Armageddon is not a literal place; it is Judgment Day.

The sixth plague is the only place in the Bible that explicitly refers to Armageddon:

Spirits of demons, performing signs,
… go out to the kings of the whole world,
to gather them together
for the war of the great day of God
(Rev 16:14).

They gathered them together to the place
which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon

(Rev 16:16 – NASB).

SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE

ARMAGEDDON IS NOT A LITERAL PLACE.

For the following reasons, Armageddon is not a literal place:

(1) There is no literal place called Armageddon (Har-Magedon in the NASB). Har means mountain. Magedon is normally connected with Megiddo, an ancient fortress city located on a plain some sixty miles north of Jerusalem. Then Har-Magedon would mean ‘the Mountain of Megiddo’, but there is no such a mountain. Interpreters offer many solutions to identify a literal geographical location but none of these proposed solutions are especially persuasive.

(2) This plague is couched in the language of ancient warfare. Modern warfare does not allow for a world war limited to one literal geographical location.

(3) The context is symbolic. For example, the Euphrates symbolizes the people that support false Christianity and the kings from the east symbolize Christ and those that are with Him at His return. Given this symbolic context, Armageddon must also be interpreted figuratively.

(4) The plagues are global. The previous plagues all affect the entire world. For example, the previous plagues attacked the earth,” “the sea,” “the rivers and the springs of waters,” and “the sun” (Rev 16:2, 3, 4, 8). Given that the other plagues are global, we should expect Armageddon to be global as well.

ARMAGEDDON IS THE RETURN OF CHRIST.

The plagues describe the very final events; after every person has been marked with either the mark of the beast or the seal of God. For the following reasons, Armageddon refers to the return of Christ:

(1) The “kings from the east” in the first verse of the sixth plague (Rev 16:12) have been interpreted to symbolize Christ and those that are with Him at His return.

(2) In contrast to them, “the kings of the whole world” are gathered together for “the war of the great day of God” at Armageddon (Rev 16:14, 16). The sixth plague, therefore, is the preparation for the war at Armageddon; not the war itself. As discussed in the identification of the kings from the east, the war is the seventh plague, and that plague continues in Revelation 19 and terminates with Christ’s return.

(3) The phrase, “the great day” is found in one other place in Revelation, namely in the sixth seal (Rev 6:17), which points to Christ’s return (Rev 6:12-15; cf. Matt 24:29).

(4)The great day of God” is the same as this Old Testament “Day of the Lord,” and that day is Christ’s return – “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:8).

(5) There are several parallels between the sixth plague and the return of Christ in Revelation 19. For example, in both, there are two groups of kings. In both, the kings of the world are gathered together for war while the other group of kings moves towards them to take them on in battle.

CONCLUSION

Since “the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” (Rev 16:14), for which the kings are gathered at Armageddon (Rev 16:16), refers to the return of Christ, “the kings of the whole world” will not be gathered to a physical place, but the spirits of demons will unite world leaders in mind and spirit against God (Rev 16:14).

– END OF SUMMARY –

ARMAGEDDON
IS NOT A LITERAL PLACE.

For the following reasons, Armageddon is not a literal place:

(1) NO LITERAL PLACE CALLED ARMAGEDDON

There is no literal place called Armageddon (Har-Magedon in the NASB).

Har means mountain. Magedon is normally connected with Megiddo, an ancient fortress city located on a plain in the southwest portion of the Valley of Jezreel (Jewish name) or Esdraelon (Greek name), some sixty miles north of Jerusalem. Then Har-Magedon would mean ‘the Mountain of Megiddo’, but there is no such a mountain. Interpreters offer many solutions to identify a literal geographical location:

Armageddon could refer to the hill country surrounding the Plain of Megiddo. Over time, more than two hundred battles have been fought in that region.

Or it could refer to Megiddo and Mount Carmel in one breath. Mount Carmel hosted one of the most significant battles in Israel’s history—the battle in which the prophet Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal (1 King 18). This spiritual battle may stand behind the battle of Armageddon.

One frequent suggestion is that it refers to Ezekiel’s prophecy of a great eschatological slaughter of the nations on “the mountains of Israel” (Ezek 38:8-21; 39:2, 4, 17) and that the name Megiddo has been added as the place where, so often in Israel’s history, the enemies of God were destroyed.

Others interpret Armageddon without a reference to Megiddo, but still as a specific literal geographical location.

None of these proposed solutions for a literal place are especially persuasive.

