Armageddon

Throughout the first 15 chapters of Revelation we’ve watched Christians get killed and be called into suffering like their master, Jesus was—a sacrificial lamb slain on behalf of both his friends and his enemies. The life of the Christian in the book of Revelation is in chaos and yet John, the author of this book, encourages his brothers and sisters to stay strong—stay steadfast—for Satan is not winning when they go through suffering. Actually, John says the opposite is true: When Christians suffer, Satan is conquered.

Amidst the chaos of plagues, martyrdom, and the overlapping themes of spiritual and governmental oppression, it almost seems like all is lost in the book of Revelation. But in Revelation 14, we catch a glimpse that this is not the case at all. For suddenly, Jesus the lamb—soaked not with the blood of his enemies, but soaked with his own blood—is spotted at Mount Zion—that is, Jerusalem—the place known throughout history as the mountain that God once made His physical home in on the earth. In Revelation 14, Jesus, God-in-flesh, returns home—and he hasn’t come alone.

Jesus is joined on Mount Zion by thousands of Christians who loudly sing a worship song no one on the earth has ever heard before, as the booming noise of waterfalls and thunder echo across the land. The beginning of the end has come—the final holy war of holy wars, fought by a lamb soaked in his own blood who uses his tongue as his weapon. It’s in the pronunciations of his judgments that he fights; for just as Jesus was there in the beginning creating the world with his words, so He is seen at the end uncreating it with his words. And after he’s done that, He will go on to create a new perfect earth with new perfect human beings that have imperishable, incorruptible, resurrected bodies. What we know of our planet with all of it’s evil and pain—all of it’s COVID-19—all of that will come to pass when Jesus hits the reset button. Then Christians will find themselves in a new Eden as God comes to dwell with us here on earth, as it is in Heaven. It is there that, because of grace too incredible to truly comprehend, we will rule with Jesus as he extends to us his power and authority.

But first, the holy war of holy wars must remove all that is wrong from the earth. And so the angels pour out plagues on the earth—not because God wants people to suffer, but because, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, “Pain is God’s megaphone.” Pain gets attention and draws people to God. We have all heard the conversion stories of those who cried out to God when they were at rock bottom and he showed up. It’s a tactic of redemption—God doesn’t bring pain on us out of a desire for violence. And sometimes our hearts are hardened enough that it takes a plague to bring about redemption.

Of course, many of these plagues aren’t even things that God does to people. Plenty of these plagues come about simply because the God who holds the world together lets go of holding it together and it all begins to fall apart. Other times these plagues happen because the God who holds Satan back from hurting us, let’s go of the restraints on Satan for a time. It’s as though Satan is pictured as a rabid animal who would attack anything and everything if he had a chance to. As odd as it seems, many of the plagues in Revelation could be pictured not as the presence of God, but the absence of God. And there is hope that the pain caused in that absence will push many to acknowledge him and ask for salvation.

The book of Revelation points out time and time again that as these plagues come, people don’t repent—showing us just how hardened and darkened the world becomes at the end of all things. The eternal gospel is still there being proclaimed throughout Revelation not only in the sufferings of the martyrs, but by the angels themselves—and still people choose hatred over love; dragons over lambs; Satan over Jesus. God has waited patiently for more to be saved as the world spirals into its own heart for darkness; for as long as there is a chance that people might be willing to receive his salvation, it seems He is willing to wait. The stall of Jesus’ return is because of the loving character of God, not because of a character-defect of God.

In Revelation 15 we come across Armageddon—the place where Satan has rounded up an army of demons and humans alike to fight God. Perhaps he thinks he’s getting the drop on God, but John knows better; for he calls it “The Great Day of the Almighty.” In other words, amidst the free will of human beings and spiritual beings, God has expected and predestined this day. It isn’t Satan’s battle—it’s God’s. And God will win. 

You’d think Satan would have learned by now that a created being can’t usurp the Creator—the inferior cannot overthrow the superior. You’d think he’d get it because Ezekiel 28 tells us he used to be a guardian cherub. In other words, before he rebelled against God, he used to spend every day in God’s presence, guarding his holy space. He should know God well enough to understand that there’s nothing he can do to take God’s throne.

