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The Marriage of the Lamb
Revelation 19:1. The first words, “after these things”, introduce a new part, which at the same time directly connects to what is previously said. When the judgment over Babylon has been fully taken place, an enormous response comes from heaven. All who are in heaven form an awesome choir and express as out of one mouth their great joy about God and His judgment over Babylon. The first word that John hears is “hallelujah!” For the first time in the book and in the whole New Testament you hear this word sounding. So it is sparingly used.
The word means ‘praise Jahweh’ and is therefore an appeal to worship God. Worship always has a cause. If you learn something of Whom God is, concerning His works and His ways and you are impressed by it, when it moves your heart, it causes you to worship Him. This is what happened, for example to Abraham when God told him about His plans with him and Sarah (Genesis 17:17). Worship is not the experience of having lofty feelings through music with ecstatic expressions.
The word appears four times in Revelation 19:1-Joshua : and not anywhere else. In the Old Testament the word appears more often and especially in the Bible book of Psalms. There it is always spoken out on the earth, while here it is said in heaven. The first time you find it in Psalm 104:35. Psalm 104 speaks prophetically about the millennial kingdom. Here in Revelation 19 the time has come that the millennial kingdom is established and a visible content is given to ‘hallelujah’.
God is being honored and praised as the One to Whom “salvation” belongs. The point here is the coming of the ultimate and full salvation of everything that He Himself had planned to save (1 Peter 1:5). In that salvation His “glory” and His “power” become visible. This is the salvation that He has worked with the power which is His own.
Revelation 19:2. There is absolutely no doubt that His judgments are ”true” and ”righteous”. This goes for all judgments, but these characteristics are specifically praised with a view to the judgment over “the great harlot”. The word ‘harlot’ stresses again her unfaithfulness which was great and deep. His truthfulness and righteousness become very clear in the judgment over her who has sinned in such a general and specifically horrible way.
She “was corrupting the earth” as a whole, all men on it, “with her immorality” and she has made especially God’s “bond-servants” to be a target of her wickedness. She deserves the judgment in all areas. With the judgment because of her abuse of God’s servants, God answers the supplication of the martyrs in chapter 6:10, who asked Him to avenge on her their blood. The day of vengeance has come (Isaiah 61:2).
Revelation 19:3. For the second time God is being worshiped; this time because the judgment remains “forever and ever” and there will never be a repeat of the performance of the great harlot ever more. “Her smoke” is the smoke of the great harlot. The rising up of the smoke indicates that this judgment is a permanent remembrance (cf. Isaiah 34:8-2 Samuel :). A smoke that rises up to God speaks of the satisfaction that God’s love and holiness find in the judgment. You see that in the sacrifices that speak of Christ. With relation to the judgment over the ungodly, only an eternal punishment fulfills God’s holiness.
Revelation 19:4. The elders and the living creatures are mentioned here for the last time (the first time was in chapter 4:4). They fall down before God to worship Him as Judge. They have also fallen down to Him as Creator (Revelation 4:4) and as Savior (Revelation 5:14). The judgment over Babylon is the cause to express themselves in an “amen, hallelujah” (Psalms 106:48). The ‘amen’ is a confirmation of the judgments, which is to underline them. The ‘hallelujah’ draws the attention again to God as the One Who is worthy of being worshiped.
Revelation 19:5. Now “a voice came from the throne”. All judgments have always come out from the throne. With the judgment over the great harlot a point has been reached that the throne can make an appeal to praise God. Everything that God does will be for the glory and praise of His Name. Everything that He says and does reflects His glorious features. And everything that is visible of God causes all who hear Him to praise Him. That also goes for His judgments. His judgments prove His righteousness, one of His many impressive characteristics.
The throne, the symbol of God’s government, appeals to “all … His bond-servants” to praise Him. It is an appeal to all who have served Him faithfully on earth, whether they have been ‘small or great’ therein. They have served Him with the fear of God. This fear is not scare, but respect.
Revelation 19:6. For the third time John hears a voice. It is the voice that reminds him of three things: “a great multitude … many waters and … mighty peals of thunder”. It is not an unordered mixture of sounds, like a busy market place with screaming people and honking cars. There is harmony in the ‘great multitude’. The ‘many waters’ indicate an impressive and irresistible power. The ‘mighty peals of thunder’ are the all dominating messengers that accompany the acceptance by God of His kingship.
The great multitude here includes all heavenly citizens, apart from the church that will be mentioned in the next verse. For the last time the “hallelujah” sounds and this time in relation to the acceptance by God of His kingship. He has started to reign, a government which He exercises by His Son.
Revelation 19:7. The mighty choir of voices with a multiple sound cries out to itself to be happy and to rejoice and to give God glory. The reason is that “the marriage of the Lamb has come”. This happy event is on God’s schedule. Now the false bride, the great harlot, has been judged, the time has come for the wedding of His Son.
