Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bible Study - Revelation Chapter 19

The Second Coming of Christ


Following the parenthetical sections of chapters 17-18 which described the great harlot system of Babylon, chapter 19 gives us heaven’s perspective of the fall of Babylon. Heaven’s perspective stands in stark contrast to the mourning of Babylon’s lovers, and it resumes the progress and narrative of the future events of the Tribulation. With chapters 17-18 as a background, John receives new revelation concerning the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the first ten verses the emphasis is on what he heard in special announcements in preparation for the return of Christ. In verses 11-21, however, the stress falls on what John sees concerning the actual return of the Lord (cf. vss. 1, 2, 5, 6 with 11, 17, 19). The return of the Lord brings to a close the Tribulation events and the wrath of God.

Let’s not miss the striking change that is seen here in contrast to the preceding chapters. We are taken from somber weeping and lamenting to joyful worship and praise, from darkness and doom to light and deliverance, from a series of woes to a series of jubilant announcements. Chapter 19 is easily divided into four sections:

1.       The Hallelujah Choruses (Rev 19:1-6)

2.      The Announcement of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:7-10)

3.      The Announcement of the Advent of Christ (Rev 19:11-16)

4.      The Announcement of Armageddon (Rev 19:17-21)

The Hallelujah Choruses  (19:1-6)

Rev 19:1  And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
Rev 19:2  For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.
Rev 19:3  And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
Rev 19:4  And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
Rev 19:5  And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
Rev 19:6  And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

The Hallelujah of a Great Multitude in Heaven (1-3)

·         The Time sequence

“And after these things” refers to the visions of chapters 17 and 18 and especially the fall of Babylon. In Rev 18:20 there was the call to rejoice over Babylon’s destruction. Now there is heaven’s response to that call.

·         What John heard is described as “a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven.” This is undoubtedly the multitude of saints described in Rev 7:9-12. It does not include the 24 elders and the four living creatures who subsequently respond antiphonally in verse 4. It may also include a multitude of angelic beings.

·         The Nature of Their Saying

·         This is seen in the word “hallelujah.” This word comes from two Hebrew words. The first is hallelu, an intensive verb in the imperative meaning “give praise.” The second is the Hebrew name of God in the shortened form, Yah. It means “praise Yahweh,” or “praise the Lord.”

·         The Content of Their Praise

·         The first aspect of praise consists of the declaration that “salvation and glory and power belong to our God.” Note the “our” in “our God.” Those giving praise had rejected the god of this world and his false messiah, and by faith had accepted the Lord as their God and Savior. For this many had died a martyr’s death, but to their God, who is our God through Jesus Christ, belongs all true deliverance, glory, and power. The apparent successes and victories of the enemies of God over His people are purely temporal.

·         Why do they make such a statement? This is given in verse 2, “Because His judgments are true and righteous.” God’s perfect and holy character, His perfect righteousness and justice, cannot act unfairly or unjustly. He has perfect knowledge (omniscience) and, therefore, He has all the facts so that all His judgments are in accord with the truth. There is no hearsay evidence in the court of God. In this case, the ground of God’s judgment demonstrated in the fall of Babylon was the immorality by which the great harlot seduced and corrupted the earth.

A further reason for the righteousness of God’s judgments is that He does not allow His people who suffered unjustly under the harlot to go unavenged. He will avenge the wrong that was done to them. Sometimes in this age there appears to be no justice, but this cannot and will not always be the case because of the character of God. The word “avenged” is the Greek ekdikew, an intensive compound verb and may suggest a complete rendering of justice to avenge His people.

·         In verse 3 a second “hallelujah” is given in connection with the statement, “Her smoke rises up forever and ever.” The smoke may refer to “the smoke of her burning” in Rev 18:9 and Rev 18:18, the results of her destruction, or to her eternal punishment (Rev 14:11). Whatever, this guarantees that her punishment is permanent.

The Hallelujah of the 24 Elders and the Four Living Creatures (4)

·         Upon hearing the hallelujahs of the great multitude, the 24 elders and the four living creatures respond with their own hallelujah and worship of God. Please note the clause “and worshipped God who sits on the throne.” The Greek says, “and they worshipped the God, the One who sits continually upon the throne.” Oh, how we need to capture this picture of our God who sits on the throne. This strongly emphasizes the permanent sovereignty of God. There is no act of man, nor of the nations, nor problem which comes up in our lives which overrules the sovereignty of God. “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all (Psa 103:19).

The Final Hallelujah of the Great Multitude (5-6)

·         Immediately, in response to this picture of God enthroned, the hallelujahs, and the worship of these creatures of God, a voice comes from the throne. This voice is not the Father or the Son, but only an angel because of the phrase “our God” in the next line.

