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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
Revelation 19

 

 


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Verses 1-21

Salvation belongeth to our God.” Babylon’s strong citadel consisted in priestly intervention and the dogma of salvation by human works. Now that she is fallen, this transparent sophistry has been unearthed and exposed, and the sublime, radical truth that God alone can save, and we must go to Him and not to the priests, has been vindicated, and is now proclaimed to all the world. God has executed judgment against the great harlot, the corrupter of the world’s religion, and executed condign punishment for the martyrdom of all His saints.

3. The smoke of her torment symbolizes her punishment. The period of its duration is co-eternal with the existence of God. Hence the silly sophistry of Universalism, Restorationism, and all other dogmata, proposing to find a terminus to hell-torment.

4. We find “Amen” and “Hallelujah” are the battle-shouts which everywhere ring along the triumphant phalanx of Immanuel’s army. These are Hebrew words, which never have been translated into any of the innumerable languages into which the Bible has been translated. Just as they are, they have been transferred into more than one hundred languages. A ship was under sail on the Pacific Ocean, carrying a Hindu and a New Zealander. The latter is a convert of the Salvation Army, and the former of Bishop Taylor’s missionaries. They are in prayer. The Hindu receives a landslide from the heavenly country, and shouts aloud, “Hallelujah!” The New Zealander shouts back, “Amen!” Neither knows a word of the other’s language. Anon they reciprocate, “Hallelujah!” “Amen!” Soon the strangers mutually embrace.

5, 6. “Heaven and earth are ringing out their mighty shouts of victory because Babylon is fallen. Oh, how she hath populated hell with her deluded millions all these ages!

MARRIAGE SOLEMNIZATION

At last the long-anticipated nuptials of Christ and His bride are now to be celebrated. False claimants must be disposed of before the bride can be truly received into heavenly wedlock. Babylon has vociferated her claims around the world the last twelve hundred and sixty years. Since her fatal catastrophe, the voice of a rival has not resounded in terrestrial air. Hence an important preparation for the nuptials has transpired on earth, sweeping every rival from the field. But perhaps a still more important antecedent has transpired in heaven. Since the Lord descended and took away His bride from the oncoming tribulation, a very important adjustatory judgment has been going on among the members of the bridehood. Paul says the transfigured saints will differ either from the other in glory like the stars of the firmament. Jesus says: “One shall rule five cities and another ten.” Hence you see there will he an infinite diversity in the coming kingdom. 1 Corinthians 15:23 :

“Each one shall rise in his own rank.”

From these and many other Scriptures we find quite as vast a dissimilitude in the transfigured state as in the present. When our Lord descends on His royal throne to take the government of this world into hand, and rule it through the members of the glorified bridehood, all the participants of the coming administration will be perfectly adjusted, so the machinery of the new kingdom will move in perfect harmony. All this infinitesimal adjudication and adjustment, essential to the most perfect regulation of the bridehood, will take place upon the firmament, while tribulation tornadoes are desolating this world. How did His bride make herself ready? By the eternal abandonment of a perfect consecration, followed by that indefatigable faith which will die before it will doubt, and accompanied by an unfaltering obedience.

8. Because linen is free from contact with animals, it emblematizes entire sanctification. For the very opposite reason, wool typifies carnality. The Israelites were not allowed to wear garments mixed with wool and linen. This is a powerful lesson in favor of entire sanctification as the only possible way to have an unmixed experience, which is emblematically taught in to unmixed garment.

9. This unmixed garment is an absolute prerequisite to every one who would attend the marriage-supper of the Lamb. None but the participants of the gospel feast are invited to the marriage-supper. If you would attend that supper, you must be a member of the bridehood. You enter that bridehood in the experience of sanctification. Then and there your spirit is married to the Spirit of Christ. This must take place before the Lord comes to take up His bride, if you would ascend with Him.

The marriage here spoken of is that of transfigured humanity after the body has been raised from the dead, or translated, and reunited with the soul, never again to be separated. Reader, are you washed in the blood, robed, and ready for the marriage-supper?

