The terms “Armageddon” and “apocalypse” have become synonymous with the end of the world. They have been used to describe various earth-destroying events brought on by some form of natural disaster, or an interstellar object colliding with the earth, or even a horde of rampaging zombies. The term apocalypse, however, is derived from the Greek word “apokalupsis,” which doesn’t mean global annihilation, but instead means a prophetic disclosure or a “revelation.” The source of the term Armageddon reveals that its intended meaning is tied to a specific set of circumstances that lead not to end of the earth itself, but to the large-scale destruction of mankind.
Biblical Prophecies Contain Armageddon’s True Meaning
What is Armageddon?
The concept of Armageddon originated from Christian theology, so the details of its meaning are inseparable from the Christian prophesy that inspired it and must be considered within that context. The term comes from one single mention in the Bible book of Revelation, which reads: “And they gathered them together to the place that is called in Hebrew Har–Ma·ged´on.” The term was translated in some English Bibles as Armageddon.
The literal meaning of Har–Ma·ged´on is “Mount of Megiddo.” Megiddo was located in Israel on a strip of land located between Egypt and Assyria and its strategic location made it the site of many major, decisive battles in history. But, since there is no actual mount at Megiddo, it’s likely that the mount referenced in Revelation was figurative and meant a global situation or condition in which those “gathered” will find themselves, rather than a specific location.
Who is the “they” that is supposed to be gathered together at the figurative mount at Megiddo? Revelation explains it’s the “kings of the entire inhabited earth” that are gathered together to the “war of the great day of God Almighty.” So Armageddon isn’t a manmade catastrophe or natural disaster, but it’s specifically the final confrontation between the Judeo-Christian God and the “kings of the earth,” or the earth’s political authorities.
However, the war of Armageddon is only one link in the chain of events that is supposed to lead to the end of the world as we know it. Revelation offers additional details of what is supposed to happen prior to the war of Armageddon when it gives details about the ride of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (said to represent conquest, war, famine and death), which are supposed to bring pangs of distress to mankind in the “last days.” Revelation also refers to a harlot riding on a wild beast with seven heads and ten horns. Prior to the war of Armageddon, Revelation states that the harlot will be devoured by the wild beast and then the wild beast will be destroyed by a warrior with flaming eyes riding on a horse, leading an army to fight the war of Armageddon.
Though some sects of Christianity believe the details of Revelation are literal (assuming the events pertain to an actual prostitute riding on the back of a seven-headed Godzilla monster), others choose to avoid explaining the complex imagery of Revelation altogether and label them a mystery that mankind is not supposed to understand. But some, most notably the Jehovah’s Witnesses, have used similar symbolism throughout the Bible to decipher a more metaphorical meaning of the prophesies in Revelation.
Different Interpretations of Armageddon Imagery Lead to the Same Conclusion
The book, “Revelation: It’s Grand Climax At Hand,” published by the Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society, notes that there are many instances in the Bible where animals and various beasts are used as metaphors for governments and world powers and uses that as the basis for its interpretation of the prophesies in Revelation.
According to the publishers, the description in Revelation linking the harlot riding the wild beast with “spiritistic practices” and “Babylon the Great” reveals her to be a global empire made up of the world’s “false religions” and the wild beast itself represents the combined efforts of the world’s political powers. The book links those political powers to the United Nations. Later in Revelation, the warrior with the flaming eyes is also referred to as “the king of kings,” a title which links the warrior’s identity to Jesus.
Therefore, using that explanation of Revelation’s symbolism, the world’s governments (the wild beast) have to turn on and destroy the world’s false religions (the harlot), an act that leads directly to Jesus (the warrior with the flaming eyes) descending from the heavens to destroy the world’s governments during the war of Armageddon in an effort to keep them from going after those he identifies as God’s people.
When it comes to defining the false religions, Revelation indicates that they are any religion that commits “fornication” with the “kings of the earth” and is responsible for shedding the blood of “prophets, holy ones, and of all those slaughtered on the earth.” This means any religion that worked in association with political powers and caused the deaths of people throughout the world. That description casts a large net that would include the majority of the world’s religions, even many Christian ones.
Because many Christian religions have a history rich in corruption, scandals, wars, atrocities, and political dealings that led to the deaths of countless people across the globe, some of them would fit the description in Revelation of a false religion and would be included in the destruction of the symbolic harlot. Their checkered history becomes a death sentence in light of the condemnation their actions receive from their very own holy book.
False Religions Inexorably Linked with Politics and Bloodshed
Once these false religions are wiped out, Revelation states that the war of Armageddon will begin and then all of the kings (or nations) of the world will be destroyed. Ironically, there are no exceptions mentioned in Revelation for politicians, political parties, or governments that claim to support a Christian agenda. In fact, claiming allegiance to any political authority from any country could essentially paint a bullseye on your forehead during the war of Armageddon, since its stated purpose in Revelation is to wipe out all human governmental authorities and replace them with a single theocratic government ruled by “the king of kings.”
