The Battle of Armageddon is rivaled only by the Mark of the Beast as a theme that fascinates the general public. Armageddon is usually associated with doomsday scenarios that have nothing to do with the Biblical issues involved.
The context the Battle of Armageddon is the sixth of the Seven Last Plagues that take place at the end of the Time of Trouble. God sends these plagues to disrupt the plans of “Babylon” and “the Beast” who are attempting to destroy God’s faithful followers.
John wrote, “I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty… And they gathered them together to the placed called in Hebrew, Armageddon” (Revelation 16:13-16).
This passage only talks about the Dragon, Beast and False Prophet gathering the kings; it does not mention the battle itself. In chapter 19 the actual battle takes place. “And I saw the Beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army” (Revelation 19:19).
The one on the horse is Jesus as He returns to the earth at His Second Coming. The army that follows Him are the angels from heaven and the people on earth who have been waiting for Him. Naturally Satan and his allies cannot attack Jesus as He comes from heaven; we should not imagine armies aiming missiles at Christ and the angels as they descend from heaven. Their attack is directed at His followers here on earth. Jesus said, “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40). The Battle of Armageddon is a final attack by the followers of the religio-political system Babylon on the true followers of Christ.
The kings are “gathered” to a particular place, “Armageddon”. The word “Armageddon” is found nowhere else in scripture or in any other literature, and although its meaning is not perfectly clear, many scholars believe it is from the combination of the Hebrew words har(hill or mountain) and Megiddon (the city of Megiddo).
The fact that Megiddo is not located on a mountain, but rather on the plain of Esdraelon in northern Palestine, implies a symbolic nature of the name. The meaning should be found in Old Testament passages that deal with Megiddo, the mountains that surround it and the battles that took place on those mountains. There are three hills or mountains (Mt. Tabor, Mt. Moreh and Mt. Carmel) surrounding Megiddo that are associated with battles and important and miraculous victories for God’s people.
Mt. Tabor, by the “waters of Megiddo”, was the scene of a great victory when the Canaanites, led by Sisera, oppressed God’s people during the time of the Prophetess Deborah.
Mt. Moreh, a hill about 12 miles from Megiddo, is associated with victory for God’s people when the Midianites oppressed Israel in the time of Gideon.
Mt. Carmel is the mountain closest to Megiddo. It was there that Elijah challenged the wicked queen Jezebel and the 850 priests of Baal.
These three incidents prefigure the experiences of God’s people through the Time of Trouble, which will culminate in the Battle of Armageddon. There are many fascinating lessons to be learned from these stories that can help us to be prepared for the Time of Trouble, which are examined in detail in The Book section 16: The Battle of Armageddon.