The voice says, “give praise to our God.” In other words, “sing hallelujahs.” Who is to respond? All His bondservants, “you who fear Him, the small and the great.” Note that in this statement, all social and economic distinctions are transcended and removed in the worship of God by His people. Before God and in Christ, all believers, as the blood-bought possession of the Lord Jesus, are His bondservants. We are those who should have a true reverence for God through our illumination in Christ and by our equality together in Him.

·         In order to express the majesty of this praise verse 6 describes this voice as “the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder.” It is a majestic expression of praise from the hearts and mouths of the saints of God. Then the last hallelujah states, “for the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.” In other words, truly, He is still on the throne; He always has been, and always will be. But the primary emphasis in this context is that God is now dramatically establishing His reign upon earth by the previous judgments and especially by the return of the Lord, which is to be announced shortly (vss. 11f).

The Announcement of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb  (19:7-10)

Rev 19:7  Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
Rev 19:8  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
Rev 19:9  And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
Rev 19:10  And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

The Historical Background of the Marriage Custom

To truly grasp the significance and meaning of this passages, it would be helpful to explain the marriage custom of John’s day which was in three phases: (1) betrothal, (2) presentation, and (3) the marriage feast.

·         Phase 1: The Betrothal

·         Marriage was by a contract drawn up between the fathers, often while the parties involved were still children. In other words, this was the negotiating phase. Though the marriage was not consummated at this point, they were considered legally married (cf. Mat 1:19 and the word “husband,” and also 2 Cor 11:2, “I betrothed you to one husband”). Whenever a believer receives Jesus Christ as Savior he becomes a part of the bride of Christ. The church age is the betrothal phase, the time when God is calling out a bride for His Son.

The payment of a suitable dowry was also often a part of the procedure (cf.
Eph 5:25). Thus, Christ gave His own life for us as a dowry. Today all believers are legally married to Jesus Christ and through living faithfully in the Word, we are kept as pure virgins, kept from Satanic apostasy or fornication (2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:25-26 with Jas 4:4).

·         Phase 2: The Presentation

·         When the couple reached a suitable age the wedding took place. The father of the bridegroom would present the contract to the father of the bride. The bridegroom would then go to the house of the bride in the company of his friends and escort her to his home. This is the background for the parable of the virgins in Mat 25:1-13. During the betrothal phase the groom would prepare an apartment, a place to live in his father’s house. Homes, especially for the wealthy, were often very large complexes. Only the portions which were needed, however, were finished and furnished. When a son was to be married, another portion was completed to make ready for the new bride (John 14:2-3). The rapture, or resurrection and transformation of the church, is the event which brings the groom to the bride and which takes the bride back into heaven.

The groom and his friends would then escort the bride to their new home. The ceremony which followed was the “presentation” or actual marriage. The hand of the bride was placed into the hand of the groom’s father. He would then place it into the groom’s hand. This was considered the marriage ceremony.
Eph 5:27 speaks of this presentation, but also of Christ’s present work of keeping the church pure and productive by loving her through the Word.

·         Phase 3: The Marriage Feast (The Reception)

·         The groom would invite many guests and gather all his friends to come to the marriage feast and view his bride. The length and lavishness of the feast would of course depend on the wealth and status of the bridegroom. It might last a day or a week or even longer. The millennium represents the marriage feast where Christ displays His bride, the church.

·         In the parable of Mat 22:1-14 we have an illustration of this custom. The parable, however, pictures the rejection of Israel and Christ’s gracious extension of the invitation to all nations. Christ had prepared a great feast of spiritual blessings, but Israel was too busy to be bothered so the offer was extended to the nations or the Gentile world (cf. Rom 11:1-32).

Mat 25:1-13 we have another reference to the wedding feast only this time it refers to the millennium and the invitation is to come as guests to this great feast. The invitation is to Jews and Gentiles of the Tribulation to come to the marriage feast of Christ and His bride, the church. Of course, they can only come by faith in the groom. Personal faith in Jesus Christ is the wedding invitation; this provides the righteous garment necessary to get into the feast.

Explanation of 19:7-10 in the Light of this Custom

·         In verse 7 great rejoicing and glory is given to God because “the marriage of the Lamb has come.” The word for “marriage” here is gamos. This may refer to a marriage or to a wedding feast (Mat 22:8-12; Mat 25:10; John 2:1-3; Rev 19:9). This is not the announcement of the marriage, which has already occurred in heaven with the presentation of the bride, the church, to the groom, the Lord Jesus Christ. This occurred following the rapture. What we have here, as verse 9 makes clear, is an announcement of the wedding feast or the millennial reign of Christ.

