark of the beast and its number. First, I want to get back to the trumpet judgments in the next post.