Who is supposed to die during the war of Armageddon?
Revelation indicates that first the nations will destroy all false religions and then all national and political systems and those people “influenced” by them will not survive the war of Armageddon.
That could amount to several billion people, depending on how much or little influence by national and political systems it takes for someone to be marked for death. But, it also states that the war of Armageddon isn’t intended to destroy all of mankind. Later chapters go on to mention a dragon (Satan) being bound and hurled into an abyss for 1,000 years, which is supposed to herald an unprecedented era of peace for mankind. So clearly, despite popular misconceptions, the war of Armageddon is not intended to end with the extinction of all human life on earth.
What indicates that Armageddon will take place in December of 2012?
Even though world conditions do match those of the last days mentioned in Revelation (plagues, earthquakes, starvation, and war unlike any that have ever been seen), and as volatile as the situation is with the world’s political and religious powers, it seems unlikely that all of the prophesies that lead to the war of Armageddon will be fulfilled between now and December of 2012. This prophesy means that all of the influence Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and all of the other world’s religions have on politics would have to be completely wiped out or severely handicapped prior to the war of Armageddon taking place.
Considering how closely linked many current political powers are with various religions, it would take an enormous wave of anti-religious sentiment on a global scale to fulfill this prophesy by December 2012. While anti-religious sentiments do seem to be growing quickly worldwide, particularly against Christianity and Islam, it just doesn’t seem possible that the flames would be fanned enough to wipe out any of the world’s major religions, much less all of them, in just 5 months. Although, events like the September 11 attacks have shown how rapidly the world scene can change overnight. So, if tomorrow the United Nations starts supporting bans on all of the world’s religions, then there could be serious cause for immediate alarm.
Additionally, some of those who claim to believe what the Bible says about the war of Armageddon seem to ignore that the Bible also states that nobody, not even “the son” (or Jesus), will know when the war of Armageddon will come. The only hints to its timing are the sequence of events that lead into it and several references that its arrival will be unexpected, like “a thief coming in the night.” With that in mind, it’s unlikely that the Bible is full of hints or hidden codes that point to December 2012 or any specific date being God’s chosen time to start the war of Armageddon. In spite of the claims of some religious leaders, like Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping, who became infamous in 2011 for his highly publicized and failed Judgement Day predictions, the actual day when the war of Armageddon is set to begin is supposed to remain unknown until it actually arrives.
Strongly Disputed – Coded Armageddon References in the Bible
How do you survive Armageddon?
Chances are that if the son of God decides to come after you during the war of Armageddon, you’re probably going to die. But Revelation does offer some clues as to who will be part of the “great crowd” that survives the war.
One way to survive is to “flee from Babylon the Great,” or, in other words, to not be associated with any organization determined to be a “false religion.” Since Revelation is written from a Christian perspective, obviously that means any religion outside of Christianity.
But, being Christian alone doesn’t guarantee survival. Revelation warns that “false prophets” misleading their congregations will also be destroyed. With all of the conflicting beliefs within varying sects of Christianity, undoubtedly, some of them will be seen as misleading their congregations, so not all of them would survive. In fact, they will be disposed of before the war even begins.
However, the Bible also does not guarantee that being considered a “good” Christian would keep someone from dying during the war of Armageddon or as a result of the calamitous events that are supposed to lead up to it. But since Revelation describes events taking place with humans on earth after Armageddon, it’s clear that some humans are expected to be alive, if not by surviving the war itself, then by means of one of the mass resurrections of humans mentioned later in Revelation, in which the dead shall rise.
These resurrections have often been cited as evidence that the Bible supports the notion of a zombie apocalypse annihilating mankind during Armageddon. However, Revelation doesn’t speak of the dead rising to feast on humanity, and these resurrections are not supposed to take place until AFTER the war of Armageddon. So they can’t be the means by which humanity is wiped out DURING the war of Armageddon. And since Revelation paints a picture of its post-Armageddon world as having happy and peaceful living conditions for the newly resurrected humans along with the rest of humanity, it’s improbable that such a world would include people eating other people.
Judgement Day and Armageddon – Two Separate Prophecies
Although some erroneously believe Armageddon is the same thing as Judgement Day, the two are different events prophesied to take place in Christian theology. In Revelation, Judgement Day doesn’t occur until after Armageddon and doesn’t happen all in just one day. Instead, the “day” of judgement represents the 1,000 year period during which Christians believe all “righteous and unrighteous” humans will be resurrected and judged against a new set of scrolls (or rules) presented to mankind during that 1,000 years. At the end of that 1,000 year Judgement Day, Revelation says Satan will be released from his abyss “for a short time” and will successfully manage to mislead an unknown number of humans into fighting a final war against “the holy ones.” But that success will be short-lived, as Revelation states that Satan and those he misleads will be destroyed by a fire that “came down out of heaven.”
At that point, the meek are said to inherit the earth and will get to live without fear of death for the rest of eternity… which leaves no room for zombies before or after Armageddon.