Revelation Chapter 19:1-21

Praise in Heaven and The King of Kings Returns (Part 14)

Praise in Heaven (19:1-5)

“1 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, 2 for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has venged on her the blood of his servants’. 3 Once more they cried out, “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever’. 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!’ 5 And from the throne came a voice saying, ‘Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great’”.

Once more John starts with “after this,” confirming that he is continuing his record of events in sequence. The scene now totally changes to what is occurring in heaven, where at last, what every saint of God has waited for since Adam and Eve partook in the forbidden fruit is about to take place. The King is about to return to earth to claim His Kingdom.

It seems that all of heaven has been able to view the judgements being reigned down upon the earth, climaxing with the destruction of Babylon. I do not envision that heaven has an intercom system that announces regular updates on the progress of the judgements, or TV screens set up at regular intervals like an airport, so that those in heaven are able to see the events as they occur. Somehow, those in heaven are able to view the progression of the judgements, and as they witness the fall of the apostate city a mighty roar of approval, and praise breaks out in heaven. When a home team scores in an international soccer match, the stadium erupts, and the roar can be heard throughout the surrounding suburbs. Imaging then the sound erupting in heaven as the “great multitude” shout out “Hallelujah” in praise of God. Some commentators believe that the use of “great multitude” indicates the description given by John of those saints who were martyred in the Great Tribulation, who have great cause for celebration. I cannot see that the celebration would be limited to the Tribulation saints, there is no distinction between the commercial city and apostate religion in the city. The Great Prostitute corrupted the earth through the ages and had been the supreme adversary to God, all heaven rejoices in Babylons destruction. The victory is God’s alone, the evidence of His great triumph will be the smoke rising from the flames of the destroyed city, which will be remembered by all forever.

The word Hallelujah is a shout of praise to God, rejoicing at the awesome wonder and the greatness of God. Hallelujah is Hebrew in origin and is a combination of two words, hallel meaning praise and jah meaning God, and is found in Scripture only in Revelation 19, where it is used four times in the first six verses. The repeated use of this word emphasizes the great joy in heaven at the destruction of Babylon, and the encouragement for all “who fear him, small and great” to join in, in praise to God.

To put Revelation 19:1-4 into context, the celebration of the judgement of the Great Whore by those in heaven, is because they understand that her destruction is because of her great evil. So, you would think that the Church would be making a valiant stand against the spread of the Whore’s apostacy, but you would be wrong! The reverse is true, churches of all denominations are reuniting in relationship with the Roman Catholic Church in a spirit of ecumenicalism. Believing they share a common bond of love for their fellow man, they are able to focus on their shared beliefs and ignore the glaring differences. Be warned, Jesus is not going to return to a Bride that is in a relationship with the Great Whore. In these last days, God is going to draw a line in the sand, He is going to define His true Church. Those churches falling in line with the Roman Catholic Church will find themselves on the wrong side of the fence.

Factors that will define the Bride preparing for the return of her Bridegroom will be:

  • The Bride will fulfil the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), not just with a focus on evangelism, but also on discipling converts, helping them to become mature followers of Jesus, and teaching the full gospel message, which includes not just personal transformative development and evangelical/missionary activities, but the whole Word of God which includes eschatology (End Times).
  • The true Church will reject the doctrine of Replacement Theology (Supersessionism). Coming to the full understanding of the Jewish roots of Christianity, the Church will recognise the importance of being grafted into the Olive Tree (Romans 11:17). The Church has a Jewish Messiah, a Jewish Bible, a Jewish marriage ceremony, and a prophetic future which will see our Lord establishing His Kingdom, restoring the Promised Land and sitting on the throne of David. The Church therefore has a responsibility to be a part of what the Lord is doing in Israel.
  • The true Church will support and equip believers during their walk with the Lord, instilling an eternal mindset. The common error of believers today is that they choose their life goals, and then look to the Lord for assistance. An eternally minded believer hands everything over to the Lord, there is no separation between secular and spiritual. The eternally minded believer is a full-time servant of the Lord, which involves discerning their gifts and talents (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4), so that each individual performs a significant ministry, becoming a building block of the church, or a functioning organ of the body, depending on which metaphor you prefer. 
  • The true Church will recognise that God hates syncretism of any form, where man’s wisdom and philosophies contaminate the Church. There will be a focus on God’s wisdom which involves a rescuing of one another from cultural Christianity, to follow the true Hebraic cornerstone of the Church – Yeshua!
  • The true Church will understand the importance of eschatology, in that the Church is required to watch and pray. An accurate understanding of End Times’ events is an essential part of the Last Days Church. When the true Church rejects Replacement Theology, and all the false End Times theories this false doctrine has spawned, pre-millennialism will take its rightful place as the only End Times’ belief that includes Israel as part of God’s Last Days plan.
  • The tolerance of ecumenicalism will be rejected, and the true Church will make a stand against being drawn back into the wide-open arms of Roman Catholicism. Not only resisting but openly warning against the Roman Church’s blatant apostacy.
  • The true Church will be dedicated in prayer:  To seek to build up and support every aspect of the Church’s life and membership through spirit-directed prayer and intercession. And, to stand in spiritual warfare against the attacks of the enemy. Spiritual warfare will also focus on the Strongholds of Satan within each community, which seek to block the evangelical work of the Church. Demonic powers have control over societies, these forces must be identified and torn down.

