Armageddon in Amillennial Thought

Since my primary training has been in either dispensationalism (Moody Bible Institute) or historic premillennialism (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) I’ve been enjoying Sam Storms defense of amillennialism in his recent release Kingdom Come. With some exceptions I’ve always read amillennialism through the eyes of its opponents. I enjoyed this segment on the topic of Armageddon.

Amillennialists believe there are three texts in Revelation that describe what has come to be famously known as Armageddon, the final battle when Jesus Christ returns to this earth accompanied by the armies of heaven to defeat and destroy his enemies. They are Revelation 16:12-16; 19:17-21; and 20:7-10. Although each has a different focus, they are complementary portrayals of the second coming of Christ. They differ primarily because chapter 19 is concerned with the war as it relates to the participation and fate of the beast, his followers, and the false prophet, whereas chapter 20 is concerned primarily with the role of Satan. Also, it stands to reason that having given a detailed and vivid description of the war in chapters 16 and 19, John would find it unnecessary to repeat such detail in chapter 20.

In Revelation 16 the enemies are ‘the kings of the whole world’ (16:14). In Revelation 19 they are ‘kings’ and ‘captains’ and ‘mighty men,’ indeed they are ‘all men, both free and slave, both small and great’ (19:18). In Revelation 20 they are ‘the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog’ (20:8). They are all specifically gathered for ‘the war’ (cf. Rev. 19:19; 20:8). The use of the definite article (‘the’) points to a well-known war, the eschatological war often prophesied in the Old Testament between God and his enemies (cf. Joel 2:11; Zeph. 1:14; Zech. 14:12-14).

The place of this eschatological war is called Har-Magedon (16:16). This poses a problem for those who believe a literal battle at the literal site is in view, insofar as there is no such place as the Mountain of Megiddo (which would be the most literal understanding of the word). Megiddo was itself an ancient city and Canaanite stronghold located on a plain in the southwest region of the Valley of Jezreel or Esdraelon. Although situated on a tell (an artificial mound about 70 feet high; others say it was anywhere from 130 to 200 feet), it can hardly be regarded as a mountain! The valley of Megiddo was the strategic site of several (more than 200, according to some estimates) significant battles in history (see Judg. 4:6-16; 5:19; Judg. 7; 1 Sam. 29:1; 31:1-7; 2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chron. 35:22-24). It makes sense that the vicinity would become a lasting symbol for the cosmic eschatological battle between good and evil. . . .

To put it simply, Armageddon is prophetic symbolism for the whole world in its collective defeat and judgment by Christ at his second coming. The imagery of war, of kings and nations doing battle on an all-too-familiar battlefield (Megiddo), is used as a metaphor of the consummate, cosmic, and decisive defeat by Christ of all his enemies (Satan, beast, false prophet, and all who bear the mark of the beast) on that final day. ‘This suggests that ‘Armageddon’ is not a specific place that can be located on a map or reached with the help of GPS equipment. Like ‘Babylon’ and ‘Euphrates’ in the book of Revelation, ‘Armageddon’ is a typological symbol of the final battle between God and his enemies.’” (431-33)

Kingdom Come

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About Louis

I am a 1997 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
This entry was posted in Biblical Studies, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Armageddon in Amillennial Thought

  1. Kevin Fiske says:

    Louis,

    I’m reading Storms’ book as well. I did my undergraduate work at MBI and my graduate work at Wheaton. I was privileged to study NT Theology under Greg Beale while at Wheaton…it was essentially the first I’d heard of amillennial covenant theology. I cannot think of another volume that is more helpful for those who (like Storms) have been trained previously in dispensational premillennialism.

    Loving this book!!

    Hope you had a great vacation,
    Kevin

    Like

  2. PLEASE tell me you meant to write “Gog and Magog” and not “God and Magog?”

    Like

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