Armageddon; apocalypse

Armageddon

a war; a great battle that will destroy the world; a time of destruction

apocalypse

disaster; devastation; complete destruction

—Some economists are predicting a real-estate apocalypse in the near future, and that scares me. But my husband says if the bank tries to take our house, he’ll declare his own personal Armageddon and fight them in the courts.

Revelation includes a description of a final battle between the armies of evil and God’s people. The conflict takes place when demons bring together the kings of the world:

Now the spirits gathered the kings and their armies to the place that is called Armageddon in Hebrew. (Revelation 16:16)

Armageddon probably comes from Har Megiddon, the Hebrew name for the “mountain of Megiddo,” a place outside Jerusalem where many violent battles have occurred. In the prophecy recorded by John, this final battle of Armageddon will take place in connection with the return of Jesus.

Apocalypse comes from a Greek word meaning “something revealed, revelation.” It is the first word in the Book of Revelation:

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must happen very soon. He made it clear by sending his angel to his servant John, who then testified to everything that he saw concerning the word of God and the testimony about Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy aloud, and blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it, because the time is near! (Revelation 1:1-3)

Apocalypse got its newer meaning because of Revelation’s many prophecies of devastation. At one point, seven angels blow trumpets announcing great acts of destruction. Here is what John writes about the first two:

The first angel blew his trumpet, and there was hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was thrown at the earth so that a third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

Then the second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain of burning fire was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea became blood, and a third of the creatures living in the sea died, and a third of the ships were completely destroyed.

The New Testament, especially Revelation, tells of many events that will happen before Jesus’ return and the final judgment. Such an event is sometimes called a “sign of the apocalypse” or a “sign of the end times.” These phrases are now often used in a humorous way, to describe something that seems very strange or that seems to go against the natural order of things—something that would only happen if the world were coming to an end.

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