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The War That Ends All Wars Series

Contributed by Thomas Swope on Feb 27, 2015

Scripture:
Tags: Second Coming, Marriage Feast, Jesus As King, Final War
Denomination: Calvary Chapel

Summary: A study of chapter 19 verses 1 through 21 of the Book of Revelation

Revelation 19:1–21 ESV
After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

Contributed by Thomas Swope on Feb 27, 2015

Scripture: Revelation 19:1-21
Tags: Second Coming, Marriage Feast, Jesus As King, Final War
Denomination: Calvary Chapel

Summary: A study of chapter 19 verses 1 through 21 of the Book of Revelation

Revelation 19: 1 – 21
The War That Ends All Wars
1 After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! 2 For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” 3 Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!” 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!” 5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!” 6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” 11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
Revelation chapter 19 and 20 bring the climax of the Book of Revelation: the return of The Lord Jesus Christ to establish His Earthly Kingdom. This chapter is one of the most dramatic in the entire Bible. In it, the Church, the Bride of Christ, is the guest of honor at the marriage of the Lamb in heaven (v.1-10) and the armies of the Lord return with The Lord Jesus Christ in His triumphal Second Coming (v.11-21). It is the only chapter in the New Testament where this word "Alleluia" is found, and it appears four times.
This scene parallels, although more briefly, the scenes in chapters 4 & 5, with the participation in worship and praise of living creatures, elders and the heavenly multitude. In chapters 4 & 5 they worshipped as the seals were being prepared for opening, in order to introduce God’s working out of salvation history. Here they worship because the seals have now been carried into effect. There is also a deliberate contrast between the demise of the scarlet woman and the marriage of the bride. That which represented all that was unholy has been destroyed, that which has been made holy is co-joined to the Lamb.
19.1-3a ‘After these things I heard as it were a great sound of a vast crowd in Heaven, saying, "Alleluia". The salvation and glory and power are of our God, for true and righteous are His judgments, for He has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and He has avenged the blood of His servants at her hand”. And a second time they say "Alleluia".’
These appear to be the voices of the heavenly beings for they are impersonal, ‘the blood of his servants’ rather than ‘our blood’. They declare the rightness and glory of what God has done. He has passed judgment on the great prostitute, the defiled woman, Babylon the Great. The rise of Babel has been reversed, the centers of sin have been destroyed, the great prostitute is dead, the martyrdoms of His servants have been avenged, the time for mercy is past, judgment has been exacted on her, and the time for final judgment has come.
The fall of Great Babylon, symbol of corruption and sexual misbehavior and greed, will shortly be followed by the manifestation of the Bride in her glory (verse 7) and of the New Jerusalem (21.2), home of honor, purity and unselfish love. They have battled through the ages, the depraved scarlet woman against the pure Bride, Great Babylon against the heavenly Jerusalem, the world against the people of God, and now the Bride and the New Jerusalem have triumphed.
The wonderful listing of ‘Salvation and glory and power belong to our God’ ascribes to God attributes, which He alone has. This is the content of the call to praise the Lord. The reason for God to receive praise is because His judgments are true and righteous. Those who look to God can depend on His judgments to be true and righteous. There is never doubt.
We also see the second of two reasons to praise the Lord –‘For He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality’. God’s judgment of the great harlot evidences that His judgments are true and righteous. The judgment of the great harlot/city is past as evidenced by the verb ‘judged’. God judged the harlot/city because she led the charge to get the world to worship the dragon/beast. Her devotion and public commitment caused the world to copy her conduct. For this, she was condemned and punished.
Another reason for God’s judgment of the harlot/city is because ‘He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her’. She caused the death of many of God’s apostles, prophets and saints. In fulfillment of God’s promise to the fifth seal martyrs who requested God’s judgment of the living earth-dwellers who were responsible for their deaths (Rev 6:10).. God promised the martyrs that He would avenge their deaths and He has
19.3b-4 ‘And her smoke goes up forever and ever, and the twenty four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who sits on the throne, saying, “Amen. Alleluia”.’
This is saying that this judgment is permanent and is similar to the language that God used in Genesis chapter 19 verse 28, “Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace.’
This is just a statement telling us it will never be built again. However, you have to understand this as a figure of speech. The smoke of this burning city does not last for all eternity. Rather, forever and ever is a figure of speech meaning the destruction is total and irrevocable?
This destruction of the last, most powerful empire in history marks the end of man's day. The rebellion that had begun in the Garden of Eden is finally ended. Never again will there be more false religions, worldly philosophy, injustice or unrighteousness.
19.5-7 ‘And a voice came out from the throne, saying, “Give praise to God, all you his servants, you who fear him, the small and the great”. And I heard as it were the voice of a vast crowd, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunders, saying, “Alleluia, for the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be abundantly glad, and let us give the glory to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready.’
The voice from the throne is the voice of one of the living creatures ever mindful of the need for all to recognize the holiness of God, and to give praise to Him. This name used here, pertaining to our Lord, is a very unique. This is the only place in the Bible where the word "Omnipotent" occurs. Omnipotent means almighty: having unlimited power. When you couple that with "Lord", which means supreme in authority, and "God", which means supreme deity; you have an overwhelming understanding of Who our Great God Is.
Then we look at "reigneth". This has no time element attached. It means –‘continually reigns’. At this point the evil world system has been completely destroyed and God's kingdom has come into its fullness.
Please take note that ‘the Bride’ is mentioned in the third person, which might be seen as suggesting that the words are those of heavenly beings, for they are our ‘fellow-servants’ It is noteworthy here that emphasis is placed on the bride having made herself ready. God is at work in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure, but we in our turn are to work out our salvation in fear and trembling as we are taught in the book of Philippians 2.12-13. So in contrast with the scarlet woman the bride is revealed by the path she chose, revealed by her righteous behavior. She had responded to the call of the Bridegroom, and that had resulted in a life transformed which had set her apart from the people who dwell on earth. Those who have not prepared themselves are not the bride.