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb (19:6-10)

“6 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. 7 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; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 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’. 10 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”.

The bridal gown is always a focus of attention for those attending a wedding, the Bride of Christ is no different, she is dressed in “the righteous deeds of the saints,” she is wearing the Bema rewards given to her for her service to the Lord on earth. A literal translation of the verse would be that she is dressed “in the righteous acts of the saints”. The Church is the Bride of Christ (Eph. 5:22-23; 2 Cor. 11:2; Rev. 21:2), our Bridegroom is Jewish, the bride marries into the customs and culture of her bridegroom, so, as the Jewish bride wore her dowry pinned to her wedding dress, so will the Bride of Christ. There is little understanding in the Church today of the significance of the Bema Judgement seat, which is a judgement of works:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what we have done whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

After the rapture, the Church will present themselves before the Bema Judgement seat of Christ, and the rewards they receive will be their dowry which they will carry with them into the Millennium Kingdom. The parable of the three servants explains that there are rewards for using their God-given gifts in service to God (Luke 19:11-27). The rewards these servants received was the responsibility of governing over cities, the greater the service to their master, the greater the number of cities the servant was given to govern over. This implies that the rewards given to the raptured saints will be the size of the territory, and the number of cities that they will govern during the Millennium Kingdom.

It is extremely crucial for believers to understand that their level of commitment to using their God-given gifts in service to the Lord, will have eternal consequences. To give an analogy to help compare this life to our eternal life with the Lord, the British Library in London is considered to be the largest Library in the world, with 170 to 200 million manuscripts and books. They say that it would take 80 000 years to see the entire collection if you were to view five items a day. Now if the total number of letters and punctuation marks used within all these items were considered to be a measurement of a split second in eternity, our lives would be equal to a full stop on one of the pages, in one of the 170 million books. Yet Christians ignore the promise of eternal rewards, given for self-sacrificial service to God, for temporal rewards on earth!

In Revelation 19:7-8 a voice announces, just before the great battle of Armageddon, which is the last event of the Great Tribulation, that “the marriage of the Lamb has come”. This Scripture is seen by Post-tribulation supporters as a contradiction to the belief by Pre-tribulation supporters, of a seven-year marriage feast taking place in heaven during the Tribulation. This is not the case for the following reasons:

  • The term “has come” can imply that it has happened or is still taking place.
  • The Greek gune is used for the woman, which when correctly interpreted means “wife” not “bride.” So, the correct translation of the Greek would be “His wife has made herself ready,” which implies the marriage feast is at an end, and the bride has now legally become the wife.
  • The statement “blessed are they that are called unto the marriage supper of the lamb,” can be interpreted as being that the wedding feast is presently taking place and those who are called are blessed to be there.

So, the scene in Revelation 19 has the marriage supper nearing its end, with the Bride of Christ now legally bound as His “wife” and all who are there are honoured to be there.

Jesus made it clear to His disciples that He longed for the day when He would be able to fellowship with the disciples in the Kingdom (Matthew 26:29). The Church should have the same longing, our daily prayers should include the desire to see Jesus seated on the throne of David, in the City of God. Truly, the angel is correct when he remarks that those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb will be blessed. There can be no greater joyous occasion than the day the Bride will be presented to the Bridegroom without spot or blemish.

On being given this front row view of the marriage ceremony by the angel, John falls down at the angel’s feet and worships him. Why John did this is difficult to understand, he was after all an apostle chosen by God to establish His Church on earth. Surely this Father of the Church would not make the mistake of worshipping a created being. The answer seems to be that John was overwhelmed by the experience of witnessing the culmination of the work of Jesus. John was with Jesus at the start of His ministry, and was with Jesus throughout His three-and-a-half-year ministry. He experienced the hardship and turmoil that the crucifixion of Jesus brought to the disciples’ lives, and He was there to witness the marvel and joy of the resurrection. From that time onwards John had been working against great persecution from the Roman authorities, to establish the fledgling Church. For John to suddenly witness the end result, the fruition of God’s salvation plan for man in all its magnificence, was too much for the man who had been raptured up to heaven from a penal colony in the Aegean Sea. Imagine the site from John’s perspective – witnessing of billions of believers from all cultures making up the Bride, in the presence of Jesus as the Bridegroom in all His glory! The leap from the humble beginning to the grand climax was overwhelming for John.

