More Rejoicing in Heaven
The prophet John hears in heaven a celebration of great magnitude (v. 1). How rightly so, for the true bride (the Church-Revelation 19:7) is there, and to see all the claims of the false bride forever rejected will cause deepest thanksgiving and praise to God. Her defiance of the truth of God in claiming to be the bride of Christ, while actually being a harlot, is a most revolting feature of her character. But God has refused this, and salvation, glory, honor and power are ascribed to the Lord, the God of the redeemed. They rejoice in His pure truth and righteousness in having unsparingly judged the great harlot.
Her smoke rising up forever and ever (v. 3) indicates that we shall never forget the solemn reality of the judgment of God against evil, just as we shall never forget the dreadful sufferings of the Lord Jesus in bearing our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). The elders and living creatures therefore fall down and worship the eternal God (v. 4). If we worship Him for who He is, we also adore Him for His matchless grace in salvation by the sacrifice of Christ and for His true and righteous judgments. These things magnify His greatness.
A voice out of the throne (v. 5) bids all God's servants, small and great, to praise Him. The incentive for our praising God always originates with Him. It requires His own divine activity to produce anything for His glory, whether in our service or in our worship. The response in verse 6 is magnificent: a tremendous multitude, their united voice as the sound of many waters, echo the praises of the Lord God omnipotent (the "all-powerful") who has taken His great power to reign.
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
This sublime honor given to the Lord God introduces an occasion of great rejoicing, for if God is glorified in the judgment of great Babylon, how much more is He glorified in the marriage of the Lamb to His true wife, the true Church of God raptured to glory some years previously! Honor is given Him because the marriage of the Lamb is come (v. 7). The pretensions of the false bride having been publicly rejected and she totally destroyed, the time has come for the true wife to be presented in marriage to her Lord and Head. It is interesting that she is called "His wife" rather than His bride. Both are true, but as His wife she is linked with Him in the administration of His kingdom, while the beauty of her relationship with Him and the greatness of her blessing are emphasized in the term "bride." Both terms are used in Revelation 21:9 where the description of the city is connected with the millennial kingdom, but when the eternal state is involved, she is spoken of only "as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:2).
The wife making herself ready has involved her manifestation at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). Every inconsistency of the past will have been fully put away: she will have learned to judge herself fully from the viewpoint of her Lord. Her sanctification (her separation to her Lord from every evil thing) and cleansing is complete (Ephesians 5:26), and she is given title to be clothed in fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousnesses of saints-their righteous acts (v. 8). None of us could be so clothed today, for such display of our works would be mere self-righteousness, though all believers are now clothed in Christ who is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30). As to our own righteousnesses (which today have too much of the flesh mixed with them) we then shall have washed our robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, as Revelation 7:14 tells us concerning another company of believers. Believers have now been personally cleansed by the blood of Christ, but our works will require the same cleansing. The Judgment Seat of Christ will have separated all that was merely of self, consigning it to the fire (1 Corinthians 3:13-15), so that only what is truly of and for the Lord will remain. These things will shine out unitedly in the Church for the glory of her Lord.
The angel instructs John to write of the blessedness of those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb (v. 9). The wife is composed only of the saints of our current "dispensation of the grace of God" which follows the resurrection of Christ and continues to the Rapture. There is a question as to whether the expression "those who are called to the marriage supper" refers to those individuals who make up the Church or to spectators of former ages who have been raised and raptured at the same time as the Church. John the Baptist speaks of himself as "the friend of the Bridegroom" (John 3:29), which is no doubt true of Old Testament saints. However, whatever that expression refers to, it seems evident that all who are in heaven will witness this wondrous event.
When it is added, "these are the true sayings of God," John is so deeply affected that he falls down before the angel to worship him (v. 10). Immediately the angel forbids this: he is only a servant of God as also was John. God alone is to be worshiped. Yet it is significantly added, "for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." The angel was not bearing testimony to himself, but to the glory of God and Jesus who is the center and theme of all prophecy. There is no question that Jesus is to be worshiped as God. If we don't discern in every prophecy a real connection with the testimony of Jesus, then we have no proper perception of it.
The Glorious Appearing of the King of kings and Lord of lords
John, seeing heaven opened, witnesses that great manifestation to which all the ages have looked forward-the appearing in glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ (v. 11). Of course, John merely saw a vision of what will be actually true in a coming day. Paramount attention is drawn to Him who sits on a white horse, He who is called Faithful and True in contrast to every other man who ever lived. In pure righteousness He judges and makes war.