Prior to the coming of the millennial kingdom of peace, the wedding has to take place first. Then the bride can on the side of the Bridegroom follow Him publicly in order to reign with Him. That is actually God’s intention. Though it is remarkable that it is His wedding, for with every wedding on earth the attention is drawn to the bride. Here it is different. All attention is paid to Him.
The bride is here called “His wife”. Yet she remains to be the bride (Revelation 21:2) forever. She is wife and bride (Revelation 21:9). That she is forever bride means that she will keep the glory as bride for the heart of the Lord Jesus forever. Therefore she will never put off her wedding robe. She is arrayed in it and “has made herself ready” to be His wife. The next verse describes what her robe consists of.
Revelation 19:8. The robe consists of “the righteous acts of the saints”. There is nothing unrighteous on that robe. Though, you may say: the saints have also committed unrighteous deeds, not only righteous ones, haven’t they? Exactly because of that the judgment seat of Christ is that important (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10). As soon as the church has been caught up, your life, and the life of every believer, will be judged in all its particularities in God’s light. You will appear there in a glorified body and therefore it cannot possibly have anything to do with eternal judgment. The Judge is no one else than your Savior, Who gave His life for you. How could you possibly still perish?
The appearance before the judgment seat is intended for you to be brought into agreement with God’s judgment about your life. You will then be able to know as you have been known (1 Corinthians 13:12). You first need to know how you have been judged by the Lord, in order to be able to judge or reign over other people. Everything you have done in the body, will be revealed, even all the motives of your heart (1 Corinthians 4:5). You only will love Him even more by that (cf. Luke 7:47).
Maybe you will see righteous acts in the robe of which you did not think that they were righteous acts. Conversely, things may be absent of which you thought them to be an important contribution to the robe. The question for you and me is now: To what extent do I contribute to the beauty of that robe? Will there probably be acts that will be consumed by the fire (1 Corinthians 3:15), which will cause that there will be nothing left for the robe?
When we speak about our righteous acts, then we speak about the side of our responsibility. Through our deeds we do or do not contribute to the robe. But there is also the other side, which is the side of God’s grace that has worked in us, so that we may do good deeds. In a song it is written: ‘Whatever good that we have done, it was all achieved through Your grace.’ That reflects well what is written here, that the robe has been “given” to her. That proves to you that everything you have contributed to that robe is ultimately the work of God’s grace.
When the bride appears on the scene, her brilliance will be great. What she wears has been given by God. What she shows are the purity and cleanness of God Himself (cf. Ezekiel 16:14). “Fine linen” is a precious textile, more precious than the linen with which the angels are clothed (Revelation 15:6). Mind the contrast with the robe of the great harlot (Revelation 17:4; Revelation 18:16).
Now read Revelation 19:1-8 again.
Reflection: In which way do you contribute to the wedding robe?
Revelation 19:9. For the fourth time (out of seven times) John is ordered to write down “blessed” (Revelation 1:3; Revelation 14:13Revelation 16:15; Revelation 20:6Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:14). This ‘blessed’ is related to those who are invited to take part in “the marriage of the Lamb”. The only element of the wedding that is mentioned here is the marriage supper.
The invitees cannot possibly be unbelievers. Neither are they the believers from after the rapture of the church, for those haven’t got their resurrected bodies yet. Their resurrection will only take place after the appearance of the Lord (Revelation 20:4). Nor can they be the bride, for a bride is not supposed to be invited.
The invitees are no one else than the Old Testament believers, the friends of the Bridegroom (John 3:29; Matthew 9:15). Among the invitees are people like John the baptist, Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Deborah, Elijah, Daniel, all together men and women of God for whom we have deep respect. Isn’t it an unimaginable and inconceivable grace of God that you and I are allowed to be a part of the bride when you compare yourself to such people?!
Then John receives a confirmation that everything is true. It looks like too good to be true. He can hardly believe his eyes. It looks as if that’s the reason why it is told to him once more as an explicit emphasis that it is no more than the “true sayings of God”. There is no need for him to doubt whether he sees or hears it right.
Revelation 19:10. John is impressed by the scene in such a way that he falls down to worship the heavenly messenger. The angel corrects John directly and says that he must not worship him, but God. God alone is worthy of worship. That is what the Lord Jesus also said to the devil during the temptations in the wilderness (Matthew 4:10).
John forgets for a moment that the angel also is a creature. But the angel does not forget it. Good angels do not want honor for themselves, nor do devoted disciples (Acts 10:25-Ezekiel :). Only evil angels, and also evil people, want people to honor them (Colossians 2:18). The angel puts himself on the level of John, not as an apostle, but as “fellow servant”. And he is not only a fellow servant of John, but also of all the “brethren” of John. These brethren have “the testimony of Jesus”, just like him. Therefore the brethren of John are believers from both the Old and the New Testament. The testimony of Jesus binds them together.
