Armageddon: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
I decided to write this article to point out the danger of the Armageddon, not as a prophecy which will come to fruition as a result of divine forces, but rather, one which has the potential to unfold due to certain psychological factors associated with the belief in an impeding apocalypse, or Armageddon.
The origins and reality of the Christian Armageddon enunciated in the book of Revelation (Rev. 16:16) are dubious. The Armageddon describes the final battle here on earth between the forces of good and evil, a battle that will herald the apocalypse (Anc. Greek: apokalypsis; meaning to “uncover, reveal or disclose&rdquo The anonymous author, who is called “John,” (Rev. 1:1), used the term Armageddon, claiming it to be of Hebrew origin, yet nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures from which this author and the various other NT authors drew, had this term been used. The term has been translated in various manuscripts of the NT in a number of ways. Some manuscripts translate this “Greek transliteration,” of the alleged Hebrew term to mean; “Mount Megiddo,” “City of Megiddo,” “land of Megiddo,” “Mount of Assembly,” “City of Desire,” and “His Fruitful Mountain.” Yet, as mentioned, nowhere throughout the entire corpus of Hebrew Scripture, does this term make an appearance. It seems to have been a word which was unique to “John” and only “John,” for in no other book of the New Testament can it be found either.
Here we must make a brief distinction between two semi-related terms, which have oft times been confused. Armageddon, the possibly fictitious Greek transliteration of the alleged Hebrew term “Mount Megiddo, or anyone of its other possible renderings, and the term, apocalypse, which as stated, means “revealing” and pertains to the final revelation of “God’s word/Logos/presence on earth”! Apocalypses can be found in the Hebrew Scriptures, in particular in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah and Isaiah, and outside of the official Hebrew Canon, in books like 2 Baruch, 3 Baruch, Ezra, Enoch, The Apocalypse of Abraham and the book of the Jubilees. Further, we find the concept of the apocalypse within the official Gospels (see Mark 13, Matthew 24 and Luke 21) and expanded within the epistles of Paul (see 2 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians). There are also apocryphal Christian texts which speak of the apocalypse, such as the Apocalypse of Paul, the Apocalypse of Peter and other non-canonized Christian works.
Christianity took the Hebrew apocalyptic tradition, which the Hebrews had themselves adopted from more ancient Persian and Egyptian traditions, and applied it to the second coming of Christ, which, according to Christian mythology, would be preceded by the Armageddon, or final battle, asserted to act as the brutal and bloody gateway for the earthly return of the all-loving God!
The town of Megiddo is a real place located in the north of Israel and was recorded in the OT as the location of many ancient battles (see Judges 5:19, 2 Kings 9:27, 2 Kings 23:29), of which, the archaeological evidence seems to support. So it may be that the 1st or 2nd century author of the book of Revelation was symbolically locating his final mythological battle between the forces of good and evil at Megiddo, due to the fact that various battles were recorded as taking place there centuries ago.
Whether the author of Revelation located his final battle in Megiddo for symbolic reasons or not, one thing is certain, the final battle as described by the author of Revelation, has not taken place yet! This does not mean that countless people throughout history haven’t claimed that the end was imminent, for barely a year has passed without some heralder of doom, screaming at the top of his lungs, “the end is nigh,” causing believers to fall to their knees in prayer and non-believers to fall on their faces with laughter!
Just to give you an idea of how many times Christians have predicted the end of the world and been wrong, I will provide the following list which is neither comprehensive nor exhaustive.
• 70-100 CE – Gospels and Pauls Epistles (New Testament) redicted
that the end of days and Jesus’ second coming would occur in the
lifetime of the first century Christians.
• 90 CE: Saint Clement 1 predicted that the world would end during
• 2nd Century CE: Members of the Montanist movement predicted
that Jesus would return during their lifetime and establish the
New Jerusalem in the city of Pepuza in Asia Minor.
• 365 CE: Hilary of Poitiers, announced that the end would come
about in 365 CE.
• 375 to 400 CE: Saint Martin of Tours predicted that the end would
happen sometime before 400 CE.
• 500 CE: Hippolytus and the Christian academic Sextus Julius
Africanus predicted the end of the world in 500 CE.
• 968 CE: An eclipse was interpreted as a prelude to the end of the
world by the army of the German emperor Otto III.
• 1000-JAN-1: Many Christians in Europe predicted the end of the
world in 1000 CE.
• 1000-MAY: The body of Charlemagne was disinterred on
Pentecost. A legend had arisen that an emperor would rise from
his sleep to fight the Antichrist.
• 1005-1006: A famine throughout Europe was seen as a sign of the
end of the world and Jesus’ second coming.