19.8 ‘And it was given to her that she should array herself in fine linen, bright and pure. For the fine linen is the righteous behavior of God’s people.’
It is the privilege of God’s people that they can array themselves in beauty, because God has made them beautiful. We must ever be mindful that we are preparing ourselves to be the bride of Christ. Elsewhere the emphasis is rightly on Christ’s provision for His bride (Revelation 6.11; 7.14) but here all emphasis is on the bride’s own preparations. She loves the Bridegroom and has striven to make herself pleasing in His eyes. Although of course an important part of her preparation lay in ‘making them (her clothes) white in the blood of the Lamb’ (7.14).
The fine linen the bride is clothed in represents the righteous acts of the saints.
Just as I said, these robes have been made white by the blood of the Lamb. This "righteousness" was not ours until we received the Lord Jesus into our lives and took on His righteousness. Our own righteousness had been as filthy rags, but Jesus replaced the filth with His righteousness. Just like, as many other places in the Bible, "her" does not mean just women, it is the bride. All believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are the bride of Christ, whether they are male or female.
I would like to say a few words about this "fine linen". In the tabernacle in the wilderness, the High priest wore a very ornamented robe with a breastplate of all sorts of jewels when he represented God to the people; but when he went into the Holy of Holies, he wore pure white linen. You see, all of the fineries of the world mean nothing to God. This tells us something about our approach to God. Salvation is simple. It is not complicated, just bare all to God. He knows all there is about us already. We do not have to pretend to be something we are not. He accepts us plain and simple.
In ancient times, a marriage was the single greatest celebration and social event in the biblical world. Preparations and celebrations were much more elaborate than those of today. And they also lasted much longer.
They were in three distinct stages which first involved the betrothal or engagement. This was an arrangement by both sets of parents, was legally binding and could only be broken by divorce. Then there was a time of preparation as the groom prepared for his bride.
Second was the presentation which was a time of festivities just before the actual ceremony. Those festivities could last up to a week and sometimes even more depending on the economic or social status of the bride and groom.
Lastly was the wedding ceremony during which time the vows were exchanged.
The same imagery of a wedding picture's the Lord's relationship with His Church.
19.9a ‘And he says to me, “Write, blessed are those who are bid to the marriage supper of the Lamb”.’
Those who are bid to the marriage supper of the Lamb are truly blessed for they are invited as the Bride. The ‘he’ must be the angel of 1.1, who brought to John his visions. Those visions are now almost complete.
Let’s take a look again at the words .’ Write, "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb", Since the bride (faithful believers) is mentioned in Revelation 19:7, this invitation must involve friends and family, but such a conclusion has a problem. If the bride constitutes the believers, then who could be the invited guests? Since the wedding of the Lamb occurs just prior to His return at Armageddon, the bride must consist of those resurrected, glorified and rewarded in heaven. The marriage supper of the Lamb occurs on earth (Isaiah 25:6; Mark 14:25 and Luke 12:36, 22:28-30). The invited quests must involve those on earth that are saved, but not glorified. They participate in the kingdom of God on earth as saved, but not glorified individuals who assist in the re-population of the earth during the millennial kingdom (Isaiah 65:17-24).
19.9b ‘And he says to me, “These are the true words of God”.’
The angel emphasizes the truth of all that John has seen. The seven visions have been given and now they receive heavenly ratification. This is introduced now so that no attention is taken from the final Coming of the Word of God (19.11 on).
19.10a ‘And I fell down before his feet to worship him, and he says to me, “See that you do not do it. I am a fellow-servant with you and with your brothers who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God”.’
How necessary is this verse. After the visions of the activities of the heavenly beings there may well have been a tendency to exalt them, to venerate them, to worship them, but the stern warning is given, “Worship God only”. All the heavenly beings are but fellow-servants with the people of God, those who hold the testimony of Jesus. They are anonymous and not to be set up in some special way. They do not want our attention.
19.10b ‘For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’
1 After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! 2 For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.” 3 Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!” 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!” 5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!” 6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.” 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” 11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, 18 that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.” 19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
The "testimony of Jesus" is what the whole Bible is about. Without Jesus, there would be no salvation. The focus is to be on Jesus. He is the One Who sums up all that prophecy in both Old and New Testaments have spoken about. He Is The One to Whom The Spirit of prophecy points. Therefore John, and we, must look only to Him. The Old Testament points forward to Jesus, beginning in Genesis. The New Testament is the "last will and testament" of Jesus, and to receive our inheritance, we must read the will.
If you preach on prophecy, you are bringing the testimony of Jesus. If you understand the testimony of Jesus, then you must preach and prophecy so that others may live. This testimony here is not Jesus giving it, but we believers who testify of the Lord. Whoever this angel is, he too, had the testimony of Jesus.
The testimony about Jesus (that He is Lord, alone) is the spirit (at the heart) of prophecy. Out Lord Jesus as much stated the same idea in John 5:39-47. "For if you (the Jews) believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me." "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me." These are the Lord’s words, which evidence that He is at the heart of all Scripture.
19.11-13 ‘And I saw Heaven opened and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it called Faithful and True, and he judges and makes war in righteousness. And his eyes are a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written which no one knows but himself. And he is clothed in a garment sprinkled with blood, and his name is called The Word of God.’
In 4.1 a door was opened in Heaven for John to have access to heavenly things but now the Heaven itself is opened and the world sees the glory of Christ. In the words of 1.7, ‘behold He comes with the clouds and every eye will see Him’.
In these next six verses, (11-16) we are swept up into the triumphal return of The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our Master and Lord Jesus Christ comes to make war on Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the kings of the earth. He rides on a white horse and has on His head "many crowns." When this war with Satan is over, He becomes the absolute ruler of the earth.
