Monday, January 19, 2009
Revelation 19: 1 - 21
Chapter 19 is exhilarating because it begins with a heavenly host singing an Alleluja chorus, and this is a Hebrew word meaning praise Jehovah or praise the Lord.
Chapter 19 contains the only mention of the term in the New Testament, and we will find it four different times in the following six verses.
Verse 1: And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluja; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
John says, after these things. After what things? After the destruction of religious and political Babylon. Then what? Then he hears the tremendous sound of a multitude conducting a praise and testimony meeting in heaven. Probably led by the martyred saints of the Tribulation hour (chapter 7, verse 9), this group eventually includes all the redeemed in glory. They are rejoicing because (1) evil has run its course; (2) the Tribulation hour is concluding; (3) Christ is preparing to return with His saints; (4) the armies of the world are about to be demolished; (5) swords will then be remade into plowshares and spears into pruninghooks (see Isaiah 2:4); and (6) Christ will soon >establish His millennial kingdom upon the earth. Such good news would make anyone shout, Amen! Praise the Lord!The reason this praise is directed to One whose attributes are: (1) salvation, (2) glory, (3) honour, and (4) power is revealed in the next verse.
Verse 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.
Verse 3: And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
The refrain is repeated as God's people acknowledge the fact that Babylon's doom is eternal. Never again will religious or political alliances bring men into bondage. Never again will man be duped, deluded, and destroyed through pompous ceremonialism. No, Babylon's smoke ascends up for the ages of ages-forever and forever!
Verse 4: And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
At this point the twenty-four elders (those we observed casting their trophies or crowns at Jesus' feet following the Rapture and Judgment Seat of Christ in chapter 4) join the praise session. The world system that so harassed and persecuted them has finally been judged. The four beasts (identified as cherubim and seraphim in chapter 4) also lend their voices in glorifying God. They are rejoicing over the fact that they did not follow Lucifer, the head angel, as so many of their group did when he rebelled against the Almighty (see Isaiah 14:12-14). Now they are eternally secure, whereas the fallen angels are everlastingly damned.
Verse 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.
This voice is undoubtedly an angel encouraging the heavenly host to continue the praise session. He is the celestial cheerleader at one of heaven's most momentous and climactic hours.
Verse 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.
This is the final chorus as all heaven joins together in song. The multitudinous voices resound so loudly that the roar is likened to the sound of many waters and mighty thunderings. Why not? The prayer of the ages, Thy kingdom come, uttered by millions upon millions through the centuries, is about to be answered. Thus, the exclamation: [Praise Jehovah!] for the Lord God Omnipotent [soon] reigneth.
Verse 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
Verse 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.
At the hour of Christ's return to earth with His bride (the Church), His honeymoon is launched for 1,000 years. These verses are further proof that the Rapture is a pre-Tribulational event. The marriage of the Lamb takes place in heaven, not on earth. The Bride prepares herself at the Judgment Seat of Christ (which also takes place in heaven) before the wedding. These are time-consuming events. Then she returns with her lover-the Lord Jesus Christ-from heaven.The Saviour is the Bridegroom because He is the Lamb of God, [who] taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The marriage partners at this glorious event include the Lamb (Christ) and His bride (the Church). Question: Where have they been during the Tribulation hour depicted in chapters 6 through 18? The answer: Heaven! You see, the Church was raptured in Revelation 4:1 and has not been mentioned again until this point-the time of preparation for the wedding.During the seven years that earth dwellers suffered judgment from heaven, the Bride was being investigated in heaven, for 2 Corinthians 5:10 states: We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Second Corinthians 11:2 continues: For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste [pure] virgin to Christ. For many who were unfaithful to Christ during the engagement period (their years of service upon earth), this will be a time of humiliation (see 1 John 2:28).
