Mountains in prophecy [pdf]
The name Armageddon mentioned in Revelation 16:16 seems to be derived from Har Megiddo (Hebrew) meaning Mount of Megiddo.
Meddigo is located in the valley of Jezreel in northern Israel. It was the site of the battle of Megiddo (609 BC) fought between Egypt and the Kingdom of Judah, in which King Josiah fell. [2 Chronicles 35:22] When King Josiah died there was great mourning. The prophet Zechariah referred to it:
In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.
Commenting on the above verse, William Lindsay Alexander wrote:
The mourning was to be not only deep and poignant, but also universal. The prophet compares it to "the mourning of Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddo" (ver. 11), that is, the mourning occasioned by what took place there. The mourning referred to is that of the nation over King Josiah, who was slain in battle with Pharaohnecho at Megiddo, and whose death was deeply and widely lamented throughout the nation (2 Kings xxiii. 29, 30; 2 Chron. xxxv. 20-24). Hadad-rinmon was a place, Jerome tells us, in the plain of Megiddo, near to Jezreel, and known in his day by the name of Maximianopolis; it has recently been identified with a place called Rummaneh, where there are the remains of a town or village at the south-western part of the plain of el-But-tauf, not far from Lejjun, the supposed site of Megiddo. The death of King Josiah was a signal calamity to the Jewish nation; with it "the last gleam of the sunset of Judah faded into night" (Pusey); and the shadow of that calamity rested on the nation for generations afterwards. For him Jeremiah wrote a lamentation. Dirges for him were preserved in the national archives, and were periodically recited by the minstrels of the nation; and thus to lament for him in dirges became an ordinance in Israel which survived the captivity (2 Chron. xxxv. 25). No lamentation in Judah equalled this for King Josiah; and so it came to be associated in the minds of the people with the highest degree of sorrow and mourning. Hence the allusion to it here; even to the height of this hitherto unequalled sorrow, should the mourning of Israel over their great sin rise.
[William Lindsay Alexander. Zechariah: his visions and warnings. 1885. pp. 263-365.]
These appear to be the main scriptures about Armageddon. The "mourning" associated with it may allude to what Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:30, "and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." As to whether there indeed could be a connection between the Armageddon prophecy and the symbolic meaning of the valley of Hinnom or Gehenna, in the midst of the Revelation 16:13-16 passage about Armageddon we read: "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame."
This clearly has to do with judgment of the saints, and is a bit similar to the warning Jesus gave in Matthew 24:15-21, about clothes. The idea behind this is that Christ wants his Church to be clothed with truth; Paul said, "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;" [Ephesians 6:14] Being caught naked is to be found resisting and opposing the truth. Jesus said, "Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes." Our "old clothes" sometimes ought to be abandoned. And IMO, this has very much to do with what the battle of Armageddon is about. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." [Ephesians 6:12]
Besides Armageddon, there are prophecies about other valleys where judgment occurs; Ezekiel tells of the judgment upon the armies of Gog and Magog, who are buried in the valley of Hamongog. "And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog and all his multitude: and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog." [Ezekiel 39:11] "And the passengers that pass through the land, when any seeth a man's bone, then shall he set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the valley of Hamongog." [Ezekiel 39:15]
Some commentators suggest this name alludes to the valley of Hinnom, as it resembles "Hinnom + Gog."
Another valley associated with judgment is the valley of Jehosaphat. God pleads with the nations there for his people. "I will gather together all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat: and I will plead with them there for my people, and for my inheritance Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations." [Joel 3:2] The inheritance of God is not limited to ethnic Jews, but includes the saints in all nations. "Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about." [Joel 3:12]
This valley is also called the valley of decision: "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision." [Joel 3:14]
The Catholic Encyclopedia says:
It is also credible that the prophet meant to designate an ideal, indeterminate valley -- the valley of judgment, and no more -- for Josaphat signifies "Jahveh judges". This valley is, in fact, spoken of under the name of "valley of destruction" (A. V. "valley of decision") in verse 14 of the same chapter. According to the context, the Divine judgment will be exercised upon the nations who afflicted Juda and Jerusalem at the time of the captivity and the return from exile.
If the names of these valleys are indeterminate, or symbolic in nature, we can connect all these prophecies as different views of the judgment of the world that begins at the church. The apostle Peter said,
1 Peter 4:17
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
Copyright © 2011 by Douglas E. Cox
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