Interpreting Revelation: There is No Future Battle of Armageddon

There is No Future Battle of Armageddon:

Did that get your attention?

Revelation 16:16, "And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon."

Movies are made about it. Theologies are built around it. Book series are written about it. Fear is cultivated because of it. 

1. But did you know that there is NO SUCH PLACE in Israel called Armageddon?

It doesn't exist, nor will it exist in the future. The word is made up of two parts... Ar (har) which means "mountain" and Megiddo which is in the valley of Jezreel. There is no mountain there. (There is a small "tell" which is just where cities have built and rebuilt on top of each other but no mountain).

So what is this passage about? Revelation is to be interpreted according to the first verse of the book... "the Revelation (apocalypse-unveiling) of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must SHORTLY take place. And He sent and SIGNIFIED it by His angel to His servant John." 

Apocalyptic language through signs. ie, there are nearly 400 references to the Hebrew scriptures that sign point to a previous event so we can understand that the destruction of Jerusalem will take place in such a manner. Apocalyptic is written in cataclysmic, cosmic, grandiose, language to paint a strong heart picture.

Megiddo is the place in history where wars and the blood-shed of kings took place. (2 Kings 9:27; 2 Kings 23:29, and historically)

So Armageddon in Revelation is not about a great end time battle in our future. It was a sign to describe in apocalyptic language the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. In other words, just as there were slaughters in the valley in the past (sign pointing-Revelation 1:1), now in John's day, Jerusalem, which sits on a mountain (Mt Zion-2500 ft elevation), will experience slaughter. 

Zechariah prophesied it as well using the same idea about Jerusalem: "On that day the weeping in JERUSALEM will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of MEGIDDO." (12:11) It was used by John as a figure of speech to say Jerusalem would experience death and war just as in Megiddo in the past.

It is true the world goes through many upheavals and transitions, but Is. 9 says, "of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end." We have a hope filled future that the "KNOWLEDGE of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea!"

2. According to the futurists Jesus will come like a thief in the night in a secret rapture. They teach this could happen at any time and afterwards is the Tribulation and Armageddon.

They say that because he comes as a thief in the night there will be no signs preceding this rapture coming of the Lord.

BUT... in Revelation 16:14 is the battle of Armageddon while in the next verse 15 Jesus declares, "Behold I am coming as a thief." That means that Armageddon comes FIRST, THEN the thief-like coming of the Lord. 

Not only that, this would mean that contrary to futurist theology, there were MANY signs before his coming as a thief. For example, his coming according to a futurist interpretation of these passages is still after what they say are the 144,000 Jewish evangelists, after the destruction of a huge majority of the earth's population, and after the destruction of 2/3 of the Jews. 

The truth is THE war with the Jews in Jerusalem did take place in 70AD. Paul told THEM in THEIR day that Jesus coming in judgment wouldn't be like a thief for those who are believers:

1 Thessalonians 5: "2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And THEY shall not escape. 4 But YOU, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.  

3. Finally, one of the most powerful arguments comes from Don Preston's book called Blast From the Past: The Truth About Armageddon.

He notes that as evangelicals we all believe that Christians go to heaven when they die. But according to Revelation 11:19, John said, "Then the temple of God WAS OPENED in heaven, and the ark of His Covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake and great hail." Revelation 15:8 tells us, "The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and NO ONE WAS ABLE TO ENTER THE TEMPLE TILL the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed."

No one could enter heaven until after the seven plagues. God's wrath would not be completed until the seventh vial (Rev. 15:8; 16:7f). But God's wrath would be finished AFTER Armageddon. If one places Armageddon in the future, it means that no one actually goes to heaven until the end of a future tribulation!! 

The veil was rent at the cross and the way was opened, but the actual entrance into the Holy of Holies wasn't opened until after the destruction of Babylon (Jerusalem) in 70AD. That is why the souls of the martyrs were under the altar, not in the Holy of Holies. I'll explore this more fully in another post but notice when the judgment/vengeance/wrath would be fulfilled in Luke 21:19-24, "But when you see JERUSALEM surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the DAYS OF VENGEANCE, that ALL things which are WRITTEN may be fulfilled. 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and WRATH AGAINST THIS PEOPLE; 24 they will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken away as captives among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." The Day of the Lord, the Day of his wrath, Armageddon, was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 therefore the Holy of Holies is now opened to us. 

Hebrews 9:6-10 helps us understand, 

6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the FIRST PART of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the SECOND PART the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. 9 It was SYMBOLIC for the PRESENT TIME in which both gifts and sacrifices ARE offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— 10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed UNTIL THE TIME OF REFORMATION.

Clearly, in the days preceding the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, THEIR PRESENT TIME symbols of the tabernacle were spiritual realities. The first part was opened (the altar, etc), but the Second part, only Jesus, the Great High Priest had passed through... until the time of reformation (the destruction of the entire religious Jewish system). 

In the OT, the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies and apply the blood to the mercy seat, but the Day of Atonement wasn’t totally complete until he came out and pronounced the decision that it was accepted and then blessed the people. This is why the Law was still in operation after the cross... the new had come, forgiveness was being declared through Christ, BUT according to Leviticus 9:22-24 it was only AFTER the atonement was made within the Holy of Holies that the High Priest CAME OUT and blessed the people.

The typology is seen when Israel is brought out of Egypt, delivered with the symbolism of baptism in water and the baptism into the Spirit by the cloud. Yet it took 40 years before they entered into the Promised Land. So too, the application of the blood on the mercy seat procured their salvation, people were being baptized in water, baptized in the Spirit, but it took 40 years before any of those who died could enter heaven (one generation, 40 years: Jesus died in AD 30 and then Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70).

Therefore, Armageddon was a past event because 1, it is not an actual place but a symbol of Jerusalem; 2, it happens BEFORE Christ's thief in the night motif which was the judgment of Jerusalem in AD 70; and 3, if not, then no one can yet enter into the Holy of Holies (heaven) because the entrance wasn't available until after the wrath of God was finished at Armageddon.