Armageddon OT Background to the Battle for the Cosmic Mountain 4

Apollyon by Gbrush


There is an interesting parallel involved with the term Armageddon in that the phrase “in Hebrew” only appears in one other instance within the book of Revelation. According to Alan Johnson, “it is better to understand the term [Armageddon] symbolically in the same manner as ‘in Hebrew’ in Rev 9:11 alerts us to the symbolic significance of the name of the angel of the Abyss”[1]  This is the angel of the bottomless pit namely Abbadon in Hebrew or Apollyon in Greek. Thomas Horn reveals:

Abaddon is another name for Apollo (Rev. 9:11), identified historically as the king of demonic “locusts” (Revelation 9:1-11). This means among other things that Apollo is the end-times angel or “King of the Abyss” that opens the bottomless pit, out of which an army of transgenic locusts erupts upon earth. [1a]

According to Kline, the technique of juxtaposing a Greek and Hebrew term is called Hebraisti and was favored by John. It is also used four times in his Gospel, three of which are also place names (Jn. 5:2; 19:13, 17). Because the book of Revelation is full of symbols, word plays, juxtapositions and parallels, it is not too fanciful to postulate that the Holy Spirit was making a prophetic statement between these two Hebraisti.

The “Antipodal to the Abyss” argument offered by Kline further supports the “mount of Assembly” hypothesis.[2] This line of reasoning derives from the fact that both accounts juxtapose polar opposites in the cosmic scheme of things: the Mountain of God on one end and the pit of hell on the other. For example the Isaiah passage contrasts the ambition “I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God…” (v.13) against “But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit” (v.15). Similarly, we find in the book of Revelation’s two Hebraisti: the divine mountain and the bottomless pit. This is a compelling correlation between the two accounts. Kline argues,

In short, then, we find that in Isaiah 14 and the book of Revelation there are matching antonymic pairings of har môcëd and har magedön with the pit of Hades. Within the framework of this parallelism the har môcëd of Isa 14:13 is the equivalent of the har magedön of Rev 16:16 and as such is to be understood as its proper derivation and explanation. Accordingly, har magedön signifies “Mount of Assembly/Gathering” and is a designation for the supernal realm. (Kline, 1996, 208)

The evidence is compelling that the term Armageddon speaks well past the gathering of earthly armies for war and to a deeper supernatural battle for the cosmic mountain of God.

The context of the assembling the armies by demonic spirits (Rev. 16:14) is practically a word play to the “mount of assembly.” Furthermore, the allusion to the taunt song in Isaiah 14:12- 15 creates astonishing parallels. The Hebrew phrase “הילל בן־שׁחר” (Helel Ben-Shachar) in verse 12, meaning “morning star, son of dawn” has been interpreted to be varying entities. Many scholars agree that this is related to Ugaritic mythology concerning Baal and Athtar.[3] While Isaiah could be simply borrowing from local mythology for an illustration, it seems as if the prophet sees through the King of Babylon to the wicked spiritual power behind him. The book of Daniel suggests that earthly kingdoms have cosmic overlords (Dan. 10:13; 20). A paradigm which fits nicely with the Beast of Revelation who is similarly empowered by the great red dragon identified as Satan (Rev. 12:9; 13:2).

In Ugaritic lore this usurper is argued to be Athtar, who was referred to as Venus (morning star), who seeks to displace Ba’al.[4] The ancient Near Eastern context strongly favors this as the original source material. Other scholars relate this passage to an ancient Babylonian or Hebrew star-myth similar to the Greek legend of Phaethon.[5]  Even so, one can imagine that in a cosmic sense all of these myths stem from a common event. There was an angelic rebellion. The New Testament is clear that Angels rebelled (Matt. 25:41; Rev 12:9) and the earth is currently under the power of a usurper (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Jn 5:19). While the King of Babylon could hardly hope to “ascend to heaven above the stars of God” it certainly speaks to his extreme hubris. C.S. Lewis famously said, “it was through pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”[6] Helel Ben-Shachar’s frustrated divine ambition harkens the account of a war in heaven in Revelation 12:7-17 where Satan is thrown to earth suggesting “the man who made the earth tremble…” (Isa. 14:16).