Are all the saved members of the bridehood? Negatively do I opine. The parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) confirms this conclusion. The English says, “Our lamps have gone out;” but the Greek says, “Our lamps are going out;” i.e., are burning low, and need replenishing with oil. Hence we see they are still virgins, and have their lamps burning, though low and feeble. The true solution is, they are all Christians. The wise have received a second work of grace — i.e., been sanctified — while the foolish, so called because they did not have their vessels fill with oil — i.e., get sanctified — like all other Christians who neglect sanctification, have much depreciated in the grace of regeneration. Consequently, they forfeited their place in the bridehood, the door being closed against them; but not their place in the kingdom, since they have not forfeited their virginity, neither have their lamps gone out. This scene transpires at the rapture, when the Lord comes and takes away His bride, leaving the unsanctified Christians to pass through the tribulation. Doubtless millions will be saved who have no qualifications for the offices of the bridehood. This explains the constant enthusiasm of the Apostle Paul to “attain unto the resurrection which is out from among the dead;” i.e., a special and extraordinary resurrection. Evidently, the degrees in the bridehood will be infinitesimal, according to the diversified gifts, graces, attainments, and qualifications of the members. We should all emulate Paul and other apostolical saints in their irrepressible enthusiasm, not simply for a place in the bridehood, but for pre-eminence in the same. We see the constant scramble for offices in the petty governments of the present age. Oh, the wonderful honors and emoluments which await the members of the bridehood in the coming kingdom, when our glorious King will rule the whole world through the instrumentality of His transfigured saints! Reader, be sure that you are under the blood, sanctified wholly, so you will be called to the marriage-supper of the Lamb.

10. Evidently, in this case, John mistook the angel for God, and fell down to worship him. This is a withering condemnation of all idolatry in every land and age; not simply paganism, Islamism, and Romanism, but the multitudinous forms of idolatry — i.e., creedisms, fine edifices, human institutions, and great men — which fill the apostate Churches of the Protestant world. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” God has ordained preaching the instrument of the world’s salvation. Prophecy is the generic word for preaching. Here we see the synonymy of prophecy and testimony. Hence you see the wonderful simplicity of the gospel economy. God wants to sanctify all of His children and impart to them the spirit of prophecy, thus loosening all tongues and setting them on fire. A collegiate education is not the qualification to preach the gospel; but a tongue of fire, ringing out a red-hot testimony.

I saw the heaven open, and behold a white horse, and He that sitteth on him is called faithful and true, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war.” This is a plain statement of the descension of our glorious King to reign in righteousness. During the tribulation the bridehood has been adjudged and regulated. The long-anticipated nuptials of Christ and His bride have been celebrated. Now He descends, accompanied by His beloved, to take the world’s government into hand. “White horse” signifies the gospel of sanctification, the divine conception of a preacher being a sanctified circuit-rider. Reader, brother or sister, will you not put on the white robe of holiness, mount the white horse of entire sanctification, and go out preaching the everlasting gospel? Multitudes of people in all nations will survive the tribulation, and remain on the earth till our Lord descends with His transfigured bride to set up His millennial kingdom and reign forever. All these people must be converted and sanctified at the inauguration of the King. This will be the first great work of the bridehood.

12. His eyes a flame of fire,” indicate His omniscience. “Upon His head many diadems,” is anticipatory of His triumphant supersession over all the kings of the earth, whose crowns are to be placed upon His head. The name written is conqueror, known only to Himself, as He conquers purely by His own omnipotence.

13. Encircled with a garment sprinkled (not dipped) with blood. It is the symbolism of a triumphant warrior on the battle-field, his garment sprinkled with the blood of his slain enemies. “His name was called the word of God.” Word means revelation. The incarnate Christ is Himself the greatest of all God’s revelations to the world. This statement is a positive confirmation that the person here described is none other than our glorious King coming down to reign.

14. Armies follow Him in the firmament on white horses, clothed in linen white and clean.” These are the members of the glorified bridehood; i.e., the transfigured saints, coming down with Christ to conquer the whole world with the gospel sword; i.e., to preach the gospel to all nations, and get them converted and sanctified. Under the ministry of this mighty host, “a nation shall be born in a day.”