The angel is quick to correct John, and remind him that although they are very different in many respects, they are both created beings, and both servants of God. Following the angel’s reprimand, for worshipping him the angel makes the statement that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” which must then be taken in context with John’s desire to worship the angel. So, all prophecy was given to bear witness to Jesus, He is therefore the substance of all prophecy. What John had witnessed was the amazing fulfilment of prophecy, on a grand scale, so, John’s worship should then be directed to Jesus alone.

The King of Kings Returns (19:11-13)

“11 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. 12 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. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God”.

Before covering the description of the return of Jesus to earth as the conquering King of Kings, it is important to stress the magnitude of the event. Jesus during the Olivet Discourse, gives details of the events that will take place during the Great Tribulation, including the statement: “…and the powers of the heavens will be shaken”. All three Gospel accounts of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:25; Luke 21:26), use the same phrase. The idea then that the words “powers of the heavens” relates to either angels or demons is very unlikely, as this term is used nowhere else in Scripture and therefore is specific to this event. With Jesus focusing on the sun, moon and stars in His description of the events within the Great Tribulation, the logical assumption is that they are the “powers of the heavens” that are shaken, as a focus of God’s judgement. The verb “shaken” is repeatedly used in Scripture as a physical shaking, so Jesus is therefore saying that the stability of the solar system and even the universe will be affected by the Last Days’ events. All creation is subject to the power and authority of God, and will in some way be affected by the King of Kings opening heaven for His return to earth. In Matthew 24:29-31, Jesus is speaking kesher to His disciples, link His words to Haggai 2:6: “For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land’”. Hebrews 12:26-28 explains that what can be shaken will be replaced by “a kingdom which cannot be shaken,” when Jesus returns.

So, the opening of heaven is not just gates opening, it is an event that shakes the universe, this is a climatic event. The King returns – not for conquest with the intention of personal gain, as Kings of old who went to war for personal glory – He is “Faithful and True,” He returns as a righteous Judge and makes war against the evil that has corrupted the world. In John’s day horses were reserved for war, and were the method of transport used by kings, Jesus rides the horse as a King prepared for war. 

Points to note:
  • The rider on the white horse in Revelation 6:2 is the false christ, the counterfeit messiah; the rider of Revelation 19:11-13 who bursts out of heaven in all His glory is the true King of Kings.
  • The white horse is a symbol of power, strength and conquest.
  • Jesus is called “Faithful and True” as He is always faithful to His promises; Jesus is returning as a righteous judge to set up His Kingdom.
  • The “eyes,” of Jesus being like “flames of fire,” are a searching, it is a judgement that sees right into the soul of man. The symbolism of “fire” refers to purity and judgment.
  • As the Lamb of God, Jesus wore a crown of thorns, as the returning Lion of the tribe of Judah He wears “many diadems,” Jesus is King of Kings, and the crowns indicate His ultimate sovereignty. He does not arrive to conquer another’s territory – He returns to claim what is His.
  • The secret name (12b), expresses the mystery and the greatness of the person of Christ.
  • Isaiah 63:2-4 gives an accurate description of Ben David the warrior Messiah, who returns to make war on Satan, the Antichrist and the False Prophet. Isaiah depicts the Messiah as being robed in splendour, stained red from treading the wine press of His wrath:

Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? ‘I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come’”.

  • “He is called The Word of God” (John 1:1-2), living and powerful. The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end!
  • The image of the returning Jesus grasps our attention, He is King over all, and Lord over all, every knee will bow before Him, His regal righteousness demands our submission.

The Armies of Heaven (19:14-16)

“14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 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. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords”.

There is no indication in Scripture that Jesus needs the armies of heaven to support Him during the battle of Armageddon, when He confronts the Antichrist and the armies of the world. The army of heaven is superfluous, they are mere spectators to the awesome power and authority of Jesus. The “army” consists of the Bride of Christ who returns with Jesus to establish His Kingdom reign. They carry no weapons, and wear no armour, they follow him riding upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean,” the white linen symbolizes righteousness and purity. Isaiah 61:10 writes, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness”.

This description confirms that the army following the Lord into battle consists only of those who bear the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), this means that there are no angels included in the army of heaven that ride with Jesus. The army following Jesus are also riding upon white horses which are symbolic of the victory that the Bride of Christ will share with their Bridegroom.

Jude, the brother of Jesus, who will be included in the heavenly army, writes: 

“14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 1:14-15).

