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Bible Study: The Book of the Revelation – LESSON 17

Calvary Bible Church Bible Study

The Book of the Revelation

 

LESSON 17:  Chapter 19

 

Vrs     1–2               It is after the doom of mystical Babylon (after these things—see the same Greek wording in 4:1), fully detailed in chapters 17–18, that the invitation to rejoice in 18:20 can be fulfilled. Those participating are indicated only as much people (a great multitude in vrs. 6). There is no profit in seeking to particularize here, when the designation is so broad. It is all the redeemed in heaven, including the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures (vs. 4). The rejoicing begins with the word Alleluia, which occurs four times in this chapter (vrs. 1, 3, 4, 6).  It is a transliterated (not translated) Hebrew word, found no other place in the New Testament. In fact, even in the Old Testament, especially in the book of Psalms, it is correctly translated “Praise the Lord!” It is thus interesting that four times in the Revelation the Hebrew word (actually two words) should be found. It is indeed a beautiful word known worldwide, which needs no translation.   Earth knows much of blasphemy against God and His blessed Name, but heaven gloriously rings with His praises. Three attributes of God are singled out for acclamation: Salvation, and glory, and honor.   Commentator William Barclay has well: “Each of these three great attributes of God should awaken its own response in the heart of man, and these responses taken together constitute real praise. The salvation of God should awaken the gratitude of man. The glory of God should awaken the reverence of man. The power of God is always exercised in the love of God, and should, therefore, awaken the trust of man. Gratitude, reverence, trust—these are the constituent elements of real praise”.   

 

Vrs     3                  Apparently, the same company utter the second Alleluia. They give praise for the finality, the completeness, and eternal character of Babylon’s judgment.

 

Vrs     4                  The reader is here immediately reminded of those who worship and praise God in chapter 4. They join the heavenly Alleluia chorus.

 

Vrs     5                  With so much praise and adoration filling the scene, one would not expect further summons to praise and extol God. But even after the third Alleluia, it must be stressed that God is worthy of nothing less than eternal praise. All God’s bond servants, of whatever rank or position, both small and great, are included in the invitation to praise Him; for the word of invitation comes from the seat of God’s government.

 

Vrs     6                  With this verse a crescendo appears to be reached, as the wording indicates.   This is the hour for which the church has prayed and longed, and all creation has groaned (Romans 8:18–23). Before Christ assumes His rightful throne on earth, Babylon must be judged on earth and His marriage celebrated in heaven. The first is past (chapters. 17–18); the second follows here. What was stated by way of anticipation in 11:15 is now realized.

 

Of all the provisions of God for man’s well-being and joy on earth, marriage, God’s first social institution, ranks second only to that of salvation. Both Old and New Testament give ample evidence of the importance of this symbolism. Hosea spoke of it from a traumatic experience in his own life (Hosea 2:19–20); Isaiah spoke glowingly of it (Isaiah 54:5); Jeremiah dwelt on the theme (Jeremiah 3:14; 31:31–32); and Ezekiel portrayed it with fullness (Ezekiel 16). The New Testament speaks of the marriage feast (Matthew 22:2), the bridal chamber and wedding garment (Matthew 22:10–11), the sons of the bridal chamber (Mark 2:19), the bridegroom (Matthew 25:1; Mark 2:19), and the friends of the bridegroom (John 3:29). Paul writes of the church as the betrothed virgin of Christ (2nd Corinthians 11:2) and of the pattern of the relationship between husband and wife (Ephesians 5:21–33).

 

Vrs     7                  The wording of verse 7 is unusual and must not be overlooked. In normal speech the wedding is spoken of as the marriage of the bride, but here it is the marriage of the Lamb: and rightly so, for the chief joy is His.  It takes place in heaven, and no details are given.   Once the wife or bride is mentioned, there is no further reference in the book to elders as in verse 4.

 

Vrs     8                  For this glorious occasion the bride of necessity had to make herself ready. The preparation includes: (1) acceptance of the marriage offer of the Lamb, which is regeneration; (2) the desire to be properly clothed for the wedding; (3) a willingness to receive what is given her for the joyous event.   When the bride clothes herself, it is with the finest of apparel. Her basic clothing is the garment of salvation, which she received at her acceptance of the Lamb’s gracious offer of marriage (Isaiah 61:10). Now, in addition to the initial clothing, she has granted to her (still all of grace) fine linen, clean and white. It is identified as the righteous acts (Greek is plural, dikaioµmata) of the saints. How has she obtained these? It is inescapable that the judgment seat of Christ has already been held in order to grant rewards to the saints for faithful service to Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:10). What a recognition day that will be!

 

Vrs     9                  But another important element of every wedding is the guests, so John is instructed to indicate “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb”.  These are the friends of the Bridegroom (John 3:29); the guests are seen in another figure as the virgins, the companions of the bride (Psalm 45:9, 14). Many commentators see these as all Old Testament saints. All others than the church are the guests at the marriage supper.   In case some reader considers these words to be too good to be true, the mediating angel informs the apostle that the words are sure and certain; they come from God.

 

Vrs     10                “I fell at his feet to worship him.”  The disclosure of truth was so marvelous, and perhaps the appearance of the angel was so striking, that John was moved to worship at his feet. When John did this at Christ’s feet (see 1:17), he received no rebuke, but was rather delivered from fear.  But in this verse, and in 22:8–9, the apostle is forbidden such worship; for no created being in heaven, on earth, or under the earth is permitted to receive man’s worship.  Men may receive honor and respect

(Romans 12:10; 13:7), but no created being may receive worship.  Angels are servants on the basis of creation; believers are servants on the basis of redemption. All homage and worship belong to Jesus, to whom all prophecy points.  The last sentence in verse 10 is one of the most important in all Scripture.  “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  Plainly stated, it declares that the witness and testimony that are given of Jesus are the motivating and underlying purpose of all prophecy. Prophecy is meant to convey witness to Jesus.

 

Vrs     11                “And I saw heaven opened.”  Now heaven is opened to the gaze of John; he had seen it open several times before (4:1 and others), but never on such a sight as this (Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7).   Here John sees the One with dyed garments from Bozrah of Isaiah’s prophecy, the Righteous Branch and King of Jeremiah’s prediction, the returning Shekinah Glory of Ezekiel’s foretelling, the Stone cut out without hands of Daniel’s announcement, the Lord coming with His saints of Zechariah’s prophecy, and the appearing of the Son of Man of the Savior’s own prophecy (Matthew 24:29, 30).  The white horse symbolizes victory and triumph.  He is Faithful and True in His character and every deed.  Indeed, He is the mighty Warrior who will right the world’s every ill (Acts 17:31). He will judge and make war under the same principle, that is, righteousness.

 

Vrs     12                The description of His glorious Person continues. That His eyes were as a flame of fire indicates penetrating scrutinizing omniscience. On that blessed head, once crowned at Calvary for sinful men, were many crowns. His is supreme authority.  Saints have crowns; He has many crowns.  But how can one head have many crowns? They are in tiers, one above another, indicating highest majesty and authority.   Many things have been divulged in the Revelation so far, and more will follow to the end of the book; but there are certain elements which must remain hidden from man (Deuteronomy 29:29).  From scriptural usage it is known that the name written indicates His own essential glory, which expresses the fullness of His divine nature.

 

Vrs     13                The Redeemer does not come now to save, but to judge. A vesture dipped in blood points to the activity in Isaiah 63:1–6 (see vrs. 15). The judgment of Christ will be exercised to the full.  His name is called The Word of God and shows that He is the full expression (as a word is of the thought in the mind) of God, but now in judgment (2nd Thessalonians 1:7–10).

 

Vrs     14                Who are the armies … upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean?  Good men differ as to their identity. All are agreed that they are believers, redeemed ones; some even include the angels. It appears that they are, first, the church, second, the Tribulation saints, then the Old Testament saints. Jude 14–15 will then be fulfilled.

 

Vrs     15                The description continues, not merely to fill out the portrait, but to reveal the activity with which the Lord of glory is occupied. The sharp sword issuing from His mouth is undoubtedly the Word of God (Isaiah 11:4; Hebrews 4:12), but specifically in judgment. The nations, the objects of His rule, will be ruled with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9; Revelation 12:5). The rule will be stern and inflexible, but always absolutely righteous.  He has ample power to implement His every command.  Besides the mention of the sword and rod of iron, there is now the figure of the winepress. Again, this is the figure of the vintage (14:19–20, Isaiah 63:1–6).

 

Vrs     16                In addition to the two names connected with the returning Lord Jesus (vrs. 12–13), there is another on his vesture and on his thigh.  King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. It has been introduced already in 17:14, but in reverse order.  It is His full majestic name in His glorious position relative to the earth, visible for all to read.  Such a title was arrogantly assumed by men in the ancient Near East.  Conquering kings allowed their subjugated, royal enemies to retain their former title in order to convey the idea that they, the victorious ones, were the highest and supreme above all. To be sure, this was empty boasting, but not so with the conquering Christ.

 

Vrs     17                Although the record is not an extended one, it is the last treatment of the subject of Armageddon, the former two references (14:18–20 and 16:13–16) being anticipatory and on the whole, general.   One must not expect a recital of a war such as is found in non-biblical works, because the objective in Scripture is quite different.  The details of the war are given under the figure of a supper in contrast to the marriage supper of the Lamb.  The invitation is addressed to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven.  The vultures remind of Matthew 24:27–28, as well as Isaiah 34:2–6.

 

 

Vrs     18                Notice the inclusiveness of those who are involved in the conflict: kings, captains,  mighty men,  horses,  them that sit on them,  all men, both free and bond, both small and great.   Five times the word flesh is found in this verse; a vast feast of carrion is pictured.  No wonder; for it takes place on an ideal battlefield, the most famous in the world.  Among the battles fought there are: Sisera against Barak (Judges 5:19–20); Gideon against the Midianites (Judges 6:33–34); Saul and Jonathan against the Philistines (1st Samuel 31); King Josiah against Pharaoh Nechoh (2nd Kings 23:20); on the western border Elijah contended with the prophets of Baal (1st Kings 18:39–40); Ahaziah died there (2nd Kings 9:27).  It has been the scene of conflict from ancient times to modern days.  The relevant Scripture passages are Psalm 2:1–3; Ezekiel 38–39; Joel 3:9–16; Zechariah 12:1–9; 14:1–4, besides others in the Old and New Testaments.   In the Revelation, 9:13–18; 14:14–20; and 16:12–14, 16 have already prepared the way for the final treatment in this chapter.

 

Vrs     19                The Roman-styled political leader (13:1) musters his following among the kings of the earth, with their respective armies to do battle with Christ and His followers (vrs. 14–15). There will be no need for the redeemed to fight. The encounter will be both short and decisive.

 

Vrs     20–21           Now the chief antagonists, the beast (13:1) and the false prophet (13:11), are seized and thrown alive into the lake of fire. The false prophet (the religious leader) is singled out, because it was he who worked miracles to seduce and deceive men (2nd Thessalonians 2:1–12).   It is remarkable that these two ungodly leaders find their final place of judgment even before Satan does (20:7–10).  Their followers are slain by the sword of Christ; notice the wording of 2nd Thessalonians 2:8: “… the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth” to learn the literalness of these events.  The spoken command of Christ “DIE!” is immediately obeyed by these fallen creatures (see Mark 4:39-41).  The final word is that the supper of God filled the appetite of all the fowls.  What horrendous carnage is pictured here.