Tuesday, April 21, 2020


It's the end of the world as we know it. Or is it?

Hollywood and popular fiction have made much out of a little word that appears only once in all the Scripture - armageddon. And in the Hollywood version, it means all-out war. It's the destruction and devastation of everything, that moment when all Hell breaks loose and comes to assert its reign over the earth. The images are startling - nuclear devastation, fires, earthquakes, invading armies, bloody war, corpses lying in the street - save for the hero, who somehow stands triumphant among the ashes, covered in dirt, gun belt strapped around his torso.

It makes for a compelling action-drama, if that's your thing, but let us not for one second think that this is what the Lord has planned for the end of the world. This isn't God's idea of judgment day, and it's certainly not what the Scriptures say about Armageddon.

We're talking about a scene in Revelation where the angels and the spirits and the judgments are coming upon the earth; that much is true. But then, there's this little sentence:

Then the spirits gathered the kings to the place called Armageddon. (Revelation 16)

Which makes Armageddon the refuge from the judgment, not the judgment itself. It's not the dust and the dirt and the fire and the blood; it's...

...the mountain.

That's what Armageddon means in Hebrew - the mountain of Megiddo. We are familiar with a lot of biblical mountains - Sinai, for example; Moriah, for another. Ararat, if you want to name a third. But the mountain of Megiddo doesn't readily come to mind for most of us. It's there. Its name is just easy to forget. It is a region in which a number of famous battles took place in the period of the judges and the early kingship, both great victories for Israel and stunning defeats.

But it's easy to get lost in war games if we're not careful. What is more true about the mountain of Megiddo than the battles that were fought there, what is most true about every mountain we encounter in Scripture, is that the mountain is the place where God reveals His glory to His people.

He revealed His glory on the mountain to Abraham just before he sacrificed his only son. He revealed His glory to Noah on the mountain as the land dried up underneath him. He revealed His glory to Moses on the mountain, a glory so potent that no one else in Israel could even touch the mountain and live. Jesus was crucified on a hill - a mountain - just outside Jerusalem, after He was transfigured on a mountain in front of Peter, James, and John. Every time there is a mountain in Scripture, it is a place where God reveals His glory, intimately, to His people.

That certainly changes the Hollywood narrative, doesn't it? Armageddon is not the event of the total destruction of the earth as we know it. It's not the war and the fire and the death and the destruction. Armageddon is a place.

It is a place of refuge in the midst of judgment, a mountain on which the Lord reveals His glory...again.

(In Revelation, it is the demonic spirits that gather the kings of the earth on the mountain in preparation for war and judgment. In preparation, not in battle. We should lose sight of the glory of God on the mountain just because in this case, there happen to be demons and war involved. There was a lot of war on this particular mountain, victories and defeat, and all of it revealed the glory of the Lord to His people and the nations around them. May we never get so wrapped up in the war that we miss the glory.) 

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