The Battle of Armageddon is perhaps the most famous battle that anyone has ever heard of. Interestingly, it has not happened yet. We learn of this great battle in Revelation 16:16 where John tells us: “Then they gathered the kings together to the place in Hebrew called Armageddon.”
There is widespread agreement among most Bible scholars that this is a reference to the great final battle before the second coming of Christ. It is here that the Antichrist will gather his army to destroy the people of God. He will nearly succeed but Christ’s return will bring his plan to an end. Where exactly is Armageddon? What information does the Bible provide us with concerning its location and meaning? This article will examine the place called Armageddon.
The Mount of Megiddo
Revelation 16:16 tells us that the place is called Armageddon in the Hebrew language. This naturally points us to the land of Israel for the location of the place. The Hebrew name for Armageddon is har-megiddon. This means “mount” or “mountain (har) of Megiddo.” Megiddo (see picture at top of page) was an ancient city about 60 miles north of Jerusalem near the plains of Megiddo and Esdraelon (large plains in northern Israel) [see map]. It was here that the Old Testament saw some of its greatest battles (Judges 4; 7; 5:19; 2 Kings 9:27; 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:20-22).
Since the plains around Megiddo are not large enough for the world’s armies to gather to, then it seems that Megiddo must be the central point for the final battle. Scholars typically point to Revelation 14:20 which describes a 180 mile area for the final battle. Scholar G. K. Beale, in his commentary on Revelation, has a different view. He believes that Armageddon is a symbol for the whole world. He says, “The battles in Israel associated with [Megiddo] and the nearby mountain become a typological symbol of the last battle against the saints and Christ, which occurs throughout the earth.”
However, evidence seems to point to Armageddon to being a symbol, not for the whole world, but a symbol for Jerusalem. Beale notes that the battle of Armageddon must be a symbol, and not a literal battle at Megiddo, since the Old Testament, without exception, places the final battle at Jerusalem (Ezekiel 38 and 39; Zechariah 12:2-9; 14:2). Ezekiel 39:2, 17 speak about the Antichrist fighting against the “mountains of Israel.” The “mountain of Megiddo” may be a reference to the “mountains of Israel” in Ezekiel. Beale says:
“A figurative view of ‘Armageddon’ is also apparent from the fact that no ‘mountain’ of Megiddo has ever existed, though even in OT times the city of Megiddo would have sat prominently on a tell.” A tell is an artificial mound that dots the landscape of the Middle East. A tell is essentially the ruins of ancient towns and cities. In the Ancient Middle East, people would build their cities on the ruins of older cities. These cities would naturally get higher and higher to the point where it looks like they lay on top of a hill or small mountain. It is possible that har could refer to the tell that of Megiddo but it is equally possible that “the mountain” of Megiddo may be a symbol to the “mountains of Israel.”
Why was Megiddo used as a symbol for a battle at Jerusalem? It was at Megiddo in Old Testament times that the Israelites were attacked by wicked nations: Judges 5:19; 2 Kings 9:27; 2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:20-22 (these last two passages have a connection with the Euphrates River like Revelation 16 does). It is also possible that “the mountain of Megiddo” may refer to Mount Carmel, which is in the area. This is where the prophet Elijah defeated the prophets of Ball, a pagan god (1 Kings. 18:19-46). Beale says:
“All the passages mentioned above recording events occurring in the vicinity of Megiddo may stand behind the reference in Rev. 16:16, so that John’s reference to this place name may ring with the following typological and prophetic associations: the defeat of kings who oppress God’s people (Judg. 5;19-21), the destruction of false prophets (1 Kgs. 18:40), the death of mislead kings, which led to mourning (2 Kgs 23:39; 2 Chron. 35:20-25), and the expectation, in direct connection with the one ‘whom they have pierced,’ of a future destruction of ‘all the nations that come against Jerusalem’ and mourning by all Israel’s tribes (Zech. 12:9-12).”
It is also interesting to note that it may be Zechariah 12:11 that stands behind “the battle of Armageddon.” It is in this verse that we find the only other mention of Megiddo in an end-time text. It is also here that we find Megiddo spelled in Hebrew as megiddon instead of the common Megiddo. This chapter also refers to the last battle taking place at Jerusalem and not anywhere else.
This information shows us that “the battle of Armageddon” will not take place at Megiddo, but at Jerusalem. Since Megiddo was a place that stuck in the minds of ancient Israelites because of its great battles. Megiddo is used in Revelation to symbolize the last great battle where God will destroy his enemies and set up his eternal kingdom.
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 John Walvoord. The Revelation of Jesus Christ. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1966.) Pg. 239. John MacArthur. The MacArthur Bible Commentary. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005.) Pg. 2026.
 G. K. Beale. The Book of Revelation. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. (Grand Rapids: William Eerdmans Publishing, 1999.) Pg. 838.
 Beale, 838.
 Ibid., 841.
 Ibid., 838-839.
 Ibid., 840-841.