This study is essentially a follow-up to two previous articles, A Study of Zechariah 14:1-11 and A Study of Zechariah 14:12-21, and is very helpful that the readers familiarize themselves with these two articles before continuing on.
Another article, The Meaning of “Armaged[d]on” by Jeff Van Hatten, should also be read to aid in the reader’s complete understanding of the topic being discussed.
The first part of this article will focus on where the end-times battle, commonly referred to as ‘Armageddon1‘- when Jesus comes back to destroy His enemies – will be fought, and why the location of this battle cannot be where most believe it will occur.
The second part of this article will focus on a summary overview of Joel chapter 3 and its relationship to this end-times battle.
The Valley of Jezreel / The Plain of Megiddo
The Valley of Jezreel, also known as the Plain of Megiddo in northern Israel, is ordinarily thought to be the location where the end-times battle – commonly known as ‘Armageddon1‘ – will be waged when Christ comes back at His Second Coming to destroy His enemies.
According to biblestudytools.com: The Jezreel Valley is what many call the Valley of Armageddon. “So what is known as the Valley of Armageddon in Christian circles is actually the biblical Valley of Jezreel. The term Armageddon is never applied to the valley itself, but only to the mount at the western end.” 2
Whether one thinks of the Valley of Megiddo or the mountain at the western end, the fact is, this is the place where most teachers and students of the Bible believe this last battle will take place. But is this true, and are there any other passages of Scripture that support this view?
Prophetic Valley of Jezreel Verses
The only place in Scripture where the Valley of Jezreel is ever spoken of in seeming end of days prophetic terms is found in Hosea. Let’s look at this passage of Scripture.
“The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son. And the Lord said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel, in the valley of Jezreel“ (Hosea 1:1-5). (emphasis mine)
The phrase “at that day” – usually synonymous with “in that day” – is often a term associated with the phrase “the day of the LORD.” This is one of those instances where it is not.
This prophecy is clearly speaking of the coming conquest of the northern 10 tribes of Israel at the hands of the Assyrians in approximately 722 BC. This is not an end-times prophecy.
The closing verses of Hosea chapter 1 read:
“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel“ (Hosea 1:10-11). (emphasis mine)
These verses are referring to Christ’s Kingdom as Israel and Judah will be living as one people “and appoint themselves One head [Jesus Christ].”
“… [T]hey shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” In Hosea’s prophecy, the northern 10 tribes of Israel were conquered by their enemies; in Christ’s Millennial Kingdom, they will be reunited with their brothers of Judah and, truly, great shall be that day of Jezreel!
Jezreel had once been a royal throne for some of the kings of Israel and will have turned into a place of despair for the northern kingdom when she was exiled. What once had been a curse of defeat and deportation in the Valley of Jezreel for their rebellion against the Lord will have become a blessing for all of the tribes of Israel as they are regathered to that same place. What was once a place of death and despair when the Assyrians conquered them will become a place of peace and joy with their Messiah!
Prophetic Megiddo Verses
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon“ (Zechariah 12:9-11). (emphasis mine)
While Zechariah 12:9-10 is prophetic future, the reference to the Valley of Megiddo in verse 11 is a reminder of what happened in a past event and is not future. The event this passage refers to is when good King Josiah was killed in battle and “Hadadrimmon” was a town in the Valley of Megiddo:
“Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo. And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded. His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah“ (2 Chronicles 35:22-24). (emphasis mine)
As we can see, Zechariah 12:11, “In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon” is using this past event as an analogy to the mourning that the people of Jerusalem will experience when she is regathered after Christ’s Second Coming and recognizes Him as their Messiah, and nothing else. There’s no end-time prophecy here regarding Megiddo.
Other than these verses, I know of no other passage of Scripture that speaks of Megiddo in a future prophetic sense. Nowhere are we told that the Lord will be coming back to northern Israel to battle in Megiddo or the Valley of Jezreel.
The Final Battle for Jerusalem/Zion
An important note to keep in mind as we proceed on is that many times throughout Scripture, we are told that the Lord will be coming back to save Jerusalem or Zion.
Let’s take a look at a few of these Scriptures that express this very concept.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem“ (Zechariah 12:9).
“Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad“ (Psalm 14:7).
“For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession. The seed also of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein“ (Psalm 69:35-36). (emphasis mine)
“Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire. And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and her munition, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision. It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion“ (Isaiah 29:6-8). (emphasis mine)
“For thus hath the Lord spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof. As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it“ (Isaiah 31:4-5). (emphasis mine)
“For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion“ (Isaiah 34:8).
“Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion. But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor“ (Micah 4:11-12).
Prophetic Valley of Jehoshaphat Passages
The Valley of Jehoshaphat is believed to be synonymous with the Kidron Valley and the King’s dale. This famous valley is also referred to as “the valley of decision” in Joel 3:14.