(2) THE LANGUAGE OF ANCIENT WARFARE

This plague is couched in the language of ancient warfare where a river must be dried up to allow an army to attack another (Rev 16:12), and where the war takes place at a specific location.

Modern warfare does not allow for a world war limited to one literal geographical location. A major part of warfare today is on the sea and by air. Through missiles, aircraft, and aircraft carriers, a modern army can strike very precisely anywhere in the world.  

(3)  THE CONTEXT IS SYMBOLIC.

For example, the sixth plague begins when the angel pours his bowl out on the Euphrates, and its waters dry up to prepare the way for the kings from the east. Previous articles interpreted this as follows:

Given this symbolic context, Armageddon must also be interpreted figuratively.

(4) THE GLOBAL NATURE OF THE PLAGUES

The previous plagues all affect the entire world. For example, “the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth” (Rev 16:2), the second “into the sea” (Rev 16:3), the third “into the rivers and the springs of waters” (Rev 16:4) and the fourth “upon the sun” (Rev 16:8). Given that the other plagues are global, we should expect Armageddon to be global as well.

ARMAGEDDON
IS THE RETURN OF CHRIST.

As describe in the introduction to the plagues, the plagues describe the very final events; after every person has made his or her final decision and after every person has been marked with either the mark of the beast or the seal of God. For the following reasons, we propose that Armageddon refers to the return of Christ:

(1) THE KINGS FROM THE EAST

A previous article discussed the identity of the “kings from the east” in the first verse of the sixth plague (Rev 16:12) and concluded as follows:

The “kings from the east” symbolize Christ and those that are with Him at His return.

In contrast to the “kings from the east,” “the kings of the whole world” are gathered together for “the war of the great day of God” at Armageddon (Rev 16:14, 16). The sixth plague, therefore, is the preparation for the war at Armageddon; not the war itself. Therefore, the war is the seventh plague. But the seventh plague continues in Revelation 19 and culminates in the return of Christ.

To confirm this conclusion, that article identified several links between the sixth plague and the return of Christ in Revelation 19. For example, in both, there are two groups of kings (Rev 16:12, 14; 19:16, 19). In both, the kings of the world are gathered together for war (Rev 16:14, 16; Rev 19:19) while the other group of kings moves towards them (Rev 16:12; 19:14) to take them on in battle.

(2) THE GREAT DAY

The kings of the whole world” are gathered at Armageddon for “the great day” (Rev 16:14, 16).

(2A) THE GREAT DAY IN THE SIXTH SEAL

The phrase, “the great day” is found in one other place in Revelation, namely in the sixth seal, where the multitude hiding in the mountains cries, “the great day of their wrath has come” (Rev 6:17). This seal points to Christ’s return because it has the signs of His return (Rev 6:12-15; cf. Matt 24:29).

Another link between the sixth seal and Armageddon it that this seal also shows the kings of the whole world gathered together. However, they are hiding in the mountains (Rev 6:15). This indicates that the sixth seal shows us the world at a slightly later time than the sixth plague. In fact, the sixth seal seems to be parallel to the seventh plague because in both we find the “great earthquake,” which moves mountains out of their places (Rev 6:12, 14; 16:18, 20).

(2B) THE GREAT DAY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

The sixth plague is the only place in the Bible where we find the exact phrase “the great day of God” but, outside Revelation, variations of this phrase appear in nearly 30 verses. For example:

      • The great day of the LORD” (Zeph 1:14);
      • The day of the LORD’S anger” (Zeph 2:3);
      • “The day of the LORD” (Joel 1:15; 2:1).

Therefore, “the great day,” for which “the kings of the whole world” are gathered at Armageddon (Rev 16:14, 16), is the same as this Old Testament “day of the Lord,” and that day is Christ’s return – “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:8). For example:

      • On the day of the Lord, the sun will turn into darkness and the moon into blood (Joel 2:31; cf. Matt 24:29).
      • It is “the day of the LORD’s anger” (Zeph 2:2, 3) and “wrath” (Zeph 1:18).
      • It is “destruction from the Almighty” (Isa 13:6; Joel 1:15).
      • All the earth will be devoured in the fire” (Zeph 1:18). And
      • God “will exterminate all sinners” (Isa 13:9).

Since Armageddon is the same as the Old Testament war of the “Day of the Lord,” it cannot be a world war between the nations of the world that is limited to one geographical location on the globe.

