IS THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON LITERAL?
Charles E. Burch
Many believe that near the end of time there is going to be a literal battle between Christ and the devil and their forces. One pamphlet states that the blood that will be shed will come up to the horse's bridle.
The Bible states, "And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon" (Revelation 16:16 KJV). The American Standard Version states, "And they gathered them together into the place which is called in Hebrew Harmagedon" (Revelation 16:16 ASV).
The word "har" signifies mountain. Therefore, the writer is speaking of the mountain of Magedon or Megiddo. Megiddo was a city in northern Palestine. Megiddo with its plains and hills was the scene of many decisive battles in the history of Israel.
What did John and the first century readers of the book of Revelation understand the battle of Armageddon to be? Did they understand it to be a physical battle? Did they understand that it would take place at the end of time? Let us go back to the time it was written and look at Revelation 16:16.
In the first century two empires went forth, each with a goal to conquer the hearts and minds of the people. They were the empire of Rome and the Lord's church. This battle is pictured between God and the devil, between the church and the Roman Empire.
How did John, the writer, see this battle? He saw it between right and wrong in all their dimensions. Symbolic of a world-wide battlefield, in an age-long war fought not with carnal weapons, but with moral, spiritual and intellectual weapons. It is not a single battle, but different encounters between right and wrong. It is being fought day and night and has been since Adam and Eve.
Jesus' way was never the way of the sword. In fact he told Peter to put his sword away (Matthew 26:52). Please read Revelation 16:13-16, if one expects this to be a literal, material battle, he must expect the army to be headed by a committee of three frogs. Both figures are symbolical, neither is literal and there is no reason to make one literal and the other symbolic. The battle of Armageddon has no location on the map of the world. It is a battle between righteousness and evil. And righteousness will win in the end! Godís children can over- come, and be saved in the end.
The world will end some day, but no one knows when. Jesus said, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew 24:36). Matthew chapter 24, verse 1 through 34, Jesus is warning the people of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, which took place in AD 70 at the hand of the Roman army. There are no signs of the end of the world given in Matthew 24:37-42, but a warning to be ready for it will be a normal day, until it happens. Are you ready to stand before the judgment seat of Christ? If not please prepare!