Since we are then betrothed or engaged to Christ from the time of our conversion until the moment of the Rapture. God commands that we live consistently holy lives (see 1 Peter 1:16). Then, immediately after we are called home in the twinkling of an eye, the pre-marital examination concerning our faithfulness as His sweetheart begins. Today's signs definitely indicate that the hour is near. Our next appointment has been scheduled. How heartbreaking the report should the Bridegroom say, I have discovered a problem. Child of God-don't be among the losers-live victoriously!In preparation for the marriage ceremony itself, every believer will be attired in the wedding garment he made upon earth. The material will be composed of the good works remaining after the Judgment Seat has occurred. Someone may ask, Doesn't the Bible teach that believers are clothed in the righteousness of Christ? Definitely (see 2 Corinthians 5:2 1). This is how one becomes a Christian in the first place. However, the word righteousness in the original Greek of verse 8 is not singular-(righteousness based upon Christ's work) but plural-(righteousnesses based upon the believer's life and deeds upon earth). At the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10), every work-good or bad-will be investigated. Then those works will be placed in the fires of testing (see 1 Corinthians 3:13). At that time if any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss [of rewards]: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire [by the skin of his teeth] (1 Corinthians 3:14,15).The two texts just referenced describe the preparation of the bride of Christ (all Christians) for the wedding (the marriage of the Lamb). Clearly, the wedding gown is composed of the believers' righteousnesses (good works) performed on earth in honor of the lover of her soul. When this great moment arrives-undoubtedly soon, yes, perhaps today-what will you have? What will your wedding garment picture? Oh, I plead with you to live for Christ. Give Him your very best and all that you have. If you do, your rewards will be great, your joy complete, and your heavenly entrance abundant (see 2 Peter 1:11).
Revelation 19: 9 - 16
Verse 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.
This verse discloses the fact that the marriage of the Lamb will include a reception with many guests invited. Please note that the Bride and the Bridegroom are never guests. They are the ones for whom the ceremony is performed. Who, then, are those in attendance at the Marriage Supper? The guests include all believers up to Pentecost as well as the Tribulation saints. John-the disciple Jesus loved (see John 19:26) and the one who wrote the Book of Revelation-said, He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled (John 3:29). No wonder our text states: Blessed [or happy] are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.The bride is composed of all believers who become members of the body of Christ from the Day of Pentecost until the Rapture. Now we find that the guests are those who trusted in the Lord either prior to Pentecost or following the Rapture. Since the marriage takes place in heaven, and the Old Testament and Tribulation believers are part of the earthly group, their only hope of participating in this event of the ages is that the wedding reception and Marriage Supper take place on earth. This is exactly what happens.The fact that the marriage takes place in heaven and the supper occurs on earth is beautifully portrayed by the parable of the ten virgins: Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (Matthew 25:1-13).Notice that verse 6 of the above text states: Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. The reason the emphasis is on the Bridegroom instead of the Bride is because the Lord Jesus is all in -all. Even John says, Let us be glad and rejoice, and -give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come (Revelation 19:7). Believers-members of the Bride-ought always to remember that the glory is His. He redeemed us. We would be nothing were it not for Jesus. These texts, then, explain the marriage, the supper, the guests, and the location.
Verse 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.
If there were any portion of the Book of Revelation John would like to omit, this would be the verse. He has just done a foolish thing. He allowed himself to become so enamored with the angel delivering the message that he began worshipping a created being. Such recording of human weaknesses proves that God wrote the Bible, for man would have omitted his mistakes. God, however, records them in order to show the world that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
As John bows his knee to this created being, the angel cries, Don't do it. Angels are but ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). Get up! I am only a servant of God, as you are.John has just learned an important lesson. Have you? Beware of any religion that honors or reveres angels-including the angel Moroni of Mormonism. Such practice is wrong: Let no man beguile you of your reward in...worshipping of angels (Colossians 2:18). Even the angel's command in our text is, worship God. Thus, it is obvious that we are not to worship men, women, angels, or idols (see Exodus 20:4,5). Worship God!
Verse 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.
Verse 12: His eyes were as aflame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
Verse 13: And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
Verse 14: And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
Verse 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.
Verse 16: And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
These verses graphically portray the coming of Christ to earth. This event is called The Revelation among theologians because this is the moment the Lord reveals himself to the inhabitants of earth. The same scene was observed in chapter 11, verse 15, as well. Remember, chapters 12 through 19 simply repeat the materials presented in chapters 6 through 11.For centuries, the world has scoffingly cried, Where is the promise of his coming? (2 Peter 3:4). Now the mocking abruptly ceases. Why? Breathtaking signs accompany the One who sits on this white horse-as He comes to judge and make war on the world: Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect [saved Jews and Tribulation saints] from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matthew 24:29-32).
The scene before us is a literal event because John sees heaven opened. This is thrilling. Heaven's door is opened but twice in the Book of Revelation- once in chapter 4, verse 1, and now in chapter 19, verse 11. Chapter 4 pictures the Rapture; chapter 19 pictures the Revelation. The door was opened in chapter 4 to receive the saved; now the door is opened again in order that the saints may return with the rider on the white horse-the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Don't let anyone tell you that there is but one appearing at Christ's return. Two opened doors tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.The Rider in verse 12 has eyes...as a flame of fire, which are piercing and purging. He can immediately see through the sham and hypocrisy of men. These are the same eyes we viewed in chapter 1, verse 14. As King, Christ has on His head the crowns of royalty. He also has a special name that will only be exposed at the hour of His return. Until then He alone knows this name and its meaning.In verse 13, we see that the Lord wears a vesture dipped in blood-a picture of the judgment He is bringing to earth. None can doubt that this Judge is anyone but the Lord Jesus Christ, for His name is called the Word of God. John often called Him by this name. In fact, he was the only New Testament writer to use this title. John 1:1 states: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Verse 14 adds, And the Word was made flesh. He again calls Christ the Word of life in 1 John 1:1.
