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Monday, December 21, 2015

Armageddon

An asteroid the size of Texas is about to impact the earth. One month remains before the entire planet will be obliterated. NASA recruits a team of deep core drillers and amazingly they do it. They save the world from total destruction. The movie's title? Amageddon!

Movie Review #JPMN
In a similar 1996 movie (Independence Day) aliens are coming with vastly superior technology. They intend to invade and destroy the earth. But a brave group of pilots manage somehow to destroy their huge spaceship. Now, in a 2016 movie, another group will have to save our planet as the same group of aliens returns in Independence Day II, only with even greater technology.

What's going on? Why are we fascinated by the possibility of some grave terror coming to destroy us all? And why suggest that the strange word Armageddon points to it? Perhaps it is because we partly do and partly do not believe it possible.

The word Armageddon appears but once in the Bible, in Rev. 16:16.
And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. ("Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!") And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. - Rev 16:13-16 ESV
The word is a transliteration of a Hebrew word into the Greek language: Harmageddon.  Spelled that way the Hebrew could literally mean hill (har) or mountain of Megiddo, a place of crowds (remember that the Hebrew in John's time had no vowels). This Megiddo was actually not a mountain. It was barely a hill in the plain of Esdraelon on which many generations had lived and built forts to guard the Via Maris, the trade route that linked Egypt with the empires of Syria, Anatolia and Mesopotamia to the north. Many, many battles were fought in that great plain southwest of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee (Judges 5:19-21; 2 Kings 9:27; 23:29). However,  no one knows for certain what Armageddon means. While some spell the word in the Greek as Harmageddon, scribes of other manuscripts spell the word with one d and two g's; others with two d's and one g as above.

The Seven Bowls or Vials judgments described in Rev. 16 differ from the earlier Seven Trumpet judgments of Rev. 8:1-6. They bring final judgment upon all those who have taken the mark of the Beast and upon the earth itself. For an extended and detailed description of the varied views about Armageddon check out the Christian Eschatology articles in Wikipedia, especially the articles under the sub-titles: contrasting beliefs, the millennium, Biblical texts and key terms.  More details are also included in the seven bowls article.

The position of this blog is that the seven bowls and Armageddon are images, symbols. They are not to be taken literally. A literal battle will not take place on the literal plain of Megiddo in northern Israel. Nor dare we expect a literal thousand years, a millennium, to follow. What then awaits? To what do these symbols point? Using familiar language pointing to a place of many battles over the centuries, John symbolizes the final great conflict between the forces of good and the forces of evil, a battle in which the forces of evil will be defeated by God's Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ (Rev. 19:11-16). The judgments of God are coming upon the earth and upon all who have opposed Him. And
"blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed" — Rev. 16:15 ESV