The most detailed description of the Second Coming was given by our Lord Himself in Matthew. 24: For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (v.27) ‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (29-31)
Revelation chapter 19 and 20 bring the climax of the Book of Revelation: the return of The Lord Jesus Christ to establish His Earthly Kingdom.
Notice several things about the description of our Lord's return. First, it will be public, obvious, and not restricted to a small group. He says His coming will be like lightning that flashes from the east to the west. Everybody will see it, and there will be no hiding it. Second, He says it will occur "immediately after" the Great Tribulation. Third, His return will be accompanied by "mourning" on the part of "all the tribes of the earth" - the mourning of sadness on the part of the Jewish nation, that it so long rejected Christ as Messiah, as well as the mourning of despair on the part of the ungodly, who reject Him as King even as He appears in the sky.
Again as we saw in chapter four, a door opened in heaven. This opening of heaven is not to go in, but is the opening for Jesus and His followers to come out. The "horse" symbolizes war, and the fact that it is "white", symbolizes victory. White, also, symbolizes holiness and righteousness. This tells us that this war is a holy war, and Jesus is victorious.
Just the fact that "Faithful and True" are capitalized, lets us know that this figure is God the Son who has been made Lord of Lords and King of kings, Jesus Is The Judge. He Is always faithful to His promises and what He speaks is always true.
This white horse is not that of 6:2. Here the True Messiah returns in victorious conquest. He Is Faithful to His Word and promises. He will fulfill the twofold role of judge and warrior. His judgment of the earth will be totally righteous (Rev. 16 v.5-7; 19 v.2; Psalms 96: v.13).
Let me take a little time to focus on each one of these special attributes;
1. ‘A white horse.’ Whiteness represents righteousness. The horse here is in contrast with the white horse of 6.2 where it represented a false profession of righteousness and messiah ship by the one who went out. This rider has a sharp two-edged sword coming from His mouth, that rider had a bow, this rider has many diadems, that one had a single crown, this rider’s aim is to judge and fight wickedness, He ‘makes war’ in righteousness, that rider’s aim was only to conquer. This is the true Messiah, that one represented the false. The only thing in common is the white horse.
2. ‘Called faithful and true.’ The combination, taken from 3.14, emphasizes truth against falsehood and reliability against unfaithfulness. He is the supreme One in whose mouth is no lie (14.5), the One Who can be fully trusted both for rightness of teaching and honesty of purpose. He is the truth (John 14.6), very much in contrast with the ‘father of lies’ (John 8.11). In both the earlier references to ‘faithful’ it connects with ‘witness’ and we must therefore see here also that He Who comes was the One Who Himself suffered unto death, the faithful Witness.
3. ‘He judges and makes war in righteousness.’ Again we have the contrast with others who ‘make war’ but in their case it was not in righteousness. He is a new visible authority on the scene of earth and the contrast of what He Is, is emphatically brought out. This is expanded in v.15 where it is noted that He fights with a sharp sword that comes from His mouth (compare 1.16). He does not fight with weapons but with His eyes of fire and with His word of power, for none can resist Him. This brings out again that the warfare which is such a common feature of Revelation is largely a war of ‘words’, of truth against falsehood, of right against wrong, although those whose power is less, often have to enforce them by physical means.
4. ‘His eyes are as a flame of fire’. Fire reveals the ‘otherness’ and holiness of God; it reveals the purity and effectiveness of His judgments; and it tests for and removes impurities. His fire burns up His adversaries in the context of righteousness and justice. So He Is the Holy One, tearing away the refuge of lies, revealing falsehood, searching the heart and mind, and in the end, where He cannot save, judging and destroying.
5. ‘And on his head are many diadems.’ He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (17.14; 19.16) and thus His crowns are numberless. This contrasts with the seven heads and the ten horns of Satan whose power and jurisdiction is limited. It contrasts even more with earthly rulers who have even fewer crowns and are even more limited.
6. ‘And he has a name written which no one knows but himself.’ We can compare the secret name given to the over comer (2.17) and His new name (3.12). The ‘name’ in the Old Testament revealed the personality and/or importance of the bearer. Thus the fact that He has an unrevealed name declares that He Is not yet fully known because such knowledge awaits the future. He has yet more wonders in store for His people. It is the prerogative of the over comer that he will come to know that new name, to fully know Christ in all the wonder of His being. It may, however, be that we are to see that ‘hidden’ name as ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’, the name written on His clothes and on His thigh (19.16), previously hidden but now revealed in all its fullness at His coming.
7. ‘And he is clothed in a garment dipped (some authorities have ‘sprinkled’) in blood.’ In Isaiah 63, when God carries out His judgment on Edom He appears as a figure ‘glorious in his apparel, marching in the greatness of His strength’ (63.1). He Is One Who Is pictured as having trodden the winepress of His wrath with the result that His clothes are sprinkled with men’s blood (63.3). Thus the picture here is primarily one of judgment. His clothes are blood sprinkled because He Is coming as the judge, carrying out the judgments of God. Yet His clothes appear to have been ‘dipped in blood’ even before He comes, and He has come directly from Heaven. There is no suggestion anywhere of previous conflict. And the only blood in Heaven is that of the slain Lamb. This would therefore suggest that we are to see here One Who Himself has been in the winepress of God’s wrath as He bore the sins of others. He Is the Lamb as it had been slain (5.6), with blood sprinkled on its fleece. He Who carries out the judgments of God has Himself experienced that judgment, for He has borne it on behalf of the redeemed. We can compare how the coat of Joseph was dipped in blood to signify his death (in that case falsely) (Genesis 37.31). Thus the blood speaks both of redemption and of judgment.
