(Excerpt from WWN 9(03)
With the attention of the world being focused on the Euphrates River Valley, the Biblical connection based in Bible prophecy is being emphasized. With the drying up of the river Euphrates (Rev. 16:12), is associated "a place called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon" (16:16). In the Spring 2003 issue of Adventists Affirm, a publication affirming Seventh-day Adventist beliefs, was an article by Steve Wohlberg, "Israel and Armageddon." He was commenting on, and taking issue with, Book 11 of the best-selling Left Behind Series, Armageddon: The Cosmic Battle of the Ages.
Being of Jewish descent, Wohlberg seems, however, unable to distinguish between Israel and Jerusalem as used in the New Testament. His take-off in the article is in regard to Israel. He writes:
First of all - and this has seismic implications - the New Testament actually describes two Israels, not just one. (p. 15; emphasis his).
This is true. There is Israel of the flesh, and Israel of the Spirit. Both are peoples on earth; however when we come to Jerusalem, it is a different picture. There was and is a Jerusalem on earth, the city of David, now the capital of the modern State of Israel. The second Jerusalem is the heavenly, the New Jerusalem which will come "down from God out of heaven" (Rev. 21:2). To fail to recognize this difference between the use of "Jerusalem" and "Israel" in the New Testament leads to a failure to properly understand Jesus' own prophecy concerning the earthly Jerusalem.
In discussing the book of Revelation as he leads up to his answer to the question, "What is Armageddon?" is the emphasis of the fact that John was "in the spirit" and comments, "don't forget this." He accepts this statement of John's condition in vision as a justification to spiritualize the meaning of the prophetic revelation given. So he concludes: In essence, "Armageddon" in Revelation depicts the final battle between King Jesus with His heavenly armies (19:11-19) fighting against the world-wide forces of Satan with "Mystery Babylon." (p. 21).
In analyzing the deception which Wohlberg is setting forth in this journal dedicated to the affirmation of what Seventh-day Adventists believe, let us note first a very simple fact as given in Revelation. Armageddon is not a battle but a place - a place where "the battle of that great day of God Almighty" focuses. (Rev. 16:14). The Greek word for "place" (τόπος) is a part of our English word, topography. It was used by Jesus (John 14:2) when He promised the reality of the future - "I go to prepare a place for you." Jesus was not spiritualizing away Heaven when He declared, "In my Father's house are many mansions."
The word, τόπος, is also used in Heb. 12:17, where it defines the experience of Esau who, in selling his birthright, passed the point of no return. This is equally true of those whom the "spirits of devils" gather to the "place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." They have passed the point of no return in their rebellion against God.
A second factor which Wohlberg ignored whether in ignorance or intentionally is the fact that the plague is one thing in Revelation 16, and the cause is another thing. For example, the first plague, "noisome and grievous sores" fell on those who had received "the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image" (verse. 2). The "mark" and the "image" took place in probationary time, the plague comes after the close of probation. The same is true of the sixth plague: The gathering together into "the place" by the "spirit of devils" is prior to the close of probation, the drying of the water of the great river, Euphrates, is after the close of probation.
A third factor is that this specific place has a name, and that name is given in the Hebrew tongue. Wohlberg, claiming to be of Jewish descent , evidently did not receive a knowledge of the Hebrew language through that descent. Actually the word, "Armageddon" is better translated in the ARV – Har-Magedon. The first part of the compound word - Har - means "mountain." It is the second part of the name that is more difficult of translation. Written in Greek in Revelation, transliterated into English in our Bibles, it nevertheless is a Hebrew designation of a specific place. What "place"? The Hebrew language has no vowels, as such. The three consonants from Magedon which we need to consider are "m (μ)," g (γ)," and "d (δ). In the Hebrew language the Ayin when translated into the Greek is often translated by a gamma (γ. One example is the name, Gomorrah, sister city to Sodom. The Hebrew spelling is Ayin, (not Gimel) Mem, Res, He. In the LXX, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the city is spelled, G (gamma) ομορραζ. Gesenius, recognized Hebrew linguist, wrote:
While the Hebrew was a living language, this letter [Ayin] which is peculiar to the Semitic tongue, and extremely difficult for our organs to pronounce, seems to have had . . . a two fold pronunciation [a soft and a hard sound]. The harder Ayin which the Arabs called Ghain, was a harsh sound uttered from the bottom of the throat, accompanied by a certain whirring or whizzing, so as resemble the letter "R" when uttered abruptly with a strong rolling. This the Seventy have actually represented by the letter [gamma] in the LXX. (Hebrew and English of the Old Testament, p. 737)
(For a diagram of this use of the Greek, gamma, and the Hebrew, ayin, see Appendix D in the booklet, "The SIGN of the End of Time").
The Hebrew word which meets most closely the textual as well as the linguistic demands and is called a mountain in the Old Testament, is Mo'ed, "Mount of the Congregation, in the sides of the north." Isaiah tells us that it is the design of Lucifer to be enthroned there (14:13), and John in Revelation indicates that the "spirits of devils" gather "the kings of the earth" to this place for "the battle of the great day of God Almighty" (Rev. 16:14, 16). The enthronement of Lucifier at a place in the Hebrew tongue called Har Mo'ed is the signal for the Lord God Almighty to take unto Himself His great power and reign. (See Rev. 11:15-19) How much more meaningful is the prophetic intent when carefully studied than the "spiritualizing" away of the Word of God as Wohlberg has done? Lo, another false prophet has arisen in "Israel." (From Watchman, What of the Night? September, 2003)