15. Out of His month proceedeth a sharp two-edged sword, that with it He may smite the nations.” This sharp sword going out of the mouth of the glorified Savior simply means His word — i.e., the gospel — by which the whole world will be speedily evangelized and saved at the beginning of the millennium. “He will shepherd them with an iron rod.” An iron rod in the hand of a devil or a wicked man would be awful, but in the hand of the infallible God it is blessed and glorious, calculated to transform this world into a paradise. “He treadeth the wine-press of the indignation of the wrath of the Omnipotent God.” Throughout these prophecies, as especially elaborated in chapter 14th, the gathering of the good is symbolized by the harvest, and that of the wicked, for their destruction, by the vintage, the copious gushing of the red grape-juice typifying the immense flow of blood when the terrible divine retributions shall come upon the wicked in their utter destruction.

16. This verse is a perpetuation of the forcible military symbolism, so prominent in these prophecies.

17, 18. The sun is a convenient place for the angel herald to stand and issue his proclamation to all the world, as the orb of light rolls his daily rounds. This is the closing scene of that wonderful military panorama which runs throughout these prophecies. If the Lord were to come down in His glorified person today, the rulers of the world would repudiate His right to reign in State and Church. They would fight for their kingdoms and their crowns. The scene before us is the consummation of the Armageddon wars. Here we see the final and utter defeat of all the kings upon the face of the whole earth. The calling of the vultures to eat their flesh is a simple perpetuity of the victorious symbolism.

19. Here we see the pope united with all the kings in this final war against Immanuel, only, with them, to suffer ultimate and hopeless defeat. The Lord is coming to reign; but the world is full of people who are too proud wicked to submit to His reign, however benignant, graceful, and glorious. Hence the world, as we see in these prophecies, is to be deluged with blood and bleached with bones before she will submit to the peaceful reign of her glorious King. Daniel, in the 7th chapter, so literally and irrefutably corroborates John in the scene we now attempt to expound, we must here give him an opportunity to testify. The 7th chapter is a summary of the Western hemisphere, as the 8th is of the Eastern. Europe means west; hence, by Western hemisphere, I mean Europe and America.

It is a substantial repetition of the chronological image of the 2nd chapter, developed into the papacy, and embracing the entire curriculum of Gentile rule from the fall of Jerusalem, B.C. 587, when the theocracy went into eclipse, till the stone shall demolish the image, fill the earth, and stand forever. Gentile rule began with the absolute monarchy of Nebuchadnezzar, symbolized by the golden head. Then it passed to the constitutional monarchy of Medo-Persia, symbolized by the silver breast and arms. This is followed by the universal conquest of Alexander the Great, typified by the abdomen and thighs of brass. Then comes the terrible military power of bloody and invincible Rome, carrying her cruel wars to the ends of the earth, subjugating all nations beneath their iron scepter. After the fall of Rome supervene the ten great political powers, into which she was disintegrated, and which continue to this day, with little territorial changes. We see in this image the constant depreciation of human government, from the golden head to the silver breast and arms, the brazen abdomen and thighs, the iron legs, and finally the ten toes, representing the ten great political powers on the earth at the present day. You observe the toes are iron mixed with clay. Consequently, they are very weak, wanting adhesive power, and ready to fall to pieces amid the shock of revolutionary earthquakes. All the prophecies corroborate the conclusion that we are living in the toe stage of human government, no longer having the value of gold or silver, nor the strength of brass or iron, but the fragility of iron mixed with clay. Hence we are on the constant outlook for the stone to strike the image on the feet and utterly demolish it. Daniel (7:8) tells us about the little horn rising out of the iron kingdom. This little horn is the pope, called little because horn means political power, and the political dominions of the pope were always small. The three horns which fell before the little horn — i.e., the pope — were the kingdoms of the Ostrogoths, the Lombards, and Ravenna, which, at an early date, were added to the pope’s dominions. As we learn in the 13th chapter of Revelation, the pope became the seventh head of the Roman beast, and thus perpetuated the beastly government to the present day. Daniel 7:9 :

“I beheld till the thrones were cast down.”

These are the human thrones, political and ecclesiastical, throughout the whole world.

Hence you see how definitely and perfectly Daniel corroborates John in his testimony to the fall of all the kings before the King of kings, when He comes to reign. Daniel 7:13 :

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.”