8. . ‘And His name is called the Word of God.’ This is one of John’s favorite names for Christ. He Is the Word Who was with God before time began, and indeed was Himself of the nature of Godhood (John 1.1); He Is the Word through Whom God created the world; He is the Word as the revelation of God to man and giver of life; and He Is also the Word made flesh. Now He comes as God’s Word in judgment. By Him, the perfect man, will all men be tested and measured, and by Him those who rejected Him as the Word will be condemned. He comes not only as the Creator God, and the God of revelation and judgment, but also as perfect Man, as God’s revelation of Himself to man.
19.14 ‘And the armies which are in Heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and pure.’
We have just found out about the ‘Marriage Supper of the Lamb’. I do not believe that we then are ‘The ‘armies’ listed in verse 14.
Many people give reference to the book of Deuteronomy chapter 33 verse 2 as additional proof that we are accompanying our Lord Jesus in His Second Coming back to earth, “And he said, the LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir to them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.”
Instead of the word ‘saints’ it should read ‘Holy Ones.’-- He came with ten thousands of saints; rather, He came from ten thousands of holy ones; literally, out from myriads of holiness; i.e. "from his celestial seat, where myriads of angels surround his throne"
In the Old Testament one of the names of God was ‘the Lord of Hosts’. Here we may well therefore see His ‘hosts’. Angels are regularly seen as clad in white and He Himself told us that He would come with the angels when He comes to judge (Matthew 16.27; 25.31). This therefore refers to our Lord Jesus Christ coming with His angels, an event He regularly described as described in the Gospel of Matthew 16.27.
19.15 ‘And out of his mouth proceeds a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations. And he will rule them with a rod of iron, and he treads the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God Almighty.’
In 1.16 the sword is a sharp two-edged sword. It cuts both ways and discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. Nothing can evade it. That it comes from His mouth stresses firmly that it is not to be taken literally but refers to His powerful word. With it He will smite the nations, bringing them into judgment and meting out to them their fate. He will smite the earth with the rod of His mouth and by the breath of His lips He will slay the Wicked One.
‘He will rule (or judge, or destroy) them with a rod of iron.’ The rod of iron is a rod of punishment and refers to expressing rule in judgment, not to a continual reign. In Isaiah 11.4 His words are such a rod. Psalm 2.9 describes Him as breaking with a rod of iron and dashing in pieces like a potter’s vessel and Revelation 2.27 also has this in mind. He expresses His Rule by judgment. The word translated ‘rule’ here is regularly used in LXX (the Greek Old Testament) for ‘destroy’, which suggests we should translate in that way here. This meaning is confirmed by the next words, ‘He treads the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God Almighty’. The Bible never tries to hide from the fact of God’s wrath. It is never uncontrolled but always a determined attitude taken towards sin and sinners. It is never excessive. He gives only what they have earned and deserve.
19.16 ‘And he has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.’
We may read ‘on his garment, even on his thigh’ showing precisely where the name is portrayed. It is necessarily here, for to be on hand or forehead would be to mark Him as one of the redeemed, and He is the Redeemer. The name may be on the thigh because that is where oaths were once confirmed (Genesis 24.2, 9), thus emphasizing His faithfulness to His covenant with His own. Alternately it may be because the sword was girded there (Psalm 45.3; Song of Solomon 3.8) and His name is another sword. His name speaks for itself. He is Lord of all and sovereign over all creation.
19.17-18 ‘And I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried with a loud voice saying to all the birds that fly in mid-heaven, “Come and be gathered together to the great feast of God, that you might eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and of the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, and small and great”.’
Clearly the sight of this angel temporarily ‘blinded’ John for he was standing in the brightness of the sun. And the angel’s cry goes out to the birds of the air to witness the final judgment of God. A similar cry to this goes out in Ezekiel 39.17-20. Ezekiel’s vivid picture of the last battle ends with the full restoration of Israel to God and is followed in the succeeding chapters by the description of the descent of the heavenly temple on an unknown high mountain in Israel.
This cry to the vultures and scavenger birds is a vivid way of describing the awfulness of the judgment and its universal application. It is not to be applied literally. What the angel is really doing is declaring the certainty of total defeat for the forces of evil. (There may be a last battle, but if so it will be between earthly forces as they face the final judgments of God. God does not need to fight with men).
19.19 ‘And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse and against his army.’
There is no doubt about the aim of the forces of evil. Possibly in some way they still believe that they can prevent the coming of Christ and His final judgment. But probably it is just to indicate their defiance. There is no mention of an actual battle for their Enemy is irresistible. They are just floundering in their folly.
In 20.9 we are informed how these forces of evil warred against Him Who sat on the horse and against His army. They did it by attacking His people on earth. ‘They went up over the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city’. In other words they turned their vicious attentions on His people (12.17). The camp of the saints has in mind God’s people worldwide, depicted as though they were all together in one place. They are in tents because they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
19.20 ‘And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who wrought the signs in his sight, by which he had deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those that worshipped his image. They two were cast alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone.’
The deceivers are taken and destroyed. No mention is made of a battle (unless it is between two earthly armies) for there is no battle. If anything it is a rout. They are simply taken and can offer no resistance. Those false signs will be of no use to them now. As we have seen earlier the beast and the false prophet are especially satanically inspired. Indeed the beast came out of the abyss.
19.21 ‘And the remainder were killed with the sword of him who sat on the horse, even the sword which came out of his mouth, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.’
Those who are human die a shameful death, pictured in terms of being eaten by birds. They do not share the fate of the beast and the false prophet. We are told that they are slain by the sword that came out of the mouth of Him Who sat on the horse. But that sword is spiritual and connected with His words of power. Thus the actual method of their deaths is unknown to us. They are slain by His judgments.