‘The testimony of Jesus’ may imply the testimony ‘regarding’ Jesus, which is a testimony that is all about Jesus, the testimony of which He is the contents. It may also imply the testimony ‘that comes from’ or ‘that goes out of’ Jesus, the testimony that He gave when He was on earth and which He continues to give, however, through His servants. Whether it is about Him personally or about what He has said, everyone who has this testimony, meaning has accepted it, has life from God.
In the phrase “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” a significant characteristic of prophecy is given. Prophecy is not just a foretelling of the future. To know all kinds of things about the future may be considered food for your intellect, but it really is not food for your heart. Real benefit from a study of the future which the Bible tells us, is only the case when you see that in the prophecy it is about the Lord Jesus. The prophecy bears witness of Jesus. In the prophecy it is all about Him. The name ‘Jesus’ indicates that He is the humiliated One. The prophecy shows that He Who was once on earth in humiliation and was rejected, will reign in glory. But it is the same Person. In the prophecy it is all about Him and Him alone and not about knowledge of events.
Revelation 19:11. After a long parenthesis, running from chapter 17:1-19:10, we go back to the historical facts here. In the parenthesis you have seen together with John the judgment over the great harlot and the great Babylon, in connection with a description of the true bride and the marriage of the Lamb. The portion that now follows connects to chapter 16:13-16, where the nations are gathered at Armageddon for the battle. These nations return later in Revelation 19:19. The battle itself is described in Revelation 19:19-Proverbs : (see also Revelation 17:14), while in Revelation 19:17-Job : the result of the battle is already given in advance. The rest of the verses (Revelation 19:11-Nehemiah :) are focused on Him Who as the only One fights, although there are armies that follow Him in His going to the gathered enemies.
In order to show John this interesting scene, heaven is opened. The opening of heaven mocks all materialistic and rationalistic dogmas that assume that there is nothing outside the visible. When heaven is opened and Christ appears, clothed in battle outfit, there is no more denial of a super-terrestrial reality. God enters out of His world into the world of man (Micah 1:3). The Lord Jesus comes in majesty to earth where He was once rejected, in order to take the place that is ascribed to Him.
In the New Testament there is mention of an opened heaven five times (Matthew 3:16; Luke 3:21; John 1:51; Acts 7:56; Revelation 19:11), each time in connection with Christ. When heaven is opened before the face of John, he sees “a white horse” (cf. Revelation 6:2), the sign of victory. On the horse he sees Someone Who is characterized by the names that He wears. Those names indicate how He will operate. The work that He does is judging and making war in righteousness.
He is called “Faithful and True”. These names characterize Him in the execution of God’s plan with the world (cf. Revelation 3:14, where Christ is called by these names, in contrast to the unfaithful Christianity). Judgment and war are the first acts with which He will execute God’s plan, but He will do that in a totally different way than man acts. He is the righteous Judge and “in righteousness He judges and wages war”.
Revelation 19:12. The description makes you think of a description which you have come across at the beginning of this book (Revelation 1:14). The Lord Jesus is described there in His judgment of the church because of her unfaithfulness. He is described here as the One Who judges the unbelievers, namely the beast and the false prophet. The “many diadems” that He wears on His head, go far beyond the ten crowns of the beast (Revelation 13:1) and the seven of the dragon (Revelation 12:3). His royal dignity is not to be compared with any other dignity. These crowns show a dignity and glory that will be visible for everyone and which will constrain admiration.
In addition He has “a name written” which will be readable by everyone, but of which He alone knows the profound meaning. Whatever will be seen and admired of Him, there will nevertheless be aspects of His Person that remain hidden for us, creatures. It regards to aspects that He Himself alone and the Father know (Matthew 11:27).
Revelation 19:13. His robe being “dipped in blood”, means that He will come to exercise revenge (Revelation 14:20; Isaiah 63:1-Numbers :). The blood is that of His enemies, not of the martyrs and less of His own. Then you hear His name. That name is “the Word of God”. This name you also find in another writing of John (John 1:1; John 1:14). It means that He is the full revelation of God, in both His life on earth and in His eternal existence. He alone reveals God’s love as well as God’s holiness and righteousness. He also judges as the Word. He does everything in accordance with God’s Word, because He Himself is the Word of God.
Revelation 19:14. The Lord Jesus will not appear alone. There will be armies that follow Him. These armies consists of all glorified saints (Zechariah 14:5; Jude 1:14; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:13). You can derive that from the description of their clothes (see Revelation 19:8). Also angels will accompany Him (2 Thessalonians 1:7; Matthew 25:31), but they will not ride on horses. The airspace will be filled with an enormously dazzling army. What to John is an impressive spectacle, will be terrifying to everyone on earth.