Daniel 7:14

“And there was given Him dominion, glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not he destroyed.”

You see the perfect parallelism between this and Revelation 19:11-19. The Ancient of Days is God the Father, who has no incarnation. Consequently, when He comes and executes judgment against the wicked nations and fallen Churches, with their usurpatious rulers, in the great tribulation, He will be invisible to mortal eyes. You see in Daniel’s visions that after the Ancient of Days has dethroned all the kings in the execution of His righteous castigatory judgments, then the Son of man will come down in the clouds, accompanied by the transfigured saints, and take into hand the government of the world, civil and religious, thus re-establishing the dear old theocracy which brightened and blessed the fair fields of Eden, before Satan’s dark tread had thrown a solitary shadow to mar the beauty of her primeval glory. Thus the Father will verify His promise to the Son: “I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.” “Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” “His dominion shall extend from sea to sea, from the rivers to the ends of the earth.” I am so glad we have these wonderful prophecies. Glory to God for the infallibility of His word! These transcendent prophecies will surely be fulfilled. We are living in the time of the end, when all illuminated eyes are spell-bound in contemplation of the wonderful fulfillment of the glorious latter-day prophecies. The Lord is speaking from heaven, notifying His saints in every land and clime to wash in the blood and put on white robes, and look out for their King.

19. EJECTMENT OF ANTICHRIST AND MAHOMET INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE

The word here translated “beast” is theerion. It means a bloodthirsty, carnivorous wild beast. It is applied to human government in contradistinction to the theocracy. Daniel represents the Chaldean Empire by a lion, the Medo-Persian by a bear, and the Grecian by a leopard. John describes the Roman Empire under the similitude of a monstrous wild beast, like a leopard, with the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion. Meanwhile, the dragon-i.e., the devil-gave him his throne, power, and great authority. God never made man for rulership (which He reserved for Himself), but for subordination and service. Nimrod was declared an outlaw because he had the audacity to attempt the establishment of a human government, independently of the theocracy. God came down and broke up the diabolical enterprise. Strange to say, despite Omnipotent interdict and anathema, within a few centuries all the governments on the globe launched out under the banner of Nimrod. Hence, theerion i.e., wild beast — in all these prophecies, means human government, independently of God. In the progress of ages, Rome conquered all nations, and ruled them under different cognomens two thousand years.

The Roman power is described in Revelation 13 th as a hideous monster, with seven heads and ten horns. The kingdom was the first head; the consulate, the second; the dictatorship, the third; the triumvirate, the fourth; the tribuneship, the fifth; and the empire, the sixth. As the Goths, Huns, and Vandals, A.D. 476, conquered Rome, dethroning the emperor, thus inflicting a deadly wound on the sixth head of the Roman beast, the pope succeeded the emperor on the throne of the Roman world. Hence, the deadly wound inflicted by the barbarians on the empire was healed in the papacy, which became the seventh head of the monstrous beast. The prophetic period of papal rule is twelve hundred and sixty years.

Revelation 17:11 :

“The beast that was, and is not, the same is the eighth, and of the seven, and goeth into perdition.”