In the Old Testament the last battle is always between earthly forces, and it may well be that even to the end, in the face of God’s judgments, men behave as they have always done and attack each other and do battle, and it may be that their deaths to a large extent result from those battles. But that is not this ‘battle’, for this was no battle at all. It was a vivid description of Jesus Christ arriving to judge the earth and deal finally with Satan and his emissaries. We are to gather the ultimate ideas and not concentrate on the literal descriptions.
It is significant in all this that there is no mention of Satan, even though we might have expected it. Indeed, there has only been one mention of him since chapter 12 (in 16.13 where he was making his last attempt to deceive mankind). Unlike in 12.7-9 he is not directly involved in this ‘battle’. It is left to his minions. The foes of the people of God since 13.1 have been the Beasts representing empires, and Babylon the Great representing idolatry and commercialism The description of Satan’s end will now follow in a new vision, and in it we learn why Satan has been kept out of the way. He has been under close guard.
Revelation chapter 19 and 20 bring the climax of the Book of Revelation: the return of The Lord Jesus Christ to establish His Earthly Kingdom. This chapter is one of the most dramatic in the entire Bible. In it, the Church, the Bride of Christ, is the guest of honor at the marriage of the Lamb in heaven (v.1-10) and the armies of the Lord return with The Lord Jesus Christ in His triumphal Second Coming (v.11-21). It is the only chapter in the New Testament where this word "Alleluia" is found, and it appears four times.
Chapter 19 is one of the most dramatic in the entire Bible.
In it, the Church, the Bride of Christ, is the guest of honor at the marriage of the Lamb in heaven (v.1-10) and the armies of the Lord return with The Lord Jesus Christ in His triumphal Second Coming (v.11-21).
It is the only chapter in the New Testament where this word "Alleluia" is found, and it appears four times.
19.1-3a ‘After these things I heard as it were a great sound of a vast crowd in Heaven, saying, "Alleluia". The salvation and glory and power are of our God, for true and righteous are His judgments, for He has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and He has avenged the blood of His servants at her hand”. And a second time they say "Alleluia".’
These appear to be the voices of the heavenly beings for they are impersonal, ‘the blood of his servants’ rather than ‘our blood’. They declare the rightness and glory of what God has done. He has passed judgment on the great prostitute, the defiled woman, Babylon the Great. The rise of Babel has been reversed, the centers of sin have been destroyed, the great prostitute is dead, the martyrdoms of His servants have been avenged, the time for mercy is past, judgment has been exacted on her, and the time for final judgment has come.
The fall of Great Babylon, symbol of corruption and sexual misbehavior and greed, will shortly be followed by the manifestation of the Bride in her glory (verse 7) and of the New Jerusalem (21.2), home of honor, purity and unselfish love. They have battled through the ages, the depraved scarlet woman against the pure Bride, Great Babylon against the heavenly Jerusalem, the world against the people of God, and now the Bride and the New Jerusalem have triumphed.
The wonderful listing of ‘Salvation and glory and power belong to our God’ ascribes to God attributes, which He alone has. This is the content of the call to praise the Lord. The reason for God to receive praise is because His judgments are true and righteous. Those who look to God can depend on His judgments to be true and righteous. There is never doubt.
We also see the second of two reasons to praise the Lord –‘For He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality’. God’s judgment of the great harlot evidences that His judgments are true and righteous. The judgment of the great harlot/city is past as evidenced by the verb ‘judged’. God judged the harlot/city because she led the charge to get the world to worship the dragon/beast. Her devotion and public commitment caused the world to copy her conduct. For this, she was condemned and punished.
Another reason for God’s judgment of the harlot/city is because ‘He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her’. She caused the death of many of God’s apostles, prophets and saints. In fulfillment of God’s promise to the fifth seal martyrs who requested God’s judgment of the living earth-dwellers who were responsible for their deaths ().. God promised the martyrs that He would avenge their deaths and He has
19.3b-4 ‘And her smoke goes up forever and ever, and the twenty four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who sits on the throne, saying, “Amen. Alleluia”.’
This is saying that this judgment is permanent and is similar to the language that God used in Genesis chapter 19 verse 28, “Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land which went up like the smoke of a furnace.’
This is just a statement telling us it will never be built again. However, you have to understand this as a figure of speech. The smoke of this burning city does not last for all eternity. Rather, forever and ever is a figure of speech meaning the destruction is total and irrevocable?
This destruction of the last, most powerful empire in history marks the end of man's day. The rebellion that had begun in the Garden of Eden is finally ended. Never again will there be more false religions, worldly philosophy, injustice or unrighteousness.
19.5-7 ‘And a voice came out from the throne, saying, “Give praise to God, all you his servants, you who fear him, the small and the great”. And I heard as it were the voice of a vast crowd, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunders, saying, “Alleluia, for the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be abundantly glad, and let us give the glory to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready.’
The voice from the throne is the voice of one of the living creatures ever mindful of the need for all to recognize the holiness of God, and to give praise to Him. This name used here, pertaining to our Lord, is a very unique. This is the only place in the Bible where the word "Omnipotent" occurs. Omnipotent means almighty: having unlimited power. When you couple that with "Lord", which means supreme in authority, and "God", which means supreme deity; you have an overwhelming understanding of Who our Great God Is.
Then we look at "reigneth". This has no time element attached. It means –‘continually reigns’. At this point the evil world system has been completely destroyed and God's kingdom has come into its fullness.
Please take note that ‘the Bride’ is mentioned in the third person, which might be seen as suggesting that the words are those of heavenly beings, for they are our ‘fellow-servants’ It is noteworthy here that emphasis is placed on the bride having made herself ready. God is at work in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure, but we in our turn are to work out our salvation in fear and trembling as we are taught in the book of . So in contrast with the scarlet woman the bride is revealed by the path she chose, revealed by her righteous behavior. She had responded to the call of the Bridegroom, and that had resulted in a life transformed which had set her apart from the people who dwell on earth. Those who have not prepared themselves are not the bride.