In fact, this taunt song is where the popular name for the devil, Lucifer, is derived from “morning star” as it is rendered in the Latin Vulgate.[7] During the intertestamental period, this account of the angels fall was associated with the morning star was subsequently associated explicitly with the name Satan, as seen the Second Book of Enoch (29:4; 31:4). The Qumran War Scroll describes this activity of Satan and his powers:

But Satan, the Angel of Malevolence, Thou hast created for the Pit; his [rule] is in Darkness and his purpose is to bring about wickedness and iniquity. All the spirits of his company, the Angels of Destruction, walk according to the precepts of Darkness; towards them is their [inclination].[8]

The association of Lucifer to Satan continued with the church fathers because he is represented as being “cast down from heaven” (Rev. 12:7–10; cf. Lk. 10:18).[9] This event likely took place at the cross when Jesus disarmed the powers (Col 2:15). Because Peter ascribes “morning star” to Christ (2 Pet 1:19) and the fact that it is also a title John uses for Jesus (Rev. 22:16), it has been suggested that this, “Lucifer,” could be pointing to the Antichrist’s parody of Jesus.[10] Accordingly, the prefix “Anti” means “instead of” as well as “against.”[11] Paul expounds on this in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-5 writing he is the, “man of lawlessness, the son of destruction who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” Of course, that would likely be on Mount Zion, the cosmic mount of assembly, as well.

This is where my research paper for Dr Heiser left it but interestingly, just last week, my friend Peter Goodgame posted a commentary on Isaiah 9-14 where he came to a similar conclusion. Goodgame argues:

The name “Morning Star, Son of the Dawn” is Helel ben Shakar in Hebrew, or “Lucifer, Son of the Morning” in the KJV. If we view this person as the end-times Antichrist rather than Satan then it makes perfect sense. He is taunted by Israel after his final attempt to rule over the nations comes to an end.[12]

Recalling Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue, the King of Babylon is a well-known prophetic type of the Antichrist. Considering that the Isaiah taunt song was originally directed at the King of Babylon, a man, this seems likely. Please follow the footnote to read Peter’s thoughts. Even more, I also have been corresponding with Tom Horn, who wrote me just  week or so ago about the spirit who rises from the Abyss. In his book Apollyon Rising, Horn points out that the Antichrist as a man is indwelt by the spirit Apollyon which rises from the abyss (Rev 9:11). This brings a remarkable conjunction in world mythologies:

In view of these texts, we recall how Zeus—the Greek identity for the father of Apollo—was acknowledged as ‘Satan’ in Rev. 2:12-13. The fallen angel ‘Apollo’ who unlocks the bottomless pit and unleashes the thunderous hoards of Great Tribulation locusts is therefore none other than the son of Satan and the spirit that will inhabit Antichrist.[13]

Indeed, there is a convergence of mythologies and prophecies pointing to the same event. It seems that the Isaiah taunt song is speaking on multiple levels. First, Isaiah directed it overtly to the King of Babylon, on another level it was a polemic against the neighboring Ugaritic pantheon which was also hinting at the primordial fall of the biblical Satan, and even more intriguing it is a prophecy of a demonically possessed man, who as a “morning star” will come in battle against Israel in the last days and then claim to be God on the divine mountain.  That battle is Harmageddon.

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves,

and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed,

saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.

Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,

“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

(Ps 2:1–6)

….to be continued with part 5: The Battle

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[1] Johnson, “Revelation”, 551.

[1a] Thomas Horn, Apollyon Rising 2012: The Lost Symbol Found and the Final Mystery of the Great Seal Revealed (Crane, MS: Defender, 2009), 140.

[2] Kline, “Har Magedon,” 208.