Points to Note:
  • The sword in the mouth of Jesus is not in the manner of a pirate of old, biting on the sword as he swung aboard the opponent’s ship, Jesus conquers by the power of His Word. The first depiction of Jesus with a sword in his mouth was revealed by John in in Revelation 1:16, symbolising judgment through His spoken Word (Hebrews 4:12). Confirming this judgement by Jesus, Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians, that Jesus will consume the enemy with “the spirit of His mouth” (2:8).
  • Jesus comes to “Rule with a rod of iron,” and establish His righteousness; His law is absolute and unwavering, not arbitrary humanism. There is nothing more inflexible than divine judgement. In Hebrew, shevet is a rod used for chastisement, or the staff a shepherd uses to guide his sheep (Psalm 23:4).  But when written in this context, this rod or staff represents the royal authority of a king, as we see in this psalm: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.  The sceptre of your kingdom is a sceptre of uprightness” (Psalm            45:6).
  • The prophecy of Jesus ruling with the rod of iron was spoken over Judah by his father Jacob: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Genesis 49:10). Jesus, the “Son” of David was from the tribe of Judah.
  • The title “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” is written on the robe of Jesus and on His thigh, signifying that Jesus has universal sovereignty. This expresses His sovereign triumph over all foes and His absolute rule in His soon to be established Kingdom.

A Carrion Feast for Vultures (19:17-18)

“17 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, 18 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”.

A loud voice draws John’s attention away from the returning Lord and the heavenly army, to an angel that stands in the light of the sun, possibly shining forth the Glory of the Lord from being in His presence. The angel calls out to the birds that are flying overhead, and from the context this indicates that the birds are carrion eating birds such as vultures. The death of those gathered at Armageddon is going to be a great equalizer, the vultures will make no distinction between kings or peasants, generals or corporals. In Biblical times, for a body not to be buried, but left in the open for scavengers was a curse. For example, in Mosaic Law, it was illegal to leave the body hanging on a tree overnight, all those who were hanged on a tree were considered cursed (Deut. 21:22–23). So, all who oppose the returning Lord will be left exposed to the elements and therefore they will be cursed. Revelation 14:17-20, describes the scene at Armageddon as the winepress of God’s wrath, with the bodies of the men being popped like grapes in a winepress, and their blood flowing to the height of a horse’s bridle. The burst open corpses will lie scattered on the field of battle exposed to the vultures.

The repetition of the word “flesh” (5 times) emphasizes the carnal nature of mankind in the Last Days, in the struggle between flesh and spirit, they had chosen flesh:

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

The Enduring Word Bible Commentary makes and interesting observation regarding the number of suppers described in the Bible:

  • The supper of salvation, alluded to in Jesus’ parable (Luke 14:16-24).
  • The Lord’s supper, a commemoration of Jesus’ sacrifice (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
  • The marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-8).
  • The supper of the great God (Rev. 19:17-18).

The commentary then adds that, “If you reject the first supper, the second supper will mean nothing to you. Then you will not be present at the third supper, but will be present at the fourth supper. Everybody gets to attend at least one of these suppers, but some will eat and others are eaten at the suppers”.

The Demise of the Antichrist and False Prophet (19:19-21)

“19 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. 20 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 sulphur. 21 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”.

The final verses of chapter 19 focus on the valley of Jezreel, where the armies of the world have gathered to do battle. The final battle is not man versus man, but mankind versus God! The battle the Bible names Armageddon. To understand how mankind can believe that he is able to face Jesus in battle, one needs to comprehend that mankind has been handed over to a reprobate mind by God, their hearts have been hardened. The Pharaoh of Egypt hardened his heart against God, so God in turn hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 9:12), this is the shadow of the reality of what will happen in the hearts of mankind in the Last Days. Pharaoh went through ten devastating plagues, yet on the shores of the Red Sea, he was blind to all reason, he only had hatred towards Israel in his heart, so he led his army onto the seabed with waves towering over his head – absolutely insane – Pharaoh was blind to all sound reason. The armies gathered for the battle of Armageddon will be as blind to the consequences of their actions as Pharaoh was. Pharaoh became food for fish, while the rebellious army will become food for birds. Just as mankind built the Tower of Babel to reach up to heaven in rebellious pride, and God had to come down to observe what man was doing (Genesis 11:5), so, the battle of Armageddon is once more a display of arrogance that Jesus will have to come down to deal with. Nothing can stand against Jesus, the army of the Lord are mere spectators.

The Lake of Fire is the final destination for all who reject the salvation freely given by God, and the first two to enter the final judgement place are the Antichrist and the False Prophet. These two men get a thousand-year head start on the rest of rebellious mankind, as the White Throne judgement will only take place after the Millennial rule of Jesus.

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