19.8 ‘And it was given to her that she should array herself in fine linen, bright and pure. For the fine linen is the righteous behavior of God’s people.’
It is the privilege of God’s people that they can array themselves in beauty, because God has made them beautiful. We must ever be mindful that we are preparing ourselves to be the bride of Christ. Elsewhere the emphasis is rightly on Christ’s provision for His bride (; ) but here all emphasis is on the bride’s own preparations. She loves the Bridegroom and has striven to make herself pleasing in His eyes. Although of course an important part of her preparation lay in ‘making them (her clothes) white in the blood of the Lamb’ (7.14).
The fine linen the bride is clothed in represents the righteous acts of the saints.
Just as I said, these robes have been made white by the blood of the Lamb. This "righteousness" was not ours until we received the Lord Jesus into our lives and took on His righteousness. Our own righteousness had been as filthy rags, but Jesus replaced the filth with His righteousness. Just like, as many other places in the Bible, "her" does not mean just women, it is the bride. All believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are the bride of Christ, whether they are male or female.
I would like to say a few words about this "fine linen". In the tabernacle in the wilderness, the High priest wore a very ornamented robe with a breastplate of all sorts of jewels when he represented God to the people; but when he went into the Holy of Holies, he wore pure white linen. You see, all of the fineries of the world mean nothing to God. This tells us something about our approach to God. Salvation is simple. It is not complicated, just bare all to God. He knows all there is about us already. We do not have to pretend to be something we are not. He accepts us plain and simple.
In ancient times, a marriage was the single greatest celebration and social event in the biblical world. Preparations and celebrations were much more elaborate than those of today. And they also lasted much longer.
They were in three distinct stages which first involved the betrothal or engagement. This was an arrangement by both sets of parents, was legally binding and could only be broken by divorce. Then there was a time of preparation as the groom prepared for his bride.
Second was the presentation which was a time of festivities just before the actual ceremony. Those festivities could last up to a week and sometimes even more depending on the economic or social status of the bride and groom.
Lastly was the wedding ceremony during which time the vows were exchanged.
The same imagery of a wedding picture's the Lord's relationship with His Church.
19.9a ‘And he says to me, “Write, blessed are those who are bid to the marriage supper of the Lamb”.’
Those who are bid to the marriage supper of the Lamb are truly blessed for they are invited as the Bride. The ‘he’ must be the angel of 1.1, who brought to John his visions. Those visions are now almost complete.
Let’s take a look again at the words .’ Write, "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb", Since the bride (faithful believers) is mentioned in , this invitation must involve friends and family, but such a conclusion has a problem. If the bride constitutes the believers, then who could be the invited guests? Since the wedding of the Lamb occurs just prior to His return at Armageddon, the bride must consist of those resurrected, glorified and rewarded in heaven. The marriage supper of the Lamb occurs on earth (; and , ). The invited quests must involve those on earth that are saved, but not glorified. They participate in the kingdom of God on earth as saved, but not glorified individuals who assist in the re-population of the earth during the millennial kingdom ().
19.9b ‘And he says to me, “These are the true words of God”.’
The angel emphasizes the truth of all that John has seen. The seven visions have been given and now they receive heavenly ratification. This is introduced now so that no attention is taken from the final Coming of the Word of God (19.11 on).
19.10a ‘And I fell down before his feet to worship him, and he says to me, “See that you do not do it. I am a fellow-servant with you and with your brothers who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God”.’
How necessary is this verse. After the visions of the activities of the heavenly beings there may well have been a tendency to exalt them, to venerate them, to worship them, but the stern warning is given, “Worship God only”. All the heavenly beings are but fellow-servants with the people of God, those who hold the testimony of Jesus. They are anonymous and not to be set up in some special way. They do not want our attention.
19.10b ‘For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’
The "testimony of Jesus" is what the whole Bible is about. Without Jesus, there would be no salvation. The focus is to be on Jesus. He is the One Who sums up all that prophecy in both Old and New Testaments have spoken about. He Is The One to Whom The Spirit of prophecy points. Therefore John, and we, must look only to Him. The Old Testament points forward to Jesus, beginning in Genesis. The New Testament is the "last will and testament" of Jesus, and to receive our inheritance, we must read the will.
If you preach on prophecy, you are bringing the testimony of Jesus. If you understand the testimony of Jesus, then you must preach and prophecy so that others may live. This testimony here is not Jesus giving it, but we believers who testify of the Lord. Whoever this angel is, he too, had the testimony of Jesus.
The testimony about Jesus (that He is Lord, alone) is the spirit (at the heart) of prophecy. Out Lord Jesus as much stated the same idea in . "For if you (the Jews) believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me." "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me." These are the Lord’s words, which evidence that He is at the heart of all Scripture.
19.11-13 ‘And I saw Heaven opened and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it called Faithful and True, and he judges and makes war in righteousness. And his eyes are a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written which no one knows but himself. And he is clothed in a garment sprinkled with blood, and his name is called The Word of God.’
In 4.1 a door was opened in Heaven for John to have access to heavenly things but now the Heaven itself is opened and the world sees the glory of Christ. In the words of 1.7, ‘behold He comes with the clouds and every eye will see Him’.
In these next six verses, (11-16) we are swept up into the triumphal return of The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our Master and Lord Jesus Christ comes to make war on Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the kings of the earth. He rides on a white horse and has on His head "many crowns." When this war with Satan is over, He becomes the absolute ruler of the earth.
