Revelation 16:16 – The Battle at Armageddon
SummaryA great conflict occurs at a place called Armageddon (sometimes spelled Harmagedon), the location of several battles in the Old Testament.
AnalysisArmageddon is the name of the place where the kings of the earth gather to battle against God. This Hebrew name means "mountain of Megiddo," and Megiddo is a place in northern Israel. It is unlikely that Revelation uses the name to give readers geographical information about the location of this battle. Throughout the book, Hebrew names have been used in a symbolic sense. For example, John calls false teachers Balaam and Jezebel, not because these are their real names, but because they are like Balaam and Jezebel of the Old Testament, who were idolaters (Numbers 31:16; 1 Kings 16:31). Later, John says that the city set on seven hills (that is, Rome) is called Babylon (Revelation 17:9). This does not give readers geographical information but lets them see the similarities between Rome and Babylon as oppressive powers.
The symbolism in the name Armageddon is that Megiddo was a place where opponents of God met their defeat. An invading army of Canaanites were defeated there, King Josiah was killed there when he refused to heed God's warnings, and the place was associated with mourning (Judges 5:19; 2 Chronicles 35:22; Zechariah 12:11). To say that the forces opposing God gather at Armageddon means that they gather for their own defeat. When the battle is described in a later vision, readers learn that victory comes through the power of the word that Christ speaks (19:15).