But pride numbs us to reason. Ezekiel 28 goes on to tell us that Satan, though once perfect, wise, blameless, and beautiful—decided to choose unrighteousness, violence, sin, and pride over God. Isaiah 14 goes on to fill us in on what that pride led Satan to do. He decided to go from protecting God’s throne as a guardian cherub to trying to steal God’s throne, giving him the ability to reign over, “the mount of Assembly.”

But what is the mount of assembly? It’s the place where God’s divine council meets. The Bible as a whole shows God working with other spiritual beings he’s created to get his work done and to make decisions—not because he needs them to help, but because out of his love he’s chosen to co-labor with them. In the same way, he does not need our help, but he’s chosen to create us and co-labor us. At one point, Satan was a part of this divine council—this heavenly assembly that met on the mount of assembly—but apparently his mind was not on helping God, but becoming God. He wanted control over the mountain of God. He wanted control over the mount of assembly and the beings that assembled there.

John tells us further about what Satan did in Revelation 12. Satan created an army out of a bunch of rebellious angels and they warred against God in Heaven. Shocking no one, they failed to usurp God’s throne and were kicked out of Heaven to earth. This is the same consequence both Ezekiel and Isaiah mention in their passages. The guardian cherub who used to live in the heights of the heavens was booted out to the lowest place of the earth—and not just the earth, but Sheol—the dwelling place of the dead which is below the earth in ancient cosmology. The prideful one of the heavens had been humbled to the lowest point of Sheol.

But Satan’s pride continues to puff up even while here on the earth. Not only does he get humanity to choose his “so-called” wisdom in Eden over God’s true wisdom, but he continues to be one of God’s strongest contestants for worship throughout the Old Testament. He is, after all, identified by some later Jews as, “Beelzebul”—a name derived from the term, “Baal Zebul”—that is, Prince Baal, one of the main false gods of the Old Testament that led God’s people astray over and over again.

Now throughout ancient times, gods like Baal were always thought to be found on mountains. This is because the mountains were up in the sky, closer to where heaven meets earth. Even God Himself is seen showing up on mountains. Abraham goes up on a mountain to sacrifice Isaac; Moses meets God up on Mount Sinai; and of course, God’s presence once dwelt in Jerusalem, which was known to God’s people as “Mount Zion.” These are just a few examples of the ancient expectation to find spiritual beings on mountains.

Now Baal had his own mountain known in Hebrew as, “Zaphon,” which is often translated in English simply as “the north.” But the Bible writers didn’t see Zaphon as Baal’s space, but rather, they saw it as God’s space; for they often love to take all the gods of the world and insult them by exalting the one true God over them. For example, Psalm 48 pictures Zaphon—Baal’s domain—as the place where Mount Zion is. In other words, they insult Beelzebul/Baal/Satan by stealing Zaphon from him and picturing it as God’s dwelling place instead. Likewise, Isaiah 14 pictures God controlling the mountain of assembly—that is, the divine council—at Zaphon, the place where the people of other nations thought Baal controlled the divine council. So again, Satan/Baal gets snubbed as the Hebrews exalt God over him. They’re telling the world that Baal isn’t in charge, God is.

Now you can imagine how insulted a powerful being like Satan with his insurmountable pride, might feel about this. He’s been provoked by the one true God who claims Satan’s mountain as his own. And the book of Revelation shows us just how mad Satan is about everything; for he has assembled a new army consisting both of spiritual and physical beings who are opposed to God, for the war of Armageddon.

But what does Armageddon have to do with anything? What or where even is Armageddon?

The answer is found in the breadcrumbs John leaves for us in Revelation. As English-speaking people 2,000 years removed from his time, it’s easy to miss some of the things John intends to say. In this case we need to pay special attention to the fact that John tells his readers that Armageddon is a Hebrew word. Since he then goes on to write the Hebrew word Armageddon with Greek letters to his Greek readers, it means he’s expecting them to transliterate it from Greek to Hebrew.