At this moment John sees the Word of God coming in judgment. He also observes a great host called the armies [of] heaven following Him upon white horses. Notice that they come from heaven; they are not already present on earth. They are the saints who were raptured in chapter 4, verse 1-the Bride who made herself ready and [wore] fine linen, clean and white in verse 8 of this present study. Tens of thousands-yea, millions upon millions in number-avoided the Tribulation hour and are now returning with the King for the conflict at Armageddon. They are privileged to stand with Him as He comes to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him (Jude 15). The time of reaping has arrived.As Christ returns to subjugate the earth dwellers, He does so with a sword in His mouth (see verse 15). This sword is nothing less than the Word of God.His Word always smites men in their consciences and lives. This is exactly what happened to the officers of the chief priests and Pharisees when they came to the Garden of Gethsemane, seeking Jesus, As soon then as he had said unto them, lam he, they went backward, and fell to the ground (John 18:6). Oh, the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).We note in verse 15 that Christ and His Word alone smash the nations at Armageddon. The armies of heaven only observe as He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. This moment brings the fulfillment of Daniel 2:34, which predicts that a stone...cut out without hands pulverizes the image-the ten-nation confederacy. Then the stone instantly expands and fills the entire earth with a new kingdom, never to be destroyed. Its leader is the King of kings and Lord of lords. No one can miss Him, for His vesture and thigh coverings bear His titleùKing of kings and Lord of lords. The King has come! Oh, hallelujah! The King has come!
Revelation 19: 17 - 21
Verse 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;
Verse 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.
The devastating scene described in these verses is the result of the Battle of Armageddon (chapter 16, verse 16) fought in the valleys of Megiddo and Jehoshaphat, Russia's invasion of Israel (see Ezekiel 38 and 39). Russia made her move in the middle of the Tribulation hour. Why? The Antichrist came to power, made a false peace pact with the nations, and then broke it in the midst of the seven years (see Daniel 9:27). At that point Russia invaded the Holy Land, for she went up to the land of unwalled villages; [saying] I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely (Ezekiel 38:11).Prior to the appearance of the Antichrist in chapter 13, the nation of Israel is not at rest or dwelling safely. This situation changes when he comes to power, takes control, and initiates his peace plan. Then Israel and all the world proclaim, Peace, peace, but it does not last, For when they shall say. Peace and safety; then sudden destruction [comes] upon them (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Russia quickly takes advantage of the opportunity and moves against Israel, for she is at rest, dwelling safely. Moscow's act of aggression, however, proves to be her Waterloo, for she is destroyed by the hand of God (see Ezekiel 39:1-3).Conversely, the battle described in this present chapter occurs as God destroys the Antichrist and his ten-horned empire. The following passages vividly portray the terrible, catastrophic judgment which occurs in preparation for, and fulfillment of, Armageddon:For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to -the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down: for the press is full, the vats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: -but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more (Joel 3:1, 2, 11-17).
Verses 14-20 of chapter 14, and verses 17-2 1 of chapter 16, already studied, also have to do with the Battle of Armageddon. Thus, we see that before the Marriage Supper of the Lamb becomes a reality, the supper of the great God occurs. This event begins as an angel summons all the fowls (or vultures) of heaven to gather together for a feast, For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together (Matthew 24:28). At this gathering they eat the flesh of deceased kings, captains, mighty men, horses, their riders, and all men from every rank and position of life. What a horrible nightmare as men suffer the consequences of their rebellion against God.Finally the one who made life so miserable upon earth, who gave men a number (666), who would not let them buy or sell without the number of his name, and who had millions of believers beheaded because they refused his number, is judged by God himself!
Verse 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.
Verse 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.
What a conclusion! Two world leaders-one political, the other religious; one posing as God, the other promoting him-now discover that their charade is over. They are cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone-the final abode of all God-haters and Christ-rejecters for time and eternity. A thousand years later, when Satan joins them (chapter 20, verse 10), they are still suffering torment day and night. Oh, who is foolish enough to preach immediate disintegration or annihilation in the light of such plain texts?
Verse 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.
The battle has ended. None is spared!
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