In chapter 19 we see the beginning of an exciting finish for the book of John and for the timeline of history as we know it. Christ is celebrated. The church is purified. Satan is defeated. Jesus executes righteous judgment and is the supreme victor.
Rejoicing in Heaven
19 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,
- Whereas mourning was the theme of our last chapter, as those influenced by and benefiting from a Devilish worldview watching the swift judgment upon that way of living, joy becomes the central theme of chapter 19.
- John doesn’t mention the precise location (perhaps all the inhabitants of heaven are shouting in unison, think of your favorite football stadium chant maybe) or source of this great multitude, but it is clearly large and boisterous.
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 avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
- “hallelujah” – from the Hebrew meaning, “Praise the Lord”. Hallelu is a command meaning ‘praise’. Yah is an abbreviation of the word Yahweh, the covenant name for God found in the OT.
- There is no shortage of reasons that we cannot bring praise to God. The remainder of verse one and two give us four specifics: salvation, glory, power, true and just judgments. You could easily add holiness here as well, because he has judged immorality upon the earth. We praise Him for who He is and what He has done.
- “salvation” – the Gk word means to both rescue from danger and also to restore to safety. God saves completely.
- “judgments” – His evaluations
- “true” – pertaining to being in accordance with historical fact—‘true, truth.’ History will show that God is true.
- “just” – righteous, as in meeting God’s requirements.
- “‘for he has judged” – a completed action, in the past. This began in chapter 16.
- “the great prostitute” – a personification wicked civilization as compared to the pure bride of Christ mentioned below. She is guilty of corrupting the world and persecuting believers.
3 Once more they cried out,
The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”
- God’s judgment upon evil will be everlasting.
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!”
- The last mention of these heavenly beings. Their additional praise is short, but they confirm the worthiness of God to receive it.
5 And from the throne came a voice saying,
“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
you who fear him,
small and great.”
- “Praise our God” – this time Hallelujah is translated, perhaps because this is to be a clear command for all of God’s people to hear and obey.
- “all…small and great” – no one is to sit out for this worship session.
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
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,
- From this moment on, John does not mention the evil city of Babylon or her wicked empire. Judgment upon her is complete. Instead he is now captivated by the celebratory events surrounding Jesus and what God is doing in Heaven.
- 3 aspects of the returning Christ are highlighted in the upcoming verses: 1) Jesus united to his bride(6-10), 2) Jesus defeats evil (11-21), and 3) Jesus the righteous judge (20.11-15).
- This is the last recorded praise in Revelation. Not that it is finished, but John shifts his writing to the final words of Jesus as redemption is completed.
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.
- “Almighty reigns” – The all-powerful God who yields absolute authority. It would be difficult to emphasize the omnipotence of God in a greater way.
- “rejoice and exult” – meaning to enjoy and appreciate your joyful experience. Soak it in. Before I got married, I was warned by a fellow friend about the day. They said to soak it in, because it happens so quickly. The same advice is given here. Not because it’s a quick event, but we should savor the culmination of our glorification. Salvation is complete, we are fully united with the God who has redeemed us from sin.
- “marriage of the Lamb” – a resurrection reference.
- “fine linen, bright and pure” – in contrast to the scarlet worn by the great prostitute. In Ephesians 5, Paul says that Christ will present the church to himself without spot or blemish. The passive nature of our being perfected is emphasized here again by the phrase, “it was granted to her.”
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.”
- “invited” – called, to communicate with a person some distance away and tell them to come. Rom. 5.8.
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.
- Worship is reserved for God alone.
- Everything Jesus said and did was true.
- “the spirit of prophecy” – confusing. But perhaps a reference that Jesus provides the power behind gospel proclamation.
The Rider on a White Horse
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.
- A third vision of Jesus. See 1.9-20 and 5.1-14. Christ is a conquering King. Within this vision, King Jesus is called by several official titles. Picture a parade recognizing the victorious Jesus with banners which surround him.
- Banner 1 – Faithful and True. Jesus is able to execute judgment upon evil and grace to believers according to God’s standards because he is both faithful and true.
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.
- “many diadems” – communicating supreme victor and sole authority.
- Banner 2 – a secret known only to Jesus.
13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.
- “dipped in blood” – Whose? 1) his own, 2) martyrs, 3) his enemies. The context suggests the latter.
- Banner 3 – The Word of God. Jesus is the acting agent for God’s Words. See John 1.
14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.
- Notice that the armies of heaven haven’t even gotten their uniforms dirty. They participate in final victory as a mere witness.
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.
- The weapons for victory are found in the words of Christ.
- “winepress” – mentioned earlier in 14.20.
16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
- Banner 4 – a sash with the title King of kings and Lord of lords. Emphasizing divinity.
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,
- Vultures are invited to feast upon the impending carnage from the complete judgment of God through Christ.
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.”
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.
- 16.14, 16; 17.13-14. This moment has been building for several chapters in John’s book. However, when it arrives, it becomes somewhat anticlimactic because of such a one-sided victory.
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 sulfur.
- “lake of fire that burns with sulfur” – everlasting punishment.
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.
- Everyone else is simply slaughtered by the King of kings. The battle is done.
- Note: Christ is the only one fighting. He secures this victory. The army is simply spectating.