[3] Michael S. Heiser, “The Mythological Provenance of Is. XVIV 12-15: A Reconsideration of the Ugaritic Material.” Vestus Testamentum LI,3,( 2001): 356-357.

[4] Heiser, “The Mythological,” 356-357.

[5] Kaufmann Kohler, “Lucifer,” (accessed March 5 20011).

[6] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (NY: Harper Collins. 2001), 122.

[7]G. J. Riley. “Devil.” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible. 2nd extensively rev. ed. K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking and Pieter Willem van der Horst (Leiden; Boston; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 246.

[8] Geza Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Revised and extended 4th ed. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 139.

[9] Tertullian, Contra Marcionem,  11, 17.

[10]M. Eugene Boring, Revelation, Interpretation, a Bible commentary for teaching and preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1989), 177.

[11] L. J. Lietaert Peerbolte, “Antichrist” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible , 62.

[12] Peter Goodgame, The Giza Discovery: Pete’s Commentary on Isaiah 9-14, (accessed 08/31/2011).

[13] Thomas Horn, Apollyon Rising 2012: The Lost Symbol Found and the Final Mystery of the Great Seal Revealed (Crane, MS: Defender, 2009), 142.

The New Apostolic Reformation and the Remarkable Reprise of Müntzer

Thomas Müntzer

The New Apostolic Reformation claims to be “the most radical change in the way of doing church since the Protestant Reformation.”[1]  In fact, I think there is a remarkable truth to be found in that statement by C. Peter Wagner. I have been studying the Protestant Reformation and a remarkable event has come to my attention. This is in the context of the Lutheran reformation but finds an amazing correspondence to the New Apostolic Reformation’s seven mountains dominionism,

“Although Luther himself refused to extend the application of his teachings to the political realm in terms of revolution, there were others who disagreed with him on that point. Foremost among these was Thomas Müntzer, a native of Zwickau, whose early teachings were similar to those of the “prophets” from his village who created such a stir in Wittenberg. Müntzer claimed that what was most important was not the written word of Scripture, but the present revelation of the Spirit. In his case such spiritualist doctrine had political consequences, for he felt that those who had been born again by the Spirit should join in a theocratic community, to bring about the Kingdom of God.[2] (emphasis added)

Solomon was right nothing new under the sun because apparently the NAR is recycling Müntzer’s error. First, notice that Müntzer’s group also called themselves “prophets.” Corresponding to Wagner who argues:

Prophets are prominent in the Bible, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. As we just saw above, apostles are first and prophets are second. Every apostle needs alignment with prophets and every prophet needs apostolic alignment.One of the reasons why both should be active in our churches today is that the Bible says, “Surely God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). And also: “Believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established; believe His prophets and you shall prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20). I want to prosper and I want you to prosper.[3]

First, he uses the Old Testament as his rationale so he must conform to its standard for a prophet, 100% accuracy (Deu 18:22). Second, a big red flag goes up in that the term “apostle” properly means one who witnessed the resurrected Christ. Paul was the last apostle, there are no apostles today.  This supported by a standard academic theological dictionary:

apostle. Derived from the Greek term apostolos, an apostle is basically a “sent one.” From his many followers Christ chose twelve whom he designated as “apostles” (Mt 10:2–4; Mk 3:14; Lk 6:14–16). These twelve, along with the apostle Paul as one “abnormally born” (1 Cor 15:8), became foundational in the establishment of the church and functioned as authority figures in the early church.[4]

Paul was “abnormally born” because Christ appeared to him on the Damascus road and commissioned him post ascension. Since Paul was the last apostle, the modern claims are necessarily false. As apostles and prophets, the NAR promote “Kingdom Now” or Dominion Theology just like Müntzer’s “theocratic community, to bring about the Kingdom of God.” The self-appointed apostle C. Peter Wagner has written,

“He [God] expects His kingdom-minded people to take whatever action is needed to push back the long-standing kingdom of Satan and bring the peace and prosperity of His kingdom here on earth.”[5]

“Whatever action is needed” sounds pretty scary. How does Wagner know this is from God? Well as a self-proclaimed modern day Apostle and Prophet, of course he gets it straight from God.  This is remarkably similar to the discussion in my history text, “Müntzer claimed that what was most important was not the written word of Scripture, but the present revelation of the Spirit.” Wagner presents an argument for this sort of revelation as follows:

C. Peter Wagner

Extra-biblical revelation. Some object to the notion that God communicates directly with us, supposing that everything that God wanted to reveal He revealed in the Bible. This cannot be true, however, because there is nothing in the Bible that says it has 66 books. It actually took God a couple of hundred years to reveal to the church which writings should be included in the Bible and which should not. That is extra-biblical revelation. Even so, Catholics and Protestants still disagree on the number. Beyond that, I believe that prayer is two way, we speak to God and expect Him to speak with us. We can hear God’s voice. He also reveals new things to prophets as we have seen. The one major rule governing any new revelation from God is that it cannot contradict what has already been written in the Bible. It may supplement it, however.[6]

One marvels at this level of argumentation coming from a trained theologian. A number of points can be made here. First, while the canon is largely accepted, it was never a unanimous decision. He even acknowledges that this issue is still disputed today. Is God’s voice really that weak? Does he only whisper? No. What we see in the Bible is that when God really speaks to the prophets, it’s not vague. Next, cannon formation was organic and discovered rather than from the brute authority of magisterial councils. In Carson & Moo’s NT introduction a scholar named Barton is cited. Barton used data on the number of times the early church Fathers quoted the various books and there is a clear distinction in frequency of usage between the New Testament books and the non-Canonical works.[7]  In other words, it was pretty self-evident which books were authoritative right from the beginning.  So Wagner’s argument from the canon completely fails.

Is Wagner’s theology revealed directly to him by God?

NAR dominionism is based on a faulty post millennial eschatology. I have addressed it as an eschatological system here. But Wagner says it is revealed by God directly to him as an Apostle. Remember, he teaches that it is the church’s job to subdue the world by “whatever action is needed” to create the kingdom of God.  In sharp contrast, the biblical teaching says things go from bad to worse.  When Jesus was asked what it would be like before his return he said things like:

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.”(Mt 24:9–10)

“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”(Lk 18:8)

The true Apostle’s Peter and Paul taught a consistent doctrine:

“Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,(2 Th 2:3)

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,(2 Ti 4:3)

“knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.(2 Pe 3:3)

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,(2 Ti 3:1–2)

In fact, dominionism has more in common with Rev 13:12ff than anything else in the Bible. Jesus defeats the evil world system, Jesus defeats the antichrist, Jesus defeats the devil. Dominion theology usurps Jesus’ job description.

He used the Old Testament as his justification for his prophet status but does he meet its standard (Deu 18:22)? Also recalling C Peter’s Wagner’s own statement, “The one major rule governing any new revelation from God is that it cannot contradict what has already been written in the Bible.” So we must ask, “does Kingdom Now contradict what has been written?” And the answer is clearly yes. Thus, we should not trust any of his claims. He is misguided at best and that is being charitable.

What got me started on all of this was the remarkable correspondence to Thomas Müntzer. Since past performance is a pretty good predictor of future events, it begs the question, “how did it work out for Müntzer?”

Later, when the rebellion was drowned in blood, he [Luther] urged the victorious princes to be merciful. But his words were not heeded, and it is said that more than 100,000 peasants were killed.[8]

The 16th century Kingdom Now prophet, Thomas Müntzer,  was captured in the decisive Battle of Frankenhausen, tortured into recanting his heretical doctrines and beheaded. Indeed, the NAR really is “the most radical change in the way of doing church since the Protestant Reformation.” After all, Edmund Burke is famous for saying, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”

Müntzer was a such celebrated figure in communism, that he was on a East German 5 mark note.

