Armageddon — Plain or Mountain?
The valley or plain of “Megiddo” is mentioned twelve times in the Old Testament, while “Armageddon” is found just once in the entire Bible:
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. — Revelation 16:16.
For generations fundamentalist Christians have believed that “Armageddon” refers to the Plain of Megiddo in northern Palestine, where they believe that the final battle between good and evil will take place. Many claim that this battle will shortly occur and trigger the rapture, tribulation, and final appearance of God.
However, the term “Armageddon” is derived from the Hebrew expression Har Mo’ed (“Mount of Assembly”; cf. Isaiah 14:13) and/or from Har Migdo (“God’s Fruitful Mountain”), which is taken to refer to Mount Zion (e.g., Joel 2:1-3; 3:16, 17, 21).1 Thus, “Armageddon” undoubtedly refers to the Temple and related sacred areas in Jerusalem.
The Temple under Attack
Throughout history the Jerusalem Temple(s) were repeatedly attacked, torn, robbed and eventually destroyed:
“After the reign of Solomon . . . the Temple, as a depository of money and as a sanctuary rich in its ornaments and vessels of gold, was exposed to periodic spoliation. Shishak king of Egypt . . . , Ben-Hadad . . . and Hazael . . . kings of Aram-Damascus, as well as Jehoash king of Israel . . . , all obtained money from the Temple treasuries, either as plunder or as tribute. It was apparently to send tribute to the king of Assyria that Ahaz removed the lavers from their bases and the ‘brazen sea’ from its support of brazen oxen. . . . Hezekiah, too, stripped the gold from the doors of the Temple and from the doorposts and sent it to Sennacherib . . . ”2
“Under Manasseh, the use of high places was revived and idolatry penetrated the Temple itself . . . ”3
“A few years after Josiah’s death, Nebuchadnezzar removed from the Temple ‘the vessels of the house of the Lord’ . . . and put them in his palace in Babylon . . . Eight years later Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem a second time and took away ‘all the treasures of the house of the Lord . . . and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the Temple of the Lord.’ . . . Eleven more years went by — and then came total destruction. Nebuzaradan, Nebuchadnezzar’s captain of the guard, stormed the Temple (586 B.C.E.), smashed the pillars of brass and the bases and the brazen sea, and having stripped the building of all its brass as well as of its sacred vessels of bronze, silver, and gold in order to send them to Babylon, burned the Temple to the ground.”4
Centuries later, under Cyrus, king of Persia, the Temple was rebuilt. Then, in the Hellenistic period, “Antiochus [169 C.E.] broke into the Temple and carried off its precious vessels . . . [T]wo years later he erected the ‘abomination of desolation’ on the altar, turning the building into a temple of Zeus. The sacred services were suspended for over three years, being renewed only after the conquest of Mount Zion and the Temple by Judah Maccabee.”5
Later, under Roman rule, “[w]hen Pompey conquered Jerusalem he entered the sanctuary and penetrated into the Holy of Holies. . . . [W]hen Crassus passed through the country on his way to Parthia several years later, he plundered the Temple treasury of 2,000 silver talents.”6
Finally, with the outbreak of the Roman war and “the siege of Jerusalem, the Temple became the focus of the whole war.”7 After frequent assaults the Temple went up in flames (70 C.E.) and has yet to be restored.
The Ultimate Temple Destruction and Restoration
The fundamental point is that the Har-Mo’ed (Mount of Assembly) endured frequent assaults, depredations and ruin. However, the ultimate battle, the final war, has yet to be mentioned. When Jesus went up to Jerusalem and cleansed the Temple, “the Jews . . . said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:18, 19).
Thus, Jesus himself is the Temple. At Calvary he was destroyed, and in three days he rose from the dead. Then, in another 40 days, he ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives (Har-Migdo). Furthermore, as he promised, he has been with us “alway” (Matthew 28:20).8
Soon, as the angels declared, “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). “The Lord also shall roar out of Zion [Har-Migdo], and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel” (Joel 3:16). Though his mission and purposes have largely been misunderstood and rejected for 2,000 years, Jesus Christ as God will come in peace, raise the dead, convene the final judgment, transform all Creation, and institute eternal peace.9 “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20)!
- See Encyclopaedia Judaica, CD-ROM ed. (1997), s.v. Editorial Staff, “Armageddon.” (go back)
- Ibid., s.v. Yehoshua M. Grintz. “Temple: History.” (go back)
- Ibid. (go back)
- Ibid. (go back)
- Ibid., s.v. Yehoshua M. Grintz, “Temple: The Hellenistic Period.” (go back)
- Ibid., s.v. Michael Avi-Yonah, “Temple: From the Roman Conquest until the Destruction.” (go back)
- Ibid. (go back)
- See “The Divine Struggle for ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ VII: Silent Presence,” Outlook (April 2010). (go back)
- See “The Divine Struggle for ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ X: The Second Coming,” Outlook (July 2010). (go back)
Last Revised September 2011