It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it? The smoke that hangs in the air from fires in the west, the hurricanes on the southern coast with more lining up in the Atlantic, the pandemic. In news reports I keep hearing the word Armageddon. But what is Armageddon really?
It all began about nine millennia ago at a place where heavily-traveled trading routes crossed near Israel’s Jezreel Valley. There was a spring there too. It was a perfect place for tradespeople to stop, rest, and do a little business. And so they did. It became known as Har Megiddo which means Mount Megiddo.
It wasn’t long before the settlement became valuable. People desired to conquer it and possess the riches that came from the flow of trade. At least twenty cities were build there and subsequently destroyed by various Mediterranean powerhouses including Egypt and Babylon.
The name changed over time and translation from Har Megiddo to Armageddon and the original site is in ruins today. The very name is synonymous with utter destruction. And even though all the destruction has been at the hands of humans, God keeps on getting implicated. The book of Revelation says that God’s final great judgement will take place beginning from there. A lot of people have that in mind when they talk about what’s happening now.
But there’s another way to look at this. Har Megiddo is no longer what it once was. But people still live there today. They just live differently. Why live on rubble when you can start fresh on firm ground? Lush fields command the landscape today, growing food for many.
Some may say God brought destruction (that’s opinion, since we can’t know the mind of God). But it’s just as reasonable to say that out of Har Megiddo God brought something new over and over again. The time will come, after we grieve all that we have lately lost, when God will be with us as we begin anew again too.
The Rev. Beth Purdum Eden is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. She has served in more than 6 parishes in the Western United States for 30 years.