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[1] C Peter Wagner, “An Urgent Message From Peter,” hyperlink (accessed 8/27/2011).

[2] Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity: Volume Two – The Reformation to the Present Day (San Francisco: HarperOne, 1985), ebook location 111.9 / 943.

[3] C Peter Wagner, “An Urgent Message From Peter,” hyperlink (accessed 8/27/2011).

[4]Stanley Grenz, David Guretzki and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 14.

[5] C Peter Wagner, “An Urgent Message From Peter,” hyperlink (accessed 8/27/2011).

[6] Ibid.

[7]D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 733.

[8] Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity: ebook location 112.6 / 943.

The Irony of Glen Beck, a Mormon, Speaking for Israel

I support Israel’s right to their historic homeland. But isn’t it ironic (and shameful) that Glen Beck, a Mormon, is leading the rally when The Book of Mormon has more in common to the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion than the New Testament?

“Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must need be expedient that Christ—for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name—should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God.” (2 Nephi 10:3)

Obviously this is reflective of the racist views of the plagiarist Joseph Smith and was not divinely revealed. It is incompatible with the revelation that God has given us in the Bible. The truth is that every nation is wicked enough to kill their God. Even more, there is only one God and he did not belong exclusively to Israel, though he specifically adopted them so Abraham would be a blessing to all nations. When the Romans adjudicated the crucifixion of Jesus, they were just as guilty of “crucifying their God” as the Jews. In truth, Christ died for the sins of the world, thus all of us made his death necessary. We all crucified Him by our sin.

Armageddon OT Background to the Battle for the Cosmic Mountain 3


First, I would like to offer a quick word about the use of the term myth or mythology.  In popular usage the term has come to mean a story which is necessarily false but that is not the way scholars often use the term. For instance the Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies defines myth as, “A story, usually relating the actions of supernatural beings, that serves to explain why the world is as it is and to establish the rationale for the rules by which people live in a given society. In classical Greek, myths were simply stories or plots, whether true or false;” In other words, please do not read into my use of “myth” that I  think the events described have no historical basis. It is my thesis here that the mythologies referenced by the prophets do have a real space time point of reference to actual events whether earthly or cosmic. With that being said, the “mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north” (Is 14:13) was originally a mythological meeting place for the pagan gods and corresponds to Mount Zaphon in Ugaritic (Canaanite) texts. These texts describe Mount Zaphon as Baal’s “holy mountain”, “beautiful hill” and “mighty mountain.”[1] According to John Walton:

Saphon/Zaphon  is identified with a mountain, Jebel al-ʿAqra, or Casius in classical sources (deriving from the Hittite Chazzi), which lies north of Ugarit. It is considered holy because it is capped by Baal’s palace in the Baal Epic and is also the site of his burial. (Walton 2009b, 73)

Isaiah was drawing on imagery from Baal-Athtar mythology to make a point about the king of Babylon as well as a divine usurper we know as Satan. It may seem odd that Isaiah would reference a Canaanite holy mountain, yet the Hebrew prophets were famous for juxtaposing Yahweh against the Canaanite deities. For instance, the biblical account of Elijah pronouncing a drought on the land was an assault on Baal as fertility god (1 Kings 17:1). His subsequent showdown with the prophets of Baal was a further demonstration of their god’s impotence (1 Kings 18:38). In the same way, the prophets appropriate the property of a foreign god to assert Yahweh’s superiority.