Revelation 19:15. He shall strike the nations with “a sharp sword” which comes “from His mouth”. He alone has a sword, the armies do not. With this sword He will execute the judgment and He, Who is the Lamb, will pour out His wrath over His enemies (Revelation 6:17). There is no mention of a furious battle, there is nothing mentioned about any opposition. How could that be when the Lord of hosts appears in armor and acts in power and majesty? His arm grants Him power and He does not need anyone’s help (Isaiah 59:16-Job :; Isaiah 63:3).
Although the armies are with Him He personally executes the sentence. After the execution of the judgment He will reign and they will also reign with Him. He does that like a shepherd that herds his flock. The judgment is general and it spares nothing and nobody, which is indicated by the treading of the “winepress”.
Now read Revelation 19:9-15 again.
Reflection: Mention some differences between the bride and the invitees for the wedding.
The Beast and the Antichrist Are Judged
Revelation 19:16. Once more a reference is made to a written name of the Lord Jesus and also to the spot where that name is written. His name is written “on His robe”, which refers to His outward appearance. Clothes are what people see of one another. Clothes represent the conduct that a person shows and which others observe. With Him His name shows His deeds.
His name is also written “on His thigh”. The thigh is the place of power and strength. He who is struck on the thigh, is struck in his might and will become limp (Genesis 32:25; Genesis 32:31). His name is the title that God also has (1 Timothy 6:15), yet another proof that the Lord Jesus is God. He is the “King” par excellence, the absolutely highest Ruler. Therefore He is also the “Lord” par excellence, the absolutely highest Overlord.
Revelation 19:17. Even before the war has started (the war is described only in Revelation 19:19), the outcome is already been announced. This result is announced by an angel that is standing in the sun. The sun forms the decoration, the background of his words. This decoration gives his words the power of the glory of Christ Himself, who soon will shine like the Sun in the kingdom of peace.
All the birds of heaven are allowed to feast on the victims of the war. They are invited for this “great supper” which God has prepared for them. This supper is in huge contrast to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7). In the one supper you see a delicious supper in heaven, in the other supper you see a horrible supper on earth.
Revelation 19:18. The flesh that the birds is given to eat is mainly human flesh. There is furthermore only mention of “flesh of horses”. The emphasis of the word ‘flesh’ (repeated five times) reminds us that any human and natural power whatsoever cannot do anything against God, for “all flesh is like grass” (1 Peter 1:24-Lamentations :). During their life these people were to be distinguished by all kinds of walks of life. That distinction is not to be found in death. The birds only see corpses which means food for them. By being given as food to the birds means that these humans will have no funeral. And having no funeral means that these enemies are being sacrificed to a permanent shame (Revelation 11:9; 1 Samuel 17:46).
The angel mentions the different categories, in order to clarify that this supper has been effected by the judgment of God that He has executed without discrimination. His judgment has come over all these different ranks and classes and horses of which they made use, because they all together were in the service of sin. Besides, there will be one more judgment in which there will be a distinction and where every person will be judged according to his works. That is the judgment before the great white throne (Revelation 20:12).
Revelation 19:19. John sees how the beast and his followers are preparing themselves with their armies for the war against Christ and His own. Christ is the Captain, He is at the front. Their battle is mainly focused on Him. But also those who are with Him are the target of their hatred. They think in their arrogance that they are ready for the war against the Lamb and His followers. In their audacity they fool themselves to be unconquerable and are blind for His almighty power.
Revelation 19:20. Without a single action of war, two hostile captains are caught and thrown in hell, without them having died the physical death. The beast, who is the political leader of the antichristian Western-Europe, and the false prophet, who is the religious leader of the apostate Israel, have no defense at all. In their lives they were closely related to one another and they are that also in the judgment that Christ executes over them. The false prophet was the dodgy henchman of the beast who deceived people to receive the mark of the beast and to worship his image.
It all looked very successful, but here all their bragging and every impression of invincibility (Revelation 13:4) are totally destroyed in one action of awesome power. They form an exception among all other unbelievers. They are actually thrown into hell without any form of trial, while other unbelievers will first be sentenced before the great white throne. Contradictory exceptions, in the circle of the believers, are Enoch and Elijah who as the only ones were caught up to heaven without dying.
Revelation 19:21. The hostile armies suffer a different fate than their two captains. The Lord Jesus kills them “with the sword”, which is His Word, that goes out of His mouth. By His Word He creates (Psalms 33:6) and by His Word He breaks in pieces (Jeremiah 23:29). After this judgment the event happens for which the angel appeals in Revelation 19:17. There is so much to eat that all birds become saturated.
Now read Revelation 19:16-21 again.
Reflection: Which people are being judged in this portion and what is their judgment?
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Revelation 19". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany