Decoding Armageddon (Part 3) (1-7-18)

When history tells the tale of any war that has been fought in the past, there is always a battle that stands out as the most important. These key battlegrounds strike an emotional chord (depending on what side of the outcome you stand upon) because it designates the turn of the tide in the war. For example, if you were to hear about the shores of Normandy in 1944 you would immediately recall that this marked the beginning of the Allied Forces’ victory over Nazi Germany during World War II. For this reason Normandy will always bring to memory Operation Overlord, better known as D-Day, and will forever be associated with the important liberation of Western Europe. In the United States, one of the most famous battles taught in schools is that of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Historians agree that it was one of the bloodiest and most important battles during the Civil War since it is considered to be the key factor in the Union’s victory over the Confederacy. Yet, the mere mention of Gettysburg also brings to mind one of American history’s most memorable speeches delivered at the dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery of all the fallen soldiers from that gruesome war. Indeed, names such as Normandy, Gettysburg, or several others like them that are just as important and memorable, stir the hearts of those who understand their value in culture. Analogies or comparisons made with these historical examples are easily and quickly understood by those who are fully aware of the historical context. This was no different from what the inspired John was doing by referencing Armageddon to the first century Christians. This place was the site of many significant battles that took place during the Old Testament. However, it is wise to first identify where Armageddon is to be able to learn the reason for the Holy Spirit choosing this symbol. According to the lexicon, Armageddon is defined as “the hill or city of Megiddo” (Thayer, G717). Geographic history reveals that Megiddo was an important town of ancient Palestine that overlooked the plain of Esdraelon, also known as the Valley of Jezreel. Due to its strategic location it formed part of a great highway that extended from Egypt to Damascus that was used by merchants as a trade route, but was also highly valuable to the military that controlled it during times of war. Because of this, many great battles have happened at this plain throughout several different time periods, the most recent being that of Napoleon. To the diligent student of the Bible, the name of Megiddo should resonate with several memorable battles that the people of Israel fought there against her enemies. One such battle Holy Writ speaks of is the battle led by Deborah and Barak against Jabin king of Canaan (Judges 4). After having defeated Sisera and his nine hundred iron chariots, the song of Deborah and Barak states “The kings came and fought, then the kings of Canaan fought in Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo; They took no spoils of silver” (Judges 5:19, emphasis added). In the same Plain of Esdraelon, Gideon overthrew the Midianites with only 300 valiant warriors (Judges 7). Victory, however, was not always achieved by the people of God at Megiddo. A tragedy tied to the Valley of Jezreel that would not easily escape the minds of the Israelites was the death of King Saul at the hands of the Philistines (1st Samuel 31:1-9). Noble King Josiah, too, met his end at Megiddo because he refused to heed Pharaoh Necho’s warning of not to interfere in his battle with Carchemish (2nd Chronicles 35:20-24). Thus, it becomes evident that this hill of Megiddo held a tremendous place in the minds of the first century Christians who knew very well the historical context John intended to teach. The diligent disciple of God will see that each of the important battles associated with this plain from the Old Testament have an important fact in common. In each battle our Father illuminates the struggle between truth and error; good and evil. In Pharaoh Necho’s message to Josiah, observe the warning issued to the king of Judah: “What have I to do with you, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, but against the house with which I have war; God commanded me to make haste. Refrain from meddling with God who is with me, lest He destroy you” (2nd Chronicles 35:21, emphasis added). Nevertheless, King Josiah refused to take heed the words of the Pharaoh and instead opted to disguise himself, persistent in wanting to war with him (2nd Chronicles 35:22a). Josiah’s self-willed haste blinded his judgment and sadly he “did not heed the words of Necho from the mouth of God” (2nd Chronicles 35:22b, emphasis added). Similar to Saul, Josiah fell in battle due to his choice of ignoring the word of God and in its place putting his own. Contrary to these two tragedies, the triumphant battles of Barak and Gideon were possible because they followed the commandments of Jehovah God. Their full reliance upon Jehovah is exemplified by Gideon and the downsizing of his army. Holy Scripture explains that Gideon began with an army of more than 22,000 soldiers that was reduced by God to 300 men who drank water as a dog who laps (Judges 7:1-9). Scripture reveals that Gideon did not question nor did he doubt the motives of God, but rather did as he was told because he was confident in God. Unlike Josiah, Jerubbaal did not fulfill his will, but instead complied with God’s. The battles fought on Megiddo between the people of God and her enemies were determined on the choice made by them. Those who put their error before God’s truth suffered defeat; those who relied upon God’s truth over their self-will were victorious. Thus, John’s lesson is best explained by Solomon as he wrote “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil (Proverbs 3:5-7, emphasis added). John is not mentioning Armageddon as a physical location to a pending, final battle between the forces of God and the forces of Satan. Rather, the beloved apostle was using the outcomes of the numerous battles fought there to remind every Christian faced with the choice of Caesar Domitian or Jesus of Nazareth that “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap(Galatians 6:7). To be continued…

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