This valley that runs east of, and descends south of, Jerusalem will provide the starting point that will wrap around the Dead Sea and go east into modern-day Jordan, is indicated to be the location of the enemy participants in the futile attempt to defeat Christ at His Second Coming in Scripture. (A map later in this article will show the reader what this area looks like.)
An Overview Study of Joel Chapter 3
Here are few important verses in Joel chapter 3 concerning the location that will most certainly be where the battle commonly referred to as ‘Armageddon1‘ will take place:
“I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land“ (Joel 3:2).
There are some who think this chapter is speaking of the separation of the sheep from the goats in Matthew 25:31-46. For me, there is a blending of Christ’s Second Coming to destroy the nations of the world gathered in and around the Valley of Jehoshaphat at His Second Coming, as well as the separation of the sheep from the goats very soon afterward. After all, these two events happen relatively soon, one after the other.
The fact is, the entire “day of the Lord” seems to be in view in Joel chapter 3 – immediately after the rapture of the church through the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. Some may even say that Joel 3:1-8 refers to prophecy fulfilled in the past.
But there can be no doubt to the Second Coming ‘Armageddon1‘ references when we read:
“Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong“ (Joel 3:9-10).
There is no war at the separation of the sheep and the goats – the war has already been waged, and Christ has destroyed his enemies with the Spirit of His mouth and the brightness of His coming (2 Thess. 2:8).
“Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about“ (Joel 3:11-12).
These two verses seem to have a blended view of both the last battle at Christ’s Second Coming and the separation of the sheep and the goats – the separation of the people of the nations.
“Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision“ (Joel 3:13-14). (emphasis mine)
These two verses are clearly describing the Second Coming battle and are perfectly descriptive of the same event recorded in Revelation 14:
“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs” (Revelation 14:14-20). (emphasis mine)
Joel continues on:
“The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel“ (Joel 3:15-16). (emphasis mine)
Notice the “Zion” and “Jerusalem” references – no Megiddo or the Valley of Jezreel.
Again, this is a Second Coming reference to the last battle also spoken of by Christ:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:29-30). (emphasis mine)
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited. Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously” (Isaiah 24:21-23). (emphasis mine)
Joel 3:17-21 gives some details of the Millennial reign of Christ.
The Bozrah Connection
When the Lord comes back, the armies of Antichrist and the world will be stationed to the south-east of Jerusalem in the Valley of Jehoshaphat and will wrap around the Salt Sea, moving east to the ancient city of Bozrah.
Map #1 is showing where these armies will, more than likely, be stationed with Sela Petra or Mt. Seir and Bozrah.
In other maps, I noticed that the ancient city of Petra is a little farther south of Bozrah. Map #2 helps to show this distinction.
Either way, the mountain range where the Jews will flee is relatively close to Bozrah in either direction. This would help explain why the Lord will begin His campaign in Bozrah and work His way toward Jerusalem at His Second Coming.
The Israelis, who have been supernaturally protected in the Petra/Mt. Seir mountain range of ancient Edom, will be in dire straits as it appears the armies of the earth are not only waiting to do battle against the Lord when He comes to Jerusalem, but are simultaneously advancing to where the remnant of Judah is.
Isaiah put it this way:
“Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth“ (Isaiah 63:1-6).
The Lord will destroy His enemies’ futile attempt to destroy Him when He comes back in that last battle commonly called ‘Armageddon1‘ to save Zion – the city of the Great King – which will begin at Bozrah.
What once was an enigma to me – prophecy teachers teaching that the end-times battle of ‘Armageddon1′ was in the Plain (or Mountain) of Megiddo, and yet Scripture repeatedly attesting that this battle would be waged near Jerusalem – has been made clear now from my own studies and my friend Jeff Van Hatten’s excellent article The Meaning of “Armaged[d]on.”
I would add, though, that it is quite possible that many of the nation’s armies may very well go through the Plain of Megiddo on their way to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; but the battle itself, Scripture makes very clear, will not be waged there.
I’m sure this will be a difficult teaching among prophecy students and teachers to come to grips with, as tradition has a way of holding strong in the face of new interpretations. But, really, this shouldn’t be regarded as “new” as much as something that seems to have been lost through the years. I’m sure I’m not the only one that has looked at this subject and thought, “Something’s just not right here.”
Regardless, I pray that this article has a positive effect on the body of Christ and that prophecy circles will have inspired and healthy debates with constructive analysis of this issue based solely upon the Scriptures themselves.
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
- See The Meaning of “Armaged[d]on” by Jeff Van Hatten for an excellent article on this topic.
- 5.3.3. Jezreel Valley Commentary – A Testimony of Jesus Christ (biblestudytools.com)
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I am still taking questions for the Questions From the Body of Christ series. If you or someone you know has a question pertaining to the Word of God – theology, difficult passages, eschatology, etc. – I would really like to hear from you.