1 And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God.
All of Heaven erupts in a glorious Hallelujah Chorus. Its inhabitants are rejoicing because Babylon (the Antichrist’s kingdom) has finally gone. This was the last of the world empires. It is a song of salvation, glory, honour and power. Here they exalt the true Lord. Everyone in Heaven is anticipating the next great event – the earthly reign of Christ – Christ’s Kingdom on earth.
2 For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.
The worship includes the fact that God has judged the world and revenged the blood of the martyrs (see Revelation 6:10). It is made very clear that God was justified for the judgement He has poured out upon both political and religious Babylon. She was responsible for all kinds of corruption on the earth, and was held accountable for the blood of the millions that she slew throughout the ages.
3 And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
Can we doubt the wickedness of the Great Whore when we hear the triumphant song of Heaven? This reprise is a result of ecstatic joy for Babylon’s demise and Christ’s exaltation (Revelation 17:16; 18:8-9,18). “For ever and ever” here simply means that it is the permanent destruction of Babylon.
4 And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
The twenty-four elders and the four angelic beings around the Throne of God join in with this heavenly song. How often ‘Hallelujah’ is sung in Heaven! We might as well get used to singing it here in preparation.
5 And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
Some think that it will be boring praising God for all eternity, but if these verses are anything to go on, we will never be bored, instead we will want to continue rejoicing in God and all that He has done for us. Praise should always be upon the lips of the servants of God.
6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
The song of praise is repeated. The hearts of the worshippers anticipate the beginning of Christ’s rule on the earth. They look to Him who sits on the Throne and sing, “The Lord God Almighty reigns”. He, of course, reigns in Heaven, but now He reigns on the earth. He is the Almighty Lord of Heaven and earth! Not that He has not always been so, but now it is plain for all to see. This anticipates the Millennial Reign of Christ in Jerusalem as promised to David in 2 Samuel 7:12-13.
7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
Here is the focus of all this praise, Christ’s Kingdom is established on earth. His Kingdom begins with a celebration feast (often called ‘The Marriage Supper of the Lamb’). It should be noticed that His Church is to be with Him at His side. The Bride of Christ is now ready to take her ultimate position, for this is what she is destined for (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:22-23).
It is often suggested that the Marriage Supper of the Lamb takes place during the seven year Tribulation, but according to the chronology of these verses, it is actually at the beginning of, or just prior to Christ’s Millennial reign. Daniel 12:11 appears to suggest that there will be a forty-five day interval between the end of the Tribulation and the beginning of the Millennium.
8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
The false church wanted the treasures of the world, but the true church is arrayed in the riches of Christ. The righteousness of the saints is really the imputed righteousness of Christ which was given to them at the moment of salvation (Romans 3:28; 5:1-2; Galatians 2:16). He clothes His own with His righteousness. Some Bible translations make the verse say that the white robes are the “righteous deeds of the saints”, but this would make it a works gospel. Surely the believer’s works were judged and rewarded accordingly at the Judgement Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10)!
9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
Only those who are part of the Great Feast will enter Christ’s Kingdom. This means that only those who are members of Christ’s true Church, and true believers in the Old Testament and Tribulation era are counted worthy.
These accounts, no matter how astounding, even unbelievable to the mind, are absolute truth, therefore God can be trusted to bring them to pass.
10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Even John is caught up in this majestic praise as he watched this vision. He falls down to worship the angel who is speaking to him, but is forbidden to do so. The angels are ministering spirits and are sent by God to minister to His children on earth. Usually this is done in secret, but sometimes God permits certain of His children to see angels …”Some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2) … “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14).
Unfortunately a ‘worshipping of angels cult’ has arisen in the church over the last few decades. So many are focusing on angels rather than on Him who is their Lord. It should be noted that many of these so-called angelic appearances are really impersonating demons.
All prophecy ultimately finds its fulfilment in Jesus. The whole Bible has one major central theme, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ and His Sacrifice On Calvary’s Cross. Everything in the Book points to Him, so leave Him out, and the Bible becomes just a set of religious guidelines.
11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
Don’t focus on angels, don’t even focus on the beauty of the Church, instead look to Him who is Faithful and True. John sees King Jesus riding the white horse in Victory.
When He came the first time, He came as the Lamb to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29), but when He comes the second time it will be as King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16). He will return just as He promised (Matthew 24:27-31).
Jesus is righteous in all His judgements. He is justified for destroying the Antichrist’s kingdom. He is just when He wars against all who oppose Him. When He appears, all of His enemies will be instantly slain. The world that once asked who could stand against the Beast, will realise that there is someone who can (Revelation 13:4).
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
The vision of Jesus is expressed in symbols, therefore it is obviously foolish to make these things literal. The flames of fire speak of Christ’s impartial and righteous judgement. His gaze penetrates even the hardest and darkest of hearts … “His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude” (Daniel 10:6).
He is crowned with many crowns. The false christ wore the ‘Triple Tiara’, but the Lord Jesus Christ wears countless crowns of absolute sovereignty and dominion.
