This word appears frequently in the press, the television and the internet, but few people understand its origin and its meaning. It is variously explained as being “the scene of the final battle between the forces of good and evil," or "name of the battle that occurs at that location"” or "the great final decisive confrontation or war”. All these definitions are wrong, as we will see below.
This is not the meaning of the original Hebrew word “Har-megiddon”. This word, translated into English as Armageddon or Armagedon, appears only once in the Bible, in Revelation 16:16, being the combination of two words: Har (mountain) and megiddon (of Megiddo, a town).
From the summit of this mountain one can see the whole valley of the North and Central land of Israel, called "Valley of Jezreel" in the rest of the Bible. The valley is roughly triangular with sides measuring about 16, 16 and 23 miles each side, and is mentioned several times in the Old Testament as a scene of fierce battles fought between the Israelites and their enemies.
As the mountain of Meggido stands out in view on the horizon from all points of the valley, it is understandable why the valley is called Armageddon in Revelation 16:16. That is where the “kings of the earth” will come together in order to go forth in their campaign against the Jews, in Jerusalem and beyond. However, there will be no human battle, but Christ himself will destroy the invading armies, for it is His great Day (Revelation 16:14).
The campaign of Armageddon, will be designed to eliminate the Jews and aggregated Gentiles, all taking refuge in Jerusalem. They are survivors of the great persecution made against God’s people and prophesied as “the Great Tribulation” (Matthew 24:21, Revelation 7:14). The campaign will be marked by seven important events:
The convening of the kings (with their armies) in Armageddon, when the river Euphrates will be dried to facilitate the transit of these invading armies (Revelation 16:12 -16).
The destruction of Babylon: the prophecies concerning this event have not yet been fulfilled but many speculative interpretations have been made as to the identity of that city. Like all of God’s prophecies in His Word these should be accepted literally. For their fulfillment a city called Babylon is required to be in existence at that time, possibly but not necessarily resulting from the reconstruction of the ancient city of this name in Iraq. It will become the capital of the world led by the Antichrist, and it will be destroyed in this second event during the world's rebellious campaign against God.In contrast with the first event, which concerns the congregation of armies which are enemies of God's people, here an army of Gentiles converted to God (My sanctified ones) is summoned to destroy "the land", Babylon (Isaiah 13:1-5). Five chapters of the Bible describe the destruction of that city on the day of the LORD: Isaiah 13, 14, Jeremiah 50, 51 and Revelation 18. Jeremiah explains that the Antichrist will not be present in the city, on the occasion of this great invasion and utter destruction (Jeremiah 50:43 and 51:31-32). He will probably be in Armageddon preparing for a campaign against Israel.
The invasion of Jerusalem: it would be natural to expect the Antichrist then to leave Armageddon to go East in pursuit of the army which destroyed his capital. But he will not be deterred from his prime purpose and will continue moving to the South, invading Jerusalem. The description of this event is found in Zechariah 12:2-3 and 14:1-2, where we learn that "all nations of the earth are gathered against it” and "Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, … I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem”. Many of its inhabitants will have left, but of those remaining many will be slaughtered or enslaved.
The armies of the Antichrist in Bozrah: as a result the collapse of the State of Israel in the midst of the tribulation (Matthew 24:15-22 and Revelation 12: 6-7), and the threat of the invading armies, a large part of the Jews will have fled to a shelter “in the wilderness” (Revelation 12: 6, 13, 14), which is “high”, and “the fortress of rocks” (Isaiah 33:12-16), “in the mountains” (Matthew 24:16). Micah 2:12 suggests the name of the place: "... I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold...". The word translated as "fold" here is the Hebrew bozrah also the name of the capital of Edom, a city of great antiquity before this prophecy was written (Genesis 36:33. 1 Chronicles 1:44), and where the LORD will come to destroy the enemies of His people (Isaiah 63:1-6). It is now uninhabited (Jeremiah 49:13) and known by its Greek name Petra, it is a tourist attraction, famous for its buildings and tombs carved in the rocks of a range of mountains in the desert south of Jerusalem. It is accessible only along a narrow and winding passage at the bottom of a deep split in the rocks over a mile long and therefore easily defensible. But after the invasion of Jerusalem, the enemy armies will proceed to Bozrah in order to eliminate these fugitives.
The national regeneration of Israel: two conditions are laid down by God for His return to Israel: their national confession and repentance (Leviticus 26:39-42), and their earnest search for Him: “I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. " (Hosea 5:15). When the remnant of Israel finally acknowledge their offence of turning away from God and rejecting His Son, and as a nation sincerely cry out to God for mercy and salvation, He will then (and only then) return in accordance with this prophecy. See also Zechariah 12:8-10 and Matthew 23:37-39.
The second coming of Christ. In answer to the national confession and repentance of the remnant of Israel, the Lord Jesus will return, not immediately to the Mount of Olives, as many think, but to Bozrah. This is described in many places of the Bible, for example: Psalm 18: 8-16, Ezekiel 39:21-29, Habakkuk 3:1-19, Matthew 16:27, 24:30, Acts 1:9-11, Judas 14-15, Revelation 19:1-16. Four texts clearly indicate His return to Bozrah (Petra), and the fifth may refer to it: Isaiah 34:1-7, 63:1-6, Habakkuk 3: 3 (the hills Teman and Paran are close to Petra), Micah 2:12-13, Judges 5:4-5. In Zechariah 12:7 we read: "The LORD will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah.", the word "tents" infers that they are not in homes, but camped, and the fact that He will save those of Judah first indicates that they will precede Jerusalem. The Lord will destroy the enemy armies there all by Himself (Isaiah 2: 3-6).
The battle of Bozrah ends in the Valley of Jehoshaphat: the battle started in Bozrah will continue as far as the Eastern wall of Jerusalem, where the remainder of the enemy armies will be destroyed. This is where the Valley of Cedrom is found, also called the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:12-13). In Revelation 14:19-20 we read about "the great winepress of the wrath of God" to which Joel refers in his prophecy. The blood of the enemy armies will run for a distance of one thousand and six hundred furlongs, approximately the distance between Jerusalem and Aqaba on the Red Sea.
Only after this last battle (far from Armageddon) will the Lord Jesus go up the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14: 3-4), the Supreme and only Victor of the armies that had earlier congregated in Armageddon and left there to invade Jerusalem and persecute the Jews as far as Bozrah.
This will not be the last battle between the forces of Evil and God's people: there will be another attempt at rebellion led by Satan at the end of the Millennium, when the devil, after being released from prison “will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.” (Revelation 20:8-10).
Only then will the final judgment of the dead who have not participated in the first resurrection (Revelation 20:11-15) be done, "and whosoever was not found written in the book of life will be cast into the Lake of fire". (v. 15).