Jan. 17, 2013, 7:56 PM
MEGIDDO — Situated here at the foot of Israel’s Mount Megiddo, the valley pictured below is believed by many Christians to be the site of the Battle of Armageddon, the final fight of End Times before the Second Coming of Jesus.
Grace Wyler/Business Insider
While all Christians believe that there will be a Second Coming, interpretations differ as to how that will go down.
Without getting too deep into the nitty-gritty of Christian theology, most American evangelical Christians are “premillenial,” which means that they believe Christ will establish a literal Kingdom on Earth after a period of unprecedented chaos and strife known as the Great Tribulation. The belief is based on a passage from the Book of Revelation, the primary eschatological text of the Christian faith, which says that “they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” for “the battle on the great day of God Almighty.”
The location of the valley is also key to understanding the American evangelical community’s hardline support for Israel. According to most evangelical interpretations of the Battle of Armageddon, all of the world’s armies will descend on this plain for an epic battle against Israel; when the battle ends, the valley will be filled with “blood up to the bridles of the horses,” but the land will be restored to Israel under Christ’s rule, fulfilling God’s covenant with Abraham, which promised to restore the land to his descendants.
Christians have been predicting and preparing for the End Times since the first century, couching the Battle of Armageddon within the political context of their era. One recent theory, for example, postulates that Russian and Arab armies will form an alliance, invading Israel from the west and south, while the Chinese army will invade from the east; meanwhile, Western nations, led by the Antichrist, will fight back the invasion.
Despite the popular fascination with the Apocalypse, however, many American evangelicals have started to eschew End Times debates, signaling a growing shift toward nondenominationalism and political activism.
“Christians need not be divided over eschatology — we can all agree the Lord has it figured out,” California-based evangelical pastor Rob McCoy told Business Insider on a recent visit to Megiddo. “To argue over this while our nation crumbles is like fighting for deck chairs on the Titanic. Let’s get the ship fixed and forget about the chairs. The drug addict can’t even spell eschatology and the single mother raising her kids doesn’t need a lesson on the topic as much as she needs a church to help her with her intense challenges. We need to quit dividing and start uniting in order to change the culture.”