Recently there has been a raft of TV and radio programmes looking at the Cold War. This was the tense political position between the East and the West during the 1950’s to 1980’s. Those who lived through the time will remember the imminent threat of nuclear war. All of these programmes about this time period talk about the potential for “Armageddon” or the impending “apocalypse”. In 1982 there was even a satirical comedy about the position called “Whoops, Apocalypse”. But what are Armageddon and the apocalypse, and are these words being used correctly in these contexts?
Both words relate to the Bible and the book of Revelation. An apocalypse (Ancient Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apocálypsis, from ἀπό and καλύπτω meaning ‘un-covering’), translated literally from Greek, is a disclosure of knowledge, i.e., a lifting of the veil or revelation. So the whole book of Revelation is an apocalypse. But with the book referring to the end of the current time and the return of Jesus, people interpret the apocalypse as meaning the end of the world by any means. Indeed the aforementioned documentaries married the idea of total nuclear annihilation by man due to nuclear weapons as being the apocalypse. In fact the apocalypse (or revelation) clearly states that the earth will not be destroyed. It talks about a new heaven and a new earth after Jesus returns; but it will be God who facilitates this, not man.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away;
The book does appear to make reference to a battle between the believers and non-believers at a place called Armageddon; but this will be one thousand years after Jesus has returned.
And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon
This verse (the only time the word is used in the whole of the Bible) is in the middle of a section of symbolic language and so it’s unclear whether this is a literal or figurative battle. Again though, it has come to be associated with any huge battle, which will end with the destruction of mankind.
It’s a sad fact that a lot of the time people misuse or misinterpret words or ideas associated with the Bible. Indeed the book of Revelation has been a stable touch-stone for many a horror writer; but in fact it couldn’t be further away from the truth. The book is difficult to understand; but at the end it talks about the earth being returned to its original perfection. The Bible as a whole explains how you can be in that perfect world. The choice is yours. To find out how, visit our what we believe page.