Return to Armageddon

“Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” Revelation 16:16 (NIV)

Armageddon, my home away from home. No kidding. Armageddon literally means “The Mount of Megiddo” and is an ancient hill in northern Israel. It is a Biblical city with remains of over 31 layers of cities from 5000 years of history. I have excavated there many years, lived on the kibbutz for months, and was the supervisor of the temple area: Area J. Little did I know back then that I would be fighting my own Armageddon. Not a war in the physical world, but a different kind of war. One that was much more scary: a war in the invisible world. A great battle between light and darkness. A battle that I was not prepared for. A battle that I did not even believe in.

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Photo: Esther Havens

In March 2016 I visited Armageddon again after the battle. As I walked through the ancient gateway it felt different. Grayer, almost dull. Everything I had experienced in the last four years flashed before my eyes. All my emotions welled up, as if it was the first time that I walked through those gates. Impossible! Megiddo was my second home. I had lived here, spent many summers digging in the ancient dirt and explored its ancient surroundings. I even got married here! And yet a few years ago, I thought I would never go back to Armageddon. What could happen in such a short time? Then I realized that it was not Megiddo that had changed, but me. That it is what happens when you survive a real Armageddon. You are never the same again.

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When I went back in march 2016 I came to Megiddo as a new person, together with my mom and two sisters. When we walked towards the top I remembered the day of my wedding. Ours was the first Jewish wedding that had taken place on the top of the hill in at least 2000 years. It was truly special. As I turned and climbed to the northern observatory platform. I pointed my mom and sisters to the place I got married, and the places I had excavated. The round Canaanite altar was a stark reminder of a life which seemed so far away. I gazed over the stretched out valley of Jezreel. So many decisive battles had been fought here: Thutmosis III, Josiah, general Allenby, and one battle which according to the Bible is still to come in the future. I thought about my own Armageddon: it had not been against flesh and blood, but against principalities of darkness. The T-shirts we used to wear on the dig with “I survived Armageddon” slogans became an eerie reality.

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It all started September 11 2012 when we invited a person into our house. She came for just one day but left after only three months. She came to talk about knowledge but what we didn’t know was that she was using witchcraft against us. While she was at our house she asked permission for everything. May I enter the house? May I this? May I that? As kind Jewish scientists we naturally said Yes. But after she left the real problems started. We were confronted by an invisible enemy roaming through our house and attacking us at night. As scientists the first shock was admitting there was an invisible realm and then admitting we had entered on the wrong side. At night it kept confronting us, during the day strange things happened. It was terrifying. We started getting dreams in which we saw in the spirit world. At first those dreams were straight out of a horror movie. It had no mercy. Was relentless, and kept attacking us. When you both feel the exact same thing at the same time you know it’s not physiological. We were stuck in a world we didn’t know existed. Our eyes had been opened, but we were on the wrong side of the war.

 For months we tried to get rid of them. We tried everything we could think of. We did all the prayers, burned incense stones that the orthodox sell to clean our house. We asked advice from rabbi’s but they had no idea how to deal with this. Then we tried burning Salie. It didn’t work. We tried incense from India, and lots and lots of salt. Nothing kept them away. We were desperate and tried to call physics but somehow they didn’t come to help. We even put lams blood on our windows because we knew the fallen spirits didn’t like blood! Not once did we think about the Exodus story. Then we realized that it had something to do with all the permissions we had given them. Somehow, in the spiritual realm these permissions served as contracts, and they thought they had a legal right to be here. There was only one way out: break the contracts! But how could we do that?

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It was in the midst of trying to fight Armageddon by myself that someone told me I had to cast them out in the name of Jesus. I thought… no way… not that too! But when you have battled an invisible enemy for four months nothing really surprises you anymore. I realized all things were possible. If demons were real, maybe Jesus was too. God cornered the archaeologist. On Independence day (5 May 2013) in Holland, my husband and I wrote out a long contract style letter to the demons, taking away their permission in every part of our life. It was a three page letter saying ”You do not have permission” “We break every agreement”. At the bottom we signed it in the name of the God of Israel and in the name of Jesus. Then we spoke it out loud at 12:00 o clock at night. And then something changed.

Somehow they were not able to attack us in the same way as before. In dreams we saw an army of angels coming to fight for us, breaking the wings of the darkness. And there was someone who came to help us. Someone I had not expected. During this time we had many dreams and visions revealing a great battle in the spirit world, as if the forces of heaven were surrounding us, protecting us, revealing a literal savior who came to help us and His name was Yeshua-Jesus and he was alive. The demons listened to him and were terrified at the mention of his name. As scientists we were stunned to discover that there were two kingdoms in the invisible world: light and dark. As Jews we were also shocked to find out that Yeshua was indeed alive and head of the kingdom of light and part of God himself.

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We wondered how we could have missed it and slowly realized what had happened in the invisible world 2000 years ago. We realized that long ago, man had made so many agreements and contracts with the darkness, and given away their authority. The price for breaking agreements was death. When Jesus came to the physical world he told the darkness they could have him, but in exchange the darkness had to set free every person that called on the name of Jesus and believed in him. Jesus said: “Take me instead.” The evil one believed Jesus, because it knew Jesus was part of God and the darkness wanted to defeat God, or better yet, become God. So all the contracts and agreements that were made were nailed to the cross! He took Jesus and killed him instead of us. Three days later, the darkness was surprised by an unwelcome visitor, Jesus rose again and defeated death and by doing so every person that called on him and believed in him was set free from all their agreements. His blood had paid the price for my freedom. It was victory day. For me this story was very real, and I understood how we were set free by the Messiah of Israel. I understood why demons listened to him: Jesus had defeated them. He paid the price for all my contracts and literally set me free. It was an ancient story which was very real and that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the son of the living God.

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Now, you might say. Why would you get yourself into such a situation in the first place? That could never happen to me! Let me make this very clear. We only invited the person who stayed with us for one day. The rest was witchcraft, it could have happened to anybody. We didn’t go looking for it. They tricked us. But in the end it doesn’t matter why we stepped into this. It matters what we found out! We found out how the spiritual world works. It is very real. No amount of protection could have stopped this and even if it did, it does not take way from the fact that demons know who Jesus is. His name is higher than theirs. We can pretend the spiritual world doesn’t exist and stay away from it, but it’s just denying reality, and it still works the same way. I used to think that people who believed in God and Jesus were naïve and that they were just making explanations for what they didn’t understand. But actually, as scientists we were the ones who were naïve. Because we didn’t believe in the spirit world and in real evil and therefore evil could easily deceive us. There are many interpretations and belief systems in the world, but ONLY Jesus conquered the darkness, broke all the chains, and set us free. You might say that you won’t let yourself be chained like we were, but in reality we are all chained, because of sin. Sinning against God is the same as making an agreement with the darkness, it gives the darkness leverage in your life and unless we ask Jesus to forgive us and set us free, there is no way out. Only He paid the price.

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As I gazed over the valley of Armageddon, I understood that there was more than just the physical world, also an invisible one. It is without a doubt in our present world. And it has always been there. I gazed out over Megiddo, it’s familiar palm trees waving to me, as I tried to make sense of my new reality. I stared at the round altar and the stones I had excavated twenty years ago and wondered what had happened there. They were part of the largest temple found in Israel from 5000 years ago. In its corridors we uncovered thousands of animal bones that had been sacrificed. It gave me the creeps. So much blood had flowed here, before Jesus died.

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So how does an archaeologist who had a supernatural experience look at the past? This I learned at Megiddo: Archaeological interpretation is all about “CONTEXT”. Context of the time period from which you are studying the past. We must always be objective. According to Israel Finkelstein, the main excavator of Megiddo, and the author of the book The Bible Unearthed “Every story must be analyzed from the time period from which it is written and the background of the time period and the political agenda of the writers.” This is certainly true. But what if our understanding of the PRESENT is different than what we think? Than there is something wrong with our interpretation of the past. We KNOW there is a spiritual world in the present. So how can we study the past just by examining the material remains of the physical world? It is a distorted history. The study of archaeology has made thousands lose their belief. But the truth is, it is one-sided, because it is not based on a REAL CONTEXT. Archaeology is the study of material things. Material stuff. People’s stuff. The physical remains of humans and of the physical world. That is, in archaeology you only see the material things of humans. Houses, cities, palaces, pots, etc. In archaeology you do not see that there is also a spiritual world, except what man’s interpretation of it is. An old temple is actually man’s interpretation of the spiritual world in that time, and then excavated by archaeologists who interpret it with the knowledge they have of their time. It is an interpretation of an interpretation.

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“Behold this only have I found that God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.” Ecclesiastics 7:29

In archaeology we do not see the spiritual world. We interpret the physical world. Archaeology gives knowledge about what man did. What he built, how he lived. It does not show what really happened, because the spirit realm influences the physical world. Archaeology is also interpreting something of the past with the knowledge of the present. But what if we have a different reality? Than our interpretations of the past will also be different! Then we might just be able to see a different story: a story in which the Bible comes to life.

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On our visit to Megiddo we walked past finely cut stones from a Biblical palace. The stones reminded me of something that truly bothered me about our interpretation at Megiddo. Throughout our research we assumed the Bible was a book written and manipulated by man in the 7th century BC or later. We always learned to study everything from context and that the Biblical stories must be interpreted from the time period they were written and the political situation therein. Today the archaeology and chronology of Megiddo has been in the middle of the hottest debate between archaeological minimalists and maximalists. Truthfully, their debate is all based on the what we did at Megiddo! They say much of the Bible was written in the seventh century or later and was manipulated by a group of priests who tried to gained political power in the time of king Josiah. And in so doing, they destroyed other gods in the country, and created monotheism. A whole new chronology has been attached to it, which basically dates everything much later, turning Solomon’s kingdom into Ahab’s etc or even later. The truth is different because this theory is based on the interpretation of the context of the 7th century BCE and later. It is studying the past without understanding the spiritual world. If your understanding of the context of the writers of the Bible is different, than so is your conclusion! From my experience with the spiritual world I came to understand that Josiah was not just overthrowing “other gods” or the priests of the “Hebrew goddess-sacred feminine” to gain political control and create monotheism. He was cleansing his country from witchcraft and evil spirits which had integrated into society. Demons are very real, and they had integrated into society. Josiah saved the country, got rid of evil, and then he told the people to go back to the one God of Israel. NOT because he was a political pawn of the Judahite priests or power hungry, but because the one                    GOD is IS REAL.

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I looked down to the spring of Megiddo, on the north eastern side, and thought about Josiah dying here at the hands of the pharaoh. I understood him. Josiah had also fought a great spiritual war and went through a battle against the darkness, he cleansed the country and then he celebrated Passover to call people back to God. Passover was the victory banquet of the light over the darkness. Josiah was NOT the Messiah. Because he did not conquer the darkness for good… his actions were only a shadow of the real Messiah which would come and get rid of the darkness forever. The real Messiah would die on Passover and he would conquer the darkness forever by rising from the dead.  The real Messiah had to conquer the spiritual world first so evil would flee and man was free. Demons flee when they hear his name. Just like Josiah, we also fought a spiritual battle and afterwards we celebrated Passover with 400 people in 2015. It was our victory banquet and memorial for the Messiah, who had set us free.

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The key to understanding history is not just studying the physical world, but also the invisible world and how they interact with each other. Archaeologists have to be extra careful, for if there is a spirit world today, then there was one yesterday. And if that is the case… we are not objective at all and could be very wrong about our interpretation of the Bible. This minimalistic research is causing thousands of people all over the world to lose their belief in God. A very dangerous situation! I spent many years undermining the Bible. I now understand that I could never have been so wrong! In the last few years I have been to hell and back and God has shown me how His word comes to life. I have literally experienced the spirit world, and now, I long to glorify my savior and share with the world that He is alive and very real. YES, I SURVIVED ARMAGEDDON, BUT ONLY BECAUSE JESUS LITERALLY TORE OPEN THE HEAVENS, FOUGHT THE BATTLE FOR ME AND OVERCAME.

HERE IS AN AMAZING SONG FROM MY BROTHER JOSH HAVENS BAND THE AFTERS TO DESCRIBE HOW I FEEL:

BATTLES