That being said, most miss the breathing mark at the beginning of the Greek word John writes. Now if I were to pay attention to this breathing mark and take a hard breath before I say this word out loud, it would sound like “hhhhhh-armageddon”—that is, Harmagedon. There’s no H in the Greek alphabet, so John is spelling this word in Greek in a way that would cause them to insert an “H” sound at the beginning of this word. Now in Hebrew, “Har” means mountain. So with this in mind, we’re now expecting “Magedon” to line up with a mountain we all know in the Hebrew Scriptures. The question is what mountain is it? Where is Har Magedon?

Since Hebrew has no vowels, it takes us a moment to find an answer; for in Hebrew, Har Magedon would simply be spelled, “H-R-M-G-D.” We already know “H-R” stands for mount, but what about “M-G-D?” Some jump right to Megiddo in the Bible, but that doesn’t make any sense. Not only does the Bible call Megiddo a “plain,” but the only hill there that people try to identify as a mountain today is actually the product of buildings being built on top of each other until it turns into raised land. I saw this for myself in when I was in Greece. Every time they tried to dig into the ground to create a subway system, they’d run into ruins of the old city. The city had simply been built on top of the old city, raising the new city in elevation.

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So simply put, “mem-gimel-dalet” (or for us “M-G-D”) really doesn’t really line up with anything that makes sense in Hebrew. So are we on the wrong path to understand John’s transliteration? No. Not if we substitute our gimel (that is, our “G”) for a different Hebrew letter that also makes a “G” sound. It’s called an ayin, and it looks like a backwards apostrophe. If we were to spell our new Hebrew word this way (mem-ayin-dalet), it would be pronounced, “Har Mo’ed.” And that mountain actually does exist in the Bible. It’s found in Isaiah 14 and in English we call it, “the Mount of Assembly”—which is the exact place we saw Satan trying to take control of before he was kicked out of Heaven in Isaiah 14.

As we’ve already mentioned, in Revelation 14 we found Jesus and his new divine council of human and angelic beings standing on Mount Zion, ready for the final holy war that would put all things right. And now we find Satan and his new entourage of human beings and fallen angelic beings appear for the battle of the Day of the Lord. Satan still wants God’s throne and he’s just arrogant and stupid enough to have the audacity to still believe he can get it. He stands at the bottom of Har Moed,—the mount of assembly—ready to ascend to the top and try once again to usurp the one and only God. He’s filled with anger that God has claimed his sacred site of Zaphon as his own and he still desires all the power and control over the divine council.

But there at the top of Mount Zion; of Har Moed; of the Mount of Assembly; stands a ghost. A man he could have sworn he once killed is up there still alive and ready to pronounce judgements with the sword of his mouth. On one hand he looks like a corpse, blooded with the blood of Satan’s torturous cross all over him—but on the other hand he looks perfect, immortal, incorruptible, and unable to be killed. And he stands there with the angels who once defeated Satan long ago, along with all the Christians Satan has murdered throughout the centuries. God’s done waiting to bring about the end. He’s done watching Satan kill his children. And so now God will bring about his vengeance, because the day he has appointed has come and the world is finally beyond conviction.

It’s time for Satan’s last stand. He goes to war with the mount of assembly having already lost, but unwilling to believe it. For in the end, martyrdom wins. The slain lamb wins. Resurrection wins. The new Eden wins. Heaven wins. The new divine council of Christians and angels wins. And everything else has its place in the lake of fire, which is a part of Jesus’ judgment for those who don’t follow God; for to choose anything outside of the one true God is to choose the ways of the old world which has its place with Satan. 

In the end only God can save. And the good news is that He wants to save. Choose him. Choose now. Find yourself on the right side of judgment when the armies rise up for a battle that Jesus doesn’t even have wield a real sword in, in order to win. He’s already won even now. We must humble ourselves before the pride of Satan becomes our own. Jesus is calling all people to His side—even his enemies—even those currently in Satan’s army. Will we answer?


This post is heavily inspired by The Unseen Realm by Michael S. Heiser and God, Heaven, and Har Magedon by Meredith G. Kline.

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