·         This can now be announced and anticipated because Christ is about to return to remove all the enemies of God and unbelievers from the earth in preparing the earth for this great celebration of 1,000 years. However, for such an event the bride must be properly clothed and prepared so the groom may show off his new bride. Thus, we read, “and His bride has made herself ready.”

·         The bride refers to the church of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:22-23). Second, we are told, “His bride makes herself ready.” This brings out the aspect of personal responsibility of individuals. There is first the responsibility in relation to salvation. To be a part of the bride, one must have believed in Christ as his or her personal Savior from sin. But the primary emphasis here relates to the issue of true spirituality which results in rewards or preparation for eternity. Men must personally and responsibly believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and then, as believers and as part of the bride of Christ, they must choose to walk by the Spirit of God according to the Word, by faith, so they can bear fruit or reproduce good works. This is what is meant by the statement, “makes herself ready.”

But this is not the whole picture; there is also the divine side. This is brought out in the next statement of verse 8, “and it was given to her to clothe herself …”

The words “was given to her” focuses our attention on God’s grace and refers, I believe, to two phases of His grace to all believers who make up the bride of Christ.

1.       First, it refers to those gifts Christ has given to the church which enable believers to produce good works for God and to glorify Him. (John 15:5-6), (Eph 1:3), (cf. John 15:7-8; Phil 1:12-13; Eph 6:10-13).

2.      Second, “was given to her” also refers to the reward the Lord will give for faithful service or the righteous deeds done in the power of the Holy Spirit. The reward is a beautiful wedding garment to be worn at the wedding feast. This is clearly spelled out in the next words of our text, “… to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”  This symbolizes the righteous deeds, the works of godliness and goodness, produced by the Holy Spirit as believers reckon the flesh dead and walk by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom 6:4-5; Gal 5:5, Gal 5:16, Gal 5:22-23).

·         In essence then, the church age is not only the betrothal stage, but a time where the bride is preparing her trousseau for the marriage supper of the Lamb.

·         Verse 9 has reference to the custom of inviting guests to the wedding feast as seen in Matthew 22 and 25. Verse 9 is a beatitude, a pronouncement of blessing upon those invited. John was first told, “Write, blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

1.       First, this is the pronouncement of blessing and happiness to those who are invited because the millennium will be the most blessed time in the history of the earth. It will be an unprecedented time of blessing just as the Tribulation was an unprecedented time of misery. It will be a time worth waiting for and worth suffering for.

2.      Second, all men are invited, both Jews and Gentiles, but to enter and be a part one must accept the invitation and come with the right wedding garment,  clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This means one must first accept the invitation to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12; John 3:3, John 3:16; Rom 3:21-22; Rom 4:5; Mat 22:8-13). Not only will the bride have her trousseau, but every guest must have on a wedding robe, a garment of righteousness, in order to be a part of the marriage feast or the millennial reign of the Savior. These guests are friends of the bridegroom (John 3:29).

·         Next, in verse 9 John is told, “these are true words of God.” In the Greek text, the word “true” is emphatic, further stressing the element of the veracity of this event. This underscores the absolute certainty of this beatitude.

·         In verse 10 we see that John is virtually overawed by this revelation of the marriage supper of the Lamb and falls at the feet of the messenger, but he is immediately rebuked by the messenger’s words. There is a very important message in this verse for all believers as it pertains to the giving and receiving of the Word of God.  When sitting under the ministry of someone who really gives out the Word, whether in a church setting, by tape, or by radio, people often become so thrilled with the message, they become enchanted with the messenger.

In view of this, John was told, “do not do that.” It dishonors God, and causes serious disorientation among God’s people.  Out of mental discernment and understanding of the facts and issues involved, we (John as well as you and me) are to get our eyes off the messenger and on the truth of the message, specifically, the Lord Jesus, who is the very spirit of prophecy.

·         The angel explained, “a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren.” Here is a careful application of angelology and a wonderful illustration of how biblical truth should control and direct our behavior. The angel knew who he was and operated accordingly, and so should we. Here he was bringing out two concepts:

1.       angels minister to believers on behalf of God (Heb 1:14)

2.      one day, the saints will be over angels and judge them, having greater power and authority (1 Cor 6:3).

·         The angel then explained that he was simply one who, along with the brethren, held “the testimony of Jesus.” This points out the fact that believers and the godly angels are together responsible to bear testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ and to preserve that testimony as it is found in the Word. The principle is that when men get their eyes on the messenger, it always does harm to the message—the testimony about the Lord Jesus Himself.

