The Bible promises a battle to end all battles will one day take place. A final confrontation between the forces of good and evil at the end of days. We don’t know when that battle will take place, but the Bible does tell us where it may begin – an ancient city in the Valley of Jezreel called Megiddo.
A bloodstained history
Megiddo is no stranger to conflict. Located in Northern Israel about 35 kilometers south of Haifa, the former city holds the distinction of being a key strategic location in the area. Located just before the narrow entrance into the eastern Carmel hills, it was a massively important spot for ancient trade routes. These routes connected with Egypt, the greater Mesopotamia, and Asia Minor. Whoever held those roads could exercise incredible economic and military power in the area. And you held those roads by holding important trade route cities like Megiddo.
As you might imagine, this made the city a tempting target for every major state and power player in the area. Archeological evidence of the city’s import stretches back to the early bronze ages when the first walls of the city were constructed for defensive purposes. Since then, Megiddo and the surrounding valley saw almost constant turmoil, conquered and occupied again and again by the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, and more. The surrounding area was even held by the British for a time in WW1 and the site of a key ally victory.
The words of Thutmose III, an Egyptian pharaoh who said in 15th century BC that "Capturing Megiddo is as good as capturing 1000 cities” have proved to be true for three millennia.
The city has been built and rebuilt dozens of times throughout history. Archeological digs in the area are like slicing into a layered cake of history, with multiple distinct periods of times and cultures that can be identified.
Today, the city sits empty and at peace. Its ruins are still being excavated and examined by archeologists. Visitors today can see the remains of Solomon’s Gate as well as a number of temples, stables, and even an iron age aquifer. It is a fascinating space that, for all of its bloodstained history, is now surrounded by peaceful plains of fertile farmland and small communities.
Revelation 16:16 "And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Harmagedon.”
But what about the prophetic battle of Armageddon that has been foretold? Is it possible that this now peaceful area could become a place of conflict again?
Well, some choose to interpret the passage in the book of Revelation that mentions "Harmagedon” as allegorical, that it could mean any number of places. Some might argue that modern military technology has rendered the idea of a "battlefield” obsolete, that the wars of the future will be settled by bombers and drones. Or that the area is not as important today as it used to be. But there are other factors to consider.
It is true that the site of the ancient city is not a modern-day hotbed of activity, but the Valley of Jezreel still holds significant strategic importance. The Israeli air force’s most important base in the area is located in the valley. And the valley itself is a large open area that is accessible from Lebanon to the north and from Syria to the east, as well as Iran and Iraq by extension. It’s proximity to the port at Haifa also creates strategic value. If you wanted to bring in a large number of troops, the valley around Megiddo would be a naturally preferable route rather than trying to move men and equipment through the surrounding mountainous areas.
And yes, modern military tactics do not resemble the massed groups of spearmen and shield walls of yesterday. But it doesn’t matter how much you bomb an area if you can’t hold it. Even the most technologically advance armies of the world still come down to boots and bodies in the end. Also, we are discussing a battle of biblical proportions, one led by the Messiah against the forces of the anti-Christ - there is no way for the human mind to truly conceptualize what that could look like!
The Bible also alludes to two battles at the end of the world. One very explicitly in Megiddo and one in a valley near Jerusalem. One interpretation of what that means is that we could see a two-pronged battle, with conflicts at both sites, or a rolling battle that starts in one place and ends in another. Whatever the case, we know that Megiddo and the Valley of Armageddon will play a crucial role. We may not fully understand what form that may take, but we can look to the words of the scripture and the chaos of the world around us to know that it will occur.
There is so much more to know and understand about Megiddo and its role in future world events. If you would like to learn more, we encourage you to check out Seasons 7 and 10 of The Prophetic Connection where our Rev. Dr. John Tweedie goes into deep detail on the historical and biblical significance of Megiddo and the prophecies found in the book of Revelation.