The most detailed description of the Second Coming was given by our Lord Himself in : For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (v.27) ‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (29-31)
Notice several things about the description of our Lord's return. First, it will be public, obvious, and not restricted to a small group. He says His coming will be like lightning that flashes from the east to the west. Everybody will see it, and there will be no hiding it. Second, He says it will occur "immediately after" the Great Tribulation. Third, His return will be accompanied by "mourning" on the part of "all the tribes of the earth" - the mourning of sadness on the part of the Jewish nation, that it so long rejected Christ as Messiah, as well as the mourning of despair on the part of the ungodly, who reject Him as King even as He appears in the sky.
Again as we saw in chapter four, a door opened in heaven. This opening of heaven is not to go in, but is the opening for Jesus and His followers to come out. The "horse" symbolizes war, and the fact that it is "white", symbolizes victory. White, also, symbolizes holiness and righteousness. This tells us that this war is a holy war, and Jesus is victorious.
Just the fact that "Faithful and True" are capitalized, lets us know that this figure is God the Son who has been made Lord of Lords and King of kings, Jesus Is The Judge. He Is always faithful to His promises and what He speaks is always true.
This white horse is not that of 6:2. Here the True Messiah returns in victorious conquest. He Is Faithful to His Word and promises. He will fulfill the twofold role of judge and warrior. His judgment of the earth will be totally righteous ( v.5-7; 19 v.2; : v.13).
Let me take a little time to focus on each one of these special attributes;
1. ‘A white horse.’ Whiteness represents righteousness. The horse here is in contrast with the white horse of 6.2 where it represented a false profession of righteousness and messiah ship by the one who went out. This rider has a sharp two-edged sword coming from His mouth, that rider had a bow, this rider has many diadems, that one had a single crown, this rider’s aim is to judge and fight wickedness, He ‘makes war’ in righteousness, that rider’s aim was only to conquer. This is the true Messiah, that one represented the false. The only thing in common is the white horse.
2. ‘Called faithful and true.’ The combination, taken from 3.14, emphasizes truth against falsehood and reliability against unfaithfulness. He is the supreme One in whose mouth is no lie (14.5), the One Who can be fully trusted both for rightness of teaching and honesty of purpose. He is the truth (), very much in contrast with the ‘father of lies’ (). In both the earlier references to ‘faithful’ it connects with ‘witness’ and we must therefore see here also that He Who comes was the One Who Himself suffered unto death, the faithful Witness.
3. ‘He judges and makes war in righteousness.’ Again we have the contrast with others who ‘make war’ but in their case it was not in righteousness. He is a new visible authority on the scene of earth and the contrast of what He Is, is emphatically brought out. This is expanded in v.15 where it is noted that He fights with a sharp sword that comes from His mouth (compare 1.16). He does not fight with weapons but with His eyes of fire and with His word of power, for none can resist Him. This brings out again that the warfare which is such a common feature of Revelation is largely a war of ‘words’, of truth against falsehood, of right against wrong, although those whose power is less, often have to enforce them by physical means.
4. ‘His eyes are as a flame of fire’. Fire reveals the ‘otherness’ and holiness of God; it reveals the purity and effectiveness of His judgments; and it tests for and removes impurities. His fire burns up His adversaries in the context of righteousness and justice. So He Is the Holy One, tearing away the refuge of lies, revealing falsehood, searching the heart and mind, and in the end, where He cannot save, judging and destroying.
5. ‘And on his head are many diadems.’ He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (17.14; 19.16) and thus His crowns are numberless. This contrasts with the seven heads and the ten horns of Satan whose power and jurisdiction is limited. It contrasts even more with earthly rulers who have even fewer crowns and are even more limited.
6. ‘And he has a name written which no one knows but himself.’ We can compare the secret name given to the over comer (2.17) and His new name (3.12). The ‘name’ in the Old Testament revealed the personality and/or importance of the bearer. Thus the fact that He has an unrevealed name declares that He Is not yet fully known because such knowledge awaits the future. He has yet more wonders in store for His people. It is the prerogative of the over comer that he will come to know that new name, to fully know Christ in all the wonder of His being. It may, however, be that we are to see that ‘hidden’ name as ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’, the name written on His clothes and on His thigh (19.16), previously hidden but now revealed in all its fullness at His coming.
7. ‘And he is clothed in a garment dipped (some authorities have ‘sprinkled’) in blood.’ In , when God carries out His judgment on Edom He appears as a figure ‘glorious in his apparel, marching in the greatness of His strength’ (63.1). He Is One Who Is pictured as having trodden the winepress of His wrath with the result that His clothes are sprinkled with men’s blood (63.3). Thus the picture here is primarily one of judgment. His clothes are blood sprinkled because He Is coming as the judge, carrying out the judgments of God. Yet His clothes appear to have been ‘dipped in blood’ even before He comes, and He has come directly from Heaven. There is no suggestion anywhere of previous conflict. And the only blood in Heaven is that of the slain Lamb. This would therefore suggest that we are to see here One Who Himself has been in the winepress of God’s wrath as He bore the sins of others. He Is the Lamb as it had been slain (5.6), with blood sprinkled on its fleece. He Who carries out the judgments of God has Himself experienced that judgment, for He has borne it on behalf of the redeemed. We can compare how the coat of Joseph was dipped in blood to signify his death (in that case falsely) (). Thus the blood speaks both of redemption and of judgment.
8. . ‘And His name is called the Word of God.’ This is one of John’s favorite names for Christ. He Is the Word Who was with God before time began, and indeed was Himself of the nature of Godhood (); He Is the Word through Whom God created the world; He is the Word as the revelation of God to man and giver of life; and He Is also the Word made flesh. Now He comes as God’s Word in judgment. By Him, the perfect man, will all men be tested and measured, and by Him those who rejected Him as the Word will be condemned. He comes not only as the Creator God, and the God of revelation and judgment, but also as perfect Man, as God’s revelation of Himself to man.
19.14 ‘And the armies which are in Heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and pure.’
