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Definition: Armageddon from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(är´´mӘged'Әn), in the New Testament, great battlefield where, at the end of the world, the powers of evil will fight the powers of good. If the usual etymology is correct, the name alludes to the frequency of battles at Megiddo.


Summary Article: Armageddon from Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience

In the New Testament, the book of Revelation, chapter 16, verse 16, is a reference point for the concept of the battle at the mountain of Armageddon. Armageddon (Harmagedon in Greek) refers to the big war that will take place on the great day of God. Armageddon is the final battle between good and evil, the ultimate triumph of Christ. Defined in the Hebrew as har (mountain) and Megiddo (city in ancient Palestine), the concept Armageddon, referred to in the Old Testament as a military stronghold, is based on two verses from Christian scripture that have emerged as a part of Christian eschatological beliefs. In the Bible, mountain is symbolic of a kingdom, and the battle at the mountain of Armageddon will bring about God's kingdom.

For Christians, Armageddon is the final battle among all the armies of the world; it is the ultimate battle between good and evil. For some, Armageddon is dramatic and it is an imminent event that unites Christians. For others, Armageddon is simply part of the biblical history that represents an exaggerated series of statements from another time period that have been stretched beyond reality.

Religion and the Armageddon Concept

Biblical topics have often been cause for debate if not some confusion. Clearly, the Bible was written at a time when the church was in its infancy, the membership was sometimes persecuted, and believers anticipated relief from persecution with the Second Coming of Christ.

This emphasis on war and victory of good over evil, in which good will conquer evil, finds further support in brief references in the Old Testament, namely Judges 5:19 and 2 Kings 23:29. Many biblical scholars adamantly believe the battle at Armageddon will fulfill biblical prophecy.

Many religious thinkers insist that if Armageddon is referred to in the Bible then it is true, thus making this truth imperative for belief, and to question the veracity of the battle of Armageddon is to question other biblical writings. Armageddon also represents a political and religious affront in the Middle East because, it is argued, Western nations tend to offer support to Israel because of the religious symbolism Megiddo holds for Christianity as the site of the final battle. This pro-Israel orientation represents a juxtaposition between religion and political issues. Thus, the chasm is increased between the Christian community, the Middle East, and other religions of the world.

The whole concept of the war of Armageddon moves some individuals away from God because it gives them cause for confusion and despair. On the other hand, there are those Christians who argue that the war of Armageddon is the fulfillment of God's promise to return and claim His believers unto Himself.

Signs of the Coming of Armageddon

The Bible details many signs and wonders that must come to pass prior to the battle at Armageddon. Some religious teachers assert that man-made disasters such as the Holocaust, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, as well as natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes are prophecies of Armageddon. Fictional writings, such as The End of Days: Armageddon and Prophecies of the Return as well as the Left Behind series of books that was made into a movie by that same title, promote a similar theme. Many religious and biblical teachers insist these events are prophecies that need to be heeded and fulfilled before the occurrence of the battle at Armageddon, asserting that they are a sign of God's imminent return.

The book of Revelation was said to have been written by John who, because of his Christian faith, was exiled to the Roman penal colony at the Island of Patmos. The book of Revelation is an account of visions revealed to John by God in symbolic and allegorical language borrowed from the Old Testament, especially the books of Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Daniel. The symbolism expressed in Revelation was apparently popular at the time. The book of Revelation was created amid a time of crisis, yet its central message to Christians holds true today: Stand firm in the faith, God will return, and continue to persevere in hope despite a troubled world.

See also

Apocalypse, Christian Beliefs and Traditions, Eschatology in Major Religious Traditions, Last Judgment, The

Further Readings
  • Lindsey, H. (1997). Apocalypse code. Palos Verdes, CA: Western Front.
  • Sheler, J. (1999). Is the Bible true? How modern debates and discoveries affirm the essence of the Scriptures. San Francisco: HarperSan Francisco/Zondervan.
  • Stitchin, Z. (2007). The end of days: Armageddon and prophecies of the return. New York: HarperCollins.
  • Ward, K. (2005). What the Bible really teaches: About crucifixion, resurrection, salvation, the Second Coming, and eternal life. New York: Crossroad.
  • Gilbert, Richard B.
    Copyright © 2009 by SAGE Publications, Inc.

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