John sees a secret name written on Him who rode the white horse. It is no use trying to work this one out – we will have to wait until we meet Him! Throughout eternity He has the “name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
Look at His clothing, it is bloodstained! The Lamb of God will reveal the reason for His victory throughout eternity. Evidence of His sacrificial death will always be on display. We will be constantly reminded that Christ died on Calvary’s Cross to redeem us from death, and give us a home in glory, so that we can reign with Him who paid the price for our salvation. The Christian should always know that victory is in the Blood of Christ.
Some see this blood as being of the slain at the Battle of Armageddon, therefore representing His victory over Antichrist. In this case Revelation 14:20 and Isaiah 63:1-2 fit the scenario.
He is titled ‘The Word of God’ here. No doubt John thought about what he wrote in John 1:1 … “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” There is the idea here that Jesus is God’s last word regarding salvation … “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
Who are these armies of Heaven? In the Old Testament we read of ‘The hosts’ and we understand them to be angelic in nature. But from this description in Revelation we must assume that they represent members of Christ’s Church, those redeemed by His blood before the Rapture. This is not to reject the ideas that the “armies” include Old Testament saints (Jude :14) and martyrs from the Tribulation period (Revelation 7:13). Other armies may be angelic beings, for Jesus spoke of coming with them too (Matthew 16:27; 25:31; see also 2 Thessalonians 1:7). Notice that these armies “follow” Jesus, therefore, as Sovereign Lord, He does not need them to complete His mission, for He alone has the weapon to defeat the Beast. Instead they will participate in His return and the formation of the Millennial Kingdom.
The word ‘clean’ speaks of cleansing. Their garments have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. Whoever they are we know that the Lord will come to this earth with a great display of power and might. It will be His victory parade.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
John sees a two-edged sword in His mouth … “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12; see Isaiah 11:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:8). He will destroy all enemies by the power of the spoken word. He who spoke the universe into existence can just as well overcome the powers of darkness and sinful man. They will be trodden down like grapes in a wine vat.
He will strike them down at Armageddon as the forces of Antichrist are poised to attack Israel (Joel 3:2; Zechariah 12:2-3). It is at this point Israel will realise who the true Messiah is. This will fulfil the prophecy of Joel 2:28-29, as the remnant will be saved (Romans 11:25-27; Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 23:37-39). Their Deliverer has not forsaken them regardless of what the Replacement Theology crowd say (Romans 10:13-14).
From now on, during the 1,000 year earthly reign of Christ, the nations will be ruled according to the Word of God. Finally God’s Word will be the rule and standard of morality and righteousness. It will be very interesting to read the Bible then, especially the Book of Revelation! All who oppose Him will be destroyed (we shall read of this in a later chapter). What we see here is total government according to God’s standards rather than man’s … “And the government shall be upon his shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6).
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
We read of another name. This name (title) is on His clothing and thigh. It declares Him to be ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’. No matter what earthly national leaders there will be at this time, Jesus is the supreme authority. Every man, woman and child will worship Him as both the Only King and Only Lord … “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11) … “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:14-16).
17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
What happens to the bodies of the armies of Antichrist who are destroyed at Christ’s return? The vultures and other ravenous birds are called to feast upon them (Matthew 24:28; Luke 17:37). This is a clean-up operation designed by God. This may take seven years, the same amount of time for the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.
Some see the ‘fowls’ as symbolic of the fallen angels but this interpretation does not make sense and in fact raises more questions about the text. In Ezekiel 39:17-20 we find birds feasting on the remains of the army of Gog and Magog. There is no reason to believe anything but the simple, literal meaning.
18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
The fowls will not care who they are eating. It matters not to them if it is a king or a pauper. Scripture reminds us that people reap what they sow, so it is interesting that just as the bodies of the two witnesses were left unburied (Revelation 11:9-10), so, too, will the fallen in this conflict.
19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
What happens to the Antichrist and the False Prophet at Christ’s return? John sees the great armies of Antichrist gathering together to war against Jesus just as He appears in the sky. If the Antichrist has time to turn his army from attacking Israel to attacking Christ, we have to assume that Jesus’ Second Coming also takes time. It will take some time for everyone on earth to see Him (Matthew 24:30: Revelation 1:7). This whole event will be broadcast live on TV and the Internet.
20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
The battle, though, will be quick. Almost instantly the Antichrist and the False Prophet are captured by King Jesus. They are both cast alive into the Lake of Fire. There is no standing before the Throne for judgement for these two. Their wickedness and opposition towards Christ is self-evident. They had tricked and deceived people into accepting the Beast and his mark, and they had gathered the vast army in the vain attempt to dethrone Christ. They will be the first to go into the Lake of Fire (the ultimate Hell) before the Millennium, that is, before any man or angel will be cast there a thousand years later. We shall read more about this in Revelation 20.
21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
It is at this point that the armies of the Beast meet their instant doom. They will go before the Throne to be judged. They will be consigned to Hell awaiting their final destination – the Lake of Fire. While their bodies are being devoured by ravenous birds, their spirits will be in the torment of Hades.
The sword Christ uses is the same one that spoke the universe into being – the Word of God. He will simply speak and so it will be. The Battle of Armageddon has been in preparation for six thousand years, but will last only a moment!