·         The angel, following this explanation, gave another command as a further part of his reasons. He said, “worship God.” Infatuation with a messenger hinders the proper worship or recognition of God and His worth to us. Again, the point here is that it is God’s message and the messenger is using only that which God gave him (1 Cor 4:6-7).

·         The angel said, “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” This is given as a further reason and explanation for the above as indicated by the word “for.” The point is simple and clear. The purpose of prophecy, all prophecy, is essentially to bear testimony to Jesus Christ and to glorify Him.

Prophecy, by its very design in the plan of God, is to unfold the beauty of the person and work of Jesus Christ as God’s perfect solution to the evils of the universe in both His first and second advents. All Scripture ultimately points to the person and work of Christ in His preincarnate glory, His incarnation and ministry on earth, His death, resurrection, ascension, session, and return. The Lord made this perfectly clear to the two disciples on the Emmaus road in
Luke 24:25-26.

·         This is serious business, and a lot more important than many are willing to admit. The problem and the temptation here is two-directional. First, obviously, the audience can become preoccupied with the messenger, and secondly, the messenger can become preoccupied with the praise of the audience. The answer—worship God. Respect the messenger and thank God for him (cf. 1 Thess 5:12), or love the audience and serve them as a servant (cf. 1 Thess 2:1-12), but above all, let us worship God, never man or angels.

The Announcement of the Advent of Christ  (19:11-16)

Rev 19:11  And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
Rev 19:12  His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
Rev 19:13  And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
Rev 19:14  And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
Rev 19:15  And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Rev 19:16  And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

·         At this point we come to a climactic place in the book of Revelation as it reveals the person of Jesus Christ, for now our Lord is presented as the victorious White Horse Rider who comes out of heaven and who is also King of kings and Lord of lords.

·         If you recall, in Revelation 1:1 “the revelation of Jesus Christ” is the subject of this book. And, as 19:10 teaches us, “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” All that precedes 19:11 is somewhat introductory; it is setting the stage for the coming of the Lord as portrayed in these verses. But it is equally true that all that follows is, in some sense, an epilogue because the great event pictured here is the climax and the heart cry of Scripture (cf. Rev 1:7; Act 1:11; Mat 24:27).

·         Note this contrast: In the gospels, which deal primarily with Christ’s first advent, He is seen in His humiliation, rejection, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension. But here His return is one of triumph, glory, power, sovereignty and dominion. Here is the high point in history for here is the manifestation of the Son of God in glory and the end of all angelic and human rebellion. After the 1,000 year reign another brief rebellion will occur, but it is short-lived because Christ is present as King of kings.

·         This is where God’s kingdom comes to be on earth as it is in heaven. Here God’s program is climaxed; God exalts His Son and puts all creation under His feet, a symbol of His victory and control (Psa 2:1-12; Eph 1:22; Heb 1:13; Psa 110:1).

His Aim (11)

·         “And I saw heaven opened.” What a dramatic moment in history! The heavens are opened to allow this procession to take place. This may refer to the thick darkness and the cloud cover which will be characteristic of the Tribulation (Zeph 1:15; Joel 2:2). The Savior will be there on a white horse followed by His armies (believers and angels) (2 Thess 1:7, 2 Thess 1:10; and Rev 19:14). The armies of the world will be gathered in battle array on the hill of Megiddo and the mountains of Palestine. The oriental bloc will be set against the western confederacy under the authority of the beast, but when this event transpires, they join forces against the Lord (vs. 19).

·         With the words, “And in righteousness He judges and wages war” we see the Savior’s aim. “In righteousness” means “in the sphere of” or “by means of.” Either way it emphasizes that what follows is a product of the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. All evil and the enemies of God are about to be executed and removed.

“Judges” and “wages war!” are both in the present tense to describe the process. Once it starts, it will not stop until every enemy that has stood in rebellion against God is judged and removed.

·         “And behold, a white horse …” (vs. 11) and “the armies that were in heaven (the church and the angels) followed Him on white horses …” (vs. 14). The mention here of the white horse rider and riders that follow Him portrays a scene that is an allusion to the ancient Roman Triumph.

The Roman Triumph was the highest honor that could be bestowed on a victorious Roman general. It came from a Greek word that referred to a public and triumphal procession. The procession was a parade up the Via Sacra, the main street of Rome, that led from the Forum to the temple of Jupiter which lay on the Capitoline Hill. The General was mounted on a white horse which was the symbol of a victorious triumph in the field over the enemies of the nation. First came the spoils of war which were eventually given to the general’s army and friends. Next came the captives who had been defeated and captured in battle, disarmed and in chains. Then came the General on his white horse followed by his family, friends, and his army. Later the prisoners were often executed by the soldiers, often one on one until they were all executed.