• 1147: Gerard of Poehlde believed that the millennium had actually
started in 306 CE during Constantine's reign. Thus, the world end
was expected in 1306 CE.
• 1179: John of Toledo predicted the end of the world during 1186.
• 1205: Joachim of Fiore predicted in 1190 that the Antichrist was
already in the world, and that King Richard of England would
• 1346 and later: The black plague spread across Europe, killing one
third of the population. This was seen as the prelude to an
immediate end of the world.
• 1496: This was approximately 1500 years after the birth of Jesus.
Some mystics in the 15th century predicted that the millennium
would begin during this year.
• 1524: Many astrologers predicted the imminent end of the world
due to a world-wide flood.
• 1533: Melchior Hoffman predicted that Jesus' return would happen
a millennium and a half after the nominal date of his execution, in
• 1669: The Old Believers in Russia believed that the end of the
world would occur in this year. 20 thousand burned themselves to
death between 1669 and 1690 to protect themselves from the
• 1689: Benjamin Keach, a 17th century Baptist, predicted the end
of the world for this year.
• 1736: British theologian and mathematician William Whitson
predicted a great flood similar to Noah's for OCT-13 of this year.
• 1783: On JUN-08, a volcanic eruption in southern Iceland started.
It pumped massive amounts of toxic dust, sulphur dioxide and
fluorine into the atmosphere. Cattle died, crops failed, and about
one quarter of the island's population died of starvation. Many
predicted that the end of the world was imminent.
• 1794: Charles Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, thought
that Doomsday would occur in this year.
• 1830: Margaret McDonald, a Christian prophetess, predicted that
Robert Owen would be the Antichrist. Owen helped found New
• 1832: Joseph Smith (1805-1844) was the founder of the Mormon
Church and predicted the end of the world in this year.
In Dave Hunt’s, ‘An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith,’ he asserts:
"Current events seem to be heading in that direction and leading to Armageddon. That horrible war will bring the intervention of Jesus Christ from heaven to rescue Israel and to destroy Antichrist and his world government. All indications today are that we are indeed heading toward a world government.
The Bible declares that Antichrist will control all banking and commerce in the entire world with a number, a remarkable prophecy anticipating modern computer technology."
If one carefully reads the excerpt above, it becomes clear that Hunt, and those like him, are searching for meaning in words and events that are altogether barren. He says; “current events seem to be heading in that direction and leading to Armageddon!” Weren’t they also heading in that direction during the collapse of the Roman Empire with the brutal strife between the Goths and the Vanguards, couldn’t those living during the great plagues of Europe during the first few Christian centuries have also seen that the world was heading toward Armageddon. Take for example, the Antonine Plague which wiped out over 10 million people across Europe and the Near East, surely with the wars that were occurring simultaneously, these times would have seemed like the world was heading for Armageddon. Or what about at the outbreak of World War 1, Ahh! The world is heading for Armageddon, or even World War 2, Ahh! The world is on the brink of Armageddon! How about the outbreak of the Sars Virus, or any of the thousands of times throughout our history where times have seemed to fit the description of the “End of Days?”
Curiously, every apocalyptic religion claims to possess the exclusive antidote to the horrors which will ensue during this terrifying time and each of these apocalyptic religions have promoted the end of the world in order to scare people into submission.
There is a danger that such an Armageddon can be brought about, not by god but rather, by man himself. This could happen as a result of what psychologists call a ‘self-fulfilling Prophecy.’
In The Concise Corsini Encyclopaedia of Psychology, it describes a Self-fulfilling Prophecy in the following words:
"The “self-fulfilling prophecy” is another interesting phenomenon in which an expectation about what will happen influences one’s behavior. Archibald has reviewed possible interpretations of such effects. An expectation of failure may arouse anxiety so that a person tries to alleviate such feelings, or the aroused state may produce inappropriate effort (trying too hard or paying attention to the wrong cues). Alternatively, an expectation of a favorable outcome may simply increase effort and thereby facilitate performance. A person highly involved in a task may be oriented primarily to preserve self-esteem or some important value. Therefore, the task or goal may be redefined to avoid disconfirmation of the expectation."
If Christianity or any of the other apocalyptic religions spread to the point that all major governments are infected with such beliefs, along with their citizens, then it is possible that we as a collective might bring about a self-fulfilled Armageddon.
And what if the apocalyptic passages in the various Scriptures were written with this knowledge of psychology in mind? Or, perhaps it was seen as being a very successful scare tactic, one which could gain vast numbers of followers quickly!
You can always trust a person in search of the truth, but never the one who has found it. MANLY P. HALL