"And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." Revelation 16:16 (KJV)
Jezreel Valley and mountains of Nazareth beyond - seen from Har Meggido (Armageddon?)
By Malcolm Hedding
Malcolm Hedding’s article has been reprinted in numerous religious magazines and websites. Its message is important; it addresses issues that cause many Jews to remain suspicious of Christians – even as they reach out to the Jewish people. For that reason, we reprint it for your perusal.
Time and time again one hears the accusation that Christians view the restoration of Israel as a stepping-stone to the final battle of Armageddon in which countless Jews will perish. Supposedly, this is what motivates Christian Zionists to side with Israel at present, while ultimately wanting to accelerate ‘the end’ and with it the second coming of Jesus.
As a consequence, the Jewish world is being warned to stay away from such Christians, since their support is insincere and based on a dark eschatological agenda.
This brings to mind an incident that took place some seven years ago in which a Jewish producer working out of London with the popular American TV show 60 Minutes asked me for an interview. While very friendly and warm at first, he quickly changed tone and asked, “So, do you believe in the New Testament books like Daniel and Zechariah which speak of a coming Armageddon in which hundreds of thousands of Jews will be killed?”
I responded by asking him if he was a God-fearing Jew, to which he answered yes. I then retorted: “Well, how is it that as a God-fearing Jew, you do not know that the two books you mentioned are not in the New Testament, but in fact are in the Hebrew Scriptures?” You can imagine the embarrassing silence that ensued.
But this brings the whole issue into proper focus. That is, the accusation levelled against Christians in this regard has its roots in the Hebrew Scriptures and not the Christian Scriptures. Armageddon (literally the “hill of Megiddo”) is only mentioned briefly in the New Testament in Revelation 16, and even then without any great detail.
Fuller accounts of this battle, however, are given in the Hebrew books of Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel and Zechariah. In fact, in the latter the author foretells of the destruction of two-thirds of the Jews living in the land (see Zechariah 13:8).
This writer happens to believe that this passage found its fulfilment in the uprisings against Roman oppression that took place in the land of Israel in the First Century. At that time a considerable slaughter of the Jewish community did take place.
This writer has also heard respected Orthodox Jewish rabbis preach on these same prophetic scriptures from Ezekiel onwards with similar zeal to that of their Christian counterparts.
My point is the idea that this theology is exclusively a Christian one is false. Jewish and Christian preachers have addressed it! The only difference lies in the identity of the Deliverer who intervenes. Christians believe he is Jesus and Jews assert that he will be someone else. So be it. However, one thing is clear. According to both testaments of Scripture, the coming of Messiah will be glorious and unmistakable.
I am, therefore, willing to wager that when he arrives in splendor, we all will embrace him. To do otherwise because of historical considerations and positions would be nothing short of crazy!
Also as a matter of record, most Christian Zionists do not support Israel because of some future eschatological blow-up. No, they support Israel because of the past. That is, 4000 years ago God made a promise to the Jewish people through the Patriarch Abraham that Canaan would be their everlasting possession. This promise he ratified by a covenant. This effectively means that Israel’s presence in the Holy Land is not because of prophetic considerations but because of God’s faithfulness to His promise given to Abraham.
By the way, the conflict raging in the Middle East also is about this divine promise, and God will eventually keep it in full; exactly when we do not know.
This Abrahamic covenant is also clear about the fact that Israel’s existence is for the blessing of the world (Genesis 12:1-3) and thus Christians bless her and stand alongside her because they have been profoundly enriched and blessed by her. In short, they are grateful and seek to demonstrate it. There is no other agenda. Love, from a biblical perspective, is unconditional.
A future conflict in the Middle East there no doubt will be, but I have the sneaky feeling that we will all be in it together!
Rev. Malcolm Hedding is executive director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; www.icej.org
Jezreel Valley from Nazareth Mount Precipice, looking towards Meggido
Tel Meggido is widely believed to be the Armageddon of Revelation, based on the probability that Armageddon is a rendering of the Hebrew place name, and also because of the historical and military significance of the location. The Jezreel Valley has been one of the routes of nations and armies down through history, because it is one of the routes through the mountains from the Mediterranean Sea (Via Maritima) to Mesopotamia and Asia. Meggido has been a strategic position to control that route and can thus be seen as a likely battleground when the nations march against Israel for the battle of Armageddon.
However, there is some difficulty about the Jezreel Valley being the location for the final battle, when other prophecies clearly speak of the armies besieging Jerusalem in the final battle (Armageddon) when the Messiah comes/returns and slays all the enemies.
The following is taken (with permission) from an article in the April 2004 edition of Israel Today magazine.
In the Hebrew version of the New Testament, translated from Greek, the Greek word Armageddon is translated as Har Megiddon, meaning the Mountain of Megiddo.
But, in reality, historic Megiddo, situated near Nazareth in the Galilee, is not built on a mountain, but on an archaeological Tel. A tel is an artificial hill created by various layers representing many societies that abandoned and resettled in the same location.
Where, then, should one look for the "Mount Megiddo" of the end-times? We can support the notion that probably the authentic, relevant appellation in Hebrew was Har Moed, and not Har Meged, which later was referred to as Megiddo. (Hebrew included in the original article)
Initially, the author pointed to a very specific Har Moed, meaning "Mount of Gathering," or "Mount of Appointment." This was well known in Jewish sources originating in the Land of Israel. Moed, consequently, could have been easily introduced into Greek as connected to the Hebrew root M-G-D, or to Megiddo.
It is no secret that frequently, the guttural Hebrew letter ayin was translated into western languages as gimel, for example as with the name Gaza, originally called Aza in the Hebrew Bible. This also makes sense in the context of the following passage from Isaiah 33:20, "Zion the city of our appointed feasts" ( Moedim )
Zion is indeed Jerusalem. Prophetically, Zion/Jerusalem is the focus of the end-time battle: "The multitude of all the nations shall fight against Mount Zion" (Isaiah 29:8), and "I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all nations of the earth are gathered against it" (Zechariah 12:3).
Consequently, such an understanding would also correlate with the words of the prophet Joel (3:2) about the eschatological judgment that will take place in the valley of Jehoshaphat in Jerusalem. And therefore, contrary to widespread views, Armageddon is not Megiddo in the Jezreel valley, but rather Jerusalem.
Gershon Nerel is a historian of the Messianic Jewish movement and Israeli tour guide: www.iseeisrael.com
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