Now compare the following Scriptures: in
Col 2:15 we have a reference to Christ’s victory in battle via the cross. Here Christ is proclaimed as the triumphant General in the field of battle. Eph 4:7-8 speaks of Christ giving gifts to men as spoils of war following the victory over the Satanic hosts. (The first phase of the triumph.) Finally, Rev 19:11 speaks of the removal of all enemies. (The final phase of the procession resulting in the execution of all enemies.)

His Appellatives

In this section, a number of different names are used of the Savior because together they describe the many features of the Lord Jesus Christ as to His person and work.

·         Faithful and True (11)

·         “Faithful” is pistos and refers to “one you can rely and count on” always.  Because He is perfect holiness, man can count on His plans and purposes knowing they are always right and just. He is one who pours out mercy on those who seek Him and justice and judgment on those who turn away (Isa 11:1-5).

·         “True” means “real, genuine” versus “spurious, false.”  Man has long looked for the perfect ruler. Of course, nations are sometimes blessed with good rulers, but they are always temporary. They either die by natural causes or get removed by political intrigue or assassination. They are then too often replaced by someone far less qualified (cf. 2 Kings 18:3-6 with 2 Kings 21:1-2 and Isa 6:1-2). But this white horse rider will remain by reason of His eternality. Thus, He will be the perfect Ruler, the Ideal.

·         A name written which no one knows (12)

·         This is precisely that, a name that is not revealed; it is not simply a name no one knows the significance of, but one no one knows period.

·         The Word of God (13)

·         “Word” is logos, “a word, saying, message.” It denotes the expression of thought, a collection of ideas in the mind, and the words by which they are expressed. It signifies the outer form by which thought is expressed as well as the inward thought or collection of ideas themselves.

He is called Ho Logos “the Logos.” The article is important to this title of the Lord Jesus. The purpose of the article is to distinguish the subject from the mass, to mark out an individual’s identity by way of contrast to all others. “Of God” is literally “the one of God.” This defines more precisely and emphatically just what He is, the revelation and manifestation of God himself. As “the Word of God” (Ho Logos tou Qeos), Jesus Christ is the complete personal manifestation of God, not just a part of God’s essence and plan, but the whole. He is the complete revelation, the collection and expression, and the outward manifestation of all that is God. The classic passage on Christ as “the Logos” is
John 1:1-18.

·         KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS (16)

·         There is no article with either of these titles which emphasizes the character and quality of His rule. It emphasizes the qualities of kingliness and lordship. “Of kings” and “of lords” means over all others, and like no others. This declares both His authority and quality. He is the epitome of a King and a Lord.

·         “And on His robe and on …” This means partly on His robe and partly on His thigh—written at length—extending from His robe down to and on His thigh. “Has written,” because of the perfect tense, means it is a permanent title; once He assumes His rule, it will never end. There will be no one who can dethrone Him as Satan dethroned Adam and Eve.

His Appearance (12-13, 15)

·         “His eyes … a flame of fire.” Some manuscripts have “as a flame of fire.” This symbolizes the searching and penetrating judgment of the white horse rider upon mankind. Like fire, His eyes penetrate and search out every person. No one can escape his vision and judgment. Men can hide behind every conceivable mask, but only those who stand in His righteousness will escape this judgment. Even these will be examined and rewarded for production by the same eyes (cf. Rev 2:23 with 1 Cor 3:12-15; 2 Cor 5:10).

·         “And upon His head are many diadems” (KJV has “crowns”). This is not the victor’s crown (stefanos), but the diadem, the crown of absolute sovereignty, the crown of kings. Believers receive the stefanos, the victor’s crown for bearing fruit in the Christian life (Rev 3:11). The diadems of Rev 19:12 are set in contrast to the ten diadems of the beast (Rev 13:1 , i.e., ten diadems verses many diadems). Christ’s universal sovereignty (King of kings) is the point being made by the many diadems.

