Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Revelation 19, The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

In this chapter, having been moved from the "wilderness" and brought back into the vibrant throws of heaven, John finds it in full celebration over the destruction of Babylon. Then he witnesses two of our most anticipated events: The wedding of the Lamb, and the glorious Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

v.1-4 "After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, 'Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power to the Lord our God! 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. Again they said, 'Alleluia! And her smoke rises up forever and ever!' And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who sat on the throne, saying, 'Amen! Alleluia!' "

"After these things”—that is, after God's vengeful judgment and destruction of Babylon—John hears the great voice of the multitudes in heaven break out into a Hallelujah chorus.

With the awareness that "the great harlot" Babylon has been uprooted, and the presence of her idolatry, wickedness, and cruelty vanquished, heaven simply cannot refrain itself from worshipping God. Moreover, because of Babylon's long corruption of the earth and her persecution and murdering of God's servants, they declare it "true and righteous" that God has made her “smoke” to rise up “forever and ever” (see also—Jer.51:47-48).

v.5-8 "Then a voice came from the throne, saying, 'Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!' 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! 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. 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.' “

As one celebration ends, immediately another loud and thunderous ocean of adulation and praise begins.

"Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!" Interestingly, this is the only chapter in all of the New Testament in which the word "Alleluia” (the Old Testament word, Hallelujah) is used. And how fitting that the Holy Spirit has reserved it for this juncture of Revelation with the end so near and the glorious Return of our Lord to earth about to take place.

"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." Although most commentators see this as an announcement for the wedding only between Christ and His Church, I tend to believe that there are actually two events inside this declaration that cause the joy and excitement in heaven.

The first, indeed, does surround the “marriage” of the Church to Jesus. For the Bible does speak of our relationship to Christ in terms prefigured by the symbol of marriage (Eph. 5:32), and it does allude to a moment in time when we will be presented to Him as a chaste virgin and intimately joined to Him for all the ages as unto a husband (2Cor. 11:2).

But I also believe that the phrase “and her wife has made herself ready” concerns the nation Israel. And is meant to mean that the nation has been reborn and made ready to receive Jesus Christ as its Messiah (see notes—Rev.12:17).

"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." The Bride shall be “granted” to wear clean and bright fine linen, which is “the righteous acts of the saints”, because no person can ever earn the righteousness that leads to salvation by any amount of good works. All righteousness is imparted unto us from God by faith.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph.2:8-9; see also—Phil3:9).

v.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.' "

This "marriage supper” of the Lamb is not the wedding, but the ceremonial feast that traditionally follows a wedding (check—Matt.22:1-14).

Moreover, I believe that this supper will be delayed until the Millennium and served on earth; to commemorate both the marriage between Christ and His Church (that will take place in heaven before His return to earth), and the restoration of a bridal relationship between God and Israel (following His return to earth).

Bear in mind that Israel is figuratively called the “wife” of God in the Old Testament (Jer.31:32; Isa.54:5-6). And though she has been put away by God because of her sin (Isa.50:1; Jer.3:8), it's not without the assurance that God loves her still, and not without the promise that He will one day take her back and restore her unto Himself (compare—Hosea 1:2; 3:1-5).

It will all occur during the Tribulation years. God will take Israel aside and once again turn her heart back to Him, and when she is again ready to receive Him as her Husband He will return for her and “betroth” her unto Himself forever (see—Hosea 2:14-23; 5:15; 6:1-2; Isa.54:4-8).

v.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.' "

John is so overcome with awe to hear that the eternal union with Christ is "the true sayings of God" he becomes a victim to his emotions and wrongly attempts to worship the angel. "See that you do not do that!" the angel tells John, "I am your fellow servant...Worship God!"

Then the angel adds:
"For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy"
True prophecy always surrounds Jesus Christ. Even the Revelation, despite its awesome and wondrous truths about future events, serves no other purpose than to rouse the hearer closer to Christ.

v.11 "Then 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. 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. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses."

John's attention is suddenly drawn to the open doors of heaven where the Lord Jesus Christ in all His glory is seated upon a white horse leading the armies of heaven.

“And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True." These names define the nature of Jesus—for He is Faithful to keep His promises, He is True to His Word, and His Word is true.

"And in righteousness He judges and makes war." The war speaks of the final stage of Armageddon wherein Jesus will battle against and destroy the armies of Antichrist (see notes—14:14-20).

"His eyes were like a flame of fire." This speaks of the ability God has to see everything and miss nothing. The Bible says, "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do" (Heb.4:13).

"And on His head were many crowns." There are two Greek words used in the Revelation for “crown.” One is "Stephanos" (signifying royalty) that's used in connection with the Church (Rev.2:10; 3:11), the twenty-four elders (Rev.4:4,10), Israel (Rev.12:1), Jesus Christ (Rev.14:14), the locust-demons (Rev.9:7), and the Antichrist (Rev.6:2). The other is '"diadem” (meaning "as bound about the head”) speaks of a crown meant to signify something less than royalty. It's used in connection with seven worldly kingdoms and the ten yet-future kings that make up the heads and horns of the image of the beast (Rev.12:3; 13:1).

In this case, when Jesus returns, He will be wearing many "diadems", the crowns associated with the kingdoms of man and worn by the beast. Why, probably because as King triumphant, Jesus is showing Himself as the King of Kings against whom neither man nor kingdom can stand.

"He had a name written that no one knew except Himself." For reasons known only to Him, Jesus will bear a name unutterable and unintelligible to others.

"He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood." This is the blood of His enemies. For Jesus will severely judge and destroy their armies at Armageddon (see—Rev.16:21; Isa.63:1-4).

"And His name is called The Word of God." This is the name which has been His from the beginning with God (John 1:1,14).

"And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses." These armies in heaven are the believers the Bible has long told will join with Christ in His Second Coming. (check—Jude 14-15).

v.15-18 "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. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. 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, 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.' "

In one final desperate attempt to retain the world by preventing our Lord’s Coming, Satan will cause the armies of the world to do battle against the Lord. Unbeknownst to them, however, they will be gathering themselves together to receive the great judgment of God; not even aware that the fowls of heaven have been called by God to indulge themselves on the soon-to-be exposed flesh.

v.19-20 "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. 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. 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 reality of Armageddon is that man’s war against God never takes place, and only God battles. It’s even doubtful the armies of Antichrist ever see Jesus; most are crushed under one hundred pound hailstones unleashed in the aftermath of the seventh bowl judgment (Rev.16:17-21) even before He appears. Moreover, those who aren’t crushed are mysteriously “dissolved.” Listen to the Bible:
“And this shall be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths” (Zech.14:12).
The Antichrist and False Prophet are rendered helpless by the breath of our Lord’s mouth and the brightness of His Coming (2 Thess.2:8) and then thrown “alive” into the lake of fire (see also—Dan.7:11).

Satan is cast into the bottomless pit (Rev.20:1-3) where he remains bound for one thousand years until again released (Rev.20:7) and then subsequently cast into the lake of fire (Rev.20:10).

It should be noted that the armies know they have gathered to fight Jesus. How they come to accept the idea they must fight Christ isn't explained, though the Bible does speak of a strong “delusion” that God permits the world to fall under, therein believing the “lie” of Antichrist (2 Thess.2:11). Perhaps the world will be conditioned during the Tribulation to believe that Jehovah God is an extra-terrestrial enemy whose power they must resist (check also—Psalm 2:1-3).

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