CONCLUSION

For these reasons, it is proposed that “the war of the great day of God, the Almighty” referred to in the sixth plague (Rev 16:14), for which the kings are gathered at Armageddon (Rev 16:16), refer to the return of Christ. Then it cannot be a war between the nations of the world that is limited to one geographical location on the globe. It must rather be interpreted consistent with the frequent references in the Bible to the “Day of the Lord.” 

The kings of the whole world” will not be gathered to a physical place, but the spirits of demons will unite world leaders in mind and spirit against GodThe kings of the earth are “gathered” in the sense that they are all convinced to join forces against the enemy of the world, whom they see as the Lamb, represented by His people on earth.

Armageddon will be a physical war, but it will be worldwide.

THE GREAT DAY
IS CHRIST’S RETURN.

So far, we have shown that Armageddon refers to Christ’s return by comparing it to His return as described in Revelation 19 and to His return in the sixth and seventh seals (Rev 6:12-15; 8:1). This section provides parallels between the Old Testament Day of the Lord and the Return of Christ in Revelation.

The return of Christ, in Revelation, is also described in the harvest of the earth in Rev 14:14-15 and following. Consider the similarities:

  DAY OF THE LORD RETURN OF CHRIST

DARK-NESS

The sun turns into darkness and the moon into blood (Joel 2:31; Acts 2:20). SIXTH SEAL
The sun became black …
and the whole moon became like blood” (Rev 6:12)

ANGER

The day of the LORD’S anger” (Zeph 2:2, 3) and “wrath” (Zeph 1:18). It is “cruel, with fury and burning anger” (Isa 13:9). SIXTH SEAL
The great day of their wrath” (Rev 6:17).
REV 19
He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God” (Rev 19:15).

DE-STRUC-TION

Destruction from the Almighty” (Isa 13:6; Joel 1:15). “All the earth will be devoured in the fire” (Zeph 1:18).  “The earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). The sky was split apart … and every mountain and island were moved out of their places” (Rev 6:14 – sixth seal). Every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” (Rev 16:20 – seventh plague).

THE LOST

God “will exterminate all sinners” (Isa 13:9). He will make a complete end … of all the inhabitants of the earth” (Zeph 1:18). The rest were killed” (Rev 19:21). “The wine press was trodden outside the city,
and blood came … up to the horses’ bridles” (Rev 14:20).
THE ELECT God’s elect will “be hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger” (Zeph 2:3) and “saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 5:5). God’s elect “came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev 20:4). 

VALLEY OF DECISION

Joel 3 contains a powerful description of the Day of the Lord with many similarities to the three main Armageddon-passages in Revelation:

Joel 3:9-11 sounds like the SIXTH PLAGUE:

Prepare for war! … let all the men of war draw near…   Assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together

Joel 3:12 focuses on JUDGMENT, something which Revelation does not mention directly: 

“Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.”  

Joel 3:13 is similar to THE HARVEST at the end of Revelation 14:

“Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. … the winepress is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great.” 

Joel 3:14 is similar to the SIXTH SEAL:

“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the Day of the LORD is near … The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness. … the heavens and earth will shake; but the LORD will be a shelter for his people” (Joel 3:9-17)

Both Joel and Revelation, when describing the Day of the Lord, refer to a harvest, a winepress, preparation for war, assemble and gather together, sickle, signs to the sun, moon, and stars, and earth-shattering earthquakes.

Joel’s valley of decision and Armageddon. therefore, is the same place.  There God “will sit to judge” (Joel 3:12).  After thousands of years of religious persecution, God will make a distinction between His people and unbelievers.

ARTICLES ON THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES

Introduction – Revelation 15

The first four plagues
Must not be interpreted individually
Target the earth, sea, waters and sun, but the people do not repent.

The Fifth Plague
The Throne of the Beast is Christian Religious Authority.

The Light of the Mighty Angel of Rev 18 causes the darkness.
The Roman Empire gave to the Church is throne and power.

The Sixth Plague
The Great River, the Euphrates, dries up.
The Kings from the East are Christ and His angels.

Armageddon is not a literal place but Judgment Day.
Does “coming like a thief” (Rev 16:15) support a secret rapture?
Why the Euphrates has to dry up to prepare the way for the kings
Summary of these articles & conclusions

The Seventh Plague culminates in the return of Christ.

Purpose of the Plagues
To show that God judges perfectly

Why is it necessary to show that God judges perfectly?

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