·         “And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood.” The robe refers to Christ’s royal robe, an outer garment with which He is clothed. “Clothed” is a perfect tense which calls attention to the abiding condition, permanently clothed in royal splendor and authority. “Dipped” is also a perfect and calls attention to the permanence of what He is about to do—defeat His enemies. “Dipped in blood” is symbolic of the blood which is about to be shed (cf. Isa 63:1-6; Rev 14:20) and also stresses that it is His power which accomplishes the judgment and removal of the enemies. It may be the church will take part in this, but only by our association and identification with Him (Isa 63:2-6). In Rev 19:14 no blood is mentioned in connection with clothing of the armies (the saints) that follow Him. The armies follow and are a part of this victory, but as in the Christian life, it is His power which accomplishes the defeat of the enemy. When Christ is portrayed as the slain Lamb, it speaks of redemption by means of His blood, i.e., His death on the cross (Rev 1:5), but here the blood represents not Christ’s blood or death, but the blood or death of the wicked caused by this judgment of Christ.

·         “And from His mouth comes a sharp sword …” The fact that the sword proceeds from His mouth shows this is His Word. His Word is called “a sharp sword” because it cuts the enemy asunder (it is effective). “Sword” is rhomfaia, the long Thracian sword. This word was also used of a javelin-like sword which was light and slender enough to be thrown as a spear. It is a symbol of judgment and suggests that Christ will simply speak and by His Word thousands will fall. The basis of His judgment will be the words which He spoke in His first advent (John 12:48). In His first advent He came speaking words of reconciliation, seeking to save that which was lost. But at His second advent, because of rejection of these words, He will come speaking words of retribution which will slay the wicked (Isa 11:4).

His Armies (14)

·         This undoubtedly involves two groups:

1.       First, it includes the angels, the hosts of the Lord, as they are so often called in the Old Testament Scripture (Jos 5:14-15; 1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chr 18:18; Nehe 9:6). The Hebrew word for “hosts” is tsaba, “armies.” But due to the description used here.....

2.      ...His army will also include church age saints. Why? Well, note the description. They are clothed in fine linen, white and clean. In verse 8 this same expression is explained as “the righteous acts of the saints,” the dikaiwma.

·         “Clothed” is a perfect tense which again looks at a permanent state of being so clothed. “Clothed” is the Greek enduw which means “to clothe in, hide or cover in.” The voice is best taken as passive which stresses this as a work of God who clothes us in these garments, white and clean; even as the results of faithfulness to the Lord, they are the work of God.

A note of contrast and comparison is in order here. In
Eph 6:11 we are told to “put on the full armor of God.” “Put on” is again the verb enduw, only in Eph 6:11 the Greek means, “you yourself put on,” or “you clothe yourself.” While in this age we are commanded to put on, or to clothe ourselves in the full armor of God as a protection against the schemes of the devil in our battle against Satan and his forces. This armor gives capacity to stand against his many strategies. But in this case we may fail to do so and be sorely trampled on by the devil. In the future when we come with the Lord, however, He will have permanently clothed us which both qualifies and protects us in the battle.

His Authority (15-16)

·         His authority is seen in a number of things in these two verses. First it is seen in His Name, “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (vs. 16). In verse 12 the “diadems,” are the royal crowns He will wear, which, as pointed out previously, likewise demonstrate His authority over the whole earth. He has “many crowns” versus the ten of the beast, and He is King above all kings, and the epitome of kings.

·         His authority and the nature of His rule is also seen in, “He will rule them with a rod of iron” (cf. Psa 2:9; Rev 2:27). This represents the unyielding and absolute governmental authority of Jesus Christ in His kingdom reign under which men are required to conform to the righteous and just standards. No lawlessness or injustices will be tolerated. Men today can get away with murder, deceit, fraud, lying—but not then.

·         “Rule” is the Greek word poimainw, which means “to shepherd.” In this we see the nature of His rule. It will be like a shepherd who cares for his sheep. It will involve love, provision for all needs (spiritually and physically), as well as discipline and swift and effective justice.

·         “Rod of iron” further describes the nature of His rule. Shepherds normally used a staff made of wood with which they protected, cared for, and disciplined the sheep. This rod, however, is made of iron which symbolizes the strength, absolute authority, and unbreakable nature of His authority and rule.

·         His authority is further shown by the phrase “and He treads the wine press …” This figure returns to what He must do in order to take up His rule on earth. It is a striking figure of the judgment that will occur at Christ’s return (Rev 14:20). The picture is that of treading a wine press full of grapes. The press runs red with the juice of the grapes which have been pulverized by the treading. So when Christ returns with His armies and lands on the Mount of Olives, He will literally destroy hundreds of thousands and their blood will flow through Palestine (cf. Rev 14:19-20).

·         “Treads” is present tense of continual or progressive action. This means He continues the judgment until all the enemies are defeated, either slain or gathered for judgment. The armies of the beast will be wiped out while the rest of mankind will be gathered for judgment. They will either be cast directly into the lake of fire or allowed, if believers, to go into the millennial reign of Christ. Compare Matthew 24 and 25 for this sequence.