The Warrior's eyes, as a flame of fire, discern and penetrate in burning holiness the character of every work, every motive, every secret thing (v.12). God has crowned Him with many crowns (diadems) to show His total ascendancy over the universe. The name written, known only to Himself, is clear evidence of His inscrutable divine glory. No man can understand the infinite greatness of His person.
His garment (which, thank God, is only a temporary one) is dipped in blood (v. 13), for He must perform His unusual work (Isaiah 28:21) of destructive judgment against enemies who have boldly defied the living God. Linked with this is His significant name "the Word of God." He is the expression of God's thoughts and the One by whom God speaks. Hebrews 1:1-14 tells us of God speaking in many ways by many means in past ages, but that now He has spoken to us in His Son (v.2) in marvellous grace. But when grace has been refused, then that same Word will be the judge of every rejector, as John 12:48 declares.
The armies in heaven follow Him, also on white horses (v. 14), symbolical of total conquest. They are clothed in fine linen white and clean, the same clothing of the wife, which shows these armies to be the heavenly saints. Only when we have learned to rightly judge ourselves at the Judgment Seat of Christ shall we be prepared to come with the Lord in His judgment of the world so that our Lord may be glorified in His saints (2 Thessalonians 1:10).
These armies accompanying the Lord of glory are not said to have any weapons, but their white clothing is a reminder to the world of the testimony they have borne to the truth of God, so as to leave the world no excuse when judgment falls. Only their great Leader has a weapon, a figurative sharp sword going out of His mouth (v. 15). This symbolizes the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17) spoken by Him whose word brought creation into existence (Psalms 33:6-9). Even in the days of His voluntary humiliation on earth He had simply and strikingly demonstrated the power of His word when He spoke His name "I Am" (Exodus 3:14) to the soldiers who came to arrest Him. They went backwards and fell to the ground (John 18:6). This word will be sufficient for Him to smite the nations. The rod of iron with which He rules them (Psalms 2:9) is a shepherd's rod by which He protects His sheep from enemies. It is inflexible, unbending. Another symbol is added to this-His treading the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of God. This all speaks of unmitigated judgment. How awesome and terrifying is the very contemplation!
As He has many crowns, so His names are many, and now the name is added on His garment and on His thigh, "King of kings and Lord of lords" (v. 16). Whatever kings there may be, He is King over them all; and every titled lord is subservient to Him. The name on the thigh is where the sword usually would hang.
The Great Supper of God
An angel standing in the brightness of the sun cries with a loud voice to unclean birds to come to the great supper of God (v. 17). What a contrast to the marriage supper of the Lamb! This will be a literal gathering of ravenous birds of prey at the place called Armageddon, the valley of Esdraelon (Revelation 16:13-16), north of Jerusalem, as we have seen. The slaughter there will be tremendous. One angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrian troops in one night (Isaiah 37:36). Imagine the slaughter when the Lord of glory Himself goes forth to battle against those who have long defied Him!
These armies at Armageddon have not come to fight against Jerusalem, but with the object of protecting Jerusalem at a time when God has sent the King of the North to punish His earthly people for gross idolatry. So actually they are fighting against the Lord in their siding with the sin of Israel. A little later the Lord will physically, literally appear in the city of Jerusalem and will go forth from the city to fight against the King of the North and his armies in the valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:12-16; Zechariah 14:3-4), just outside of Jerusalem. The two engagements are totally distinct. Here at Armageddon the Beast and other kings and their armies are gathered, the Beast being the head of the Roman Empire, the ten nation European alliance, but having attracted other nations as well to join them at Armageddon (Revelation 16:13-16). The kings of the east may be there also. The Roman alliance claims to be humanitarian, but has rejected the blessed Christ of God and strongly opposes His authority in Israel.
The Beast himself is taken prisoner by the might of the King of kings; and with him also the False Prophet, the Antichrist who had so deceived his own Jewish people (v. 20). He is "the worthless shepherd who leaves the flock" (Zechariah 11:17) at the time when trouble threatens. In deserting Israel it appears that he goes to seek the protection of the Beast, with whom of course he comes to Armageddon. All his great boast of deified humanity is brought down to the humiliation of utter destruction. No trial is needed, for they are caught in the very act of haughty rebellion against God. They thus are consigned alive to a lake of fire burning with brimstone. This is not annihiliation, but the suffering of torment forever and ever (Revelation 20:10). These are the first two people to be thrown into the Lake of Fire, hell. Others of unbelieving mankind will first stand before the Great White Throne one thousand years later (Revelation 20:11-15).
The great host of the armies of the Beast will meet the judgment of death by the sword of the Lord, the Word of His mouth (v. 21). While the armies of heaven accompany Him, He alone smites His enemies. The birds of prey are filled.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Revelation 19". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany