Holy Father, we thank you for the privilege of being able to study your Word. We look to you to guide us to the balanced truth of what your Word teaches on every topic, very much including the end-times. We want to be fully ready to stand before you at the end of this age. We pray in Jesus mighty, holy name. Amen!
We started to discuss Revelation chapter 19 at the end of the last broadcast. I’ll read Rev. 19:1-3, “After these things, I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; (2) because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.’ (3) And a second time they said, ‘Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.’ ” The time setting here is very near the end of Daniel’s 70th week. The Lord Jesus Christ has already judged and destroyed Babylon the great harlot, and the smoke of her burning rises up forever and ever. It is now time for Him to judge and destroy Antichrist and those who have been gathered to Har-Magedon to fight against Him and His army, and that won’t take long.
I’ll read verse 1 again, “I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.’ ” Apparently the loud voice that John heard was the voice of great multitude of angels (compare Rev. 5:11). In verse 4 the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures join the praise and worship God. In verse 5 a voice from God’s throne exhorts His bond-servants, those who fear Him, the small and the great, to join in the praise, which they do in the following verses.
Verses 2, 3 give the primary reason for the praise expressed in verse 1. I’ll read verses 2, 3 again, “because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her. (3) And a second time they said, ‘Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.’ ” That is, God has totally removed Babylon the great harlot in His end-time judgment of the world. God’s judgment of Babylon the great harlot was spoken of in some detail in chapters 14 through 18. Babylon the great harlot is a symbol for the world, whose god is the devil. It includes all the things the devil uses to seduce people from God and His truth and righteousness, very much including all false religion, very much including apostate Christianity. The devil also uses the world to seduce people with things like immoral pleasures, godless unity (like at the ancient tower of Babel), power, influence, fame, and riches.
Revelation 18:24 shows that “in her [in Babylon the great harlot, the great city of this world] was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.” Apparently this includes all the innocent blood that has ever been shed, starting with Abel. It is clear that Babylon is much more than any one city.
Let’s briefly discuss the word “hallelujah” which is a very important word that is used in Rev. 19:1, 3, 4, and 6. This glorious word of praise, which is a transliteration of two closely connected Hebrew words that mean “Praise Yah!,” is not found anywhere else in the New Testament. The name Yah is typically considered to be a shortened form of the name Yahweh. The glorious name Yahweh that God chose for Himself is used more than 6,800 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, but our English translations of the Old Testament don’t include the name Yahweh. The NASB, the NIV, and the NKJV, for example, translate “the LORD” (with four capital letters) instead of Yahweh. The two Hebrew words “hallelu” and “Yah” are used together quite a few times in the book of Psalms (see Psalms 104:35; 111:1 for example), but the word “hallelujah” is not used in our English translations of the Old Testament. The NASB, the NIV, and the NKJV, for example, have “Praise the LORD” (with the word LORD having four capital letters).
The name Yahweh centers in Person of God the Father in the Old Testament, but the name is appropriate for the triune God, who is clearly revealed in the New Testament. The name is used several times in the Old Testament for God the Son, the Angel of Yahweh, but not in a way that confuses Him with the Person of God the Father. (See Zech. 2:8; 3:2, for example; these verses are discussed in my verse-by-verse study of Zechariah chapters 1-8 on my internet site.)
Let’s go on to Rev. 19:4, “And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!’ ” As I mentioned, the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures join the great multitude in heaven in their praise and worship of God.
I’ll read verse 5, “And a voice came from the throne, saying, ‘Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.’ ” It seems rather clear that the words, “you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great” refer to the saints (see Rev. 11:18). I believe the saints from Old Testament days and the new-covenant saints are included. The “bond-servants” exhorted to praise God here could be limited to the very large number of saints who will be existing in the heavenly, glorified dimension at that time.
I’ll read Rev. 19:6, “Then I heard something like the voice of great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns [or, we could translate “has begun to reign.”].” As we have discussed in some detail, Rev. 11:15-18 demonstrate that God (mostly in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ) will come and begin to reign on the earth at the time of the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet, right in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week (also see Rev. 12:10). That reign includes His saving His people and His judging His enemies. I’ll read Rev. 11:15-17, “Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.’ (16) and the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, (17) saying, ‘We give you thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power AND HAVE BEGUN TO REIGN.’ ” Verse 18 goes on to prophesy of God’s saving His people and His judging the world.
The fact that the resurrection, glorification, and rapture of the saints took place right in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week demonstrated that God had begun to reign. And the fact that the devil and his angels were thrown down to the earth at that same time further demonstrated that God had begun to reign. By the time we get to Revelation chapter 19, very near the end of Daniel’s 70th week, Babylon the great harlot has been totally removed by God’s judgment, which further confirms that God has begun to reign.
Let’s go on to Rev. 19:7, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” Who is the bride of Christ? The bride of Christ is God’s true Israel, the glorious woman of Revelation chapter 12. The bride clearly includes all the true Christians of this entire age; they will be resurrected, glorified and raptured when the Lord Jesus Christ returns in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week. The Christians who are alive when Christ returns will not need to be resurrected. I believe it also includes all the believers from Old Testament days; they will be resurrected, glorified, and raptured when Christ returns; and it is clear that they are part of God’s true Israel. Their salvation is totally dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death and resurrection, as is our salvation.
But, as we have discussed, the bride will not be complete at the time of our glorification and rapture. Many will become Christians after the rapture, centering in the end-time remnant of the nation Israel. The bride will not be complete until those who become Christians after the rapture have finished their race and been glorified, at the end of Daniel’s 70th week. As we have discussed, all the members of God’s true Israel will have been glorified and begun to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ by the time the millennium begins. The marriage will take place in this full and final sense when the bride is ready, about the time the millennium begins.
What is the marriage of the Lamb? The marriage of the Lord Jesus Christ with His bride is a figurative way to speak of the glorious, intimate, relationship that will take place between the Lord Jesus Christ and His glorified saints (the people of God’s true Israel) that will last forever and ever. I should also mention that true Christians have already been united with the Lord Jesus Christ in a glorious relationship, but most of the glory of that relationship is reserved for the future, after we are glorified. We could also speak of our relationship with God the Father that will be equally glorious after we are glorified. Then we will be able to know Him as He is. The Old Testament spoke of God’s being a husband to Israel. And Isaiah chapter 54 and Hosea chapter 2 (starting at verse 14) prophesy of that relationship being restored and taken to a much higher level when they repent and He saves them at the end of this age.
The last words of verse 7 speak of the bride making herself ready, and verse 8 goes on to show how we Christians make ourselves ready by the saving, sanctifying grace of God in Christ. I’ll read verse 8, “And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” This verse (and Rev. 3:4, 5) shows that the “fine linen, bright and clean” that we will wear after we are glorified, builds on the fact that we live righteous lives on earth. We make ourselves ready by submitting (in faith) to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; we are forgiven by God’s grace and His grace enables us to live in His truth, His righteousness, and His holiness.
The fact that verse 8 speaks of the righteous acts of the saints makes it very clear that the emphasis here is on righteous and holy living through the powerful atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the indwelling Holy Spirit, not on forgiveness and legal/imputed/positional righteousness. The New Testament is packed with verses that emphasize this super-important point. (See my book “Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ.”) I could easily quote verses from the New Testament for the rest of this article demonstrating this point, but I’ll just quote Rev. 3:4, 5, 1 Pet. 2:24, and then six verses from the last chapter of the book of Revelation. Revelation 3:4, 5. (These words were addressed to the Christians at Sardis about AD 95, but they apply to all Christians of every generation who are in the same situation. The Lord Jesus Christ warned most of those Christians at Sardis that if they didn’t repent, they would forfeit their salvation.) “But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. [They are made worthy by the saving grace of God in Christ through faith.] (5) He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments [We will be clothed in white garments after we are glorified.]; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” We overcome (and we must be overcomers according to the book of Revelation) by staying faithful to God and His truth and righteousness by His sufficient grace. We must continually cooperate with the grace of God through faith, based on the terms of the new covenant. And if we fall into sin, we must repent with top priority.
I’ll read 1 Pet. 2:24 “and He Himself bore our sins [He bore our sins with the guilt and penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin] in His body on the cross, SO THAT WE MIGHT DIE TO SIN AND LIVE TO RIGHTEOUSNESS; for by His wounds you were healed.”
And I’ll read Rev. 22:10-15 with a few comments, “And he said to me, ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. (11) Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy [This didn’t mean, of course, that no one could repent after that time, but it certainly did emphasize the point that the time is short and we must live for God and His truth and righteousness NOW with top priority. The book of Revelation frequently calls for repentance.]; and let the one who is righteous, still practice [or, do] righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.’ (12) [The Lord Jesus Christ begins to speak here.] ‘Behold, I am coming quickly. And My reward [or, My recompense] is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. [This includes positive and negative rewards (or, recompense). We must live in the light of the fact that payday is coming.] (13) I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’ [These words include the fact of His eternal existence. The words, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” are used of God the Father in Rev. 21:6 (also see Rev. 1:8).] (14) Blessed are those who wash their robes [That is, they wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb (see Rev. 7:14), and they live in the righteousness and holiness of God (see Rev. 19:8).], so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city [the city of new Jerusalem] (15) Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.” This doesn’t mean, of course, that those who are committed to sin will be just outside the city of new Jerusalem. It means that they will not have access to God’s new Jerusalem and His eternal life. The book of Revelation shows that their destiny will be the second death of the lake of fire.
Let’s go on to Rev. 19:9, “Then he said to me, ‘Write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” ’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ ” I agree with the widespread viewpoint that “those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” here in verse 9 are the same people who make up the bride in verses 7, 8. In verses 7, 8 the bride is the glorious woman of Revelation chapter 12, true Israel. Here in verse 9, the spotlight is on the individual saints who make up the bride. In the parable of the wedding feast that the king gave for his son in Matthew chapter 22, the people who responded to the invitation to come to the wedding feast, and who came wearing the proper wedding clothes, became the bride.
The flexible nature of figurative language permits such variation. In Rev. 5:5, for example, Christ is a Lion; in the next verse He is a Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes. In Rev. 7:17 He is both a Lamb and a Shepherd. I’ll quote two sentences from Robert Mounce’s commentary, “The Book of Revelation” (Eerdmans, 1977), “Note that in verses 7-9 the church is pictured both as the bride and as the guests who are invited to the wedding. Far from constituting a contradiction, this sort of freedom is a normal characteristic of apocalyptic writing.”
It would be possible to picture the end-time remnant of the nations (who are mentioned in Rev. 15:4; 20:3) as being the ones invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb, but I don’t believe that idea was intended here.
I’ll comment on the words, “And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ ” We have to go back to Rev. 17:1 to see who was speaking to John here. I’ll read Rev. 17:1, “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls [the seven bowls of the wrath of God] came and spoke with me, saying, ‘Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot [Babylon the great harlot] who sits on many waters.’ ” Revelation 17:15 informs us that “the waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.” Revelation chapters 17, 18, and the first part of chapter 19 (and parts of Revelation chapters 14-16) deal with God’s judgment and removal of Babylon the great harlot. Babylon the great harlot must be totally removed before the marriage of the Lamb to His bride takes place and the millennial kingdom is established.
Apparently the words “These are true words of God” refer to all the words of Rev. 17:1 - 19:9. The book of Revelation goes out of its way to repeatedly bear witness to the fact that the contents of this book are true and trustworthy. This book is extremely important, not to minimize the importance of the other books of the Bible. The angel who showed these things to John has completed his assignment, and he passes from the scene with the following verse.
Let’s go on to Rev. 19:10, “Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy [or, the spirit of the prophecy (referring to the book of Revelation)].’ ” All true Christians hold the testimony of Jesus; that is, we testify with our words and our lives that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that He is Lord, that He is God the Son, and that everything else the Bible says about Him is true. This mighty angel made it very clear that we must worship God and Him alone, but we must understand that the word “God” here includes the Lord Jesus Christ; He is God the Son; He is the Person in the spotlight here. Although the word God is normally reserved for God the Father in the New Testament, the word is sometimes used for God the Son, and rightly so, since He is deity (see, for example John 1:1; John 20:28; Heb. 1:8; and Rev. 22:6). The book of Revelation goes out of its way to emphasize the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. (See the discussion on this important point under Rev. 22:6 in my paper on Revelation chapters 20-22 on my internet site.)
The last sentence of this verse (“For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy [or, better, the spirit of THE PROPHECY, referring to the book of Revelation]”) was designed to direct John’s worship to the Lord Jesus Christ, who plays such a prominent role in the book of Revelation. He is to be worshiped with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. God the Father is very highly exalted in the book of Revelation; He is the One on the throne in chapters 4 and 5, who gives the all-important scroll to the Lord Jesus Christ, for example.
I should point out that the definite article is included in the Greek before the word prophecy, and that “the prophecy” is mentioned several times in the book of Revelation, referring to the book of Revelation (see Rev. 1:3; 22:7, 10, and 18). I’ll read Rev. 1:3, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed [or, keep] the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” I believe it would be better to translate “the prophecy” here in Rev. 19:10 and to understand that “the prophecy” refers to the all-important book of Revelation.
Let’s go on to Rev. 19:11, “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.” Everything that the triune God does He does “in righteousness.” It is clear that the Rider on a white horse is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is judging and waging war in His end-time judgment of the world. He has been judging and waging war since He returned to the earth and began to reign at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week (see Rev. 11:15-18). He has already judged and removed Babylon the great harlot, and the first six bowls of wrath have already been poured out by the time we get to Rev. 19:11. Revelation 14:14-16 picture the Lord Jesus Christ sitting on a white cloud and swinging His sickle over the earth to reap the earth. I believe that reaping refers to His judgment and removal of Babylon the great harlot. Those verses are discussed in my paper on Revelation 14:6 through chapter 19 on my internet site.
The fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is pictured with His robe dipped in blood in Rev. 19:13 serves to strongly confirm the important fact that He has been actively engaged in judging before He judges and destroys Antichrist and his followers at the end of Revelation chapter 19. The glorified, raptured saints (who are pictured riding on white horses in verse 14) have been reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ since the time of their glorification and rapture in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week. I should mention that although the Lord Jesus Christ will be visibly present at the time of His mid-week return with the clouds of heaven, apparently He will not be visibly present throughout at least most of the second half of Daniel’s 70th week, when He will be judging the world.
For one thing, if the Lord were visibly present on the earth throughout much of the second half of Daniel’s 70th week, it would detract from God’s plans to test mankind regarding who they will worship (see Rev. 3:10 and 2 Thess. 2:3-12, for example). The Lord Jesus Christ (and the glorified, raptured saints with Him) will be living, at least for the most part, in the heavenly (spiritual) dimension after the time of His return and the rapture, but He will be very directly involved with His end-time work of saving and judging in the spiritual and physical dimensions.
At the beginning of verse 11, John saw heaven opened. Heaven was opened so John could see—see in a series of visions—the next things that God wanted to reveal to him, and through him to us. As I mentioned, one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls of God’s wrath came to John in Rev. 17:1 and told him that he would show him the judgment of Babylon the great harlot. Revelation chapters 17, 18, and the first verses of chapter 19 dealt with that judgment. But then the angel went on (in verses 7-9) to speak of the marriage of the other woman of the book of Revelation, the woman of God’s true Israel, the bride of Christ. That angel passed from the scene with verses 9, 10, and John began to receive a series of visions that continue through Rev. 21:8. Then at Revelation 21:9 one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls of wrath came to show John the bride, the wife of the Lamb. The fact that heaven was opened so that John could receive visions is like Ezek. 1:1, where heaven was opened so Ezekiel could receive visions from God. I’ll read Ezek. 1:1, “Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day, of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.”
A large number of Christians (including those who hold the pre-week rapture and the end-of-the-week rapture viewpoints) believe that heaven was opened here in Rev. 19:11 so that the Lord Jesus Christ (and those with Him) could leave heaven and come to the earth at the end of Daniel’s 70th week. As we have discussed, however, Rev. 11:15-18 demonstrate that the Lord Jesus Christ will come and begin to reign at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet, right in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week. And we see the resurrection, glorification, and rapture of the saints taking place in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week in Rev. 12:5. We also see the resurrection, glorification, and rapture of the two witnesses taking place in the middle of the seven-year period in Rev. 11:11, 12. A cloud is even mentioned in Rev. 11:12.
And as we have discussed, Christ’s coming that is pictured in Revelation chapters 11, 12 is the same coming that is pictured in Matt. 24:30, 31 (which mention His coming, the trumpet, the rapture, and the clouds); 1 Cor. 15:51, 52 (which mention the last trumpet and the resurrection and glorification of the saints); and 1 Thess. 4:16, 17 (which mention His coming, the trumpet, the clouds, and the resurrection, glorification, and rapture of the saints). It is significant that there is no mention in Rev. 19:11 and the following verses of Christ’s coming to begin to reign, or of the resurrection, glorification, and rapture of the saints, or of the trumpet, or of the clouds. (Those holding the pre-week rapture viewpoint believe that Christ will come in the sky and the saints will be resurrected, glorified, and raptured before Daniel’s 70th week begins, but they don’t call that His second coming. They typically speak of His second coming taking place at Rev. 19:11, very near the end of the seven-years.) Also, as we have discussed, it is significant that the Lord Jesus Christ (and the glorified, raptured saints with Him) has already judged and removed Babylon the great harlot, and the first six bowls of wrath have been poured out, before we get to Rev. 19:11. His robe has already been dipped in the blood of His enemies.