The eighth beast, or rather the eighth head of the Roman beast, is the last of all, and none other than the final incarnation of antichrist, who is to rise early in the tribulation and rally the whole world in open opposition to the claims of Christ to rule the nations. This conclusion follows as a logical sequence from the statement that the eighth beast is one of the seven. Now it is a significant fact that all the other six heads have long ago passed away, leaving the pope the only surviving head of the beast. Hence this eighth beast is the last and greatest development of human power defiant of God’s right to rule the world. Paul tells us, in 2 Thessalonians 2, about the horrific blasphemy of antichrist, sitting in the place of God and calling himself God. The three unclean spirits (Revelation 16:13) coming out of the mouth of the beast (i.e., Romanism), and out of the mouth of the dragon (i.e., paganism), and out of the mouth of the false prophet (i.e., Mohammedanism), and stirring up the whole world to the great battle of Armageddon — i.e., a general war against the Almighty — that they may retain the government of the world, both political and ecclesiastical, will doubtless focalize the world’s powers around the pope, the master spirit of the age, and facilitate his assumption of the antichristhood in a far bolder attitude than ever hitherto. For the last twelve hundred years the pope has audaciously claimed to be the vicar of Christ and the vicegerent of God, and to have the sole authority, delegated from heaven, to rule the world in Church and State. The antichristhood is the antithesis of the Christhood. Just as the latter has been progressive in all ages, so has the former. When Christ shall descend in His glorified manhood to reign upon the earth, then antichrist will stand up against Him, with an audacity and pomposity unprecedented in the world’s history. But “the Lord Jesus will destroy him by the breath of His mouth, and exterminate him by the brightness of His presence” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). The Bible, which is the breath of His mouth, has been rapidly destroying antichrist, especially in the last hundred years. Yet he is going to move right on, with increasing audacity and effrontery, till the Lord comes down in His glorified person and casts him into the lake of fire. When Satan had fully succeeded in launching his millennium — i.e., the Dark Ages — he raised up the pope and Mahomet to rule the world as his subordinates. Notwithstanding the pope’s dethronement by Victor Immanuel in 1870, and the fall of Babylon (Revelation 18:2), still the pope, with accumulated audacity and pomposity, stands up in the face of the Almighty, boldly arrogating to himself the sole right to rule the world, pertinaciously holding out to the very last moment, when he is arrested and cast alive into the lake of fire.

When I was in Asia, all nationalities were on the constant outlook for the fall of the Turkish power, which is the last and only upholder of Mohammedanism.

The Moslems captured Jerusalem, A.D. 637. The prophetic period for them to hold that country (Daniel 8) is twelve hundred and sixty years. Hence you see the period will expire in 1897. Look out for its fulfillment! But you may rest assured that the abomination of Islam will move right on with unabated vigor, till the glorified Savior actually descends upon the earth.

When I was in Cairo, Egypt, in 1895, there were reported ten thousand students in the Mohammedan University in that city preparing for the ministry of the Moslem faith. They are now the greatest impediments which confront Bishop Taylor and his missionaries in the evangelization of Africa. This gigantic son of the bottomless pit will prove impervious to all catastrophe, and move on with astounding aggressive power, till the Prince of Glory descends on the cloud, seizes him by the throat, and casts him alive into the lake of fire.

21. The rest were slain by the sword proceeding out of the mouth of Him who sitteth upon the horse.” The first great work in the coming kingdom will be the evangelization of all the nations on the face of the whole earth. That white horse symbolizes the gospel of entire sanctification, which will be the only gospel then on the earth, as all the sinning religions went out of the world when Babylon fell. Our Savior is here described as the heroic leader of this universal evangelism. “The sword proceeding out of His mouth,” is the word of God, which is to convert the whole world. This is a beautiful scene and an auspicious epoch. Babylon has fallen. Mohammedanism has lost her grip on her deluded millions. The pope and Mahomet have been cast into hell. The secular powers have vanished away, like gossamer before the rising sun. The unsavable people are all dead and gone to the bottomless pit. Oh, blessed consolation! “The rest” means all the people living on the earth at that time. The incorrigible and unsavable have all been swept away by the cruel wars of Armageddon and the awful earthquakes, cyclones, and pestilences of the tribulation. Now the glorified Christ, at the head of the mighty host of transfigured saints constituting His bridehood, moves upon the conquest of the world. How fortunate the people who shall survive the great tribulation and receive the glorious millennial gospel! Then “a nation will be born in a day.” The tide of salvation will roll to the ends of the earth, “till the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the globe as the waters cover the sea.” “All the birds were filled from their flesh.” Birds here emblematize devils. The word “flesh” means carnality. When you get converted, you give all your sins back to the devil, from whom you received them. When you get sanctified, you give all your carnality back to the devil, where it belongs. When the glorified Savior, with His innumerable host of transfigured saints (glory to God, I expect to be in that army!), shall go out to conquer the world, nation after nation will get converted in a day, and quickly sweep into entire sanctification.

Meanwhile, all the sins of the old heathen nations and heathenized Christendom will be turned over to the devil, and all the carnality emptied out of millions in their sanctification. No wonder the devils will have plenty to feast on.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Revelation 19:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/revelation-19.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, August 13th, 2020
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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