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Revelation 16:16 says,
16 And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.
John tells us that this “place” has a Hebrew name, which is expressed in Greek letters. The first Greek letter is written like this: (‘). It carries the “h” sound So the KJV “Ar” is not quite correct. The NASB “Har” is correct. Har is the Hebrew word for “mount or mountain.”
The first thing that should be obvious is that the plain of Megiddo does not have a mountain. All it has is a small hill that is not natural. It is a tell, which is the site of an ancient abandoned city that has been buried in dust over the years.
Secondly, Magedon is similar to Megiddo, but there is only one “d” in Magedon and no “n” in Megiddo. So there are some unexplained differences.
For this reason, some people, such as Dr. Michael Heiser, believe that Magedon is not a reference to Megiddo at all but should be read, “Mount of Assembly.”
He explains that the gimel in Hebrew has just one sound, whereas its Greek counterpart may have either of two sounds, either “g” or “y”. This is one of the problems that translators face when translating words from one language to another. They must use their own (often biased) judgment to determine how to translate it.
Dr. Heiser points to Genesis 10:19, where the Hebrew names Gerar, Gaza, and Gomorrah begin with the Hebrew letter ayin, not gimel. So why do we begin those names in English with the letter “G”? It is because we follow the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, which spelled these names in Greek with their letter “g.”
Why? Because they did not have a Greek equivalent to the ayin. Their “g” served a dual purpose and could also be the equivalent of the Hebrew ayin.
So when we come to the transliterated word Har-Magedon, what if we were to pronounce the “g” in its alternate equivalent, the ayin? This, says Dr. Heiser, would mean that Magedon is derived, not from Megiddo, but from the Hebrew word mo’ed. The word means “appointed time, meeting, appointed place; by extension, an assembly or gathering.”
In other words, it is the place to gather for a scheduled meeting. Thus it is also used in reference to the biblical feast days, where men gathered at the temple in Jerusalem. In fact, the word is translated in the KJV as “congregation” 150 times and “assembly” another 4 times.
This fits perfectly with the sense in which Har-Magedon is used in Revelation 16:16, for there we see the nations being gathered for judgment. It is the appointed time for their court date. The triumvirate of Babylon spoke words that represented three frogs, or “unclean spirits,” to deceive the people with false ideologies and beliefs. But God was too smart for them. He used their own deception for His own purpose, which was to gather the nations together for divine judgment.
So we read in Psalm 75:2,
2 When I select an appointed time [mo’ed], it is I who judge with equity.
Again, we read in Psalm 82:1, 2,
1 God takes His stand in His own congregation [mo’ed]; He judges in the midst of the rulers [elohim, “gods or judges”]. 2 How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?
This alludes primarily to God’s judgment upon Shiloh and its corrupted priests. Eli showed partiality to his own wicked sons (1 Samuel 2:29). So God took “His stand in His own congregation” and judged His own house impartially.
Shiloh and Jerusalem
In those days, Jerusalem was the gathering place for the feast days, because this was where God had chosen to place His name (Deuteronomy 16:2, 6, 11). That place was temporary, as was Shiloh before it. Jeremiah 7:10 calls the temple in Jerusalem, “this house, which is called by My name.” He then condemns it for becoming “a den of robbers” (Jeremiah 7:11) and tells us that God was about to forsake that place “as I did to Shiloh” (Jeremiah 7:14).
Ezekiel then saw the glory depart (Ezekiel 10:18; 11:23), never again to return to that place. Just as the glory departed from Shiloh at the birth of Ichabod (1 Samuel 4:21, “the glory has departed”), so also did the glory depart from Jerusalem. It is vital that we understand that the glory of God moved on to a greater and better temple, which Paul described in Ephesians 2:20-22.
The point is that Shiloh, a town in the tribe of Ephraim, was the first place where the congregation assembled for the feast days and where the priestly judges ruled (Joshua 18:1). When those priests were corrupted, the glory of God forsook Ephraim and later moved to Jerusalem (Psalm 78:60, 67-69).
In other words, God judged His own judges, or rulers, because “judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17 KJV). Later, God judged Jerusalem for the same reason, as Jeremiah tells us. There is, therefore, a third judgment coming upon the house of God, and this is the overall context of the assembly at Har-Magedon, or Armageddon. The main difference is that this time He is not only judging the church for its corruption but also the nations as a whole.
Insofar as the church has adopted Babylonian ways, it will be judged by our impartial God, who judges all men equally according to their works. Yet I believe that divine judgment will be done by sending forth the Spirit of God, whose calling is to “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8) and to “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13).
Not all will be judged with the same sentence. People will either repent (change their beliefs and practices) and be led into truth, or they will suffer more severe consequences.
The Mount of Assembly
Isaiah 14:4-21 is a “taunt” and a prophecy against the king of Babylon. Isaiah 14:12-14 says,
12 How have you fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! 13 But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly [har mo’ed] in the recesses of the north. 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
It is not our purpose here to discuss the possible applications of this passage to “Lucifer.” On the surface it is a reference to the king of Babylon, who prophetically represents the nations being gathered for judgment at Armageddon. Revelation 16:13 indicates that the call to gather at Armageddon comes from the three frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. Hence, one might say that the king of Babylon is represented by the dragon who is mustering his supporters through deceptive ideologies and beliefs.
Our present interest in this prophecy is in Isaiah’s statement, “I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north.” This is probably the passage from which Revelation 16:16 derives the term “Armageddon.” It was said to be on the north side, partly because the temple was situated north of the “City of David,” the old Jebusite fortress that David conquered in 2 Samuel 5:9.
Yet this also parallels the beliefs of other religions and nations. The king of Babylon was not speaking of Jerusalem but of a “northern mountain fabled by the Babylonians to be the common meeting-place of their gods” (Commentary on the Whole Bible, by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, page 446). This commentary continues, saying,
“So the Hindoos place the Meru, the dwelling-place of their gods, in the north, in the Himalayan mountains. So the Greeks, to the northern Olympus. The Persian followers of Zoroaster put the Ai-bordsch in the Caucasus north of them. The allusion to the stars harmonizes with this, viz., that those near the North Pole…”
It appears, then, that the reference to the north shows a traditional view that this was where the throne of God was located. The astrologers had noted that all the stars appeared to move in a circle around the north star, as if the “sons of God” were encircling His throne.
This, then, is what Isaiah 14:13 calls “the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north.” Though the words are put into the mouth of the king of Babylon, they also allude to the temple mount in Jerusalem that was situated north of the (original) “city of David,” or Mount Zion.
Men have also pointed out that Megiddo itself was located in the northern territory of the tribes of Israel, particularly in Zebulun and Naphtali. Hence, it appears that there is more than one layer of meaning in this term Armageddon, which we will discuss next.