Jerusalem was located at a higher elevation than much of the surrounding region. The temple was on a conspicuous summit in Jerusalem, his holy hill Mount Zion (Ps. 2:6; 99:2, 9). Psalm 48 is an explicit example of the connection to Zaphon “…His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King.” (Ps 48:1b-2) This “far north” reference connects to the Isaiah taunt song. Heiser notes that,

Yahweh’s sanctuary is on a mountain, Mount Zion (Ps 48:1-2) which is located in the “heights of the north (saphon),” or on a “very high mountain” (Ezek 40:2). Zion is the “mount of assembly” again located in the “heights of the north (saphon),” (Isa 14:13).  (Heiser 2004, 42)

It is important to note that it is described as “in the far north” yet Jerusalem is hardly the extreme geographic north. There is something much bigger going on. The ancient Near Eastern cosmology was a tripartite conception in which the abode of the gods was “the heights of the north.” Thus, the cosmic north is being alluded to designating the divine mount Zion.[2]

Yahweh was associated with a holy mountain from the very beginning in Eden.[3] Ezekiel 28:13-16 equates the garden of God with the mountain of God. Then during in the interim he relocated to Mount Horeb or Sinai (Ex. 3:1). The assembly or mô∙ʿēḏ terminology alludes to the “tent of meeting” which served temporarily and then later the temple proper in Jerusalem on Mount Zion is associated with the mô∙ʿēḏ terminology (Ps.74:4; Lam. 2:6). [4] According to Ezekiel, Yahweh vacated the mountain prior to the temples destruction by the Babylonians (Eze. 10:18).  Lamentations 5:16 describes Mount Zion as utterly desolate. Jesus was the fulfillment of Yahweh’s return for the second temple period. However, the second temple was also destroyed. Still yet, the Shekinah is promised to return to a new temple in the end time after the nation has repented and been cleansed (Eze 43:1-9). It will be argued that this corresponds to what we know about Armageddon and the Day of the Lord.

It seems likely that Armageddon refers to the end time battle for Yahweh’s holy mountain. Mounce comments, “Still others interpret the term in reference to some ancient myth in which an army of demons assault the holy mountain of the gods.”[5] And indeed various texts support the idea that this will be a war with divine, demonic and earthly soldiers. Zechariah describes the Lord returning with his “holy ones” likely angel warriors (Zech. 14:5). Other Old Testament passages also support the idea (Is. 13:16; 24:1-21; Joel 3:9-12). The book of Revelation describes the involvement of demonic hordes (Rev. 16:14) and armies from heaven dressed in white linen which accompany the Lord (Rev. 19:14). Finally, the Dead Sea Scrolls also support this future event. Heiser argues, “The conflict described in the War Scroll involves both men and heavenly beings fighting side-by-side and against one another.”[6]  Accordingly, it seems appropriate to believe that just as Jesus leads an army, the Antichrist or Beast is Satan’s incarnate general.


For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations.
As you have done, it shall be done to you;
your deeds shall return on your own head.
For as you have drunk on my holy mountain,
so all the nations shall drink continually;
they shall drink and swallow,
and shall be as though they had never been.
Obadiah 15-16
….to be continued with part 4: The Divine Usurper

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[1]John H Walton, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament) Volume 5: The Minor Prophets, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 362.

[2] H. Niehr, “Zaphon” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible DDD, 2nd extensively rev. ed. K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking and Pieter Willem van der Horst (Leiden; Boston; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 927.

[3] Michael S. Heiser, “The Divine Council in Late Cannonical and Non-Cannonical Second Temple Jewish Literature,” (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2004), 43.

[4] Torrey, “Armageddon,” 246.

[5] Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 301.

[6] Michael S. Heiser, Islam and Armageddon, (Self-published book, 2002):111.



Armageddon OT Background to the Battle for the Cosmic Mountain 2


“And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Harmagedon.” (NRSV)

This may come as a shock to many of you but a principle tenet of this treatment is that Armageddon has nothing to do with the valley of Megiddo. Bear with me, I realize this might challenge some long held prophetic scenarios but it is actually more coherent with scripture. It involves some technical discussion of original languages but the end result is worth the trouble. The cryptic passage in question reads “And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” (Re 16:16)  Remember that the book of Revelation was composed in Greek. The term in Greek, Ἃρ Μαγεδών, is problematic in that it is a transliteration of a Hebrew term yet we find no immediate Old Testament analog. The rough breathing mark before the vowel is an ‘h’ sound. Thus, it is better represented in English as Har Magedon. In fact, the NRSV translation reads “…that in Hebrew is called Harmagedon.” Torrey argued that the division into two words is required by the Semitic trilateral root structure. The former word Ἃρ or “Har” means “mountain”, הַר  in Hebrew.[1] Accordingly, the remainder is Μαγεδών but the last two letters ‘ών’ are merely a suffix for a place name.[2] Hence, all that remains is a Greek transliteration of a Hebrew word for a mountain which was written as Μαγεδ.