1.       The Tribulation judgments will wipe out many via the seals, trumpets, and bowls (Rev 6:1-18).

2.      Christ returns for the final battle of Armageddon with all armies gathered to do battle (Rev 19:11-19).

3.      The beast and false prophet are removed (Rev 19:20).

4.      The armies of the world are destroyed (the treading of the wine press) (Rev 19:15, Rev 19:17, Rev 19:19, Rev 19:21).

5.      This is followed by the judgment of the rest of the living Jews and Gentiles (Mat 25:1-3).

6.      Then comes the millennial reign of Jesus Christ (Rev 20).

·         “Of the fierce wrath” is literally, “of the rage, the one of His settled anger.” The Greek word translated “rage” is qumos which means “exploding, volatile wrath, anger in action.” But the next word, orgh, refers to the more settled anger of God against sin which proceeds from His unalterable holiness and divine essence. The text is showing us that this wine press proceeds from the divine holiness of God. Remember that Rev 14:10 declares God’s wrath will he poured out, at this point, in full strength, undiluted, and without mercy and grace. It will be too late for mercy and too late for repentance. Up to this point, unless people received the mark of the beast, they could repent and accept Jesus Christ. But not after Christ appears in heaven. God’s forbearance with man, at long last, comes to an end—as in the days of Noah.

·         Another important contrast to consider at this point is that of Christ’s return to earth and the Great White Throne Judgment:

7.      It is separated in time from the last judgment by 1,000 years (Rev 19:11-21 compare with Rev 20:1-8, Rev 20:9, Rev 20:11).

8.      Its purpose and object is entirely different. The Great White Throne Judgment is to pronounce final doom and to appoint men to their eternal destiny. The books are opened out of which men are judged. But the day of wrath at Christ’s return is to prepare the earth for the millennial reign. It is a purging out, a removal of all rebels.

9.      The Great White Throne Judgment comes only after the present heavens and earth have passed away, but the second coming is an event on this earth—specifically in Palestine. It will involve changes in the earth, but not a new earth (Isa 11:6-7).

10.  The Great White Throne judgment deals with the dead; those who have come from the sea and the grave (their bodies), and from Hades or torments (their souls) (Rev 20:12). The second coming of Christ is dealing with living men who have never died and many of whom are marshaled together into one great army.

The Armageddon Conflict  (19:17-21)

Rev 19:17  And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
Rev 19:18  That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
Rev 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.
Rev 19:20  And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
Rev 19:21  And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

·         Right away a great contrast occurs with this section of Revelation 19. Above, in verse 9, saints are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. “Supper” is deipnon, the primary meal of the day, and there it refers to the blessings and fellowship of the millennial reign of Christ with His bride, the church. But here, birds (vulture types) are invited to another supper (deipnon), only now it is to eat the flesh of those killed in this battle. Either one accepts God’s supper of grace, or he must face the one of God’s judgment.

·         Now following the vision of Christ with His armies, John is given another striking vision which may be divided up as follows:

1.       The carnage for the birds (vss. Rev 19:17-18)

2.      The conflict with all the armies of the earth (vs. Rev 19:19)

3.      The captives thrown into the lake of fire (vs. Rev 19:20)

4.      The conquest of the remaining ones (vs. Rev 19:21)

The Carnage for the Birds (17-18)

·         “And I saw an angel (singular) standing in the sun.” Just how the angel stands in the sun is not explained. Whether he stands in the sun itself or merely in its light is not specifically stated. As a supernatural spiritual being this would be no problem for an angel, but probably the idea is that he will stand in the direct path of sun light, but possessing even greater brilliance so that he can be seen. The image is one of great brilliance and light which again manifests and emphasizes this whole scene as an act of God’s glory, especially His holiness, righteousness and justice.

·         :The fact the angel “cried out with a loud voice” signifies that something very important is impending (Rev 6:10; Rev 7:2, Rev 10:3; Rev 14:15; Rev 18:2).

·         “Saying to all the birds which fly in mid heaven.” The angel does not speak to man, but to birds—a special kind of bird. Literally it says, “to all the birds, to those which fly in mid heaven.” He is not just talking about birds which fly, but about those that are noted for soaring high in the sky and noted for eating flesh, i.e., vultures, buzzards, and perhaps even hawks and eagles (cf. Mat 24:28 the Greek word used there means “eagle, vulture,” cf. Job 39:26-30).

·         The birds are then commanded to assemble for a very special meal. “Come” is an adverb of command or exhortation. “Assemble” is an aorist passive imperative suggesting urgency, “be assembled.” “For the great supper of God,” i.e., for the slaughter of the armies of the world.