We have just found out about the ‘Marriage Supper of the Lamb’. I do not believe that we then are ‘The ‘armies’ listed in verse 14.
Many people give reference to the book of Deuteronomy chapter 33 verse 2 as additional proof that we are accompanying our Lord Jesus in His Second Coming back to earth, “And he said, the LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir to them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.”
Instead of the word ‘saints’ it should read ‘Holy Ones.’-- He came with ten thousands of saints; rather, He came from ten thousands of holy ones; literally, out from myriads of holiness; i.e. "from his celestial seat, where myriads of angels surround his throne"
In the Old Testament one of the names of God was ‘the Lord of Hosts’. Here we may well therefore see His ‘hosts’. Angels are regularly seen as clad in white and He Himself told us that He would come with the angels when He comes to judge (; ). This therefore refers to our Lord Jesus Christ coming with His angels, an event He regularly described as described in the Gospel of .
19.15 ‘And out of his mouth proceeds a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations. And he will rule them with a rod of iron, and he treads the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God Almighty.’
In 1.16 the sword is a sharp two-edged sword. It cuts both ways and discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. Nothing can evade it. That it comes from His mouth stresses firmly that it is not to be taken literally but refers to His powerful word. With it He will smite the nations, bringing them into judgment and meting out to them their fate. He will smite the earth with the rod of His mouth and by the breath of His lips He will slay the Wicked One.
‘He will rule (or judge, or destroy) them with a rod of iron.’ The rod of iron is a rod of punishment and refers to expressing rule in judgment, not to a continual reign. In His words are such a rod. describes Him as breaking with a rod of iron and dashing in pieces like a potter’s vessel and also has this in mind. He expresses His Rule by judgment. The word translated ‘rule’ here is regularly used in LXX (the Greek Old Testament) for ‘destroy’, which suggests we should translate in that way here. This meaning is confirmed by the next words, ‘He treads the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God Almighty’. The Bible never tries to hide from the fact of God’s wrath. It is never uncontrolled but always a determined attitude taken towards sin and sinners. It is never excessive. He gives only what they have earned and deserve.
19.16 ‘And he has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.’
We may read ‘on his garment, even on his thigh’ showing precisely where the name is portrayed. It is necessarily here, for to be on hand or forehead would be to mark Him as one of the redeemed, and He is the Redeemer. The name may be on the thigh because that is where oaths were once confirmed (, ), thus emphasizing His faithfulness to His covenant with His own. Alternately it may be because the sword was girded there (; ) and His name is another sword. His name speaks for itself. He is Lord of all and sovereign over all creation.
19.17-18 ‘And I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried with a loud voice saying to all the birds that fly in mid-heaven, “Come and be gathered together to the great feast of God, that you might eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and of the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, and small and great”.’
Clearly the sight of this angel temporarily ‘blinded’ John for he was standing in the brightness of the sun. And the angel’s cry goes out to the birds of the air to witness the final judgment of God. A similar cry to this goes out in . Ezekiel’s vivid picture of the last battle ends with the full restoration of Israel to God and is followed in the succeeding chapters by the description of the descent of the heavenly temple on an unknown high mountain in Israel.
This cry to the vultures and scavenger birds is a vivid way of describing the awfulness of the judgment and its universal application. It is not to be applied literally. What the angel is really doing is declaring the certainty of total defeat for the forces of evil. (There may be a last battle, but if so it will be between earthly forces as they face the final judgments of God. God does not need to fight with men).
19.19 ‘And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse and against his army.’
There is no doubt about the aim of the forces of evil. Possibly in some way they still believe that they can prevent the coming of Christ and His final judgment. But probably it is just to indicate their defiance. There is no mention of an actual battle for their Enemy is irresistible. They are just floundering in their folly.
In 20.9 we are informed how these forces of evil warred against Him Who sat on the horse and against His army. They did it by attacking His people on earth. ‘They went up over the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city’. In other words they turned their vicious attentions on His people (12.17). The camp of the saints has in mind God’s people worldwide, depicted as though they were all together in one place. They are in tents because they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
19.20 ‘And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who wrought the signs in his sight, by which he had deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those that worshipped his image. They two were cast alive into the lake of fire that burns with brimstone.’
The deceivers are taken and destroyed. No mention is made of a battle (unless it is between two earthly armies) for there is no battle. If anything it is a rout. They are simply taken and can offer no resistance. Those false signs will be of no use to them now. As we have seen earlier the beast and the false prophet are especially satanically inspired. Indeed the beast came out of the abyss.
19.21 ‘And the remainder were killed with the sword of him who sat on the horse, even the sword which came out of his mouth, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.’
Those who are human die a shameful death, pictured in terms of being eaten by birds. They do not share the fate of the beast and the false prophet. We are told that they are slain by the sword that came out of the mouth of Him Who sat on the horse. But that sword is spiritual and connected with His words of power. Thus the actual method of their deaths is unknown to us. They are slain by His judgments.
In the Old Testament the last battle is always between earthly forces, and it may well be that even to the end, in the face of God’s judgments, men behave as they have always done and attack each other and do battle, and it may be that their deaths to a large extent result from those battles. But that is not this ‘battle’, for this was no battle at all. It was a vivid description of Jesus Christ arriving to judge the earth and deal finally with Satan and his emissaries. We are to gather the ultimate ideas and not concentrate on the literal descriptions.
It is significant in all this that there is no mention of Satan, even though we might have expected it. Indeed, there has only been one mention of him since chapter 12 (in 16.13 where he was making his last attempt to deceive mankind). Unlike in 12.7-9 he is not directly involved in this ‘battle’. It is left to his minions. The foes of the people of God since 13.1 have been the Beasts representing empires, and Babylon the Great representing idolatry and commercialism The description of Satan’s end will now follow in a new vision, and in it we learn why Satan has been kept out of the way. He has been under close guard.
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