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What exactly is the battle of Armageddon? Is there going to be a literal battle, as Revelation 16 seems to indicate? And how can we prepare for this awful battle at the end of time?

1. Around 95 AD, the clear and present challenge to the Christian faith is emperor worship. Domitian is the first emperor to demand it in his lifetime. The center of emperor worship was Asia Minor, esp. the province of Asia (where Ephesus is).
2. Armageddon comes from the Hebrew har-Megiddo, hill/mountain of Megiddo, on the edge of the Valley of Jezreel.
3. Revelation is a book rich with symbolism, including 100s of allusions to the Old Testament.
4. The general environs of Megiddo was a frequent battleground. Here are 34:

2350 Pepi I and the "Gazelle's Head" -- Jezreel Valley
1479 Thutmose III v. Canaanites – Megiddo
1430 Amenhotep II in the Valley -- Jezreel Valley
1360-1350 Biridiya v. Labayu – Megiddo
1125 Deborah & Barak v. Sisera -- Taanach & Mount Tabor
1090 Gideon v. Midianites/Amalekites -- Hill of Moreh/Endor
1016 Saul & Jonathan v. Philistines -- Mount Gilboa
925 Shosenq I (Shishak) -- Megiddo
841 Jehu v. Joram & Ahaziah –Jezreel
609 Necho II v. Josiah -- Megiddo
218 Antiochus III v. Ptolemy IV -- Mount Tabor
55 Gabinius v. Alexander -- Mount Tabor
67 Vespasian v. Jewish rebels -- Mount Tabor
940 Ikhshidids v. Abbasids – Lejjun
946 Ikhshidids v. Hamdanids -- Lejjun/Aksal
975 Byzantines v. Fatimids -- Mount Tabor
1113 Maudud v. Crusaders -- Mount Tabor
1182 Saladin v. Daburiyans – Daburiya
1182 Saladin v. Crusaders – Forbelet
1183 Saladin v. Crusaders -- Ayn Jalut
1187 Saladin v. Crusaders -- Mount Tabor
1217 Fifth Crusade v. Moslems -- Mount Tabor
1247 Ayyubids v. Crusaders -- Mount Tabor
1260 Mamlukes v. Mongols -- Ayn Jalut
1263 Mamlukes v. Hospitallers -- Mount Tabor
1264 Hospitallers/Templars v. Mamlukes -- Lejjun
1735 Zahir al-'Umar v. Nablus-Saqr alliance -- al‐Rawdah
1771-73 Zahir al-'Umar at Lejjun -- Lejjun
1799 Napoleon v. Ottomans -- Mount Tabor
1918 Allenby v. Ottomans -- Megiddo
1948 Israelis v. Arabs Mishmar -- Haemek
1948 Israelis v. Arabs -- Zarin, Megiddo, Lejjun
1967 Israelis v. Arabs -- Ramat David Airfield
1973 Israelis v. Syrians -- Ramat David Airfield

Comments on Rev 16

  • Background: Plagues on Egypt (Exodus 6-13)
  • The plagues are not fulfilled literally.
  • Rome will fall and this is just: Invasions, plagues, corruption, ultimate demise.
  • Not only to show she will fall, but to show that she has fallen….She is nothing but a cheap harlot (Rev 17).
  • Metaphors involving sun, moon, and stars are common in apocalyptic literature.
  • The God whom the Romans are defying is in control of the sun (not Apollo); he’s in charge of the entire universe!
  • Refusal to repent, refusal to admit God is right.
    • Natural disasters
    • Economic slumps
    • Inept and pleasure-seeking leadership
    • Stupid laws and brutality in the government
    • Invasions
    • All warning signs ignored! (Are we paying attention to the "warning signs" in our own day?
  • Eastern kings the threat to Rome – never subdued the Parthians.
  • Dragon (ch 12) – Satan – the true power behind Rome.
    • Don’t be impressed by her power, or her false wonders.
    • She is directly opposed to the Lord God Almighty!
  • Rev 16:16 refers to Megiddo, where Sisera thrashed Jabin, Judges 4; and Necho slew Josiah, 2 Chron 35.
  • Next chapter describes the Great Harlot, and in chapter 18-19 we read of her fall--the battle has in effect already taken place. Revelation is filled with different ways of describing God's ultimate defeat of Satan.
  • This is speaking about Rome, yet the cosmic truths behind the description could just as well refer to any enemy of God. He’s got no chance.
  • There are many obstacles to taking the language of Revelation literally; I am afraid the preachers on pop religious radio are misleading many. The earliest recorded "battle of Armageddon" took place nearly 4400 years ago, and there have been dozens -- perhaps scores -- of battles in the region of Megiddo since that time. In other words, "Armageddon" is an image of warfare, for it reminds us of the battles waged from time immemorial.
  • What would Revelation 16:16 conjure up in the mind of the reader/listener familiar with O.T. history?
    • What does Gettysburg signify to an American? Normandy to a European? How about Waterloo?
    • Focus on theology, not literal history. What is God trying to tell his people?
    • Warfare--a showdown. The forces of good will ultimately triumph over the forces of evil, for Rome is not ultimately sovereign. Only Jesus Christ is the true King of Kings and Lord of Lords.


  1. There will be no literal "Battle of Armageddon," radio preachers notwithstanding! Yet through the millennia, there have been numerous literal battles in the vicinity of Armageddon.
  2. It's an encouraging image, an apt picture of the cosmic battle between God and Satan, indeed! God's word assures us, in the book of Revelation, that ultimately he will vanquish every cause that sets itself up against him, his Son, and his kingdom. And in order to walk the walk of disciples, we need that assurance!
  3. If this is not a literal battle, there is no way to prepare for it physically. And yet both testaments urge us always to be ready to meet God. So rather than stockpiling water, canned goods, and ammunition -- as some survivalist groups practice -- it is the Lord's will that we heap up righteousness and good deeds, sharing what we have (not hoarding it) with as many as possible.
  4. Revelation 12:11 is in many ways the key to understanding the central message of the book of Revelation.

Further study

  • Remember that detailed chapter notes are available for every chapter in Revelation in the NT series.