·         Verse 18 shows the purpose of this assembly of the birds—operation cleanup. They are assembled to eat the flesh of those slain by the King of kings. Note that the men are divided into classes: (a) kings, (b) commanders (literally “commanders of thousands), (c) mighty men, (d) cavalry troops, and (e) men both free and slave, small and great. But why the various classes? To emphasize a timeless principle of Scripture: God’s judgment upon man is no respecter of persons (Rom. 2:6-11). His judgment is a great equalizer of all.

·         There are two other passages that seem to parallel Rev 19:17 because of the reference to the vulture-like birds (Eze 39:17-20 and Mat 24:28). In Rev 19:17 the great supper of God involves all the armies of the earth. Mat 24:28 is an actual parallel, and refers to the carcasses which fall in battle when Christ returns, and the gathering of the birds to eat them.

The Conflict with all the Armies of the Earth (19)

·         “And I saw the beast.” This includes the seven remaining kings of the ten nation confederation who will give their power and authority to the beast. Later three will rebel and will be destroyed, so only these seven will be left (Rev 17:12-17; Dan 7:18). But “kings” in Rev 19:19 also refers to all the remaining kings of the earth, primarily the kings of the East who now band together in this final United Nations against Christ.

·         “Assembled to make war.” Literally “having been assembled in order to make war.” Remember that, as John saw this vision of the future, they were originally assembled there by demonic activity because of their greed for the wealth and the resources of Palestine (cf. Rev 16:12-16). But now they see the sign of the Son of Man, and they join together against the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Rev 17:14 with Rev 19:19).

The Captives Thrown Into the Lake of Fire (20)

·         Verse 20 tells us the beast and the false prophet will literally be seized (paizw, “seize, arrest” and was used of a violent seizure) at the beginning of the conflict and cast directly into the lake of fire. The false prophet is clearly identified as the one of chapter 13.

The most dramatic part of the verse is the last part where it tells us these two were “thrown alive” into the lake of fire. Literally it says, “Alive, they were thrown, these two, into the lake of fire.” The reason for the emphasis is that this is not the ordinary sequence of the doom of unbelievers. The normal sequence is:

1.       Death (Luke 16:22)

2.      Torments in hades (Luke 16:23)

3.      The second resurrection that leads to the second death (Rev 20:11, Rev 20:13 a)

4.      The Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11-12)

5.      And then the lake of fire or the second death (Rev 20:14-15).

·         The armies of the beast, for instance, will be killed, and will go to torments and follow the above sequence. “The beast and his false prophet will be the first occupants of the lake of fire; other unbelievers, now in hades, will join them at the end of the Millennium.”223

·         There seems to be one other exception to this sequence which is the judgment of the living Jews and Gentiles. This takes place after this battle is over. In these two judgments, believers and unbelievers are separated. The believers remain (Mat 25:34) to inherit the kingdom, and unbelievers seem to go directly to the lake of fire (Mat 25:41). This judgment on earth appears to take the place of the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20 for living, unbelieving Jews and Gentiles after Christ returns to earth.

The Conquest of the Remaining (21)

·         Those not killed in the first stage of the conflict, i.e., in that which takes place when the beast and false prophet are taken, are then killed. The point is that the whole army of the beast is wiped out. The only ones left are those who were not a part of these armies, i.e., believers hidden in the hills and unbelievers in other places around the earth.

·         The present age reveals the grace of God and suspended judgment. The age to come, while continuing to reveal grace, will bring an end to this suspension of God’s wrath and finally of even God’s grace. Christ’s victory is total and complete.

·         The Word of God makes plain that God so loved the world that He gave His Son, and that all who avail themselves of the grace of God are immeasurably blessed in time and eternity. On the other hand, the same Word of God states plainly that those who spurn God’s mercy must experience His judgment without mercy. How foolish it is to rest in the portions of the Word of God that speak of the love of God and reject the portions that deal with His righteous judgment. The present age reveals the grace of God and suspended judgment. The age to come, while continuing to be a revelation of the grace of God, will give conclusive evidence that God brings every evil work into judgment and that those who spurn His grace must experience His wrath.224

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222 NIV Bible Commentary, Electronic Version.

223 Charles C. Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible, Expanded Edition, NASB, Moody Press, Chicago, 1995, p. 2041.

224 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press, Chicago, 1966, p. 281.

References and Credits
·         Revelation 19 Study - Stan Feldsine
·         The basis for this study came from:
·         Credit to: J. Hampton Keathley III

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