Many respected dispensational scholars (Missler; Pentecost; Walvoord; Fruchtenbaum) identify Armageddon with the area of the Galilean city of Megiddo and believe that a literal military battle will be fought in that area. For instance the respected Messianic scholar, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, argues:

Megiddo was a strategic city located at the western end of the Valley of Jezreel, guarding the famous Megiddo Pass into Israel’s largest valley. One can see the entire Valley of Jezreel from the mount upon which the city of Megiddo stood. So what is known as the Valley of Armageddon in Christian circles is actually the biblical Valley of Jezreel. The term Armageddon is never applied to the valley itself, but only to the mount at the western end.[3]

This sounds convincing at first. Yet, the western end of the Jezreel valley consists of Mount Tabor and Mount Gilboa. It is flanked on the south by Mount Carmel. “Mount Megiddo” appears to have been posthumously entitled to fit the interpretation. The thing that sticks out in his comment is “in Christian circles.” Apparently this idea became widely accepted in dispensational scholarship since it appeared in the New Scofield Reference Bible notes for Judges 5:19 and Revelation 16:16.[4]  Don’t get me wrong, I hold a dispensational view. But the difficulty is that there are no scholarly sources that corroborate this naming convention prior to modern dispensationalism. Of course, this view has now become a meme through the bestselling LaHaye and Jenkins Left Behind book series. The idea behind the traditional “Megiddo” rendering is that the Greek appears as if it could be a possible transliteration for מְגִדֹּו (meḡid∙dô), and that it was the site of some important battles in Israelite history (Josh 12:21; Judg 5:19, 2 Kings 9:27, 23:29-30).[5]  However, the problems demonstrably outweigh the advantages.

The ten thousand pound elephant in the room is that there simply is no such place as Mount Megiddo. In the Bible, Megiddo is twice represented as “the plain of Megiddo” (Zech 12:11; 2 Chron. 35:22). The only mountains near it have their own well established names. In truth, during the Apostle John’s day the only actual hill at Megiddo was a measly seventy foot high artificial mound known as a ‘tell’ in archeology.[6] Furthermore, by using Google earth for geographic investigation, one can see that the town of Megiddo is a full 54 miles in a straight line from the Mount of Olives where the Lord defeats the armies in Zechariah 14. Thus a rendering of Megiddo makes the Day of the Lord passages centering on Jerusalem unrealistically distant. In contrast, the Mount of Olives where the Lord lands with his army is a mere one third mile from Mount Zion. Because of the geography and the fact that the text specifies a mountain, the Megiddo plain or Jezreel valley is not a viable option. We now explore the more plausible alternatives which have been suggested for a reverse Hebrew rendering of the Greek Μαγεδ.

The reference is cryptic and has long evaded unambiguous definition. In effect, scholars must now attempt to reverse transliterate from Greek back to Hebrew. The early commentators Origen, Eusebius and Jerome did not even think Armageddon was the name of an actual place.[7]  R.H. Charles ventured,” it is possible that Ἅρ Μαγεδών may be a corruption either for הַר מִגְדּוֹ = ‘his fruitful mountain.’”[8] This connects it to Jerusalem and coheres nicely to Old Testament “Day of the Lord” texts. Another suggestion is that the Hebrew gādad, (a marauding band, troop)[9] appended to har (“mountain”) would mean “marauding mountain” and would perhaps allude to Jeremiah’s “destroying mountain” (Jer 51:25).[10] Another similar idea suggested by Johnson stems from the secondary sense of the Hebrew gādad that means “to gather in troops or bands” because one can make a noun form a verb in Hebrew by adding the prefix ‘ma’ rendering magēd, “a place of gathering in troops,”[11] which coheres nicely with the context of Revelation 16. While these all seem plausible, in seeming frustration, Robert Mounce surmises:

Wherever it takes place, Armageddon is symbolic of the final overthrow of all the forces of evil by the might and power of God. The great conflict between God and Satan, Christ and Antichrist, good and evil, that lies behind the perplexing course of history will in the end issue in a final struggle in which God will emerge victorious and take with him all who have placed their faith in him. This is Har-Magedon. [12]

While this is surely correct, God has given us this strange name for some purpose albeit enigmatic. Still yet, there is a solution which offers more explanatory scope than the above.

Biblical scholar Charles C. Torrey proposed a solution based on Hebrew mythology back in 1938 which is gaining wider acceptance. Torrey refers to an article in the Hastings Dictionary of the Bible that posited an alternate rendering by Hommel. As far back as the nineteenth century German scholars had made a connection to Isaiah 14:13 but ancient Near Eastern scholarship was still in its infancy. He pointed out that interpreters lacking an intimate knowledge of both Hebrew and Greek miss that the Greek letter gamma, ‘γ’ in Μαγεδών or the ‘g’ in Megiddo can represent the Hebrew consonant ayin, ע.  In other words, New Testament interpreters  think only “Megiddo” being unaware of the possibility that John was Hellenizing as well as transliterating. Accordingly, Torrey postulated מֹועֵד (mô∙ʿēḏ) which infers the “Mount of Assembly” mentioned in Isaiah 14:13. The increasing consensus amongst modern scholars suggests that this view has much to commend it. Hebrew Bible and Semitic languages scholar Michael Heiser argues:

The Hebrew letter ע. מֹועֵד (mô∙ʿēḏ) is transliterated with the sign (ʿ ) because the English alphabet does not have this sound or letter in its alphabet. Neither does Greek, and the Greeks used “g” to denote its sound. Hence “Gomorrah” in English letters is spelled עֲמֹרָה in Hebrew. Therefore there is every reason to suspect that “Armageddon” does in fact mean har mô∙ʿēḏ / “Mount of Assembly.”[14]

Thus, we have an actual mountain referenced in the Hebrew Bible which matches John’s transliteration. American theologian and Old Testament scholar Meredith  Kline concurs stating “Representation of the consonant cayin by Greek gamma is well attested. Also, in Hebrew -on is an affirmative to nouns, including place names.”[15] This rendering was also suggested by Mathias Rissi in his Revelation study Time and History published in 1966.[16]  Because of its scholarly support and convincing explanatory scope the “mount of assembly” rendering is the focus of this presentation.

You said in your heart,
I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
Isaiah 14:13-15.


….to be continued with part 3: The Cosmic Mountain

[1] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament), electronic ed. (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[2] Meredith Kline, “Har Magedon: The End of the Millennium.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 39, 2.I (1996): 208.

[3]Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 311.

[4] Alan F. Johnson, “Revelation” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 12: Hebrews Through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 551.

[5]Johnson, “Revelation,” 551.

[6]Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 301.

[7] Torrey, “Armageddon,” 238.

[8]R.H. Charles, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St John (Edinburgh: T&T Clark International, 1920), 2:50.

[9]R. Laird Harris, Robert Laird Harris, Gleason Leonard Archer and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999, c1980), 150.

[10]Johnson, “Revelation,” 552.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Mounce  Revelation, 302.

[13] Torrey, “Armageddon,” 245.

[14] Michael Heiser, Islam and Armageddon. Self-published book, 2002, 101.

[15] Kline, “Har Magedon,” 208.

[16] Mathias Rissi, Time and History (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1966), 84–85.